1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz – Snippet 61

1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz – Snippet 61

Jonathan nodded. “I’ll get onto it as the moment I get home.”

Phillip walked Jonathan to the door and watched him put the folders and jar of ointment into one of his bicycle’s saddlebags. Then, with a quick wave Jonathan was on his bike and pedaling away. Phillip waved him off and turned round, to find the expectant faces of Hans, Michael, and Kurt watching him.

“Jonathan has agreed to check the English translations before passing them on to Herr Trelli to check the explanations you wrote,” he told them.

“Herr Trelli won’t find anything wrong with the explanations,” Kurt said.

Phillip was in total agreement. A lot of the booklets were taken straight out of a selection of up-time chemistry textbooks. The only way the booklets could be wrong was if the textbooks were wrong, and that was unlikely, because surely the textbooks had been written by knowledgeable up-timers.

A few days later, Grantville

It was a fine Saturday afternoon when Jonathan walked over to Trelli’s GoodCare pharmacy with the printouts. As he entered the pharmacy he looked around. Not seeing Mr. Trelli anywhere he headed for the counter. “Hi, Mrs. Little. Is Mr. Trelli around? I’ve got something I want to show him.”

“Lasso’s . . .” Susan Little looked up, and whistled. “What happened to your eye?”

Jonathan sighed. The bruising around his eye couldn’t go down soon enough. “I was helping out with Tracy Kubiak’s Ladies Self-Defense course and I caught a swinging arm,” he explained for what felt like the thousandth time.

Susan winced and leaned closer to have a better look at Jonathan’s eye. “Are you using anything for the bruising?”

“Dr. Gribbleflotz gave me something that seems to be working.”

“Oh? What?”

Jonathan shrugged. “Just some ointment.”

Susan looked skyward for a few second before shaking her head and looking at Jonathan. “I haven’t heard of any Dr. Gribbleflotz ointment. How long has he been making it? We’d be happy to sell yet another Dr. Gribbleflotz product.”

“I don’t know,” Jonathan said. “I guess I can ask him next time I see him.”

Susan nodded. “You do that. Just remember though, that Lasso will want to know what goes into it before he’s willing to sell it.”

“Willing to sell what?” Lasso Trelli asked as he appeared at his office door. “Hi, Jonathan. What brings you here today?” Lasso’s eyes locked onto Jonathan’s eye. “Who hit you?”

“One of the girls at Mrs. Kubiak’s Ladies Self Defense class accidently hit me,” Jonathan explained for the one thousand and first time. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

Jonathan pulled the printouts from the satchel he had across his shoulder and offered them to Lasso. “Some of Dr. Gribbleflotz’ laborants have got together to prepare a multilingual booklet for each of the Dr. Gribbleflotz alchemy sets that explains the science behind each of the experiments, and I offered to ask you to check out their chemistry.”

Lasso had a quick skim through the pages. “Did you type these up?” he asked.

Jonathan nodded.

“You used a spellchecker, didn’t you?”

Jonathan nodded.

“It shows,” Lasso said. He waved the printouts. “What’re they planning on doing with these?”

“They want to sell booklets to accompany the chemistry sets.”

Lasso nodded. “I’ll have a look at them. If they’re any good, we might cut a deal to include them in the chemistry sets.”

“Thanks, Mr. Trelli.”

“No, thank you, Jonathan.” He studied Jonathan’s eye for a few seconds. “I’ve got an ointment that’ll help with the swelling,” he offered.

Jonathan shook his head. “Thanks, Mr. Trelli, but Dr. Gribbleflotz has already given me something for my eye.”

“Really? Is it any good?”

Jonathan nodded. “You should have seen my eye before I started using it.”

“Do you have some I can run some tests on?”

Jonathan shook his head. “I’d rather you talked to Dr. Gribbleflotz before doing anything like that, Mr. Trelli.”

Lasso nodded. “Fair enough.” He shook the printouts. “I’ll have a look at these and get back to you.”

“Thanks, Mr. Trelli,” Jonathan said. He waved to Susan as he walked out of the store. He paused outside the door to consider his options. He was felling hungry, but he didn’t like paying for food when there was plenty waiting back home. With the thought of saving a couple of dollars he turned to head home. A short distance away he thought he recognized Richelle Kubiak pushing a Baby Jogger. He let his eyes follow her as she walked away from him.

Richelle was obviously enjoying a walk in the sun, waving to people she knew, and Jonathan was just about to turn the other way and head home when he saw her do a double-take and speed up. Where previously her progress had been carefree, now there was a sense of urgency as she took the side street that led to the shortcut over the hill to Mahan Run

Jonathan searched for what had scared her, and saw a heavyset man staring after her. That wasn’t unexpected. Lots of men stared at attractive young women as they walked past. But then the man started walking purposefully in Richelle’s wake. It could just be nothing, but Jonathan felt sure something about that man had scared Richelle. He started after them.

****

Richelle was desperately trying not to panic. Had that really been her step-father’s brother? Had he recognized her? How had he found her? Was it just an accident that he’d been visiting Grantville and seen her, or had he come to Grantville because he knew she was living there? She glanced back over her shoulder, but the trees meant visibility along the dirt track she was following was limited to twenty or so yards. She increased speed.

****

Jonathan didn’t like the idea of Richelle being followed up the shortcut by a man who scared her and the sooner he caught up with her the better. He started jogging. A few hundred yards later he heard screaming and started running.

He rounded a corner in time to see Richelle swing a branch at the man. It broke, leaving her weaponless and off balance. The man threw her to the ground and pulled a knife.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” Jonathan shouted. It was a silly question, but it served the purpose of distracting the man’s attention. He continued to approach, breathing heavily as he struggled to recover his breath.

“This is none of your business,” the man said. “This harlot have been condemned to death for the crime of incest.” He turned his head to spit in Richelle’s direction. “She entrapped my brother, and they were both convicted and sentenced to death. My brother was executed immediately while the whore’s execution was delayed until after she gave birth to my niece. But she escaped.” he turned to glare at Richelle. “You will tell me who helped you before I execute you.”

Jonathan was scared. The man was shorter than him but probably had thirty pounds on him, and none of it looked like fat. He was also armed with a knife. The man didn’t look particularly skilled with the knife, but it still gave him an advantage. “Drop the knife,” he said. “Your laws don’t apply here in Grantville.”

“God’s law applies everywhere,” the man said as he turned to face Jonathan. “She’s entrapped you too has she? Just like she entrapped my brother.”

There was a religious fervor in the man’s eyes that told Jonathan he wouldn’t listen to reason. Not that Jonathan was particularly interested in getting him to listen to reason. He’d heard enough to know that the man constituted a risk to Richelle’s continued safety. The law in Grantville might not condemn a victim of incest to death, but he wasn’t sure were Grantville’s law stood on extradition. That left him with only one possible course of action. Jonathan licked his dry lips and advanced on the man. “I’m not going to let you hurt Richelle.”

“Then I will kill you first,” the man said as he came at Jonathan, swinging the knife in front of him in an arc.

Jonathan kept his eye on the knife as he slowly closed the distance.

A backhanded swing of the knife forced Jonathan to skip back out of reach, but when the man swung the knife back the other way Jonathan’s long hours of training took over. His left hand swung, grabbing the man’s knife hand. Moments later his right hand joined his left hand. With a double-hand grip on the knife hand Jonathan twisted the wrist as he swung his arms up and spun under the swinging arm. This caused the man’s arm to bend so that the knife was now pointed at his gut. At this point Jonathan’s brain caught up with what his body was doing – a number four knife counter. He pushed hard, trying to drive the knife into the man, but he lacked momentum to stick more than the point into the man’s body. It was a conscious decision to slam his knee into the pommel of the knife, driving it into the man’s body.

The man screamed and crumbled. Jonathan released his grip on the knife hand and stood there, staring at the man whimpering on the ground, clutching at the knife buried into his body just below his ribs.

Jonathan staggered back a few steps, almost standing on Richelle as he fixated on the handle of the knife moving as the man breathed. The look on the man’s face as he struggled to remove the knife was just as distressing. “Don’t remove the knife!” he called, to no avail.

After a struggle the man managed to pull out the knife and tried to sit up. The bloodstain on his jacket grew, and then he fell backwards.

Jonathan swallowed the bile trying to rise from his stomach as he gingerly approached the man and felt for a pulse. It was there, barely. He stared at the still growing bloodstain on the man’s abdomen. He knew the theory. A knife left in place could stem the flow of blood from severed veins and arteries, but if you removed it, the blood could flow. The man had only minutes before he would be beyond help.

Jonathan turned his mind back to the living. Richelle was just getting back to her feet and appeared deeply shocked. He thought about offering her his jacket, but he caught sight of Lenya with her blanket lightly covering her. Under the circumstances, he thought, that would probably be better. He quickly exchanged his jacket for the blanket and draped the blanket around Richelle’s shoulders. She pulled it tight and inhaled. Jonathan saw her shoulders relax and mentally complimented him on his good sense. He wasn’t sure how she would have reacted if she’d smelt the sweat on his jacket.

“We have to go back to town and report this,” Jonathan told Richelle.

She stared at him blankly, so Jonathan wheeled the baby buggy around to face the way they’d come and gently nudged Richelle along until they were both heading back to town. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder. The man was in shadow, so he couldn’t tell if he was still bleeding. He might have a better chance of survival if Jonathan ran back for help, but that would have meant leaving Richelle and Lenya alone.

Grantville Police Station

“Hold that position,” Fred Sebastian said.

Jonathan did the best he could to do what he was told as the flash illuminated him.

“That’s it. I don’t think there are any more angles I can take,” Fred said. He turned to Jonathan. “Do you have any injuries that I haven’t photographed?”

Jonathan shook his head. “No, you’ve got them all, and I don’t understand why you’re bothering. He touched his black eye. “This wasn’t caused by the guy I fought today. He didn’t touch me. I got the shiner from Richelle.”

“During Tracy Kubiak’s latest ladies self-defense class,” Officer Estes Frost hastened to say.

Fred looked up from winding back the spool of film he’d just shot. “You volunteered to help out at one of those blood fests?”

“Sensei said I had to prove my temperament if I want to go for my black belt this year,” Jonathan said.

“Was it worth it?” Fred asked.

Jonathan thought of how Richelle had fought back today. “Yes,” he said.

Fred shrugged. “Well, if you think a black belt is worth getting beaten up by a bunch of dangerous females. . .” He turned to Estes. “How soon do you want the prints?”

“Any time in the next couple of days,” Estes said. He turned to Jonathan. “Now, let’s get your statement.”

Jonathan watched Fred Sebastian, who had to be at least seventy, walk away. “Why did you make him walk up the hill to photograph the body?” he asked.

 

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