The brilliant scientist, Portage McPeeve, does not want to take over the world.
He’s discovered a way to travel the stars, using them as gateways into other realities. With his Gateway Manipulator, he hopes to rule all the worlds of the multi-verse with an iron fist. However, when his beloved kitten becomes lost through the machine, he does not hesitate to cast plans for multi-world domination aside; instead, he follows her through the cosmos – encountering zombies, higher education for supers, Greek gods, and killer ninjas along the way.
Will Portage find Mrs. Bumblefrost before it’s too late?
Interlude #2: Point of View
All old ladies love to knit, right?
At least, that’s what he thought as he drove the twenty minutes to the YARNABLES YARN EMPORIUM with his beloved Gram-gram sitting shotgun. He glanced over at the woman who had raised him. The sun shone on her blue hair and glinted off her thin wire-rims. He turned back to the road to shield his eyes.
He thought back to his earlier conversation with the YARNABLES clerk. She really knew how to pitch a sale, that one. Plus, she wasn’t half bad looking. Maybe he could get her number later…?
Oh, who was he kidding. The only one making out on this deal was his Gram-gram. He turned and smiled at her again. She leaned over, suspicion in her eyes. “Where are you taking me, sweety?”
“Just relax, Gram-gram,” said her balding grandson.
He looked anywhere between forty and fifty, but on job applications his qualifications were depressingly few. He’d had a few jobs as a salesclerk and one as a telemarketer, but otherwise, his primary job was caring for his aging grandmother in her modest home, the home his grandfather had built for her sixty years earlier. And he would keep caring for her, no matter how much she protested. After all, she was probably getting senile, right?
Being raised by his grandmother had been no picnic though. Far from the sickeningly sweet image of a life of neverending milk and cookies and staying up late watching tv past bedtime, she had been a harsh though loving taskmaster. His homework was always reviewed, his teachers always called, his performance always viewed with a critical eye.
And that critical eye included birthdays too.
“This is about my birthday, isn’t it?” said Gram-gram sweetly, gently patting her blue locks. They had been sprayed into place with half a bottle of hairspray, so it was a wonder her fingers didn’t stick. “I told you, dear,” she said. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t need anything. I have everything I need right here.” She patted his hand as he gripped the steering wheel.
The man sighed, fighting back visions of birthdays past. The discount subscription to the “Potato of the Month” club (she got a potato in the mail on the first of each month for a year). The movie pass he’d bought her (she didn’t care for that movie theater, because the seats were uncomfortable). And the worst disaster of all, the “Day of Beauty” at the local salon; they had dyed her hair that unfortunate color. He knew she hated it, but rather than redying it to its original white, she pretended all was well and gave him her customary thank-you.
“It’s the thought that counts, dear.”
“What?” he said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Grams. Can’t a grandson surprise his Gram-gram on her ninetieth birthday? It’s not everyday you hit ninety.” He winked. He’d show her. He’d see her face light up with approval and finally have the satisfaction of seeing the old bat enjoy one of his presents.
After all, who wouldn’t want knitting lessons?
He pulled into the parking space in front of YARNABLES’s friendly-looking storefront. Knitted scarves, hats, and sweaters hung off manequins that looked entirely too excited to be wearing knitwear. His grandmother eyed him suspiciously, but smiled when she saw his expression. “Oh, how nice! Are you getting me a sweater, dear?”
“Nope,” he said, running around to open the door; he had been raised a gentleman. “Much, MUCH better.” His grin broadened as she approached the door, eyes wide.
“Now, what could that be?” she asked, pointing at one of the window displays.
“It’s a sweater vest, Grams.” He ran to open the shop door for her. “Happy birthday!”
“You got me a sweater vest?” Her eyebrows, unfortunately dyed to match her hair, contracted like two small caterpillars trying to kiss or kill each other.
“No,” he said. Grandly sweeping his arm to the salewoman, he said, “I got you knitting lessons!”
Grams laughed sweetly. He really hated the sound, like breaking glass. Just once, couldn’t he do something she liked?
“What’s so funny, Gram-gram?” he asked. Maybe she saw a kitten playing with a ball of yarn or something. He looked around the shop. A little black cat disappeared around a corner, chasing just such a ball of yarn. He sighed, relief filling him like… well, like something pretty darn big. A bucket, maybe? No, a barrel! Yup, he was barrel-full of relief.
“Honey, you’re so sweet,” she said, “but I don’t know the first thing about knitting.”
“But that’s the beauty of it,” he said. “It’s a beginner’s class. I’m paying for the supplies and everything.”
“Sweety,” she said, “I’m ninety years old today. Don’t you think if I’d wanted to knit, I would have learned by now?”
The smile slowly slipped from her grandson’s face. “What?” Don’t say it, don’t you dare say it…
“But don’t worry,” said Gram-gram, reaching up to pat him on the head like a puppy. “It’s the thought that counts, dear.”
When the saleswoman told him he couldn’t get a refund, he nearly broke the bamboo knitting needles she had handed him along with the “Introduction to the Perfect Stitch” booklet and knitting pattern.
“What do you mean, ‘No Refunds?’” he said. “What kind of business ethic is that?”
“You could always give the lessons to someone else,” said the saleswoman; her nametag had ‘Marge’ scrawled across it in fake-stitches that looked suspiciously like crayon marks. “One of your lady friends, perhaps? Hmmmm?” When she smiled, even her teeth irritated him. They were entirely too straight.
“One of my lady fr-?” Began the man, his ire not only up but doing summersaults. Was she grinning because she thought he had lady friends or because she assumed he didn’t? Or maybe, just maybe, she wanted to be his lady friend? “What makes you think…”
Suddenly he realized that the class must be all women. An all female class with him as the only man? He cleared his throat and straightened to his full height. “What makes you think that I don’t want to learn how to knit?”
Gram-gram looked between the startled woman and her aging grandson, grinned, and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “Honey, after you get this all sorted, would you mind dropping me at the Y? My yoga class is at THREE.”
The incident in his first knitting class was unfortunate.
He caught on immediately, knit and purl came as naturally to him as breathing, and he made his beginner project in record time. Even the instructor was surprised by his speed, especially when the wooden knitting needles in his hands became uncomfortably hot. However, when the friction of the needles rubbing together made his knitted potholder catch fire, there was concern among the group. He was asked not to return, and, perhaps not so surprisingly, his instructor had a change of heart.
She gave him a complete refund.
Dejected, downtrodden, and without the instructor’s home number,he drove to the YMCA with the realization that the only woman he would be taking home was his grandmother. She was waiting for him outside, chatting with one of her yoga buddies and chuckling. He really wasn’t in the mood for joviality.
“What’s the matter, sweety?” she said, her grin falling when she noted the look on her grandson’s face. However, when he related the incident at YARNABLES, her face lit up. She clapped him on the arm and gazed into his startled face before shocking him for the second time that day.
“Honey, I can’t believe you finally manifested your powers! I’ll admit,” she said, shaking her blue head, “once you passed puberty, I had my doubts.” Her matching blue eyes twinkled as she added, “Guess you were just a late bloomer.”
Her grandson feared the old lady had finally flipped. She was, after all, really old. “What… did you take your meds today, Gram-gram?”
She hooted with laughter. “Oh, honey, I’m not crazy, and you’re a lot more capable than you think you are. When we get home, I’m going to tell you a little secret about your parents.”
He eyed her suspiciously before putting the car in gear again. Yeah, right, he thought, the ‘mysterious’ circumstances surrounding their death. They had died in an industrial accident when he was a baby, tragic but hardly mysterious. Still, he couldn’t help but be curious what tale she’d spin; Gram-gram had quite a vivid imagination. Her bedtime stories had terrified him.
Nevertheless, as he pulled out into traffic and she prattled on about his great origins and destiny, he thought back once again to the incident in knitting class. The shock and awe on the face of his fellow students… Maybe Gram-gram could tell him something new, something he didn’t know.
And then, as he pulled into the driveway, she did.
“Honey,” she said, “I’m proud of you, dear.”
Maybe she’s right after all, he thought.
It really is the thought that counts.
**All episodes listed here.
**Look for the next exciting installment of Pinholes next Tuesday, same cat-time, same cat-channel… uh, blog. I mean, blog.