AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another notorious sequel of
mine. This one is a sequel to my story, "New Orleans." I picked up the idea
while watching an episode of "Bewitched" awhile back.
New Orleans, Louisiana. It was time once again for the Mardi Gras celebration. Mike, Phyllis, and Jerry were walking down the street, looking things over. It was early, but people had already begun staking out places for the parade that night.
"Enjoy this while you can," Mike warned. "By the time the parade starts, you won't be able to walk!"
"That's for sure," Jerry replied, looking around. "Actually, it may be a little difficult to walk around here now!"
"They just want some good spots to see the floats and catch the beads," Phyllis said. "I hated to see what it was like last year."
"Last Mardi Gras was the worst public appearance the Discophonics ever made," Mike replied.
"Oh don't remind me!" Jerry shouted. "Mike, Reggie, and I got stuck right in the middle of a jewel heist, and a phony voodoo curse."
"I'm just glad we're not performin' in the parade this year," Mike replied. "Not only did we get stuck in trouble, but a lot of teenage girls were nearly tramplin' each other over catchin' those beads we were throwin'."
Phyllis giggled over the picture of teenage girls running over each other, just for Mardi Gras beads. In any case, the three of them were walking down the street, looking things over. Mike went into a store to pick up some beads for himself, Phyllis, and Jerry, as well as the others back in LA.
"We've got some time to kill until the parade," Jerry said, checking his watch. "What do you guys want to do?"
"Head over to the French Quarter and check out the fun stuff," Mike said, waving his eyebrows up in down. Phyllis swatted him in the chest.
"Mike!" she shouted.
"Besides, the fun stuff doesn't happen until it's nighttime," Jerry said.
"You guys are sick," Phyllis groaned, shaking her head.
The boys started laughing, and the three of them walked over to the French Quarter anyway, just to see what was going on over there.
"You have to wonder about all the names in this state," Mike said, looking around. "If it's called Bourbon Street, why don't we see any bourbon around there?"
"Oh Mike!" Jerry groaned.
Phyllis shook her head. She finally managed to pry the boys away from the French Quarter. Even though they weren't in the parade, she managed to talk them into wearing costumes. But one thing was for sure, they weren't going to go all out like a lot of people around the city.
"You can use your magic on some of this stuff, can't you, Mike?" Phyllis asked, picking up a mask.
"Sure I can," Mike said. "Piece of cake."
"Good," Phyllis said. "I don't want to go all out. Just masks and beads."
"Works for me," Jerry said, putting on a mask. "How do I look?"
"Like an overgrown peacock with some feathers missin'," Mike said.
Jerry glared at Mike, and took off the mask. Phyllis began giggling. Finally, the three of them chose simple masks, and some simple beads.
"I think we're ready for the parade," Mike said.
"Yeah," Jerry said. "But it's hard to see out of these masks."
"I'll fix them later," Mike said. "It might be easier if you just take it off."
Jerry kept walking as he began pulling his mask off his face. Of course, he couldn't see where he was going, and he ran right into a man, carrying various jars. The man dropped them and most of them broke. Before anymore could, the man pointed his finger, and a glow surrounded the jars, and stacked them in the air.
"Sorry about that," Jerry said. "I didn't see you."
"Well, most people stop to take masks off their faces and then continue walkin'," the man said, sourly.
"Hey, it's not like he busted every last one of those jars," Mike said. "You people originally from the Other Realm drive me nuts."
"What's it to you, Witchling?" the man asked.
That was one name Mike hated. Just because he was only half witch, a lot of full witches kept calling him "Witchling."
"What was in those jars, anyway?" Phyllis asked.
"You got me," Jerry said, looking at a red stain on the sidewalk. "Probably some magic stuff."
"Magic stuff?!" the man shouted. "You call two thousand years of work magic stuff?!"
"Yeah," Jerry said.
"This happens to be the finest example of prestidigitation powder ever created. It's in it's purest form."
"Well pin a rose on your nose," Mike said. "Come on, guys. He's just a big show off. I can smell show offs a mile away."
Jerry and Phyllis followed Mike down the street. The man wasn't too pleased with the tall Texan Monkee. He opened one of his jars and took a handful of magic powder out of it.
"We'll see who's a big show off," he said, and he threw the powder at Mike, Jerry, and Phyllis.
"Weird," Jerry said. "Snow in Louisiana."
"Odd," Mike replied. Then he felt something go off in his head. "Uh oh. Twinge alert."
"Sixth sense again?" Phyllis asked.
"Yep, and I'd say we're in for a wild ride!"
Suddenly, the modern day New Orleans streets began to swirl and blur. They soon morphed from the asphalt and concrete to cobblestone roads. The cars had disappeared and were replaced by horse drawn carriages. The women passing by were no longer wearing T-shirts, jeans, and ponytails. They were wearing long, frilly hoopskirts, and their hair was done up slightly with ringlets of their hair down the backs of their necks. They were also carrying parasols. Or at least a lot of the white women were. Most of the black women were wearing simpler clothes, and had their hair done up in scarves. Mike, Jerry, and Phyllis looked around at everything, slightly nervous.
"What's going on?" Phyllis asked.
"I don't know how, but I have the feelin' we're in the past," Mike replied.
"What?!" Jerry shouted.
"Yeah, and we'd better get out of sight before someone sees us!" Mike shouted, and he ran into an alley. Phyllis and Jerry followed him.
"Where and when are we?" Jerry asked.
"I don't think we ever left New Orleans," Mike said, looking around. "As for what year we're in, well, I don't have the slightest idea. I need like a newspaper or somethin'."
"Well, judging from what I remember fro history class," Jerry said, looking out at the crowd. "We've gotta be in the eighteen hundreds. But I'm not exactly sure when."
Mike put his fingers to his temples, and closed his eyes, deep in concentration. Phyllis and Jerry looked at him, wondering what in the world he was doing.
"Eighteen seventy-three," Mike said with a moan. "We're in eighteen seventy-three!"
"Oh no!" Jerry shouted. "How did we get here?!"
"It probably has something to do with Mike insulting that guy we ran into awhile back," Phyllis said. "So how are we going to get out of here?"
"I'll have to think of somethin'," Mike said. "I can't just snap my fingers and transport us back to modern day New Orleans. But one thing I definitely know is that we can't walk around lookin' like this."
That happened to be true. Mike was wearing the traditional Monkee blue eight button shirt and wool hat, Jerry was wearing his usual sweater vest under a white shirt, and Phyllis was wearing jeans and a turtleneck. Mike snuck to the edge of the alley, and made sure no one was coming. Then he snapped his fingers, and the trio's clothes changed from typical modern day to the popular southern style of the 1870's.
"Well, I hope we can get by around here," Jerry said. "I have a feeling they're gonna refer to me as a Yankee."
"Welcome to the club," Phyllis said. "I think Mike's the only one of us with southern roots."
"Southwestern," Mike corrected. "But it doesn't matter. This should be a bit like Gone With the Wind, but slightly different."
Jerry and Phyllis shrugged, and the three of them left the alley and began walking down the streets, wondering how in the wide world of sports they were going to get back to their own time, especially since Mike couldn't just snap his fingers and transport them back. He couldn't even get himself back! But the three of them just walked on, taking in the sights, and wondering what to do.
"Maybe we should try talkin' to someone," Mike said. He walked up to an older southern gentleman and tapped his shoulder. "Excuse me, sir, but I was wonderin' if you knew anybody who knows any voodoo around here."
"Voodoo?" the southern gentleman asked. "Well, I don't rightly know anyone who knows voodoo, suh, but there might be some old witches in the bogs."
"Okay, thanks, I guess."
"You're welcome, suh."
The southern gentleman walked off. Mike let out a whistle and returned to Phyllis and Jerry.
"What did he say?" Jerry asked.
"He said there might be some witches in the bogs," Mike said. "I guess that's where we go."
"No way," Phyllis said. "I'm not going into any swamp wearing a dress this big. Not to mention these heels."
"Well, I can't zap you into jeans, Phyllis. Women didn't wear jeans in this time period. And if we don't go into the bogs, we'll never get back to our own time!"
"Why don't you just take off the heels, and tear off the skirt?" Jerry suggested, with a shrug.
"Okay, you guys win," Phyllis said, taking off the high heels. She took hold of the skirt and tried to tear it off, but couldn't.
"Here, let me do it," Mike said. "Men are a lot stronger than women."
"Why don't you just snap your fingers?" Jerry asked.
"Because my battery's nearly dead, that's why," Mike said, taking hold of Phyllis's skirt. "It may be better if I just take the whole dress off."
"Suh, that is no way to talk to a lady!" a voice from nearby shouted. Mike stood up straight, and turned around. He was standing face to face with a very well dressed man. He was obviously one of them there southern millionaires.
"This is no lady," Mike said. "This is my wife."
"Well thanks a lot, Mike!" Phyllis shouted.
"I didn't mean it like that, Phyllis, I just . . . ." Mike stammered. "I mean, I . . . . hooo boy. Jerry, help me out here."
"No way," Jerry said. "I'm staying out of this one."
"I don't know where you treat ladies where you're from, suh," the man said. "But here in New Orleans, gentlemen treat ladies with respect. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Brett Rhutler, millionaire."
"Mike Nesmith, musician," Mike said. "And this is my wife, Phyllis, and my best friend, Jerry Blavat."
"Brett Rhutler?" Jerry said. "What a corny name."
"Yours ain't so much better yourself, Yankee," Brett said, glaring at Jerry. "Never did trust those darn Yankees anyway."
"Ignore Jerry," Phyllis said. "He has a habit if talking before he thinks."
"I'll keep that in mind, ma'am," Brett replied. "Well, y'all look like you're a bit out of place."
"We are, of sorts," Phyllis said. "See, we're not from around here, and we're trying to get back to where we used to be. But if I told you where we used to be, you'd think we were crazy."
"Well, I don't rightly think anybody would think you were crazy, Miss Phyllis."
"Okay, that's enough," Mike said, stepping between Phyllis and Brett. "Listen, Colonel Sanders . . . . ."
"The name's Brett Rhutler, suh," Brett said. "And I'll thank you to address me by nothin' but."
"And I'll thank you to get your filthy paws off my wife!"
"Hey, Mike, cool it," Jerry said. "Last thing you need is to antagonize somebody else."
"He's right, Mike," Phyllis said. "Let's just go. Mr. Rhutler, I'm sorry for my husband's behavior. I don't think he's ever met a southern gentleman before."
"No need for apologies, Miss Phyllis," Brett said, tipping his hat. "I've learned that most Yankees are Neanderthals."
"Who're you callin' a Neanderthal?!" Mike shouted, raising his fists.
"Mike, cool it!" Jerry shouted. "Mr. Rhutler, I assure you, not all of us Yankees are Neanderthals. You just have to get to know us."
"Well, you seem like a nice young fella, Mr. Blavat," Brett said. "And Miss Phyllis is very charming indeed. Aside from Mr. Nesmith's manners, I would like to invite all of you to my mansion for supper tonight."
"No thanks," Mike said. "I'm gettin' out of this place as fast as I can!"
"And just how do you plan to do that?" Jerry asked.
"Look, I don't like this guy," Mike said. "There's somethin' about him that I just don't like."
"Just because you think he's flirting with me?" Phyllis asked. "Come on, Mike, most men down south are gentlemen. Mr. Rhutler's no exception. Besides, he knows I'm married."
"Oh all right," Mike said. "My battery could use a little recharge anyway. Mr. Rhutler, we accept the invitation. And I'll try to be civil."
"Wonderful," Brett said. "And as long as you're bein' civil to me, suh, it's only honorable that I be civil to you."
Brett walked over to a carriage, and opened the door.
"Ladies first, of course," he said.
"That's what I like about the old south," Phyllis said to Jerry. "Men have better manners."
Mike glared at her for that remark. Jerry shrugged, and climbed into the carriage after Phyllis.
"After you, suh," Brett said.
"I still don't like him," Mike muttered as he walked over to the carriage. "But why skip a free meal?"
Mike climbed into the carriage, followed by Brett. His mansion was nearby, in French Quarter. The group got out of the carriage and just stared at it in awe.
"The last time I saw a mansion this size was in Disneyland," Jerry said.
"Where exactly is that place, suh?" Brett asked. Jerry cleared his throat.
"Never mind, forget I said anything," he said. Mike and Phyllis started laughing.
"Open mouth, insert foot, eh Jer?" Mike asked.
"Oh shut up," Jerry replied.
Mike and Phyllis continued giggling over the whole thing as Brett led them up the path and to the front porch. He opened his door, and was met by his housekeeper, Marcie Williams.
"Good evenin', Mr. Rhutler," she said.
"Good evenin', Marcie," Brett said. "I brought some guests for tonight's supper. These are Mr. Jerry Blavat, and Mr. and Mrs. Mike Nesmith. This is my housekeeper, Marcie Williams, and she's the best there is."
"Now I wouldn't say that," Marcie said. "But Mr. Rhutler's more than welcome to."
"I like her," Mike replied, as he and the others walked into the house.
The mansion was like any southern mansion in New Orleans at the time. It looked exactly like the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. In fact, Jerry half expected to be taken to Doom Buggies on a grand tour of all the spooks that hung out in the house.
"Follow me to the dinin' room," Brett said. "You must tell me where y'all are from, Miss Phyllis."
"That alone is a long story, Mr. Rhutler," Phyllis said. "Believe me!"
"Oh no, don't call me Mr. Rhutler, Miss Phyllis. I insist you call me Brett."
"Hey Brett . . . ." Mike started.
"Mr. Rhutler to you, suh, if you please," Brett said, throwing Mike a sharp look.
"Okay, Mr. Rhutler," Mike said, curling his lips in disgust as he said it. "First thing you should know Miss Phyllis is a married woman. Aren't you?"
"Mike, please," Phyllis said, through gritted teeth.
"Well you are!" Mike shouted. "I don't care if it's politeness, I say it's flirtin'!"
"Mike, come on," Jerry said. "Relax a little."
"You know, I don't see how such a charming lady as yourself would be married to this Neanderthal, I really don't," Brett said.
"Listen buster, if you call me a Neanderthal one more time, I'm gonna . . . ." Mike started.
"Is that a threat, suh?"
"Yeah, that's a threat, suh!"
"Are you makin' fun of me?"
"If the shoe fits."
"Mike, Brett, please!" Phyllis shouted, stepping between them. "I thought you were going to be civil to each other."
"But he . . . . ." Mike began.
"Mike, please, stop it!" Phyllis shouted. "And you too, Brett. Please don't refer to Mike as a Neanderthal. He's got a very explosive temper."
"Very well," Brett said, sitting down at the table. "My most humblest of apologies, Miss Phyllis."
"Blecchh," Mike groaned, and sat down.
"Oh brother," Jerry muttered, rolling his eyes.
Things hit a lull. Brett finally cleared his throat.
"So long as I'm thinkin' about it, where are y'all from?" he asked.
"California," Jerry said. "Well, that's where we all live. We're in New Orelans for Mardi Gras."
"Oh, that ain't till tomorrow," Brett said. "I'm plannin' on throwin' a masquerade ball that night."
"Oh," Jerry said, refraining from using any modern day slang. He just nodded his head. "Anyway, we live in California, but I'm originally from Philadelphia, Mike's originally from Texas, and Phyllis . . . . . well, I'm not too sure because her father was in the army and they moved a lot."
"Thanks, Jerry," Phyllis said. "I think. Actually, Mike's father's in the army, too."
"Did he ever fight in the Civil War, Mike?" Brett asked.
"Nope," Mike said, bluntly. "And he wasn't in any war before that, either!"
"Well, you don't have to shout," Brett said, trying to remain calm.
Mike just rolled his eyes. He could tell this was going to be a long night. He was dying to get out of the house and get into the bogs in order to seek out someone who knew voodoo.
"So where are y'all stayin' while you're in New Orleans?" Brett asked.
"Nowhere," Mike said. "I'm gettin' the heck outta here as fast as I can."
"Oh Mike!" Phyllis shouted.
"What he means to say," Jerry said, glaring at Mike. "Is that we don't really have a place to stay."
"Well, then I insist you stay the night," Brett said. "You'll all come to my masquerade ball tomorrow night, of course."
"I don't think so," Mike said. "Masked balls ain't my cup of tea, fella."
"I don't know, I think it'll be kind of fun," Phyllis said. "Don't you think so, Mike?"
"No," Mike said. "I thought you wanted to get out of here so you can get out of that stupid lookin' dress."
"Mike!" Jerry shouted.
"Suh, you will apologize to the lady at once!" Brett shouted, standing up.
"Why should I?" Mike asked. "That's the ugliest type of dress I'd ever seen in my entire life! You can't get around in it!"
"Suh, I'm warnin' you . . . ."
"And I'm warnin' you, Rhutler! You take your old south millions and stick 'em where the sun don't shine!"
"Mike!" Phyllis shouted.
"I'll tell you somethin' else, too, Rhutler," Mike said, completely ignoring Phyllis. "You stay away from my wife or you'll be sorry, you snooty social son of a . . . ."
"Okay, I think he's got the idea, Mike!" Jerry shouted, slapping his hand over the Texan Monkee's mouth before he could finish his sentence.
"That does it," Brett said. "Put up your dukes, suh!"
"I don't do fist fights anymore," Mike said. "I prefer the finger!"
"Oh no," Jerry groaned.
"I hate it when he does the finger," Phyllis moaned. "Mike, you're gonna get yourself shot that way!"
Mike ignored his wife, and held up his finger. His index finger, that is (betcha thought it was something else!) He thrust it forward and shot a magic beam out at Brett. The force blew him into the wall. CRASH! Phyllis and Jerry grimaced. Brett stood up, and glared at Mike.
"That does it!" he shouted. "I'm tired of bein' a gentleman with you!"
"Bring it on baby!" Mike shouted. "I'm ready for anythin'!"
Brett charged Mike like a bull. Mike yawned, and side stepped him. When Brett began charging him from the other direction, Mike pulled the table cloth off the table (without breaking a single dish, mind you), and waved it.
"Toro, toro!" he shouted.
Brett ran forward, and crashed right into the wall again. He was mad as a hornet now. He tackled Mike from behind, and the two of them began brawling. Phyllis and Jerry were completely shocked.
"We'd better break this up before someone gets hurt!" Phyllis shouted.
"Namely one of us!" Jerry shouted. He ran behind Mike and grabbed him around the waist. Phyllis grabbed Brett's shoulders and held him back.
"Let me hit him! Just once!" Mike yelled through gritted teeth.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a darn Yankee!" Brett yelled.
"Boys, please!" Phyllis shouted. "Someone's going to get hurt!"
"What in the name of Sam Hill is goin' on in here?!" Marcie shouted, storming into the dining room. "Mr. Rhutler, what have you been doing?!"
"Just a little barroom brawl," Jerry replied shaking his head. "I swear, Mike, you can be a real baby sometimes!"
"But I . . . ." Mike began.
"Don't start with me, Mike," Phyllis said. "I'm going outside for a little air."
"I'll go with you, Miss Phyllis," Brett said.
"Don't you dare!" Mike shouted.
"Mike!" Phyllis yelled. She took a deep breath and turned to Brett. "No thank you, Mr. Rhutler. I'd rather Jerry go with me."
"If that's what you want, Miss Phyllis," Brett said. "Marcie, please show Mr. Nesmith his room. You can show Mr. Blavat and Miss Phyllis their rooms later."
"Yes suh," Marcie said, and she and Mike left the dining room.
Outside on the front porch, Phyllis and Jerry were sitting, talking about what was going on.
"I knew Mike's the jealous type, but honestly!" Phyllis shouted.
"Well, he did start to flirt with you," Jerry said with a shrug.
"Jerry, it's just southern hospitality. You know the old south was big on treating women with respect."
"I know the difference between politeness and flirting. Believe me, I should know. I pulled the same thing on girls long, long, long, long before I met Linda! You can just ask Davy!"
"Okay, yeah, you've got a point there."
"Come on. Let's go get Mike and get out of this time period."
Phyllis nodded, and the two of them walked back inside. They found Mike hovering around the front hall.
"I say we get out of here now," Mike said. "I really don't like this Brett Rhutler fella."
"We know, Mike," Jerry said. "Let's just get out of here before you end up killing him."
The trio was about ready to walk out the door when Brett walked over to them from the parlor.
"Leavin' at this hour?" he asked.
"Darn right," Mike said. "Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of heaven, 'cause it hasn't, but we really gotta split. So long!"
"And just where do you intend to go, suh?"
"Into the marshes and the bogs, if you must know. I need someone who knows a little about voodoo."
"Mr. Nesmith, I do believe you're crazy. Why would anyone need voodoo?"
"To get back to the future of course! Jerry, Phyllis, and I are from the future. Over a hundred and thirty years into the future, in fact!"
"Mr. Nesmith, I declare you're not a well man. Is he like this all the time, Miss Phyllis?"
"Of course he isn't!" Phyllis shouted.
"All the same," Mr. Rhutler said. "I cannot let a crazy man such as yourself go into the bogs, suh, and I cannot let you take a lady in there. It's much too dangerous. Why none of you would ever come back alive!"
"Oh don't worry about Phyllis, Mr. Rhutler," Jerry said. "I've seen her take care of herself before. She's no damsel in distress."
"You don't look like you'd stand much of a chance with the gators yourself, Mr. Blavat," Brett commented. "Marcie, please show our guests to their rooms."
"Yes suh, Mr. Rhutler," Marcie said. "Follow me, please."
Mike, Phyllis, and Jerry followed Marcie up the stairs. Mike looked over his shoulder, and glared at Brett.
"Is he easy to work for?" he asked.
"Well, suh, he can be quite difficult sometimes," Marcie said. "But he's really a nice man."
"Who flirts with other men's wives."
"Mike!" Phyllis shouted, smacking Mike in the chest. "Don't listen to him, Marcie. He's just jealous that's all."
"Yes'm, I could tell," Marcie said.
Mike rolled his eyes. He wanted to get out of this southern mansion as fast as he could so he could get back to his own time. Of course, he'd have to sneak out while Brett was asleep. Around eleven thirty that night, Mike began sneaking around the house, looking for a way out that wouldn't wake up Brett. He stopped when he saw a light in the parlor.
"I may as well let Mr. Nesmith go into the bogs, Marcie," he said.
"Well, suh, I don't rightly know that what you intend is such a gentlemanly thing to do," Marcie said.
"Who cares about that? Miss Phyllis is a very charmin' lady, and she deserves better than that slob of a husband she's got now!"
"Why that dirty no good so and so," Mike mumbled.
"Suh, it ain't polite to eavesdrop," a small voice said. Mike jumped and turned around. Standing right behind him was a little black girl.
"Who are you?" Mike asked.
"Nelly," the girl said. "I'm Marcie's daughter. I work for Mr. Rhutler, too. And it ain't polite to eavesdrop, suh."
"Stay out of this, kid. I'm workin' here."
Mike pressed his ear against the door to hear the rest of the conversation. Nelly did, too. Even though she said it wasn't polite to eavesdrop, she just couldn't resist.
"The engagement will be announced at the masked ball tomorrow," Brett said.
"But what about Mr. Blavat?" Marcie asked.
"What about him?"
"Well, after all, he's a Yankee."
"I know, but not all Yankees are as bad as a lot of us say they are. Besides, I'm pretty sure he's on Mr. Nesmith's side about me and Miss Phyllis. It'll come as a surprise."
"I'm sure it'll be a surprise to Miss Phyllis, too."
"Indeed it will."
Mike was fuming at this point. He clenched both his fists and his teeth. He looked about ready to explode. Nelly backed away, nervously.
"That dirty no good . . . . ." Mike said, working his way up to the Queen Mothah of all insults. His face was turning beet red by this point and steam was rushing out of his ears. Nothing came out of his mouth. Smoke began to billow around his feet, and he was about to take off like a sky rocket, but at the last minute he calmed down. But not by much. He kicked in the door, and stormed in.
"Mr. Nesmith, suh!" Marcie shouted. "What were you doin' out there?"
"That's none of your business!" Mike shouted. "I heard every word, Rhutler, and I ain't about to let you get away with it!"
"Suh, I don't know what the dickens you are talkin' about," Brett said, standing up.
"Don't play dumb with me, mister! I know all about it! Masked ball my foot! You're plannin' on gettin' rid of me, so you can marry Phyllis!"
"Suh, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life!"
"Mike, what's going on down here?" Phyllis asked, as she and Jerry walked down the stairs and into the parlor.
"Yeah, we heard this rumbling like something about to explode," Jerry said. "We could only assume it was you losing your temper."
"Stay back, you guys," Mike said. "This has nothin' to do with you."
"I assume you have an explanation for this outburst, Mr. Nesmith," Brett said.
"I heard the whole thing," Mike said, folding his arms across his chest.
"I told him it wasn't polite to eavesdrop," Nelly said.
"Nelly, hush!" Marcie said. "Let's you and me leave Mr. Rhutler and Mr. Nesmith work out this little misunderstandin'."
"Misunderstandin' my foot!" Mike shouted, as Marcie and Nelly retreated to the kitchen, just in case Mike's explosive temper went off.
"Mike, I think you're overreacting a little," Jerry said.
"Shut up, Jerry!" Mike yelled. "Tell 'em Rhutler. Tell 'em about how Miss Phyllis is such a charmin' lady and she deserves better than slobby ol' me, and the fact that you'd let me go into the bogs, knowin' darn well I'd never come out of them alive! And about the surprise engagement announcement at your masked ball tomorrow night! Admit it, Rhutler! You're gonna send me into the bogs with the gators and propose to Phyllis!"
"Mike!" Phyllis shouted.
"I don't believe this!" Jerry yelled.
"Suh, that is certainly not true!" Brett shouted.
"Admit it, you snooty, snobby, so and so! I'd like to take your millions and your mansion and your masked balls and shove 'em up your southern gentleman . . . ."
"Mike, knock it off!" Phyllis shouted.
"Suh, you have just insulted my honor!" Brett shouted. He took a white glove out of his jacket pocket and swatted Mike across the face with it as hard as he could. Mike stared at Brett wide eyed, hopping mad.
"Uh oh," Jerry said. "You shouldn't have done that, Brett. He'll be really mad now!"
Mike looked like he was about ready to explode, but he kept his cool. He held his hand behind his back, and snapped his fingers. A white glove appeared from out of nowhere.
"Well, I tell you what, Rhutler," he said. "You've just insulted my honor, suh!"
Mike wound up and thrust the glove as hard as he could right into Brett's face. The blow actually knocked Brett unconscious! Phyllis and Jerry stared at Mike wide-eyed and slack jawed.
"Mike, what in the world did you have in there, a brick?!" Jerry shouted.
Mike clicked his tongue against his teeth, and shook out his glove. Out fell, one at a time, four horseshoes, and a very large Clydesdale.
"I learn a lot from Bugs Bunny," Mike said. "Come on, let's get outta here before he comes to!"
Mike took the Clydesdale by the bridle, and led him out of Brett's mansion. Jerry and Phyllis followed. They found Mike hitching the Clydesdale to one of Brett's carriages. Once he was done with that, he climbed in. Phyllis and Jerry climbed in after him.
"What was that all about?" Jerry asked.
"I already told you," Mike said. "Right before he smacked me with that glove."
"Are you sure?" Phyllis asked.
"I heard the whole thing!" Mike shouted. "Word for word! He said he might as well let me go into the bogs, and that he'll announce his engagement at the masked ball tomorrow night, and it'll be a surprise to, and I quote, 'Miss Phyllis' and 'Mr. Blavat.' I heard it with my own ears."
"Sounds a little farfetched to me," Jerry said. "Mr. Rhutler may like Phyllis, but I don't think he'd actually do something like this. Southern gentlemen just don't do these things!"
"Believe me, Geat, I know what I'm talkin' about," Mike said. "Besides, if we want to get out of here, we have to go into the bogs and look for a voodoo person."
Mike flicked the reins, and the horse ran towards the swamplands. Jerry hoped Mike's sixth sense would lead them to where they wanted to go. It was dark, and also starting to storm. Thunder was beginning to roll, and tiny droplets of rain began to fall.
"Funny," Phyllis said. "I didn't think thunderstorms were possible in February."
"They aren't up north," Mike said. "But down south, they're quite common year round."
As the trio was riding through the swamps, relying on Mike's sixth sense to guide them, Mike began to get a funny feeling in his sixth sense. He slowed down the horse, and put his hand to the side of his head.
"What's wrong?" Jerry asked.
"Listen," Mike said.
"All I can hear are raindrops," Phyllis said, shrugging.
"Shh," Mike said, and he listened intently.
Above all the raindrops was the sound of dogs barking, and it grew closer and closer.
"Dogs," Mike said. He put his fingers to his temples and closed his eyes, concentrating. He had to let his sixth sense penetrate through the rain, which was beginning to get heavier. That made it difficult for Mike to use his psyches. But he managed to pick up something clearly, and it wasn't too far off.
"Rhutler came to," he said. "He's got dogs out on our tails."
"What are we going to do?" Phyllis asked.
"Get out of here as fast as we can!" Mike shouted. He gave the reins a flick, and the horse took off like a shot.
Mike continued to flick the reins as hard as he could. Of course, he couldn't see where in the world he was going, but it didn't matter. He was using his psyches to guide the trio away from Brett's dogs. Visibility was nearly zero. The only light they got was when lightning flashed. Mike kept on flicking the reins to make the horse go faster.
"Mike, I think you're going a little too fast," Phyllis said. "This is a dirt road, and it's beginning to get muddy. And slippery."
"Yeah, I don't think this thing is equipped with anti-lock brakes," Jerry replied. "Heck, I don't think this thing's equipped with any kind of brakes!"
"Phyllis, Jerry, I'm tryin' to drive here, so . . . ." Mike started, but he never finished his sentence.
A bolt of lightning had struck a nearby tree, and it came crashing down. The horse whinnied, and began rearing and retreating.
"Whoa, boy!" Mike shouted, pulling on the reins, which only made the horse more nervous.
"Mike, can't you talk to it?!" Jerry shouted.
"He's too panicked!" Mike shouted, pulling on the reins as hard as he could. "Okay, easy there, fella!"
Mike gave the reins a good yank, but as he did, another bolt of lightning lit up the sky, and thunder crashed loudly, as if it were right on top of Mike, Jerry, and Phyllis. The horse bucked, and ended up kicking one of the carriage's wheels so hard, it actually popped off. Mike lost control completely. The horse took off like a shot, jumping over the fallen tree. Mike, Phyllis, and Jerry flew out of the carriage and right into the mud.
"Eecchhh," Jerry groaned, leaning up.
"Man, that was a trip," Mike said. "A very dirty, and disgustin' trip. Everybody okay?"
"Yeah," Phyllis said. "A little wet and muddy, maybe, but other than that, fine."
"Well, we won't be for long," Jerry said. "I hear the dogs coming."
"Oh man," Mike groaned. "And there's hardly anywhere to run to."
"You two go on ahead," Jerry replied. "I'll take care of the dogs."
"You sure?" Mike asked. "I mean, you don't exactly have the equipment to handle them."
"I know, but we're gonna need your sixth sense to get us out of here," Jerry said.
"Okay, if you're sure."
"Positive. Now go, go, go!"
Mike took Phyllis's hand and began running into the woods. Jerry waited until they were out of sight. Once they were, he picked up some mud, and shaped it into a ball. Then he climbed a nearby tree and waited for Brett's dogs to run by. Pretty soon, three bloodhounds were gathered around the spot, sniffing around. Jerry smiled sneakily and dropped the mud ball on one of them. The dog began to bark hysterically, and he ran off, howling. The other two dogs followed. Jerry laughed and climbed down from the tree.
"That'll throw 'em off," he said.
Jerry stood there, watching the dogs run off in a panicked frenzy, until he heard some slight hissing behind him. He slowly turned around, but didn't see anything, until lightning flashed once again. For one brief second, Jerry saw an alligator right behind him, opening his jaws, ready for an attack.
"Yipes!" he shouted, and he began to run off as fast as he could, through the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning.
Things weren't that much better for Phyllis and Mike. They were beginning to tire out from all the running through the mud, and it was getting harder and harder to run.
"I wish mud wasn't so slippery!" Mike shouted.
"Or so soft," Phyllis said, yanking her bare foot out off the mud. "It'd be easy to sink in this stuff!"
"It's amazin' how some women pay millions for this kind of treatment."
"I hope Jerry's able to catch up with us. I haven't heard the dogs in awhile."
"Don't worry, Phyllis. Jerry's resourceful. Though he does have a knack for gettin' into trouble. Come on, we'd better keep movin'."
Mike and Phyllis continued through the marshes, but at a much slower pace. Mike kept one hand to his temple, trying to determine where to go. His psyches were starting to fade on him. That only told him that his battery was beginning to run a little low.
"Well, that's just ducky," he groaned. "My battery's gone low."
"That's not our only problem," Phyllis said. "I'm sinking! I just stepped into quicksand!"
Mike didn't waste any time. He knew he'd have to use whatever was left in his battery to get Phyllis out of this situation. He grabbed her hand, and charged his pull with his magic. Phyllis practically flew out of the quicksand. Mike sort of overcharged that last boost. He and Phyllis stumbled backwards straight into the mud. KERSPLAT!
"I've heard of mud baths, but this is ridiculous," Phyllis said, looking down at her torn nightgown.
"I wouldn't worry about that," Mike said. "Come on, let's keep goin'. Even with my battery dead, I can find our way out of here. Jerry and I did a movie where we ended up in the swamps of New Orleans, but that was durin' the thirties. This is the nineteenth century."
Mike and Phyllis continued on. They walked right through a path, with old, twisted looking trees, and low hanging tree branches. Also, the sound of barking dogs began to arise.
"Oh no," Mike said. "Come on, Phyllis! Get a move on!"
Mike and Phyllis began running as fast as they could, tearing their clothes on the branches of the low hanging trees. Their only way out was through that forest. By the time they got out, they had lost the dogs, but their clothes were reduced to rags.
"Well, Mike, I hope you know where we're going now," Phyllis said.
"I'll figure it out sooner or later," Mike said. "Forget about lookin' for someone who knows voodoo! I think it'll be better if we found a house or somethin' so we can dry off. We're soaked!"
Phyllis agreed. She and Mike continued along the muddy paths of the marshes.
"I wonder how Jerry's getting along?" she asked.
Jerry's swamp experience wasn't that much better than Mike's or Phyllis's. He was spending most of his night trying to avoid the alligators in the swamp, wanting to tear his limbs off. He knew alligators weren't man-eaters like crocodiles, but they were still aggressive, with very sharp teeth.
"I feel like we're remaking Washington Square!" he shouted.
Jerry was balancing himself on a tree branch. That wasn't the smartest place to be during a thunderstorm, since lightning usually struck high things like trees and telephone poles. But it was the only safe haven from the alligators, and Brett Rhutler's dogs. After all, dogs couldn't climb trees, and neither could alligators.
Jerry gulped, and slowly inched for the edge of the tree branch. He had to get to the next tree on that jump. Thunder crashed and lightning flashed almost simultaneously. That only made the Geator more nervous! He gulped once more, and took a deep breath. Then he jumped from the tree branch he was standing on to the next one, gripping it for dear life.
"I don't know how acrobats can do this," he said. "I really don't!"
Jerry took another deep breath, and stood up straight. He held his arms out for balance, and tried to walk to the other side of the tree, being extremely cautious not to slip. Lightning kept flashing, and thunder kept crashing. Jerry gulped once more, and took in a deep breath. He had to keep moving. In a split second though, lightning crashed, and struck the branch he was standing on, causing it to snap off the tree completely. Jerry fell to the ground, but landed in a body of water. Jerry surfaced, and spat water out of his mouth.
"Oh great," he groaned. "I landed in the Mississippi River! Great place to be during a thunderstorm!"
Jerry began swimming to the shoreline, but he didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The river current had gotten stronger because of the storm. There was no possible way Jerry could get to the shore at the rate he was going. And to make matters worse, when lightning flashed again, he saw a little bit of an alligator swimming through the water.
"Oh great," he moaned. "It's dinner time!"
Jerry began swimming as hard as he could, against the current. He finally made it to the shore line, and gripped the ground as hard as he could. His fingers curled around the mud, but it was very unlikely that it would hold out. And that alligator was coming in close, ready to take a bite out of Jerry's leg. Jerry squeezed his eyes shut, and waited for the attack when someone grabbed his arm and yanked him towards the ground. The next sound he heard was that of an umbrella hitting an alligator.
"Get out of here, you overgrown handbag!" a thick, southern voice shouted. Jerry knew it couldn't have been Mike. His accent was Texan. This one was pure Louisiana, and it had a bit of a black dialect in it. He looked up and saw Brett Rhutler and Marcie standing there.
"Lord have mercy, child, what have you been doin'?!" Marcie shouted, looking at Jerry, clothes ragged and torn, abrasions on his hands, arms, legs, face, and feet, covered in mud from head to toe, and completely drenched.
"Where are Mr. Nesmith and Miss Phyllis?" Brett asked.
"I . . . . I don't know," Jerry said. "We split up to avoid the dogs and . . . ."
"I told you the dogs would only frighten them, Mr. Rhutler," Marcie said, pulling Jerry to his feet. "Should we continue the search?"
"No, I don't think so," Brett said. "Ain't a fit night to be wanderin' around the bogs. I don't know what Mr. Nesmith was thinkin', but he's very resourceful. I knew that from the moment I met him. He should keep Miss Phyllis safe in this storm. We'd better get this one back to the house and get him cleaned up a bit."
"Good idea, suh. Out here any longer, and he'll catch his death of cold!"
Jerry thought it was too late for that. He was freezing. Marcie and Brett led him to Brett's carriage and made their way back to the Rhutler mansion. Jerry felt kind of relieved. He wasn't feeling very well after all that happened in that swamp. Marcie wasn't surprised.
"The very idea," she muttered, as she scrubbed all that mud off Jerry's body and out of his hair. "What goes on in that Yankee head of yours?! Goin' out in the swamp durin' a thunderstorm, especially when Mr. Rhutler offered you a place to sleep for the night?!"
"I was only following Mike," Jerry said, meekly.
"Well, if Mr. Nesmith hadn't jumped to any conclusions about what he heard me and Mr. Rhutler talkin' about . . . ."
Jerry was no longer listening to Marcie's lecture. She said something about Brett's masquerade ball, but didn't catch the details. He felt tired and dizzy. He knew he'd be asleep in a matter of minutes. Marcie had to get Nelly to help her with Jerry.
"I think all he needs is a goodnight's sleep, Momma," Nelly said.
"I think so, too," Marcie said. "I'll be surprised if he doesn't catch pneumonia after this. What with bein' out in the swamp on a night like this. The same goes for Mr. Nesmith and Miss Phyllis, too."
Mike and Phyllis in the meantime, were still trudging through the muddy swamps. It was still storming outside.
"No doubt about it," Mike said, as he and Phyllis began climbing a hill. "This storm is definitely not gonna end until sunrise."
"An all nighter, huh?" Phyllis asked.
"Exactly. I hope Jerry's doin' okay."
"I hope he is, too. I hope we find him soon. I'm starting to get worried."
"Me too. And my sixth sense can't help us any. My battery's still a little on the dead side. It hasn't fully recharged."
Mike and Phyllis continued moving. Lightning flashed once more, and Mike stopped dead in his tracks. Phyllis looked at him, oddly.
"Mike, what's going on?" she asked.
"Come on!" Mike shouted, and he began running up the hill. Phyllis followed, still wondering what in the world Mike was doing, until lightning flashed again. On the top of that hill was a small, wooden shack. Phyllis picked up her pace.
Once the Nesmiths reached the front door of the shack, they began banging on it, and shouting to whoever was inside.
"Hey in there!" Mike shouted. "Open up!"
"Please open the door!" Phyllis yelled, banging her fists on the door as hard as she possibly could. The door finally opened. Standing there was an old man with white hair, a white beard, and ragged looking clothes.
"Well, what do you two want?" he asked. "You have any idea what time it is?!"
"We know, we know," Mike said. "But we just need some shelter until the storm blows over!"
"Well, you look like somethin' only a cat would drag in after a storm," the old man said. "And no one can call ol' Beau Weevil heartless. You and your lady friend are welcome to stay for as long as you need to. Come on in and tell me your story."
Mike breathed of relief and he and Phyllis walked inside. Neither of them commented on Beau's corny name. Mike's battery recharged quickly after that, and he snapped his fingers to clean himself and Phyllis off, and give them a change of clothes. Beau was a bit impressed.
"You one of them there voodoo fellas, suh?" he asked.
"You might say that," Mike said. "You know any voodoo fellas, Beau?"
"Wanna swap spells, eh?"
"Yes suh, I know all sorts of them there voodoo people. They're all further into the swamp. But I can't let y'all go out there on a night like this. You'll have to wait 'till mornin' before y'all can go out there."
"Well . . . ."
"Mike, please," Phyllis begged. "Don't make us go out there again. Not while it's dark and storming. Can't we wait until daylight? It's too dangerous under these conditions."
Mike looked out the window. The thunderstorm was still going strong, and his sixth sense began to throb slightly. He sighed, and turned to Phyllis.
"All right," he said. "We'll wait until daylight."
"Smart decision, suh," Beau said. "Ain't a fit night for anyone to be trampin' around a swamp. Especially not a lady."
Mike nodded, and stifled a yawn. He needed some sleep. He and Phyllis had a long way to go once the storm ceased and it was morning again.
Daybreak came. Brett was already in his dining room having his breakfast. Marcie was up, too, brewing coffee.
"So is your guest up yet?" she asked, walking into the dining room.
"It's dawn, Marcie," Brett said. "You and I get up at the crack of dawn, but not everyone does. You know that."
"So how long should I let Mr. Blavat sleep?"
"If he ain't up by ten thirty, then get him up."
Marcie nodded and went back into the kitchen. Nelly walked in a few moments later.
"Yankees sure sleep a lot, don't they, Momma?" she asked.
"Well, you, Mr. Rhutler, and I get up at the crack of dawn," Marcie said, as she began gathering a pile of dirty dishes to wash. "Not everybody does. And there's also the fact Mr. Blavat spent most of last night in the swamp durin' that storm."
"So how late do you think he's gonna sleep?"
"Proabably until eight o' clock or nine. But if he ain't up by ten thirty, I'll just have to wake him up. In the meantime, we have to get everything ready early for Mr. Rhutler's masquerade tonight."
Nelly walked off. She walked up to Brett, sitting at the dining room table, reading his newspaper.
"Mr. Rhutler, suh," she said. "Do you want to go out and look for Mr. Nesmith and Miss Phyllis?"
"Not now, Nelly. It's still too early."
Nelly walked off. There usually wasn't much for her to do in the early morning hours. Marcie never liked her to be underfoot when she was trying to do the dishes. So she decided to go up to Jerry's room and wake him up so she'd have someone to talk to, at least until Marcie asked her to do something. Anyway, she walked up the stairs, and slowly opened the door to Jerry's room. She quietly walked in and just looked at him.
"I hope you wake up," she said to him. "I want to know everythin' about Yankees. And since you're a Yankee, you're the one who's gonna tell me."
"Look, I'm trying to get some sleep here," Jerry replied, groaning. "I've had a rough night."
"But everyone else is up already and if you don't get up, I'll pester you till you do."
"All right, all right, I'm getting up."
Nelly walked out of the room. Jerry got up, and stretched. Usually with all the energy he had, he would have been up long before Brett. But after that night in the swamp, he felt like he was slogging through Jello. He walked down the stairs and into the dining room. Brett looked at him as if he were a visitor from another planet.
"I thought you'd be sleepin' later," Brett said.
"I planned to," Jerry said. "But Nelly was gonna bug me until I got up, so I figured I'd get up."
"Makes sense. Nelly's like that."
Jerry nodded. He began to stare down at the table, propping himself up on his elbow. He seemed absorbed in his own world. It made Brett wonder if he was feeling all right.
"You seem a bit distracted this mornin'," Brett said.
"Oh," Jerry replied. "Well, I thought I was going to be sleeping later, you know?"
"I see. Why don't you go on back to bed? Sleep as long as you like. I'll tell Marcie and Nelly to hold it down. At least you'll be awake for my masquerade tonight."
Jerry stood up, and made his way towards the staircase. It seemed a lot farther than it had the other night. Also, the room began to swirl around, too. He felt extremely dizzy. The minute he reached the staircase, he collapsed. Brett, Marcie, and Nelly ran over to him.
"I told you not to wake him up!" Marcie shouted.
"I don't think it has to do from lack of sleep," Brett said. "I think it has to do from bein' out in that thunderstorm last night."
"You may be right, Mr. Rhutler," Marcie said, placing her hand on Jerry's forehead. "And I'm not surprised that he's fallen ill. Not after last night. Nelly, go and fetch Dr. Moorley. And while you're out, fetch the police, too. They can go look for Mr. Nesmith and Miss Phyllis."
"Yes'm," Nelly said, and she rushed out the door.
Marcie and Brett pulled Jerry to his feet, draped his arms over their shoulders, and led him up the stairs to the bedroom.
Elsewhere, Mike was beginning to wake up himself. The sun shone through the windows, and Mike could never sleep when the sun hit him in the face. It was like he was solar powered when he first got up. He yawned, stretched, and stood up.
"Man, what a night," he groaned.
"You said it," Phyllis replied, stretching herself. "At least the storm's over."
"Darn right," Beau said, walking over. "I trust you slept well."
"Like a rock," Mike replied.
"Thanks for letting us stay here," Phyllis said.
"Yeah, thanks," Mike said. "But we really gotta split. We've got to look for our friend Jerry and then we gotta find someone who knows voodoo."
"Well, if you don't find him in these woods," Beau said. "Come back here. You shouldn't be wanderin' these swamps for long, you know."
"We shouldn't have been in them at all," Phyllis said, glaring at Mike.
"I know, I know," Mike said. "Let's just get goin'."
Phyllis sighed, and followed Mike out of the shack. They started walking around the swamplands and marshes, using Mike's sixth sense to guide them through, and to find Jerry.
"Any trace of him?" Phyllis asked.
"No," Mike said, shaking his head. "He must be out of range. We'd better keep movin' until I get a signal or somethin'."
Phyllis figured that was as good an idea as any. Back at the Rhutler mansion, Brett's old friend, Dr. Francis Moorley, walked out of Jerry's room, and into the hallway, where Brett and Marcie were waiting for an analysis.
"Don't tell me doctor," Marcie said. "Pneumonia, right?"
"Influenza," Dr. Moorley said, bluntly. "What did you say he was doin' last night, Brett?"
"He was out in the swamp durin' the brunt of the thunderstorm," Brett said. "Two of his friends were with him."
"Are they here?"
"No, they're still out in the swamps somewhere. I sent the police out to look for them and bring them back here."
"I see. Well, when they get back here, you know where to find me if they've caught somethin'."
"I definitely will, Francis."
"And I want to check on this one later."
"Well, if you're still comin' to my masquerade tonight, you can look in on him then."
"I will, suh."
Dr. Moorley walked down the stairs and left the house. Marcie was looking at Brett as if he were crazy.
"Mr. Rhutler, you're still throwin' your ball?" she asked.
"Yes," Brett said. "It's too late to cancel it."
"What about Mr. Blavat?"
"Marcie, don't worry about that. I need you to help me get ready for my masquerade. If you're worried so much about it, let Nelly look after Mr. Blavat."
Marcie seemed to go along with that. She shrugged, and followed Brett down the stairs. Nelly walked up the stairs, and into Jerry's room, carrying a bowl of cold water and a piece of cloth. She dipped the cloth in the bowl, wrung it out, and ran it along Jerry's forehead.
"Mr. Jerry?" she asked. Jerry stirred, and moaned for a moment. He slowly opened his eyes, which were slightly glazed, and looked at Nelly. He didn't say a thing to her. He just looked at her.
"I know you're not feelin' well," Nelly said, as she pressed the cloth against Jerry's forehead. "But Momma said to tend to you. Mr. Rhutler's still throwin' his ball, and he needs Momma's help."
"He's still throwing that thing?" Jerry asked, hoarsely.
"Yes suh. Said it was too late to cancel."
"Oh. I don't understand what Mike was getting all bent out of shape for. Mr. Rhutler seems like a nice guy."
"Oh indeed he is, Mr. Jerry. Indeed he is. He don't make me work all that long, and he even teaches me things all the other children learn at school. Mr. Rhutler's always wanted to be a teacher. He loves children."
Jerry didn't respond. He didn't know what else to say. His mind was about as far away from Brett Rhutler as it could get. All he knew was that he had influenza (or as it's most commonly known today, the flu), and antibiotics weren't developed yet. Jerry also knew that the disease was fatal back in the 1800's. He knew if he didn't get back to his old time soon, he was a goner. Nelly must have guessed what he was thinking, so she changed the subject to keep his mind on something less morbid.
"Mr. Jerry, I overheard the other night Mr. Mike sayin' that you, him, and Miss Phyllis are from the future," she said. "Is that true?"
"Yeah, it's true," Jerry said.
"What's it like in the future?"
Jerry closed his eyes for a moment, and sighed. He smiled a little, thinking about his own time.
"Fast," he said. "Very fast paced."
"What do you do in the future?" Nelly asked. "What kind of job do you have?"
"I'm a disc jockey. Wait, you don't know what that is. Uhh, see, in the future, there's this invention called a radio, see. It's a box that plays music, but it isn't your typical music box. It's electronic."
"What does electronic mean?"
"Well . . . . see, Benjamin Franklin discovered lightning is electrical, and there's all these electric currents . . . . . I don't know how to explain it. A radio is an electronic box that plays music."
"Oh. What else do you have in the future?"
"Radio with pictures."
Nelly let that one go. All these were foreign concepts to her. She wanted to know more!
"What else?" she asked.
"Cars," Jerry replied. "That's how people get around in the future."
"They don't use horses and carriages?"
"They don't need to. Cars are basically horseless carriages."
"They'll be around within twenty to thirty years from now. But the design is going to be very different. Also America will be bigger."
Jerry smiled and began to tell Nelly about rock and roll, Disneyland, airplanes, smog, and all kinds of jobs available.
"Are there still cotton pickers?" Nelly asked.
"I think they have machines to do that," Jerry said. "I'm not sure how it works."
"Do people with dark skin work for the people who are rich?"
"Not anymore. Some do, but not a lot. Actually, where I come from, someone with dark skin could be a millionaire."
Nelly was left just plain speechless after that one. The future intrigued her. She wondered if she was going to be around to see it. She didn't think so. A hundred and thirty years seemed so far off to her. And she didn't want to bring up that subject anyway. Pretty soon, Jerry fell asleep. Nelly dipped the cloth in the bowl of water again, and continued to rub it across Jerry's forehead, in an attempt to bring his fever down.
In the meantime, Mike and Phyllis were still wandering around the swamps. They came to many shacks sitting there, and they asked everyone they could find if they had seen Jerry around, and if they knew anything about voodoo. Everyone answered the same thing to both questions: No. It was beginning to get dark, and soon, they ran out of places to search. Dejected, Mike and Phyllis went back to Beau's.
"Did you have any luck, suh?" Beau asked once they walked inside.
"Nope," Mike said, sitting down in a chair. "And I'm startin' to get worried. If Jerry were in the swamps, we would have seen him by now."
"Mike, I just thought of something," Phyllis said. "These Louisiana swamplands are known for alligators. I know they aren't man eaters, but they still do attack people. You don't think . . . ."
"No," Mike said, quickly. "Definitely not! If a gator did get him, we'd probably see somethin' tellin' us he was attacked by one of those giant lizards. I don't want to think about that. Besides, my sixth sense would tell me if a gator got him anyway. It's tellin' me he's still alive, but we just don't know exactly where he is. He may have ridden the Mississippi down to Alabama for all we know!"
Phyllis nodded, and breathed of relief. Mike decided to try the ol' sixth sense again. He held his fingers to his temples and concentrated hard, much harder than he had ever concentrated before.
"I think somethin's comin' to me," he said. "The spirits are gonna tell me everythin' I want to know. Give me a sign, spirits!"
"What in the world is he doin'?" Beau asked.
"Voodoo," Phyllis replied.
"Yes," Mike said. "Yes, spirits. Give me a sign! Show me you're here!"
Half a second later, there was a knock. Mike stopped concentrating for a moment or so, and a strange look came over his face.
"Funny, they usually don't knock when I summon them," Mike said. Another knock was heard. "Oh. The door."
Phyllis started to giggle. Beau shook his head, and opened the door, only to see the local police standing there.
"Pardon us, suh," one officer said. "We're lookin' for a young married couple answerin' to the names of Mike and Phyllis Nesmith. Mr. Brett Rhutler's lookin' for them."
"Nesmith you said?" Beau asked. "No, I don't believe I have. They came by last night, and left early this mornin'."
Mike and Phyllis staid hidden in the house. They had told Beau everything Mike heard Brett say the other night. Beau wasn't about to let some snooty millionaire break up a marriage, that was for sure!
"They sure ain't here no more," he said to the police.
"Did you see which way they went?" the officer asked.
"No, suh, I did not."
"Well, we'll keep lookin'. If they do happen to come back here, please let them know that Mr. Rhutler has found a friend of theirs, a Mr. Jerry Blavat. Mr. Rhutler informed us to tell anyone who might have seen them to report back to his mansion immediately."
"Well, if I happen to see them, suh, I'll tell them."
The officer nodded, and left. Once he was out of sight. Mike and Phyllis came out of hiding.
"Your marriage is safe for now," Beau said.
"Maybe so," Mike said. "But we've got to go to Mr. Rhutler's."
"So we can get Jerry and head back to where we came from. Thanks for all your help, Beau."
"My pleasure, suh. Don't be such a stranger, now. Drop ol' Beau a line every now and then."
With that, Mike and Phyllis left the shack and started making their way across the swamp to Brett's mansion. Once they were halfway there, Mike stopped suddenly and turned to Phyllis.
"He's havin' a masquerade ball tonight," he said. "I nearly forgot. It's gonna be easier sneakin' in than I thought!"
"Why, Mike?" Phyllis asked.
"It's a masked ball! The perfect cover! We'll go in as guests, and while you distract Rhutler, I'll find Jerry, and we hang out for a little while, so as not to draw suspicion, and then we just walk out and continue lookin' for someone who knows voodoo so we can get out of here."
"Mike, that's brilliant!"
"Now hold still, baby. I'm gonna turn you into the belle of the ball!"
Phyllis backed up a little. Mike studied his wife for a moment, and then cracked his knuckles. He thrust his fingers forward, and surrounded Phyllis in his magic. When it subsided, Phyllis was wearing a strapless teal and purple satin ball gown, teal high heeled shoes, and long black gloves. Mike had zapped a small black hat with green and purple feathers on it, along with a few pieces of tulle, on her head. In her hand, she held a mask on a long stick. On the mask were feathers and tulle that matched her hat. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in ringlets. Phyllis looked down at her attire, lifted the skirt of her dress with one hand, and began twirling.
"Oh, Mike, it's gorgeous!" she shouted. "I'm going to hate to go back to our own time and not get a chance to wear it again!"
"I'll throw a masked ball sometime when we get home," Mike said. "That way you can wear it again."
Mike snapped his fingers again. His disguise wasn't nearly as glamorous as Phyllis's. It was just a simple formal suit in the 1870's style, and a plain old black mask. It wasn't even on a stick like Phyllis's mask. It just went around the face with an elastic string. Mike waved his hand in a circle, and an elegant coach appeared out of nowhere, complete with a pair of snow white horses to pull it.
"I have to admit, Mike, you have a lot of class," Phyllis said.
"We want to throw off suspicion," Mike said. "Although Rhutler may know it's you. But that shouldn't matter. He'll have a lot of guests. If he announces that engagement of his, decline. Whatever you do, decline any proposals!"
"Right. I'm a perfectly happy married woman."
Mike adjusted his mask, and gave the reins a flick. The horses began to trot out of the swamp and to the Rhutler mansion. When they arrived, Brett's party was in full swing, as they say. Mike and Phyllis walked inside, inconspicuously. Nobody noticed them.
"This is good," Mike whispered. "You stay here. I'm gonna go look for Jerry, usin' the ol' sixth sense."
"Good luck," Phyllis said.
Mike put his fingers to his temples, and concentrated a little. He let his sixth sense do most of the work for him. Slowly, he made his way to the nearest staircase. Phyllis watched him go, and then walked around, trying not to act suspicious.
"Excuse me, ma'am," Brett said, walking up to her. "But I don't believe I know you."
"Hi, Mr. Rhutler," Phyllis said, moving her mask.
"Why Miss Phyllis! I didn't expect to see you here! Where's your husband?"
"Oh he's . . . . . around."
"Well, I'll look for him later. Right now, I would like to speak with you privately, if you don't mind."
"Oh sure. Fine. No problem."
Phyllis followed Brett out the back door and onto the patio. She had a feeling she knew what Brett wanted to talk to her about.
"I suppose you were thinkin' I was sendin' mixed signals the other evenin'," Brett said.
"I believe you were," Phyllis replied, backing away a little.
"I realize I didn't make the best impression with your husband, either."
"Oh you sure didn't! I should have warned you about Mike's temper the moment we met."
"Yes I know. I honestly don't know what you see in a man like that. He's uncouth, has no manners whatsoever . . . . . he's just a Neanderthal!"
"Better not let him hear you call him that, Mr. Rhutler."
"So I've heard. At any rate, I just don't think a man like that deserves a charming lady such as yourself."
Phyllis cleared her throat. She hoped Mike had found Jerry and was on his way out of this house! Mike, in the meantime, had made it to the second floor where his sixth sense had led him. He began to search the rooms using that same method. He finally came to the room he wanted, and slowly opened it.
"This saves a lot of time and energy," he said. "Unless the battery's gone dead."
Mike walked closer into the room, grabbed Jerry's shoulder, and shook it.
"Let's go, Geat," he said. "We gotta get out of here."
"Did you find someone that'll get us out of here?" Jerry asked, leaning up slowly.
"Not yet, but I will. Let's just go find Phyllis and go!"
Jerry stood up, and nearly fell flat on his face. Mike caught him before he hit the ground.
"You okay? You look like a train wreck!" he shouted.
"Remember last night when we were trying to find someone with enough magic to get us out of here?"
"And it was storming like crazy? Well, I fell into a river and caught the flu. Actually, Mike, I think it might be better if you and Phyllis look for someone who could get us out of here and then come back."
"No way. I'm not leavin' you here with Rhutler."
"But Mike . . . ."
"No, we're gettin' out of here now!"
Mike snapped his fingers. Jerry's attire was changed to something similar to Mike's, including mask. Mike propped Jerry's arm over his shoulders, and the two of them began walking down the hallway.
"We can sneak out the back door," Mike said. "Once we find Phyllis."
That wouldn't be too hard. Phyllis was still outside, talking to Brett. Of course, she was also backing away from him.
"You're actin' as if you're scared of me," Brett said.
"I don't want you to get too close," Phyllis said. "I don't know if you realize this, but I'm a perfectly happy married woman."
"Oh I know that," Brett said. "Indeed I know that."
"Well, what was all this talk about announcing an engagement? Mike said that . . . ."
"Brett?" another female voice asked, coming from the back door. "I thought you weren't gonna take long."
Phyllis turned around and saw what could only be described as a Southern Belle. She was wearing a similar style dress, only with long sleeves, and a high white collar. The shoulders of the dress were puffy and orange with red-orange stripes on them. The bodice was light blue with black polka-dots and a red ribbon shaped like a flower. The skirt was yellow. The girl had black hair done up in sausage curls. She wore a red hat with a yellow flower and feathers on it. The mask she carried had white tulle and a yellow feather on it. Brett stood up and cleared his throat.
"Miss Phyllis, I'd like you to meet my fiancÚ, Miss Mary Beth Caufield," Brett said. "Mary Beth, this is Phyllis Nesmith. The young lady I told you about."
"FiancÚ?" Phyllis asked. "Then the engagement . . . ."
"That's right," Brett said. "Your husband probably missed somethin' in the transition."
"And jumped to conclusions, and didn't give you a chance to explain. Oh, Mr. Rhutler, I am so sorry!"
"It's quite all right, Miss Phyllis. It's a simple mistake. We'd better go find your husband and clear this mix-up."
"I'd certainly like to meet your husband, Phyllis," Mary Beth said.
"We have to find him first," Phyllis said.
"Well then, let's go," Brett said, taking Phyllis's hand. He, Phyllis, and Mary Beth started towards the door from the outside, just as Mike and Jerry were approaching from the inside. Mike stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Brett and Phyllis walking hand in hand towards the door. He was about ready to burst.
"That does it," he said.
"Uh oh," Jerry said. "Mike, wait, I think there's a simple explanation for this!"
Mike wasn't listening. He lifted Jerry's arm off his shoulder. Jerry promptly dropped to the ground. Mike then grinded his teeth, and kicked the door open. He stormed out into the patio and turned towards Brett.
"Rhutler, you rat!" he shouted.
"Mike, we were just looking for you," Phyllis said.
"I'll bet you were," Mike said, glaring at Brett. "I've had it with you, fella! We're gonna settle this right now!"
"Oh no, not again!" Phyllis moaned.
Mike lifted his index finger, and was ready to blast Brett to kingdom come. Brett wasn't too pleased with this. He dodged the incoming beam of magic, and went face to face with Mike.
"Suh, didn't your mother ever tell you it's not polite to point?!" he shouted.
"Okay, fine," Mike said, and he slapped Brett across the face as hard as he could. "That more gentlemanly for ya?!"
Brett glared at Mike, and then stormed into his mansion. He returned a few moments later, carrying some kind of a box. He opened it, to reveal two dueling pistols.
"If you want to play it this way we will," he said. "Choose your weapon, suh!"
"Now, wait a minute, Rhutler, I think this is goin' a bit too far!" Mike shouted, nervously.
"Brett, I don't think this is necessary!" Mary Beth shouted.
"If he wants to play it this way we will," Brett said.
Mike gulped, and picked up a pistol. Brett took the other one.
"Now, we'll take ten paces, turn and fire," he said. "You ladies go inside. This is no place for women!"
Phyllis and Mary Beth ran inside the house. Jerry watched them run in.
"What's going on out there?" he asked.
"You look like something the cat dragged in," Phyllis said.
"The understatement of the year," Jerry replied. "I repeat. What's going on out there?"
"Mike and Mr. Rhutler are having a duel."
"A duel?! We gotta stop them! Someone's gonna get killed!"
"But Brett told us to stay in here," Mary Beth said. "It's no place for a lady out there!"
"I have news for you," Phyllis said. "I'm no lady! Come on, Jerry!"
Phyllis and Jerry practically kicked the backdoor down. Mike and Brett were still pacing. They were about to turn and fire their pistols.
"Mike, this is insane!" Jerry shouted.
"You think I want to do this?!" Mike shouted. "I'm no sharpshooter!"
In a split second, a shot was fired. Mike acted fast. He snapped his fingers the minute he heard the shot, and a bullet proof barrier appeared in front of him. The bullet from the pistol bounced off it. Phyllis put her hand to her chest. Jerry nearly fainted. Mike groaned.
"What was that, suh?" Brett asked, a little surprised.
"That was somethin' I pulled to get out of this duel," Mike said. "I'm not too comfortable handlin' a gun."
"Mike, maybe I should explain something," Phyllis said. "All that flirting Brett was doing was just southern hospitality! The engagement he was going to announce was to a girl named Mary Beth!"
"You mean when he said it was gonna come as a surprise . . . ." Mike said.
"I figured you were losin' it whenever I talked to Miss Phyllis was because you thought I was gonna break up your marriage," Brett said. "Now if you would have listened instead of jumpin' to conclusions."
"Oops," Mike said, turning red.
"Right," Jerry said. "Maybe if you didn't jump to conclusions, Mike, we could've avoided that storm in the swamp."
Mike smiled sheepishly. He didn't know what else to say. But he still had to get him, Jerry, and Phyllis out of that time period, and he couldn't figure out how.
"Sorry," he said. "I really blew it."
"You sure did," Phyllis said. "Now how about getting us out of here?"
"I'd love to," Mike said. "But I don't think I'm goin' in that swamp again. We went all over the place and there's no one who knows magic in there!"
Just that minute, a puff of smoke appeared out of nowhere. Once it cleared, Mike's aunt Zelda was standing there.
"Aunt Zelda?" Mike asked, a little surprised. "What are you doin' here?"
"I came down to see the parade with you three," Zelda said. "I went all over New Orleans looking for you, and when I couldn't find you, I had to cast a spell to take me to where you were. How did you get yourself into eighteen seventy-three?"
"You wouldn't believe it if we told you, Zelda," Jerry said.
"Well, come on," Zelda said. "I'll get us back to where we belong."
Zelda waved her hand, and the quartet was transported back to their own time. Brett saw them disappear, and shook his head.
"I need some brandy," he said, and walked back into the house.
Finally, Mike, Jerry, and Phyllis were back in their own time. Zelda had landed them in their hotel room as opposed to the streets outside.
"Thanks for the lift, Aunt Zelda," Mike said. "Better get outside and stake out a spot. The parade's about to start."
"Nobody's leaving this room," Zelda said. "All of you are staying right here."
Mike, Phyllis, and Jerry all began to talk at once, shouting. Zelda held up her hand to silence them.
"Jerry, get into bed this minute," she said. "You've still got that case of the flu you caught while in that swamp. As for you two, the streets are too crowded. You'll never be able to see the parade anyway, and you'll probably get trampled by people diving for beads."
"Darn it," Jerry groaned. "Another Mardi Gras ruined."
"Ain't that the truth!" Mike shouted. He flopped down on the couch, and sulked.
Zelda pointed her finger and turned Mike's chair towards the window.
"What did you do that for?" Mike asked.
"Just get up and look out the window," Zelda said.
Mike shrugged, got up, and looked out the window. Sure enough, the parade floats were coming by, and the riders were tossing beads and doubloons at the crowd.
"Hey looks like we didn't miss the parade after all," Mike said.
"I think we got the best seats in all of New Orleans," Phyllis commented. "Although it won't be easy to catch what they're throwing."
"Says you," Mike said, cracking his knuckles. He pointed his index finger, and zapped a strand of purple beads. He retracted them back to the hotel room, and twirled them around.
"For you, my little Southern Belle," he said, handing Phyllis the beads.
"Well, thank you very much, suh," Phyllis teased. "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers."
With that, Mike and Phyllis began cracking up, and turned to watch the rest of the parade.