Inertia walked in to the old clapboard building with the noisy screen door for a package of bulgur wheat. Never having need for it before, she wasn’t sure of what it looked like; she simply knew she needed it to make a faux meatloaf loaf. Sasha had taken to becoming a vegetarian since he heard a story from the next door neighbor about the slaughterhouses in Vermont and how inhumanely they treat their animals. Inertia was eager to stop eating meat because whatever Sasha did, she followed suit.
Ever since moving to the sleepy town of Montpelier, Sasha’s mind filled with crazy ideas of how they should start living, or not living as Gina put it. Inertia blamed Sasha’s new approach to life on his complete lack of success in documenting every living thing on earth, a task that quickly lost its funding when Sasha’s attention to detail paralyzed the progress of the project. He was left to perform at a mediocre frat boy infested ski resort called Silent Knob. Most of that job included copy writing and voice over work at the radio station, located in a space above a dumpy sports bar. Sasha wanted to live as far away from society as possible, without being completely inconvenienced. He was afraid of germs, cancer, war, terrorism and being cheated on. Naturally, when he and Inertia uprooted their lives 547 miles away from Elk Garden, West Virginia, it gave Sasha the opportunity for the fresh, clean start. Inertia was miserable, but succumbed, because she had her own reasons for “running away from home.”
The screen door hit Inertia in the backside to no avail as her puffer cushioned any potential harm to her bottom. She stood in front of the door long enough to remove a tatty piece of paper which included a list of items that had been in the bottom of her hand-made purse for three weeks. Written in teal-blue felt tip marker, because that was the only writing utensil she was able to find, was “bulgur wheat.”
The store was void of visible sales associates, so Inertia wandered through the narrow, aromatic aisles, which smelled of Accent chicken seasoning. A complete lack of signage exhausted her. Quickly passing by soap, perfume, children’s toys and a gardening section, she searched the baking aisles, which were squeezed so tightly together that she imagined no wheel chair would ever be able to get through.
Finally, after a brief distraction by wax bottles and gummy bears in the bulk candy section, she found flour, honey, spices and other succulents. Carefully reading the words on each paper bag, she could not locate anything that said “bulgur wheat.” Inertia turned to the next aisle and saw the bulk goods; she spotted a small tag written with black Sharpee, bulgur wheat. Before she could put her hand on the clear plastic scoop, she looked up at a face that sent her into a cataclysmic seizure.
Inertia bumped her head on the barrel of bulgur wheat, turning it on its side. Footsteps tickled the old timbers of the country store’s second floor. As they made their way downstairs, the creaky stairs permeated the air of the empty store.
Judy Pencilton rushed to Inertia’s aid. “Are you all right, sweetie?”
Inertia blinked, squeezing her eyelids together to focus. She tried to speak but her voice would not come to her. She pushed away a cold veiny hand with fingernails painted in safety orange.
“Sweetie?” The woman was a skinny rack of bones decorated with jewelry.
Inertia opened one eye fully. “The store,” she mumbled.
“Do you want me to call someone for you, honey?” She was such a sweet looking woman with tender light green eyes.
“I think I just need to sit for a moment. Do you know what happened to me?” Inertia felt around on her body for sore muscles or broken bones. She looked at the bulgur wheat bin which she had overturned. “I guess me meatloaf’s gonna have to wait another week.”
“That been probably needed refreshing anyway.” The nice woman smiled at Inertia and brushed some of Inertias red baby hairs away from her periwinkle eyes. “I don’t know what happened to you, my dear. I just heard a ruckus down here and hurried to see what happened. I was up on the second floor in the sewing department and heard a crash.”
She felt Inertia’s forehead like Grace used to do. “No fever. Your eyes are focusing well. I don’t think you have a concussion.”
“I feel fine. I just can’t remember anything after feeling the screen door hit me in the backside.” Inertia struggled to sit up.
“It looks like you’re gonna have a helluva bruise on your forehead.” Judy’s face was within inches of Inertia’s.
“Let me get you some frozen peas. Don’t try to stand up!”
“Let me get you some frozen peas. Don’t try to stand up!”
As Inertia rubbed her eyes and regained her composure, she sighed at the mess she had made of sandy textured bulgur wheat. She swept at the mound, showing an effort to clean up.
“Stop that!” Judy smiled. “This will give me something to do today, sweetie.”
“I don’t really know. I was upstairs sewing and all of a sudden, I heard a ruckus. I rushed down the stairs and was ‘oh my Godfreys, look at that poor girl.’” Judy smiled energetically and placed a bag of frozen peas on Inertia’s head. “You keep this on your head. I’m going to call the doctor.”
“You really don’t have to do that, I’ll be fine.”
“No, you won’t. My grandson got a concussion wrestling and they thought nothing was wrong with him. Then his brain swelled up and he started acting all crazy. He had to be rushed to the hospital and have fluid drained off of his brain!” Judy’s voice grew louder.
Inertia felt for a bump on her head, nothing surfaced. “I don’t have a bump.”
“That means it’s deep.” Judy was midway through dialing the old rotary telephone at the store’s check out counter.
“I didn’t know they still had those.” Inertia commented.
“No, rotary dial ones.”
“No, rotary dial ones.”
“Sweetie, you’re lucky we aren’t still using a party line in these parts.
As Inertia nervously waited for the nice woman to call the doctor, she began to notice the oddities that adorned the wall of the store. He eyes stopped on a black and white photograph of a mustached man, crouched down, smoking a cigarette in front of a Victorian style building. There was a sign but Inertia could only reed “Gunsmi.”
Judy returned, “the doctor says he’s gonna come out and check on you once he finished with his patient.”
“Ok.” Inertia took a big deep breath. “Who is that man in the photo over the spill?
“First things first, honey. I’m Judy Pencilton, I work in the quilt store upstairs. What’s your name? What you doing in here?”
“Inertia Hanks.” Inertia tied to smile. “My boyfriend and I just moved here. He is a producer for the local radio station and I am currently looking for work.”
Judy laughed. “I mean whatcha looking for in the store?”
“Bulgur wheat. We’re recent vegetarians and I was going to make a fauxloaf.” Inertia grimaced. “I thought you meant…”
“It’s ok Inertia. Now, that’s some kind of name. Is it your God given name?
“Yes, my Mom found me when I flew out of a car. I landed safely in a tuft of leaves. You know…”
“…An object in motion tends to stay in motion, yes. Inertia. I like it. Do you know why you fell?” Judy help the peas on Inertia’s forehead.”
Inertia rubbed her head and took the peas from Judy. “I was startled by that photo.” Inertia pointed to the man with the mustache. “I feel like I know him,” she shook her head; “actually, I do know him, I think.”
“Orin Leahy?” Judy laughed. “That’s old Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley. He’s nothing to be startled by.”
“He looks like someone from my past that I thought to be dead.” Inertia shuttered.
“Well, he is dead. Long dead. “He was the first photographer of snowflakes. You might say that he’s the reason we know why no two snowflakes are alike.” Judy directed Inertia’s attention to a collage of photographs that resembled six-pointed x-rays. “These are copies of some of his work.”
Inertia chuckled. “I’ll take your word for it. My boyfriend has been documenting every living thing on earth. I imagine photographing snowflakes would be equally as tedious. Or more so because they melt.”
“Not in Vermont. Well, I guess it does warm up in June.” Judy jested. “But let’s get back to that photo of old Wilson. Why did you get frightened?”
“It’s a long story.” Inertia conceded.
Judy sat in an old green velvet wing back chair. “I love long stories.”
To find out how the Inertia Chronicles began, read Stopping Inertia and Cursing Django. Available on Amazon.com.