Chapter 1: The Borgo Pass
(From Crone by Fred Barnett)
I feel so ‘willowy’ today, the girl was thinking. I’m young, blonde, thin and springtime fresh! (She wasn’t that young.) I love how my fine long hair blows in the breeze as I pick flowers on my way toward my favorite spot on the hill overlooking the City. Oh look! There sits a handsome minstrel!”
She approached the young man.
“Hi.You sound just like James Taylor” said The Willowy One.
“Alas! Fair maiden! You look just like Gwyneth Paltrow. All ‘willowy’ an’ shit.” Said the smooth shirtless easy-going and cool guy who was playing a James Taylor song called “Laid Back and Cool” on his guitar beneath an oak tree.
“My name is Wilhelmina Rosenblatt. You can call me Willy.” Said the thirty-something-year-old-blond. “Someday I will be a Princess! You, my handsome thirty-something year old boy look a little like James Taylor.” Said the faux Paltrow.
“Aye, my Princess, my name is Johnny, short for Jonathan. My father was Jonathan Tepes. He was a famous musician from Eastern Europe, ‘cept he’s bald and old. I’m lanky and young and cool without a care in the world. You, my dear, look extra willowy to me.
“I am willowy. You could blow me away with a fart.”
“Dear maiden, I hope that you don’t mind that I haven’t bathed in a week or washed my underwear in a month. I’ve been living off of the land, our Mother Earth.”
“ Das Vaterland.” Mina whispered to the flower in her hand.“‘Once again the songs of the fatherland roared to the heavens along the endless marching columns’.”
“Who said that?” said Johnny.
“He was a vegetarian. Are you a vegetarian?”
“Mostly. I don’t eat much. If I farted I might ...”
“...Blow yourself away. I mean, do you eat any meat at all, Fair One?
“I once bathed in the blood of a friend’s placenta. My Guru suggested it. His name was Clem Choudhury. He was so beautiful, just like his brother, Bikram. He said that placenta are good for the complexion. In fact, now I have my own business manufacturing my own brand of skin care products.”
“Sorry, the Latin plural for placenta is placentae. During the school year I study language and sometimes teach Elizabethan literature. This summer I’m just be a handsome, cool lifeguard in Santa Monica. Can I be your Prince, fair maiden? Where would you like to rule, My Lady?”
“My parents came here from Hungary. That’s all that I know about my original family.
“We’re practically neighbors. My family is from Romania. I’ll be going there soon, someday. My grandmother wants me to find my grandfather who had been robbed and is probably dead.”
Two weekend bikers broke the silence of the Sunday afternoon as they approached the hill on a thundering Harley.
“You look like a Salvador Dali painting.” Said the make-believe James Taylor to the weekend biker mama, a sixty-year-old monstrosity with sagging tattoos.
“Huh? Did you hear what this motherfucker said to me, Chester?”
“You skinny prick. If I wasn’t just a huge sloppy overweight outafuckinshape stock broker with a bad ticker, I’d stomp your sorry ass, punk. Nobody talks to my fuckin’ bitch like that.”
“Hey! I was just admiring her artwork, man.”
“He’s gonna be a Prince and I’m gonna be his Princess someday.”
“Oh reeeeally? You two look the part now. Take my advice, ya better do it while you’re all willowy an shit, lady. That goes for you too, granola breath.”
One Year Later:
Jonathan Harker's, taxi rolled on deep into the Carpathian Mountains. His paid business was to find Karoly Tepes, the lost husband of his grandmother and patron, the wealthy old crone, Piroska Tepes. He was also to recover the money from the sale of their estate near Bram Castle. Jonathan was instructed to contact the only member of the family still living in Romania, Vlad Tepes, a true Prince, who lived in Poenari Castle beyond Transylvania’s Borgo Pass.
Die Fledermaus (The Bat), an operetta composed by Johann Strauss played jauntily on the Taxi’s radio as the driver tapped the beat on the steering wheel.
The evening's thunder clouds began to settle for the night. Ridges of towering cliffs bookmarked by waterfalls began unfolding before the car's windshield. The monumental pages of the old Carpathian Mountains, ghostly white and empty, were wide open in expectation of a new chapter. Young Jonathan Harker III decided that he needed to write Willy. Oh, how he missed her.
The Elizabethan Literature teacher picked up his copy of Great Love Letters, for inspiration, and read the tragic war correspondence between Huthbert and Mallomarie:
Dearest Darling Penelope....
The artillery has stopped momentarily. As I lie awake in my muddy foxhole beneath the night sky of Ghoolkhamish — Alas, my angel, I can only think of you.
When I come home, my dearest, though it may be five years from this day, I promise we shall marry. Your father hates me, I know, as does your dog ( a part of whose jaw is still attached to my buttock).
Despite what your husband thinks, I know that we can make this marriage work. Though I lost half my face, one third of my manhood and a nipple in the bloody trenches of Dyfthphedif, I promise that the cottage that I have purchased will be a happy one, surrounded by the warm laughter of children, or - at the very least - very immature adults.
How is your cough, my Angel? I was distressed to find that your last correspondence had a small bloody piece of your lung stuck to it, Sweetheart. Please hang on to God’s precious gift of life until I can limp to your side.
Your precious letters warm my heart, Darling. I smell your perfume and, with a shield between my mouth and the envelope, kiss the lipstick on the seal before I dream my happy dreams every night.
With my good arm, I long to hug you and keep you warm, even when you cough (Though, alas, I regret, there will be no deep intertwining of tongues).
All my love,
Yours forever — Huthbert April 32, 1779
Poenari Castle's broken silhouette passed hundreds of feet above Harker, framed by the rising moon and the black branches reaching out in ...velcome.
Harker peered through the glass, breathless. The rain, thick as plasma, began to block his view from the Taxi.
"Is my passenger still ...alive?" thought the driver. He turned his head back toward the passenger: "Are you there ...Sir? Let it be known, young Sir, that breathing can attract a variety of ...undesirables."
A loud long exhalation was finally heard from the back seat.
"Look! Ve're almost home, Mr. ...Harker!"
In the Prince's hemorrhaging neck of the woods, breathing was regarded as overrated.
Causes Fred Barnett Supports