Updated: Jul 6, 2021
This week I had to fight off 'writer's block'; Likely cause? could be meeting this month end's obligations with mom and brothers, which made me wistful for a love nest; the announcement of a 6 day public break that's brought activity in the country to a relative standstill; or perhaps it's my bumping into a little 'minx' yesterday (a foxy, female stray snuck up on/ startled me as I sat outside my gates). Either way, only after some effort did I manage to put this week's oddities and activities (or lack thereof) aside, to craft a continuation of AJ's adventures. In this week's blog post I show what happened after she met the two hounds and pussycat. Enjoy!
There was nothing confusing about a dual walkway; you were either heading north or south, up or down, and something was either there or not. So why were the palace gates unguarded today? AJ thought as she approached the massive barred structure. She'd used the walkway (along which the palace lay) several times before then; moving to and from dad's boarding house and cottage; there were always two guards stationed outside. Having left her blue brush and common sense back at the orange house, she walked boldly to the gate's right to investigate. When within touching distance of the bars, she stopped to look at the lush estate beyond and finally saw the guards. Their outfits were different, however. They looked more militant than the usual adorning garb; and just like at the orange house, a green tent with a burning lamp on the inside was stationed after the entrance. That was probably the soldiers' shelter, she thought as one of them approached her, gun in hand. The other stayed back in the distance, too far away for AJ to make out his face.
"Hello, Hi" AJ spoke nervously as the soldier opened the gates, a mixture of amazement and disdain on his face. "Sorry, I just noticed that the usual guards are not there", she tried explaining to allay her own fears; after all, she'd done nothing wrong. The soldier quickly seized her right arm. Oh crap!! Instinctively, she tried pulling away but to no avail, he had an iron grip. "I meant no harm. Was just heading to my dad's boarding house in the next road when I noticed the guards weren't there. I can show you if you like" she said, trying yet again and failing to reclaim her arm. The soldier ignored her words and fit, but firmly led her away from the main gates, to the western side of the estate. She'd heard stories of people (Jay walking loonies such as herself, included) getting shot for walking up to the palace gates uninvited. Perhaps the victims were taken for a 'walk' first before the axe fell, she dreaded. Quietly they walked (well....the soldier pulled her arm and she trailed along, obediently) to another, yet smaller, gate that led to a screening room. Once inside, the guard simply left her there, alone and unsupervised. The room was simple; two long brown sofas on either side, a coffee table with a glass top in-between, and a tv screen plastered on the far left wall with a few cables, sockets and other small electronics beneath it. "Breath! deep breaths! and maybe you can reason your way out of this" AJ told herself. Barely five minutes later, and two women entered the room. They didn't sit next to her but stood at the far right; "tell us what happened?" The fairer looking of the pair asked. Eerily they reminded her of the two guards; the fair one wore glasses while the darker one did not, "I'm sorry" AJ began, "but I didn't see any guards today. I didn't mean to cause any trouble, I just wanted to make sure everything was alright" she sobbed as tears fell down her face. "Don't cry. We just want to know what happened" the fair woman assured her. "What's your number?" came the darker one. AJ replied as requested. "What's your mom's name?" She supplied that piece of data as well. "What's your mom's number?" and she complied yet again. "So you didn't see anything and just walked up to the gates?!" said the darker woman, as if incredulous. AJ swallowed (hard!) and nodded. The three questions were repeated, in the same order and AJ gave them her mobile number, her Mama's name and line. Satisfied, the two ladies left the room. That wasn't so bad, she thought, a little too soon perhaps. Bursting into the room came a big and angry military man. "Where's the person!!" He barked as he entered, making AJ sink in her seat. He looked her way and flinched; she could tell she wasn't what he expected. Slowly he walked to and sat beside her. "What's your name?" he asked gently. Relieved, AJ dropped her guard and told him. "I was going to my dad's boarding house; I use the walkway a lot, when I noticed there were no guards today." She added, studying the General (he had to be. He was the bossiest officer she'd seen so far. He was also kind of cute, in an old guy sort of way). "I rent a cottage in the woodlands, and often move between it and dad's place" enchanted, she volunteered, stretching out her right palm to display her cottage keys. In turn, the General quietly studied her as well, then her palm, took the keys and left. But he didn't stay away long; in no time he was back at her side. Only this time, he wore a look of apprehension on his face. Her apartment was clean, she thought; and although she had a stash of weed in her sock drawer, there was nothing she could think of that would make him worried. "How long have you lived in your apartment?" he asked. "About nine months", maybe they'd think she had pregnancy brain and let her off easy. "Do you have any family besides your father?". "Well my dad's late, but I have mom and brothers within town. I also have an aunt who lives in the Northern lands." AJ replied, thinking of her favorite aunt B. "Really, I too have a brother living in the North. Is there anything you want from me?" the General asked her, right palm outstretched as hers had been earlier. "No" she replied with her eyes locked on his. "Are you sure?" he insisted, directing her gaze to his palm. Embarrassed, she saw her cottage keys lying there in his palm and quickly took them back. So much for feigning sanity! Unable to return her gaze to the General, she looked down at her own palm, now resting in her lap, and heard him stand up to leave.
She was sure her next home (for the coming months, at least) was going to be an asylum. But to her surprise, her older brother, accompanied by mama, drove into the estate to collect his stray. Phew! A stern scolding was definitely better than being locked up. As AJ was leaving the palace, she spared the main gates one last look and frowned, there were still no guards.