"It's not that easy, girls!", I said to marion as she broke open the lock at my chest with a bonesaw. "Floating in a jar without your body is a novel sensation for the first ten minutes...but without any tactile sensation you start to..."
Marion tossed the broken lock aside as sparky unlaced the bindings in the back of my straitjacket. "You've got a lot of mail," said sparky, "Mr. Esk sent you a moldy old book..."
"Wait," I interrupted. "Mister ESK? Was it spelled E-S-Q?" Marion nodded. "Ah. Esquire. That must be from Mr. Broek regarding my failed testimony..."
"No Father," I heard from behind me, "it was from Mr. Headburro Antfarm Esk...choir." I nodded as I slowly stretched out my arms, sluggish from being bound up for days. The sleeves snaked down to the floor of the padded cell. "Your father..."
"He's NOT my father!", I stammered. The girls looked over at my shoulder at each other and simply shrugged.
Marion continued. "The man who thinks he's your father said it was from an old friend of his, Professor Headonius Burro."
"Oh, I remember reading about him. He disappeared..."
"Yes, Mr. Jeremy says it's Mythos trouble, and he's gone off to investigate."
"What? How was Professor Burro involved in our...oh THAT Mythos..." The girls peeled off the unlaced jacket from me. I watched my hands as I tested my fingers for sensation. "Well, if he wants to get involved in that, it's his funeral. If he really thinks he's my father then he must already be mad, which means he's already prepared to face Cthu..."
I looked back at their smiling faces. Behind their lacy dresses their mechanical keys spun in quiet synchronicity. Best to keep them out of those discussions, I thought. I also secretly prayed that Qli-2 wasn't involved.
Sparky unbuttoned my dress shirt from the hanger as she gleefully continued. "Mrs. Tensai wants to see you because she has a really bad cough."
"Alright", I sighed. "I suppose she still trusts me as her primary physician."
Marion held the shirt behind me as I slipped my arms into the sleeves. "Sparky! Can I tell him?" "No! I want to tell him!" "No! I want to tell him!" This breathless banter continued for a never five minutes as I marion adjusted my cuff links and ruffles and sparky retrieved my jacket. "No, I do!" "No, I do!"
I set on the bed, crossing my arms with growing curiosity as they each slipped a sock one of my feet at pushed wrong-pointed shoes on them.
"Ahem." I pointed down to show them their error, and they traded shoes. "Just tell me."
They took a deep breath and spoke in unison. They must have practised. To be honest it even creeps me out.
"You received a letter from Miss Precious Adored..."
"Is she a doll?"
"No father. She's from the Menard House in Port Galveston Texas."
I arched a brow. I haven't heard from them since they were negotiating with my brother on trade deals with Belhaven.
"Mister Paragorn and Miss Sandalwood said they would be honored if you hosted for them at their new ballroom!"
I reached down and hugged them both.
"Oh! That's the best news I've heard in a long time! I was starting to miss the whole Hosting scene!"
"Can we help father? Can we? Can we?" They pleaded sweetly.
"Well girls, I'm not sure what kind of events they...girls? Girls?" They were frozen in place with their glass eyes staring up at me, painted smiles perfectly still. I released my hold on them and they tilted forward, propping against each other's shoulders to keep from falling. Their shiny keys slowed to a stop simultaneously at the 12 0'clock position.
"I see Jeremy doesn't know to remind you to rewind each other..."