Almost Short Story Sunday: Webs

Yesterday I started a short story but ended up, obviously, not sharing anything. Not even an old story. This is what I came up with. This is part of the Austin and Elizabeth series. I’ve listed all of the stories from the start at the bottom of the post with links to said stories. On a good note the green waste can is completely filled, my nose is completely filled with bark dust, and I cleaned out the inside of my old calico cat’s ears (not a task for the faint of heart.) Anyway, this is what I’ve got. Enjoy … and watch out for spiders.

Webs

Elizabeth reached into the pantry door for the box of Zen Tea bags and realized it was anything but zen in her pantry. Her hand hit something that resisted, as if someone had tied dental floss across the shelf. It wasn’t dental floss. It was black widow silk.

A few hours, and six black widows later, she’d completely cleaned, reorganized, and cleaned out her pantry closet.

She looked at her cat who waited for a treat. “You’d think that a Vampire like me wouldn’t have a full pantry, but you love your kitty treats.”

Elizabeth also loved her booze, and the few snacks that wouldn’t make her sick. Plus there were all of the things her boyfriend, and occasional overnight friends liked.

She thought about her childhood when a child in her town died of a black widow bite. The same week a man died of a mysterious illness. Elizabeth thought of the man’s wife. She was his black widow.

Through a window Elizabeth saw the woman put something into a tea cup and make the man drink it. Strange herbs and ground up bugs steeped in hot sweet strong tea killed the husband within a week.

The woman then married her lover, who then took all of her money and ran away with an artist who told him she wished to go to Rome. So they left for Rome, but their ship wrecked and they both died.

The captain of the ship survived. He brought home the bodies of the dead husband and his lover. The widow lured him into her lair. Within six months they were married. Within a year he would have been dead but he went to sea. His death wouldn’t come for another five years.

By then Elizabeth had grown up, become a Vampire, and moved on. She’d have to go on one of those genealogy sites to see what happened to the woman.

What a tangled web we weave thought Elizabeth.

~ end, for now…

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

What happens when a History Professor/Restoration Expert/Player turns into a Vampire Hunter? He discovers basements full of undead creatures, a thriving community of hip and trendy Modern Vampires and the maybe love of his life (or maybe the cause of his death.)

For the complete story of Austin and Elizabeth (from the beginning) check the links below. Most are stand-alone stories but they are also sequential.

Part 1: The Hunter

Part 2:  Memory of Distant Love

Part 3: Dark Dreams of the Hunted

Part 4: About Those Pesky Undead Folks

Park 5: The Hunt Continues

Part 6: Cold and Warm

Part 7: Date with a Vampire

Part 8: Crawl Space

Part 9: Dust and Desire

Part 10: One of Those Days…

Part 11: Even Vampire Hunters Get the Blues

Part 12: Back to the Past

Part 13: Nowhere in Time

Part 14: Father Paul

Part 15: The Bat

Part 16: Saturday Afternoon

Part 17: Cold

Part 18: Being Real

Part 19: Motorhome

Part 20: Under the Stars

Part 21: Warmth

Part 22: Conversion

Part #23: Lizbit

Part 24: Gerald Atkins: Vampire Hunter

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Morcant and the Mermaid

Tangled Tales

Druce held out his arm while his friend Morcant cleaned and bandaged the wounds. “I was out fishing on the rocks. She’d been coming there to meet me for the past few months. At first she’d just poke her head out of the water and look at me for a bit then swim away. After the third or fourth time I got her to come closer. She spoke to me in our language. Sure, her voice was sort of high and irritating but I got used to it.”

“No wonder you’d been fishing so much lately. What did she look like?”

“Bright sea blue eyes, hair the color of a new spring leaf, and skin iridescent like a pearl. I’ve seen pearls Morcant, I know that beauty.  And speaking of beautiful round objects, her breasts were perfect, tipped with spectacular blue nipples.”

“That is all a fine fantasy but below the waist she’s a fucking fish.”

“Warm like a dolphin.”

“You didn’t. No. Tell me you didn’t.”

“Just a kiss, on salt touched lips.”

“Then she nearly ate your arm. What is wrong with you Druce?”

“I didn’t expect her to bite me.”

“Did she give you her name?”

“Pook.”

“Bloody great. I know her. Nothing but trouble that one.”

“I’m sure it was just an accident or a misunderstanding.”

“No. She intended to drag you down to her home and eat you, or worse. Druce, for a Warlock you can be insanely gullible when it comes to a pretty face and a pair of tits. I’ll make you some healing tea so you won’t end up with arm rot or some other disgusting Mermaid crud.”

Morcant made the brew for his friend then tucked him into bed and headed towards the beach.

Being a Selkie, Morcant knew all about the charms of women. They couldn’t resist him. That was the way of Selkies. But there was also something about Druce that women liked. He wasn’t the tallest or the most handsome man in the village, but he had a boyish charm females loved. Maybe it was his bright eyes, quick smile, or those dimples, or even the messy sun streaked hair. It could even have been the fact that he was the keeper of magic. Who knows. Maybe it was his sense of humor. All of that considered, Druce couldn’t keep it under his tunic and was always having troubles with women.

Upon arriving at the shore Morcant drew the seal skin from his shoulders and wrapped it around his entire body. His toes touched the salt water and he turned into a seal. That is what Selkies do. They are seals in the ocean, and on the land they carry their seal skins and walk as humans. They’re remarkably attractive in their human form. Unfortunately if someone steals the skin of a Selkie then they can hold the Selkie as their slave. But that last fact is neither here nor there for this story.

Morcant the seal dove down deep into the ocean. He knew where to go. He knew where the Merfolk lived.

When he saw Pook with her green hair and blue tipped breasts he grabbed her hair in his mouth and dragged her up to the surface of the ocean.

Letting go of her hair Morcant showed his large seal teeth to Look.

“You’re such an attractive seal,” she said to him in her tiny voice. “Sooooooo attractive. My tail has an itch that only a Selkie Seal can scratch.”

Morcant growled a low seal growl. “You nearly killed my friend. You have no business perusing Druce and making him fall in love with you. You’re not a human woman and have no business with him.”

Pook grinned at him showing her pointed teeth. She reminded Morcant of a shark. “What will you give me to keep away?”

Morcant grabbed Pook by the hair and spoke between his seal teeth. “I will drag you to the beach and then give you to men who will put you in a cage and drag you across the land. People will pay to see you and look at you in horror as your lovely skin dries up, and then you become nothing but a piece of dried salted cod. THAT is what I will give you.”

Pulling her hair away Pook screamed a high pitched scream that would break glass then swam off.

Later, in human form, Morcant checked in on his friend Druce. The Warlock was sleeping soundly.

The sound of the waves lulled Morcant into a slumber filled with dreams of calm oceans, and warm human women.

At the bottom of the sea the Mermaids sang their high pitched songs while they drank their brew out of polished shells. Pook brushed off her pride and picked out a Merman to share the night with. She thought of Druce and his adorable dimples, and sun kissed hair. Her heart fluttered a bit and she felt oddly in love with the man with legs. Then again, what would she do with legs? She had no idea, so she swam into the night, tending her broken heart, in the arms of her new Merman lover.

~ end

 

For more about Morcant and Druce CLICK HERE.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: I’ve Got Your Number (An Intergalactic Romance)

Tangled Tales

 

I’ve Got Your Number (An Intergalactic Romance)

She’d found him on Planet 5309. His call out number was 867. She liked that. Not too many people knew about 20th Century music outside of the big classics like The Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd, and The Cars.

In the 23rd Century they had their own music, which was OK but she liked the old stuff.

When you run a luxury transport service there is a lot of free time, even when you are on super-hyper-speed mode. There is a lot of free time to go onto chat lines and dark space groups to find other lonely hearts, or at least someone who is interesting.

His name was Tommy. Her name was Jenny. It was meant to be. Old fashioned names with a twist of fate that brought them together with an old song they both loved.

He’d found her number on one of the lines and called her up. That was half an Earth year ago and light years away. They’d talked non-stop almost the entire time.

After landing on the new landing pad, she exited the plane with her eyes wide open. She’d pulled her brown hair up on her head in a mass of curls set with crystal flowers. With gold tipped lashes to match her gold jumpsuit she knew she would turn heads – in a good way. Good looks and a killer figure never hurt in any luxury transport business. It wasn’t always right, but it was the truth.

She saw him, a history professor on a far away planet, standing by the reception structure. Wavy blonde hair framed a handsome face of copper hued skin. Damn, it was good to see another human again, especially a human male.

He smiled and held out his hands, and said, “I need to make you mine.”

And in a galaxy far far away, two history buffs lived happily ever after.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Desert Sky

I’m on the road today so here is an old favorite for Short Story Sunday. Have fun.

Desert Sky

Martha put a lawn chair in front of the motor home and looked into the night sky. Sometimes the desert would get freezing at night, but tonight it was almost warm. A million stars showed in the sky above her. She’d heard stories of alien sightings in the desert. It was always the desert where they were sighted in the sky, or crashed. When they crashed nobody ever saw them again.

She wondered about the odd pale skinned creatures with long fingers, tiny mouths, and huge eyes. Maybe the huge eyes came from living on a dark planet, or living underground for eons.

It was weird how they never wore clothes. It was weird how they were shown as naked when in every science fiction movie and series, from Star Trek, to X-files, to Firefly, to Star Wars, to Gardians of the Galaxy, everyone always wore clothes.

The only time she remembered seeing a naked man in a movie in the desert was in The Hangover. It was in the desert, in Las Vegas. A naked guy jumped out of the trunk of a car. He wasn’t an alien.

Sam and Ian came out of the motor home with chairs and a small cooler. Sam handed Martha a beer. The thanked him, then they all sat and looked at the stars.

“Do you think there is anyone else out there? There has to be. We can’t be here all alone,” said Martha.

“I think we’re alone here. But I don’t think we’re alone in the universe or even this galaxy,” said Sam.

Martha glanced at her companions. Sam was tall, blonde and handsome as a man could be. Sam fit into any group with his tan skin, dark hair, and dazzling smile. Martha was typical of women in her hometown. She was pretty but not too pretty with plain brown hair that hung to her shoulders in a slight flip.

“I’m kind of homesick, but the people around here are nice. I think we should move back to the house in San Francisco in a few days, or maybe by that place we were looking at in Santa Cruze, you know by the beach. I could hang out there for a while.”

“We could start a family,” said Sam. Ian looked at Martha with a hopeful, and sort of sad smile.

“There is an Air Force base near Las Vegas. Maybe we should go over there and just give ourselves up.”

“Or maybe we should move to Santa Cruz,” said Ian.

“We’re never going home,” said Martha wiping a tear from her eyes.

“No love, we’re stuck on this planet. It’s not a bad place. We fit in. Let’s just make the best of it.”

Martha looked into the faces of her companions. I guess with their combined love they could pull through on this strange planet called Earth. She got another beer out of the cooler, popped the top, and too a long drink out of it.

“Sure guys, Santa Cruz sounds great,” she said. The she looked back to the sky and watched for something, anything familiar.

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: A Man Should Have What He Wants (a nasty little Vampire story)

A Man Should Have What He Wants

A Nasty Little Vampire Story from Juliette aka Vampire Maman  

A house full of books and the ghosts of what could have been.

What can be. Oliver Thomas thought as he sat on the edge of the bed.

He never let himself get close to those he visited over the years. It was easy to become detached just as one could be detached to an apple or a head of lettuce.

She slept quietly. On the nightstand were books, earrings, a clock set for 5:00 a.m., and her glasses. Her husband was snoring and slept in another room. Her children were tucked into their dreams. Oliver made sure of that. They’d all be asleep.

Oliver Thomas kept coming back to her. She was different, by her own accord. Amanda had always been different – the type who saw the world in visions and possibilities. Someone who overcame obstacles.  If she grew to be old she’d be a sweet eccentric with her window boxes full of exotic flowers and vast knowledge of the obscure and unusual.

She had a hard time making friends due to her shyness and reluctance to follow up. Her fear of rejection paralyzed her in some areas of her life. Most of life was paralyzing but she seemed to thrive and succeed.

Yet, the woman could light up a room with her wit and charm. She was a success despite her low opinion of herself.

But he’d fallen in love with her in a strange way that someone falls in love with an idea of perfection and the ideal person to share life’s adventures with.

Her teenage kids still hung all over her like toddlers, leaning on her even now. They were taller than she was, dressed in their black band shirts with trendy long hair and black painted nails.  Oliver had seen Amanda once, her son with his lanky arm around her shoulder, her daughter with an arm around her waist. How many women, he wondered, envied her for the closeness she had with her children.

If it wasn’t for her children she might have checked out and left the world a long time ago. Since childhood Amanda had been uncomfortable with life and the tremendous effort it took for her to live with herself and her failures.

Oliver saw that Amanda had failed to see her success, except with her children. He didn’t want to think of her marriage with Craig. It worked better than most. In fact, for the most part, her marriage to Craig was an uncommon success.

Craig, the handsome and successful husband, was the love of her life. Even in her dreams Amanda couldn’t cheat on Craig. They’d built a life together. For her that was enough. More than enough she told herself.

But Oliver knew it wasn’t enough. Amanda found her life in others but kept her secret soul and passions locked up, bound in shadows and secrets.

At one time, Oliver and Amanda had been lovers. The memory of her warm skin, her lips on his own, her hands in his hair and her passion haunted him. He’d come and gone from her life assuming she’d always be there.

Now he was only with her in the dream world of the night.  She’d remember him in another time and place in long lost memories of centuries past. She’d think she’d had a life in another time with him, a past life of possibilities and promise and passion.

An unlikely candidate this middle aged working mom, too tired and busy  to think of herself except when she let her imagination fly as she commuted to school and work in her car each morning, or when she dozed off at night in her own secret places.

The passions were still in her, as it had been when she was young. How could that be?  He kissed her then buried his face into her neck and when he’d had enough of her he silently left her with dreams of passion and desire.

The following evening Oliver looked up from his desk and there she was, standing in the doorway. Black dress, apple green sweater, black heels. The blue Coach bag, a 50th birthday present from her husband was slung over her shoulder. She looked she owned the world, but she still didn’t think she was beautiful.

How did she find me here? I never told her where I live?

“Amanda.” He said her name as if in a dream.

“Don’t Amanda me Oliver. I want you to leave me alone.”

He stood and approached her with his hands held out. “It was always the wrong time or place for us.”

She stepped back ignoring his open arms. “Don’t even start with me Oliver. It would have never worked. You always said I was too independent. Then you turned around and called me needy.”

“I never said any of those things.” He was shocked by her accusations.

“You didn’t have to say it. You made it obvious you were thinking it.”

He didn’t respond. This wasn’t the time for the witty dialog they’d shared in the past, the long talks through the night or the sweet lover’s words.

“Amanda, you can’t stand there before me and say that with a straight face.”

She looked at the floor then looked up straight into his eyes. “You never told me you loved me.”

“I didn’t have to.”

“Bull shit. You just expected me to hang around and wait for you to come in and out of my life. It got old Oliver. But it doesn’t matter. I’m married to a man who loves me the way I am.  I’m successful, happy and I love my life.”

“I doubt if Craig realizes what a fortunate man he is.”

“He knows.”

“Did you ever tell him about me?” Oliver took a step forward. Amanda folded her arms as if to shut him out.

“I haven’t told anyone about you. They’d all think I was nuts. Just like my Aunt Margaret when she talked about her Vampire.”

“You still love me Amanda.” Oliver said those words quietly with such passion that almost no woman would be able to resist. No woman except Amanda.

She turned and left, slamming the door behind her.

Oliver watched from the window as she got in her car and drove away. The slightest hint of regret surged through his dark thoughts. He’d never meet another who captured his heart and his passions like she had.  He’d never meet anyone who made him laugh or feel the joy of being like Amanda had.

Oliver heard the steps behind him but didn’t turn around. A warm hand caressed his shoulder.

“Is she gone?” The speaker was obviously annoyed.

“Yes.”

“Does she have any idea I’m here?”

“No.”

Craig looked out the window. “Good. Where do we go from here?”

“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?”

“My son is an Emo freak who acts in plays and writes poetry for fun. My daughter won’t talk to anyone unless it’s a text. My wife is never going to lose the baby fat or stop telling stupid jokes or snoring or complaining how hard she works. It wasn’t what I signed up for.”

“I understand.”

“Just for once I want what I want. I don’t want to go home to a woman who is tired all the time and can’t even comprehend my needs.”

“What about your children? You must care about them on some level.”

“They’ll be fine without me. Amanda will have two million dollars in life insurance to get the kids through college. There’s another 10 million in assets she can sell off if she has to. She’ll make sure her children have wonderful memories of me.”

“The news of your death will break her heart.”

Craig scowled at Oliver. “Amanda is already so miserable she won’t even notice. She’ll be happy to be the unfortunate widow and bask in the glow of her own sorrow. I’m doing her a favor by dying rather than divorcing her.”

“And your girlfriends?” Asked Oliver.

“They’re whores who think they can get ahead by sleeping with the CEO. They’ll both get their pink slips next week. So now what?”

Oliver went back around to his desk and sat in the antique leather chair. “Your car will be found in the river and it will be assumed your body was washed away with the currents. Your wallet and a few clothing items will be found washed up on a beach. It will be assumed that you died.”

“So when do I change?”

“Change?”

“When do I become like you? A Vampire.” Craig asked this impatiently almost sounding like a spoilt teen.

Oliver took a deep breath and answered him. “Tonight if you want, but I’d rather wait until tomorrow.”

Craig leaned on the desk close to the Vampire. “I want this Oliver. I want my freedom.”

“You’ll get what you want Craig.”

“Oliver, I’m telling you…”

Craig started to speak but Oliver held up his hand. “We’ll take my jet to Rome in the morning. By the time we get there you’ll be a different man. The old Craig will be gone forever. In the meantime, you need to see your children one last time.”

Amanda sat in the high school auditorium waiting for the play to start. A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Her son played Lysander and her daughter was playing Puck.

Craig had called earlier to tell her he was working late. He’d been sorry to miss the play but said he’d see it on closing night next weekend. She thought she was going to throw up. She pulled out her phone and listened to the message she’d received right after she’d seen Oliver.

A sing song girlish voice said “Mandy, I mean Amanda, this is Trinity, Craig’s assistant. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been sleeping with your husband for about two years. He said I did all those nasty fetish things you wouldn’t do and I believed him. I really really loved him and would have done anything but he dumped me for Tara Hall. She’s like the VP of Marketing.  They’ve been doing it since October so he was two timing on me too. Stupid puke. So when he says he is gone on business he’s really with her. I just thought you’d want to know because you seem like a nice lady.”

It was the fifth time she’d listened to it. Each time she’d hoped she’d heard it wrong but that wasn’t the case.

A text came in from Craig saying he had a change of plans and was on his way.

Concentrate. Don’t think about him. It isn’t true. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t cry.

The house lights went down and the play started.

Oliver Thomas stood on the side of the river and watched the emergency crews on the opposite shore drag out a sliver convertible, the headless body of the driver still strapped in the seat. Some unfortunate member of the police department would find sightless eyes attached to a severed head staring up at him from the floor of the passenger seat.

Witnesses said another car had forced him off the road. The convertible rolled and went into the water. It had been too dark to get any plate numbers or a good description of the other car.

Craig wanted to be free of his wife and children. A man should have what he wants after all.

Now Oliver would do it right. He’d wait a few months, he had time and he’d be there for Amanda and her children, like he should have been all along.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: None of his concern

Senator Wallace “Wally” Baskin stood on the podium as his fans watched on. They knew he would cut funding to arts, which after all were only for high brow perverts and didn’t do anything for the economy. He had cut funds for National Parks which everyone knew were just glorified playgrounds used by retired folks and boy scouts. Bears and rock formations were not his concern. If he didn’t see it or like it then it wasn’t his concern.

He’d never seen a bear in the wild, an underaged prostitute, a Indian burial ground, the inside of an art museum, or a whale, so they were not his concerns. He had never personally known a soldier with PSTD, or one with missing limbs so that was none of his concern. Wally Baskin had never known a child with cancer, or anyone with AIDS, or an opera singer, so they were none of his concern.

Empathy, curiosity, and compassion were for the weak. They were none of his concern.

The Senator looked out over the crowd, a mix of white, brown, and a few darker folks picked out by his staff, mixed in with people who’d just come to the State Fair to see the hogs, goats, and a popular local metal band called Fire Pods. Wally wondered about the Fire Pods. He wondered if they worshiped the Devil, or ate exotic cheeses with California wine, or had sex with women who happily showed off their large breasts and snake tattoos. He thought about them with those women, legs wrapped around the skinny lead singer with the handsome face and long blonde hair.

Wally never liked Metal music. Wally never liked any music. His kids listened to music, but he never asked them about it. They were grown now and had been poisoned against him by his first wife. He didn’t see them but he still thought about it and it made him angry.

He’d told his son that majoring in English was a waste of time. He told his daughter that she’d never find a husband if she majored in Chemistry. When his ex-wife got remarried he’d called her a whore for not being faithful to the father of his children. It didn’t matter that he’d married a woman only ten years older than his son.

His new wife, a beauty named Desiree, was always by his side in her high heels and monochromatic suits. He didn’t see her much in his off time, but she was always there with a million watt smile, not a line on her face, and not an extra pound on her body. He wasn’t allowed to often touch that body, but he didn’t think she let anyone else touch it either. Today she stood by his side smiling and holding the hands of their extremely bored nine year old twin boys.

The boys had told their father they didn’t want to be there. Wally told him he’d whip their butts if they didn’t behave, so they behaved.

Maybe Wally should have whipped the butts of his older children more. That was one reason his wife left him and poisoned his unruly children against him. He thought of his daughter asking her stepfather to walk her down the isle when she got married. Wally was still trying to find dirt on the man. He refused to go to her wedding, but instead went to a church retreat with some of his political donors. He’d rather spend a weekend with God and other’s who appreciated him rather than his loser daughter.

Senator Wallace “Wally” Baskin stood on the podium and started to talk about family values, American values, God, and bringing back the goodness of yesterday. The crowd  gave a luke warm response by clapping politely and not walking away. As he walked to his limo, with his wife and whining boys behind him, he could hear the crowd roar with approval as Fire Pods started up their noise.

Wally would find the dirt on Fire Pods and have them ruined, especially the lead singer, the good looking blonde named Ryan Green. Fuck you Ryan Green thought Wally. Your career is OVER.

At home Wally said grace over the dinner table and told his wife that he was pleased with the outcome of the day. She smiled, but looked tired, even after changing into jeans and a tee shirt. He didn’t like it when she wore jeans, but he’d gotten tired of her bitching about it. He’d check her bank account in the morning and take out some money just to teach her a lesson. The twins ate chicken nuggets in another room while he and his wife had some sort of noodle dish. She called it pasta but it would always be noodles to him.

Life was good. Wally instructed his staff to post on all of his social media sites about his good life, his good wife, and his bright manly twin boys. He watched the news about floods, fires, quakes, tornadoes, murders, and all kinds of unpleasant things but that was none of his concern. If you don’t you’re house to shake don’t live in California is what he always said.

Later that night his wife was sitting on the back deck of their mansion sipping a glass of wine. She’d taken her make-up off. Wally told his wife she looked ugly without her make-up and he’d prefer to keep it on. She called him an asshole. He slapped her. She told him that she was unhappy. He said it was none of his concern and she’d better do her job as his wife and keep us her end of the deal.

The next morning Wally woke up to the sound of nothing. No breakfast cooking. No children with their annoying noise. No sound of their annoying dog. Not his wife singing some stupid songs he didn’t recognize.

On the kitchen table he’d found a note.

Wally,

Maria will be in tonight and make you dinner. She’ll organize the domestic staff from now on so you won’t have to see them. Remember Maria, our personal chef? She is the one you called a cow when she made stir-fry that night. If you call her names again she’ll leave you.

And speaking of leaving you… I have left you. I’ve gone off with Ryan Green. I’ve taken the twins, after all Ryan is their biological father. You were too stupid to guess that. Why do you think they look so much like him. 

If you wish to speak to me or send a message contact my lawyer. 

D.

Wally called his wife on the phone and left a long message. This would be the death of his political career. He called his ex-wife, he called his eldest son, he called his daughter. He even called his elderly mother.

None of them answered.

Two weeks later when his naked bloated body was found floating in his swimming pool the police asked his staff, his neighbors, and his family, why nobody had called to report him missing.

They all had the same reply.

It was none of my concern.

~ end