Continued from yesterday, and concluding today:
By the time Celia got back to the kitchen, there was a bilingual argument going on.
“Of course I talk! What? Did you think I was a *pet*?”
“C'est impossible. Quelle sorte d'une maison de fous est ceci?”
“It’s your fault! You decided to walk into a circus trailer. Dummkopf.”
“Oui, mais moi a marché dans un bas de page d'entraóneur animal… qu'ils n'ont pas – Quelle étes-vous, quoi qu'il en soit? Une certaine sorte de béte parlante?”
“I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!”
Celia got enough of her wits together to point her emergency tranq gun at the new kid. “*YOU*! Hands on your head and don’t move! And *you*–" she indicated Kurt with her free hand. "When the hell did you learn *French*?”
Kurt’s only answer was a confused shrug.
The older boy had his hands on his head and was trying charm. “Your pardon, mademoiselle. Remy was just ‘bout to leave.”
“He ate our cookies,” Kurt wailed, pointing. “You’re not gonna let him *go*…”
“Remy was starving, brouillé,” the kid shot back. “He like to see *you* after two weeks of eatin’ whatever you could scrounge.”
“*Two* weeks? Is *that* all?” Kurt scoffed. “Wuss.”
“Ques'que–” Remy boggled, then stared at her. “Chere… Remy get de feeling he in deep water, non?”
“Breaking and entering… theft… Mama? Is he a stowaway?”
Remy sidled towards the door. “Remy didn’t mean to cause no trouble, Chere. He jus’ be on his way, now…”
“Don’t. Even. *Think*. About it,” Celia warned, waving the gun at him. "I’m pretty sure none of us want to see me use this.“ _Especially me._ "Besides, those idiots are bound to double back and I *think* you might want to miss them.”
“Oui. Def'nitely oui.”
“So lets get down to brass tacks. Who are you and why *exactly* are those numbskulls after you?”
“Je m'apelle Remy LeBeau, Chere… As for de Fiends? You could say Remy played de wrong ace.”
“How do you play a wrong ace?” said Kurt.
“Dere’s three ways. You pick it from de sleeve an’ get caught, you play it when someone else be holdin’ de other four… or dere’s my way an’ you make it blow up de card table. Remy did two o’ those.”
“But aren’t there four aces in a deck?”
“Oui. Dat’s why he holdin’ de wrong ace.” He shrugged. “So Remy improvise… boom! Now dey after me.”
“How the hell old are you?”
“Uh… me'be sixteen?”
Then that anaemic goatee was an attempt to look older so he could cheat at cards. This kid was a *real* winner…
He was also rail thin, dirty, and sorely in need of help. Those idiots outside had guns, and Celia was willing to bet that they were *not* loaded with tranq’s.
“Okay. Here’s the deal,” she announced. “You want to hide out with us, you have to work *with* us. You’re part of the troop. Any time you want to leave, we’ll look up your nearest relatives and drop you off.”
An appologetic grin. “Remy’s relations be easy to find, Chere… but you might not wanna leave him wit’ dem.”
She could feel the answer, but she had to ask, anyway. “And why's that?”
“All Remy’s family be in jail right now.”
_Big surprise…_ Celia sighed. “I–” _–might regret this._ “–can make up another bunk for now.”
“*What*?” said Kurt. “Why?”
“Like it or not, hon, he’s the first person around here who’s made you speak more than four consecutive words in English. As near as I'm concerned, that’s rehabilitation.”
“He in rehab?”
“Long story.” Celia put the gun away. “We should be moving sometime soon, so you two play nice.”
“And give back the jewellery,” said Kurt.
Celia glared at Remy, who glared at Kurt. “Judas,” muttered Remy, emptying his pockets. “Remy was goin’ give dem back, anyhow. He don' usually steal from people hidin’ him.”
“Don’t do it again,” growled Celia. “*I* might be generous, but Seth runs this show and if you screw up once too often we might not care how many weeks you go hungry.”
“Remy get de picture, Chere. Remy be good.”
Seth’s introduction to Remy happened during the hustle and bustle of the next - slightly waterlogged - camp. In the midst of deciding which particular patch of soggy ground could logically contain what, he was faced with the demon-eyed teen.
“Where the hell did *he* come from?”
“N'awlins?” suggested Remy.
Celia ignored him. “Remember that road block?”
“…o God, no…” Seth muttered.
“Yeah. They were hunting him.”
“Remy play de wrong ace,” he supplied.
Seth gave the boy a solid glare. “Celia… we don’t need that sort of bad element in this crew. Just find some of his relatives and–”
“They’re all in jail, Seth. He has nowhere to go.”
“I’m running a *circus*, Cee… not an orphanage.”
“Remy be de good boy while he stay here, if dat help,” offered the cajun.
Seth was momentarily distracted. “Does he always talk in third person?”
“Only in English,” said Kurt. “If you want him to be less annoying, you have to speak French.”
Remy glared at Kurt. “Less annoying?”
“Only marginally,” Kurt grinned.
“Kurt’s *talking*,” marvelled Seth. “English! When did this happen?”
“Five seconds after 'trouble’, here, filched the cookies.”
“…'ey! Remy was too hungry, Chere. You should not hold that against him.”
“Hush,” Celia said. “You know what the system would do to him, Seth.”
Seth moaned. “All right. Fine. You’re his guardian, now. Mazel tov.”
“What? When did *I* volunteer to be den mother?”
“You fed him,” said Seth. “You let him follow you home…”
“He broke in,” said Kurt. “He didn’t follow anyone.”
“You ain’t helpin’ nobody, brouillé…”
Oh, *this* was going to be fun. Ceaceless entertainment in the form of continued bickering with accents.
_I just need one more mutant to make my home a *complete* tower of babel…_
“Okay. *Fine*,” she grumped on the way back. “Rule one, kid. No attempting to look older than you are. You’re shaving, end of story. Rule two, *NO* illegal activity. What. So. Ever. You might be old enough to be emancipated, but I’m not about to schlep to wherever to bail you out when you get caught.”
“You wound Remy’s pride, Chere.”
“Three. My name is Celia. Celia Yale. I’ll answer to Celia, Cee, Ms Yale, and ma'am in a pinch. I am your guardian, not your *date*.”
Remy harrumphed and did his level best not to pout.
“Four. Even though you’ve been good at bringing Kurt out of his shell, you do *not* automatically have a licence to be a bad influence on him. God knows why, but he just might look up to you, so be responsible or I’ll kick your ass from here to Hades. Capiche?”
A mournful sigh. “Oui.”
“And no card games for money.”
“You jus’ take de fun outta everythin’…” he pouted.
“You’re sixteen. Fun is something you’re supposed to sneak out for.”
He brightened. “Remy can live wi’ dat.”
“Now. On to the business of your work.”
“Remy s'posed to get a *job*?” he boggled.
“Why not?” said Kurt. “Everyone here works. *I* have a job.”
“Homme, you not even nine.”
“Am too!” Kurt countered. “…nearly.”
“Dere’s laws against dis sorta t'ing,” he protested.
Celia grinned. “That’s right. You get an alloted time to go to school–”
“*School*?” Remy yawped. “Merde! Remy def'nitely break into de wrong trailer. Dis almos’ be worse'n de Fiends…”
Kurt reached over and thwapped him upside the back of the head. "Dummkopf! Education’s a *privilege*. You should be glad you get to learn stuff.“
Remy was obviously lost. "Was he dropped on de head?”
“Every scientific advancement since the end of the Dark Ages was because people could write stuff down and print it in books,” said Kurt. "And you’re saying you want to stay ignorant?“ He scoffed. "Sir locked the wrong mutant in chains.”
“I told you it was a long story,” said Celia. “Go on, Kurt. Tell him all about the shitheads we rescued you from.”
“It was almost all right until Mama died…” he began.
Celia put a cover over dinner. “I thought we’d got over that, sug’.”
“But… I think I broke him.” Kurt pointed back to the couch, where Remy was huddled in a ball and wrapped in a blanket. One hand held a playing card between two fingers, cocked and ready to flip at any aggressor. That hand and his eyes were the only things that showed.
“What did you *do* to him?”
“I just told the truth.”
“All of it?”
“Kurt, sweetie, you haven’t told *me* all of it and I still get nightmares.”
Kurt bit his lip, looking back at gfgfhe traumatized mutant. How had so much come out to a complete stranger when he couldn’t bring himself to confess to the one person closest to him? “Sorry,” he murmured. “I didn't mean to…”
Maybe that was it. He didn’t want to hurt those close to him. Perhaps resentment of Remy made him more loose-lipped than usual.
And maybe he was spending too much time hashing things out with Mrs Nezmith. He was picking up the lingo.
Besides, Remy was now officially their problem. Breaking him on the first night was worse than bad form.
Kurt perched on the side of the couch. “It’s okay, now,” he said. "There’s a restraining order.“
"Ha! Remy know exac'ly how much *dey* worth…”
“Okay,” Celia drawled. “What’s with the playing card?”
Remy blinked and refocussed his attention on her. He grinned inside the darkness of his improvised shroud. “Remy’s li'l trick,” he said as the card began to glow between his fingers. “He can make un petite card pack all de power of a hand grenade.”
“Cool,” Kurt chirped.
“NOT INDOORS!” Mama-Celia made to grab for the card, but stopped herself. “And *especially* not in my trailer, kid!”
The card flickered out like a candle. “Remy not stupid, petite…”
“My *name* is *Celia*,” she growled. “And I am *not* letting you blow up my *home*. Capisce?”
“Oui, mam'selle. Remy jus’ like to be prepared, is all.”
“Be 'prepared’ *outside*, okay?”
“D'accord,” he mumbled, putting the card away. “But what if–?”
“I’m sure they’ll be bringing their own ammunition,” said Celia. “Make *them* the instant grenade.”
“…euw…” Kurt muttered. On the other hand, the idea of Sir blown to pieces and never - *ever* - able to return and threaten this sanctuary… it had a certain appeal. He felt instantly guilty for wishing another soul dead. Maybe he *was* the monster Sir told him he was. It was just taking its time manifesting.
Maybe he’d get more and more evil as time passed.
That terrifying thought drove his hand to his temple, searching for the first hint of a horn. His other hand found his rosary and squeezed the cross hard into his own flesh.
“Uh. Remy can’t make livin’ things blow up…” the older boy shrugged. "Call it a flaw.“
Celia boggled at him. "Okaaaayyy…” she warbled. “What else could go wrong?”
“I shouldn’t have asked,” Celia sighed. “I should never have asked.”
Kurt peeked out of the tent. They were being picketted by a group of protesters calling themselves Our Animal Friends. “You’d think they'd pick a better acronym,” he said.
Celia snickered as soon as she figured it out. “Awright. Enough rubber-necking. The show must go on and all that BS.”
Kurt squirmed out of his shirt and entered the cage, ready for the first show.
_We’re lucky he’s so darn hyperactive,_ Celia mused as she settled into her chair. _Anyone else would be too exhausted from this work for the show in the evening._
Celia turned to find Lynn Nezmith. “Trouble with Remy?”
“With a capital T…” said Lynn. “He’s worse than undereducated. In fact, given the struggle he’s having, I’d have to say he’s younger than you’ve been lead to believe.”
“How *much* younger?”
Lynn’s answer was drowned out by a tidal wave of noise from Our Animal Friends, who had managed to get into Kurt’s show tent. All they had to do was leave the placards outside and smuggle a handicam in.
_What is it with idiots documenting their idiocy?_ “Turn that thing off!” Celia demanded. “It’s a condition of entry that no recording media be allowed in.”
“So you could continue to abuse this noble creature of the wild and get away with it!”
“Free the creature! Free the creature!”
One thing about the aptly-acronymed OAF - they didn’t let anything petty, like Kurt’s physical appearance, stop them from their self-appointed task. The more Celia asked them to be quiet so she could talk, the louder and rowdier they became.
Troop members may have succeeded in hustling some of them outside, but more flooded in, chanting and ranting as they came.
The loudest of them, the ringleader, got into Celia’s face about the 'appalling’ conditions that Kurt was kept in, about how such a noble being should not be forced into any kind of cage just for the entertainment of passing slack-jawed yokels.
“But it’s all a con,” said Kurt.
To a protestor, OAF stopped and stared.
It helped that he was out of the cage. It helped incredibly that he was putting on a dressing gown.
The fact that he was casually tying a knot in the sash had them gobsmacked.
“Was?” he chirped. “None of you have heard of the 'Wild Man of Borneo’?”
As one, they stared at his tail, which still moved as though it had a mind of its own.
Kurt used the opportunity to grab the handicam. “Dankeschoen…” he took out the tape. “Of course, in order for my work to continue to rake in the profits, we’re going to have to confiscate this.” Kurt gave the handicam back. “Once, before people were so concerned about the animal acts, they used to be a circus’ main form of income, but now - all that’s left are people. And if someone happens to see an act they can reproduce… ffft! There goes all the money. I admit, some of it might be tricky–” here, he wriggled his tail “–but I really can’t take that chance. I happen to *like* regular meals.” And without further ado, Kurt pulled the tape from its cassette, and edited it with his teeth.
“You can’t do that,” howled the spokesperson, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. “That’s personal property.”
“The staff of this attraction reserve the right to confiscate and/or destroy any recording media they find smuggled *in* to the attraction," Kurt quoted. "It’s on the little disclaimer outside.”
“It’s true,” said Celia. “Go out and read it if you doubt us.”
The assembled members of OAF fumed, and filed out of the tent to find the relevant passages in the disclaimer.
“They’re going to be cross when they find out they have to buy more tickets to get back in,” said Celia.
“They’re going to be crosser when they find out I’ve gone on my break,” Kurt grinned.
Celia laughed. she could get to love the way Kurt thought. “And while we’re on our break,” she announced, “we need to have a little 'chat' with Remy.”
“He’s in trouble?” said Kurt. “Again?”
Celia’s eyes narrowed as she spotted the boy staffing one of the ball-and-target stalls. “Oh yeah. *Deep* trouble.”
“T'ree balls fo’ a dollar?” the young Cajun smarmed.
“If you’re sixteen,” said Celia, “I’m a monkey’s uncle. And I’m not even the right *gender* for that one.”
“So Remy lie jus’ a *little* about his age…”
Kurt reached forward and rubbed Remy’s chin. “Hey, look! His beard just rubs off.”
Remy went vermillion with mortification.
Celia folded her arms. “How old *are* you?” she demanded. “The truth, this time.”
“You want de truth?”
“Don’t give me any shit about my ability to handle any truths,” said Celia. “How old are you *really*?”
“T'irteen an’ a half,” Remy mumbled.
Kurt sniffed his thumb. “It’s… makeup…”
“…mascara…” muttered the Cajun.
“Thirteen and a half,” repeated Celia. “And you put *mascara* on your facial hair.”
“Jus’ to make it look real,” said the boy.
“Two words for you, kid.”
“No mo’?” Remy guessed.
“And I was beginning to think you weren’t clever.”
“Remy be streetwise, Chere… he know when to start runnin’.”
Celia glared at him. “What did you call me, young man?”
Remy audibly swallowed. “Sorry, Ma’m'selle… force of habit.” He erased the last of his smeared goatee with an abrading finger. “Remy be tryin’, non?”
“Very,” said Celia. Even though she wasn’t looking, she could sense Kurt grinning. “And don’t gloat, Kurt. It doesn’t suit you.”
Eccleston’s - Eccleston is the last name of the guy playing the new Dr Who.
Work, work, work… - WoW reference. Peons in the Orc side of the game mutter this at times.
“Clever boy…” she murmured. - Anyone else who saw the last minutes of the hunter dude in _Jurassic Park_ have now won a jelly ;)
“Whoever knew the old man had so much blood in him?” - Aw, come on. You *don’t* know where this comes from? Shakespeare! *Still* the most quoted author after about five hundred years. Give him a hand, folks.
Something’s rotten in the state of Michigan, - and let’s not forget *mis*quoted ;)
Aslan - CS Lewis side-fling… plus I’m pretty damn tired of hearing of lions named Leo.
“It’s incredible.” - “…But in ze Munich Circus, I was known as ze Incredible Nightcrawler!” ^_^ My obligatory movie side-fling.
Always, the Spanish fucking Inquisition… – “*NO*body expects the Spanish Inquisition!” ^_^ Yay for Monty Python ^_^
'coon-ape – Raccooon-ape. A mythological/cryptozoological creature of dubious veracity.
Doc Karloff – In the tradition of Star Trek Doctors with scary names… Who *wouldn’t* be scared by a Doctor Karloff?
Celia choosing some _The Storyteller_ DVDs – I absolutely adore that series ^_^ Three guesses what I want for Xmas ;)
“…and re-used words of evil for a good cause.” – The 'special secret' line is, apparently, the most commonly used phrase by pedophiles to their victims. Don’t fall for it.
bend, warp, spindle and mutilate – In the days of the old punch-card computers [MeMum remembers these, not I] there used to be warnings on the computerised readouts that went, “Do not fold, bend, warp, spindle or mutilate”. A spindle is a spike used to keep random paperwork in one place. Not exactly common use now ^_^
“His bathwater was tepid,” – One of the more famous lines from _The Mark of Zorro_ starring Tyrone Powell ^_^ It featured in a Nightcrawler adventure titled _Show Me the Way to Go Home_ way back sometime in the 70’s. And yes, I have a copy of that ish.
Father McKensy – Anyone who does *NOT* get this rather unsubtle Beatles reference should listen to _Elenor Rigby_ non-stop until they actually *do*.
The array of badges declaring the societies embedded therein… – Something my beloved and I have noticed whilst on the road from A to B. The more isolated, the more remote and the smaller the town, the more folderol they make about the official societies that are established there. Beats me why anyone would *brag* about having a thriving branch of the Country Womens’ Association [for example] but there ya go.
Or mostly chocolate *and* fried in lard. – Obscure _Shrek 2_ side-fling. “Somebody bring me something deep-fried and smothered in chocolate!” :D
The C&W songs Celia 'finds’ on the radio are, in order; _Rest Stop_ - which is actually a filk about a space-freighter - _That Ol’ Mountain Town_ by Billy Connoly, _The Indian Love Call_ - A _Mars Attacks_ side-fling - _Achey Breaky Heart_ by Billy Ray Cyrus, and _Desert Pete_ by the Kingston Trio. ^_^
“Mutant-hunting God-damned *loonies*!” – side-fling to _Tremours_, a favourite movie of mine, and the bit where the survivalist is mourning the loss of his home… “Underground God-damned *monsters*!”
“I’m running a *circus*, Cee… not an orphanage.” – A variant on what I like to call the Starfleet Occupation Test. Better known as “I’m a doctor, not a [insert different occupation here]!” 'Damnit’s optional.
“Don’t give me any shit about my ability to handle any truths” – A side-fling to _A Few Good Men_ and most of its parodies.