Emerson was balanced precariously on his elbows and knees. Had he not already been resting his forehead against the cool brass of the chamber pot on the floor before him he very likely would have fallen forward.
Junie knelt beside him rubbing his back, offering soothing words of encouragement.
“I haven’t been so sick since Dr. Sonnerstein told us that thing about nutmeg,” Emerson moaned.
“Yeah,” said Junie. “Let’s not mention that again.”
“It seems to be coming waves,” groaned Emerson. “About every ten minutes.”
“Part of me wants to say you had it coming.” Junie shook her head as she gently chided him. “I still don’t understand whatever possessed you to indulge in that cheap air kraken kabob last night.”
“It was a moment of weakness,” admitted Emerson contritely. “That and perhaps one ale too many at the Bucket.” Emerson had been doing a little business with a Ravilan steamship captain who always preferred to conduct his affairs from the Bucket when in town.
“But cheap street meat you came across on some corner in the Gut,” Junie shook her head. “You should have known better.”
“I know,” moaned Emerson. “I was sure it would be safe with the new season and all – but I must have been duped. There was no way it was fresh. It had to have been last year’s kraken improperly preserved and gussied up with spices.”
“Gussied up?” Junie asked.
“From a distance it smelled divine,” explained Emerson. “It wasn’t until I had it in my hands that I realized it was all spice on inferior grade kraken.”
“Good from afar but far from good,” Junie sighed.
“You should have seen that air kraken vendor,” said Emerson. “She had her wagon all flashy; the charcoal was fuming and that smell of cooking cephalopod… I’m sorry, it was just poor impulse control on my part.”
“And you are always so good at managing your impulses,” said Junie. “But if you could only have waited. You know very well I would have cooked fresh kraken for you. Father Vorpal gave me a tip on where to find some just this morning.”
“I know, I’m so sorry,” said Emerson remorsefully. “And I must say, as I was eating kabob, leaning against a building in some dark alley in the Gut, the whole time I was thinking about how much more I enjoy your kraken. It was a completely unsatisfying experience. Can you ever find it in yourself to forgive me?”
“Let’s not say another word about your dalliance with tainted kraken,” said Junie with a wink. “It never happened.”
“Shit!” Emerson exclaimed suddenly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Junie sounding concerned.
“What do you mean, ‘what’s wrong’?” asked Emerson.
“You cursed,” said Junie. “You only do that when something is wrong.”
“That was not a curse,” said Emerson, “That was an explanation for why I am about to run.”
Junie wrinkled her nose.
“Miss Ginsburg?” said Emerson looking up at Junie from a kneeling position.
“Mr. Lighthouse?” Junie replied.
“I have a proposal I would like to make.” Emerson’s pronouncement was very solemn.
“By all means, Mr. Lighthouse,” Junie began to smile. “Propose away.”
“Miss Ginsburg, I have enjoyed your kraken immensely these past two years…”
“Yes, Mr. Lighthouse?” Junie encouraged, taking in her breath.
“I promise to you, right here and right now, I will never sample another’s kraken for the rest of my life if you would do me the honour of being my sole kraken provider.”
Junie leaned forward and kissed Emerson’s forehead. “Mr. Lighthouse,” she replied, “you have made me the happiest woman in New Babbage. And you have my word; you will never want for kraken ever again.”