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Subject: "Up in Smoke...Part 1" rss

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Scott Slomiany
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(bolded elements are playset elements and character introductions)

Yeah, you’d think that living in a nice, little southern town, things would be all peaceful and quiet-like. But usually that means that when something unusual rears its ugly head, it just it is as extremely unpleasant and painful as it is normally quiet.

Take the case here of Willard Conroy. Seemed like a nice guy, but it appears he had a little gambling problem. He had a little scam going, however. He borrowed a briefcase of cash from the mob with the intents on turning it around on a sure-thing winner at the local fights that they hold out at Max Fielder’s place. Unfortunately, fate took its toll, and at the local diner, he accidentally wound up misplacing and finally swapping briefcases with a local lawyer, Miriam Cheatam.

Now Willard was shocked and horrified to find the pile of legal paperwork in the case instead of $25,000 in neatly wrapped greenbacks. But at least the paperwork clearly led him to where the case would be. Also, it indicated that Miriam was an AA-sponsor for Granny Spiller, who just happened to be the current owner of Spiller’s Funeral Home and Cremation Services down at the end of town. Willard, of course, being wary of just walking in to a lawyer’s office looking for a briefcase of lost cash, came up with a conman-and-his-mark plan: he’d simply go in as an alcoholic looking for a sponsor, and slip out with the case. Easy as pie. No mess. No fuss.

Well, that didn’t go down as he planned. See, Miriam turned out to be quite a hateful little lawyer, and a pretty poor AA sponsor to boot, as she offered to take him down to the corner bar for a drink to discuss the details. He told her he’d meet her shortly, at which point, she announced that would give her some time to get some work done there, and she grabbed the case.

In what probably would go down in history as one of the poorest attempts of a mugging ever, Willard dug through some garbage cans behind a bar, found some old, ripped and used lady stockings, shoved it on his head, and tried to beckon her into a side alley. This was then followed by a quick beating with the briefcase and a faceful of mace. Parting ways, Willard ran home scratching his eyeballs out, and Miriam decided not even to bother with her potential new AA client and just went home.

Now let me tell you a little bit about Granny Spiller. She was a pretty hateful old coot if there ever was one, even if she wasn’t in the bottle. Of course, she claimed that that helped her from seeing ghosts, but no one could ever prove her visions to exists. Not even her grandson, Jack, who she derisively called Jackie.

As if growing up in a funeral home under the parentage of the meanest, drunkenest old lady wasn’t bad enough. Granny pretty much controlled his life through threats of use with her poisonous snake she kept around the place. Even though he was obviously stronger than her, the childhood damage had been done and seeing any kind of legless reptile would send him into a fetal position of quivering fear.

Poor Jack couldn’t bring himself to leave, however. Granny had forced him to drop out of school to help around the funeral home at a young age; he was obviously uneducated, and unknowing of life outside the town. His best hope was simply waiting for her to die. But still, he felt that he had to get even with his lone, remaining relative somehow; if anything, it might make his life a little more bearable.

Jack did have one friend in the world, our very own Willard Conroy. They didn’t seem to have much in common to us townsfolk; rumor around the coffee shop was that Willard had some kind of gay man crush on Jack, a crush from afar if you will, but that is really neither hear nor there.

And while Willard lay on his beat up old mattress in his apartment overlooking Main Street, a damp towel over his burning eyes, it was Jack on the other end of the ringing telephone, pleading to meet him.

It was at that fitful meeting that a plan was hatched, in the small apartment (really, not much more than a room) in the basement of the funeral home. Jack had had enough of the snake, and he wanted help from Willard. Willard was in no right state of mind to help, but perhaps it was his little man crush, or maybe because he knew of the torment that Granny had given him through his entire life, Willard agreed. Willard would show up, all quiet like, at midnight. Granny would have dozed off by then and they would dispose of the snake for good.

But wouldn’t you know it, Granny decided to call Miriam for some help that night. Granny, in what little goodness she had left in her crotchety old body, was about to down something sweet and foul-smelling from bottle in a brown paper bag. Miriam, for her part, pretty much challenged her to take a swig, as it was getting late, and she was a busy person who didn’t need to deal with the follies of her AA clients. Granny, in a stream of obscenities hang up, and enjoyed the fruits of an unknown distillery.

At some point that evening, for unknown reasons (and possibly because the corner bar was next to the parking lot of the funeral home) Miriam had a change of heart, drove over, and decided to check on Granny. At 11:55 PM, Jack, who was pacing anxiously, yet quietly, noted the bright flash of headlight beams streaming through the window. Gawldammit! Willard was supposed to be quiet about this!

And so Jack rushed out the door in the hopes of silencing what he guessed was Willard’s car, headlights and all.

Needless to say, quite a discussion arose between the grandson of Granny Spiller and this strange woman who just loudly showed up. The discussion turned into an argument. An argument loud enough for Willard to hear as he turned the corner into the parking lot.

Really not knowing what to do, Willard crawled on the gravel, as quiet as Granny’s snake, trying to get a closer ear of what the heck this lady was doing here, and what the heck Jack was doing with her. Suddenly, Willard recognized the voice. It was clearly the same woman who, just hours before, beat the stuffing out of him in the alley with his own briefcase. He popped his head up on the other side of her car from where the argument was taking place, and noticed that there it was on the passenger seat of her car, untouched, in all of its bound faux leather, particle board glory. The brief case.

A drunken, tired Granny had now come out to join the conversation. It was enough distraction for Willard to silently crack open the passenger door, and slippery slide out the case. As he military crawled back across the lot with his case in front of him, Granny had pulled Jackie back into the home, and flicked out the lights. Left alone as Granny went back upstairs to her living quarters, Jack frantically dialed Willard.

(continued...)
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Scott Slomiany
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Re: "Up in Smoke...Part 2"
And so, our story continues...

Standing alone in the dark, over the soft chumming of her idling car, a high pitched prattle of a cell phone rang out in the darkness. Miriam turned to peer over the hood. Off at the end of a dark corner in the lot, a man lay on the ground, fumbling for his cell phone with a briefcase. Well, not just a briefcase...a quick glance into her car proved her assumptions correct,; the passenger door was left slightly ajar, and the seat had been stripped clear of HER case.

Now, it should be noted here that Miriam came from a big city originally. A really big, really dangerous city. She wasn’t quite used to the typical, nothing-really-happens safety that this small town provided. Because of this, she still carried her mace on her keychain, her gun in her purse, and her Doberman at home. That’s not to say she took particular good care of these things; in fact, her caretaking of the dog was known to be quite mean, but she still had them, none-the-less. Anyway, after the altercation earlier this afternoon, she decided upon a different weapon of choice to go after the briefcase snatcher: her car.

Willard did manage to get over the fence alive, but in pain, and without the briefcase. In the quick sprint to the fence he gave up the case in a fast-thinking move of self-desperation. Miriam, for her sake, did manage to score a minor victory as her fender sideswiped Willard’s knee as he leapt for his life over the fence. His leg bled. It ached in pain; if he was a doctor he might’ve said it was broken, but had secretly hoped for a sprain. It took his shirt, and a hockey stick he had found in the alley (which he snapped in two) to build a makeshift splint that would suffice until he could hobble his way back home.

The next morning did not start well at all for Jack. Granny, now sober, now angry for the shenanigans last night pulled out her trusty snake on Jack, leaving him wimpering like a baby in the frame of a 24 year old man. In a complete beyond-the-call-of-anger moment, Granny forced Jack into a second rate coffin in the darkened, back showroom, and locked it down; something that she had not done to her grandson since he was 6.

Granny then moved down to the basement, where she proceeded to work the embalming process on a deceased client for a wake that was to be held in a few days. A few hours in the coffin would make him appreciate the respect that she dearly deserved!

Still a bit confused about the events of last night, and still possibly with a tiny sense of dedication to the AA plan, Miriam decided to stop by the funeral home on her way to work that morning. She didn’t know what to say; she just wanted to check in on Granny. Unfortunately, when she arrived and entered the home, she heard the muffled screams and dull bangings of a man as if trapped within something.

The sounds led her to the dark back room which held a coffin that would shift ever so slightly this way or that on the creaky metal roller platform it sat on. She undid a few of the brass screw lockdowns and lifted the lid. For her kindness, she was greeted with two hands around her throat, and with Jack screaming "I’ve had enough of you!!! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!!"

A quasi-wrestling match erupted in the dark room. Jack moved surprisingly quick for someone leaping out of a lying down position in the coffin, and it was a mere split second before he was straddling on top of Miriam, choking her last breaths from her lungs. Miriam for her part was anxiously scratching at his arms and face.

Suddenly, he stopped. This wasn’t Granny at all. It wasn’t wrinkly, leathery flesh around her neck. It wasn't the minty, menthol scented, tinged-with-stale-alcohol breath. This was someone else.
He leapt up. Miriam soon followed.

"YOU ARE ALL INSANE!" she screamed. She grabbed the cellphone from her purse, and dialed 9-11. "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!" Jack noticed a glint of metal behind her neck.

A voice cracked on the other end of the phone, "This is emergency. What is the problem?"

And then Miriam fell to the floor, silent. A large needle stuck in the back of her neck, and Granny standing over her still body.

Jack looked at his grandmother in the darkness, inquisitive, wanting to ask. No sounds came out of his mouth.

"No, you idiot," she replied to his questioning silence, fully understanding the situation. "She’s not dead. At least I don’t think so."

Now, before all that nonsense started, Willard spent the better part of the morning painfully working on his leg. With not much else in terms of supplies in his apartment, he reused the two lengths of hockey stick as a splint. Hobbling a around a bit, getting a sense of his freedom of movement, he meandered over to his grungy window, and just happened to catch Miriam’s sedan drive down Main Street.

He followed the car with his squinting eyes through the streaked glass, and watched as it turned into the lot of funeral home down the street. Without much thought in the manner, he was out the door, banging his splinted leg down the stairs, and skipping down the sidewalk in the direction of parking lot that he was starting to get way too familiar with.

By the time Willard reached the parking lot, Miriam was inside doing god-only-knows-what. But all that mattered to Willard was that he was alone in the lot, and a cursory glance in the passenger seat revealed that the briefcase was still there, trapped behind a locked door.

It didn’t take long for Willard to find a relatively large rock. Most of the time, in fact, was taken by him stumbling around on his bum leg in such a way as to pick the damned thing up without completely falling over.

And it was only a few seconds more until the shattering glass of the passenger side window woke up the sleeping Doberman in the back seat of the car that Willard had completely missed noticing.

Needless to say, the few townspeople who were up and about in town that morning were witness to a hilarious site of the man horribly limping down main street, his one leg held together by two shafts of hockey sticks, and his other leg with a large black dog attached to it.

(Intermission!)
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Scott Slomiany
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ACT 2

Much to a particular candy maker’s disapproval, there are two things in life that go together better than peanut butter and chocolate, and that is self-preservation and owning a cremation business. And so, forming a temporary, unspoken truce, Granny fired up the oven, and Jack moved the coffin with Miriam in it down to the "kitchen."

Now, I did say that this was a small town, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the proper police equipment. The girl behind the desk at the village hall fielded a 911 call. And with no voice on the other side of the line, that does get the local police force (all three of them, including the sheriff) riled up. With a few calls to the local cellular network providers, the police did manage to hone in on the rough area of Miriam’s call for help.

And it doesn't help quell suspicions when there's a sedan parked in your lot with shattered glass.

Officer Patrolski was the first on the scene. He knocked, rang the bell, and was hastily greeted by the grandmother and grandson.
There wasn’t much to indicate that anything was really wrong, even though the broken car window out in the lot kept weighing on the officer’s mind, and the relative that were answering his questions seemed a little "off." Granny did her best to hold him off verbally, but to no avail; the officer walked by her just to "check and see if everything was okay." His curiosity, however, simply led to his being knocked hard on the noggin by Jack with a heavy urn; and in a cloud of ashes the officer fell into a loose heap to the floor.

In what was beginning to be fairly commonplace today at the funeral home, Jack loaded up the officer into another coffin, with a pause here or there to answer back to calls from dispatch in a poor imitation of the officer. The coffin was wheeled into the cremation room. The fire was still burning, warming the entire room.

Halfway through inserting the officer’s coffin into the furnace, muffled shots rang out with splintering wood. Miriam had apparently awoken in her coffin, and was now shooting wildly from the inside out, hoping to hit anything, anybody. Apparently throwing her purse into the coffin with her without checking its contents was not the brightest move one could make.

Things get a bit hazy at this point, and things quickly went downhill from here. In the chaos of the gunfire, with Granny and Jack scrambling for cover, Officer’s Patrolski coffin, which was balanced quite poorly halfway in the furnace somehow fell back into the room. It was unknown whether the heated wood of the coffin, or the fire itself leapt out of the furnace in random happenstance; but what was known is that by the time Miriam decided to push open the lid of her coffin, the room was engulfed in flames, the officer’s coffin had flipped sideways and open, revealing the officer’s body laying partly on the floor, and an empty cage lay abandoned on the floor in the corner; the poisonous snake had escaped.

Meanwhile in the lot, Willard had shown up again, this time aware of the Doberman that had returned to his perch in the backseat. Wisely, he grabbed a stick, and preceded to play fetch with the dog, who was happy to oblige. In fact, too happy, as this was apparently the first act of enjoyment or kindness the dog had ever had with a human before, given the way Miriam treated the pooch.

And now, with the suitcase in hand, and a large black dog following him with a big stick in i’s mouth, Willard limped his way as quickly as he could towards the exit of the parking lot, only to be stopped as the second police car came roaring into the lot and halted. The officer in this car flung open his door, revolver in hand.

"FREEZE! Don’t move!"

A little one-sided discussion took place, resulting with Willard in the back seat of car, the briefcase in the front, and the dog looking wistfully from the outside in at Willard.

Frankly, the officer didn’t have much time to do anything else, as the door to the funeral home burst open, with Miriam dragging out Officer Patrolski, and with smoke billowing quickly behind. Running across the lot to assist the downed officer, he called the fire department as the Granny’s precious funeral home continued to burn.

Willard took this opportunity to get the heck out of the car, grab the briefcase, and once again get followed by the dog. Miriam seeing this, raced up from behind.

Inside the funeral home, Jack had lost it. He found Miriam's gun, which she had left behind in order to assist Officer Patrolski, and fired twice at Granny. Jack then fired through a window to escape the blaze, and leapt through it into the lot. Granny fell to the ground, each hand pierced by a bullet. And was then bitten by her snake, recoiling in fear. Desperate for the antidote, her eyes blinded by fire and smoke, she reached for the nearest bottle and drank up a good eight ounces of formaldehyde.

Outside, general chaos continued to rain down. Out by the street, a small standoff occured between Miriam and Willard, with the dog now in Miriam’s way, protecting his new found friend. This was ended abruptly when Miriam pulled out her taser gun and fired the electrodes into Willard, leaving him convulsing in electrical pain. She enjoy keeping the power on; after all, not only did this guy steal her briefcase, he had now stolen her dog as well.

In the lot, the second officer, while assisting Patrolski, was clearly quite confused by this. He cautioned Jack to stay where he was, but Jack was pretty gone at this point; anything anywhere that could get him out of here was his goal. Like, say, that police car over there...

On the main street, Willard continued with garbled screams as he twitched on the ground. The sheriff pulled up. Rather relaxed, he walked up to Miriam and asked what she was up to.

Her reply was, simply, "He stole my briefcase."

"Now why don’t you let go of the taser for a minute and .." The sheriff's voice trailed off as had noticed Jack jumping in the police car.

The Sheriff drew his weapon and charged toward the car. Jack, in no right frame of mind to listen to what the sheriff was yelling (he saw his mouth move, but nothing was coming out of it), randomly threw the car into gear; the tires squealed in reverse, the car plowed into the burning funeral home, and the large sign that was erected on the roof, the one that had Jacob Spiller’s name on it since 1924, the one engulfed in flame, came crashing down on to the car, killing poor Jack.

(continued...)
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Scott Slomiany
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THE AFTERMATH:

You may be wondering what happened to all these people. Well, I can tell you this:

Somehow, Granny Spiller survived the fire, the snake bite, and the formaldehyde poisoning. However, the gunshot wounds left her with both hands being amputated, and replaced with two shiny hooks. She lived the rest of her life comfortably, however, as the insurance from the funeral home and her dead grandson turned out to be much more than one would expect. To pass the time, she became a snake trainer as she lived out her days in an upscale old folks home.

Willard explained everything to the cops from the relative safety of a hospital bed with the Doberman at his side. However, the trial didn’t work out so well for him, and it turns out his cell mate just happened to have connections to the exact same mob he borrowed the cash from. Willard wound up dead due to a good old fashioned prison yard shanking from his cell mate.

Miriam and her boyfriend (who turned out to be the sheriff and was the reason why she moved to this tiny hamlet from the big city) simply took the cash, and moved to Hawaii. The last anyone heard from her was when she won the Hawaiian state lottery, and she bought one of the Hawaiian islands. Well, not one of the bigger ones, one of the smaller ones that don’t have a name that mainlanders would recognize.

Jack was said to have died with a grin on his face. The coroner swears that upon placing the body on his operating slab he heard the body whisper,"I’ll be waiting for you in hell, Grandma."

As for me, I can’t say I was much of a major player in these events. And you may be asking how I know so much about it. Well, all I gotta say is this: Aloha!


**********************

Disclaimers:
Some details and background have been expanded on a little bit beyond what had actually happened during the session. For example, it was never really discussed that why Miriam happened to have a gun, a taser, and a Doberman during the game...it just was. The knowledge of how the story ends gives you 20/20 vision, and those details can be better explained.

To create the story above, some elements were shifted a little bit to make them more coherent. For example: the very first scene of the game that was played was Jack asking Willard for help in disposing of the snake. Jack visiting Miriam for the first time was played as a "flashback to earlier in the day" scene.

It should be noted, however, that the events described above did play out pretty exactly as told by the narrator. I can't fudge history.

...or the fact that it probably took me twice as long to create this play session as it did to actually play the game. Once Fiasco gets going, and the main story gets moving, it build up momentum pretty fast and become a runaway train.
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