Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation)( 07/23/15)
| TITLE: Steampunked |
By Beth LaBuff
| ~ 8th Place |
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We had been sitting in the living area of this trendy Victorian bed and breakfast. It was hailed as a stunning example of the steampunk decorating style; a style that combines late eighteenth century Victorian style with the mechanical bits and parts of the steam-powered machines of the era. The living room walls of the Cranky Pony were covered in wallpaper, a dusky-toned floral print with muted vermillion flowers and swirling jade vines. Ornate Victorian furniture pieces with buttoned upholstery backs were spaced throughout the room. An airplane propeller was positioned above the fireplace and an eclectic assortment of interlocking gears and pulleys served as artwork on the walls.
I had been welcomed to the inn by the owner, Eva, a silver-coiffed lady wearing a starched apron. Three other weekend guests at the Cranky Pony Inn were Mr. Cooper, a man with an electric-white smile, his bejeweled wife, and her yippy Chihuahua.
Before the inception of the seven fidgety minutes, we were assembled in the living room for a talent exhibition. Mr. Cooper, with his frozen-in-place high voltage smile, entertained us with his wheezy accordion. We endured a polka rendition of “It’s a Small World” when the lights flickered, then extinguished. Unsure of what to do, I remained where I was. Thirty seconds later, the lights flashed back on. And that was when the fidgeting commenced and my weekend spiraled. Mrs. Cooper shrieked and her bewildered Chihuahua tumbled to the floor.
Did I mention that I abhor dogs, especially yapping dogs, and particularly yapping dogs that continuously scratch like they’ve been infested with the vermin of a thousand polecats?
Mrs. Cooper’s ruby-studded gold filigree broach was missing. She looked accusingly at me, then at Eva. She insisted that law enforcement be called. The tumbled Chihuahua and I were both befuddled.
Once the police arrived, they decided to question everyone separately. An officer bid me enter an adjacent room. A vintage altimeter hung on a far wall next to a sepia-toned map of the eastern seaboard. The map was framed with copper plumbing pipe. Aviator goggles were draped over a corner of the frame. I had a feeling that if I looked around the room I would see Orville and Wilbur lurking nearby. An antique dental chair reposed in the corner. The policeman indicated the chair, inviting me to sit while he extracted information from me. A brass lamp with the amber-glowing filament of an Edison bulb was drawn close for the procedure.
I gave short, truthful answers to the generic interrogation. “It’s a Small World” played in my mind on an endless loop. The Chihuahua alternatingly yapped and scratched in the next room. The yard-sale décor in my apartment had more appeal at the moment than this relaxing weekend at a steampunk bed and breakfast.
I returned to the living room as the yipping flea bazaar leaped onto Mr. Cooper’s lap, causing him to topple forward. As all eyes watched, the calamity played out when Mrs. Cooper’s broach fell from his shirt pocket. Mrs. Cooper gasped. Mr. Cooper’s electric smile shorted out.
The chronicle unfolded. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper had quibbled over the price of the gold filigreed bauble. Mr. Cooper had regrets concerning the amount she’d paid, so he purloined the broach, planning to return it for a refund. Mr. Cooper was unwilling to inform Mrs. Cooper of his scheme, so he conceived the whole drama-laden scenario.
As the Cranky Pony and I parted ways, I had an epiphany. If it wasn’t for that pooch, I might have been in a clawfoot tub full of hot water. It was the tail-wagger that solved the mystery of the theft.
Did I mention that I have a growing fondness for dogs? I’m considering acquiring one, a fluffy one, and with a flea-collar, of course. I’ll pencil that on my calendar for next weekend.
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