(Continued from Part 8)
The wedding of Ashton James and Emile Chisolm took place on the first day of Spring, at ten o’clock in the morning.
There was still some snow on the ground, the sky was clear, and it was a beautiful, sunny Sunday.
The ceremony was held at the James house. The basketball court was taken down, placed in inventory, and was replaced by a rustic wedding arch.
The ceremony went perfectly.
Tatum Cornerstone went with Gerard Spangler, as friend-dates, just as she had promised.
Daryl Robards and Alexander Goth were among the guests.
Tyrell Cornerstone was there, as was Morgan Fryes, making a sort of reunion for Ashton’s gang of six.
After Ashton and Emile exchanged vows, the party moved indoors, where a hired caterer had food waiting for everyone.
Daryl and Alexander had invited Ashton and Emile over to the Goth Mansion the night before, and they gave the soon-to-be-married couple an early wedding gift: An original Robards portrait photograph.
The party lasted until almost midnight.
A few days later, Daryl and Alexander resumed their tour, and visited Anne McCord, in the Island neighborhood of Windenburg.
Anne McCord is a close friend of Yuki Behr and Hope Downing, which is Daryl and Alexander’s connection to her.
The Island is an upscale neighborhood, featuring large lots and expensive houses. Its inaccessibility gives it a reputation of exclusivity.
Anne McCord lives in direct opposition to her neighbors. She has chosen to live off the land, as simply as she can, with as small an impact to the surrounding environment as possible. She lives in a modest house – a shack, really. Her more snooty neighbors don’t like Anne much. She grows fruits and vegetables, and catches fish, for food. The fact that she washes her laundry by hand, and hangs it out to dry on a clothesline, for everyone to see, hasn’t helped her neighborhood popularity. The athletes next door gossip about her, calling her a weird hermit.
The house has one large room that serves as a bedroom, a study, and a living room. From this room, Anne runs a mildly popular Simstagram site.
The bathroom is efficient and functional, and doubles as a storage room.
The kitchen is literally an open layout.
Anne McCord’s house offers a wonderful view from the dining table.
Daryl and Alexander thought they were friends with Anne McCord. They thought they’d been invited over. But Anne greeted them in a manner that suggested otherwise. She didn’t tell the lads to leave, but she didn’t say she was glad to see them, either.
Alexander thought it was due to his undead aura. To Daryl, it seemed like Anne was hiding some secret that she didn’t want them to discover. It was time for them to leave.
Before they could make their exit, the secret was revealed: Patchy, the garden scarecrow, was alive. He had gained mobility, sentience, and the ability to speak. What sort of relationship Anne and Patchy have formed, neither Daryl nor Alexander could guess, and neither of them chose to speculate.
With Patchy’s life revealed, Anne McCord seemed to relax, and warmed up immediately to her visitors, as if the awkward morning hadn’t happened.
Alexander and Patchy became instant pals. On some nonverbal level, this scarecrow and this vampire seemed to have found a lot in common. Anne was visibly nervous about seeing the straw man playing around a campfire, but Daryl pulled her aside, assured her that Alexander would be careful, and suggested they give those new friends some space. Daryl and Alexander visited with Anne and Patchy until late in the afternoon.
Next Stop: The Athletes
I walked to my dentist’s office (conveniently located in my neighborhood, and a block away from Capitol Hill Station) this morning for a routine teeth-cleaning. As I walked into the parking lot, a young woman was running out. She made eye contact with me, stopped, and asked, “Are you here for a dental appointment?” (My immediate thought: The office was on fire.) I said that I was.
The young woman told me that she didn’t have the keys to unlock the office, and that she was going home to get them. She added that she lived in the neighborhood, and that she’d be back in ten minutes. She gave me the option to reschedule my appointment if I didn’t want to wait out in the cold. I told her I didn’t mind waiting. She pointed out that there’s a coffee shop next door, if I wanted to wait there, and ran off down the street.
I decided to wait outside of my dentist’s office.
Meanwhile, there was a woman sitting in her car, with the engine running, in the parking lot. She was quite a bit older than the staff I see in the office, so I assumed she was either a fellow patient, or was waiting for a resident of the apartment building above the dentist’s office.
The young woman returned, almost exactly ten minutes later, and said something about someone bringing the key – I didn’t quite get what she said. She offered to go get me some coffee, but I declined. It really was all right. I wasn’t upset by the disruption. I secretly figured it would make a good blog post.
I always think it’s amusing that my dentist’s office offers patients coffee. There’s even free coffee in the waiting room. Doesn’t coffee stain your teeth?
I looked up from my phone. The young woman was gone. The older woman was still in her car, and the engine was still running.
The front door of the office opened. The young woman was inside. She asked me to come in and have a seat in the waiting room. She kept apologizing for the disruption. It was a little less than a half hour past my appointment.
A minute later, the older woman came in and disappeared down the back hallway. So she was a staff member!
The young woman, who, it turned out, was a new receptionist, gave me a Starbucks gift card and an Amazon gift card for being so patient. (Like I said, my dentist’s office loves to give its patients coffee.)
It seems that, in Seattle, people love to give out Starbucks gift cards for just about any occasion – as an apology for an appointment running late, as a prize for reading library books, or as appreciation for a job well done. (Is it like this in the rest of the world? Or is this strictly a Seattle thing?) An Amazon gift card is a little more unusual.
It turned out that the older woman, in the car with the engine running, was my latest dental hygienist.
My dental hygienist couldn’t get the computer to boot up. Another staff member came in and worked on it. The three of us had a laugh over this great start to a Monday.
The appointment went well, once it got going.
I’d told my boss that I’d be in by 9:30, at the latest. (Of course, I’d sent her a text message when I knew I’d be running later than expected.) I arrived at the office at around 9:45. So the morning wasn’t bad at all.
I sent Phillip a text message during the ride from Capitol Hill Station to Pioneer Square Station, saying that I’d had a blogworthy appointment. I should have clarified. He thought I had bad news from the dentist.
No, it was just blogworthy – neither good nor bad.
Phillip’s been working on a charity project this weekend. He was gone most of yesterday, and most of today. I took the opportunity to embrace some solitude.
I played The Sims 4. I played around with the latest Sims 4 expansion pack. I wrote stories about The Sims 4 and uploaded them as blog posts. I read. I did housework, and took short walks around the neighborhood. I came home and played The Sims 4.
I enjoy solitude every once in a while.
(Continued from Part 7)
Breana Underwood lives in the Sable Square neighborhood of Brindleton Bay. She is good friends with both Daryl and Alexander. They have both mentored her in gyms, and have helped her with her Athletic aspiration.
Breana’s step-mother, Dakota Swan (a Sim of my creation), passed away a long time ago. Breana’s father, Anthony Underwood (former NPC), died very recently.
Now there’s only Breana and her dog, Albert, living in the house.
The Underwood family are the second owners of this house. Over the years, only minor changes have been made to the lot. A fence was built to enclose the yard. The downstairs bathroom was enlarged enough to add a shower. A hot tub enclosure was built in the back yard. A fireplace was built in the kitchen. Aside from those things, the house is the same as it was when Maxis built it. Landscaping and decorations change, but the floor plan has remained the same.
Breana phoned Daryl and Alexander, and invited them over for a visit one Saturday. She explained that she needed time to visit her parents’ grave sites, and to get some exercise in, so she asked that the lads wait until mid-afternoon to come over.
It was snowing heavily when Daryl and Alexander arrived at two o’clock.
Breana is in the Business career, and working her way up the org chart quite well.
Albert is the only creature, so far, not instantly taken by Daryl’s charm.
No house tour was needed. Daryl and Alexander had been there, many times, and had always been treated more like family than guests.
Dakota Swan was an accomplished gardener. Anthony Underwood raised bees to help the garden. The honey he harvested, unfortunately, never achieved better than poor quality.
There are two original Daryl Robards portrait photos in the upstairs hallway: One of Breana Underwood, and one of previous owner Chris Burke-Cha.
There are two bedrooms upstairs (Breana’s is the one with the treadmill, obviously) and a bathroom.
There is a large, nicely landscaped back yard, but it had become too dark, and the snow too heavy, to see much out there.
Daryl voluntarily repaired Breana’s washing machine while she cooked herself some dinner. He, of course, mopped the floor after the repair was completed.
Daryl and Alexander and Breana talked until late that night.
Alexander surprised Breana with a little gift before they left.
When they got home, Daryl said to Alexander, “I’d thought we’d go to Windenburg next.”
“Awesome! Are we going to see the Original Ghosts?”
“I thought we should save them for last. Let’s go visit The Nature Lady.”
Next Stop: Anne McCord
(Continued from Part 6)
The next stop on Daryl and Alexander’s tour was unique, because it was more about the house than it was about the household.
The house was built next to a beautiful natural area in Newcrest. It was designed in a distinctly modern style, with traditional exterior elements that somewhat blend in with the stately manors that surround it.
This house has had many owners and occupants over the years. Lily Cha-Burke (daughter of Aquarius Burke and Francine Cha) lived and died there, as did her wife Rita Somberg (former NPC). Lily and Rita’s three children – Rylie Cha-Somberg, Reese Cha-Somberg, and Alana Somberg-Cha – all lived there for a while.
Alana Somberg-Cha married an NPC named Youssef Gherda. They had one son, Youssef Cha, who eventually moved to San Myshuno. Youssef Cha married Candy Behr, sister of Yuki Behr. Yuki Behr married Hope Downing, who had been living in this house.
Alana Somberg-Cha outlived Youssef Gherda, and spent her remaining days in this house as a retired spy. To help with household expenses, Alana accepted roommates, including a self-employed archaeologist named Sandra Dunn.
When Alana passed on, Sandra Dunn invited other self-employed archaeologists, who she had met in the jungles of Selvadorada, to live in this house with her. There were three self-employed archaeologists living there when a self-employed author named Hope Downing moved in with them. The cool kids of Newcrest called this place “The House of the Self-Employed.”
Hope Downing moved to San Myshuno, and this house has become a sort of archaeology commune, with a rotating occupancy of self-employed archaeologists. They live off of a shared income from research and plundering. The household is still listed as “Somberg-Cha”, but it’s unclear who owns the house now. The cool kids of Newcrest now call this place “The Archaeology House”.
When Daryl and Alexander stopped by, there were three archaeologists living in the house: Heather Diggs, Chester Goldman, and Maggie Davison. It was an unannounced visit, but that was all right. Due to the communal nature of the house, guests are frequently stopping in – usually other archaeologists, rarely vampires, but everyone is aways welcomed.
Upstairs, the house is sparse and feels somewhat cold, emotionally. Large windows give great views of the street in front and the natural area in back. This part of the house contains a kitchen and a dining area.
Downstairs, in the basement, the feeling is the opposite. Here, the house is warm and cozy. This is where people socialize. This was where Hope Downing wrote books.
Upstairs, a hallway leads to three bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a more private bathroom, accessible only through a bedroom.
Downstairs, there is a room where the archaeologists do their work and display their acquisitions.
Daryl and Alexander had a short, but pleasant, visit with Chester, Heather, and Maggie. Then it was time for them to fly home.
Later that afternoon, Alexander received a distressing phone call. Heather Diggs, noted archaeologist, had passed on. Her spirit had been released to the netherworld.
A few days later, Heather was buried in Lawsen Cemetery, in Brindleton Bay.
Next Stop: The Underwood Family
(Continued from Part 5)
“Where are we off to today?” asked Alexander.
“I thought we’d visit Andy Spangler and Jennifer Harvey, and their kids, over in Newcrest,” replied Daryl.
“Do we know them?” asked Alexander.
“We know Gerard Spangler. We’ve met him through Ashton James, remember? He was one of Ashton’s gang of six.” Daryl saw Alexander’s look of apprehension, and added, “Don’t worry. It’s not going to be like it was with the Cornerstones. I phoned ahead. We’ve been invited over.”
Daryl spun into a cloud of black smoke, changed into bat form, and made a b-line toward Newcrest. Alexander took off as a bat out of Willow Creek, struggling to keep up with Daryl.
Daryl Robards and Alexander Goth landed outside of the Robards Pool Center, in Newcrest’s commercial district.
“They live at the pool?” asked Alexander.
“No, you goofball, I just thought that, since we’re in the neighborhood, we’d check in on the place. I’ve never seen it in the daytime.”
The Robards Pool Center was built with a philanthropic gift from Daryl Robards. It was built on a lot where Daryl once lived, in a mostly underground house, back in his early vampire years.
The heated indoor swimming pools are popular with children and teens year round. It was a Tuesday morning, a school day, so Daryl and Alexander had the place to themselves. They swam a few laps together.
“Please tell me that portrait of you wasn’t your idea,” said Alexander. “No, the Newcrest Chamber of Commerce put that up during the opening ceremonies.”
Daryl and Alexander continued on the other side of Newcrest.
Jennifer Harvey is a stay-at-home mom. Andy Spangler had the day off from his Critic career. Gerard Spangler was at high school, and Glenn Spangler was at grade school, when Daryl and Alexander arrived at the Harvey/Spangler home.
Jennifer and Andy are the second owners of a large two-story house in Newcrest. They’d spent most of their simoleons buying the house, and had barely enough left over to furnish it.
Jennifer and Andy had never met Daryl and Alexander before, but instantly welcomed the vampire couple into their home as if they were all old friends. The four played several games of cards together in the basement.
There was, of course, a house tour. The main floor is an open plan, with a spacious kitchen, a dining area, main living space, a full bathroom, and a couple of nooks for reading or computer use.
Upstairs, there is a large L-shaped hallway connecting four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
There is a small pool in the back yard, and a basement used for laundry and storage.
Glenn and Gerard came home from school that afternoon.
Tatum Cornerstone was with Gerard when he came home. She and Gerard disappeared upstairs for a while, and then Gerard came back downstairs, looking upset. Daryl didn’t know what was going on, but offered to lend a sympathetic ear. Gerard accepted the offer, and they had a heart-to-heart talk in the basement.
“I don’t know if you know this,” said Gerard, “but Tatum and I have started dating. There’s been no real commitment yet. We’re totally comfortable with each other, see, after all those weekends in Selvadorada and all. Tatum’s quite a bit older than me, see, and she’s aging up into a young adult in a couple of days. There’s not going to be a birthday party, just a sort of family only thing. She hates her family’s tiny house – Have you seen it? – and she’s already been looking at apartments in San Myshuno. I went with her to look at a couple of places, but, man, I’m worried I’m never going to see her again.”
Daryl and Gerard went upstairs to talk with Tatum.
“Dude, it’s totally going to be OK,” Tatum said to Gerard, “I’ll tell you which place I get into. We won’t be able to go on any more dates until you age up, of course, but you can always come over and hang out, any time you want to. I’ll give you an apartment key. We can go to Ashton and Emile’s wedding together, you and me, whenever that is. It’s going all right, my friend.”
Daryl and Alexander said their goodbyes. It was a somber end to a wonderful day, but Alexander was low on vampire energy, and it was a long flight home.
Next Stop: The Archaeology House
Last night, Phillip and I saw a special showing of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald at the Regal 16, Downtown.
The show was at 7:00. Even with reserved seats and good public transit, there wasn’t enough time for either of us to go home between work and the show, and too much time to go directly to the theater after work, so we met up at the Convention Center and sat, read, and chatted. I told Phillip about how much fun I’ve been having writing the Daryl and Alexander Tour the World stories.
We walked to the Regal at 5:30. It was still too early to get our seats in the theater, so we sat in one of the lobbies and read and chatted.
With our special tickets, they gave us movie posters, buttons, and, for five dollars more, popcorn and a soft drink in a commemorative cup.
So, about the movie: We both enjoyed it a lot. We were both, however, confused. Most of the time, I couldn’t follow the story. (Who are these people? What are they looking for, and why are they looking for it? What is that thing he’s holding?) I confessed this to Phillip as the end credits rolled, and he confessed the same thing. (I should point out that we’ve both seen the first Fantastic Beasts movie.) We agreed that it’s going to take either a guide article or repeat viewings to truly get the story.
Not that a confusing story is necessarily a bad thing, however. Some of my favorite movies and books are ones I didn’t fully understand the first time around.
We caught a 49 bus and carried our posters, buttons, and cups home.
When we got home, I booted up the computer as I was taking off my coat and shoes. Then I downloaded the latest patch for The Sims 4. I played the game long enough to make sure it still worked, and to try out the new First Person Camera. (Brushing your teeth as a vampire is hilarious!) Then I went to bed.