A Conversation for 30 Hours in Hooverville: A Novel Experiment

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Freshly Vaccinated

The clock strikes 8. The firemen are still at it fighting the weird fire. God knows what is happening everywhere else in Hooverville. The sun is up, and it's a nice day. The weather is seasonal: today's high will be 52F (11C). Most locals will be wearing a light jacket or merely an extra layer, but those used to warmer climates may adjust according to taste. The library, which is across the street from the First Church of Nighthoover next to the Post Office, will be open a 9 am. There are books, videos, newspapers, and computers in there. There is also a baby grand piano which is woefully out of tune, not that the librarians realise this.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Freshly Vaccinated

Wlad walks up Seventh St from the church parking lot, noting with extreme disapproval that the well-appointed house that stands between the parking lot and the church no longer has the Halloween display of last night. A87955456

Oh, no: the owners must have been up all night, changing it. For now…

The polar bears and penguins are back! Wlad groans. The whole thing is a winter wonderland already. Wlad hates it when people jump the gun on Hoovermas. Moreover, he is afraid that the display will find its way into pastor Sandy Beeches' sermon. It usually does. Why can't people just take their seasons as they come? It's bad enough that the ShopTilYouDrop will have all its coloured lights and motion-activated laughing Sweeper Elves on every aisle. Seriously, people.

Besides, he's superstitious enough to fear that the polar bears will bring snow. And he's just not emotionally ready for snow. He turns the corner, relieved to see that Main Street, at least, doesn't have any Hoovermas tinsel yet. No reindeer carrying cleaning supplies. No flying roombas bearing gifts...

He enters the Waffelhaus, smiles hello to Wilhelmina, who he secretly thinks is very pretty, waves away the offer of a menu, and chooses a window seat facing Main Street so that he will not have to look at the fire drama at the courthouse. He orders a cheesy bacon-and-egg slider, some fruit juice, and coffee with milk and sugar. The river and the short walk have made him hungry, and he enjoys the food while he indulges in people-watching.

Most of the people passing the window are either headed to work, or coming to get a look at the firemen (and possibly see if they need help). What New York cops would call 'looky-loos' would be called 'concerned citizens' in Hooverville. Wlad does see Virgil Fenstermacher, armed with a camera, hurrying in the direction of the incident. That's his job, after all.

Wlad also notices a few students: he can tell they're students, either because they're dressed in camo and jogging in a group (those are the ROTC students), or they aren't from an ethnic group common to the area. One of Wlad's regrets is the lack of diversity in an otherwise delightful town: statistically, Hoover County is 97.some-odd-% 'white'. This 'white', of course, describes the local people, whose ancestors pretty much all came from a melanin-challenged country in Europe. That means that, while you won't hear much Spanish outside of the high school class, you may hear Polish, German, Czech or Ukrainian at the ShopTilYouDrop. And while Mennonite 'tea strainer' bonnets won't turn any heads, dreadlocks will arouse curiosity – not criticism, merely wonder and the pleasant sense that Hooverville is becoming more cosmopolitan.

Wlad, who's lived in quite a few different places, misses the presence, not only of people of colour, but of greater cultural variety in the form of different shops, restaurants, music venues, etc. Fortunately, the First Church of Nighthoover is the most culturally diverse place in the county. On any given Sunday, there will be Asians (from the only Chinese restaurant in town), South Americans, Africans, Europeans, and even people from the Southeast United States. 'The Nighthoover sweeps all carpet patterns,' as they like to say.

Those looking for a fashion parade would also be disappointed: plaid flannel shirts and jeans are the commonest sight, as well as t-shirts and sweatshirts with clever sayings on them. Wlad himself is known to sport one that says, 'I don't make mistakes when playing the piano. I make spontaneous creative decisions.' You can tell the engineers because their t-shirts say, 'Measure twice, cut once. Curse, buy more supplies.' Wlad sees a young woman whose jacket and hat are actually colour-coordinated. 'She must be from Pittsburgh,' he thinks – then reflects that if you regard Pittsburgh as fashion-forward, you're really from the Sticks.

Wlad has enjoyed his breakfast thoroughly. He leaves a generous tip and heads back the way he came, away from the Town Hall and towards the library, which he expects will open shortly.

smiley - dragon

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 3



*You've reached Cal, well not really, you've reached my machine, leave me a message after the beep!*

Cuddles almost cussed as he pressed his cell to his bearded cheek as he worked on his latest flower arrangement.

He felt a little uneasy about tattle tailing on the rather mouthy Limey, (oh dear, racial stereotyping now too!) but Cal was a dear friend and if the Brit was trouble, and he certainly felt like trouble, any good friend would warn her, surely?

He'd bought himself an hour or two by (guilt trip time) giving the guy a hopelessly incorrect and misleading set of directions that would hopefully have him riding around lost for hours!

But what if he ruined a nice surprise? She'd shared the sad tale of her partner's demise, but maybe the shaven headed dude was a relative on a surprise visit? He'd ruin the reunion, spoil something beautiful...oh dear, what a pickle!

*Hi Cal, sorry to call so late, or early if you weren't at the bar, just checking in, hope your colleagues gave you a great send off! Listen, if you have time before your flight home, drop by the clubhouse, nothing urgent, just need one last hug.*

Cuddles hung up and cleared the bar of flower clippings, he hoped she'd drop by, he'd figure a way to work the mysterious biker into the convo and see where it led. Maybe they'd already hooked up and saved him any embarrassment?

Tulips, he needed tulips…..

But what if this guy was a baddun? A stalker maybe? What if he'd followed Cal across the Atlantic for some nefarious aim? What if he meant his friend harm and Cuddles failed to act? Why was he mooching around in the night, like a, erm, like a..night....mooching dude?

He once again jammed the cellphone into his beard and dialled Fluffy for some advice.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 4


Wait. That porridge is not ready made.


OK, let me handle the Sourcery and make the magic potion. That's two parts Copper(II)Sulphate, one part Chalk for every 100 parts water in the tank. Soooo... this must be about right
Can you give me one of those billhooks to stir this lot? There we go. Now just finish it off.


Not sure if that last bit was in the training manual, but I've got a good feeling about it.


How high would you rate a burning Lady? Similar to a Medusa?

RIGHT... minimum 18 then.

Where is my d20? Inside pocket I guess.

There we go.


Add the Drunk Dungeon Master modifier... Makes 20. YESSSS.... a sure win.

OK Ted, Show me what you've got.

No no no, not in public! I meant: Man the pump, turn off the foam installation and spray the mixture I just made over the Fiery Lady!
Start gently. We don't want her to blow to bits from the thermal shock. Too much paperwork if we do that and we don't want to repeat Fabit.

Looking good. You can increase the pressure now.

Fire's out, but keep cooling. You never know with phosphorus.

Can you aim a little lower. Can't tell the time with all this foam on the clock face.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 5

SashaQ - happysad

Sheriff Rowdybush enters the Waffelhaus and looks for Wilhelmina Schreckengast. Some of the customers look up from their food when they hear the 'clink' of his wheelchair against the door, but as he is a familiar sight around town, they merely nod in recognition and get back to what they were doing.

The Sheriff approaches Wilhelmina and quietly explains that the Town Hall is being attended by the Fire Brigade and a Police Cordon has been put up near the Waffelhaus, but it is just a safety precaution - the Waffelhaus is outside the Cordon and it is good that the establishment is maintaining 'business as usual'.

He takes a notebook and pencil out of one of his jacket pockets and asks: "What day of the week do you test your smoke alarms, please? And did you hear or see anything unusual at about 3.30am this morning?"

He notes the answers with a quiet, 'aha...', puts the notebook and pencil back in his pocket, and then picks up a menu from the nearest empty table.

"Could I place an order while I'm here, please? Ooo, sliders - yum! Can I have a cheesy egg-and-mushroom slider, please, followed by one of your delicious cinnamon waffles? I'll be back in about half an hour, if that's OK."

Sheriff Rowdybush exits the Waffelhaus, checks that people are respecting the Police Cordon, reassures himself that Sergeant Irwin is managing the traffic and that Fred Ireland and his crew are working well, then he races back to his apartment behind the Police Station.

There, he puts the towel that had been keeping his legs warm back on the towel rack, removes his boots, takes his jacket off, changes out of his pyjamas into his sturdy black work trousers and white t-shirt in record time, does his morning ablutions, puts his jacket and boots back on and races back to the Waffelhaus, checking in on everyone again as he goes.

His stomach rumbles again.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 6

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Arsenio waves to the many people who have come into the Waffelhaus sin ce he sat down, including Wlad and Sheriff Rowdybush.

It's 8:00 a.m. now, time to get the shop set up for its 9:00 o'clock opening. When he gets to the secret service entrance, though,. he is surprised to see the door open three or four inches. Stepping into the shop, he is further surprised by the exit of about a dozen gray squirrels. The surprises keep coming as he finds that his cider doughnut has vanished, but dozens of acorns have been hidden in various corners of the place.

Well, maybe those acorns could be part of a window display, along the the pickle-yew branches that have also been stashed here and there.

He carries some boxes of "Friendly Village" and "Spode Woodland" china to the display window, where he notices a purplish glow. Three Misty Mountain Fairy Squirrels have begun building a next in the window. When they see him coming, though, they skitter past him and out the service door, which is still ajar.

"Cute little things," he says with a chuckle. "I really should order more Fairy Squirrel plates. " The No-Bull China Shop has a proprietary china pattern featuring the fairy squirrels. The plates are expensive --$50.00 for a salad plate, $100.00 for a dinner plate --but much-loved, as they are the town's official china pattern, not unlike he Blue Bunny pattern used in Dedhamm, Mass.

He gets the

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 7

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Arsenio sets up some displays of Christmas china along the back wall of the shop. Some Hoovervillains would object to seeing anything Christmassy in the front window just yet, but there are always a few early birds who begin collecting seasonal patterns early as Labor Day. Granted, they come in from outside Hooverville, but it's better to sell to them when they want something than lose the sale to some other shop.

In one corner of the shop there's a discount display. The many rose patterns that were so popular all Summer are now gathering dust. Why not opffer them on sale, and see what happens?

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 8


Hermione was feeling sore and miserable. Fred Ireland had helped her up gently enough, then insisted on helping her back to her house. He was followed by a burly fireman carrying her computer. Fred hadn't exactly told her off, but he'd made it clear that dealing with fires was his job and she should stay out of the exclusion zone.
Once back in the safety of her house, Hermione had dashed into the shower, and washed off the smell and feel of that horrible smoke.
Then she had changed into comfortable clothes and sat in her living room. This was her favourite room in the house. The window was large enough to let in plenty of light, and give her a view of the street and the people passing by. If she was honest with herself, she might admit to being nosy about people and their lives. The room was also full of books: shelves of them and piles which had grown once the shelves were full.
All the same, she still felt miserable. Her eyes were hurting and it bothered her that the people of Hooverville were getting on with their business, without taking any notice of her. After what happened outside the Town Hall, she might have expected to be some kind of heroine. People might have laughed at her instead, she supposed, but being ignored was even harder.
In the end, the feeling of being neglected irked her so much she left her house again and headed for the Wafflehaus. She knew the people of Hooverville well enough to think that was where they went for some relaxation. The place was the far side of the exclusion zone where Fred and his men were still sluicing the Town Hall with water. This meant making her way through a couple of back streets. The houses were well built and some people had gardens they tended, but Hermione worried about the litter in the gutters. She would have to make sure that was collected.
She strolled into the Wafflehaus, greeted Wilhelmina and bought a waffle with blueberries and a cup of coffee. She liked Wilhelmina, who obviously enjoyed her work and took a pride in it. Once Hermione had sat down and drunk a mouthful of coffee she started feeling better. Perhaps this is what she needed, she thought, a bit of self-indulgence.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 9


When the clock strikes 8, Lola decides she's done enough judgemental nosy-ing for now, and goes back inside her shop.
There's a reason it's called the Book'n' Nose bookshop and emporium. It's a bookshop, and an emporium, and it had books, and a nosy owner.

One hour until opening time. She takes down the Halloween themed decorations from the window, places the books back onto their respective shelves (Frank-Einstein - science. Supernatural, the official guide - tourism. The Nice and accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - history).
The plastic spiders, papier mache fingers, and fake dust bunnies go into a box in the cupboard under the stairs, until next year.

She needs to work on the Thanksgiving display today.
So she promptly starts procrastinating.

In the cupboard, she opens the box marked 'HOOVERMAS". She closeclosesd it again and takes it with her, leaving the cupboard, she plonks the box onto the table closest to the window. That way she can do some efficient procrastination, going through the Hoovermas decorations while at the same time watching people.

There goes Wlad. Going to the Waffelhaus for his breakfast.
And soon after, her neighbour Arsenio walks past her shop, before taking the side street. He's probably going home via the back alley as he usually does.

She empties her box onto the table. She almost got in trouble at the airport when she first arrived, because of her precious fairy lights. The customs officers thought they were some kind of weapon. Silly, they're hoovers on a string. *The* Hoovermas decor, and a family heirloom.
She smiles at the recollection.
The decorative biscuit plate with the Roomba in a halo. That was a parting gift and good luck charm from her former colleagues. She brings it to the window, in the light, for closer inspection.
Crash, bing, badaboom.
She is startled by sudden movement from the alley, and drops the plate. It breaks in several pieces.
She curses the squirrels that made this happen, then fetches the broom and dustpan. Maybe she won't put them back in the cupboard this time... There's never a second without a third, as Grandma used to say.

Next door, Arsenio is about to open his china shop. She'll have to see if he might have something to replace her broken plate.

If Arsenio is opening, she probably should too. She unceremoniously dumps the scattered decorations back into their box, places it back under the stairs, and checks her jug of tea. Still there, still hot, still properly closed. Good.

She turns over the sign. Now she reads "Sorry we're closed", which means people looking in from outside will read "Yes we are open! Do come in!".

Two minutes till nine. Not bad.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 10

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Wilhelmina is happy to see that the fire next doors did not diminish people's appetites. She says goodbye to Arsenio Philpott as he leaves to open his china shop. She is also happy to welcome Wlad, who she thinks is doing a great and important job with the organ.

When she sees the Shreiff enter, Wilhelmina rushes to get to him immediately. She is grateful for him and the fire brigade keeping the town (and her wafflehouse) safe. When he asks about happenings during the night, Wilhelmina is surprised.

'At about this time I was woken by a shot. My bedroom window faces Main Street. I'm not sure where it came from, but it was pretty close. Thinking about it now, I think there was also some kind of metallic ding sound. I looked out of the window and saw two people running down Main Street, eastwards.'

She thinks for a moment.

'I'm afraid it was too dark to see any details, but I'd say they were men, rather young. Short hair... no, wait.. one wore a baseball cap.'

She thinks again, then shakes her head.

'I'm afraid that's all I can remember. I went back to bed then.'

Wilhelmina takes the Sheriff's order and prepares his food whilew he is gone.

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 11

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

smiley - smiley

[Arsenio hopes the fairy squirrels got back to their home nests]

9 November: 8 am-9 am (First Day)

Post 12

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Freshly Vaccinated

FWR gets the 'Suspense is Killing Us' Award today. Superfrenchie, who enjoyed the Editor's flying roombas, gets the 'Most Felicitous Phrase' Award for 'she promptly starts procrastinating.' Tavaron wins the 'Find the Plot Development and Run With It' Award. Good work, everybody!

smiley - dragon

Key: Complain about this post