Meeting by Chance?
As Jiminy walked back to the caravan, he felt himself to be in a terrible mood.
If his father or mother decided to ask him what he was doing out late at all hours, Jiminy found that he would have no regrets taking out his fury on them. They deserved it.
All the while he couldn’t stop thinking about Peter, and what he himself had almost done.
“First kissing another man’s wife, then almost killing another man because of his wife? What is going on with me lately?” Jiminy asked himself, kicking at a stick.
He had never met Peter’s wife, and probably never would, so why was he so adamant at championing a woman he’d never met?
True to his previous thought, his mother was the first to awaken when he returned.
“Wh-what? Jiminy! What are you doing walking around in the middle of the night!? Go to bed!” his mother scolded.
Jiminy tried not to glare at her, but it was hard.
He decided that getting a good night’s sleep was a good idea. But first…
Looking under his sack, and inside his pillow, Jiminy’s blood ran cold as he realized he couldn’t find his Bible anywhere…
“Mother…” he said cautiously.
“What?” she hissed.
“There was a book here inside my pillow. Have you seen it?” he asked.
He had found and saved enough pence to buy a quill.
The quill was there , as well as the berry ink he'd made, but the bible was gone.
He’d started underlining favorite verses, and wanted to return to them and memorize them.
“Oh, your father used it for kindling” she said with a shrug.
What?!! He thought panicking. “You did… what?” he choked.
“Yeah” she said, eyeing him with a smirk. “You know your father and I can’t read. Bet you can’t either. Why keep that thing around when we have no use for it?”
Jiminy stared at his mother open mouthed. He could not believe what he was hearing…
His mother… or more accurately, his father, had burned the only possession he owned and treasured above everything else in his miserable existence?!!!
“You… burned… a bible? The book of the church?!!” he hissed.
Myra shrugged again. “Why not? it’s not like you were getting any use out of it, were ya?”
Jiminy was finding it hard to breath. His breaths came labored in and out, hoarsely.
It was then that he knew, his parents didn’t give a damn about him. They could care less what happened to him. He was just their errand boy.
“That… bible… was MINE!!!” he shrieked. “That book was the only thing that was keeping me sane in my existence, giving me peace and advice on how to live with skeletons like you!!”
Jiminy’s temper was at an all-time high. His voice was rising, but he didn’t care.
“You’re grounded!” Myra growled.
Jiminy’s eye twitched. “Like HELL I AM” he howled.
He had to bite his tongue to keep from saying any more.
God, please! Help me! He prayed desperately.
Psalms… your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…
Exodus… the Ten Commandments… Honor thy father and mother…
Also… Thou shalt not kill….
Jiminy turned his cobalt gaze onto his mother…
Romans...Shall you continue to sin that grace may abound? By no means!
Matthew...An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… but I say to you…
whomever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him your left cheek as well….
The words of Jesus….
Jiminy breathed a sigh of relief, trying to remember the rest of that verse…
Whomever takes your cloak give to him your tunic also…
Jiminy’s temper was dissipating, as he remembered the words of the Teacher he wanted to emulate.
Whomever forces you to walk one mile, go with him two miles…
As he felt peace surround him, in that next second, Jiminy felt his cheek stinging.
Turn my head...turn my head... turn my head… he thought to himself…
He turned his glare onto his mother, then noticed his father looking at them both as if they were insane.
“Do you two know what time it is?” he hissed. “Get to bed! Both of you!”
Jiminy unclenched his fists, sank to his knees to his sack, and felt tears stinging his eyes…
Watching him, were two creatures, in the form of a man and woman.
They had seen the whole debacle, and were saddened for the poor miserable man.
“Can we give it to him?” asked the woman.
“No” said the man… “It’s not time yet”
The woman brushed her hand through Jiminy’s hair.
Jiminy sighed peacefully as he felt the wind through his hair.
Enough is enough! he thought.
He’d find a way out no matter what it took…
The next morning, Jiminy and his parents rode the caravan through a town by way of a market they had ‘visited’ the previous year.
“Looks like it’s been a good year” Myra said.
“Yeah, you can tell by all the fat people” Martin joked.
Myra laughed. “Hey, maybe we can run the ‘elf-tonic’ scam” Martin agreed wholeheartedly.
Jiminy felt sick as he listened to them. He tried not to think about what they did to him, let alone what they wanted to do to everyone else.
“Do we have to?” he protested, his voice sounding pitiful to his own ears despite the fury he was feeling.
“We make enough money from the puppet-shows, do we have to steal, too?” he asked, hoping to hit some nerve and create some epiphany of decency.
“No way!” Myra pouted.
“We steal from them, and they steal from someone else” Martin explained for the thousandth time, though Jiminy could never keep it in that thick skull.
“It’s called an economy” Myra agreed grinning.
Trying not to growl and tell them off as he had come so close to doing the night before, Jiminy shook his head.
“I-I want to quit” he said, sounding unsure, yet dead serious.
“Oh, this again!” Myra growled.
“Look, you can’t leave now!” Martin yelled.
“We’re getting old” Myra hissed.
“My hip” Martin feigned.
“My liver!” Myra whined.
“I’ve got lumps in strange places” Martin fibbed.
“I’ve got burning sensations” Myra said. Jiminy’s cheeks flamed.
“You better stay with us” Martin said.
“Just until we die” Myra smirked.
Sooner rather than later, I hope Jiminy thought as he glared elsewhere, fearing he could turn them to ice with his glare alone.
“Now be a good boy, and set up!” Martin commanded as if Jiminy was still fifteen.
Grrrrrr! He’d fallen for it again! Their endless whinings and groanings! Their imaginary aches and pains, all so that he would feel guilty and stay with them!
If only he had some sort of magical fairy dust to whisk him away from there…
As Widow Lucas and her granddaughter Red entered the town where Granny was well known for selling her food wares, Red looked around for the little boy whose parents had offered them shelter from the rain the previous night.
They didn’t have much room or provisions being a family of three with a growing boy, but they did their best to help out travelers where they could.
“How far along are you?” Celine asked excitedly as Red sat down somewhat uncomfortably on a supper chair, her six-month pregnant stomach not allowing her much room at the table.
“Six months” Red answered shyly. She hadn’t been received very kindly with others around town, having no ring or license to prove that she and Peter Wolf were married.
“Oh, how wonderful!” Celine cried. Donte smiled affectionately at his wife, remembering when she had been pregnant with their handsome Gepetto.
“D-do you have any children?” Red asked.
“Why yes… we have a-”
“Mama! Papa! I’m home!” called a young boy of about eight.
“Gepetto, easy son… we have company” Donte said with a smile.
Red’s eyes widened as a smile lit her face.
Gepetto caught her eye and smiled shyly.
“Um… hello” he said.
“Hi” Red answered with a smile.
“I’m Gepetto” the boy said.
“I’m Red” Red answered.
“Why do they call you that?” Gepetto asked.
“Because of my hood” Red grinned.
Gepetto nodded, letting her know he understood.
Then, noticing her large stomach, he turned his head.
“Are you going to have a baby?” Gepetto asked.
The boy’s parents frowned at him.
Red laughed lightly. “Yes, in about three months”
“Is your husband around here someplace?” he asked.
Red shook her head. “No, he is on a very long journey away from here”
Gepetto looked puzzled. “But I thought I saw him setting up with the puppet caravan earlier!”
Red looked at Granny, who smiled a bit and shrugged. The boy’s parents spoke to him a moment about manners.
“Would you like to walk around with me?” Geppetto asked.
Red nodded. “Of course” she said, tightening her hood.
Granny looked at her warily. “Be very careful, Red. Stay nearer the house if you can”
Red nodded. “I will, Granny” she turned to Gepetto’s parents.
“I will guard him carefully” she said.
Celine hugged her. “Thank you” she smiled.
Red and her young charge walked outside into the pouring rain, but not before Gepetto grabbed an umbrella from the house.
Gepetto grabbed Red’s hand and walked with her over to the puppet show.
“This is going to be fun!” he smiled.
Red smiled, her stomach flipping.
She never knew that her next few moments would change her life forever in a totally unexpected way...
Just as the thunderstorm began its fury, and it began to pour down rain from the heavens, Jiminy’s rage took on an all-time high as he did his parents’ bidding and set up.
A short while later, the rain picked up with a vengeance falling heavily as Jiminy set up for the puppet show.
A young boy approached him, “Wow! Puppets! What an awesome job you have!”
Jiminy ignored him, continued to set up.
Seeing that he hit a nerve, Gepetto wondered if he could help.
Watching the two, Red debated whether or not she should say something to either of them.
The stranger was downright rude, and she was uncertain if Gepetto was allowed to speak with strangers at all…
“You don’t like it?” Gepetto asked.
“N-no” Jiminy answered, finally finding his voice. “No I don’t. Same fairs, same shows every year”
“Then why don’t you do something else?” Gepetto asked, curious.
He was a grown man, so why not find something that he enjoyed doing?
“This is just who I am” Jiminy replied, wondering where the boy’s parents were.
“Look, did you come out just to watch the set up?”
Gepetto shook his head. “No, I came out to listen to the crickets!”
Jiminy stopped what he was doing for a moment. Someone else who enjoyed crickets!
“Oh, the crickets!” he grinned. “I haven’t listened to the crickets in a while” realizing he couldn’t hear them very well over the din of the rain.
“Look, you better get home or your gonna catch a cold” Gepetto smiled. He liked this man.
“So will you” he said. “Here, have my umbrella. I don’t live far”
As Gepetto gave him his umbrella, Jiminy took it, visibly moved as the boy hurried away.
“I can’t wait to see the show!” Gepetto hollered.
Jiminy smirked, touched once again by the kindness of a young boy.
Just then, his eye caught the color red.
He noticed the boy run up to a tall young woman in a muslin dress, shrouded in a red cloak.
Hmm… that was unusual.
Perhaps the young lady was the boy’s mother…
His parents put on the show as usual, and as usual, Jiminy waited until the last minute to slip through the crowd and ‘borrow’ their purses.
When he was almost finished, he wasn’t sure if it was his desire to be finished with his life of crime, or his own paranoia, but he froze when he came to a visitor and they grasped his arm.
Jiminy’s heart lurched.
His eyes glanced into the strange almost golden eyes of the young woman he’d seen earlier.
As he glanced closer, he noticed that her gaze seemed to be far into space.
She wasn’t looking at him, but she held onto his arm in a vice grip.
Jiminy froze, unmoving.
“Miss?” he whispered. “I need to get by”
“See that you don’t reach into my cloak, sir” she whispered fiercely.
Jiminy gulped. She knew!
“I swear I will not. Just let me by and I will pass you unbidden.”
She winced. Jiminy’s eyebrow raised. Was she in pain?
Then, completely unaware, just as his hand brushed her dress, he felt a small kick.
Startled, he blinked as the woman winced and smiled softly, putting a hand to her stomach.
Jiminy marveled in amazement as he realized, the babe growing inside of her was moving... he had possibly felt her first kick!
Smiling like a buffoon, he was curious what the babe was to become, but felt too awkward to ask.
Jiminy soon felt his arm released and passed by the young woman without hindrance or notice from anyone.
“Thou shalt not steal” she whispered.
Jiminy did a double take. Would she blackmail him?
He hoped not…
He noticed her eyes. Green like the first leaves of spring…
She was a vision in red…
Jiminy felt his heart lurch in a way it had never done so before.
“Farewell” she murmured.
He nodded his thanks and continued back to his parents’ caravan.
Tonight was the last straw…
After the show, Gepetto looked for his new friend and found him taking down the boards from the set up.
As he took down the boards from the setup, Jiminy felt tired being tied down to ungrateful vagabond gypsies!
For all he knew they’d find some way to steal his memories next!
After the show, Gepetto found him an asked to talk with him.
It was still raining, but Jiminy found he had nothing to lose…
“My friend has a baby... I would bring her home, but we have no room... you’d like her.”
Jiminy blushed, remembering Alice.
He had not had many experiences with women; the few he had, he stole their purse, not their heart.
Jiminy smiled at Gepetto’s youthful exuberance and looked up.
What he saw, made him gasp. It was the young woman from the audience!
What was she doing here?
Looking at her up close he could tell she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen-shrouded by a red cloak.
“Here he is!” Gepetto chirped.
Red looked up and was startled to see the young man who’d nearly bumped into her earlier.
He was ruggedly handsome with shocking red curly hair, and stunning blue eyes.
He had a kind face, and a shy smile that didn’t come easily, as if he were guarding something.
“Um err... hello” he smiled, nervously, shyly… wow!
Red grinned, flattered “Hello, Sir...”
“Jiminy” he answered.
“A pleasure to meet you Jiminy. My name is Ruby Elizabeth Lucas, but everyone calls me Red”
Jiminy raised an eyebrow at her surname. “Lucas...? you wouldn’t happen to be Widow Lucas’ granddaughter, would you?”
“I am” Red said with a cautious smile, surprised that her grandmother’s reputation reached this far.
“It’s an honor to make your acquaintance my Lady... I know your grandmother well… that is, I know of her”
Red smiled, trying not to laugh.
Everyone who knew of Widow Lucas knew that her cooking was desired for miles around, and her crossbow was to be feared.
Red was delighted and charmed by the handsome stranger known as Jiminy.
Why had Granny never mentioned him?
Gepetto looked on in glee as his lonely and unhappy acquaintance met his friend Red.
She was a scared lonely first time mother to be... her husband having been lost to her traveling in a hunting party... perhaps meeting this kindhearted man would help ease her spirits...
Jiminy couldn’t place it but there was something about Red that was unsettling, as if she couldn’t stand to be in one place at one time.
Looking deep into her eyes he noticed grief and despair... had she lost someone...a friend, or perhaps her True Love?
Jiminy blushed at his untoward thoughts. perhaps in a way he could help her?
It was then that he noticed her slightly bulging middle... she was with child?
Then he remembered the kick.
“JIMINY!!” he heard his mother Myra screech. Jiminy panicked.
If they found Red or the boy with him, they could all be in a serious mess.
His parents would most likely assume that Red, being pregnant, was his mistress, and the lad was their illegitimate child.
The boy looked at Jiminy concerned.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Jiminy shook his head.
“Um, no.... look...I am really very sorry to do this, but um...”
He looked at Red; the poor girl was drenched head to foot...and with a baby on the way....
No. He shook his head. She would be in more danger around him than she would with a kind neighbor who took her in.
As much as his mind screamed against it, to just take her hand and run, getting her and the boy both out of here would be giving them their best chance...
“Hey, you better get on home before you catch a cold” he told the boy.
“I told you, I’m fine.... besides what am I gonna do with her?”
Jiminy’s deep blue eyes met Red’s earthly green...and just like that it was if someone lit a spark within their minds and hearts.
*I am so deeply sorry* he thought
*I-it’s alright... I can make it on my own.* she replied.
*Are you absolutely sure?* he asked.
Red nodded in affirmation still shocked she could hear Jiminy’s voice in her head.
“Y-you two better get going...this rain’s not going to let up any time soon...”
Again his eyes met Red’s. *You take care of yourself out there*
She smirked and the youth gasped as her eyes flashed gold for a moment.
*I assure you I am well prepared for the dangers of our land.*
Jiminy chuckled *Then go, and may the odds be ever in your favor.*
She smirked and curtsied.*As with you, dear Jiminy... we have met well...may our next meeting be just as fortunate.*
After returning her curtsy with a deep bow of his own, not daring to grasp her delicate hand for a kiss, the boy who brought them together smirked to himself.
Met well indeed...
After bidding his new friends farewell, Jiminy returned begrudged to his work wishing with all his might for an escape.
Nearly 100 feet away, a pregnant she-wolf black as night howled up at the full moon.
Jiminy chuckled. he was no longer afraid of wolves howling in the night... especially when one of them was a vision in red.
Mentally he howled alongside her hoping for some way to escape...