Chapter 5 – The Cupid and the Crone

So, ToC was supposed to come out with a new chapter first. But. You know that moment where you set up dozens of set pieces by hand? And it looks juuuuust right, and you go to save, and the game decides to freeze on you instead? And you rage-quit? 😂

So yeah. Have some more Kip instead. Woo! 🐥

It was as if the world around him had changed.

As Kip had turned off his phone, he’d felt a shift in the world around him. It was as if everything had become more vibrant. More alive. The colours of the trees and flowers seemed more intense, and the sky overhead appeared a deeper, much more beautiful shade of blue. The slowly sprouting Spring flowers brought with them a sense of hope that Kip hadn’t felt in a very long time.

He didn’t check his phone for the rest of the day. He didn’t even think about it.

Kip hadn’t felt this free in a very long time.

He wanted to tell Agatha. She probably had no idea how much her simple act of kindness had transformed his life. Kip felt a strong desire to share his decision with her. He wanted to let her know that he had completed his errands. That he had finally, finally quit. He wanted to buy flowers from the stall, and buy a drink for her, along with a dozen other interactions that suddenly popped into his mind.

He wanted to thank her.

But when he made his way to the flower stall that next morning, in Cecilia’s baggy clothing and whistling a happy little tune… the face that greeted him was not the one that he’d expected.

It wasn’t Agatha.

It was someone else entirely.

Instead of the familiar sunflower dress, Kip could see an elderly lady that was completely dressed in grey. Her face, though lined with age, had a judgmental sharpness to it that was oddly intimidating. A scowl seemed to have etched itself permanently onto her expression. Her clothes were such a sharp contrast with Agatha’s vibrant dress that it was almost comical; she was completely grey, from head to toe, with no discernible adornments except for the pearl necklace and earrings.

She was looking right at him, scowling.

“You’re… not Agatha,” Kip said, looking up at the flower stall confusedly. Did he get them mixed up? Was there more than one flower stall in Henford? Was he supposed to go somewhere else?

The grey-clothed lady scowled back at him, stern disapproval dripping from every inch of her face.
“Of course I’m not,” she sneered at Kip. “Only a complete simpleton would confuse the two of us. Are you a simpleton, young man?”
“I- no,” Kip stammered, his confusion growing by the second. He had no idea what was going on. He was pretty sure that she was insulting him, though. The old woman narrowed her eyes at him, visibly displeased.

“You must be the new errand boy,” she said, still scowling. “I have no work for you today. And my sister is not here.”
“Your sister? Agatha is your sister?”
“Are you deaf as well?” she snapped in response. “I just said that I have no errands for you to run. You may take your leave. Shoo. Off with you, now.”

The woman’s drab, grey clothes weren’t the only thing that differed between her and Agatha. Their personalities could not be more different, too. Kip immediately wondered how the two of them managed to get along. Her narrow-eyed scowl and craned neck oddly reminded Kip of an aggravated chicken – or maybe an ostrich?

But as her words sunk in, the ex-salaryman finally realised what kind of misunderstanding had happened. Kip smiled.
“Oh, no. I’m not here to work,” he explained happily. “At least not now. I did run an errand for her the other day, but now I’m just here to—”

But he never managed to finish his sentence. The elderly woman instantly cut him off. Her scowl deepened even more as Kip saw her pull up her nose at his words, disapproval immediately mixing with anger.
“I said shoo!” she snapped at him. “Lazy good-for nothing, just like all the uncouth rakes in this village,” she added, mumbling under her breath- but at such a volume that it was impossible not to hear her. “Wasting your time flirting and gallivanting the day away, just like the rest of them!”
“I’m not gallivanting, I’m-”
“You know exactly what you’re doing, you whippersnapper!” she spat, lifting her finger to point at him accusingly. “Maker knows, young people these days have absolutely no manners. No manners at all! Making a fuss, wearing women’s garments in public – why, just the other day, a tourist behaved incredibly inappropriately towards me! This had better not be a repeat of that, young man—”

Kip couldn’t help but chuckle at her grumbling. It was true. He really was wearing women’s clothes again. But Cecilia’s baggy hand-me-downs were a thousand times more comfortable than his suffocating office attire ever was. He was never putting that on again. He liked his new clothes – and he wanted to tell Agatha about them as soon as possible. With a bright smile, Kip interrupted the lady in front of him, cutting her off mid-rant.
“I’m not here for you, I’m here for Agatha!”

The stall cover abruptly fell down, instantly closing the store and blocking his view entirely. Kip blinked in confusion. What was going on? Was she done selling flowers?

“Err… miss? Mrs? Flower lady?”

Kip watched as the elderly woman stomped out of the stall. She rapidly turned the corner, coming straight for him, her wrinkly hands balled into fists. He could see the black handbag clutched between her fingers. Confused, Kip looked down at it. Was she going to guide him to Agatha? Was she that far away from them?

“Are… are you going to help me find her?”

“Are you trying to get fresh with me?!” the crone screeched, swinging her handbag at him like it was a medieval flail. “Propositioning my sister in front of me?! I will not stand for it, you unwashed fopdoodle! You take that cheek somewhere else!”
“OW! I didn’t give any cheek- OWW!” 
“Skamelar!” she snarled, with every insult accompanied by another whack of her handbag. “Rifraff! Bedswerver! I will not have any Lotharios in my town-”
“I’m not- OW!- A Lothario! OWW!”

Her swings lost their strength. The crone in front of him was slowly running out of breath. He could hear her panting. Kip dodged the next hit, wide-eyed and yelling:
“Stop! It’s not like that! I wasn’t propositioning anyone – I’m Agatha’s friend! I came with NEWS! Stop hitting me!”

That worked. The smacks with her handbag stopped. For a second, her eyes went wide with realisation – and then Kip watched as the crone in front of him placed her hands on her sides, embarrassment very quickly getting replaced with stubbornness.
“Oh. I see. You should have said so earlier.”

“I tried! You hit me with a handbag!”

“A light handbag,” she replied, the indignant scowl immediately returning. “Pah. Youngsters these days have no backbone at all,” she continued. “When I was your age, the men in Henford were made of much sturdier stock-”
“I have bruises! What is even in that handbag, anyway?!”
“A lady’s essentials. That’s all you need to know. Now, off with you,” the crone said, waving dismissively. “Agatha isn’t here and you are scaring away customers with your scowl. Shoo.”

“I said off with you! Shoo! Shoo!”

Kip bit his tongue, barely keeping his thoughts to herself. There was only one person here that resembled an angry, territorial ostrich, and it wasn’t him. He took a few steps back. His arm hurt. Kip watched as the old crone turned up her nose at him a second time before stomping back to re-open her flower stall.
And he still didn’t know where Agatha was.

He’d have to talk to her again. Kip grimaced, bracing the thought of a second round against the handbag. Reluctantly, he took a step closer to the flower stall—

And finally noticed the sounds of laughter behind him.

Confused, Kip turned around. On the other side of the square, he could see two people standing by the grocer’s stall. The young man on the left was hollering with laughter, both hands pressed onto his stomach. Kip could see the woman smile at him apologetically.

She raised her hand, waving him over.

“Lad. Come this way. Don’t get smacked around by Agnes again.”

Kip immediately complied. Aggravated, he left the flower stall behind and marched to the other side of Finchwick square.
“What was that all about?!” he complained. “I didn’t do anything! She just whipped out her handbag and started hitting me! Is that normal?!”

“She does that to everyone, dude,” the young man laughed. “You should have seen walloping I got when she caught my girlfriend and I making out behind the pub. Or when tourists try to flirt with Kim. She’s hit everyone in town at least once.”
“Wha- why? Why would she do that?”

“Agnes doesn’t like public displays of affection,” the grocery lady explained. “She thinks it’s indecent. She’s also very old-fashioned. So ‘anything indecent’ includes kissing, hand-holding, flirting, romantic hugging, certain innuendos-“
“Fiercely making out-“
“I think anyone would have thought of that as indecent, Rahul. You can stop bragging about it now.”

“I’m just sayin’,” Rahul grinned, glancing back at her. “You need to catch up.”
“It’s not a race, Rahul.”
“Psch. You’re no fun.”

“Wait, so she hits everyone that acts romantic around her?”
“Yep,” Rahul nodded. “We have a bet going on about what’s in her handbag. I think it’s a metal wrench. Rashida believes it’s a brick from her house. Whoever is right gets free drinks for a week. Kim here says it’s—”

“A book,” the grocery lady added. “A heavy one. Probably the simpedia.”
She shuddered, as if the mere thought of Agnes’ handbag was bringing back bad memories. Rahul snickered knowingly at her expression.

“Anyway. Just avoid gettin’ your Don on in front of her and you’ll be fine,” Rahul continued, glancing at the flower stall behind Kip. “She’s still an old hag even without the handbag, but she won’t smack you around. Usually.”

“I’ll… keep that in mind,” Kip said. “Thank you for the warning. You don’t happen to know where Agatha is, do you?”

They smiled at him in response.
“Sure do! She’s cross-stitching at the picnic tables. Just walk past the Gnome’s Arms and go left. You can’t miss it.”

By the time that Kip reached the picnic area, the bruises on his arm were long forgotten. A wide smile spread on his lips as he saw Agatha, sitting at one of the tables and seemingly lost in thought. His smile was immediately answered with her own when the old lady spotted him.

“You look cheerful,” Agatha noted, surprised. “Did something happen?”

Kip plopped himself down in front of her, beaming with joy.
“I quit!” he yelled. Agatha blinked, surprised.
“You… quit?” she asked, with Kip nodding enthusiastically.
“Yes! My job! I resigned yesterday!” he explained happily. “I didn’t even give notice – I just sent them a text and turned my phone off! I don’t have to go back to today! I don’t have to go back ever!”

As he talked, Kip could see Agatha’s confused expression fade. For a moment, he could swear he saw a glimmer of relief – and then her expression bloomed into the same happy, beaming smile that Kip had.
“That is wonderful news!” she said. “Well done, poppy. You’ll see how much a good change of soil can do for you. How do you feel?”

“I feel great!” Kip replied, throwing his hands up in glee. His whole body buzzed with energy. He hadn’t felt this good in ages – he’d barely been able to go to sleep last night. That’s how much leftover energy the ex-salaryman suddenly had.  Not even the beating from Agnes had detracted from that for long. Kip felt like he was floating.
“I’m going to go fishing later,” he said, “and walk around the village, and take pictures, and I’ll use Cecilia’s map to go animal spotting, and I’ll have drinks at the pub with Sarah, and- and—“

Agatha chuckled at his enthusiasm.
“Sounds like you have quite the holiday ahead of you. I’m happy for you, Poppy.”

“It’s all because of you,” Kip said in return. “If you hadn’t talked to me back in Bridgeport, then I never would have come here. Thank you.”
“Oh, nonsense, sweetheart. All I did was give you a holiday destination. Everything that you’ve done since has come from you.”
“Maybe,” Kip replied. “But I still feel grateful. Everyone here has been so nice,” he continued. “I want to give something back. If there’s something I can do – I already finished the errand with the seed packs. Do you need help with something else? Anything?”

He could see Agatha hesitate.
“Well, to be honest, I have been looking for someone to help me with a few things—”

And Kip immediately pounced.
“I can do those!” he yelled. “I ran office errands all the time! I can brew coffee, and I know in which aisles the noodle packets are, and—”

“Hold on, dear,” Agatha replied, chuckling. “Not those kinds of errands. I need someone to help me with some… delicate village business.”

That came as a surprise. Delicate village business sounded much more important and complicated than delivering seed packets. Kip immediately began to doubt himself. Complicated meant that there was a large chance he’d mess it up. Maybe this was a bad idea. He barely knew the people in Henford. He shouldn’t be entrusted with anything delicate – he’d just ruin it, wouldn’t he?

“I don’t… I don’t know if I can do that…”

Agatha could see his expression change from eagerness to doubt. Immediately, the flower shop owner elaborated.
“Oh, it’s not difficult at all,” she explained. “I would do it myself, but I am getting frail in my old age, you see. I’d need someone to be my legs.”

His enthusiasm returned immediately.
“I could do that!” Kip said. “I’m real good at legs!”

“Wonderful. Then let’s put those legs to use, shall we?” Agatha nodded, leaning in a little bit closer. Her voice dropped down a whisper.
“I need you to confirm something for me. Something important. Something about Kim Goldbloom.”

“Huh? The grocery lady?”
“You know her already? Wonderful,” Agatha smiled. “That will make things much easier.”
“Er, I don’t really know her…”

“Hush now, dear. This is what I want you to do…”

10 thoughts on “Chapter 5 – The Cupid and the Crone

  1. Poor Kip, looking for Agatha and finding Agnes and her purse instead! For us readers anytime she’s involved is very funny instead, in particular I liked a lot how Don Lothario became the example of indecent behaviour XD

    It was very nice to see the conversation when Kip finally found Agatha instead, she’s very supportive. Anyway, her way of introducing the new job she’s in mind for Kip also makes it sound like she may be hiding something (even if I really hope it isn’t the case), what can she have in mind regarding Kim?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehee, I love Agnes. Her angry ostrich-face is just the best. Hands-down the best part of Henford, lol.

      In a fit of insanity I decided to play through Don’s serial romantic aspiration just to see how many kids he’d end up with by the time he died. The total number was 42. It’s canon now – Don Lothario is the definition of indecent behaviour. 😆

      Hiding something? Agatha? Why, whatever could you mean? 😇


  2. Awww, look at Kip growing a backbone! It earned him a solid purse whacking, but I’m still so proud of him. 😁

    You know, when I saw Rahul, for some reason I thought the “Cupid” part of the title was going to have to do with him — good to hear that him and Rashidah do not require any assistance in that department. 🤣

    “I’m real good at legs!” Oh Kip, never change (aside from the upward growth, finding your self-worth and establishing healthy boundaries changes — we like those changes!) Oh, oh, Kim is the next victim of Agatha’s unsolicited meddling. I can’t wait to see what Kip is getting himself into.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Backbone-Kip is best Kip! 🐓

      Haha, it very well could have been. He’s well on his way of getting a permanent purse-shaped mark on his face, what with how many times Agnes has caught him messing around with Rashida already.

      We’ll have to wait and see! Might need to wait for a while – I’m determined to make a ToC first. And catch up with all the other sunlit. And prep D&D. Yeah, this one might take a while 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 🤣🤣 Kip has found the Dark Side of Henford (even if it’s just Agnes)! I love the face she’s making when she tells him that HE’S scaring away people with HIS scowl.

    Ooo, Agatha, what are you up to? 😯 Better not get my sweet Kip into trouble….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agnes sure is calling the kettle black, there, isn’t she? 🤣 oh, I do love her angry outbursts. Purse and all.

      Agatha? Get Kip in trouble? My, whatever gives you that idea? 😇


  4. AGNES CRUMPLEBITCH! I was wondering when she’d pop up! I love her comparison to an ostrich on my gosh XD I hope gets Kip gets a partner just so he can snog her face off in front of Agnes. The Lothario thing oh my gosh XD Kip should get a handbag and go to war with her. They should all get handbags and go to town on the old lady.
    Animal spotting! I hope Kip finds lots of bnuuies. I wonder what info Agatha could want about the grocery lady, though?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gods, snogging their face off in front of Agnes? That’s a surefire way to get lynched by her handbag, that’s for sure 😂 Lothario is and forever will be the definition of inappropriate. What would Agatha want with Kim, indeed? Maybe she just needs to ask about her cabbages?

      Liked by 1 person

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