Dobby left the Principality, damaged his roadster, and is visiting at his friend Gari’s beachfront villa. Visions of Sylvia return with increased frequency.
How did we get to Part Eleven already? Did you somehow miss the beginning of the story? If you foolishly jump in here, you’ll need to refer to the Cast of Characters below. Good luck. Recommended snack: Coffee and donuts
By the time Prince Dobalob paid the bill and walked around to the front of the restaurant, Sylvia and the little squirrels had vanished. Gari stood by the sticky table while the valet finished paying the bill. Two waitstaff started to scrub the table, then the chairs, and finally the ground. Sparrows flitted about as the detritus lost elevation and moved toward the curb.
“Sylvia said you should use that Segway until your car is ready. Let’s head to the villa. There’s still time for the beach today.”
As they Segwayed down the road, Gari recalled their school days, when the chums took turns visiting each other on weekends. Little Prince Dobby’s privileged lifestyle was tempered by his mother’s overbearing style of mothering. He learned how to cope by watching his father’s agreeable good nature dodge the continual assaults by ignoring her most of the time. Gari’s own parents were so relaxed that they mismanaged a respected chain of car dealerships into bankruptcy. After that, cocktail hour slipped perilously close to breakfast. Gari salvaged the last Bentley dealership during high school but their final medical bills left him with only this villa and a fleet of Segways. Between the four parents, there was nary a good example for the young boys. Dobby’s older brother, Caplin, had joined the Guardia Principale because it sounded distant and exotic, and indeed it was. Dobby was as determined to maintain his freedom as Gari was to hang onto his villa, with its distant technicolor memories. But Dobby’s pouffy expression wasn’t consistent with his lifelong habit of bachelorhood. Gari checked the road ahead for potholes and then stole a glance backward at his friend. Who was missing.
Gari sighed and slowly rotated the Segway to backtrack up the road to search for his friend. He chastised himself for daydreaming. Prince Dobby tended to drift, both literally and existentially. Honestly, he knew better than this, and these sport Segways were pretty good off-road and there were dozens of forest paths along this road. No good ponds or streams, though. Gari continued to look left and right as he—wait, there was a Segway parked in front of a little farm stand! Gari chuffed and wagged his big head as he pulled up to the untended corn stand. Now he felt foolish. Dobby had cleaned out the stand and looked thrilled with himself.
“Gari, my man! You sailed right past this corn! Look at it all! They even have bags! Do you think it’s okay if I buy it all? Can you take a couple of these bags?”
Gari gawked at the pile of gold coins spilling off the counter of the little stand. “Let me drop those coins into the pay slot, first. Then let’s make sure you got all the corn, they’ll put out more after we leave. Did you double-bag it? Those bags look like puffer fish! Sure hope these Segways were fully charged. These sport models aren’t really designed for cargo and they’ll poop out after a while.”
“If they do, at least we won’t starve.” While Gari was busy pushing the coins, one at a time, into the crude slot with his clumsy paws, Dobby had set most of the bags on the ground in front of Gari’s Segway. He was left holding the bags. Dobby had already mounted his own Segway and was rolling away as Gari fumbled with stashing the bags. As he watched Dobby pick up speed downhill, he gave up and slipped a couple bags on each arm, up to his elbow, and wobbled off the soft frontage dirt and back onto the road.
Eventually, they coasted down the villa driveway without power. Dobby had noticed a magical blip along the road and prudently snatched up some butterflies to boost the batteries. They pulled into the carriage house and plugged in the scooters.
“That corn did slow us down. It was a good idea to stop and eat some of it along the way. I never noticed that magical surge back there. You were always good at scoping out the local magic reserves. Things have deteriorated down here. It’s a lot worse than when you were here last time.”
“I can survey your property while I’m here, but there’s nothing much that can be done about it. The magic’s still reliable up north, especially near the principality. I don’t have much experience with outages, but I can locate your hot spots or slow leaks.”
“The beach is still the beach, and nobody can take that magic away. I don’t think I could ever live away from the salt spray and the sand, the little shorebirds with their toothpick legs. Wouldn’t we look ridiculous if our legs moved that fast underneath us!” They laughed and Gari continued, “I’m going to try it!” And he galloped down the path to the beach, chubby legs moving in tandem, like an overstuffed rhino on sofa legs.
An afternoon of skimboarding and tidepool bathing had tuckered out the old chums and the sunset was losing ground to candles. When Gari’s villa started to lose power, he had dozens of themed candle-powered chandeliers installed. The one above them on the veranda was festooned with strands of tiny shells. Beach glass glowed at each candle. The kitchen featured measuring spoons and wire whisks, while the parlor showed off his mother’s crystal cream and sugar collection. Against his better judgement, the living room chandelier was framed with driftwood, but here he conceded to safety by using solar lights that were charged during the day by the skylight above. His mother’s room, now a guestroom, was pink French poodle themed. Dobby objected to that room and instead stayed in the fighter jet room when he visited. Clinging to the past, Gari’s lamp was packed with translucent Pokemon. He said he didn’t want to change the wallpaper, but everyone knew he really liked the Pokemon because it reminded him of simpler days, living in the villa with his parents.
Dobby stared into the late sunset and absently sucked the foam off the top of his root beer float. Gari could almost see the conjured image of Sylvia that seemed to hold his attention beyond the surf. Dobby hadn’t mentioned her at all, but his wistful expression and disjointed conversation were obvious signs of a latent spell. He hadn’t put together more than a couple border pieces of the big puzzle he had pulled out of his suitcase. The other suitcases stood unpacked and he had dismissed the poor nocturnal butler who had been up all day after a stressful night of impromptu loading.
“So, tell me about this blimp. What are you going to do with it?”
Dobby turned to look at his friend. “Not a blimp. A zeppelin. Blimps are silly toys. Did you know you can even order them on the internet? No, I am building a zeppelin, a proper airship. It’s going to be spectacular!”
“You mean like the Hindenburg?” Gari baited his friend. He suspected Dobby knew nothing of blimps, airships or zeppelins. Dobby looked at his friend suspiciously. He had heard of the Hindenburg, but he couldn’t remember anything about it other than it was associated with bad luck.
“Kind of like that, I suppose, but better. There aren’t too many of them around anymore, so mine will be the best.”
“You don’t know anything about zeppelins, do you? Or blimps or airships of any kind, for that matter.” Gari picked up his tablet and started to type in Hindenburg.
“I do, too. I even have a blimp, so there!” Too late, Dobby realized his tactical error.
Gari pounced. He sat up in his chair and turned to face Dobby. “You have a blimp? Wait, don’t tell me. You ordered it on the internet, didn’t you? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Dobby started laughing, too. “You know, it was late, and Moneypenny was off-duty, and I was bored, and it seemed like such a good deal. I didn’t want to wait for Rodney to build one of his super-crazy over-designed monstrosities this time. I wanted it now. So I ordered it”
“Dobby, Dobby, Dobby. When will you ever learn. So, what happened?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you ordered it, right? Did it come? Say, how long ago was this, anyway?”
“Last week.” He looked down at his float and sucked on the straw, but the loud slurp told him there was mostly ice cream left. “Have you got more root beer?”
“Last week? Really? And you were going to tell me when, exactly?”
“I’m telling you now, doofus. The root beer?”
“Okay, if I get you more root beer, you have to tell me about this blimp thing. I’ll be right back.”
Dobby leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Sylvia’s face appeared, like it had every time he closed his eyes since they had met. It made him feel all cozy inside. All of a sudden he realized that Gari had returned with the root beer and was standing over him. He sat up quickly but didn’t realize how far down he had slumped in his chair. As he adjusted his position, the glass full of ice cream slid from his chubby paw and tipped over in slow motion. There was an initial slosh onto the table and then the glass rolled a lazy arc across the upturned puzzle pieces, painting a thin sticky line all the way across to the puzzle box.
“You know,” he said, “I’m kind of tired. I think I’ll just turn in. See you in the morning.” And Prince Dobalob left the room.
Gari and Dobby waited impatiently at a tiny table in the breakfast gazebo. The donut truck was late and they were already starting on their third cappuccinos. The tree behind them was dropping plump ripe apples onto the lawn, raspberries were ripe in clumps to the right and left, and scented rosebuds begged to be eaten. There were a dozen banana trees out front, and a little cart for hauling them to the house.
“When we’re in town, we’ll grab some croissants for tomorrow morning. Is there anything else you need in town? I’ll take the truck, so you know, anything smaller than a horse will fit.”
“I could use a new butler. Kipling is still asleep!” Dobby chuckled. He was only awake because Gari’s espresso machine was so noisy. Kipling was up on the sleeping porch in a hammock away from the morning kitchen bustle. He wouldn’t have the little valet to spell him at Gari’s villa. Dobby would be at the mercy of Gari’s staff for a few days.
The donut truck trundled up to the gate and they heard some grunting and some squeaking as the kitchen staff pushed the old wagon up the driveway toward the truck.
Dobby stood up and waved at the crew. “Buy all of them, all of the donuts. Thanks!” Bond flew over to the table while Dobby counted out some gold coins into a little white bag with a yellow drawstring. Maybe he didn’t need a butler after all. He was about to joke about this with the little budgie, but he was struggling to lift the bag and Dobby decided just to smile at him. He strained to see what was being loaded onto the wagon.
“Patience, my man,” said Gari. “they have all kinds and you bought all of them, so you can sort them out when they get here.”
“They didn’t have a donut truck out here when we were kids. They just had that bread truck with stale cookies.”
Gari rolled his eyes. “We always had a donut truck, but Mom called it The Bread Truck and never told me about the donuts.”
“Daang! That’s cold. Why do you think she did that? So you wouldn’t get fat and have rotten teeth, I suppose. Heck, we didn’t even have a bread truck!”
“Really? You lived in a palace and there was no bread truck? I don’t believe that for a second. You were right downtown. Maybe they figured you would just send someone out. Or your Mom was even more devious than mine. Maybe it drove right past every morning!”
Gari’s cell phone chirped and he turned aside to get the glare off the screen. Dobby was still focused on the wagon-loading project. He saw Bond drop the bag of coins into the baker’s paw and the kitchen staff jumped onto the wagon, holding the precious bakery bags aloft. One of the larger staff hopped onto a built in bench at the downhill side and grabbed a lever in each paw. The wagon started to roll down the hill, picking up speed as it neared the open side of the gazebo and little table with two nearly full cappuccinos. Dobby drew in his breath and prepared to leap out of the way. He glanced over at Gari who was engrossed in texting a reply and not at all aware of the speeding wagon. Knowing what would happen at home, even with magic, Dobby lurched for the two cups of coffee and tossed them through an open window at the back of the gazebo. He leapt after them, landing in the rose garden, breaking the trunk of a very large blooming yellow rose tree. The cappuccinos bounced along the ground, coming to a gentle stop against a small brick border. Meanwhile, the speeding wagon had slowed and turned and come to a leisurely stop at a conservative distance from the gazebo.
“Hey man, what are you doing? Don’t like the donut assortment? You haven’t even seen them yet!” Gari went back to his texting, but he was trying not to giggle. He was so used to Dobby’s antics it was hard to remember that he was a Prince. He was texting to Sylvia about Dobby’s car and he wondered whether Sylvia would think Dobby was as funny as he did. He gestured to the staff. “Two more cappuccinos. D’oh! Take your time. Unload the donuts first.” Now he was laughing. He looked out the gazebo window, thankful he hadn’t had them glazed. Dobby was up and brushing the mulch off his waistcoat, trying to look nonchalant, as if he had only leaned too far out the window trying to smell the flowers. The staff beyond, carrying off the coffee cups, saucers, and demitasse spoons spoiled the devil-may-care look he was going for. To say nothing of the broken rosebush.
“She says there’s a couple suspicious scratches in the oil pan,” said Gari, “and you have three options: you can hope the scratches don’t rust through, she can attempt to reinforce the scratched parts, or get a new replacement part. If she puts in the order now, the part will be here tomorrow. What do you want to do?”
Dobby shook his head and looked through the window at his friend. “Say what? Sylvia? Are you talking to Sylvia? What did she say?”
“Your car, remember that? Your car slid over an embankment? Please tell me you remember that.”
“Oh yes, my car.” Dobby regained his dignity. “What about my car?”
“Geez,” said Gari. “The new part won’t be here until tomorrow. You okay with that?”
“Sure,” said Dobby. “Did she say anything else?”
“Um, like what?” Gari turned so that Dobby wouldn’t see his eyes rolling up into his forehead. [We’re waiting here for Dobby to respond.] “How about we go into town for a late lunch?”
Dobby worked harder on the nonchalant business. “I guess that would be okay, whatever you want to do.”
Gari turned back to his texting. Over his shoulder he said, “Okay. We’ll get lunch in town. If Sylvia can make it, she’ll let me know. We better finish this breakfast in time to go to lunch.”
To be continued . . .
The indispensable Cast of Characters:
This story needs illustrations! Select an event from this story (how about donuts or a root beer float?), draw a picture of it, and send me an email. I’ll reply so that you can attach a digital copy of your masterpiece to it. I’ll add it to the story!
Or, if you’d rather help with the glossary, send me the list of words you had to look up (or should have looked up, but didn’t!). When I finish writing the ending, I will start putting together the glossary.