Bernard consulted the spirit board and looked at Evelyn's palm and at her tea leaves and, therewithal, foreknew her fate, no longer a vague, aoristic doom, but the certain and specific eventuation of her long ago bargain with the demon: at midnight tomorrow she would crumble into dust, so it was imperative that he (a) collect payment immediately and (b) borrow a vacuum cleaner.
The Demiurge was at his workbench, working out some details of Holothuroidea, when His mother interrupted to say a problem had arisen with the cameleopards, trying hard to keep the I-told-you-so out of her voice, because when the Demiurge was an undergraduate she had urged Him to major in Engineering but He had scoffed at what He called her low-bred, banausic attitude toward education and had opted instead for Theology, imagining His infinite gests would be of a lofty, spiritual nature, failing utterly to anticipate the eons He would spend tinkering in the workshop, constantly intruded upon not only by his mother but also ex gratia visits from His various creations (bringing presents and humbly-worded petitions to be allowed to have thumbs).
Hadfield wrote a book, The Gest of Earley, about Joan Earley's exploits during the war (ignoring for the most part the long, dull periods of crapulous vapidity where she and her unit were too exhausted and hungover to do anything but sit staring vacantly into the middle distance), focusing particularly on the taking of Hill 23, not only the astounding and bloody details of the assault itself, but also the whys and wherefores - the reasons for the initial attempt and the unexpected consequences of their success.
The paladin's original home was a palace but, as he developed into a warrior, not only did he become restless in situ, but learned that Charlemagne's other attendants felt that living on horseback or in a tent or rustic outpost of some sort had become de rigueur for anyone with knightly aspirations so, hoping (in vain, it turned out) for understanding and clemency from his wife and children, he moved them all from their palatial quarters in Aachen to a small, drafty, meagerly-furnished keep near Duren.
Jeff Robertson, a native of the midsection of New Jersey and also an enchorial product of Edward P. Munroe Community College, had seemed doomed to a meager life in the lower middle management of AT&T until this little difficulty with the poorly-maintained company plane and now, floating gently down the sky underneath his literal and metaphorical golden parachute, he passed the time happily imagining what he was going to do with the enormous amount of compensatory damages he'd get from the company, even hoping he might break a leg upon landing, secure in the alchemical ability of the American legal system to turn even modest suffering into large sums of money and, after all, hadn't his fatuous employer (who had delightfully gone down with the plane) repeatedly said, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
The deacon acted as precentor for most of the services, because the priest was elderly, had bad knees and a tremor which had resulted in enough spilled communion wine to make the altar cloth look like the site of a long series of pinkish Rorschach tests (including one large, bilaterally symmetrical blot that looked distractingly like Jesus shaving while looking at Himself in a mirror), as well as leading to unacceptable ullage in the chalice: by the time poor, palsied Fr. Sullivan had carried it down to the communion rail, there was only about half an inch of miry sediment left in the bottom.
While I was thinking, "Skinflint, cheese-paring, parsimonious tightwad!", I must have made an involuntary moue of irritation, because she asked, "Why so pouty?" in her fruitiest, most condescending, management seminar voice, but I feared that if I told her how shortsighted and misplaced was her tightfisted attitude toward the customers, off would come her veneer of nice manners and, thus unmasked, she would be a lot harder to deal with, making our quiet corner of Pennsylvania countryside less like Penn's woods than Mr. Bumble's workhouse.
Sitting in the lounge of the Star Hotel in Auchterarder, Dr. Graham was attempting to record Mr. Hendrie's account of sheep herding in the Ochil Hills, having succeeded in relaxing the usually dour old man by means of a large glass of whiskey, but his hope of thus capturing the Highland demotic speech was increasingly vitiated by the ineluctable waning of the batteries in the tape recorder and a loud conversation that had just begun across the room.
Granny had been up in the attic moving boxes for an hour, fossicking around, looking for the photograph of Jack in his gaudy dress uniform (paved with medals and festooned with gold braid), and the unaccustomed exercise had given her heart palpitations, which landed her in the hospital, so when we should have been having a raucously good time at Thanksgiving dinner, instead we were all in the ER waiting room feeling quite dooley and at loose ends.
On the television, some pompous, blathering stuffed shirt was shouting with faked enthusiasm about cold fronts, so Abe switched it off and stood in the dark looking out the bedroom window, where his dooleful expression changed slowly to soothed and cheerful as he watched the nacreous moon caught in the bare tree branches and the little silvery clouds propelled hither and thither by small vagaries of the wind, presaging fine, cool weather tomorrow.
Shuffling down the hall with a ewer of lemon-scented hot water for Mr. Gilbert's foot bath, snaggle-toothed Tom looked up at the portrait of the blond, dentulous third Mrs. Gilbert with her dazzling chiclet-y teeth and resolved to pungle up the $4000 necessary for dentures, since he knew from Dr. Dee's hyperbolic TV advertisements that all his problems - financial, romantic, and intellectual - would be solved by an improved smile.
Nicky, a wispy aesthete who designed typefaces for a living and whose garden was on every garden tour that mattered, occasionally despaired of his partner, Doug, a professor of political science at Drexel, whose dense, ponderous, profoundly unimaginative analyses of voting trends had made him a legend in the ranks of psephologists worldwide (and not in a good way, either), because not only did Doug lack an appreciation of the finer things in life that were Nicky's greatest joy, but sometimes seemed actively to be thwarting Nicky's attempts to add little touches of beauty to their home, like the time he put plastic carnations in the Chihuly vase.
"I'm afraid Miss Henderson is, er, enceinte", mumbled the headmistress, but when she saw Iggie's expression unchanged she silently comminated the ghastly old dimwit, took a deep breath, and thundered, "Pregnant!", whereupon Iggie looked contrite (as though he thought his employer blamed him for Miss Henderson's condition), humbly wished her good morning, and went on down the hall, pushing the housekeeping trolley with renewed energy and self-importance because he felt, as always, sanctified by having been addressed directly by the headmistress, even when he didn't really understand what she was talking about.
Despite the current cultural preoccupation with lycanthropes and vampires, Larry couldn't for the life of him remember what part, if any, moonlight played in catalyzing the transformation of a regular guy into a werewolf or some bloodsucking fiend who didn't like garlic, and the question was growing ever more urgent as he stood bathed in the cold light of the full moon watching with trepidation the long, coarse hair sprout on the backs of his hands and hoping against hope that he had miscontrued the sensation of long canine teeth poking into his lower lip.
Fr. O'Donnell, who had officiated at thousands of weddings during his sixty years in the priesthood and developed as a result an intransigent case of misogamy, was anticipating with an unpleasantly familiar combination of trepidation and ennui the prospect of performing yet another marriage on Saturday, this one between the Worbley Woolens heiress (and just the thought of the worsted-clad congregation made him itch) and a young man from another parish who, by the look of him, was in the vanguard of some hideous new fashion in personal grooming involving plastic fruit.
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