Monday, September 20, 2010

The Outlandisher - Chap. 9 - An English Captain

June 6th, 2009

"Lice?  Oh ma Gude!"
Chap. 9

An English Captain

On the carriage ride back from Inverness Castle Gerry McButler was fitfully dreaming he was being pinched to death by a gaggle of overzealous fans who had wrestled him to the ground. Flailing his arms and crying out, he awakes to find that the carriage has stopped and Claire is shaking him vigorously.

Claire: Are you alright? You looked like you were in the fight of your life.

GMcB: (scratching himself, he shivers) Brrrr. Ah was havin' a bad dream.

Seeing they have arrived back at her cottage, he opens the door and helps her down from the carriage and over the threshold.

Claire looks at the carriage and back at McButler.

Claire: (reluctantly) I suppose you'd better stay here for the rest of the night. I'll start a fire and ye can sleep on the floor near the fireplace.

GMcB: On the floor? Ye got tae be kiddin'. Ah dinna think ma body kin take the floor. Ye've no' got another bed?
Claire: (laughing) Are you serious? This is 18th century Scotland, remember? And Jamie is a laird without a castle. 
GMcB: (scratching his head) Well then ah think ah'll take ma chances leukin' fer the room wi' the bluidy mirror. Ah know there was a bed in it.(shrugging) Ah dinna remember the name o' the place, but if ah found ye, I kin probably find it if ah walk around a bit an' get ma bearings.

Claire: (incredulous) In the dark? Are you mad? You'll probably be set upon by thieves and get your throat cut.

Thinking it over and not finding the prospect attractive, he eyes the fireplace again, then goes out and dismisses the driver.

GMcB: (scratching under his arm ) Have a heart. Kin ah no' share yer bed if we put some pillows between us? Ah promise no' tae touch ye. Since ah made this movie about the Spartans, ah gat a touch o' arthritis in ma shoulders an' when it flares up, there's the devil tae be paid.

He scratches himself vigorously again and Claire frowns.

Claire: You know that little romp of yours with yon lassie back at the castle?

GMcB: (blushing) Er, what about it?

Claire: By the looks of you, I would wager you have picked up a few bugs here and there.

GMcB: Bugs? Ye mean like an STD kind o' bug?

Claire: STD?

GMcB: A sexually transmitted disease.

Claire: Interesting..... In 1945 we were still calling them venereal diseases.

GMcB: (nervous) Ah repeat, how dae ye know fer sure the lass wis infected wi' one? She seemed fine tae me an' dinna leuk tae be more than 17 or 18.

Claire: Dear man, the kind of bugs I was referring to are the crawling kind, as in lice.

GMcB: (jutting out his bottom jaw) Lice? Oh ma Gude!

Suddenly he starts scratching again and looking down at his clothes.

Claire: And there is no way you are sharing my bed like that, no matter how many promises you make. It's hard enough keeping Jamie deloused with all the scrapes he gets into....

Gerry is too busy scratching himself furiously to pay attention to what she's saying.

GMcB: (scratching his crotch) Lice er crabs?

Claire: One and the same.

She wants to laugh, as he shudders at the thought.

GMcB: What dae ah do? Ah know a shower is askin' too much for this backward place, but dae ye think I could get a bath at least before they bite me tae death? ..... Please? Somethin'. Anythin'?

Claire: As luck would have it, Jamie spent all summer carving a bathtub for me out of a solid tree trunk. It took him forever and almost cost him a finger. Good thing I was able to sew most of it back on. It was tricky, but...

GMcB: (humoring her) He did say ye were guid at patchin' people up. Ye're a woman o' many talents. Now what about that bath?

Claire: It's up to you, but you're likely to freeze to death trying to bathe this time of night. The water is cold enough in the day time.

GMcB: (eyes wide) Cold water?

Claire: (thinking it over) I suppose I could heat up some water for you in the cooking caldron. Do you now how to start a fire?

GMcB: Ye got a lighter?

Claire: (laughing) Sure. Here.

She hands him the flint box.

GMcB: (looking at it blankly) What the hell is this?

With a facsimile of one of Jamie's guttural sounds, she snatches the flint box from him.

Claire: Never mind. Give it to me!

She hands him the large caldron hanging over the fire.

Claire: Go to the rain barrel in the back and get some water. I'll start the fire.

She goes to the fireplace and starts mumbling to herself.

Claire: I can't believe I'm doing this for another Scottish clod head. You're an idiot Claire McFraser!

An hour later, in a room lit by several candles, Gerremy McButler is sitting in a small, half filled tub of tepid water vigorously scrubbing himself from head to toe with lye soap . He was also thinking that he was hungry again and wondered if Claire had anymore of that boiled beef she had served him this afternoon? He was craving a hamburger with french fries, but anything would do at this point. A cup of tea might be nice too. At least with boiled water he didn't have to worry about picking up another kind of bug.

What he wouldn't give for a coca cola right about now.

Face full of soap, he closes his lids to keep the stinging soap out of his eyes. Hearing a knock on the door, he opens one eye to see Claire coming in with another caldon full of water so he can rinse himself. Instinctively he covers up his genitals and getting soap in his eye, quickly closes it.

Carrying the container of steaming water Claire smiles at the sight of him, hair thick with soap, eyes closed and hands in his lap covering himself. She couldn't help admiring the big muscled arms and shoulders, but clears her throat loudly as she approaches the tub to warn him.

Claire: Are you ready? The water's nice and warm.

GMcB: Aye, please hurry! Ma eyes are burnin' an' ma skin is about tae fall off. What is this soap made o' anyways? Turpentine?

Claire: You're close. Ready or not, here it comes.

Lifting the large caldron over his head, she pours some of the steaming water over him.

A little hotter than either of them expected, he jumps up with a loud yell, banging his head on the caldron and almost knocking it out of her hand, then grabbing his privates in an attempt to shield them again.

GMcB: Damn it wumman! Furst ye try tae geld me an' now ye're tryin' tae cook me. What is it wi ye? Dae ye hate all men or is it just me?

Claire: (laughing) Oh for God's sake sit down, you sissy! A little hot water never hurt anybody. Besides, it will help kill the lice.

GMcB: (under his breath) Yeah, an'  their host too!

Chastised and still covering himself with one hand, he lowers himself down into the tub again and obediently lets her pour the rest of the water over him while he awkwardly attempts to rinse the pungent soap from his body with the other.

Putting the kettle down, Claire notices the smooth skin on the back of his neck and back. She can't help but compare it to Jamie's equally broad, but badly scared one and feels momentarily guilty for having the thought. Dismissing it just as quickly, she turns around to leave the room.

Claire: When you've finished drying yourself, here is one o' Jamie's shirts you can slip on. Come downstairs and I'll check you for any strays.

GMcB: (wiping the water from his eyes) Ah hate tae ask, but ah'm really hungry again. Dae ye have anythin' tae eat an' maybe some hot tea or sumthin'. Ah'm thirsty.

Hands on her hips, she turns around to face him again from the door.

Claire: You're determined to eat me out of house and home, aren't you?

GMcB: Ah'll pay ye back somehow. Ah promise.

Claire: Very well. I'll see what I can find.

GMcB: (giving her his most angelic grin) Ye're an angel.

Claire: I've been called a witch, but never an angel.

She goes out the door and leaves him to his privacy, thinking how easily this almost perfect stranger managed to get his way with her. She wondered if maybe by some quirk of fate he might not really be related to Jamie McFraser.
Ten minutes later, Gerry McButler (for he had asked her to call him that) is sitting near the fireplace while Claire combed through his hair looking for any signs of live lice. She thought it might be a little early for any nits. They had emptied the tub and while there were plenty of dead ones in the water, she couldn't find any on his scalp. The fact he wasn't squirming or scratching any other body parts was another good sign.

Putting out several bannocks with gooseberry preserves and some vegetable soup she had made from the few vegetables she was able to grow in her garden, she cut him a piece of cheese.

Gratefully, he ate in silence, lulled into a stupor by the warmth and the sudden sense of well being. Realizing there was little he needed to do at the moment, he was looking forward to an untroubled sleep. He would worry about his present circumstances in the morning and return to the inn and the mirror and see if he could find his way back to his own time. He knew there had to be a way. He just had to find it. He wished he could recall the name of the inn now. He'd know it when he saw it.

Meanwhile, he found himself enjoying the company of this straightforward woman who, though married, was very easy on the eyes. He could clearly see her charm for someone like Jamie McFraser and thought he would have given her more than a second look himself, had he run into her in his own time. As it was, it was nice not to worry about having to make a conquest of her and just be himself.

Finishing up his plate, down to the last crumb, he drinks what is left of the soothing mint tea she had freshly brewed from leaves gathered from her garden.

Claire: I don't know about you, but I think it's time to go to bed. The sun will be up soon. Do you think you can bank the fire here, while I see what arrangements I can make upstairs?

Unconsciously getting up and stretching himself in front of the fireplace, he doesn't realize that the long linen shirt he is wearing becomes almost transparent.

GMcB: Ah don't suppose ye have a spare toothbrush, dae ye? (grinning) Ma dentist , Dr. Zoom, says ah gotta brush an' floss every night before bed if ah wanna keep my movie star smile.

Claire averts her eyes to keep from staring at the outline of his manly contours.

Claire: Floss?

GMcB: Yeah, ye know...the bitty thread, tae get in between the teeth to keep yer gums healthy. If ye've ever had a root canal ye'd know the importance o' it. Though it's a pain in the arse, ah'm no' about tae go through that again!

Claire: Well I've got some silk thread I use for medical purposes, but you'll have to reuse it, as it's hard to come by. As for the teeth, you'll have to make do with some salt you can apply with these leaves. They work if you are diligent.

She hands him several leaves and some grains of salt and going to her medical box, cuts a small length of silk thread and lays it on the table. It was nice to see a man who cared about dental hygiene for a change. She had taught Jamie and his family how to brush, and also how to eat a variety of greens to keep their gums healthy. So many of the eighteen century citizens lost their teeth at a young age to tooth decay. It was unfortunate and ruined even the nicest smile.

GMcB: Well, it's not ma Sonicare, but ah guess it will have tae do.

Claire: Sonicare?

GMcB: Ma electric toothbrush that spins an' does everythin' but wipe yer arse.....The stuff we take fer granted is amazin' isn't it?

Claire: Yes. I'd settle for a good old l945 brush and some mint tooth powder I didn't have to make myself.

GMcB: Ye know, in ma time they even bleach yer teeth tae whiten them. There are all kinds o' tricks fer gettin' a Hollywood smile. (giggling) If ye only knew.....

Claire: (yawning) You'll have to tell me more about it tomorrow. Right now I'm going up and get ready for bed. Knock on the door before coming in, will you?

GMcB: O' course.

Ten minutes later, after rinsing his mouth and his little piece of precious silk thread in a little of the water left in the kettle, he carefully put it away in the sporran she had loaned him. He also banked the fire, as she had shown him and, taking the candle left on the table with him, goes upstairs.

He didn't think he would need an Ambien tonight. Better to save them for another day. God knew how long he was going to be here.

New York City 

Letting himself into Gerry's loft , Rusty Elvaino is greeted by Noly, padding in to see him, followed by Gerry's cleaning lady Marta, who is carrying a mop.

Nodding at the woman, he bends over to lift up the little dog now rubbing up against his leg.

Elvaino: What's wrong girl? You happy to see me?

Marta: I'll bet she is. Where the devil is Gerry? I found this poor thing practically starving to death and little puddles of her urine and something else all over the hardwood floor.

Elvaino: I dunno. Wish I did though, because it's not like him not to call someone to feed Noly and take her out if he can't do it himself.

Marta: Well I called Mr. Baines to come an' get her and I'll leave a note for Gerry telling him, cause if he doesn't show up soon and she keeps peeing on that floor, he's going to have to refinish it again. ..... Besides, I told him I don't pick up dog poop.

Elvaino, Yes, well, I'm sure he knew you were coming today, so he didn't worry. I'm going to check around with a few people this afternoon if I don't hear from him by then. Tell Baines to keep her until he hears from me, okay?

Marta: Were do you think he's gone off to? He left all his Scottish finery sittin' around his room, so I though maybe he'd just stepped out.

Elvaino: I have no idea Marta, but I'm going to leave this little box on his desk. If he shows up while you're still here, tell him to call me, will you?

Claire's Cottage - Scotland

It's late morning and Gerry McButler awakens gasping for breath and flings the pillow sitting on his face aside. Suspicious, he looks over to see the other side of the bed is empty. 

Claire was fast asleep when he entered the room the night before to find the bed had been divided by a big lofty quilt down the middle. Thinking how pretty she looked lying there, he had tiptoed in quietly, blown out the remaining candle, and slipped in under the top quilt to quickly sink into the feather mattress. After sneezing several times in the darkness and listening to Claire's quiet breathing for a few minutes, he had fallen into a deep sleep.

Wondering about the pillow on his face, he vaguely remembered someone shouting at him and telling him to turn over, once or twice, but deep in the arms of Morpheus, he had been unable to respond.

He stands up and scratching his bottom absently, he disappears behind the curtain and pees in the chamber pot. 

Thrusting open the shutter to a sunny, if crisp day outside, he shivers and hugs himself. As he stands in the light of the window, he looks down at the shirt he is wearing and realizes you can see through the fabric. Grinning to himself, he decides he'd better get dressed before going in search of Claire.

He eyes a bowl and pitcher of water across the room and uses it to wash his face and rinse his mouth, careful not to swallow any. Looking around for the clothes he was wearing before going to the castle, he sees that she has put out a fresh, if worn kilt, another white linen shirt and a pair of striped socks next to his boots. There is a warm, tartan folded next to them as well. He dresses quickly, feeling the draft up his thighs and wishing mightily he had his comfy designer underwear again, not to mention a pair of his jeans.

Once downstairs, he discovers Claire is nowhere in sight but has left some bread and cheese covered with a cloth and a glass of what looks like fresh buttermilk for him. Quickly wolfing it down, he decides it's time to do a little more exploring and see if he can find his way back to the inn. Not finding anything to leave her a note with and figuring he will stop by later and thank her properly, he goes on his way.

He hasn't gone far, when he realizes that some one is following him. It is that second sense he has developed over the years of having to watch out for stalking fans and paparazzi that now alerts him to the stranger, dressed in what looks to be some kind of red military coat, who is curiously dogging his steps.

GMcB: *beep* What the hell is this guy tailin' me for? If ah dinna know better, ah'd think he was a pap.

Speeding up to try and lose him, he ducks behind a stack of barrels being unloaded from a wagon. The wagon driver, sees him and barks out menacingly...

Wagon Driver: Binna ye leukin fer mischief thare, ah expect ye tae be movin' awa maister.

Stepping back quickly to avoid the beefy man, he decides to duck into what looks like an alley, only to startle a huge black Mastiff who immediately bares his teeth and growling deep in his throat, starts inching slowly towards him. Reminded of the mechanical wolf from 300, Gerry has enough sense to be scared.

Thinking it prudent to stay calm, he talks to the dog in a soothing voice.

GMcB: Calm doon thare boy! Ah'm no' interested in yer business, whatever that is.

Deciding to take his chances with the stalker, he slowly backs out of the alley and runs right smack into the man.

Frank Neil McRandall was not as tall as Gerremy, but lean and compact, with a sensual mouth and dark eyes. He wasn't a bad looking man, but the look on his face as he address McButler, gives one the impression of hidden dangers.

McRandall: (condescendingly) Ye clumsy oaf! (pointing) Look what you've done to my boots!

GMcB: (angry at his tone) Well if ye hadna been breathin' down ma neck I wouldna have stepped on yer, f-uckin' dirty boots!

McRandall: They were clean before you put your big, ugly feet on them, you menace! (putting his hand on the hilt of his sword) I should teach you a lesson for assaulting an officer of the King's army.

GMcB: (angrier still and balling his fists) Ye've the nairve tae call that an assault? Ah'm thinkin' ah should really give ye somethin' tae write home about, ye imbecil.

In their argument they had both forgotten the big Mastiff, who was now inching forward, drooling profusely and growling loudly at them.

They both turn to the large dog at once and looking at each other with fear, start backing up slowly, watching the dog carefully and hoping he is not going to give chase.

After a few feet they both slowly turn and start running in different directions.

As luck would have it, the dog tears off after Gerry, who has no weapon to defend himself with. Not used to running in the ill fitting boots, he trips on a cobblestone and flying through the air, lands on his stomach with a thud, while the dog, who had just leapt in the air to attack him, sails right over him, landing in a water trough used for watering the horses.

Only momentarily deterred, the dog jumps out and is busily shaking the water from his thick coat. This gives a winded McButler just enough time to get to his feet and see Frank McRandall, who has appeared next to him, raise a musket and fire at the animal. The shot whizzes past the dog, just close enough to scare him, and he takes off with a yelp. 
18th century dragoon
McRandall: Are you alright?

GMcB: Aye, thanks. (dusting himself off) Cep fer the knees.

The words between them forgotten, Gerry looks down at his bloodied knees and notices a big tear in Jamie's worn kilt, which is now hopelessly smeared with blood and mud.

GMcB: Crap! Ah ruined bluidy McFraser's kilt.

McRandall: McFraser? Jamie McFraser?

GMcB: (looking up) Yeah, ye know him?

McRandall: Well, to be truthful, I saw you coming out of his house. You've a look of him about you. Are you two related?

GMcB: Not saes ah know, though ah guess anything's possible. Ye a friend o' his?

McRandall: (grinning) We've had our moments.

GMcB: Ah dinna ken where he is, if that's why ye were followin' me.

McRandall: I wasn't following you, but perhaps I was a little curious. You say you don't know his whereabouts?

GMcB: I havena' a clue, but thanks fer scaring off that mutt. He was as big as a bul......

Suddenly, as if a light goes on in his head, he remembers the name of the inn and blurts out...

GMcB: Say, ye ever heard o' a place called the Red Bull Inn? I wis tryin' tae retrace ma steps from Claire's house, but now ah'm confused.

McRandall: It's two blocks over and one block down. (with interest) You staying there?

GMcB: Ah guess ah am....

Eager to get going now that he knows his way, he turns to McRandall and puts out his hand.

GMcB: Hey, thanks again, mate. Sorry aboot yer boots.

McRandall: (pleasantly) It's forgotten already. Think nothing of it.

GMcB: Cool. Well, ah'd best be goin' now. See ye aroun', aye?

Seeing the palm of Gerry's hand is muddy from his fall, McRandall takes his fingers lightly and shakes them with something akin to distaste.

McRandall: (under his breath) Sooner then you think.

McRandall watches him walk away until he is well out of sight.

Not one to fret and happy to have escaped another catastrophe and gotten his bearings again, Gerry McButler takes off whistling a tune.

GMcB: (singing low) ...." kickin' down the cobble-stones,..... lookin' fer fun an' feelin' groooooo ...vy ..."

Suddenly he stops, sure he's forgotten something he should remember.... but not remembering what it is, he decides it must not be important and continues walking to his destination with purpose.

Next: "Chickens You Say? 

Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction that exists only in the twilight zone of the writer's mind. Any and all resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

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