By Doug Mathewson
There were troubles enough in Kitty Wang’s life without her nephew Walter mooning around with a broken heart. Kitty had been making the best of things since her unexpected arrival on this backwards planet. She suffered from Chronos Syndrome, or “Billy Pilgrim’s Decease” as it is known. Kitty just becomes unstuck in time and can find herself anywhere, and any when. Time travel planned or otherwise wasn’t the adventure science fiction stories makes it out to be. Kitty did not have a know-it-all magic cat or some other unlikely omnipotent companion. All she had was a knack for language and a little luck. Luck for example in arriving on Planet Betty that had recently been colonized by refugees from Old Earth. “Old Earth,” that made Kitty laugh. As if there was another one and how “Old” could it be? She was there six months ago living a perfectly enjoyable life in Renaissance Venice. She was a merchant then, and traded in the books and scrolls that still trickled from the great libraries of Alexandria. Certainly a more comfortable life than farming (and there was little else to do) on this small isolated planet. At least she had Walter. They had agreed early on they must be related. Exactly how was not clear since Kitty was from both Walter’s future (twice) and his past many times over. Walter wasn’t even Asian, but never mind. According to Walter the farm was coming along slowly till his brother Alice-Jane (?) went off to be a sailor, or marry one. Walter was terrible with details.
The farm needed work of course, what farm doesn’t? Since Kitty’s arrival they had at least developed a workable plan. Out back there was half a barn full of old Agro-Droids. The UN chalky blue kind that had been around longer than forever and always turned up broken down and forlorn on doomed backward farms. Kitty didn’t take any crap from droids. She hot-wired one of them and told it to repair the rest or else. The poor thing worked nonstop for a week and now they had two dozen droids keeping up with the farm work. Kitty wished Walter was a droid so she could tell him to go fix himself. Some girl with a home-made bonnet and duck tattoos smiled at him on the crawler transport out from town and he fell in love. Then her boyfriend showed up at the station. Walter was devastated beyond words. They hadn’t even spoken! Three or four shy unreturned glances and Walter was completely love sick. Maybe what Kitty really wished was that there were a few old Chinese “Aunties” around to compare horoscopes for Walter and match him up, introduce him to a girl and her family; an Auntie to act as a seemingly disinterested third party and make some thoughtful introductions. That’s what Walter needed. She didn’t know a soul here (except of course useless Walter) so she had to improvise.
Out in the barn there were still a few broken half disassembled droids. Kitty would make her own “Auntie” and see what happened. She was not a technician by any means, but these old machines were designed to be repaired and easily reprogramed with minimum knowledge and a few simple tools (a coin, a pointy stick, and a rock were usually enough). Kitty set about her task with fierce determination! She worked non-stop and as her spare parts supply had dwindled and as she became more exhausted compromises and improvisations were made. Kitty has duct-taped over the droids missing top cover, and then feeling silly hot-epoxied on a blonde curly wig to cover the tape, then added a string of plastic pearls. She decided against a tiara, but did add a “Hello, My Name Is” sticker to finish the look. Kitty wrote “Auntie Blue” on the name tag and it looked just right. After hit or miss amateur software tweaking from Kitty Auntie Blue was sent out to find Walter a girlfriend. “This better work,” thought Kitty (not daring to think too far ahead). “What if it screws up? What if it brings home another boy?” Kitty shrugged and smiled to herself at the thought, then realized it would put poor Walter right over the edge.
For the next week or so Kitty tried hard not to think about Auntie Blue, or get too curious about the little blue droid’s comings and goings. After ten days the first of the young women stopped by. She had a little printed slip with directions and Walter’s name printed on it. Politely she asked if “Mr. Walter” was at home. Kitty was so happy she couldn’t even talk, just pointed to the back vegetable garden her nephew was pretending to weed. The first girl left after only a very short visit. Walter lay in the hammock till dark.
The next day brought another visitor and the day after two. Walter had no idea why these women were coming to visit and was not about to complain or ask questions. Kitty was pleased, but impatient for results! All the girls were of a type. Tall like Walter, polite and quiet like him too. “What he needs is somebody to shake things up, make him step outside himself for once. Not his clone in a dress.” grumbled Kitty to dusty and bedraggled Auntie Blue.
No visitors came the next day, or for the rest of the week. Kitty was worried. Were her instructions to Auntie Blue too vague? Were they too specific? Sunday early someone rang the front bell. Grumpily Kitty opened the door. It was a girl, eighteen or maybe twenty years old with a friendly grin and two bicycles. “Hiya, my name’s Jessie Canard. Could you ask Walter if he wants to ride bikes over to the lake and go for a swim? Can he swim? Oh, never mind I’ll teach him if he can’t. Wait, almost forgot”, Jessie said as she pulled something covered with a checkered towel from her bike basket. “This is for you,” As she held out a delicious smelling homemade rhubarb pie Kitty noticed the ducks tattooed on her wrists. By then Walter had bounced down the stairs. He waved his arms and beaming his biggest smile all the while chattering like a monkey. Off they went, Walter pretending very hard he knew how to ride a bike.
Later with coffee and pie in the kitchen Kitty was sorting the whole thing out. She had learned quite a bit about this whole Blue Auntie business. Maybe just maybe she could forget about the damned farm and make all the droids “Aunties”. An “Uncle” or two couldn’t hurt either. She’d build one of those especially for herself (as a test only of course). She’d give him a debonair look, a statesman’s suave demeanor and a name to match. Kitty closed her eyes and pictured him, Boutros-Boutros Boutonniere!
Doug Mathewson creates short fiction and prose images. He is the editor of Blink-Ink, and works with Full of Crow Press and Distribution as well as Pandemonium Press.
His works have appeared in magazines, journals, anthologies, around the world as well
as numerous ephemeral web publications. Most recently in The Boston Literary Magazine,
MiCrow, Riverbabble, and Jeanette Cheezum’s Cavalcade of Stars. Currently he is working
with The Mambo Academy for a summer release of work by East Coast Metro NYC writers.
More of his continuing project “True Stories From Imaginary Lives” can be found at “little2say.”