Tooie and Jack the Bump
Tooie and Jack the Bump
was the name of the novel Cynthia returned to Promisetown
to write. She hoped it to be her masterpiece, the
definitive story about ... well, about Promisetown. When
she'd left the town 15 years earlier, she'd been disgusted
and had wanted to write a story about the vile people and
the corruption she had encountered while living here. It
was, she'd planned over the years, going to be a story
The problem was that she was starting to
have second thoughts now. Walking home this evening from
the pier where she'd watched the sunset with all the other
townies and tour-ons, she'd begun to actually feel a new
kind of sensation. Maybe if was because the town had
mellowed over the years, or maybe it was because she had
mellowed herself. But suddenly things seemed to make more
sense; the things that had happened back then. Plus many
of the villains in her story were dead now -- and that
made things seem somehow different.
Even Mercantile Street seemed somehow
friendlier than she remembered it. Back then, during her
more wild days of wine and roses, the main street seemed
somehow claustrophobic and phony. But she noticed the
other day, while coming back from Stanley's 'cipitation's
memorial service, that Mercantile Street seemed to be
welcoming her. Still, wasn't that one of Patrick's
favorite notions, that Promisetown was a devious and
jealous lover. Didn't he always say that if was only when
you tried to leave the town on a rainy day that the sun
would burst brilliantly forth. Instantly the town would
lull you into a sense of yearning for its mountains and
you leave," Patrick would say, "this town has its hooks in
you. You'll be back. You'll be back."
she was, back.
Then yesterday when she was talking to her
neighbor, Maxwell Wellington, she'd learned that the one
and only Mrs. M. Burk, the realtor from hell, had died in
a horrific accident just a week before Cynthia's return.
And to make matters even more peculiar, it turns out that
Burk's Aunt, Stockin', had drowned the previous summer off
the coast of Mount Pelion. It seems that one of those
notorious Chinook winds Stockin' so loathed must have had
it in for her -- a particularly severe burst of wind
flipped over a sailboat she was on. Her body was never
found and, of course, Jimmy Maloney over at the City Scape
Bar and Grill claimed that her ghost could now be heard
wailing on stormy nights.
Jimmy Maloney had been slated to be a
secondary character in Cynthia's novel; he was one of the
few people still around from those golden, olden days.
But even Jimmy was a vastly different character from the
days when Cynthia used to drink after hours with him; he'd
joined AA and was now on the Board of Selectman. That
complicated matters for Cynthia as she was trying to
figure out a way to use his antics in the novel without
embarrassing him in any way.
Cynthia liked her new neighbor, Maxwell
Wellington. A writer like herself, he seemed to be a
curious blend of a variety of characters. He was handsome
and funny but also seemed to have a dark side. In one
light you got the feeling that he was in his twenties; but
with a turn of his head he suddenly looked much older.
Yesterday, when Cynthia had agreed to have tea with Max
out on his deck, her feelings that he was a multi-tiered
individual were confirmed.
been talking about Cynthia's return to Promisetown for
about half an hour when she decided to change the subject
of conversation to Max.
you do," Cynthia had said, "I mean, when you aren't
missing a single beat, Max had replied, "I'm an escort."
thinking she'd misheard him, had chuckled and said, "Oh,
that's funny! I thought you said you were an
"I am an
escort," Max had replied, "Male. Female. The works."
was immediately taken by his candor and his ... well, his
weirdness. For the rest of the evening, the two of them
sat watching the Blue Bridge fade into the dusk while they
chatted about everything under the sun. When that bridge
started to appear again in the morning light, Cynthia
packed it in and went across the hall to her apartment.
The City Scape Bar and
Grill had been a fixture