*Ichabod Crane Does Not Approve of Modern Music*
“Dear God, what is that unholy cacophony????”
Abbie looked up to see Ichabod rushing into the room, hair still wet and dripping down his back, shirt open, hunting knife at the ready. He looked around the small living room of the cabin, tensed for trouble.
She shrugged. “What? The music? It’s called dubstep. The artist is Skrillex.”
Ichabod gestured toward the stereo. “That is certainly not music even by the loosest of all possible definitions, nor can whoever this Skrillex is be properly referred to as an artist.”
He looked down his aristocratic nose at the speakers with a perfectly well-bred expression of contempt.
Abbie sighed. She adored Ichabod, but sometimes having a 250-year-old man as your sole companion on most days was a little trying. “Sorry, my music library is a little light on the elevator jams or I’d put on some Bach for you.”
Ichabod sniffed. “I don’t know what elevator jams are, but they must be preferable to this infernal dubstep. The sound is reminiscent of a sackful of cats being beaten mercilessly.”
Some inner demon made Abbie point the remote at the stereo and crank up the volume another few notches, “What’s that, Crane?” she asked, cupping her hands around both ears. “I can’t hear you over the sackful of cats.”
Ichabod winced but refused to give the Lieutenant the satisfaction of covering his ears. “You shall be stone deaf before you reach your fortieth year, Miss Mills,” he pronounced, and turned on his heel to finish dressing.
*Ichabod Crane Does Not Approve of Pop Culture*
Abbie pulled the SUV up to the cabin only to find Ichabod waiting for her, pacing restlessly. He had the door yanked open and was talking before she could come to a full stop.
“Of all the barbaric things I have witnessed in this time—“ he took a deep breath and composed himself. “Lieutenant, I have witnessed an extreme act of unconscionable cruelty that certainly requires police intervention.”
“Well, good morning to you, too, Crane,” she sighed. “I slept well. How about you?”
Ichabod gave her a withering stare. “I am not in the mood for jest. How does one go about locating someone on the television?”
“Crane, I’ve explained to you that what you see is just like theater. It’s not real. I mean, you didn’t run onto the stage and save the guy who was playing Julius Caesar, did you?”
She held out a fresh cup of coffee. “Actually, that sounds like something you’d pull.”
Ichabod ignored the proffered cup and leaned into the SUV. “I am not an idiot, Lieutenant! I quite grasp the concept of stage as opposed to reality, blurred as it may be on television. If you will not help me find the child in danger—“
Abbie held up her hand. “Whoa, whoa, slow down. What child? What happened?” She drained half of her own coffee in one swallow. She had a feeling she’d need the double shot to face whatever had gotten the professor’s petticoats in a bind.
“Dear God, it was disgraceful! If you could have seen that poor child on display like an animal, made to do the most vile and repulsive acts…” he clenched and unclenched his fists angrily. “From the way the girl’s tongue was protruding from her mouth it was apparent that she was quite feeble-minded—“
“Uh huh. Crane—“
“—but she was forced into the footlights to put on a most vulgar display involving a man much older than herself and an oversized representation of a finger that she used to—“ he stopped and his fine-boned face flushed dark red from neck to hairline. “—to do things that decency forbids me from detailing.” He shook his head. “I cannot think of what sort of degenerate animal her father must be that he—“
Abbie rubbed her forehead. “See, Crane, that was—“
“-would sell his poor, imbecile daughter to a traveling carnival when there must be institutions for those with this kind of affliction and—“
“CRANE!” Abbie banged her coffee mug against the dashboard, splattering mochaccino all over.
Ichabod jumped and stopped mid-rant. “Lieutenant?”
“We’re late. Get in, buckle up, and I’ll do my best to explain Miley Cyrus to you.”
Dear God, Abbie prayed as she pulled out of the driveway, please don’t let him see a special on Michael Jackson. I don’t think I’m ready for that discussion.
*Ichabod Crane Does Not Approve of Vaguely-Worded Commercials*
Click. Window goes down. Click. Window goes up. Click. Glove compartment is open. Click. Glove compartment is closed. Click. Radio station is now country. Click. Radio station is now Top 40. Click. Dome light is on. Click. Dome light is off.
“Crane, could you give that a pause for the cause?”
Frank Irving wondered once again how he had gotten stuck with Ichabod goddamn Crane for the weekend. Mills had been called out of town to testify and had suggested that it would be nice for Ichabod to spend some time with a man, someone he might better relate to. Frank thought that was crap. He figured Mills just didn’t want Ichabod to be lonely while she was gone.
Frank wished he’d been quicker to think of an excuse. Dying mother, kid with the flu, hell, he’d even stoop to killing off a fake relative, but he’d casually told her that he had no plans. Unless you counted a comfortable chair, a good book, a cold beer and no antique professor-slash-soldier in his passenger seat.
He briefly considered dumping the man at the steampunk bar two towns over—a Revolutionary War leftover would go totally unnoticed in that freakshow—but he was enough of a man to admit that he was too scared of Mills to do that. Rank or no rank, she’d hang his dangly bits from her rearview mirror if she found out he ditched Crane.
“Captain, a query if I may?”
“Shoot. I mean, ask,” he amended.
Ichabod hesitated. “It is of a somewhat delicate nature.”
“I’ve been a cop for 15 years. I ran out of offense years ago. Ask.”
“Yes, well,” the other man shifted in his seat, “I would normally direct any inquiries to the Lieutenant, as she is most knowledgeable; however, there are some things I cannot bring myself to—“ he busied himself with the visor mirror and tried again. “I realize that certain subjects are quite a bit more…er…open to public discussion than they were in my time, yet I still maintain that there are things a gentleman of any quality should not ask a lady.”
Frank glanced at his passenger. “You mean sex?”
Ichabod huffed irritably. “This may come as rather a shock, but sex is not a 21st century invention, Captain. Strangely enough, it did exist in my time, although we were not nearly as cavalier about discussing the particulars in public. I flatter myself that I am quite well versed on the subject and have no need to make inquiries of you.”
“Not sex, huh? Too bad; I was looking forward to explaining the birds and the bees,” Frank said drily.
Ichabod started to reply, possibly to ask what avians and apians had to do with the topic at hand, but closed his mouth with a snap and continued. “I was watching TV whilst waiting for Ms. Mills to finish her shower and I noticed an abundance of time spent on a…certain topic…” he faltered again.
“Fart jokes?” Frank guessed, then rushed to explain, “Farts are—“
Ichabod sighed impatiently. “I am well aware of the definition; in fact, the word, while crude, is one of the first to appear in the English language.” He shifted in his seat to better face his pupil. “It comes to us via the Indo-European branch of languages. The Middle English form ‘feorten’ is featured prominently in Chaucer, most notably ‘The Miller’s Tale’ where a hopeful suitor—“
“Very interesting, Crane, and I’m sure my daughter would get a laugh out if it, but you had something to ask me?” In the short time he’d known the man Frank had learned that you had to cut him off quickly or be prepared to watch Ichabod Crane turn into Professor Crane of Oxford, and it did not feel like an Oxford kind of night.
Ichabod blinked and sat back in his seat. “Ah. Yes. As I said, I’ve noticed that a large number of commercials seem to reference…I believe the euphemism is ‘feminine products’.”
Frank nodded. “Tampons,” he said slowly and deliberately. “Pads. Wings.” He glanced over to see a flush creep across Ichabod’s fair skin. He didn’t consider himself a racist, but it was so much more fun to make white people blush.
“Yes, well,” Ichabod cleared his throat. “While I have decoded many of these commercials and have been able to ascertain the use of most of these products—“
“—as the commercials themselves make it rather boorishly obvious—“
“—there is still one that I cannot quite decipher.”
chabod drew himself up and looked at the Captain.
“Captain Irving, might you explain to me what a ‘not-so-fresh feeling’ is and how one might go about banishing it?”
*Ichabod Crane Does Not Approve of Modern Medicine*
“Lieutenant, this seems a colossal waste of time and resources, as I am neither ill nor injured,” Ichabod said for the third time. He glanced nervously around the deserted waiting room of the doctor’s office as though locating the nearest escape route. For all Abbie knew, that was exactly what he was planning.
“These days we don’t wait until we get sick or hurt to see the doctor,” Abbie explained, also for the third time. She was really trying to stay patient with him; she knew that medical care in his time had meant inflicting more pain than relieving, but it was hard when he kept squirming and repeating the same thing over and over. “Besides, if you’re going to be hired on as a paid consultant the department requires all employees to have a physical and all vaccinations.”
“Ah, yes, the department,” Ichabod said sarcastically. “The department owns my time during the course of our duties, Miss Mills, but it does not, nor will it ever, own my body.” His cultured voice rose with his level of indignation and Abbie could see how formidable a speaker he must have been while arguing his abolitionist views. She supposed she should be thankful for that, but right now she needed to get him through a simple medical exam without any violence.
“No one is trying to control your body,” she said evenly before he could launch into another patented Ichabod Crane diatribe about inalienable rights or personal freedoms or whatever he had on his mind. “It’s a matter of bureaucracy. You had officials covering their asses in your day, right?”
“If that colorful phrase means what I think it does, then yes. That particular phenomenon seems to be timeless.”
“Okay, then. You are being inconvenienced for the sake of paperwork. Better now?”
“I suppose.” The former captain fell into an indignant silence.
Abbie made it almost halfway through her 3 month old People magazine article about Justin Bieber before—
“But I feel quite well, Lieutenant. This seems—“
Abbie actually felt her last nerve snap as Ichabod tap danced on it. She slammed the magazine down on the table. “Crane, I swear—“
The door opened and the Nurse practitioner called, “Crane. Itchybode Crane.”
Ichabod’s fourth protest about the unfairness of his circumstances was derailed by the mangling of his name. “Ichabod Crane, Madame. That is I.”
The NP smiled. “We’re ready for you.” She held the door open.
Ichabod stood, looking nervous. “Yes. Of course.” His long fingers worked restlessly, but he tugged down his antiquated coat and drew himself into his usual ramrod-straight posture.
Abbie could suddenly see the military officer he once was, terrified at the prospect of battle but willingly leading the charge into the unknown, façade intact for the benefit of others. Her irritation with him melted. “I’m coming, too,” she said.
“There is no need,” he said, but she caught the relief on his face. He followed them into the office proper.
“Okay, just step on the scale so I can get a weight and height on you.”
Ichabod looked around, confused, and Abbie stepped in. “Right here.” She led him to the scale and he frowned.
“This is a scale? Where are the counterweights?” He bent down and poked at the flat square.
“It’s electronic. It uses—hell, I’ll pull up a webpage for you when we get home,” Abbie sighed, and Ichabod reluctantly abandoned his search and allowed himself to be weighed.
The NP made a notation. “Good. BMI is excellent. You keep yourself in shape.”
“I assure you I do.” Ichabod looked hopeful. “Might we forego further examination, then?”
“No.” Abbie took his sleeve and pulled him into the exam room after the NP and sat him on the exam table.
“Just a few standard questions for you, Mr. Crane. Any surgeries?”
Ichabod looked down at himself. “No, Madame. As you can see, none of my limbs have ever been removed.”
“Still have your appendix and tonsils?”
Abbie briefly wondered whether Ichabod even knew what appendix and tonsils were, but decided to let it go. Things were so far going more smoothly than she had hoped.
Ichabod hesitated, so Abbie asked, “Does any food or medicine make you sick?”
Ichabod considered. “An abundance of spirits does have that effect and I once vomited copiously for days after eating a plate of raw oysters on a bet.”
The NP laughed. “I think we all have a few stories like that. Any family history of chronic illness such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease?”
He opened his mouth, reconsidered, and finally said, “No.”
She put down the file and wrapped the blood pressure cuff around his arm. She pressed the button and Ichabod squirmed. “Madame, I don’t wish to alarm you, but this band is beginning to tighten.”
The NP looked confused, so Abbie put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay. It’s measuring the amount of force your heart is using to pump blood.” To the NP she said, “Until recently he was a Christian Scientist. Didn’t believe in medicine.” She was grateful to see Ichabod maintain a prudent silence for once.
The nurse examined his ears, eyes, and nose, prodded his chest and abdomen, and listened to heart and lungs. She pointed at the prominent scar where the Horseman had opened his chest 250 years ago. “What happened here?”
Abbie opened her mouth to answer, but Ichabod simply said, “I was attacked. Long ago. As you can see, I suffered no lasting damage.”
The NP nodded. “Looks good. Any trouble with bowels or bladder? Pain while urinating, diarrhea, anything?”
Ichabod’s face went bright red. “See here—“
Abbie squeezed his shoulder. “Standard question. The sooner you answer, the sooner this is over.”
Ichabod scowled. “No troubles.”
“Good. Are you sexually active?”
Blue eyes flew open in shock. “Madame, I do beg your pardon! I support the liberation of women and am delighted that your gender has entry into traditionally male professions; however, I quite draw the line at discussing intimacies with two ladies!” He crossed his arms over his chest protectively.
The NP held up her hand. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, Mr. Crane. Nothing you say leaves this room and I promise I’m not here to judge.”
Ichabod relented. “Not…active…at this time,” he said grudgingly, fixing his gaze somewhere between Abbie and the nurse.
“That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. Just remember that when you do take a partner to use a condom. There are a lot of nasty bugs out there.”
“Of course. Condoms.”
“Now it says here you haven’t had vaccinations, is that right?”
“Okay, so I’ll be giving you the standard first shots.” She produced a few needles and uncapped the first one.
Ichabod’s face went from beet red to ghostly white. “Where do you intend to insert those?”
Abbie rolled up his sleeve. “They go in your arm, right here. They’ll only hurt a little and this will all be over.”
He tried to turn his usual arrogant stare on her, but he was too relieved to pull it off. “Lieutenant, I have suffered pain I can only hope you never experience. I was not concerned about pain. Given the nature of the previous queries and the, er, parts of my anatomy they referenced, I was concerned with where the vaccinations might be inserted.”
Abbie clenched her fists to keep from laughing, but the nurse seemed to take it in stride. “Okay, here we go. Ready?”
Ichabod nodded stoically. “Proceed.”
He took the shots without a wince and Abbie rolled down his sleeve.
“Okay, Mr. Crane, you have a clean bill of health. Is there anything you’d like to discuss with me?”
Ichabod jumped off the table as quickly as dignity would allow. “No, dear lady, I believe we have discussed quite enough for one day.” He bowed. “I thank you for your ministrations.” He planted a hand in Abbie’s back and fairly shoved her out the door.
“You know, Crane, you were very good for the nice doctor,” Abbie said as they reached the car.
“Indeed.” Ichabod fixed her with a sideways glance, wondering if she was planning to mock him.
“It’s traditional for someone who was good for the doctor to get ice cream, if that interests you.”
His handsome features brightened. “A modern ritual? Can we go to the vendor with chocolate and peanuts in the ice cream? Is that allowed in the ritual?”
Abbie grinned. “Anything you want, Crane.”
*Ichabod Crane Approves of Veteran’s Day*
Ichabod woke to the smell of something delicious floating through the air of the cabin he’d been calling home for the past few weeks. He hadn’t been expecting anyone, but he wasn’t unduly alarmed; he surmised that the Horseman would not bother to cook him breakfast, nor would he be singing softly and cheerfully. Or at all, considering he had no head.
Lieutenant Mills. Ichabod smiled slightly. Highly competent and fiercely independent, she was a woman of the modern era. Still, some primal part of her seemed to drive her to make sure he was fed, even when the meal consisted of unidentifiable items served in a grease-soaked bag and thrust unceremoniously at him with a gruff, “Here. Eat.” Although he suffered frequent upset stomach from being assaulted with so much unfamiliar food, he had to appreciate her efforts on his behalf.
Today she had forgone the morning trip to one of those odious eating establishments and was cooking breakfast herself. Curious, Ichabod pulled on his clothes and followed the delicious smells to the kitchen. The Lieutenant was busy at the stove, flipping this, stirring that, and singing a pleasant tune about saving all her love for someone. A very fortunate someone, Ichabod couldn’t help but think as he took in the sight of Abbie in a worn pink shirt and jeans, hair loose about her shoulders.
“Good morning, Lieutenant,” he said. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
Abbie turned and gave him a smile. “Happy Veteran’s Day, Crane.”
“Veteran’s Day. Every year on this day we take the time to thank military veterans for their service, and since you’re pretty much the original American war veteran I figured I owed you breakfast, at the very least.” She gestured to the table. “That’s for you.”
A brightly-wrapped package sat on the table at his customary seat. Touched, he picked it up and turned it over and over, admiring the neat and cheerful box. “Lieutenant—Abbie—you owe me nothing. I simply did my duty as my conscience dictated. I was proud to sacrifice for a worthy cause.”
She gave him a slight smile. “That’s what all veterans say. Believe me, we owe you everything.” She rested a hand on his shoulder and they locked eyes for a moment. She abruptly dropped hers and moved back to the stove. “So open it.”
Ichabod carefully removed the thin strips of adhesive Abbie had said were called Scotch tape and briefly played with them before removing the beautiful paper to reveal a bottle of…something. “Why, Abbie, thank you,” he said graciously. “This is perfect.”
“You don’t know what it is, do you?”
“Not remotely, no.”
She laughed. “It’s men’s cologne. Very classic scent.”
“Ah,” he said, pleased. He set the bottle aside, making a mental note to find out what a Drakkar Noir was.
Abbie placed a steaming plate in front of him. “Hope you like blueberry pancakes and sausage.”
“At this juncture, I like anything that does not come from that despicable public house with its leering jester mascot.”
“Ronald McDonald will live without our business for one morning.” She sat down across from him with her own plate.
He doused his entire plate in maple syrup and took a large bite. “Delicious,” he pronounced, rolling the soft cakes on his tongue.
They ate, making pleasant conversation, and Ichabod was amazed at how quickly he’d come to rely on Abbie’s companionship. She was far more than his guide in this strange time; she had quickly become the closest friend he’d ever had. The fact that she’d taken time from her day off to prepare a special meal and give him a gift on Veteran’s Day said that she felt the same. Ichabod cut off that line of thought before it could go anywhere.
When they were finished Abbie dumped the dishes in the sink. “Unless you have plans today, I thought we could watch the Veteran’s Day parade downtown. Have some beers, people watch, you know.”
Ichabod nodded. “I would be delighted. That there is a day to honor the sacrifice of those with whom I served makes me feel better.”
Abbie touched his arm. “That’s what it’s meant to do.” She tossed him the coat hanging by the door. “Tell you what: since this is Veteran’s Day we’ll go back to my place later and watch ‘The Patriot’. It’s a movie about the Revolutionary War. You can foam at the mouth about all the historical inaccuracies and I promise not to say a word.”
Ichabod bowed. “It would be ungentlemanly in the extreme for me to doubt your ability to do so; therefore, I shall just accept the invitation. Shall we?” He held out his arm and she took it.