Iolanthe Portmanteaux

Iolanthe Portmanteaux

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BigCloset TopShelf Featured Author
Iolanthe Portmanteaux

 


 

If you want to see what sort of stories I write, one of these four would be a good place to start:

~ A Minority Of One ~

~ How I Met Your Mother-In-Law ~

~ The Night I Escaped From The Zoo ~

~ Plus-One With A Vengeance ~

 

Charlotte Had A Boyfriend : 1

 

"Hitchhiking? No. Me, hitchhiking? Where? Like, out here, in the desert?"

"Yeah, maybe a dozen miles west of here."

I tried to put it together, but the pieces didn't fit. "Hitchhiking... dressed like this?
Barefoot? With an umbrella? What-- did I drop out of the sky?
Like Mary Poppins, with the umbrella?"

 

Merope, Maybe : 18 / 19

 

"Thanks for all the stuff," he interrupted gruffly. "I guess that's everything — and this is goodbye."

"Goodbye?" I exclaimed. "Why does it have to be goodbye?"

He gestured helplessly. "I don't know! What else could it be?"

 

Merope, Maybe : 17 / 19

 

"I called Anson — or I thought I was calling Anson —
and I asked him the age-old question: Who was that lady I saw you with?
and he replied, That was no lady — that was Anson Charpont!"
Ross followed his narration with a throaty chuckle.

 

Merope, Maybe : 16 / 19

 

In a nutshell, the song is about all the crazy, misguided things
a man might do if he fell for a woman: things like:
get a job, rent a decent apartment, bathe more frequently...

 

Diaries: hoping to be found?

I'm wondering: anyone who keeps a diary -- a physical diary, a book made of paper -- do they have the expectation that it will be found?

Or a fear that it will be found?

In my own case, when I actually had something significant to write about, the idea that someone else might come upon it prevented me from writing it.

Of course, being able to write online, or to keep files on one's computer, has changed that.

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Merope, Maybe : 15 / 19

 

"Here's the thing, Merope," Agent Kirchmeyer said.
"If we take what you said at face value, what do we have? Something about cylinders.
We don't know what these cylinders are. Frankly, they sound like rolls of money.
Which, of course, is nice for him, but not really remarkable,
if you know anything about the Switcher."

 

Merope, Maybe : 14 / 19

 

Carrie, delighted, smiled. Her eyes sparkled. "I knew something was up! It's like Freaky Friday, isn't it?" she laughed.

"Well, yes, I guess it is," I admitted. "Except that I'm not his mother."

Mukti's eyebrows went up. "And we can't switch back," he added.

 

Merope, Maybe : 13 / 19

 

Suddenly, I felt a warm, wet tongue give a quick lick to my right ankle.
I yelped and scrambled my way out of the car, clutching the plastic bag.

"Hey, sorry about that!" said a young male voice. "I tried to stop her,
but you know... dogs..." as if the word dogs explained everything.

 

Merope, Maybe : 12 / 19

 

Returning to the diagrams on the computer screen, I told them, "This is important. I think I need to call the FBI."

"Okay, fine," Cleo agreed. "But I'm sure they're sleeping now. You can call them in the morning."

 

Merope, Maybe : 11 / 19

 

"A liability?" she repeated. "Is that what concerns you? That he's a liability?
Weren't you and I liabilities for each other?"

"The moment you told the processing people that you accept him as Anson Charpont,
he became for all intents and purposes, legal and otherwise, Anson Charpont. In every way!"

 

Merope, Maybe : 10 / 19

 

Grinning, she took a few steps back, away from the car, and pointed to its dusty license plate.

"Nebraska," I read. And a bumper sticker: "We Don't Coast." I frowned, not understanding.
Then a light came on in my head. "Oh! Is this *my* car?"

 

Merope, Maybe : 8 / 19

 

"Why do you say that?"

"Because you Americans, the moment something happens to one of you,
the first thing you do is create a support group,
and the second thing is that you go on TV."

I thought about that for a moment. "Yeah, probably," I admitted.

 

Merope, Maybe : 7 / 19

 

"I don't know," she replied, undaunted. "But think about vampires:
how come some people get bit and die, and other people get bit and turn into vampires themselves?"

"I don't know the answer to that," I exclaimed, exasperated,
"but vampires aren't real!"

 

Merope, Maybe : 6 / 19

 

When Matt said That's the protocol, it reminded me of something my grandfather told me
about his time in the Army: "The most important thing you can learn in the Army
is that there's a right way, a wrong way, and the Army way."

"How do you know which way is the Army way?" I asked him.

"It's in the manual," he replied.

 

Merope, Maybe : 5 / 19

 

He smiled and looked me in the eyes,
and in that moment I didn't like him any more.

He said, "It's pretty simple. There are links missing from the chain.
We don't have John Doe number one, and we don't have Anson Charpont.
All we have is you."

"And how is that a problem?" I asked, my mouth suddenly gone dry.

 

Merope, Maybe : 3 / 19

 

"I get the picture: The processing center looks at my old world and my new world and asks each one if they want me."

"That's a good way to put it. Then, if you're a no-go in both directions, they give you their whole-new-life bit. It's a package deal: a new name, a Greyhound bus ticket, and the offer of a shitty job that you'd never take. They walk you to the door, tell you the world is your oyster, and give you a great big swat on the butt, 'cause it's your birthday."

 

Merope, Maybe : 2 / 19

 

"Incidentally," he added in a quieter tone, "my girlfriend can be quite jealous."

I paused in the doorway. "Okay, noted. Does she live with you?"

"No... not yet, anyway. But if she calls, don't talk or make noise, alright? And if she comes over, just... act normally."

"That's what I usually do," I assured him.

 

Merope, Maybe

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This story takes place in Melanie Brown's Switcher Universe.

Anson, a pot-bellied retiree, twists his ankle and falls into the Switcher's aura.

Now he finds himself in the body of a woman named Merope Goddard --
or one of three other possible names.

Charlotte Had A Boyfriend

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"You like the mind to be a neat machine, equipped to work efficiently, if narrowly,
and with no extra bits or useless parts.
I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric,
odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities,
tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.

"Shake the machine and it goes out of order;
shake the dustbin and it adjusts itself beautifully to its new position."
— Robertson Davies, Tempest Tost

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 29 / 29

 

"Can you do that?" Melissa asked. "Can the medallion make you younger? Keep you young?"

Viv looked thoughtful. She didn't answer; she pretended not to hear.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 28 / 29

 

Kitty huffed, a little impatiently, and explained, "Claus has this silly joke about a clone factory..."

"—in Omaha," Claus threw in.

"Why Omaha?" Dad asked.
 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 26 / 29

 

I took a big step back, away from her, and tried to be ready.
If this was going to be a physical fight, I was going to give it everything I had.
I figured Amber and I were about on par. If she started something,
I sure as hell intended to give her as bad as I got.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 25 / 29

 

Delphine waved her hand dismissively. "He went to look for that idiot Amber."
After a quick glance around, she leaned in. "Listen to me, Max!
Do you want to know who Oswald is? Do you want to know why he's Amber's plus one?"

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 24 / 29

 

No map ever drawn, on earth, on sea, or in outer space,
has ever presented a cartographer as daunting a challenge
as the seating chart for a wedding reception.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 23 / 29

 

"Women!" he exclaimed. "You can't keep a secret! None of you!"

"Well, to be fair," I interjected, "I wasn't a woman at the time."

He gaped at me, incredulous. "Seriously? Seriously now? That's your excuse?
That's supposed to somehow make it better?"
 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 22 / 29

 

Which reminds me: I had a third reason for feeling nervous. My dad was coming up for a visit.
Vivianne had planned for it, though I didn't expect it to happen so quickly after Nessa's wedding.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 20 / 29

 

"The more you clean," Melissa told me, "the more you'll see that needs cleaning."

"It's a weird twist on Sisyphus," I commented.

"If you say so," she responded.

 

Melanie Brown's Switcher Universe

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The Switcher is a character invented by Melanie Brown, and best explained by her in the first Switcher story here:
https://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/82175/switcher

Melanie generously opened the Switcher universe to others, and a number of interesting stories have followed, both by Melanie and by other writers.
 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 18 / 29

 

"I can't put this together," Max laughed. "You're nearly naked, but it's not so you can surprise me.
Did you have to get undressed to spy on Amber?"

"No, look: I was trying to make a quick getaway—"

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 17 / 29

 

A thought came, unbidden. It popped into my head, all by itself. The thought said,
Max has kissed me twice — admittedly, only on the cheek —
but I've never kissed him once.

Right then, exactly then, before another thought could run in screaming DON'T DO IT, I kissed him.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 15 / 29

 

"Amber is a wonderful person. I've never seen her angry or mean or unkind.
I sometimes wonder whether she even has negative emotions."

On hearing that, my eyebrows went up as high as they could possibly go.

"I'm serious," Kitty said.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 14 / 29

 

"You know, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

"Is that true?" I asked. "I've heard people say that, but is it really true?"

"I don't know," Melissa confessed, "but I do know that men are happier after they eat. If we feed him every night, he's going to associate that happy feeling with you. And that's a good thing."

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 13 / 29

 

I thought to run the hairbrush quickly through my hair, but right away hit a tangle.
I tried a different spot, and hit another tangle. Oh well! Tangles later! Pool now!

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 12 / 29

 

Kitty gave a impatient little huff. "Look — it's not like I spy — that's not what it's like."

"So, what's it like, then?"

"Amber is concerned about Max. She really cares about him and wants to know what's going on in his life. She wants what's best for him."

I couldn't help it. I laughed out loud.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 11 / 29

 

Absurdly, ironically, I wanted someone else to validate my choice;
to tell me whether my desires and feelings were enough,
when it came to making a decision for myself.

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 10 / 29

 

Soon I was back to the old me, clothes and all.

"How do you feel?" Viv asked.

"Prosaic," I replied.

"Awww," she cooed with an encouraging smile. "That feeling will fade. Don't worry. Come, let me give you a hug."

 

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 9 / 29

 

"Humor me," Viv said. "We're not leaving until you choose a teddy bear."

At that, I reached out and grabbed the nearest bear. "Done!"

"No," she said. "You need to choose one. You need to find a bear that's special to you."
 

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