Road To Portland: Part 19: When Grammar Hurts

Edna Kampsett was having a delightful on-line chat with a clever young fellow who called himself “Pedantic Man” when the FedEx truck dropped by. Ever spry despite her age, Edna scampered to the door and opened it. Thirty yards away a black bear, which had been charging toward her house, nearly turned itself inside out changing direction. Edna, quite practically, grabbed the shotgun from its rack near the door and waited. Fortunately, the bear plunged through the brush and disappeared. “I wonder if this has something to do with the beatnik in the Subaru that passed here 10 minutes ago?” She thought.

She retrieved the package, closed and locked her door, and returned to her desk. “I must go. Adieu.” She tapped to Pedantic Man. Then she switched off the chat application and retrieved her knitting scissors. The scissors were a long, delicately tapered, vicious affair with a razor sharp cutting edge. She maintained them as part of her competitive knitting equipment. Using them on baser materials such as a FedEx box was uncharacteristic but, aside from yarn, very little arrived via FedEx and she was excited. She had no idea who had sent her a package. Once the package was open, she was delighted that her unknown benefactor was aware of her love of Swedish Disco. How thoughtful!

These scissors would serve admirably in a knife fight. She thought metaphorically.

“It’s not a metaphor, it’s foreshadowing.” She spoke aloud to the empty room.

The room did not respond.

“The world is narrated by nitwits.” She muttered.

Soon she was listening to the duotone melodies of Abba from her home stereo.

“The melodies are dulcet.” She said to the empty room. Then she filled her teapot and put it on the burner.

Meanwhile, six extreme greeters bristling with weaponry, were approaching in a black helicopter. They had been chasing their tail all morning trying to keep up with a FedEx truck and someone who drove a Subaru like a rally car. It was harder than it looks. Have you ever watched FedEx drivers on a rural route? The extreme greeter’s high tech helicopter was fully equipped to track and intercept anything from terrorist convoys to foreign diplomats in armored limos, but the FedEx truck gave new meaning to “moving target”. Finally, in desperation, they’d decided to retrieve the package that remained on site due to Edna’s interruptions.

The men grinned. It was go time! They were going to use all their cool tactical shit and extreme greet the hell out of the woman and her little farmhouse.

The first indication Edna had of something amiss was a hint of tactical black through the bay window as six men stacked up behind her door in anticipation of a dynamic entry.

“Someone has stepped on my rose bush.” Edna announced in a low voice. Nobody stepped on Edna’s rose bushes!

With her teapot in one hand and her knitting scissors in the other she approached the mudroom…

…just as a small charge blasted her old but solid deadbolt and the door crashed inward. Six men in full battle rattle charged forward in a classic close quarters combat v-formation.

“You didn’t use the doorbell!” Edna announced to the point man. Then she clocked him on his right cheek with a teapot full of boiling water. It was a good blow, feet planted, swinging at the hips, nice follow through. It landed just below the man’s protective helmet and he went down.

The remainder of the team, unused to such vehement resistance paused. This would be their undoing.

“The resistance is not vehement so much as it is violent.” She announced as she jabbed the scissors neatly through a seam in the left front man’s tactical armor. “Nice stitching”, Edna thought as her competitive knitting scissors sliced through the material and underlying leg like only a precision tool applied by an expert hand could. “Weak simile.” She added.

The four remaining men, having seen the furious old woman take out two of their number backed up.

“You!” She pointed to a man with muddy boots. “Get a spade from my shed and repair what you’ve done to the roses.”

The men hesitated; confused.

“Your coming with us!” One of them growled.

“You failed to use the conjunctive. What you meant was ‘you are’.” And with that she opened the basement door.

Edna’s prized show dog was a pint-sized scotty that had been confined to the basement after an early morning accident on the carpet. The scotty had been trained not to bark (and it definitely knew better than to interrupt Edna’s enjoyment of Abba!). However, the dog was furious over being locked in the basement and was anxious to express itself. Edna pointed but the dog instinctively knew which scofflaw had made the grammatical error. In a flash, the man’s genitals were under attack. Dog and man crashed out of the damaged doorway and onto Edna’s immaculate lawn.

“Now, there are three.” Edna grinned. “Are you going to repair my rosebush or shall I bury you beneath it?”

“You ended that sentence with a preposition.” The last extreme greeter in the group said it almost by accident. It just came out! He clapped one gloved hand over a gaping mouth (the other still holding his rifle) and started to shiver.

Edna smiled. “Nicely done young man. And what is your name?”


Edna was already turning away. Turning her back on the three remaining fully testosterone soaked extreme greeters! The Hell’s Angels wouldn’t turn their back on these men. (They knew because they’d greeted the living shit out of a roadhouse near Anaheim last week.)

One of the men brought his rifle to his shoulder.

“I can see you!” Edna spoke as she strode toward her dining room table. “I have eyes in the back of my head.”

The man lowered his rifle.

“John, you simply must join me for tea. Tell your friends to repair the rose bed and my door. They are not invited.”

Just then the little black scotty dog trotted past them. A piece of rip-stop tactical nylon was held firmly in its teeth. Was that blood? The men involuntarily moved rifles and gloved hands over their nether regions.

John was afraid to disobey. He found himself sipping herbal tea and nibbling from a plate of delicious scones. Abba was playing quietly from nearby speakers.

John heard sounds from the lawn as first aid was applied to his fallen comrades. He caught a glimpse of one, hunched in a painful fetal position, as he was loaded aboard a stretcher and winched up to their hovering helicopter.

“Third grade. Little monsters if you ask me.”

John glanced at a wall. It was festooned with class photos of smiling children, each one with Edna sitting primly on the left. The children looked perfect. Spot shined and gleaming with potential.

“The wall is adorned, not festooned.” Edna corrected.

How did she do that?!?

“It’s easy. Spend as long as I did in the trenches,” she motioned toward the photos, “and you learn or die.” She smiled. “More tea.”

It was delicious tea.

“Entry Team 4A, are you there?” John’s earbud squawked to life. Edna seemed to know John was hearing something though electronic wizardry and nodded. “Affirmative.” John replied.

“We’ve stabilized the injured. We put all uninjured team members to work on the roses and door door. Repairs will be completed in ten minutes. Get the information and make a tactical retreat.”


“John,” The voice was uncharacteristically soft, “be careful.”

Edna pushed the plate of scones toward John. He took another.

John chose his words carefully. Asking Edna about the package in the politest possible manner.

Edna happily answered clearly and concisely. At John’s prompting, she described the part about the bear twice. She noted that it was not currently bear season. (Did she hunt bear? The man quivered, flyover country was a terrifying place. The thought of cute little old ladies bear hunting unnerved him. He’d felt far safer trashing a roadhouse full of bikers in California than he did at Edna’s immaculate dining table.) In the corner, the tiny scotty dog slept soundly on a cute little red bed. It still had the torn fabric in it’s mouth.

“Not ‘it’s mouth’. You meant ‘its mouth’.” Edna corrected. “The conjunction implies ‘it is’ as in ‘when a man steps on my rosebush it is on’.” She smiled, delighted to combine mind reading, a threat, and grammatical correction.

John nibbled his scone. He was starting to sweat.

Edna glanced at the grandfather clock in the hall. Nine minutes had elapsed. “The door is complete.” She announced. It was not a question.

John and Edna made their way back toward the mud room. He noticed suitable implements for improvised weapons everywhere. Who uses 11” sharpened titanium rods for knitting?

“Competitive knitting.” Edna explained, despite the fact that John had said nothing aloud.

The door was expertly repaired. Shiny new keys were positioned in a gleaming new brass lock set. The door’s splintered wood was expertly repaired; glued, sanded, and repainted. The paint was a perfect match to the rest of the door. John sighed, his team was good.

Then his heart skipped a beat. Above the section of the door that was freshly painted was a sticky note. Helpfully placed above the repaired area and properly centered, it said “wet pant”.

John was going to die.

Edna’s bony hand struck out and grabbed the paper. She eyed John. It was like looking into the eyes of death.

“No.” Edna disagreed. “Not death. Just proper English.” She handed the paper to John. Put it in his hand and closed his fingers around it. “You know what to do.”

Ten minutes later John was in the helicopter and they were flying away from Edna’s house as fast the machine would go. The in-flight debriefing went well. Edna had provided all the information they’d wanted, so long as John had asked politely. Please and thank you went a long way with Edna.

At the conclusion of the debriefing, everyone was satisfied. John surveyed the injuries. Everyone would recover. They all relaxed and sat back in their seats.

After a minute, John broached the subject of the note. “Who wrote ‘wet pant’ on the note?” He asked.

“Oh sorry, that was me.” It was Rodney, a veteran of many extreme greetings.

John grabbed him by the belt, kicked open the door, and with a smooth easy motion, tossed Rodney into the sky.

The rest of the men tensed, then relaxed. Tacitly they all agreed. Rodney “Wet Pant” Slovosfeld couldn’t spell. He deserved what he got.

If you hate it when you get “wet pant” on your hands, feel free to click below:


About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.
This entry was posted in Chapter 3 - Road To Portland, Lesbian Squirrels, Sagas. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Road To Portland: Part 19: When Grammar Hurts

  1. This one was like a fine meal with an extra helping of awesome sauce:)

  2. Phssthpok says:

    I didn’t even finish the entire first sentence before bursting out laughing, scrolling down and smashing the comment button!

    I thank you kind sir for the best start to a day that I’ve had in a long time!

  3. Mark Matis says:

    Federal Only Ones do not use a “small charge” to blast a door open. Mere Citizens are fortunate if any part of their house remains standing after a forced entry by some of this country’s “finest”. And they would have shot her dog on sight, before it ever had a chance to think about attacking.

    Jeez, if you’re gonna write this story, at least make it SOMEWHAT believable!

  4. Heath J says:

    Epic work man. Made me think of this:

    “This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.”- Churchill

  5. Call T. Don says:

    I love your humor….to see the look on Rodneys face…..

  6. Tennessee Budd says:

    I think I’d like Edna. I know that I like her manner of dealing with those who’d abuse the language (and her roses).
    Misplaced apostrophes are sufficient cause for violence. Edna displayed remarkable self-control.

  7. Steffen says:

    Excellent job, I laughed. Going to show this to my English teacher wife later.

  8. Phssthpok says:

    Looks like the webcomic XKCD is trolling Ms. Kampsett:

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