Back for Round Two, Ladies and Germs, is The Barbadee Poet herself, Mrs. Rie Sheridan Rose! Today she’s sharing a short story from her collection. Pull up a seat, have some popocorn, and enjoy!
These Bones are Made for Walking
“Bruce, there’s a skeleton in my closet.”
“Don’t fret, Roxanne – we all have a few secrets in our past we would rather not have come to light. Whatever it is, I’m sure—”
“Not that kind of skeleton, Bruce. A real one. Naked bones. Grinning skull. Eau de Cemetery. That kind of skeleton.”
“Oh. Why didn’t you say so?”
Roxanne Rogers studied the six feet plus of matinee idol that was her fiancé and wondered – not for the first time – where he had been the day they passed out brains. Probably in the heavenly equivalent of the women’s locker room.
“The question is,” she went on, enunciating each syllable, “what are you going to do about it?”
“Well, it’s your closet.”
“But technically, it’s your house. Until the wedding, you are my landlord, and I’d say this is one big pest control issue.”
“I hate it when you get technical.” Bruce sighed, doing distracting things with his muscles.
Focus, Roxanne, she chided herself mentally, or you’ll wind up taking care of it yourself. Again.
“How long has it been there?” Bruce asked.
“Well, obviously, it’s—” The thought stopped her dead. “It wasn’t there last night when I changed for bed, but when I went to get dressed this morning…” She shivered, suddenly aware of the fact that she wore only the sweats and t-shirt she slept in…and that the skeleton had made its way into the closet while she was sleeping in them.
Bruce patted her shoulder with his good hand. She’d finally broken him of using his hook after one too many times it caught in her hair.
“Don’t worry, Rox. We’ll get to the bottom of this. Did you ask the guys upstairs if they had…you know…lost something?”
“No, but don’t you think they would ask before storing anything downstairs? After all, you gave them the whole top floor.”
“Would you wanna store it in your bedroom? Well, obviously not, or it wouldn’t be bothering you…”
“Bruuuuce—” The warbling carol could only mean one thing. Madame Rose had arrived. Eight hours early.
“Great,” groused Roxanne. “Can this day get any worse?”
“Bruce, darlink,” gushed the medium as she wafted into the room on a cloud of rose water and rum. “Der is a disturbance in de force!”
“Enlighten us, Madame Yoda,” mumbled Roxanne.
Rose drew herself up with a sniff. “Because someting vuz stolen by a pop cultural hack does not mean it isn’t real, Miss Smarty-Pants. Ve had it furst.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”
“As I vuz saying before I vuz so rudely interrupted…” Rose glared at Roxanne, but her words were directed at Bruce. “Der is someting very wrong in de manor today. Someting evil.”
“Well, whatever it is will have to wait, because Roxanne has an unwelcome visitor….”
“Bruce, the two may not be unrelated,” Roxanne said dryly.
“I thought you had no idea who it—oh! Right.” Bruce nodded, as if he had a clue what he was talking about.
“Vat are we talking about?” Rose plunked herself down on the edge of Bruce’s bed, running an appreciative hand over the satin coverlet.
“I vuz—was just telling Bruce that there is a skeleton in my closet.”
“You haf no secrets from me, Roquesanne. I can see all that you would –”
“No, a real one! We were just going to look.”
“Zen I vill come and see too.”
Roxanne marched straight to her bedroom closet and threw open the door. She pointed into its depths with a flourish. “There! Now get rid of it, Bruce.”
Bruce leaned into the closet. “Get rid of what, Rox?”
“The skeleton. It’s right—”
“—ze bed…Roquesanne…ze bed!” Rose’s hand shook as she stabbed a finger toward the canopied bed.
Stretched out under the coverlet, which was drawn up to its bony chin, lay the upwardly mobile skeleton.
“Okay, that does it! That’s the last straw. I’m getting a new bed.”
The figure on the bed turned its skull toward them with a creak. Twin dots of a fiery cobalt blue flickered in the depths of its eye-sockets. “Cooooolllldddd,” it moaned.
“Tough toenails,” Roxanne growled back. “Get your boney butt out of my bed.”
“C’mon, Rox. Give the guy a break,” soothed Bruce. “You already said you want a new room. Let the man get warm.”
“You don’t even know it is—was—a man, Bruce.”
The skeleton sat bolt upright. It pointed at Bruce.
“Guess it was his turn,” mumbled Roxanne.
“Yoooouuuu,” sighed the skeleton, “you made me come here.”
“Should have known.”
“Look, Mister—who are you, anyway?” Bruce asked.
“Beauregard P. Bonaparte, of the Bay Ridge Bonapartes, at your service.” It sketched a little bow, cradling the comforter beneath its chin.
“Well, Beau, what brings you to the Stuck Pig?”
There was a tinge of exasperation to the sighed words that said Beauregard wasn’t sure who was the real bonehead here.
“…like I said.”
“How do you said—say—what you said anyhow? You haf nuthing to say with,” broke in Rose.
“It’s all on account of the business with the industrial waste disposal you people mishandled a few months ago.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have been a lawyer in a former life would you now?” Roxanne interjected.
“As a matter of fact—”
“Ah ha! I told you zere was evil in zis house!”
“Figures,” Roxanne muttered.
“Whatever the case,” the skeleton continued, “when the leakage occurred, I was happily interred in the family plot in the Third Cloud All Saints Choir Evangelical Church cemetery, where I had been residing for the past fifty or so years. Suddenly, I had the urge to do some traveling, and, while the rest of the family plodded up hill toward your restaurant, I went on a walkabout in the opposite direction.
“When I tired of my travels and came back to my cozy, warm plot, I found that the cemetery had been abandoned and all remaining residents re-interred elsewhere. They paved over the whole thing for additional parking. I have no home to return to. So here I am. Since you are responsible for my current lack of roots, you are responsible for remedying that situation.”
“Definitely a lawyer,” muttered Roxanne.
Beauregard shivered, the tremor clicking together all the smaller bones in his body like wind chimes. “I really am chilly.”
Roxanne dug in her closet and came up with a turtleneck sweater and an old pair of jeans. “You’re more my size than Bruce’s. Try these on.”
The skeleton pulled on the clothing.
Bruce looked him up and down. “Y’know, if you don’t look too closely, he could almost pass for any Goth kid on the street…”
“Better,” Beauregard beamed. “Now, about that accommodation….
“What about the basement?” Roxanne suggested.
“We have a basement?”
“Yes, Bruce. And it is warm and dry down there. Earthen walls – just like home.”
“Is there electricity?” asked Beau skeptically, “because I really miss HBO.”
“Six Feet Under?” Roxanne guessed.
“Hated it. I’m into Deadwood.”
“Sure. I can drop a cable, no prob,” Bruce promised, slinging an arm around Beau’s shoulder. “Let’s go see the new digs. Y’know, it might come in handy to have a lawyer in the house.”
After they had gone, Rose shook her head. “I do not know about this, Roquesanne. It seems like there is no point to this whole encounter.”
“Well, it does seem a bit sketchy…guess you might call it a ‘skeleton plot.’”
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