'A woman wearing a beret looks like adventure!'
His mouth shot off what his mind was thinking; he hadn't intended to speak. Was he creeping into mental illness?
She was of a medium build and height with her brown eyes matching the colour of her hair beneath a maroon knit beret. Over her white blouse she was wearing what looked like a hand knit vest sweater with the same maroon colour as one of the alternating small jagged lines together with yellow and green. She wore a beige skirt and sensible leather shoes.
'It's a wonderful day for an adventure!', she smiled in response.
A good gust of wind would have blown him over. He had almost given up giving compliments to women as they would always respond with a self conscious remark about how awful they really looked or they threw an insult at him. He had never met a female who could not only accept his praise but would return his serve.
'Would you like to join me for tea?'
They were at the monthly Saturday market at an Anglican church that dated from the 1860s. They became acquainted over tea and scones in one of the Gothic buildings in the large churchyard.
The market as well as the church's regular second hand store had a variety of interesting stalls selling food and other goods. Everything was doubly fascinating when she was by his side, but the time flew by.
'Are you doing anything special tonight?'
'Nothing "Special", what do you suggest?'
'Going to dinner and a comedy film?'
'That sounds very special, and I'd love to join you.'
'I'll make reservations. Half past five at the Shamrock Hotel?'
'It's a date, mate! Don't be late!'
* * *
Dinner, conversation, and the film were better than he imagined. He waited with her by her bus stop until she went aboard. Whilst they were waiting she asked,
'Are you doing anything special tomorrow?'
'If it's with you it has to be special.'
'I'd love for you to meet my family tomorrow morning in Nutgrove after church.'
He was surprised that he would be meeting her parents so early in their relationship.
'Oh, they're wonderful people. You've never met anyone like them. They're a bit eccentric, but fun...like me! Please say you'll come.'
'Give me a time and an address and I'll be there!'
* * *
He rode the Sunday morning bus that went on beyond Sandy Bay with a bouquet of colourful flowers. The driver agreed that he would let him off near the suburb of Nutgrove that he had never been to or even known had existed. He laughed to himself that it sounded like the name of a mental institution in one of the 1940s cartoons or comedy films that he loved. Oh well, all you needed for an asylum was an empty room and the right type of people...It was as if the bus he was in was also a part of the cartoon,
'Nutgrove! All Nuts off the bus!'
'That's me, I'm nuts!'
The courteous driver pointed to a strange building ahead.
'Just walk up to that thing that looks like a castle and walk down the winding road...the road may not be made out of yellow bricks, but you'll be surprised at what you'll find.'
It did look like a wall of a castle, or a gatehouse to a medieval gated community that kept out the plague and Viking riff-raff. He followed the small winding road, and the driver had a good idea; it should have been made out of yellow bricks like the road to Oz. Across the road was either a small park, or someone's elaborate garden.
Nutgrove was a grid of several blocks bordered by the main road on one side and the beach on the river. After the residential area was a large lovely park, some large attractive old wooden houses, and a couple restaurants with another road leading up to the main artery that he had come from on his bus.
It truly was a 'secret suburb', as he never knew anything this nice existed. The blue sky and turning leaves set off the area that looked like an illustration in a children's book from long ago.
He arrived at exactly 10 o'clock and rang the doorbell. He heard the hour chime from a clock inside. To his delight, his new girlfriend answered the door with a radiant smile. She was dressed in smart casual, again in what looked like a hand knitted sweater. She gasped at the flowers,
'You too. They're the colours your sweater was yesterday.'
'You're very observant! I hope you like home-made crumpets!'
'Love them, love you!'
He hadn't meant to have said that either, again, it just came out.
'As I do, too!'
The tea kettle whistled.
'My feeling exactly!'
* * *
Her gracious parents had the same warm lovely smile that she did, and he felt at home. Their clothes were older and conservative, no doubt they hadn't changed after their church services. Introductions were made, their daughter poured their tea from a pot kept warm with a charming knit cosy. He found that he had something in common with them, his love of pure honey that was being served up with the tea and crumpets.
Instead of the sound of church bells, there was the sound of a very low flying helicopter that grew louder and louder and LOUDER.
A loudspeaker sounded,
'Mr. and Mrs. Robertson! Come out of the door with your hands up! You are under arrest for defying the vaccination mandate of the Federal Authorities!'
All of the Roberson family were ignoring things; their stiff upper lip and lower lip were in smiles. Her father, became only slightly upset.
'"Roberson", why can't they get it right?'
Their guest found himself giving the mother of all stupid questions.
'Have I come at a bad time?'
'Could be worse...'
Mr. Roberson looked out the window where helmeted black clad men and women in gas masks behind the row of Federal Authority vehicles were armed as if they were going to war. They didn't wait for anyone to come out, they opened fire with automatic weapons...but the picture window was an incredibly strong plexiglass that was soon marked in white where their bullets had hit it.
The sound of the helicopter was at its peak, they heard the pitter-patter of boots on the roof.
'Oh dear, and I've just patched up some of the shingles, too.'
Mrs. Roberson obliviously sipped her tea as did her daughter, their guest sat transfixed as he were in shock.
'Aren't the Claymores working dearest?', Mrs. Roberson asked as she took a bite of her crumpet, 'Richard, you do prefer "Richard" don't you? Have you enough crumpets?'
Richard smiled and nodded, then heard the sound of clicking from inside the house and the sound of something cutting through the top of the roof.
'They're just facing inward now, Ducks.'
Mr. Roberson was playing with some buttons on the inside of one of the wardrobes in their parlour. He hit a switch and they heard explosions; the sturdy house rattled, the bodies of Federal Authority Storm Troopers shot off the roof of their home and landed on their lawn.
'How's the tea? Is Darjeeling fine, or would you prefer Oolong?', asked Mr. Roberson.
Richard gestured that Darjeeling was fine. He looked out the window and sighted what looked like a guided missile on a truck. He saw the flames, then heard the noise of what sounded like a heavily laden goods train...it literally rocketed over the house and exploded in the river.
'You missed! You missed at point blank range!', loudly gloated Mr. Roberson out the door.
'They're not as good as they used to be, dearest! I hope their silly missile didn't kill too many fish!'
'They've the gear, but they've no idear', quipped their smiling daughter Pamela.
The hurt, but angry voice from the loudspeaker sounded like an embarrassed Dalek,
'That was a warning shot! That was a warning shot!'
'Don't make me laugh! I've a heart condition!'
They heard the sound of a whistle, the black clad Federal Authority Storm Troopers hiding behind their vehicles stormed across the lawn.
Mr. Roberson hit some more switches, and the FAST who didn't fly up in the air and land in pieces from the explosions of the landmines dashed back behind their vehicles.
'Well, they run FAST...', reflected Mr. Roberson.
'I'm so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Roberson, I believe I've come at a bad time.'
'Oh bother! They've ruined our lawn! Oh, don't blame yourself Richard, some people just have no respect for others!'
'Don't fret, Ducks.', Mr. Roberson shook his head in disgust, 'The nerve of them! Oh, must you go, Richard? We were just getting to know each other...'
'If it's not too much trouble.'
'No, no, we understand. If you've got to go, you've got to go.'
Mrs. Roberson gave Richard a warm hug,
'Oh, it's been so lovely to meet you. I hope we can continue where we left off.'
She handed her husband a makeshift white flag, he slightly opened the door and waved the white flag.
'We've a visitor who's coming out. Please don't shoot him and spoil his day.'
A voice came from a megaphone.
'Who are you and have you received your fifth booster shot?'
'No', Richard shouted through the crack in the door, 'I only thought you needed three.'
'Well, you might as well stay inside and go up with the house.'
'Sit down and have another cuppa, Richard', purred Pamela as she patted the space on the couch next to her.
A red light near the ceiling flashed,
'Faeries in the garden, dearest. I'll be right back.'
Mrs. Roberson ambled into the kitchen.
They heard loud WHOOSHing sounds and screams. Mrs. Roberson came back wearing a World War II flame thrower on her back and carrying a tray with four goblets of chocolate mousse beneath the gun part of her garden clearing device.
'Who likes chocolate?'
All three of the others smiled and said that they did.
All of them openly enjoyed their chocolate mousse.
'They've too many youngsters in uniform these days. All the experienced ones wouldn't go along with the new regime and left', explained Mrs. Roberson.
'Yes Ducks, when they got rid of the openly criminal ones they gave them massive redundancy payouts, but the good ones didn't get anything', answered her husband.
'Now, now, don't get excited, dearest.'
An armoured vehicle was heard coming down the street. Mr. Roberson reached into the wardrobe and pulled out an Army Light Antitank Weapon and opened the disposable one-shot weapon.
'What do you think you're doing, darling?', Mrs. Roberson scolded, 'Make sure the bomb blanket is hung behind you! We don't want to have to repaint the parlour!'
As Richard and Pamela ate their mousse, Mrs. Roberson fixed the blast blanket up just as the Armoured Vehicle crashed through the small brick wall on their property.
'Everyone put your fingers in your ears and open your mouths for the blast, that's good, Richard...'
The blast was LOUD! Through the plexiglass window the family saw the orange flamed rocket enter the Armoured Vehicle. The vehicle exploded and went in the air slightly, then crashed back to Earth like a failed moon launch. One of the black clad Storm Troopers behind the vehicles popped up and shook his or her fist, then returned to hiding.
Mr. Roberson slung an M-60 Machine Gun over him, and loaded the weapon with a large ammunition belt that was inside an Army butt pack attached to the side of the weapon.
'Black pack armour piercing, green pack anti-personnel, dearest.'
'Thanks Ducks, I'd forget my own head if it wasn't screwed on. Did you find the mousse to your liking, Richard?'
'Lovely, thank you.'
'It's nice to see a young man with good manners these days...unlike...'
The voice from the loudspeaker had an angry back to the drawing board tone.
'Mr. Robertson! You're trying our patience!'
He shouted out the door, 'You're trying ours! It's ROBERson! R-O-'
A female voice came over the loudspeaker.
'Mr. Donald Robertson?'
'No, DAVID ROBERson!'
There was a silence, but Richard and the Robersons could sense there were exclamation marks and question marks over the heads of the surviving Federal Authority Storm Troopers.
'Isn't this Donald Robertson of Mackendrick Street?'
'No, everyone gets it wrong. This is Mackenzie Street, Mackendrick Street is in Nutcote!'
The female voice spoke up,
'Please give us a few minutes, Mr. Roberson...'
All the Robersons smiled,
'Now she has good manners', Mr. Roberson shouted out the door, 'Thank you, we'd be delighted! There's always time for good manners.'
'Ooooh, how embarrassing! Someone's going to get in trouble', tut tutted Mrs. Roberson.
'It's a simple mistake', her husband replied.
'To err is human...to forgive...divine', smiled their daughter Pamela.
Everyone proudly smiled at Pamela's wisdom.
Mrs. Roberson ambled out with a suitcase and a stuffed rabbit and gave them to Pamela.
'Now put Bun-Bun in this plastic bag, so she doesn't get dirty. You can go out through the tunnel and we'll meet in one week from today at Rendezvous 15 at ten a.m., Fifteen, have you got it Pamela?'
'Have you a place to stay?'
'My parents will be happy to put her up for a week or so.'
'Richard, that's so kind of you.'
Mrs. Roberson moved a rug and opened a door that led to a stairwell. Mr. Roberson shook his hand,
'Catch you later, Richard. I'm so glad Pamela likes you.'
'Daddy!', blushed Pamela.
'Thank you all for your wonderful hospitality. Pamela was right; you're wonderful and I've never met anyone like you.'
'Awwwww', purred the Roberson family.
'We must do this again sometime, Richard', smiled Mrs. Roberson.
'I can't wait. Cheerio and thanks again.'
'Hoo roo, Mumsy, Dad!'
'Cherry Bye, Pamela!'
Richard carried Pamela's suitcase as she carried her Bun-Bun in a plastic bag in one hand and her torch in the other down a dark tunnel. She explained,
'We're literally in the Underground.'
They came out behind a row of shrubbery in the large yard or park that he passed on the way down and crossed the street to the bus stop, just in time for the bus returning to Central Business District.
The pair entered the bus and tapped on with their travel cards. It was the same driver.
'How was Nutgrove?'
Author Notes: I am the author of three Extra Dimensional/Ultraterrestial military science fiction novels MERCENARY EXOTIQUE, OPERATION CHUPACABRA and WORK IN OTHER WORLDS FROM YOUR OWN HOME! as well as two travel books THE MAN FROM WAUKEGAN and TWO AUSTRALIANS IN SCOTLAND (all from Lulu.com). I live happily ever after with my wife in paradise (coastal Kiama, NSW Australia).