Character:Maurice

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1937– Maurice Pixote Howard

Unspooled character
Physical details
Species Hispaniolan solenodon
Gender ♂ Male
Height 96 cm (3 ft, 3 in)
Eyes Black
Fur colour Light orange
Personal details
Born December 21, 1937
(age 83)

Grand-Anse

Residence Hillsborough, Carriacou
Religion Christianity
Denomination Anglican
Career
Occupation(s) Mayor of Hillsborough (since 2009)
Family
Mother
Father
Friend(s)
Agatha, Samantha, Alfred, Robin, Carrie Ann
Notes
  • Sidekick to Alfred the raccoon in the tentative first volume of Unspooled.
  • Maurice's parents came to Carriacou from the Dominican Republic in the 1930s. They left in September 1940 to fight for their country during World War II, only to be shot down by German troops during the Blitz the following February (thus making Maurice an orphan). Scarred by the loss, Maurice developed a fear of travelling long-distance, and for the rest of the war vowed not to leave his sleepy little village—except in his imagination. (A Bartholomew atlas got him started when he was a primary schooler.) If he paddled over the sea, who knew if an U-boat—or one of the Third Reich's secret aircraft—would blow him away for good?
  • Maurice was in foster care until Agatha, film star and socialite from Carriacou, visited Grand-Anse and decided to adopt him as his mentor in 1944.
  • Up till his teens, Maurice became the unexpected breadwinner for Agatha's family, the Hedleys—and many of their neighbours—thanks to the enormous hauls of fish and birds he caught week after week...all thanks to the higher than normal concentration of venom inside his teeth. In his adulthood, this inspired him to get over his fear of travelling and engage in quarterly fishing excursions across the Lesser Antilles.
  • Maurice's early reputation was called into question by 1960, after some locals had begun to worry about the high depletion levels in the local marine food supply—all thanks to him. Anyone else would've hidden their guilt, but he decided to resolve this issue—by establishing an inland fish farm near Agatha's home.
  • By the 1970s, Maurice made enough money from his fish farm to feed his foster family—and the Carriacou critters—several times over. At the end of the decade, he bought a boat with his surplus earnings; determined to get over his fear of travelling for once, he started to sail across the Lesser Antilles with his wares. During one such excursion, he stopped over in Dominica to hold a movie marathon during a friend's birthday—the same day Hurricane David struck. While Maurice and the party guests found shelter, his boat was not so lucky. Nor was his then brand-new passport, which was drenched inside the capsized cabin—or so it was assumed for ages. This led to almost three decades of diplomatic holdups, citizenship limbo, and red tape—thus making Maurice an "undocumented immigrant" as well.

    • In the days following David, Maurice was caught up in the post-David recovery efforts, but was looked down upon by various assistants because of his species' perceived reputation. A husband-and-wife polecat couple on Long Lane became his new caretakers in March 1980, but money issues and a resulting divorce sent him into vagrancy on the streets of Roseau by June 1995. Turned down by the employment line, and with only remittances from the fish farm barely keeping him alive, Maurice made the best of his situation for the next eleven years by holding domino matches, playing Chaplin (as a tribute to Agatha's son Charlie), and even surfacing as a hired hand for Mas Domnik and Independence cleanup. Every once in a while, he even hiked the long way up Trafalgar Falls or Laudat—barepaw—with his spare change.
    • During his time as a vagrant:
      • He would occasionally catch a movie at the Carib Theatre—up till its 2006 closure. (The facility reopened as Emerald Movies in May 2019 under new management, by which time the Dixwells and company had already relocated to Panama City, Florida for post-Michael cleanup.) Otherwise, he spent some days catching TV reruns at the 786 Universal Elegance appliance store.
      • He made for a good storyteller at the grounds of the Roseau Library—and sure enough, he also carried a card. (Fearing he'd lose his books by accident or to theft, he seldom used it.)
      • He secretly wrote of his experiences in the heart of downtown, using whatever spare exercise books and filler paper he could afford—regardless of size or durability. (He entrusted a young vixen seductress to keep the segments safe at her home.)
      • He even made the occasional sojourn at the Grotto Home for the Homeless, entertaining the residents with the story of his lost passport; none of them believed it was true. (Either that, or they never read the world's only front-page story on the incident—in the 8/9/1979 issue of Grenada's Nutmeg Weekly.)
    • For all his struggles, Maurice soon rose above the expectations of what other beasts deemed as "paros", a local term for any homeless critter. (Some actually spewed out that epithet towards him, but he still took it for granted.)
    • After the lost-passport/post-David episode, Grenadian investors repossessed Maurice's boat and towed it back to Carriacou in October 1979. The investors in question? None other than a group of Cubans, who also assisted in the construction of Point Salines International Airport on the Grenadian mainland until 1983. Eventually, a sable named Robin "Ron" Rico became the proprietor of both that schooner (which he later transformed as a ferry vehicle, starting in 1984)—and the fish farm (which he sold to the Fortaleza ferrets, Galina's parents, in 1985).
    • Unbeknownst to Maurice until 2008, his niece appeared in a 1967 Astor Martin car commercial with George Lazenby, whose only appearance as James Bond (in On Her Majesty's Secret Service) came two years later. It never surfaced outside British cinema and television screens for decades.
    • The tide suddenly turned for Maurice and his coffers in early 2007, a while after Samson Dixwell's Toronto uncle Matthew won a record-breaking jackpot in Lotto 6/49. C$2,000,000 of the prize pool went to his parents, Bernadette and Jeremiah, who had also participated in the David recovery efforts and actually hazily recalled seeing Maurice once or twice on the streets back then. The eldery raccoon couple spread the word—and part of the wealth—to their son Edison and his wife Marguerite; their children-in-law Victor and Louise; and their grandson-in-law Alfred.
    • Against Victor's prejudice and objections, Alfred soon formed a bond with the solenodon to the point where he became the subject—and focus—of his summer-vacation visual essay at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Neither Victor, nor Alfred's Social Studies teacher Mrs. Hargreaves, took too fondly to dealing with "armed snakes" like him; both were bitten so severely during their childhoods, thousands in hospital bills had to be spent. They eventually warmed up after Alfred showed them how altruistic the likes of them could be.
    • Thanks to the archives she kept all along, the vixen seductress—Carrie Ann of Fond Colé—became Alfred's head research assistant.
    • The team became astonished—and at the same time, delighted—when news of Maurice's recently resurfaced passport hit the local news. As it turned out, what got washed away instead was an older passport from 1974; a quoll cub named Samantha managed to scurry inside the boat in the early moments of David's passage, salvage all of what was inside, and bury it within a secret burrow not far from the Potters Ville shore for safekeeping. Samantha and Maurice never met in person until November 2004, when she claimed to have the lost passport in the shelves of her Belle Vue Rawle home—but he didn't believe her until he took a visit (on her invitation) to see for himself.
    • Thanks to the rediscovered passport, Maurice could finally travel again—but not without a lot of legal clearups, a lot of money, and a just-issued replacement (as the old one, last stamped on "29 AUG 1979", had long expired since the early 1990s). Aboard his old boat (now rechristened the Ø I Å, Danish for "Island in a Stream"), Maurice set sail to Carriacou with Alfred, his parents, Carrie Ann, and 29 specially chosen fellow vagrants from Roseau, with stopovers in Martinique and Saint Lucia early on.
    • Standing in the way of Maurice and company were a group of quokkas whom Maurice caused problems for back in his 1970s heyday. Now owners of Agatha's uphill Carriacou manse (reserved for the team's lodging), they carried out a plan of arson that would prevent Maurice from enjoying his best summer in decades. A mystery over who was responsible soon prevailed.
    • At the end of volume one, Maurice was accepted by the Carriacou folk for whom he really was and became Mayor of Hillsborough the same day Alfred's vacation ended.