Studio - Scrub by Elleran Field - Lagn
Edited by M. Jenkins
Published on www.Issuu.com April 2012
All images and content copyright property of Elleran Field -Lagn
After her heart attack Ruby was physically unable to, and not allowed by what she called her pushy Doctors, to compete in decathlons any more. Yes, at 75 she was still doing decathlons. Ruby was so tough and so fit before her heart attack that she would make muscle men at the local gym look like little girls. In fact one of her favourite sayings was â€œMan up lady bird,â€? and she'd yell it to her fellow decathlon competitors as she whizzed past them, who where often twenty or thirty years her junior. She was also not allowed to continue her rock climbing and abseiling either, much to her dismay. So she spent her days, and a lot of the nights huddled under a blanket next to a window listening intently to a police scanner with a pair of binoculars on her knee. Her theory was that if she couldn't be part of the action, maybe she'd at least be able to see or hear it going on. When the police caught the bad guys she would cheer as though she was watching her favourite football team win a game. And when the criminals would get away, she would mutter to herself that if she was out there she would catch them and then damn her body for not letting her do what she wanted. Pud walked Studio back through the maze of hallways and rooms, or it could have been a different set of hallways and rooms,
she wasn't too sure because it all looked the same. By the time she walked into her room night was falling outside. “I had the cleaner make up a clean bed for you,” Pud said gesturing around the room, I know there's not much in here, but if you need anything you just let me know okay?” He said ruffling her hair gently. “Now, come on,” he said turning to walk towards the door, “its been a big day. Off to bed you go.” He closed the door behind him and Studio stood bewildered, in the middle of a room that was bigger than the size of the whole mountain cabin that Pud had raised her in. She listened to Puds footsteps fade off into the distance down the hallway. Looking around the room as she stood there, she couldn’t imagine anything else she would possibly need. There was an enormous bed in the corner, a huge row of cupboards against one wall that were as tall as the ceiling, an enormous window through which she could watch the night lights, and it was warm and dry. And carpet! The room had carpet! Studio had never walked on carpet before the airport, and it was amazing to her. The carpet in the airport was not in any way similar to the luxurious, shaggy, soft carpet in her bedroom though and she was almost hesitant to step heavily on it for fear she may bruise it. The
room was much more than everything that she had in the whole cabin, let alone in a room to herself. Shrugging her pack to the floor she walked over to the enormous bed and let out a noise half like a huff, half like a sigh, before flopping down onto what was the softest, most comfortable bed she had ever felt. She thought falling asleep may be a little difficult because back in the cabin it was black as pitch but here there was all the light from the city coming in through the window. Little did she know that as soon as her head touched the pillow it carried her on gossamer wings to the land of sleep in a fraction of a second.
Studio woke in the morning before dawn to the loud sound of traffic on the roads down below, feeling like she hadn't slept a wink. After her initial deep sleep, she had woken often through the night to the sound of Ruby's scanner echoing through the maze of rooms and hallways. Every time she'd drift off back to sleep the sound of voices or Ruby cheering would wake her back up. The mountain cabin had been so deadly quiet, yet even elevated up from the noise of the city in the top floor apartment, the din of this alien place was deafening and encroached on her at every moment.
When Studio awoke, she realised she had no idea where the bathroom was. Needing the toilet, she crept out into the hallway, quiet as a mouse with the torch from her backpack and started opening doors just enough so she could see if they looked like a bathroom. Room after room, hallway after hallway, Studio opened door after door. Soon she realised not only was she lost, but that she really, really needed to find a bathroom immediately. “Pud! Pud where are you?” She whispered at first, getting louder and louder as the importance of finding a bathroom became more and more urgent. “Pud?! I need the bathroom, I can't find it and I don't know how to get back to where I was! Puuuud!” Studio was yelling into the darkness by this stage, holding her torch ever so tightly hoping Pud was nearby and afraid she would wet her pants. “Pud!” she called again as Pud ran around a corner and almost bowled her over. “What's wrong? Are you okay? Why are you up?” A very sleepy looking Pud asked Studio who was now going red in the face. “I need the toilet,” Studio whispered, afraid that even talking may be too much for her bladder to bear. “Why are you up here? You're almost at the lifts.” Pud asked looking confused
“I can't find one anywhere,” whimpered Studio, “please I'm busting.” “Follow me.” Pud said, racing off down the hallway motioning for Studio to follow him. “Come, I'll show you.” Pud led Studio back to her bedroom. Her bladder was so full she felt like she was going cross eyed and thought that she might pass out. Pud switched the lights on as they went in and walked towards the cupboards. “See,” he said opening a door that Studio had thought was a cupboard, “you have your own bathroom here.” Studio pushed past him and slammed the door, then gingerly tip toed her way across the bathroom floor towards the toilet, as though her bladder was a pressure sensitive bomb that may go off with the slightest motion; and relieved that at least if she didn't make it to the toilet, she would be standing on a tiled floor and not the carpet. For the rest of hat day Studio was afraid to leave her room for fear of getting lost again. Later in the day Pud came and found her after realising he hadn't seen her for quite awhile. He was wondering if she wanted something to eat, which if she did for her would be breakfast, but it was actually closer to dinner time. It took Studio a long, long time to get used to all the rooms
and hallways and rooms off hallways and hallways off rooms. She always got lost, but eventually became less afraid and made a game of it. She discovered that if she ran with her right hand on the wall to the right of her as she left her room, if she went somewhere; and then put her right hand back on the right hand wall she'd eventually make her way back to her room. Ruby also gave her a walkie-talkie in case of emergencies. Most nights she was kept awake to some degree by the noise of Ruby and her police scanner. There were also two fluffy dogs that she occasionally saw as they darted around a corners like fluffy barking high speed tumble weeds that belonged to Ruby, however she never actually saw them with her. Studio would pretend they were huge rats that squatted in the apartment, that they never saw apart from the trail of destruction they left in their wake, like some urban enigma or legend.
Studio started school. Because she was a little different and had an advanced understanding of all the things that Pud had taught her in the cabin on the mountain, according to the school system she was backwards and a distraction to the other students. She understood things like quantum physics, chemistry, applied
biomechanics, pharmaceutical sciences and aeronautical engineering very well. But had little to no understanding of things like national history and social etiquette. After a tumultuous semester full of suspensions and F grades, Pud and Ruby quickly decided to school her at home instead, which worked well for all involved, including the school system.
Studio learnt a lot in the following years of home schooling and because there were now two people teaching her, she learnt faster than before. In fact she managed to finish her high school diploma before she reached her teens and enrolled at a local University for on campus classes in Classical Studies. She even completed three degrees before she turned eighteen, but that was only because she chose to study part time instead of full time. One of the things she learnt was that Pud actually owned the building in which they lived - all 75 floors of it. After they moved to the city and she was introduced to the concept of rich and poor, she had thought because Pud and herself had lived in such a small modest cabin on the mountain that they were poor. Apparently that was very far from the truth. She learnt from Ruby that Pud owned not only the building they lived in, but several others in the city,
along with properties in the cities of other countries that he traveled to for research in in the old days. Rather than move all his things after working on a scientific development, he would simply close off the access to the floor of the building leaving it exactly as it was. So that if ever he wanted to look at something else in relation to it, all he had to do was go back and open the door and viola! Everything was where he left it! And when one building was full, he'd simply buy another one. According to Ruby around 15 floors of the building they lived in were filled by these sorts of labs. There was also a library that took up one floor, another floor packed full of artworks, old paintings and statues Pud had accumulated; and a floor full of scrap metal and junk that Pud thought may come in handy one day. Ruby's health never quiet got back to what it had been before her heart attack, and she spent her days listening to her police scanner looking out the windows trying to see if she could catch a glimpse of what she called the 'real world'. Pud was already a little bit anticity and hearing of all the crimes and troubles on the scanner only made him more so.
“It's no good here.” Studio would hear him muttering to himself. “No good at all. Just corrupting people is all this place does. What a mess. What a mess.” Studio knew though that he'd never leave Rubys side, and Ruby would never leave the city, so in the city they'd stay. Corruption and all. Pud spent his days hidden away in one of his many labs working on new inventions and secret projects that Studio and Ruby liked to guess were about animating zombies, or reawakening the dead. “He'll be Pud-the-zombie-master.” Studio would laugh. “Don't invite him to a funeral! Or there wont be a corpse!” cackled Ruby in reply, listening to her scanner. Among the many things Pud was working on where engines that didn't need fuel, and a machine to pass air through to remove carbon and pollution on an extremely large scale. He was also working on vaccines, anti-venoms and trying to develop new medicines. Studio knew there were often other scientists working with Pud in some of his labs, but she never saw them and in fact had never even seen the labs and for all she knew they didn't even exist.
One day unexpectedly, Ruby gave Studio all her rock climbing and abseiling equipment. “The only way I'll get to use it again is if my dead body is hauled down the side of the building.” Ruby laughed, “Here you have it,” she smiled at Studio, “it may as well be used than gather dust in here like I am.” Studio spent many hours in between study, on one of the empty floors making herself a climbing and abseiling wall. Which she got quite good at going up and coming down without getting her lamp arm or spatula leg tangled in the ropes, well hardly ever. Ruby also gave her her vaulting poles, javelins, shot puts and discuses. Studio would turn the music up super loud and pretend she was a ninja, dancing around. Not so much planning to take up decathlon as Ruby may have liked. As Studio got older, she started to get itchy feet, well foot, well you know what I mean. She wanted to get out into the world more. She wanted to see how it all worked and break free of the confines of the building and move into the vast unknown beyond university. She also wanted to get away from the constant noise of Ruby's scanner. “I've applied for a job,” she said matter of factly to Pud as he
was reading the paper, hoping he wouldn't carry on. “Eh..” said Pud as he glanced over the paper, “Good, good.” Studio breathed a sigh of relief and hurried for the door hoping that was the end of the conversation, just as Pud slammed down his newspaper, stood bolt upright and whispered, “You've done what?..” Ruby turned the scanner down and pretended not to be listening. “Applied for a job,” stammered Studio biting her lip and not wanting to turn around and look at Pud. “But your leg, your arm... what sort of job? And where? Do you need money? Because I can give you money. I don't think its a good idea,” a shocked looking Pud said as he sat down in his chair like he'd received the shock of his life. Studios shoulders fell as she turned to Pud, “No its not that. I need to get out. I'm an adult now. I want to be part of the world. I want to be myself, to do something. I can't ramble around in here forever. I'll be fine. People don't even noticed my arm or leg. I'm normal, Pud, more normal than you think.” She sighed a long loud sigh.
“I know you're normal, I just want you to be safe,” said Pud apologetically. “I forget how much you've been through, how much you've learnt. I'm old. Don't mind me. Of course you can have a job. You're an adult - just.” Studio looks at him with her eyebrows raised “So tell me about the job.” continued Pud trying to dodge a bullet. “It's no big deal. It's at night, in a diner down town.” “At night?! After listening to Ruby's scanner and the stuff that goes on out there?” Studio glared at him, and Ruby looked like she was about to throw the nearest thing she could at Pud, giving him a look that would re-melt lava. “Go on, continue, tell me about it,” Pud said with a forced smile through gritted teeth trying to portray some sense of composure. “Well I haven't got it yet. It's at night, down town. I'll be cooking. Just simple stuff. It's pretty quiet over night, so it wouldn't be busy, the boss said. And its only 4 nights a week. And I was thinking of enrolling to do a blacksmithing course during the day part time at the same time.” Her eyes were shining with excitement. “Blacksmithing?” a puzzled-looking Ruby asked the question why hanging in the air loud enough for all to hear.
“Think of all the stuff I could make. It would be fun. And I could make art and sculptures and all sorts of things.” Studio explained in a way that didn't really explain anything. She gave Ruby a nervous smile. “Use it or lose it. Right?” she then smiled at a stymied-looking Pud.
Studio hurried from the room holding her breathe hoping that Pud wouldn't call her back in to argue or pick fault with the plan, and headed towards her room. “You can't wrap her in cotton wool her whole life you know?” said Ruby to Pud turning down the volume of the scanner to emphasise the importance of what she was saying. “She isn't one of your experiments.” “I know, I know...” said a perplexed Pud. ”It's just that...” “Oh come on!” ordered Ruby, “Stop being such a kill joy. Leave the girl alone.” “...she can't cook,” Pud continued shaking his head ever so slightly for side to side like he was trying to make the pieces of a puzzle fall into place “And blacksmithing?” Ruby and Pud shook their heads and chuckled to themselves. Studio shut the door of her room behind her, glad that that
discussion was out of the way and went to her laptop to look up blacksmithing courses. She got the job. Her first night at the diner was fairly uneventful, she cooked 2 burgers and that was it. Apparently it was always quieter in winter. A lot of people came in on their way to or from somewhere to defrost their hands with a cup of coffee, or at least for a cup of brown slightly coffee smelling water that was truly horrible. The boss of the diner had been having trouble getting night staff, and was working the graveyard, himself as a result. His level of interest and enjoyment in the experience was reflected mirror image in the taste of the coffee he brewed. After a month or so Studio had made herself some modified attachments for her hand and arm to make cooking easier, with her newly acquired blacksmithing skills. A clip-in frying pan, a mandolin grater blade that attached with magnets to her forearm, a clip-in spoon, ladle and knife. She had a few 'accidents' in her first couple of weeks there that made her realise that using her pliers-hand wasn't going to work. It got too hot being metal, and oily things slipped out of it. It was also too hard opening glass jars of foodstuffs with it, they'd just shatter. Sometimes when it was quiet, she would use her spatula foot/leg to flip eggs or a burger, just to
amuse herself... just because she could. Studio would read or even nap unnoticed when there were no customers. The greasy, sweaty, grumpy boss always had his nose buried in a form guide studying horses, dogs, or what-ever else people where betting on, so he had no idea what was going on anyway. Half the time Studio wondered if he would noticed if she wasn't there. He was so grumpy he didn't even talk to the customers. He'd half throw - half place menus in front of them when they came in, then stand in front of them with a disinterested sneer not quite making eye contact, yet looking off-putting in the vicinity of their eyes. His pen would be poised on paper ready to take their order without them even having had time to look at the menu.
He never told Studio the orders when they came in. He'd throw the slip through the service window and walk away. Many a time Studio had to rescue smouldering orders from the flames of the hot plates before they burst into flames. Studio liked that he was grumpy, it meant he never tried to make small talk or ask questions that she didn't want to answer. He had a perpetually dripping nose, black bags under his eyes big enough to hide a Saint Bernard, his hair was greasier than the fries they served, and his clothes honestly looked like he had been working on someone's very oily, very dirty car for days on end without a break. Studio constantly wondered whether or not the diner would be busier if he actually had, or at least looked like he'd had, a shower occasionally.
The majority of the customers were people who looked like they had nowhere to go...shift workers on the way to work, sometimes people in a small group after a night out, and taxi and limo drivers. Studio's cooking didn't necessarily improve, well at least not for a long time, and was certainly not even at an eighth grade home economics standard. Thankfully though the food on the menu was simple enough and being night shift, the customers where all either too drunk, cold or desperate for food because
nothing else was open, that they didn't seem to care. Studio never thought she'd miss the noise of Ruby's police scanner, but early in the mornings Studio, when she was flipping burgers in the diner she would often see police cars drive past with lights and sirens on, obviously after someone. She would wonder if Ruby could see it, and if Ruby knew what was happening. Ruby, lonely now that Studio was otherwise occupied, had started keeping a ledger cataloguing all the crimes that came over the scanner. Before she had taken the job, Studio would often stay up into the early hours of the morning sitting up with Ruby. They would watch movies while listening to the scanner, talk about what might have driven a particular person to commit a particular crime, imagine funny things that could happen Blues Brothers style during a police chase and joke about Pud. Ruby was now keeping herself busy collating the areas with the most crimes, what types of crimes happened in what areas, at what times, and police response times. Of course having this sort of information on paper to read, visible and tangible, made Pud dislike the city even more. “It's terrible, Ruby. Morbid! It's a morbid hobby.” He'd say shaking his head if he saw Ruby working on her statistics. “We should be doing something to solve the problem.” Ruby would roll
her eyes and continue, not listening, “We should be helping, not observing for amusement. It's just wrong...” his voice would trail off and he'd leave the room or stare longingly out the window, while Ruby continued listening to the scanner, taking notes while she rolled her eyes at Pud. One morning when Studio returned from work as the sun was coming up, she found Pud, in a full body lycra suit facing away from her lifting weights in the hallway. Albeit very small, very light weights. He also wasn't lifting them very far or moving much, but she assumed that that was his intention. As she walked towards him she slowed down and crept a little so as not to startle him and she observed what he was doing with a quizzical look on her face. As he lowered the weights back to the floor and started puffing as though he had just taken part in a truck pull Studio cleared her throat “Uh-hum... Um, Pud, what are you doing?” Pud turned around, surprised to see her there “Studio! I'm lifting weights.” Studio turned her head to the side so that she didn't have to look straight on at seventy year old Pud in all his lycra covered glory and tried not to laugh. “Yeah, I can see that. Can I ask why though?” She asked,
pursing her lips afraid to look at him for fear of erupting into laughter. “Crime, Studio. It's everywhere and it's not going away. Just ask Ruby. And what would happen if I was out somewhere and someone got mugged? Would I stand there and let it happen.. oh no! Well before I'd have no choice to watch, but now I'm working on my fitness as a way of being prepared. Ready. That if ever I'm faced with a criminal or a dangerous situation I can be part of the solution. I'll chase them off or wrestle them to the ground and restore some justice.” Pud picked up a small towel and wiped some imaginary sweat from his brow. Studio didn't point out that for any of that reasoning to be feasible, Pud would need to leave the building on a regular basis. “And the suit? What's with that? Scare them off?” She asked glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, too scared to look at him front on. “This?” Pud asked, waving his hands down his body like a game show model presenting a prize, “oh no, this is a muscle compression suit I developed. It aids muscles regeneration, oxygenation and circulation so that each workout that is done in it has the effect of doing three work outs without the suit.”
Studio nodded in bemusement. “Here do you want to try it on for yourself?” asked Pud, wriggling his shoulders like a butterfly shedding its cocoon. “No!” cried Studio a little too quickly and a little too loudly, “I mean I'm so tired from work, and I wouldn't want to interrupt your work out, and I'm so tired.” she said putting on her best sleepy voice and stretching her arms above her head while faking a yawn. “It would be no interruption, I've done my three minutes for the day,” said Pud. “maybe tomorrow then.” Studio let out a sigh of relief that Pud hadn't taken off the lycra suit. The only thing worse than seeing Pud in Lycra would be seeing him in his male version of granny panties. “Are you ok?” asked Pud, as she sighed. “Yeah, just tired,” she smiled “Well I'd better put these weights away,” said Pud, “wouldn't want anyone tripping over them now, would we?” As Studio went to walk down the hall, there was a terrible ripping sound as Pud bent over to pick up his weights.
Don't turn around, don't turn around. Just pretend you didn't hear and keep walking.” Studio was thinking to herself as she began walking faster and faster down the hallway until she ran into her room and fell on the floor laughing. Pud's work outs didn't last long. In fact the one that Studio walked in on was the first and last. He was too time poor was his reasoning. The fact that he struggled lifting half kilo weights and that he split his suit and Ruby kept laughing at him was Studio's reasoning. Pud decided his plan of attack, instead, would be to develop a herbal medicinal drink that would have the same effect on the body's metabolism as working out, and set up a lab and set to work on a formula. On one of her nights off Studio was looking for Pud and couldn't find him anywhere. “Do you know where Pud is?” she asked Ruby. “Crying in the corner somewhere I expect.” was Ruby's almost glib reply. “What?! Why?” asked a confused Studio wondering what had happened. “Jane Fonda called, she wants her leotard back.” Ruby barely managed to get out through fits of uncontrollable laughter.
Right at that moment an excited Pud came through the door. “I've done it! I think I've done it! I've got the formula right. I'll need to test it, on myself of course, but I think I may just have done it,” he exclaimed, ignoring Ruby laughing next to the window. “If this works the way I think it will” he continued waving a piece of paper in front of Studios face, “nothing will stop me.” he said with a gleeful look on his face and danced out of the room. Little did he know.
….Next Issue out first week of June.