Excerpt from the notebook of Archi Teuthis: Schrodinger was right, in a way. Observing an action effects that action, but not watching effects it even more. If you drop a hammer without looking, does it still drop? Well, eventually. I tried dropping a book with my eyes closed and it did hit my feet. However, while walking down Velouria Avenue today my wings fell off while I was turned around. When I spun around again they were gone. So... either there is a kleptomaniac running around stealing nylon fairy wings or they fell up. Neat. *note to self* what goes up must come down - DON'T DROP ANY HAMMERS!
A teenage boy walks the sidewalk of a deserted "historic" street clutching a pair of glittery nylon wings, the kind you see sold for five dollars to aspiring fairy princesses and sugar plum fairies the week before Halloween. The wings are purple with green glitter-glue spirals, which the teen boy is painfully aware of. A gangly, six-foot red head [in too small second-hand jeans and plaid shirt] Coffin Galiardi turns away from the glare of the shop windows along Velouria Avenue.
"Get out round back! Customer parking in front!" James Ming, arms flailing, rockets out of Ming's Chopped Family House [a supposedly 'cute' joke - cute in the way a 60-foot neon green flamingo statue planted in your front yard for your birthday would be 'er... cute. I like it' kind of 'cute'] to the white truck pulled up front. He glances at the PPD emblazened on the side, "Ah - uh - Sorry, SIR, thought you were the rat guy."
"Mr. Ming?" Coffin calls, waving and swinging the wings behind his back.
The man spins around. "Coffin! Get inside! Nothing to see here, heh." And spins back to the blue giant unfolding from the front seat.
Inside, staring at the cieling, is a girl with monochrome green hair. She looks over when Coffin enters, the slanting light from the table lamps catching her eyes before a moss green lock swings in front, exposing a lime streak near her hair line. "Hullo. Do you work here?"
"Yeah, wait a sec." He ducks into the hall alcove by the kitchen, pops on his paper hat and pops out again.
The girl's eyes go wide, "Where did you find those?!" and snatches the fairy wings from Coffin's grip.
"Er - are they yours? Cuz I found them in this tree down the street?"
She giggles and straps the wings on behind her back [remember what was mentioned earlier about the fairy princesses and sugar plum fairies? She looks something like that], "I knew I left them somewhere." Meets Coffin's gaze, pumps his hand, "I'm Archi Teuthis, by the way. Thanks bunches..." and tilts her head, "Coffin Galiardi. Oo! I like your name! Are you a bad guy?"
"Only, cuz with a name like that it'd be hard to be the good guy. Coffin Galiardi. It sounds like you'd be some kind of Italian evil genius. Do you have a cat?"
"You should get a cat. A black one. It'd reinforce the image, ya know?" She gasped and slapped her hands [yes, her nails were painted green, too] to her mouth, parted them a bit. "I don't sound racist, do I? Cuz I don't mean that cuz you're Italian you'd be evil or anything like that - um. Nice hat."
"Er," Coffin frowned and blushed, "Ok - er - here's your table." And ducked back into the hall alcove by the kitchen. Over the sound of whistling steam and ringing steel he heard, Zarq! Crab Wontons, please!
Archi Teuthis sat pouting at her table in Ming's Chopped Family House, sucking at the straw in her lemonade. The crab wontons sit in a dainty tower in the center of the red clothed table, smelling sweet and warm. She checks her large ladybug wristwatch. Snorts. Plays with the soy sauce container for a bit, making it dance and spin in a tiny, paper napkin skirt. Realizing she could poke a bit of wonton into the prongs of a certain tall fork to look like a bowtie, she reaches for the plate but looks up at the ringing of the restaurant door.
"Don't touch those wontons!" A figure in a wide brimmed hat and long, black cloak sweeps through the door, bows, and snatches the topmost folded crisp. He swings off his hat to expose stark white hair and red gray, smirking eyes that wink at the girl. "Sorry I'm late, dear."
Archi grins and snatches back the wonton before stuffing it in her mouth, "Ahbauht toam, Rad."
"I see you found your wings again, good."
"Yef," she swallowed, "Coffin Galiardi found them in a tree. He made these lovely wontons for us, too."
Rotmantl lowers himself elegantly into the plush red chair, dusting off his black silk sleeve. "I apologise, the ground level tenant down the street had a bit of a mishap this morning while buttering a bagel."
"Buttering? How CRUDE," she mocks, imitating Rotmantl's tone.
He shrugs, "How else do you accidently, brutally stab yourself in the stomach? I didn't really ask the specifics of the incident - except," he leaned closer over the table, the lamp above casting dark shadows under his eyes, "the butter knife didn't kill him." Rotmantl relaxed and tossed a wonton from hand to hand, "Yes, it seems that while he was buttering the bagel he happened to be looking out his window at the street; which, as it happens, contained the woman he had been lusting after for quite a time. Of course, his hands began to sweat and he lost his grip on the knife which, unfortunately, slipped into his stomach. Well, the girl happens to turn and sees him panting and groaning in the window - she, assuming the worst of the poor man, runs off screaming." He looked up, "He died of embarassment."
"Er." Standing at attention at the side of the table, looking pale and a bit worse for wear under his sweaty red mop of hair, is Coffin Galiardi, clutching the order book and rocking gently from side to side. "Er - bill."
"Oh! This must be Coffin Galiardi, the wing bearer." Rotmantl grins spookily up at the boy.
"I - er - didn't have an order for wings here?"
"Thank you, Coffin. Say thank you, Red."
"Thaaaaaank you, Coffin Galiardi," Rotmantl smirks and bites his wonton violently. Little bits of crab carnage splat on his plate in pink and white gore.
"Just - er - pay at the desk around the corner," Coffin mutters and ducks back into his alcove like a coocoo bird, leaving the bill to drift onto the table like a hastily flung feather.
Rotmantl turns back to find Archi giving him 'a look'. He sighs and dabs at his mouth with a paper napkin. "Anything new in the life of Archi Teuthis, then?"
She slumps a bit, the glitter on her wings and top catching the harsh light. Twists her hands. "Um - did you know the soul weighs about the same as your big toe?"
"My big toe?"
He shrugs and takes another bite of wonton, "Sounds about right. But that's not exactly new. Wasn't that experiment done in," he stares thoughtfully off into space, holding the remaining crisp between thumb and forefinger near his ear.
He glances back at Archi. "Ooo... Something is wrong. You were never one for dates."
"Can I stay with you and Charon for a while?" She blurts.
Rotmantl Dietrik sighs and begins to shake his head.
"I know what you're gonna say - but I really need to this time." She bends over the table, her arms splayed across the gold plates. "It's just that Dad was on that art tour, right? With the harps and dragons? Anyway, he met up with the old band at a gas station in hicktown and they're having a reunion concert." Her green eyes widened. "Mum got vacation time so she's following him out there. But I can't go because," she frowned, "well, they wouldn't actually tell me but the point is I need a place to stay."
Rotmantl considered the girl, how her eyes watched his face, how her mouth twitched down a bit with every agonizing second. He rolled his head back to the cieling. "FINE."
"REALLY?!?!" she screeched, grining wide. "You won't regret this! Really! I'llbringALLmystuff:myspecialcoldpillowandfluffypinkrobeandmaybemyglitterlampbutnotmylavalampbecauseitsucksuptoomuchenergyandwecanstayupallnightandwatchalienmoviesandeatmyspecialhomemadechocolatesquids!"
Rotmantl Dietrik began to zone out after that bit about the fluffy pinkness, moaning, "Great."
Coffin jumped, his hands elbow deep in sweet-smelling dish water. Glanced around. The kitchen was empty.
"Coffin! Get your butt out here and talk to the cop!"
The boy came spinning out of the back door, rapidly drying his hands with a dish towel. He staggered at the mammoth blue suit blocking his way to Mr. Ming.
"You're Galiardi?" it growled.
"Did you see anything out of line on your way here, specifically on Velouria Avenue, son?"
Mr. James Ming cowered in the cop's shadow, but straightened and snapped, "Answer him, boy."
Rotmantl Dietrik adjusted his wide, black hat. Counted out the paper money on the table for the red head's tip. Archi had left to gather her things. He slumped and shook his head.
A thunderous roar from behind him, "Is that the guy?"
"He - sure - but I don't think he -"
A huge hand gripped Rotmantl's shoulder and spun him around. "Show me your shoes."