Three Rivers 29.1

Twenty-ninth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

AN: Ashton Poe was one of many Tragic Clowns roaming this world. Now he’s seeking a new life in a beautiful starter home, Green Leaf by MisanaBriony.

29. My untested sword

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Ashton Poe’s woes didn’t end when the clown strike did: that’s when they resumed. As a clown, he was despised. He had one friend in the world: a worrywart bookworm of a boy, who never saw much purpose in laughing. All the others–even his colleagues–thought of him as a sorry potato sack smeared with grease paint.

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“I am so much more!” Ashton told himself. “The nose doesn’t define me.”

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“I have dreams!” he told his reflection. “Goals, even!”

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“I could’ve been somebody. I could be somebody! Heck! This suit doesn’t define me!”

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When he stripped off the face paint and changed into his street clothes, he felt transformed.

“I quit,” he said to the air. “I’m starting anew!”

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But what would he do? What was he qualified for?

I have  logical mind, he thought. Business. That should suit. Or politics. Maybe law.

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He took his new self out to the lounge in Oasis Springs.

What a coincidence! Alec was there.

“How’s the clowning, mon ami?” Alec asked.

“It isn’t!” replied Ashton. “I am done! Done! Finished! C’est fini, mon ami!”

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Oui, non,” said Alec. “This is not for what we concluded the strike. The strike we ended for continuing work, no? And the settlement?”

“Ah! Yes,” replied Ashton. “In fact, it is the settlement that makes this new move possible. In fact, after the negotiations, I got a taste for that sort of thing. I’m thinking maybe a career in politics. You need an aide?”

“Um, no. But no. Certainement. Merci et bonne chance.

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Ah, well. There was a world of opportunity outside politics! Business. Real estate, even.

Walking through the neighborhood the next morning to scope out the housing market, Ashton was accosted by his neighbor Toby Gustafson.

“Clown!” Toby yelled. “We don’t want clowns in this neighborhood! This is a good neighborhood! We don’t need you bringing us down!”

“But I am not a clown,” said Ashton. “I quit! I turned in my card! I threw out the grease paint and the silicone red nose!”

“Once a clown, always a clown,” said Toby.

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Not everyone greeted him with incivility.

“You’ve quit then?” Isabel Rosella asked. “Now what?”

“That’s the question,” replied Ashton. “How’s the life of a writer?”

“Oh,” she answered. “Demanding. It asks so much of the heart and the mind.”

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But writers don’t get snubbed, Ashton thought, as he continued his walk along the levee.

“Coulrophobic,” muttered his young neighbor Orion. “Eyes straight ahead.”

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Ashton felt relieved when he met his one friend Alexander on his walk.

“Darn library fines,” said Alexander. “You would think that if somebody loved a book enough to read it a dozen times that the fees might be waived.”

“There’s rules, though, Alex,” said Ashton.

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“Readers shouldn’t have to follow the same rules. Anyway, where’s your nose?”

“I quit!” Ashton said.

“Humph,” Alex said. “Now what?”

“Maybe I’ll become a librarian. I could petition to waive the fines in certain circumstances.”

“Eh. I doubt they’d listen, even without your nose.”

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“Good day, Ashton,” said Belle Meinel, who was strolling with a friend.

“Ladies,” Ashton replied. If there were a career that involved being charming, especially to the ladies, that might be a possibility. He really thought he had a talent for politics.

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“Don’t look now,” said Nyla, another of his young neigbors, “but you’ve got a butterfly over your head.”

“Just one?” he asked. “Are you sure?”

She nodded.

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“If one butterfly is so special, what would you think of two?” he asked.

“Two would be cool,” Nyla said.

“Abracadabra and melafracalasmith!” Ashton said.

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A few subtle deflections, a small distraction, a quick movement of the hands, and suddenly, two butterflies hovered above Nyla’s head.

“Is this real?” she asked. “You must be a magician!”

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Later that evening, sitting in his back yard to watch the river boat pass by, Ashton recounted the exchange with Nyla.

She was a bright kid, and she didn’t seem to mind him at all. In fact, she seemed rather impressed.

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Magicians are charming, aren’t they? Illusion, credibility, distraction. A magician is not that different from a politician, after all, except, perhaps, a bit more honest.

He may have found his true career, he thought.

After all, though they both deal with sleight of hand, a magician is not a clown.

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Three Rivers 26.1

Twenty-sixth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

AN: This CAS Sim represents my 1936 Oskar Meinel cello, who has a very sweet tone and responsive handling. Happy 80th Birthday to my cello! Belle Meinel lives in a home built by Pronterus which actually looks like a cello case!

26.  My cello

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Though the dry air felt severe to Belle Meinel, she loved her desert home, so different from rainy, green Markneukirchen, where she was born, or even Chicago, where she grew up and spent most of her life.

She hadn’t resisted moving here with her husband the doctor, when he chose to retire in Oasis Springs for his health. After he left her for a younger woman and returned to Chicago, she decided to stay. She was done with roaming.

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She found a small, comfortable home in a modest neighborhood landscaped with native plants and flowers for wildlife, birds, and pollinators.

When she met the neighbors that lived on the other side of the small park next to her house, she felt the click of kismet. Cathy Tea and her partner Jim Bee were also musicians.

“I heard you playing a Bach partita this morning,” Cathy said. “You play beautifully! I’ve been looking for someone to play with.”

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“You know Bach?” Belle asked.

“Man,” said Cathy, “Bach is the god at our home! Nobody like him, right?”

“I’ve always felt that,” said Belle. “When I play, I feel his music in my bones.”

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Bach had always been a part of Belle’s life. Many in her hometown revered Mozart. And she loved to play Mozart, too. But it was Bach whom her father had played, practicing the cello suites daily. So when she played the partitas, she connected with her history, and then with something even greater than that: the structure that seemed to lie at the center of creation.

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While Belle was getting acquainted with her new neighbors, the conservative party candidate and his campaign manager stopped by.

“Oh! The Conservative Party!” said Belle. “So delighted! My father was a conservative back in Markneukirchen.”

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“Watch out, Belle!” Cathy Tea said. “The conservatives here are nothing like the ones you’re familiar with from your youth! The party’s values have shifted. If you prize art, if you value the environment, if you think people are more important than profit, do your research! Get educated! It’s a new world, and it’s scary.”

J Huntington III laughed.

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Belle invited them all in for tea.

“It’s not like that,” Huntington said.”There’s really not that much that separates us from the Greens, actually. In fact, Alec Dolan, the Green Party candidate, and I are working together on a dual platform.”

“This I know!” Belle said. “I have a love of politics. I have been following the campaign. I’ve been listening to the speeches, attending the debates.”

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“Don’t buy it,” Cathy Tea warned. “It’s just an act. One of them isn’t for real. We just haven’t yet figured out which one.”

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“My father always told me,” Belle said, “to follow the money. I happen to know that one very prominent family is supporting both parties. The wife makes contributions to the one, while the husband channels funds to the other! If that isn’t a sign of collaboration, I don’t know what it indicates!”

“Marital rivalries?” Jim ventured.

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“Or maybe,” Huntington added quickly, “it’s just, you know, independence. Or even, another proof that support to one is support of the other. At any rate, Nancy–err, Mrs. Landgraab–is perfectly free to contribute to whomever she deems worthy.”

“And, judging by the way she shows up at every Conservative function,” Jim said, “it’s pretty obvious that she deems you and the Conservatives worthy.”

“Of course you’re worthy!” Belle exclaimed. “The Conservatives are History! They are Tradition! The old ways are the best ways!”

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Later, while Belle cleared up the kitchen, she asked Jim if he and Cathy were really against the Conservatives.

“Cathy is,” Jim said. “She doesn’t trust them. I’m not so quick to judge a candidate by his or her party. I’ll listen first to what the individual has to say and judge on his own merit. I like Huntington. I trust him.”

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Belle treasured her memories of her father’s political career, even though it had been politics that had forced them to leave Germany while she was just a toddler. But he’d become prominent in Chicago politics after they settled there. He’d never run for office, but, as a successful business man, he’d been influential.

When she was young, she thought that if she’d been a boy, she would have gone into politics. Since she wasn’t born in this country, she’d never be able to run for president, of course, but she felt that she had the logical, balanced mind that would make her a good member of congress.

Of course, being a woman in a time when one’s sex largely determined one’s career path, she took a different course. She never regretted becoming a musician, not when music was everything. But at the same time, she had, all of her life, enjoyed political analysis, whether considering history or the present times.

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A few days later, Belle had a chance to judge the Green Party candidate for herself. She encountered him, spouting nonsense about butterflies, during one of his campaign treks in their neighborhood.

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“I do support your Conservative Party partner,” Belle told him.

“You mean the rival of my bid for power?” Alec joked.

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“I mean your friend and collaborator, J Huntington III,” she replied. “I read you were working together.”

“Oh! That rumor has been spread!” he said. “Well, the wise know not to believe everything they read, no?”

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“Lies are so tedious,” she said. “The Conservative candidate, at least he knows to admit the truth. The honest candidate, that’s whom I support!”

Alec muttered, “So good to know we can count on your support, then. I must be going,” and he turned to continue his campaign trail.

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If Alec Dolan really was J Huntington III’s partner, as Belle suspected and Huntington had confirmed, then of course she would support him, too. But the pretense of rivalry should be dropped, that was certain.

There is always time for a new start, Belle thought in her practice room. And even when we start anew, it doesn’t mean we abandon the past. Just ask Bach: he will show that strength comes from continuity; no matter how many times one begins fresh, the structure of tradition remains.

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