Somebody else has been ficcing "North" recently so not so seem a copycat the Moo is just sorta flipping it over. This one will be archived under the name "South". Christi wanted Ray V, but no sex. So here are the boys, pure as the driven snow.  Christi also asked for humour but the moo dries up under pressure so this may or may not qualify. The Moo has also taken a few liberties concerning penguins. (Doesn't that sound intriguing?)



Ray and Fraser got out of the plane in the small airport in Ushuaia and looked around them.


"Well Benny," Ray declared, "Did you ever think you'd find yourself in Ushuaia, the southern most city in the Western Hemisphere?"


"No Ray, I can't say that I did. Not until I booked us the flight and arranged the hotel, I mean. Then, maybe I thought it, just a little."


"Lookit this modern building. Why, it looks just like it was only built a few years ago to accommodate the growing tourist trade," Ray commented as went through the airport.


"Come on, Ray. Let's get a taxi to the hotel." Fraser steered his friend through the airport and out to the street.


"This sure looks like a great place. You wouldn't think this was Argentina, wouldja? All the landscape, the vegetation, even the weather, is just like Chicago except for the nearby mountains, forming the border with . . ."


"Just get in the taxi, Ray."


Fraser studied his friend's face with concern as they rode through the streets of Ushuaia to their hotel. Getting away, far away, was not yet having the therapeutic effect on Ray that Fraser had been hoping for. Fraser hoped Ray's condition would improve soon. The departmental psychiatrist had suggested that something as simple as a vacation far away might cure him. Right now, Ray looked no different, but then he never had looked any different. The extreme stress he had been under lately had been showing in only one way: his strange speech patterns. Maybe after long enough at the bottom of the world, Ray would relax and start talking like himself again.


The taxi wound up a mountain to their hotel. Fraser dug into his pocket to pay the driver but Ray, stopped him. "I'll get this, Fraser. Following a period of instability the Argentinian economy is greatly recovered and the American dollar is once again a recognized unit of currency."


"Pleased to hear it," Fraser muttered.


After they checked in, they headed for the elevators.


"This is certainly an elegant establishment. No doubt our room will afford an excellent view of the harbour from which a large number of tour boats make daily excursions."


"No doubt."



It was a week before this that Fraser had sat in the Vecchio house with Ray, Francesca and their mother. They had been trying a family intervention in the hopes of getting Ray back to normal.  They sat Ray down in his favourite chair in the living room and the other three pulled up kitchen chairs so they could all sit facing him.


Fraser began. "Ray, this is for your own good. Do you understand that we're not ganging up on you? We’re trying to help you because we care about you."


"Yeah sure, Fraser, but what's this all about? How come you're doing this on a typical evening in a suburban Chicago neighbourhood which has, despite the encroachment of a large number of condominium developments, maintained its distinctive Italian flavour?"


"The way you talk, Raymondo. Don’t you realize how you talk these days?"


"What's wrong with the way I talk? My speech derives from an upbringing consistent with . . . "


"Bro," Francesca interrupted, "You talk like a book. Or a story. Like you're a narrator or something."


It was Fraser's turn. "Ray, the doctor called it 'expository neurosis'. Do you understand? You are compelled to express yourself as if you were giving exposition in a piece of narrative."


"He called it 'fic-itis', Raymondo, and you have a bad case."


"Real bad," Francesca put in.


"You see Ray, you've been under so much stress lately that your subconscious mind can't handle it. You speak as though you were describing what happens in a work of fiction, as a way of detaching from life.


"You're avoiding reality, Raymondo. You need help."


Ray wasn't having any of this. "You’re all crazy!  Out of excessive concern for your son, brother and friend you are simply imagining a situation that would allow you release those concerns, giving no thought to whether the situation actually warrants it."


Ma, Fraser and Francesca could see stronger measures were going to be needed.



Fraser had arranged a boat tour for the next day. They walked down the mountain road and from there it was only a few blocks to the harbour. Ray described everything they were seeing, from the architecture of the houses they passed (similar in construction to those found in Switzerland although the winters here were much milder), the makes of the cars that drove by (domestically built), the sizes and decorations of the tourist signs (showing signs of weathering) as they neared the harbour where the tour boats were anchored.


Under other circumstance Fraser would have enjoyed the boat ride, the cold wind against his face as they went along the strait. The brochure had promised that penguins would be seen at the farthest point in the two-hour trip. But the views of the surrounding mountains gave Fraser no pleasure. Ray just kept describing them in excruciating detail.


The boat came to a stop beside a small rocky island, no more than fifty feet across. Awkward black and white birds hobbled all about. Camera's flashed. Tourists oohed and aahed. Before Fraser could stop him, Ray started lecturing all and sundry. Fraser could take no more.


"Look, Ray, turtles!" Fraser shouted. (He had chosen a species at random, unaware of the importance it would have later in his life, when Ray would be very very different.)


Ray looked at him blankly. "What do you mean? We're looking at penquins, the same species that is also found off the Falkland Islands, the location of a recent . . . "


"No Ray, look closer!" Fraser hefted his friend and heaved him over the side of the boat.


Pandemonium ensued. Fortunately for Ray there was very little current and the crew were able to bring him back aboard with little difficulty.It wasn't too long before Ray was sitting drying out in the wheelhouse, wrapped in a blanket and drinking some warm Argentinian drink given him by one of the crew.


Fraser was beginning to feel guilty at his loss of control. For all he loved Ray as a brother, for a wild moment he had been ready to drown him. There was nothing more annoying than a know-it-all who kept describing, and lecturing and being an expert. Fraser knew Ray was sick, he couldn't help it, but it was just too much to bear. He forced himself to make conversation with his shivering friend.


"What's that you are drinking, Ray?"  Fraser waited for Ray to start into the history, chemical composition and customs surrounding the consumption of the South American drink called maté.


"They call it mah-tay. Wanna try some?"


"What did you say?"


"I said its called mah-tay."


"That's all?"


Ray regarded his friend with a puzzled air. "You okay, Benny?"


Ray was cured! Fraser laughed with relief. The ordeal was over. "Oh, Ray, I'm so glad you're better. It must have been the dunking in cold water."


"Cold water?"


"Yes. And the odd thing about it is that on the corresponding coastline on the northern border of this very continent, the Inuit employ a similar . . . "


Ray tuned out. Fraser's lectures were always so boring.

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