Vlog Review: Mazie

KZ enjoyed this book so much, she forgot it came with gifts in her subscription box.

Hit Play on the video above.

Premise: Graduating from high school in 1959 Nebraska means its time to be an adult: get married, take over the farm (if you’re male), have babies (if you’re female). Mazie Butterfield wants no part of that. She plans to leave her small town for NYC to chase her Broadway dreams. To do so, she’ll have to leave her love behind, breaking both their hearts simultaneously before arriving in a city that doesn’t care if she succeeds or not. Mazie has to figure out what parts of herself she’s willing to let go of and what different ways of thinking she’s willing to accept on the way.

Rating: 4/5, easy to read
Target: 8 & up

Title: The book is a character study. There’s plenty of fun historical content. The time, context add a lot, but boil it down and this book is all about Mazie: what she wants, who she is, where she’s going.

Main Character(s): Mazie Butterfield, 17-turns-18 y/o (she/her)

Motifs (not exhaustive): gender barriers, societal roles, societal expectations, LGBTQ friendly, grief, dreams, identity, theater/performance, independence, romance, loneliness, audacity, voice

Great for…* (readers): I want to be able to say anyone who feels boxed in and wants to break out will love this book, but I think the Broadway setting may act as a barrier for some. However, there are men and women who must deal with what is expected of them in this book, choosing to accept, push back, or reject it in figuring out their own identity. A classic YA trope, right?

Great for…* (teachers): setting (historical and regional), diction (though Crowder didn’t spell the accent in, the accent can be heard), allusion, character study, hopes/dreams project and planning

Parental Warnings: some cursing and unwanted sexual advances from the female perspective

Interact: If you could play in any film, show, production, who would you be and why?

If you like Stage Door (1937), you’ll like this book.

Shop local bookstores.
Shop Amazon.
Add on Goodreads.

*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.

RATINGS GUIDE

٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend

Days of our Pandemic: episode p2

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode p, part 1, they were heading from the bathroom to the dining room to see who killed Mr. Body with the candlestick. No. Wait. That’s not right. Why were they headed to the dining room again?

“I’ll show you. Take me to the dining room!” ordered Z.

K carried Z to the dining room. The dining room sat empty — of people — with mostly empty cereal bowls scattered about without their spoons and half-eaten bags of chips falling over more half-eaten bags of chips. A strange greyish liquid dripped off the dining table and onto the floor.

Z saw it all. “Does no one clean up in this place?” Z asked without needing an answer, for the answer presented itself in the environment.

“Yup,” said K, “no one cleans up in this place, Z.” K glowed with pride, and possibly with toothpaste and spittle as well. “Isn’t it lovely?”

Z did not answer. Instead, she pointed to the backyard, that once was green, but like the vibrancy of the lives of those living inside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, it had devolved into a destitute state of dryness. Then brownness. Then dirtness. 

“Do you see that, K?” asked Z.

“It’s a fence!” said K.

“No, not that,” said an annoyed Z.

“It’s a spider!” said K.

“No, not that,” said a peevish Z.

“It’s a family of spiders!” said K.

“No, not that,” said a cross Z.

“It’s a bird! And a plane! No, there are no planes. It’s, it’s –”

“NO NOT THAT,” said a livid Z. “Look at that pile of dirt, you dimwit.”

“Which pile of dirt, Z? There’s dirt all over the place. It’s one big pile of dirt. Speaking of dirt, do you know what I heard? Beneath all the houses and buildings and stuff? It’s just dirt. Can you believe that, Z? Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt. Is that true, Z?”

“Yes, K. We live in a dirty world,” said Z.

“Yes, we do!” K enthralled.

“And wouldn’t you like to get out into that dirty world?” asked Z.

“Yes, I would! I want to be dirty, too!” said K.

“Then shut up and listen to my plan!”

“Shutting up, Z,” said K and covered her mouth with both hands.

“Do you see that mound of dirt not three paces out from the doorframe?” asked Z.

K nodded her head but stayed otherwise shut up with her hands over her mouth.

“Do you know what makes that mound of dirt?” asked Z.

K’s eyes narrowed. Her mouth emerged like the redness of an injection site. Her lips squinched. Her hands shot up with one finger extended on each.

“Vitamins! There’s vitamins in dirt,” said K. “Hey, Z? How come we don’t eat the dirt if it’s so rich in vitamins?”

“Well, K,” Z let the words fall softly from her tongue, “that’s an example of WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE SHUT UP!”

“Right-o, Z. Shutting up.” K pressed her lips together by pressing her fingers down on her upper lip and her thumbs up on her lower lip.

Clearing her throat, Z informed K, “The dirt pile in question is a gopher mound.” Z paused to consider how to dumb down the facts for the being before her. “An itty bitty gopher crawled up from under the ground and pushed all that brown dirt out so it could see the sunny sun. Does that make sense to a brain the size of yours?”

K nodded cautiously, thinking she might have just been insulted.

Her nodding stopped, thinking she might not have just been insulted.

K shook her head vigorously, thinking she might have just been lauded. 

“Out with it,” said Z.

K’s hands fell from her face.

“With the gopher or his cents?” asked K.

“You should have kept it in,” said Z.

“Kept in the gopher or his cents? And does he keep his cents in his pockets or in a gopher piggy bank? Is a gopher piggy bank too big for his gopher pocket? And where does he get gopher clothes? He should wear overalls. Don’t you think gophers should wear overalls?”

Will K discover gophers walk around in the nude and be revolted? or propelled to make clothing for them in order to protect them from feeling embarrassed? Or will Z silence K’s inane questions? Find out in the next part of Days of our Pandemic

Days of Our Pandemic: episode p

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

Wonky Way Lane was home to innumerable creatures. Some were constantly fighting over territory and food, like the pair of peregrine falcons who flew ominously into frame. Or the family of rabbits on the east side of the street that engaged in a bitter, broiling battle for rule of the road, until the night one east-sider fell in love at first sight with one west-sider so that the two eloped the next morning and might have never lived happily ever after if it weren’t for Tybalt. But, I digress. For we concern ourselves not with the falcons or the rabbits, the foxes or the fairies. No, our scene takes place inside one home in particular. One house on Wonky Way Lane that housed some wonky ways. That house was the lavender house with blue violet trim, the one that waved a purple COVID flag, where inside, lived K and Z, with whom we are concerned. Or, at least, for whom we are concerned. Observe, Reader, from your safe distance on the far side of the screen lest you spiral into what you discover…

The sun was sunning through the slight window high above K’s head as she brushed her teeth with her eyes closed because the sun was sunning right into her eyes and she didn’t realize it would not if she only stepped one step over to the right or the left. 

“Whmf wef ui boehee, Pee?” asked K over the buzz of the electronic toothbrush inside her mouth.

“What did you call me!?” said Z, enraged by K’s name-calling so early in the morning.

K spoke again. “I faed whmf wef ui suigg boehee?”

“Would you take that blasted thing out of your mouth ere you emit another word in my presence?” demanded Z.  

K pulled the toothbrush from her mouth and cleared her throat to speak. Before she said a word, Z was yelling at her.

“Turn off the toothbrush! Turn off the toothbrush!” Z’s forearm covered her face as toothpaste splattered against the vanity mirror out from which Z looked.

K pressed the button that turned off the toothbrush. 

“Oopsies.” K grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, Z.”

Z removed her forearm as protection and looked at the spotted glass. 

“Well,” said Z with barely veiled disgust, “you’re going to have to clean this up before we get to the plan for the day.”

“The plan?” said K. “Oh boy! Oh boy! I love the plan!” K clapped her hands together and jumped up and down, forgetting the bath towel hanging across a clothesline in the bathroom. She jumped up into it, panicked, flailed, got caught up in it, and pulled the entire thing down on herself.

“Help! Help, Z! Help! Something’s got me! And it’s stolen the sun! Help!” 

Z looked straight out her mirror at Rochelle. “Can you believe this nonsense?”

A low rumble came from the walls themselves.

K’s foot kicked itself out from under the bath sheet.

“Light! I see light!”

Z rolled her eyes.

K continued her fight with the towel. Rolling, cursing, and finally, emerging, she pinned the towel beneath her knee. She shot her hands into the air. “Victory!”

“Yes, hardly won,” said Z.

“Yes! Hard won victory!” said K. K stood and grabbed the towel from the floor. She rubbed the defeated towel against Z’s face until all the spots were gone.

“I’ve healed you, Z,” said K.

“Thank you, K,” said Z, choosing which battles of language to fight with K.

“Now,” said K, dropping the towel back on the floor, “what are we going to do today, Z?”

“The same thing we do every day, K. Escape the enclosure of these four walls.”

“Mwuah ha ha ha ha ha,” rumbled from the walls and ricocheted through the room. 

“Stop! Stop! Stop, Rochelle!” K stomped. She covered her ears. She stepped on the towel with one foot. And got caught under the towel with her other foot before finding her face on the floor not far from where her feet should have been.

A high-pitched squeal akin to giggling fell over and through the room.

K bounced to her feet. “I will not be mocked, Rochelle!” K shouted.

“Enough!” Z’s martinet tone draped over K and Rochelle and even the east and west side rabbits heard. “We shan’t waste the day with such shenanigans. We have plans to enact.”

“What will we be acting in today?” asked K.

“I’ll show you. Take me to the dining room!” ordered Z.

You, Reader, may want to avert your eyes to what you are about to see. But Z had no such warning. Discover what Z sees in the dining room, if you can stomach it, which you can, because you stomach K regularly already (and no this does not mean you eat or digest her….please do not do that because that would be an undesirable end to this series…but I think I was trying to tell you something relatively important to this story….Oh yes! You’ll stand strong in the dining room with K and Z) in the next installment of Days of Our Pandemic!

Days of our Pandemic: episode m4

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what happened in the previous episode (i) of The Days of Our PandemicOr start from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode m, part 3, K and Z discovered a present on the porch. What’s it it and whose it from? Read on! It’s time to begin the end of episode m.

K grabbed the box from the porch with greed, as though grabbing at freedom and fresh air itself. She brought it inside, showing Z. She tore into it. 

“It has a note,” said K.

“Show it to me,” said Z.

K held the note up to the mirror for Z to see.

“Open it first!” said Z.

“Well you didn’t say that,” said a peeved K.

K opened the note and showed Z the message on the note.

Z read aloud. 

Dear KZ Rochelle,
We figured those boys of yours must be eating you through house and home now that they’re there at home all the time, so we’re sending you these supplies.
With Love, Your Parents

Z looked up from the message into K’s eyes. “There are boys here?” Z asked far too calmly.

“Yes, Z. My boys,” said K.

“Your sons?” asked Z.

“Of course, Z.” K laughed. “You are so silly sometimes.”

“You have sons!?” Z yelled. “And just what have they been doing this whole time!?”

“I don’t know, Z. Playing video games?”

Just then, K’s phone beeped.

“Oooooh!” said K. “A message.”

K pulled out her phone and opened it up. 

K read the message. “Although your milk flag was noted by our system, you will not receive a delivery today as you are not permitted to receive more than one grocery delivery in a single day. We look forward to serving you in the future.”

“Damn it, K!”

“What is it, Z?”

“Don’t you understand?”

“Yes. I understand that you understand and I understand the chemical potential is just the Gibbs free energy norma—”

Z interrupted K. “I know! I know! You understand the chemical potential is just the Gibbs free energy normalized to the amount of substance.”

“I do,” said K.

“But what you don’t seem to comprehend is that our plan has been foiled!” said Z.

“Shall I put foil on this food?” asked K.

“Oh, goodness,” said Z.

“Good, yes,” said K and she closed up the box to begin wrapping its exterior in tin foil.

With one side foiled, a door squeaked open.

“Hey, Mom,” said a tweenage boy from underneath a cap. “Do you want to play video games with us?”

“I surely do,” said K and ran off to play video games, leaving Z alone on the floor of the foyer next to a large foil-covered box where she sat cogitating how they would certainly escape the confines of these four walls with tomorrow’s plan.….

Will K and Z escape their four walls with tomorrow’s plan? Find out in the next installments in The Days of Our Pandemic

Days of Our Pandemic: episode m2

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what happened in the previous episode (i) of The Days of Our Pandemic. Or start from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode m, they were preparing to detail the plan to escape the confines of these four walls…

“I will tell you the plan for today,” said Z.

K looked eagerly to Z.

“We will use the flag system to our advantage.”

“How will we do that, Z?”

“You know the milky white flag right, K?” Z asked with condescension. 

“The one that alerts the authorities we’re out of milk and other food supplies?” asked K.

“The only white flag we have is that one,” Z said pondering the figurative use of white flags and added, “unfortunately.”

“Yes, I know that one, Z,” K said far too enthusiastically for she believed that the whole plan was knowing about the milky white flag. It was not.

“There’s more, you fool!” Z said.

“Yes, Z. More milk. At the stores. That’s why we can raise the milky white flag to alert the authorities to get us more of the more milk from the stores.”

Z talked herself down from the ledge inside her brain. She exhaled heavily. 

“We will raise the milky white flag so that the authorities believe we are out of supplies, but when their automated vehicles arrive, we will be ready, waiting, and steal away in the car before it drives off past the forest and into the hills.”

“We’re going to steal the milk?” K asked Z in confusion.

“Well, no. Well, yes. But no. Before we consume any food or beverage, we must hide ourselves away in the car that moves away from this house and these four walls!”

“Oh, I don’t know, Z,” K said. “I used to like hideaways. We had a hideout when I was a kid with no boys allowed. And a hideout in the closet. And a hideout in the playhouse in the backyard. But that was all before King Covid. Don’t we always hide away now? I thought that our plan was to not hide away. Z,” K wondered, “why would we hide away to not hide away? I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t understand, K,” Z said. “Is there anything you do understand?!”

K thought about that. 

She opened her mouth to voice an idea.

She closed her mouth because she forgot her idea.

She opened her mouth again. “I understand that you understand, Z. And that means I don’t have to understand.”

“That’s the first wise thing I think I’ve ever heard you say, K.”

“Thank you, Z.” K grinned. “And I understand that the chemical potential is just the Gibbs free energy normalized to the amount of substance.”

Z stared through the glass. She blinked. She wiped the inside of the mirror with her sweater sleeve. Then changed her sweater rather than don a possibly-smudged thread or two.

“Right. Well,” said Z searching for her immense vocabulary. “Uhhh, the simplicity of the plan will be to our ad-, ad-” The word escaped her.

“It will help us?” asked K.

“Yes, K. It will help us. We will escape the confines of these four walls today.”

“I’d like that,” said K.

“Go,” said Z. “Grab the milky white flag and raise it up.”

K pulled the flag from the bin of flags the state required that she purchase and that every online store sold their own variant of. Hers were from Amazon Basics. Just like her socks. She stepped into the flag room that used to just be the laundry room and hoisted the milky white flag up onto its place on the pole. 

K returned to Z to report her success.

“The flag is up, Z.”

“Good,” said Z. “Now it will just be a matter of time before we escape the enclosure of these four walls!”

“What shall we do while we wait, Z?”

“Get the camera ready, K.”

“Why do we need a camera ready, Z?”

“We will need a camera, K, to record our adventure in the automated vehicle. We will go to the forest but not just any forest, K. We will go to White Mountain National Forest. And Pigsah National Forest. And Superior National Forest.”

“And I’m-the-Best National Forest!” said K.

“There’s no such forest,” said Z. 

Will K ever understand anything Z says? Will Z’s escape plan work? Find out more in the next installment of The Days of Our Pandemic...

Book Review: French Exit

I’ll tell you from the beginning. This is a post to declare to you that I would make a fabulous casting director. Or possibly a self-deceiving cheat.

I’ve finished reading French Exit by Patrick DeWitt.  I always want to add an article in front of the title, declaring this book to be about the French exit, but apparently there are many French exits, several in the book, more in reality. 

Anyway, I picked it up, knowing it was in production to be a film — but I didn’t know it was a finished film. In theaters now (in LA and NYC). 

The several French exits in the book are declared early. Fanny Price has gone broke. Her immense wealth that grew upon her marriage has run dry. Absolutely. Nothing left after seven years of warnings from her financial advisor Mr. Baker. When the money runs out, he asks Fanny what her plan had been through those seven years. Her response epitomizes her character: “My plan was to die before the money ran out. But I kept and keep not dying, and here I am.” 

Here, at the time, is stateside, but without a place to stay she soon finds it necessary to head to Paris where a friend has an apartment where Frances may stay. She travels to France with her son because it’s their only option (exit 1), all the while with the plan to rid herself of her final spending money and do as she planned: die (exit 2). But she’ll do it her way, as much as she can. 

DeWitt presents Price fully formed, take her or leave her, and take her you must. She’s just quirky enough, just witty enough, and just sane enough to be mesmerizing beyond her beauty. 

When I first began reading, I envisioned Price as Hepburn with a Brynn Mawr accent, an elitist prig from the early scenes of The Philadelphia Story. But as I read, as DeWitt presents flashbacks that explain the why of what you the reader already know the character is, Price took on more color. She could not be caught in the black and white films of Hepburn, held in the distance by time. No, she was fully-fleshed if standoffish, with a flat American annunciation. Her voice became Michelle Pfeiffer’s, flat and flavored as in I Am Sam where her character must hold it all together for appearances sake.

And this is where I return to my premise for this post. Can you guess which actress plays Frances Price in theaters? Why, none other than Michelle Pfeiffer herself. The character could not be played by anyone as well what with the coupling of physical beauty Pfeiffer possesses with her paradoxically cold voice with undertones of rich emotion — such that it made me wonder if DeWitt wrote the novel with Pfeiffer in mind for the role. If he did, he got what he wanted. 

Either way, I got what I wanted and thus I proclaim myself a great casting director without any other evidence than that which I’ve just noted (and will tell myself that is sufficient evidence to make a case — I’m not claiming I’d make a great lawyer). Either that, or somewhere I caught a glimpse of Pfeiffer in the role and have given myself the credit all the while keeping my conscious self from this knowledge. Deceiving at least myself and possibly you in the process. Take your pick.

But if you want to read this book, you’ve got to want to read it for the dark humor and intoxicating horror of Price, whose grown son lives with her because he wants to and she wants him to. Their relationship keeps Malcolm Price from marrying his fiance. (I’m still perplexed as to why the fiance is interested in Malcolm, but that enigma is never meant to be explained. The Prices are an addiction. Logic need not have anything to do with it. And like all addictions, they’re rather dark and a bit dirty.) The book centers on Frances Price, but it’s not necessarily about her. Once you’ve read it, think about it. Tell me: is the book about Frances or Malcolm or someone else altogether? I’ll be interested to know.

Oh! By the way… I’m eager to see this movie — I hope it’s as arty as I want it to be. And since I’m already a fantastic casting director, I can confidently declare it’s in the film’s best interest to follow the notions I’ve never voiced regarding its most apt aesthetic.

Rating: 3.5/5
Target: adult readership, 16 y.o. and up

Shop local bookshops.
Shop Amazon.
Add on Goodreads.

RATINGS GUIDE

٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend

The Days of Our Pandemic: episode m

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

Outside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, two male rabbits strode nonchalantly down the middle of the road, a road rarely ridden by cars or bikes or even scooters. The inhabitants of the homes on Wonky Way Lane lived, breathed, exercised, baked banana bread, and did not dance much, all inside their homes since the great big and powerful (yet small and slight) Corona Virus began to conquer the world and establish its reign by reining the world in. Each and every home waved the COVID flag in a color designated by the governor and mandated by the virus itself. 

So, inside the lavender home waving a purple flag on Wonky Way Lane, K and Z prepared for the day. Observe, Reader, from your safe distance on the far side of the screen lest you spiral into what you discover…

K brushed powder onto her face, a habit that used to be reserved for days she left the house, but was now an everyday occurrence despite the fact she never left.

“What shall we do today, Z?” K asked the reflection in the mirror. “I’m powdered for the process.”

“The same thing we do every day, K,” Z responded. “Escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

At the mention of such a plan, Rochelle’s cackling filled the walls themselves and pulsed into the boringly beige bathroom. 

Z covered her ears.

“Stop, Rochelle!” K hit the wall with the outside of her fist. 

The cackling continued.

“RO-Chelle!” K pounded hard enough to bruise the outside of her wrist. In fact, she did bruise the outside of her wrist. K cradled her own hand and Rochelle ceased her cackle with a moan of regret.

“Oh, K,” Z said, “when will you learn?”

“Me?” said K. “It’s Rochelle’s fault.”

The walls creaked.

“Was too!” K yelled.

The walls creaked.

“Too!”

Creak.

“Too!”

Creak.

“Too!”

“ENOUGH, you flibbity gibbets! Rochelle, you know better than to egg K on. She’s not insulated, to insults or anything else, as you are,” said Z.

Rochelle moaned a response.

“I know, I know,” Z told her. “You didn’t insult K, but she’s very tender in this time of isolation. That’s why we must accomplish our goal today.”

“What goal is that, Z?” asked K who had already forgotten Z’s words from a minute before.

“To escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

“That sounds lovely, Z.” K’s eyelids fluttered like the wings of the butterflies she imagined herself cavorting with in the forest beyond Wonky Way Lane. “How will we do that?”

“That’s what I’ve been working on since yesterday’s Transportationonometeration Machine disaster.”

“Yeah, a disaster,” said K.

“Don’t remind me!” Z exclaimed before muttering to herself something about the feel of paper between her fingers, though K could not compute.

Z tapped her fingertips together as K watched, transfixed. K tried to mirror Z’s motions from the mirror, but she kept missing and grazing the budding bruise on her wrist.

“Ouch.” …. “Ouch.”

“Oh, just leave that to me, would you?” Z said. K stopped trying. “I will tell you the plan for today.”

K looked eagerly to Z.

“We will use the flag system to our advantage.”

How can the flag system work to K & Z’s advantage? And will they find success? Continue next time with The Days of Our Pandemic.

The Days of our Pandemic: episode i2

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

When last we saw K and Z, stuck in the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, they were set to begin construction on their plan to escape their four walls through the Transportationonmeteration Machine and head to Tampa Bay.

Refresh your connection with the previous episode.

“Now! My Internet Transportationonometeration Machine! Here are the directions, K. Let’s get to work.” Z held the scroll so that K could see its contents.

“Right-o, Z.” 

K read the directions, her finger smudging lines onto the mirror’s glass. 

“1 large cardboard box. I’ll grab that.” K ran out of the bathroom and returned with a large box in hand. 

“Three inkless pens. Yes, yes.” K pulled two from her back pocket and one from her hair.

“You’ll need the beach-scented candle. It’s very important if we want to get to Tampa Bay,” said Z. 

“On the bedside table,” said K.

“Good, good. It’s coming together.” Z tapped her fingers together like the evil genius she was. Even if she wasn’t so evil. Or much of a genius.

They worked together. K gathered supplies, nailing and gluing the bits together. Z directed K. Until they were on the last steps of the process.

“My Internet Transportationonometeration Machine is almost done. Then we will be out of these four walls! Free to go about in the world as we will.”

“As we will what, Z?”

“As we will, K.” 

K looked at Z waiting for elaboration.

Z continued. “As we desire. However we like. As we want, K.”

“As we want what, Z? Do we want a teddy bear? Or a blankie? Oh! No! How about some chocolates? I love chocolates. I would want chocolates. Or ice cream! Ice cream from an ice cream shop, Z. Can you imagine? That’s what I will!”

“Very well, K.” 

Z calmed K down before noting the last remaining steps.

“All we need now, K, are four silver paper clips.”

“Four silver paper clips,” repeated K. 

“Yes, four silver paper clips.”

K looked at Z. Z looked at K.

“Four silver paper clips?”

“Yes! Four silver paper clips! That’s what I said, K! Four silver paper clips!”

“Are you joking, Z?”

“Do I look like I’m joking, K?” Z’s face set in. Her eyes narrowed. Her brows furrowed. 

“Don’t know,” said K. “What’s joking look like? I only know what it sounds like.”

“Good grief,” said Z, turning her face away in disgust.

“Z, this is what a joke sounds like. What kinds of dogs love car racing?” K paused. 

Z did not respond. She did not even look K’s way. 

“Lap dogs!” 

K guffawed. 

“How about this one? How about this one? What streets do ghosts haunt?” 

Still, K did not respond. 

“Dead ends!” K guffawed again, pounding down on her knee. 

Z looked at K. She waited. 

“Are you quite done now?”

“Almost, Z. Because that’s what a joke sounds like.” K checked her knee for bruises. “I’m set now.”

“The four silver paper clips then,” Z said.

“Ain’t no such thing,” K said.

“Of course there’s such a thing,” said Z.

“Naw, ain’t no such thing,” said K.

“They’re those little curled up metal wires that hold your papers together, K!”

“I know what they is, Z. No one’s got them anymore. On account of no one uses paper. Everyone is virtual. Virtual working. Virtual learning. Virtual dancing. Virtual cooking. Virtual passing over and virtual Christmas with virtual presents. No one’s got paper clips.”

“Are you saying that no one includes us? As in we don’t have them, K?”

K emphasized we just as Z did. “We don’t have them, Z.”

“Then we can’t finish the Internet Transportationonometeration Machine. And if we can’t finish the Internet Transportationonometer Machine, we can’t get on the other side of the screen. And if we can’t get on the other side of the screen, we cannot escape the confounding confines of these four walls.”

K watched Z pace through the mirror.

“Is that a bad thing, K?” Z asked.

“It means we’ve failed, K!”

“Failed at what, Z?”

“Escaping these four walls, K.”

“But we got to hear Rochelle. And gather these goodies like a scavenger hunt. And make this Transmutation Machine. And tell good jokes. And…”

K went on and on. But Z was not listening. She’d begun pondering the activities for tomorrow.

“…and we still have a Zoom!” said K.

“Not me, K.”

“I still have a Zoom!” said K.

K ran to the nearest tablet, logged on, and proceeded to make silly faces at her nephew for the next hour.

While K was thus employed, Z stayed inside the looking glass in the bathroom in the lavender house with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane.

She muttered to herself, thinking through details for tomorrow’s plans, when they would try to escape the confines of these four walls.

Will K and Z escape their four walls with tomorrow’s plan? Find out in the next installments in The Days of Our Pandemic...

The Days of Our Pandemic: episode i

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

K and Z, stuck in the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane were last seen in the bathroom where K was cleaning up her own throw up.

See what happened in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic.

And now, for today’s episode of The Days of Our Pandemic! Featuring K, Z, and Rochelle.

“I cleaned it up, Z!” K reported.

“Good job, K,” Z said without a morsel of awe or intonation.

Z stared through the looking glass at the mess of a woman before her. Her hair disheveled off her face. Roots reaching down her scalp. A single lined eye.

“My goodness, K. At least make yourself presentable.”

“Ooooh! Do we have a Zoom today? I love Zoom days.”

“Would you like a Zoom today?” Z spoke down to K as to a puppy.

K responded as though a puppy. Her tongue splayed itself outside her mouth, moving like a Coronavirus case line graph.

“We shall see, Z. We shan’t let it get in the way of our plans.”

“Yes, K. Our plans.”

K looked expectantly at Z in the mirror.

“What plans, Z?”

“Our plans, you dimwit!”

“Right-o. Our plans.” K touched up her eye shadow. She stroked on mascara.

“What’re our plans?” K asked Z.

Z sighed. “Same as our plans every day, K. Escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

A cackling echoed through the room.

“Enough, Rochelle!” Z declared.

The cackling stopped.

“Yeah. Our every day plans,” said K. K stared expectantly at Z. “How will we escape these four walls, Z?”

“We will use the technology of the Zoom call to transport ourselves from our side of the screen to another screen. The jumbo screen at Ray Jay Stadium.”

“Ooooooooooh. Ahhhhhhhh.”

Z rolled her eyes at K.

“Where’s Ray Jay Stadium, Z?”

“It’s in Tampa Bay, K.”

“That’s a long ways away, Z.”

“The longer the better, K.”

“Right-o. How will we do that, Z? How will we get from one screen to the other?”

Z unrolled a scroll. “Behold! The Internet Transportationonometeration Machine!”

K gawked at the image.

“We will build it and use it on the internet to jump on the information highway and surf it along the copper wires that travel under Wonky Way Lane all the way to Tampa Bay.”

“Oooooh.”

Z interrupted K before she could ah. “Yes, and before anyone knows to look for us, we’ll be far, far away.”

Rochelle’s cackles burst through the walls and calmed themselves like a breaking wave. 

“Z, I’ve been wondering…” said K.

“Yes, K?”

“It’s just that….” K trailed off, head cocked considering her thoughts.

“You were asking, K?”

“Yes. If I were to swallow all the phones and computer screens, would I have all their information inside me? Would I be as smart as you, Z?”

“No, K.” Z sank with disappointment. She didn’t know why she always expected K’s questions to be pertinent. 

“Have you tried it?”

“No, K.”

“Then how d’ya know, Z?”

“Because most information these days is hardly digestible.”

K looked pensively into the blank air just beyond her face. “Makes sense, Z.”

“Now! My Internet Transportationonometeration Machine! Here are the directions, K. Let’s get to work.” Z held the scroll so that K could see its contents.

What is a Transportationonometeration Machine? And will it help K and Z make their pandemic pining a reality? Can they escape their four walls? Find out next time in The Days of Our Pandemic.

The Days of Our Pandemic: episode z

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

Outside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, a pair of peregrine falcons chased each other out of a rabbit den, squawking and combating mid-flight. Prior peoples may have seen a harbinger herein, but those who roamed the land had long since considered ancient omens.

In front of the bathroom mirror in said Wonky Way Lane home, the following scene took place. Observe, Reader, from your safe distance on the far side of the screen lest you spiral into what you discover…

“What shall we do today, Z?” K asked the figure in the mirror.

“The same thing we do every day, K,” Z responded. “Escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

Before K could agree with the brilliance of such an idea, cackling emanated from the walls and reflected off the toothpaste-coated tile floors. 

“Rochelle? Rochelle? Stop that!” K hit the wall with the outside of her fist. 

The cackling continued.

“RO-Chelle!” K pounded. 

The cackling ceased but K already felt regret blooming in the form of a bruise on her wrist.

“Damn you, Rochelle.” K returned to Z’s fresh face in the mirror. She coated it with concealer. “Where were we, Z?”

“Where we always are, K. Escape.”

“Of course, Z. You’re rather a smart one, aren’t you?”

“Always dapper, yes,” Z said, petting down any lingering wrinkles on her sweater.

“Oh, you’re so witty. Smart. Dapper. Good one, Z.” K threw her head back in a chortle, knocking the back of her head on the hospital white wall behind her. “Ouch.” She rubbed the point of impact. 

“Enough of this nonsense,” said Z. 

K snapped to attention. But thought about the back of her head. And wondered if her thoughts came from that spot on the back of her head that had taken a beating. And if her thoughts came from that spot on the back of her head that had taken a beating and now that part of the back of her head had been hit by the wall….wait, no….had hit the wall, then perhaps her thoughts could radiate out faster. Like the pain itself. Throbbing its way from a single point like a ripple. Or, perhaps she’d cracked the spot that held her thoughts and the thoughts that came from that spot on the back of her head would fall into an abyss so dark and lonely they’d never be found again. Or maybe her thoughts…

“K! Listen to me!”

“Yes, Z.”

“We must find our way out of this place. We have been in here for a year. Isolated. Quarantined. Our lives placed on pause while the world outside swims through a COVID-infested ooze.”

“Oooh. Ooze. Is it like slime? I like slime, Z. Maybe we could go swimming too?”

“Yes! But no. Not in the ooze. But we need to get out and into the world again.”

“How will we do that Z?”

Z motioned K with a solitary finger. She beckoned her closer. Closer. Closer to the mirror where Z resided. Until BAM! K knocked her skull against the glass.

“Ouch. That hurt.”

Z rolled her eyes. This happened every morning. K hit her head from behind. She hit her head from the front. They were lucky when she didn’t end up lethargic for the day in consequence, but, still, the continual impact had its effect.

“As I was saying!” declared Z with stentorian posture and a downward struck fist. 

K rubbed her forehead. And her backhead. 

“Yeah, Z. As you were saying.”

“We must escape the confines of these four walls again today the same way we do every day.”

“Right-o, Z! Same way we do every day.” K nodded her head enthusiastically. Then threw up. 

“You’ll have to clean that up before we escape,” said Z evaluating her cuticles. 

They were out of Clorox and bleach and dishwashing soap and detergent and vinegar, so while K cleaned up her mess with a dustpan and some febreeze, Z turned the other way to bake honey banana cupcakes. Again. They always had bananas to go on.

Will K and Z escape their four walls before they go bananas? Find out next time in The Days of our Pandemic….

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