I've mentioned Speedy a couple of times. A former tenant at Corrections Heaven. He ended up having to finish the last month of his conditional warrant back in the big house when he got a little edgy with his warrant expiry looming and with no pad lined up and no job and no prospects for either. His mentality and his behaviour slipped a little down the tubes.
He promised to call as soon as he got out again. That date came and a few days passed. I was busy with NaNoWriMo and not too worried. He was probably getting settled in at his mom's place.
Then I heard rumours he was staying at the Sally Anne. So I went to try to see him. It didn't go well. Between common friends and staff at Club Fed, I was able to piece together the story.
It's unclear whether or not he received his start-up funding, as is whether or not he then blew it all on street drugs - and I don't mean pot. Either way he went looking for someone to borrow cash from. He mentioned my name as a possible source (dreamer) and was told by a common friend, not to do that; that I should not be taken advantage of, given the (generally non-monetary) support I've already given.
So he went on an armed robbery spree. It took the third try to get caught and put back in jail where he will be sure to get the support he needs for a long time.
He'd never shoot anyone. He faked having a gun - his M.O. but that will not buy him much time off the sentencing according to more rumour.
Another resounding failure in FWiG's lifelong mission to save everyone.
In other news... I had a 6879-word-day on November 30th, hitting the NaNo goal of 50,000 at 11:53PM to claim winner status for the second consecutive November. Then I got massively ill for a short time and I'm now recovering nicely. I'm already looking ahead at 2013 and all the goals I want to achieve, as well as the critical things I need to achieve. It's daunting, frankly. I need to put structures in place that will keep me motivated and moving in the right direction. It won't be easy.
I’m passing through the great array of wide commercial valleys that are the streets of Mississauga. I’m on my way to see my dear friend Mateo, always a great source of inspiration; surely useful in this early stage of an especially challenging NaNoWriMo project.
I left the highway early because it was congested and I was ahead of schedule and it’s useful sometimes, to wander to one’s destination, taking in the sights.
It is a very curious experience being here. The emotion is hard to interpret for a while. It is some kind of nostalgia certainly. This is the city where I last lived when I was still normal. This is the city where I lived while experiencing the bulk of my journey out of normalcy.
These are the streets I traversed late at night looking for some quiet space to explore or from which to stargaze; some park or beach or river.
Why do I feel like I somehow miss that old pre-journey life? That life of work and sleep and play amid the web of illusions? Surely I would never wish to return to that.
But before I reach Mateo’s house it has become clear what it is which I feel the nostalgic pang for. It is a loss of innocence.
Some floating head with no awareness of who I am or what I'm about, who covets her position of authority at Corrections Heaven with all the greedy self-interest the lowest order of humans can muster, has decided that I should not be allowed to remain in association with the Mennonite Church Circle of Support Creative Exchange or Dismas Fellowship communities because of imagined conflict of interest issues.
You see, if I'm championing community safety and offender reintegration efforts on more than one front, no matter how harmonious, then obviously I'm going to make friendee-friends with Club Fed tenants and before you know it I'll be helping them smuggle whores and cocaine into the centre and driving the get-away cars for their bank robbing sprees...
The dullness of this decision; the soft thinking; it's so... typical.
The amount of good I was doing and could have continued doing was very significant. I will not be falsely humble about that. It's bad enough that the Army of Normal does not value this; that I must lose money in order to do this. That the Army of Normal must put a stop to it altogether is tragic.
Contracted employees in effect have no rights at all. My employer is powerless to help me. The union is powerless. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is powerless. Freedom of Association means nothing. Any contracted employee can be dismissed at the whim of the client for any or no reason whatsoever.
I have not given in. But I must consider my moves carefully. For now, NaNoWriMo approaches and I will lose myself in my writing for a month.
My patience for this spun-out-of-control society has worn threadbare. We are the worst slaves to ass-backward instinct in the entire world of humans I would bet. Of no more significance or use to the world than wolves or vultures or parasites.
If it weren't for Neo I'd be gone. I would go the way of the alchemist. I would vanish without good-byes. And somewhere far away, in the third world, a new man would appear, evolution complete; a silent man with a strange name he would not speak.
"For the first time he contemplated, lovelessly but with pity, the lamentable human flock, born to graze and die."
- George Bernanos
Want to hear about my super special day? Here it is in a nutshell:
Woke up with a headache that stretched all the way down the side of my face to my jaw, and kept it the rest of the day. So what does that mean? Do I have bed bugs or something? Do bedbugs have one enormous fist which they use to sock their sleeping hosts in the jaw?
Got to the Princess of Schools to discover I forgot my school key. Fine. Just had to canvas random staff to open doors for me as necessary. Oh - and what's this? No wonder my laptop bag seemed so lightweight. Not because I've turned into Mr. Universe. No. It's because I forgot to put the laptop in it. So now my prepared 'lesson plans' are up in smoke and I have to improvise for the day. Fine.
At the end of the day I discover that my planned visit for next week falls on Halloween day which is bad news. The school agenda goes a bit haywire for pumpkin day. By a great stroke of non-luck, three of the remaining four days that week are in fact three of the four days of the ten-day cycle which I have agreed not to interrupt with reader/writer group schedules. That leaves only Friday which is the only day of the week I personally can not do. So now I'm staying late negotiating with the art teacher so that I may come on one of the forbidden days. Luckily the art teacher is an excellent young gentlemen and we hammer out a deal. But now I'm running a tad late. I have to get home and pick up the Liberal Theologian. We have a write-in planned with the Crisco Kid.
Booting home along the highway I see by the clock on the dash that I am going to make it on time. No problemo. Except that what I didn't see on the dash was the fuel gauge which was very politely and quietly reading WAY below the red zone.
I managed to run out of gas right at an off-ramp where I could easily access the local neighbourhood. On foot. In the rain. I knocked on the window of the first house and was greeted immediately by a pair of large barking dogs and soon after by a woman who looked about as pleased to see me on her porch as she would a creeping loping undead swamp beast.
I yelled through the firmly closed door that my car broke down and could she please call me a cab. She did so.
Cabbed it to the gas station and purchased a gas can and tried to call the Liberal Theologian collect (no change or credit card) to warn her I'd be late and not to worry, but her telephone account is set to automatically decline collect calls. Fine. Let my absence be a mystery.
I arrive home exactly the time we were supposed to be at the write-in cafe. So we'll be late. Fine. On the way there, cruising down the middle-right lane of main street; a very busy five-lane affair, I spot a man stumbling backward off the curb, trying to regain his balance. He stumbles all the way into my lane, falling on his back. I'm all over the brakes and stopping just in time while Drunken Asshole #9 lies there looking at his cell phone/blueberry/whatever and while my passenger goes into anxiety attack mode.
"Call the police please," I say. "He needs to be picked up before he gets killed or else causes an accident." But her cell phone is missing from her purse.
We make it to the cafe without further incident. And find that it is mysteriously dark inside. And also closed. Remind me why I got out of bed today?
So we go to the Mulberry; the next most obvious write-in venue and the Crisco kid is not present. Turns out that he was taking his time and was about to show up there looking for us - right after we left.
Meanwhile we picked up some Wendy's take-out and went home. And miracle of miracles: They actually, for once, got our order right.
There are four different routes that I take to get home from Club Fed. I like variety. Sunday morning I'm on the route which takes me past St. Joseph's Villa nursing home which was Biodad's home for several months as he adjusted to life with an artificial leg. Now I am thinking about him for the remaining three minutes of the trip home.
Though we resided so close I did not once visit him. We have not spoken in two years. For that three minute drive I ponder the situation. He moved back home five weeks prior and two weeks prior I received a phone call from our mutual friend, his best pal, Vee. Biodad had asked for my phone number. I gave her permission to give it to him. So far he had not called or at least had not left a message. I decided on that Sunday morning drive that I would give him a call.
Why? Because I wanted to see him? Not particularly. But because I wanted to clear the air so to speak. To at least allow him the chance to understand my perspective; that in essence, we have proven ourselves useless to each other.
But I will not be making that phone call. As soon as I arrived home Sunday morning the phone rang. It was my cousin Lisa; always the bearer of family news. While I was deciding that I would make that call, Biodad was already gone.
Two years ago I walked away from him. There were no sacrifices left for me to make for him, and he had treated me poorly. I wrote him off for dead and I never thought he'd last this long.
At Grandma's house where the family initially gathered, at Biodad's rental house, where friends gathered, at the funeral and the subsequent celebration; all these people; I had to endure their condolences though I, in no way, was entitled to any comfort.
I abandoned him. I will not miss him very much I don't suppose. I am not deserving of comfort. I must face the reality that there was more I could have done, if I had chosen, which would have made his final days, perhaps months, more comforting. I must not escape the consequences of my choices no matter how much that goes against the standard perversity of our society; a society of constant rationalization.
It is Vee who needs the comfort; her who should have sat in the front row at the service instead of me. I have spent much time with her this week. I went to her not knowing how she would feel about me. If she hated me; if she wanted to take a swing at me, well then I would let her. If that would help her feel better.
She watched bioddad hasten his death for three days. She suffers the perceived guilt that she called 9-1-1 too late to save his life. He fought the authorities tooth and nail, then succumbed just after arrival at the hospital. And worse; yes, worse: the guilt that she called 9-1-1 too early. Her best friend spent his last moments spitting every vulgar name he knew at her; furious that she ruined everything. He just wanted to die at home with his dog, Charlie.
His only other communication during his final days was a single text message to a friend. A one-character message. A period.
He emerged into childhood the very same way I did, abandoned by an alcoholic father, and all for the best, so to clear the way for another man, one more qualified, to eventually do the job of fathering. I know well the bond between a mother and son who form a family just the pair, at least for a while.
Biodad had no savings nor do I. His funeral was inexpensive to say the least. Grandma will keep his ashes and one day they will be blended with her own.
"It started out just the two of us," she said. "That's how it will end."
Had to renew my First Aid certificate today, with a full-day session at St. John's Ambulance. I scored 100% on the test despite missing a couple lessons while sitting in the bathroom. My tummy wasn't in the best of moods and I'm sure the colourful amputation videos did nothing to calm it.
The questions were all multiple choice; four options each, of which at least two would be altogether stupid. In every scenario I answered the question as if I intended to be helpful. Had every answer set included "e) Run screaming from the room" I probably would have scored a tidy zero.
I approach the intercom box hopeful that the voice on the other side will be that of a semi-normal human being and not another human-demon hybrid campaigning for Ass Hole Of The Century honours.
"Yes. Can I help you?"
So far so good! "I'd like to visit an inmate please?"
"Name of the inmate?"
"Hendricks. First name Speedy."
Finally the big door clicks. I wonder, for too long, if this is some mechanical language that I'm supposed to respond to. Finally I reach for the door but it's clickness expires as I do so. Denied.
"Come on in," says the intercom lady and the door clicks again.
Inside the mantrap, my pocket accessories are emptied onto a tray below a window where Intercom Lady peers through at them.
I walk through the gun detector and it goes off. But they don't pre-emptively shoot me to ribbons, thank god. They confirm with me that I'm wearing a metal belt buckle and then click me through the inner door.
The visiting hours are very narrow and specific for different inmate "groups" and are available online. I had thought that it was nice of me to look up the specifics online rather than just call and make an operator tell me all the relevant details. But the Demon-Human was not impressed with me and barked, "A NAME would be helpful!" before I could finish getting the question out of my mouth. And then when I tried to clarify the 2-visit-per-week-per-inmate rule he barked at me again. "You just come down here and take your chances!"
"Oh...kay... Bye now." Sorry for ruining your day, Buster.
I'm still thinking of sending a resume to the Scooterville Detention Centre outlining my guard experience at the Community Corrections Centre and then outlining what a complete bitch I'm prepared to be, since I assume that's what they desire in an employee.
Beyond the mantrap I'm still separated from Intercom Lady by glass but there's a slot for me to submit my ID. They log who I am and my relation to their guest. "Acquaintance," I said.
She gives me directions which prove very difficult to follow because there are more doors along the way than she let on and none of them are marked with the signs which she thinks exist - and perhaps once did exist back when she was new and alert and not dulled by Prison Malaise Syndrome.
[Editor's Note: He made that up. PMS stands for something else entirely.]
There are two more controlled-access points; big barred gates, before I find my way into the correct visiting room and to station number three which lacks any label whatsoever. I calculate its position thanks to labels 5 and 6 surviving nearby.
It's just like on TV. Speedy finally approaches dressed in his finest safety-orange overalls, takes a seat on the other side of the thick glass and we each pick up a phone handset. Speedy is all smiles. He wasn't sure he'd ever see me again. He never expected any visitors. Mom and sis live on the other side of the city and he had told them not to trouble themselves with the journey for a twenty-minute-limit visit. (Ribbitt.)
Speedy looks good. He's been taking his meds and getting sleep and besides that, twiddling his thumbs. He's taking the opportunity to try to quit smoking since he has no choice anyway. It's entirely banned in Canadian prisons.
He wants to talk about the events that led up to his arrest and removal from Corrections Heaven, events that include marijuana and the busting of a window. He feels he got the shaft; that he had earned the privelege of a single breakdown. He'd caused not an ounce of trouble before. We'll overlook that time when he was ardently claiming his family had all been taken by aliens and replaced by clones. He had to go away for a little while...
But I repeatedly steer him away from his complaints. We're on the clock. I manage to learn that he will be shipped back to Kingston within a week but that his warrant will still expire next month and he will then bus it back to Scooterville a free man. Free for the first time since he was a teenager. He promises that my phone number and email are safe in his contingency bag stored at his sister's house and that he will call me as soon as he's in town. He won't promise me that he will continue to get his monthly injection but I take what I can get.
Our time then expires. It takes almost forever to get back out through all the gates and click-doors where the air is fresh and crisp and life goes on.
The Lonely Lumberjack and I spend moments together on brief regular occasions. I am fond of him.
Life in the bush came with harsh struggles and dangers, I have learned , as did life behind bars. One had to be tough. One had to bear somehow, the idiotic things that so many men will do when they are gender-segregated for so long.
A man among them who knows integrity; who knows work-ethic and discipline; who knows the great powers to be harnessed from solitude and quiet and the pristine reality of natural spaces, all of which he is denied; how does he tolerate the unescapable clamor of idiocy?
Who would blame him for wanting to lash out?
Who would blame one, who has been judged harshly against the superstitions of the day, for judging others in turn for the unaccounted harm they do?
It takes some insight to detect the illegitimicies of human habit; to see the great harms in normalcy.
I suggest that this wisdom is rarer: To see that all of life is constructed for the purpose of doing harm and all these offences which surround us are natural and inevitable and born of programming necessary to our very existence, and that our own capacities, however occasional, for decency and balance are something to be proud of and celebrated and pursued and multiplied, but not to be taken for granted; not to be expected in others; not to be a cause for rage when others do not measure up to our own, perhaps excellent, but precocious, standards.
This, I would have the woodsman perceive, if I had my way.
I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways.
- Michael Jackson
I never yet heard man or woman much abused [who] I was not inclined to think the better of... and to transfer the suspicion or dislike to the one who found pleasure in pointing out the defects of another.
- Jane Porter
It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels but because they do not expect holiness from one another but from God only.
- William Blake (1757-1827)
13 thoughts in thriteen minutes. No editing...! GO!!
1. Did I say no editing? I'm allowed to edit for spelling. So there. I haven't done an avitable scramble in what? Years? It's surely not good blogging but some of my friends are probably wanting to know what's going on PLUS -- I need an easy way to break the ice and get blogging again.
2. I was on vacation in the muskokas for two weeks hence the absence here. Mind you I got back a couple weeks ago. Same cottage. The Want-n-While. Gifty McBrainchild was my guest and his love for board games - or games of any sort - rubbed off on the rest of us. The annual retreat was a lot more social than usual with constant bouts of Catan, Hearts, Boggle, Speed and stack of other games. I didn't write a single poem or compose a single song.
3. The Big Empty Warehouse Sunday nighters have dried up; my choice recording location. Since moving into the home of the Liberal Theologian, I have relied on the warehouse as my guitar venue. I have very quiet instincts which I must resist if I am to get back into the composing habit. For the first three years of the music experience I would always feel on edge; a little out of sorts any time I went a couple days without picking up the guitar. That seems to have worn off. Not sure whether that's good or bad. Haven't thought about it really.
4. I've got Ye Olde Security Guard Company's brass with their knickers knotted and the manager of the corrections centre going to her regional director for consultation re this little old obscurity guard intending to qualify for Circle Of Support volunteer status so that I can work with some of those emerging from the criminal justice community more closely. That both roles - guard and volunteer - are entirely compatible in terms of interests in public safety and in successful reintegration efforts, is pretty obvious to me. God forbid any of these leaders actually climb down from their pedestals to talk to me personally so I can explain my position and intentions and put their precious minds at ease. I'm far from the first figure of supposed authority to work in such dual capacities. It really is mind blowing to contemplate the incredible volume of work that goes into blocking human kindness from penetrating this twisted knot of a society on the part of fear and lawyers and insurance companies. Look around people. Find a room where there is no grimmacing lawyer or insurance agent present and guess what? They're present alright.
5. I have a fish screensaver. Little animated fish. They all look the fucking same. Little Borg fish. That's right. I said fucking. There's nothing noble about swearing whatsoever. But then there's nothing wise, intelligent or sane about fearing "swear" words. They're just a stupid noise that comes out of humans' mouths along with a shitstorm of other stupidities. There are a thousand far more harmful and offensive things that people do and say without having a shred of awareness for the harm they do. So there. Fuck a duck. Quack quack.
6. I really should be doing laundry. First day back at the Princess Of Schools tomorrow and I've ought to wear.
7. What time did I begin this exercise? That would have been a fine thing to remember.
8. Eight rhymes with plate. Am I hungry? Discuss...
9. Nine rhymes with tine. Fork a duck.
10. I have a feeling I've been at this more than 13 minutes.
11. I've been giving Gifty McBrainchild a lift to the bus stop on certain mornings when I'm coming off night duty and he has early morning band practice. He and his super-excellent moms live just around the corner from Corrections Heaven. I love their company. They remind me that not quite everyone is addicted to, and enslaved by, the bullshit of instinctive mind and societal structure. I need the company of people like that; higher order people... World Citizen, Rennaisance Kid, JazzLion, Neo, Matman. These are the people who keep me going. I am nothing without them. They inspire me to do the good work. and yet - why do I not arrange to see them more often? 12. Gifty McBrainchild? What a terrible nickname. Hey, it was spur-of-the-moment. I'll think of something better. Promise.
12. My brother is now engaged to a wonderful human being of the female persuasion. They've been shacking up for quite a while. The big event is in two years. I'll be in the wedding party. I'm certainly not big on traditions but this will be pretty cool. I'll get to make a speech for one thing. I'll be expected to welcome the bride to the family. I'm sure I'll do something out of the ordinary though. Maybe I'll read passages from Dante.
Chapter Twenty Two All Around The Conference Table, Cock-a-Doodle-Doodle-Doo
Sir Admiral Premier Gleeg Bleeekxpritzle, Fifth Colony, Twin Dwingeloo Galaxies Federation sat to the left of the currently unoccupied Big Spiffy Chair. To his left, along the conference table sat his chauffer; Bruce Willis (of no relation to the Hollywood film star whatsoever), Mickey Mouse (genuine film star), Bunny McRascalrabbit (profession undisclosed), Philbert Dickerson (bodyguard) and Pamela Baker (food prep/customer service). Across the table from them sat the five wearers of white they’d met in Detex One of the Tweeporan reconnaissance ship C.H.B. Lurking Vulture along with two more white-robed persons they’d never before seen.
“Welcome to the Office of Light and Wellbeing,” said Lady Mimosa. Her lantern was not present. “I believe we’re all sufficiently acquainted except for my esteemed colleagues here: Lord Tippery Spinwobble; Keeper of the Holy Spectrum, and Lady Noodels Petunia; Director at Large.” There was a general round of nods and how-do-you-do’s. “His Gloriousness The Bean Pheasant is running late. He texted me to say that the line-up at the coffee shop is otherworldly but he’ll be along quite shortly. He’s asked us to begin without him. I trust there are no objections…? Good. Lady Peejchelly, do you wish to present the tokens?”
Lady Peejchelly nodded and removed from her pocket a small red box which sparkled as if made of rubies. “Mr. Willis,” she said. “We are indebted to you for your brave act aboard the Tweeporan ship Lurking Vulture. Without you, we may not have succeeded in extracting the Admiral Premier alive; nor your fellow earthlings, I might add.”
“But I failed,” said Bruce. “All I did was spray a bunch of aliens with ice cream.”
“Ah yes,” said Lady Peejchelly. “Which they found most distractingly delicious! It was the perfect plan. The hull and shields of their material ship could in no way be breached, but thanks to your distraction we were able to slip into their tesseract deck through the fourth dimension, bypassing the hull altogether. We could not have asked for a better partner. Now, to show our appreciation we offer you this token gift.” She handed him the box. “May it always remind you of your brave heroic deed.”
Mr. Willis opened the box and peered inside. He frowned.
“Your very own olde cheerio and pocket lint! Souvenir size of course.”
“Ah,” said Bruce. “Thank you so much. Um. Do they have similar powers as your own have?”
“Nothing of the sort,” said Peejchelly.
“Okay. Well thanks.”
“If he is to always be reminded of this event,” said old Bill Blake, “Then I take it that you do not intend to erase our memories?”
“Perhaps His Gloriousness the Bean Pheasant will wish to speak on that matter personally,” said Lady Mimosa, “But I believe I can summarize our position accurately. How should I say this…”
“They’re all going to laugh at you,” said Admiral Bleeekxpritzle.
“What he means is, no one would believe you even if you told people about us or about the other - ah - constituents of the universe which the Admiral, as I’m aware, has previously explained.”
“If I may interject,” said the gray-faced Lord Tippery Spinwobble, “The story has already been leaked to some entity known as Fantasy Writer Guy or else New Day Rising - he’s a schizophrenic I presume. Anyway, it’s being posted on his web log as we speak and there are no plans to act against him. He’s largely ignored and regarded as a freak by his three or four regular readers.”
“So that suits our interests,” said Lady Peejchelly, nodding. “The whole matter has already been categorized a satirical entertainment.”
“As does every religious event on this planet, eventually,” came a voice from the open doorway. “Though it once required the passing of one civilization to the next for such perspectives to migrate.” The speaker resembled a very large brown bean, or football perhaps, with wide, very narrow eyes, puffy sensuous lips, a massive upright colourful fanning tail and long long crane-like pencil-thin legs. He held a paper coffee cup in both spindly little hands, standing barely five feet high or almost six including the tail. “But such is the marvel of your age; the age of the internet; a whirl of recklessness and speed.” The beast raised high a skinny knee and stepped onto the Big Spiffy Chair where it then crouched at general eye-level to the others. He placed the coffee on the table. “Any other questions?”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Lady Mimosa, “I present His Gloriousness The Bean Pheasant.”
“Charmed,” said Bunny.
The Bean said nothing but appeared to wink one of his slim brown eyes. Mickey Mouse frowned and looked back and forth between he and Bunny.
“I have a question,“ said Philbert. “I would like to know just what we’re supposed to do now. I mean - how am I supposed to go back to my life now, knowing that on a universal scale, we’re the objects of disgust; respected slightly less than dolphins?”
“Slightly?” barked Lady Noodels Petunia. She burst out laughing but checked it as she realized everyone was staring at her. She cleared her throat. “Sorry.”
“What you can do,” said the Bean Pheasant, “Is evolve.”
“Oh. Okay then. I’ll just put that on my to-do list. Evolve. I can fit that in Wednesday morning. There we go.”
“You can lead by example,” said Lady Peejchelly. “Evolution happens, or doesn’t happen, with every single thought and action. You just have to be mindful.”
“I wouldn’t even know where to start,” said Pamela.
“It starts with humility and courage,” said Miss Zhadow.
“That’s right,” said Lady Mimosa. “You must realize that all that you think you know comes from corrupt and untrustworthy sources; the ruling institutions which seek to enslave you, the flawed and misguided imaginings of your neighbours and associates.”
“Your own instincts,” said His Gloriousness. “Your own mind.” The earthlings looked to him. “You must stop listening to your mind, and start informing it, but not from books and talking boxes. From your own contemplation of your own observations. You must discover the meaning of truth. It comes only from experience. Stop rationalizing. Stop looking for the answers you want to find. You will always seem to find them. Dare to sincerely want the truth, no matter how unsavoury. It really does set you free. And what seems a horror at first, will become benign when you finally approach it from the proper perspective.”
“I don’t like the sound of this one bit,” squeaked Mickey Mouse.
“No, you wouldn’t, would you?” said Lady Mimosa. “You are just another institution; a pop culture icon. A profit algorithm. You are not a voice of truth.”
“I’m the voice of goodbye and so long,” said Mr. Mouse, climbing down from his chair.
“That’s good,” said The Bean Pheasant. “You really have no place in this story.”
“I beg your pardon! My chauffer was killed for crying out loud!”
“I expect that will be edited out of the story, along with every other reference to you. Especially the elevator fart scene. That was crass and regrettable.”
“Hey! I’m Mickey Mouse! I own this town! I don’t have to take this shit! ”
“You’re a mouse. You are not significant. You have no consciousness. You’re no more than a robot.”
“Come on. We’re going.”
“I’m staying,” said Bunny.
“What! You’re not getting taken in by this crap!”
“Goodbye Mick. It‘s been fun.”
Mickey nodded, his arms crossed. “I’m going back to my wife!”
Bunny turned to face him. “I think that’s a good idea,” she said gently.
Mickey stared back. “Philbert,” he said finally.
“It’s been a slice,” said Philbert.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Best of luck,” said Philbert. “You already have my resignation.”
“Right,” muttered Mickey. “I’m out.”
“Live long and prosper,” said Bleeekxpritzle as the mouse departed.
“So the seeking of truth is the path to evolution?” said Philbert.
“For most sentient life, it is the start,” said Lady Mimosa. The blind and treacherous motivations of your dark mind; your instinct, are just variations of the will to kill. They become suicidal when there are no more species to challenge your dominance. That is when consciousness must replace instinct as the driver of motivation. On earth you have waited far far too long to make this shift. Your evolution stalled two thousand years ago.”
“It is the truth of yourself that will set you free when you come to know it,” said the Bean. “When you truly know yourself, and not the puppet that takes your place in the charade of society, well then,” he paused, “Then you can not help but change. You can not help but want to change. You gain the opportunity to start again, to discover your new self. For the puppet dies. And now - I believe that is enough instruction.”
“That is how you start,” said Lady Mimosa. “What you will learn; the realities behind all the illusions, that we leave for you to discover.”
“How long will it take to change the world?” said Mr. Willis.
“The world changes every moment,” said The Bean Pheasant. “Every single moment.”
Chapter Twenty One This Chapter Is Brought To You By The Letter H
“Friends,” said Bleeekxpritzle to the earthlings. “I give you Gladys Turnkey, Quasi-Glorious Personal Assistant to His Gloriousness The Bean Pheasant. The woman on the floating carpet smiled and nodded. “This is Lady Mimosa; Carrier of the Blessed Fire.” Lady Mimosa nodded solemnly. “Lady Peejchelly; Carrier of The Olde Cheerio And Some Pocket Lint.” Lady Peejchelly had placed the giant lint ball on her head and wreathed it in place with the Olde Cheerio. She bowed deeply upon introduction, holding the Cheerio-lint hat in place with one hand. “Miss Zhadow; Director of Ambient Lighting.” Miss Zhadow smiled and waved. “And of course, Lord Pheltphondle, Director of Very Minor Things Beginning With H.” Lord Pheltphondle who currently wore a ham sandwich on top of his hat, was a firm believer in handshakes (obviously) but the pedestal’s distance could not be bridged by the man’s perfectly ordinary arm, a problem currently at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“Can you summon a bridge?” Lady Mimosa proposed.
“What kind of bridge begins with H?” said Pheltphondle. None could offer an answer. The director pondered the problem. “Give me some space,” he urged, and all backed away a few paces. “Hedgerow!” he commanded and a great wall of bush suddenly spanned the gap. “Can you crawl across it?”
Pamela chewed a nail. Philbert and Bleeekxpritzle looked concernedly at old Bill Blake with his rollie walker. And then, with a great rustling noise the shrubbery sagged at the middle and then folded, falling into the pit.
“Ack!” cried Pheltphondle. “Helium balloon!” The shrub then returned to the surface in the form of a balloon with dangling string which the lord grabbed hold of. He then contemplated: What could he turn the balloon into that would effectively bridge the gap?
“I mean not to pressure you, my lord,” said Lady Mimosa, “But the sleeping agents will begin wearing off any moment now and the entire crew of this ship will descend upon us.”
“Thank you,” said Pheltphondle. That helps me think more clearly now.”
“I’ve got it!” he said finally. “But it will be very big. So everyone must step far away.” The bepedestalled moved to its far edge. “Now listen,” said Lord Pheltphondle, “The larger the object, the shorter length of time I can keep it incorporated. So the moment it appears, you must run through it to this side just as immediately as ever possible! Do you understand this with perfect clarity?” They all nodded and the Admiral drew old Bill Blake aside to confer with him.
“Ready?” Pheltphondle warned. He then cried his command. The prisoners could scarce believe their ears, nor their eyes.
It was big indeed, easily spanning the gap. The ponderous thing lay mostly on the main floor of Detex One with a minority of square footage resting on the pedestal. The earthlings gawked up at it, stunned. It’s exterior was a patchwork of rotting boards; A semitransparent face glowed ominously from a third-floor window. Flying bats encircled the leaning chimney. The front doors lay tilted open, barely clinging to their hinges. Eerie howls and cackles emanated from somewhere within.
“Are you fucking kidding me!” squealed Mickey.
“Run!” cried Pheltphondle. “RUN!”
Bleeekxpritzle led the way with Bill Blake Senior riding his shoulders. They crashed through the side door, knocking it off its hinges and onto the floor, taking a myriad of spider webs with it. The interior was dark and dusty.
“Blaccherrschmawzzle!” shouted Bleeekxpritzle. For he was confronted with two sets of stairs; one leading up and one down, and no other options.
“I see this is going to be complicated,” said Blake. The admiral thumped down the lower set of stairs while the others all followed.
“Whoa!” cried Bleeekxpritzle, halting suddenly and throwing wide his arms.
“Oopsy daisy,” said Blake. The others piled into them. Below them yawned the void of the pit.
“Upstairs!” said the admiral. “Hurry now!” They turned about and raced up the canted rotting staircase to the second floor, the piggy-backing alien now in the rear. They fled down a second floor hallway where the doors to black bedrooms lay open, half-demolished or just laying on the floor. A white-sheeted figure leapt from one of the doorways hooting maniacally at them. Pamela and Bunny halted and screamed and were just about trampled from behind. Philbert punched the faceless thing in what might have otherwise been its face, though there is no way we’ll ever know, and the thing fell to the floor and was trampled by the group who were now dragging Bunny and Pamela along.
“Find another staircase!” hollered Bleeekxpritzle.
“Ask and you shall receive!” shouted Philbert. They’d come to what might have been a grand lobby if not for the great sheets of spider webs and for the giant spiders themselves creeping around the walls and ceilings chittering excitedly. Looking over a battered railing they spied the front door leaning open. Dual staircases led down to it. They descended the nearest. At the rear the tubby alien barely kept his feet as half the steps he trod on snapped beneath him.
A terrible cackle filled the dusty air and a woman in black came soaring out of the gloom at the party, riding a broom through the air. Her skin was green, her hat tall and pointed. “I’ll get you, my pretties!” She shrieked. “Aaaaauughh! Curses!” The admiral had flung a tentacle around her broomstick and she lost control, careening face-first into a wall.
They hit the ground floor and raced for the main doors. “I believe we’re still over the pit,” stated old Bill Blake. “Though metaphorically we’re perhaps more so at the bottom of it.” They spilled onto the rickety front porch which hung over the great nothingness, and there they performed the whole pile-up, squeal and reverse deal again.
“This way,” the admiral blurted as he found himself in the lead again. They turned down a hallway to find a giant white mouse in tiny top hat squatting there. He had red eyes and he sniffed the visitors as they slowed before him.
“One of you smells delicious,” said the mouse, and then, “Oh my gourd! You’re Mickey Mouse! May I have your autograph!”
“Next time, home boy!” squeaked Mickey. “Out of the way now!” The white mouse stepped aside and the party barrelled through.
“Follow me!” cried the admiral as he charged through a doorway at the end of the hall. There appeared no way out of this room. Bleeekxpritzle kept running.
“Excuse me, admiral,” said Mr. Blake. “I say, excuse-” The Admiral hit the wall.
For the most part, as a result, the wall was demolished. The alien stumbled onto the floor of Detex One with Old Bill on his back and Old Bill’s bowler hat lost somewhere behind in the debris, leaving the old guy looking very much like Albert Einstein without it. The others came pouring out after them and with scarce seconds to spare. Before the gang had caught their breath, the giant crumbling structure behind them suddenly vanished, replaced by a wiener in a bun. These, along with the bowler hat, promptly plummeted into the void.
Mickey mouse marched up to Lord Pheltphondle, glaring at him. “A haunted house…! Really!”
“It’s all I could think of on short notice,” stated Lord Pheltphondle.
“How do you go about thinking up haunted house without thinking of simply house! Don’t you think that all might have been significantly less risky without all the ghosts and shit!”
The lord tugged at his collar and cleared his throat. “I was under pressure.”
This relatively unedited first draft, in case you've forgotten or joined in late, was born out of three "Prompt" exercises which I used to kick off the June Camp NaNoWriMo celebration and posted to this blog for reasons of shits and giggles. At the time I did not title them Chapters One, Two or Three because I had no idea I was about to challenge myself to turn the unrelated pieces into a proper story; a 20k word novelette: Admiral Bleeekxpritzel Versus The Drones Of Doom. It is perhaps regrettable that I posted it here prior to proper editing, as there is no wider audience I would care to promote a superior version to. This blog was the appropriate place for the edited version, thus there is now little reason to edit it. Which, now that I think about it, is fine. Except for the closing few paragraphs of chapter 22 (the final chapter), the story was completed in about two weeks and the rest of June camp was spent on other projects. I've taken my time posting chapters here basically in order to buy time in case I wanted to do some editing and take the story to some other place, but this never happened. It has done its little job in its original form. I am on vacation from August 18 to September 1st with little-to-none internet access. I will post the final three chapters before I go. If anyone has read the story complete, it would be great to receive feedback. Not praise. Feedback.
Chapter Twenty Some Pretty Weird Sh*t And No, The Author Is Not On Drugs
The first sign that something was up was another rising of the level of nervous energy among the Tweeporan military population. They began to natter excitedly in their alien language and many of them left their workstations with anxious equine faces in order to communicate in hushed manner. The prisoners, now numbering seven, could sense the growing state of alarm amongst their captors.
The second sign was the faint musical rumblings of what sounded like a Hammond organ. It was clear that this sound did not appease the alien guards. Those with staves gathered near the great doors.
The third sign was the emergence of a second melody; that provided by a harpsichord, at which time the organ music promptly died. The fourth sign was the subsequent replacement of the harpsichord music by that of a harmonica. Admiral Bleeekxpritzle nodded his head knowingly.
Another hole very suddenly appeared, this in the wall itself, and this without the introductory swirling effect or slow dissolve. It was also larger the whole which the chauffer, Mr. Willis had come through earlier. The Tweeps tensed as they braced themselves for whatever might be coming through the new portal.
And what finally stepped through was a white-haired woman in stretchy off-white body suit smacking of Space 1999 crew wear. She looked possibly human but for hugely big eyes. She carried a contraption like some kind of oversized remote control device but with a pair of metal rods sprouting from each side. “Pardon me,” said the visitor. “I just need to take some light readings.”
Most of the Tweeporans looked at each other quizzically but not the one who’d copacapocabingoed Bruce Willis onto the pedestal. He marched toward her immediately. “By whose authority!” he demanded.
“By the authority of His Gloriousness The Bean Pheasant!” said another voice; this coming from the new hole where a second person had arrived, this one in white robes and sitting cross-legged on a hovering carpet. This woman might also have been human if of African descent. A pair of Tweeps approached her with staves held forth and she swiftly rose into the air, carpet and all, beyond their reach. “Lay down your staves and submit to the lawful liberation of these innocents!” the carpet rider shouted down to them. “In turn your dignity shall be spared and you will receive safe passage to that home in Orion which I know you cherish despite it being the least popular tourist destination in the entire universe, for reasons, not the least of which, include its very peculiar odour!”
“The Bean Pheasant has no say in this!” cried the copacapocabingo man. He pointed his staff directly at the carpeteer and a blue glow appeared at its terminus, growing very swiftly in intensity. From the hole in the wall then, a creature bolted through; a howling hyaena which took all by surprise. In a flash it pounced upon the ‘bingo man, knocking him onto his back. The staff flew from the Tweeporan’s hands. Immediately then the hyaena changed form, suddenly mutating into a hound dog who promptly fetched the staff and trotted happily back toward the portal. Now there stood three more individuals just inside the hole in the wall.
“To the contrary…! His Gloriousness has much to say!” challenged another powerful voice. This was another white-robed, white-haired woman who stood on her own feet holding a kind of lantern on a chain. The lantern was shielded but a light of whitest intensity sprayed razor thinly from the seams of the metal contraption. “Indeed this last century he has scarce been known to shut up for even a few seconds!”
Beside her stood yet a third woman in white robes; this with objects held in each hand. One looked like an oversized plain donut; the other a formless pill of grey fuzz; perhaps a very old and tattered wig. It was to her the hound dog trotted with the staff in his jaws. She bent down; reaching with the grey fuzz ball. She touched it to the proffered stick and immediately the staff seemed to rubberize and be sucked from existence through the fuzzy grey mass. The Tweeporans gasped at this.
From the hole there stepped a fifth visitor; a man in similar body suit as the light reader wore. He also wore a long white goatee, a harelip and the most generic of hats. He took his place beside the lantern and fuzz carriers and suddenly the hole disappeared. Simultaneously there appeared a hamster, perched on the man’s hat. He stood haughtily, with head held high and hands on his hips; the man, that is. The hamster seemed distracted and he poked about the roof of the hat, sniffing everywhere.
“How dare you trespass on this ship!” cried the staffless bingoist. “All of you, disembark at once or you shall be taken into custody and tried for piracy in the Court of Intergalactica, Tweepora Major where death is the only consequence for such an inappropriate and rude interruption!”
“You chant gibberish!” cried the lantern woman. “This is planet earth and our council are here by the will of the O.U.C.H. No other permit has been granted. You are the trespassers!”
“You hide behind forms and bureaucracy!” spat the bingoist, who’s name, it so happens, was Bing. “While you subvert the naïve sanctions of the Gabrielites! We are the watch dogs! And our actions will be vindicated when the Pheasant is outed for the madman he is!”
“Tell it to the judge!” cried the hamster man.
“You tell it to the judge!” cried Bing.
“No, you tell it to the ju-!”
“Shut up!” cried the fuzz carrier, who smacked the man on the back of the head with her donut-shaped thing which may in fact have been a very large donut for all appearances but which was more properly referred to as The Olde Cheerio as it were. This action sent the hamster tumbling off the man’s head and onto the floor where it immediately began a game of chase with the hound dog.
“These affairs are beyond your station, scorekeeper!” said the lantern carrier. What you need to consider is do you really wish a showdown with us? You are badly outgunned! It would be a shame to lose lives here and all for nought.”
“Count again, lamp lady! It is you who are outgunned!”
“These are boys with sticks,” said the lantern woman. “And you are a boy with a temper and no stick. Cool your head, young Bing! Yes. I know who you are. Cool your head and you will find clarity tomorrow. Turn over your detexees to us.”
“I propose an alternate resolution,” said Bing.
“I will listen.”
“I propose you shove that lantern up your snoot and set your head aflame!”
The lady just shook her head ruefully.
“Take them!” Bing cried.
There was a group Tweeporan roar, and then, as earthlings are prone to say, all hell… broke loose.
Sir Admiral Gleeg Bleeekxpritzle and his six earthling companions stood watching anxiously, aware they’d more than a little invested in the outcome, as a battle was waged before their wide eyes.
Tweeporans attacked, hand to hand. Others attacked with their staves. Others stood back and fired bolts of some energy or another from their staves. The lantern lady swung the device around by its chain, knocking Tweeporans about the head and deflecting enemy energy beams away. Her companion held the Olde Cheerio aloft in one hand and the grey fuzz in the other. The latter seemed to soak up most of the energy attacks as the beams bent and were diverted into the grey mass, while the former seemed to emit circular bursts of energy and light of its own; the effects of which, were not easily deciphered by the prisoners.
The man in white wandered into combat, battling opponents now and then with a hacksaw, now and then with a hammer, and for one brief period, with a hookah pipe.
The hound dog transformed into a hawk and it flew about, diving at the Tweeporans and pecking at their ears and noses. It became a hornet following that, and stung an attacker or two, before becoming a hippopotamus at which time it didn’t do anything particularly useful. It then became a hummingbird. It then flew up behind the hammer-bearing man and once between his legs, turned into a horse.
The lady on the carpet circled overhead like an airplane in holding pattern. She had brandished a notebook and stayed busy keeping notes on the affair. She would be required to submit a lengthy report later.
At one frightful moment a staff laser attack made it past the fuzz ball’s defence web and flew at Lady Mimosa who struck out with the lantern, deflecting it away. Unfortunately it caromed directly at Lady Peejchelly and knocked the sacred Olde Cheerio out of her hand. It rolled through the crowd unhindered in the direction of the pit. Lord Pheltphondle saw this and, sharing Lady Peejchelly’s horror, he cried out a word; the first barrier he could think of.
“Hearth!” he snapped, willing the item to appear between the Olde rolling Cheerio and the pit. A bloodied pink normally-internal organ appeared there, thumping with a beat. “I said HEARTH!” he cried, and the heart turned immediately into a large brick and wood arrangement with several big red socks tacked to it’s topmost edge. Most unfortunately the Cheerio rolled straight through the opening where no actual fireplace existed and then rolled off the edge of the pit.
Sir Admiral Premier Gleeg Bleeekxpritzle watched this all with mounting horror and stepping to the pedestal’s rim he flung out a tentacle and snatched the giant Cheerio just as it was tumbling into the air with ought but eternal doom below. In the same motion he wound the kibble up like a yoyo and then snapped the tentacle like whip, releasing it so that it flew like a frisbee right back at Lady Peejchelly. She caught it deftly, and just in time to have it belch a cloud of instant sleeping gas at a pair of attackers. “Sweet dreams,” she muttered as they fell about her feet.
The battle fared the way of the wearers of white from the outset and in due order the Tweeporans for the most part had been knocked silly or had retreated to cower beneath their work stations. Only Bing and a few of his most staunch supporters remained at the end when the lantern bearer cast back its metal shield. Beams of magnificent light shot out; one for each enemy. They were each struck in the face by these beams and screaming, they fell to their knees. To the prisoners o’ the pedestal it was like being in a welding chamber without sufficient eye protection. They all diverted their gazes at once, throwing up hands before their faces.
These last defenders suffered a temporary blindness which began to abate once all the Detex One forces were subdued and rounded up. All of their staves had been damaged or destroyed in battle. The wearers of white all came to gather at the edge of the pit and greeted their associate, the Admiral Premiere.
About twenty four years ago, Peter Pan, an on-and-off motorcyclist, informed me that it was wise to leave extra room when driving behind a motorcycle; more space than you would normally allow behind another car. Because if there is some kind of accident and a motorcyclist comes off his bike, you really don't want to run him over.
I took that advice and for twenty four years I have allowed that extra space.
The other day, driving on a major street, I was following a motorcycle. It started to rain and very suddenly, the bike slid out from under the rider and he fell to the road in front of me.
I stopped in time. The rider was okay. The bike not too badly damaged.
The dogs and I have been watching a lot of movies in between walkies and treats:
Fantastic Mister Fox ****
FWG: Stylish, original and highly entertaining adaptation of the childrens book of the same name by very creative author Roald Dahl. Done in painstaking stop-motion puppetry. Edgy and funny. Great stuff. Is it meant for children? It's kind of for everyone I guess. Don't miss it.
Oliver: Crap. All the dawgs were portraied as ideots.
Princess: Very realistic. The dogs were beagles after all.
Miller's Crossing **
FWG: I have a lot of respect for the Coen Brothers and their adventurous spirit in creating movies of diverse genres and with unique approaches. Inevitably they had to try a gangster movie, I guess, but where was the unique approach? This felt like Gangster 101 For Beginners. Biggest problem: None of the main characters were likeable. Couldn't wait for them to all kill each other and get it over with. Disappointing.
Oliver: Thugs take some long walks in the woods and a bunch of other things I didunt understand.
Princess: Excellent walk-in-the-forest scenes with a lot of unneccesary minutea between.
How I Ended This Summer ***
FWG: One of those realistic flicks where the purpetrators are portrayed as normal people who slip into badness through the frailties of human perception and obsession, wisdom usually the domain of foreign, not Hollywood, flicks. This one - I had trouble buying into the characters' motivations but perhaps that's my fault. I was partially side-tracked by a steak and asparagus dinner. Russian with subtitles.
Oliver: I was also side-tracked by FWig's steak. He didn't share a single morsel, the fat greedy bastard.
Princess: Good arctic scenery and an excellent performance by the polar bear.
Everybody's Fine **
FWG: Funny at times with nuggets of rich emotion but painfully unsubtle. A children's movie in terms of giving the audience not a thing to figure out for themselves, but with adult material. Another sign of the times. Alarmingly our society is still growing duller. When does it stop and when will DeNiro ever do a half-decent movie again?
Princess: A pointless film about a bunch of people living in big houses but none with dogs or a pet of any kind.
The Day After Tomorrow *
FWG: I don't mind storytellers cheating science for the sake of a good story but this is a grotesque mockery. Roger Ebert says "Two thumbs up; the special effects are terrific!" He must have misspelled terrible or else he's completely senile or else taking bribes. The first 50 minutes was garbage, then I turned it off for fear my brain might turn into pudding.
Oliver: I would have liked sum pudding
Princess: I can not adequately analyze a film based on just the first 50 minutes.
FWG: Intelligent exploration of human nature with delightful performances by Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer.
Oliver: I coodent understand a thing.
Princess: Faithful dog is told by heartless owner that he was "bred to be cute."
The Future **
FWG: Funny at times but I fear that all these strange and fantastical ways to tell a story about a lot of people who range from dumb to extremely dumb might have been done for the hell of it and without a point. Slightly creepy, intentially or otherwise.
Oliver: Oh my gawd, I wanted to chase that cat all over the place.
Princess: The cat had a broken leg. In a cast. Only a heartless jerk would want to chase her.
Margin Call ***
FWG: Surprisingly tense and compelling dramatization of an American financial "disaster"; pretty clearly the sub-prime mortgage fiasco which blew up a couple years ago, and the Wall-street leetches-in-suits who must navigate the fall-out.
Oliver: I fel asleep
Princess: Man suffers emotional breakdown over beloved dog's death and buries him in his ex-wife's yard. Potentially moving tale ruined by way too much preliminary fluff about the big office where he works.
As promised, I have interviewed my host family's fish population and come to know them each a little better. They weren't terribly sophisticated interviews unfortunately. A bit of a rush job as they don't like coming out of the water for a very long time. Here they are in no particular order:
Zippy The Wonderfish
Zippy's favorite things are colour-enhanced fish flakes, long baths and miniature castles. He considers himself the most likely candidate for King of Tank come next election due to his flashy attitude and overall manoeuvrability.
Lou (for short) claims to have swam the English channel in under a minute prior to captivity. His favorite things are colour-enhanced fish flakes, miniature castles and belly rubs.
Goldentoe is the current King of Tank. His favorite things are miniature castles, Guinness and colour-enhanced fish flakes but not the brown ones.
Gilly has one eye slightly larger than the other. She claims that her larger eye can see spectral shadows from the spirit world as well as normal things. Her favorite normal things are long baths, shiny stones and colour-enhanced fish flakes.
Misty is one of the quieter denizens of the tank. Her favorite things are colour-enhanced fish flakes, long baths and people-watching.
Flash recently broke up with Gilly and is now on the prowl. His favorite things are colour-enhanced fish flakes, miniature castles and Burt Reynolds movies. He brags that he has watched Canonball Run 27 times and even more outrageously, watched Canonball Run II, the sequel, twice.
Aqualamb is a bit of a loner and tends to hide out among the tendrils of plastic sea plants. His favorite things are psychedelic music and erotic auto-asphyxiation.
Bob was asleep at every opportunity for interviews. It is rumoured that his favorite things are long baths and colour-enhanced fish flakes but this could not be verified.
Flip and Myrtle
Myrtle and Flip have been going steady for so long that they are virtually indestinguishable. Their favorite things are sad movies, scrapbooking and colour-enhanced fish flakes.
"Halo" for short was runner up for King of Tank in the last election. His favorite things are travel blogs, colour-enhanced fish flakes and looking at himself in reflective surfaces.
This is the most gregarious of the fish community. His favorite things are colour-enhanced fish flakes, celebrity gossip and the internet. He boasts to have collected more than ten facebook friends; some of which he has never met personally.
Rupert Calverton Essex Mio VonEngelbert Esq.
Rupert declined to be interviewed at this time pending counsel from his lawyer.
Mrs. Whipley was widowed when her husband succombed to injuries sustained at a drunken brawl. The subsequent hearings aroused a latent interest in the law. She is now Rupert Calverton Essex Mio VonEngelbert's lawyer. Her favorite things are marine law, long baths, opera and colour-enhanced fish flakes.
The smallest of the tank population, Alice is nonetheless popular with the other fishes. She is currently dating Bibby McWaterpepper. Her favorite things are pina coladas, long baths, romantic dinners and Ringo Star.
Bibby is an amateur comedian with a love for the outdoors. Once, prior to captivity, he became lost for weeks and ended up in Queen Elizabeth's bidet where he barely escaped with his life. His favorite things are miniature castles, bungee jumping and colour-enhanced fish flakes. His pet peeves are car alarms and tarter sauce.
Well, there you have it. Good god that was stupid.
IF GOD IS YOUR CO-PILOT, MAYBE YOU SHOULD SWAP SEATS
This is what the sign says outside the Baptist church as I drive by. It concerns me that I have no clue what this means.
[Editor's note: Yeah, sure it does.]
Later, driving back to Multispirit House, home of the Thoughtful Educator and his excellent wife and daughter, I share with them my concerns. We have just been to dinner at Red Lobster where a steady parade of staff dropped by the table to see how some of their most regular of customers were doing.
"I'm not sure which seat the church expects that I'm in," I explain, "Nor which seat I'm supposed to be in. Am I the pilot? Am I supposed to be the pilot? I'm not sure if I should be changing seats or not."
The rest of the car's occupants sympathize. They don't get it either. Also, we're worried whether it's safe to be playing musical chairs while the plane is in flight. Shouldn't we land first to be safe? And since this is all metaphorical, just what does landing the plane mean? Death and rebirth? What if I come back from the dead a zombie or vampire? This is now getting scary.
T.E. is taking a slightly longer route home. I've come to stay for two weeks to look after their two lovely dogs, Princess and Oliver. The three humans in the family are about to bugger off to Northern Ireland for shits and giggles - oh yeah, and a wedding.
I'm also lookiong after their fishes who remain sadly anonymous. I think I shall make it a goal this particular visit to get to know them better. I'll see if I have any innate fish-whisperer abilities.
"You're not going out of your way just to see this sign, are you?" I ask.
"Of course I am," says the Thoughtful Educator. Not only that, but he pulls into the church parking lot. "I have to ask them what the heck this means," he says, and sure enough he proceeds to the front door while the rest of us shake our heads and laugh.
He has been invited inside and does not quickly return.
"Okay," says I, debarking. "I'm going to go say I'm a doctor and my patient has escaped." I intend to describe T.E. and ask if they've seen anyone by that description wandering around.
But T.E. and the pastor (priest? Minister?) are just emerging as I approach. The holy man is a tad too friendly and sets off my creep-meter when he invites me to come around for a good ol' baptist celebration some time. Not likely, Thumper. You're sniffing up the very wrong tree.
Oh - I almost forgot. The explanation: Bumper stickers have been common, apparently, which read: Is God your co-pilot? Father Baptistman disagrees with this. God should not co-pilot your life. He should pilot your life. You are just a giant nobody who is along for the ride. So don't even bother getting out of bed in the morning.
IF GOD IS YOUR CO-PILOT, MAYBE YOU SHOULD SWAP SEATS
Now if some prankster came around and fiddled with the interchangible letters of this sign, what might Father McBaptistpreacher find on the lawn as he arrives at work one morning?
GO AHEAD MISS - SWAP YOUR SPIT, IF YOU BE COY OLD LOTUS
Hmm. Sounds more Hindu than Baptist, doesn't it? How about:
GOD SHOULD SWAT YOUR MOIST ASS, YOU LIPPY-FACE BOIE
Hmm. Overly rude and bad spelling. One more try:
YO BOY - FEED US SPAMSLAW, YOU STUPID COOTISH GORILA
I know. I know. I ran out of L's. Oh well. Fun with anagrams. Try it some time. Or not.
“Well then.” said the Admiral. “Buck up, little beavers! The cavalry’s a-comin’.”
* * *
Chapter Nineteen All Around The Kitchen, Cock-a-Doodle-Doodle-Doo
All around the lower part of the Detex Chamber; beyond the enmoated pedestal, the uni-horned Tweeporan personnel were growing louder; more animated, and they were drifting toward the only visible entrance to the place; a pair of massive double doors, fitted with portviewers, chittle bars, multi-locks, bio-coms and optical recesses [A full explanation of these features can be found in appendix II of this book which will be included only if you purchased the full-price version. You can also verify that this is the full-price version of the book by observing the title of chapter eighteen. It should read To The Rescue. If it reads something completely asinine such as Flying Tickle Dumplings or All Around The Kitchen, Cock-a-Doodle-Doodle-Doo, then you are one cheap bastard and it’s no wonder the author is poor].
Sir Admiral Premier Gleeg Bleeekxpritzle, Fifth Colony of the Twin Dwingeloo Galaxies Federation and his five fellow prisoners; Bill Blake Senior, Mickey Mouse, Bunny McRascalrabbit, Philbert Dickerson and Pamela Baker, now became interested in the brewing commotion and found themselves standing upright on the great pedestal on which they were stranded, watching the big doors to see what was happening or about to happen.
Several of the aliens were armed with staves and one of them approached the great doors and held forth his or her staff. A section of one of the doors then became blurry, swirling into a spiral pattern. That precise circle then faded away like kettle vapour, leaving an opening through to the next chamber.
A great jumble of voices emanated from the space beyond the opening. To the earthlings they sounded like English though they could not assemble enough clearly-heard words to devise any meaningful content. Suddenly a bare foot appeared in the portal followed by a leg in black trousers and then the full body of Bruce Willis, chauffeur (of no relation to Bruce Willis, the Hollywood actor) was stepping through the hole, a giant super soaker squirt gun carried in both hands. He waved it around wildly.
“Back off!” he yelled as the Tweeporans began to close around him. Some jumped back. Some laughed uproariously and some edged closer, as if to egg him on. Behind him the sudden portal began to fill with the horsey faces of other Tweeporans; those of earlier acquaintance with Willis; also known as Cake man. And some of those faces were smeared with soft serve ice cream. There was altogether a great clamour of voices which might have been amplified through terror or hilarity or the full gamut between for all the pedestalled humans could interpret.
Mr. Willis wore a grim tight-lipped expression as he pushed through the crowd, waving his gun. It seemed some kind of schoolyard game or a running of the bulls with Tweeporans dancing out of his way but some daringly returning to his path. Several of the more persistently daring personnel were shot in the head with some white stream from the gun and none of those seemed to mind too much.
Willis glanced twice at the pedestal prisoners before calling out to them. “Come on! We’re getting out of here! Follow me!”
Bleeekxpritzle and Philbert looked at each other, then down at the moat of no return and then back at Mr. Willis. The Admiral shrugged his shoulders.
“You know this guy?” said Philbert.
“This is the cavalry?” murmured old Mr. Blake.
“Hardly,” said Bleeekxpritzle.
Finally Willis charged through the crowd screaming, “Ten…! Forty-six…! Twenty two…! Hut hut hut!” A path opened for him but barely wide enough as he raced toward the pedestal and then spying the chasm for the first time, skidded to a barefoot halt at rather the last second. “Yippers!” he screeched; staring wide-eyed into his deep near-doom. He then spun around to face his adversaries who were now ecstatic with wild chattering. Only Bleeekxpritzle knew this for certain to be a bout of riotous Tweeporan laughter.
“Come and get me, y’all long-faced bitches!” Willis cried. “We’ll all go down together!”
An unusually straight-faced soldier then separated himself from the crowd, stepping forward with a staff in hand. “Copacapocabingo!” he hissed.
“What do you want!” cried Willis.
“Copacapocabingo!” cried the Tweeporan with additional urgency.
“Speak English, turd muffin! I know you can!”
“Bingo this: B-fourteen, fucker!”
The soldier responded with a great sweep of his staff which, though without making contact, seemed to be the cause of Mr. Willis, super soaker and all, being launched through the air and over the channel to come crashing down onto the pedestal. He landed on his side with a tremendous “Oooff!” as his great plastic gun flew from his hand and slid across the pedestal’s surface to its rimless lip. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaa
[Editor’s note: That last bit was written as the author dozed off to sleep in his chair. How he shifted case right before the end is a mystery we are still working on. The offending sleep-blurb, as well as this explanation, will be edited out of the full-price version only.]
While thirteen eyes watched the weapon sliding toward certain long-haul dropitude, it was only Bunny who sprung into action. With a giant hop she landed on one big rabbit foot, bringing the other big rabbit foot down on the gun, trapping it at the edge of the pedestal.
“Well done!” cried Philbert.
“That’s my lucky foot,” the rabbit offered, with a shrug.
Admiral Bleeekxpritzle loomed over his prone wincing chauffeur. “Oh Lucy,” said the Admiral grimly. “You got some splainin’ to do.”
“You look well and intact, Admiral. Thank goodness I arrived on time!”
“Don’t play the slippery eel with me, driver!” gurgled the admiral. Your absence at the very moment of the attack against me did not escape my notice. The implications are ever abundantly clear!”
“What!” said Willis; aghast.
“Book him, Danno!” said Bleeekxpritzle. Everyone looked about to see who he might be referring to, but nobody stepped forward to claim the title, Danno.
“I came to rescue you, you fat tub of green ungrateful goop.”
“Oh really? With this?” A hip tentacle fired out and returned with the super soaker wrapped tightly. “What is this; ice cream? Did you suppose you were rescuing me from a small child’s birthday party? Where were you when the shit hit the fan?”
“In the men’s room.”
“For so long? Did you have a digestion issue?”
“Plop plop fizz fizz?”
“Unbelievable. I risk my life for nothing. I even brought you strawberries.”
“You sold me out and then the Tweeps no doubt betrayed you. Now you run back to me for protection.”
“I’m going back to driving rich kids to school. If I get out of this mess of yours alive.”
“Wait! What did you say?”
“Lazy rich kids-”
“Did you say strawberries?”
Willis slowly climbed to his feet. “I figured you’d all be hungry. And I know how much you like strawberries.” He dug into his pockets and pulled out handfuls of them.
“Oh!” Bleeekxpritzle blurted. “Gads, but I’ve misjudged you!” He gently picked a strawberry from his open hand and ate the barest nibble of it. “Mmmmm,” he swooned. “But I do love these so. They’re just like chompberries back home but without the eyes and teeth. There’s no greater delicacy in the universe!”
“Did you say eyes and teeth?” said Pamela with a look of horror.
“Indeed,” said the admiral. “They’re very difficult to pick. You have to sneak up on them. Hence the prohibitive price tag.”
The others, all hungry, gathered around and ate strawberries. The admiral used the gun and squirted tiny ice cream toppings on each of them. At floor level the Tweeporans mostly went back to their nondescript and ambiguous work.
“Did you happen to bring any tea?” asked Bill Blake Senior.
“No. I’m sorry.”
“How did you lose your shoes?” asked Philbert.
“Oh, I always perform rescues barefoot given the opportunity,” said Bruce. “I need to feel the earth - or the floor; really feel it. You know? It’s a cosmic, Karmic, Zen kind of thing.”
“Will you ever forgive me, Mr. Willis?” said Bleeekxpritzle.
“Already done,” said Bruce. “But I have failed here. However will we escape now?”
“There is hope yet,” whispered the admiral. “Just hold tight.”
Two pink-haired Tweeporans stood at the inside of an exterior door, armed with staves.
“What is he doing?” asked Companion Frabbbles
“What is he doing?” said Companion Spish, but with his finger in his ear. His eyes shifted. “He’s just standing out there pushing a button over and over?” He started to remove the finger but then thrust it back in his ear. “What does the button do…? Nothing?” He turned to Companion Frabbbles. “Nothing.”
“Perhaps it’s a doorbell for the grocery store,” said Frabbbles.
Frabbbles opened the door. “Hello, who is it?”
The man was barefoot and clean shaven with black suit pants, white dress shirt and three-tone blue visor. He stood behind a two-level plastic cart loaded, apparently, with cakes. “Delivery,” said Mr. Willis.
Frabbbles and Spish exchanged glances.
“Delivery for the cold department - ah - fridge department - dairy. Dessert department that is. Dessert Manager. Cold room. Cake aisle” He nodded and smiled. “Cake counter.”
“Do you have the appropriate documentation?” said Spish. He glanced at Frabbbles and shrugged.
“Of course,” said Bruce. They all continued to stare at each other. “Oh - I mean - well, not on me. Not on
my person. It’s all in the truck.” Frabbbles and Spish looked expectantly out into the yard. “Oh, the truck broke down - a few blocks away. I didn’t want this stuff melting while I - while I waited for a replacement vehicle so I just - you know - humped it over.”
“I beg your pardon?” said Spish.
“Humped it over?” said Frabbbles.
“It’s electronic. They’ll fax it - the documents - email - from the bakery. Dairy, that is.”
“Okay,” said Frabbbles. “You may leave it with us.”
“Oh. No - ah. I have to - you know - stock the - I have to inventory… the merchandise. I have to merchandize. Plan-o-gram. Quality control.” He nodded toward the long dark hallway behind them.
Frabbbles and Pish - wait a minute. Who the hell is Pish…? Spish. Sorry. Frabbles and Spish gave each other a look. “Very well,” said Companion Spish. The two backed apart and away and Willis smiled and pushed the cart over the threshold.
He started down the hallway, taking a good look around; especially at the looming darkness above. “I see you’ve been up to some renovations. Nice. Real nice.” The two sentries followed Willis along the hallway; featureless but for the subtle tiny rainbow undulations in the rubbery surfaces of the floor and walls.
He came to a fork in the passageway. The right fork curved away to the right; the left curved away to the left. Bruce looked back at his escorts. They offered no suggestion. He took the right path; following it’s curve to the right until he came face to face with two sentries identical to the others in every way.
“All done?” said Spish. Mr. Willis frowned. He looked behind him and saw the original fork he’d been earlier confronted with.
“That’s impossible,” he murmured.
“I beg your pardon?” said Frabbbles.
“Nothing. Sorry. I - I forgot something. One moment.” He turned the cart around and took the left passage this time. It curved around seemingly ninety degrees to the left but yet he came face to face with the two sentries again.
“Okay?” said Frabbbles. “All done now?”
“Sorry. No. I got turned around by mistake. I stopped to tie my shoe.” He then remembered he was barefoot and rolled his eyes ever so slightly. He then backed away from them slowly, keeping the cart between his feet and their eyes. When the curve of the path took him out of their sight he reached down between the two shelves of the cart, brought out a magnificent yellow and blue super-soaker toy which he had so recently purchased for his son and which had miraculously survived the class nine Zan-wave laser attack, and he abandoned the cart, striding backwards down the curving passage. Then he turned and ran…
… Right into Spish and Frabbbles of course.
“Dammit!“ he cried. “Okay! No more funny business!” He raised the super soaker, levelling it at one sentry’s head and then at the other while serving them each a menacing look.
“Is something the matter, cake man?” said Frabbbles.
“No more fun and games, Horsey Boy!” said Willis. “Where are the prisoners!”
Bruce shook the giant gun furiously. “Don’t be cute with me, fucker! I will blow you to bits and pony pieces! Now where are they!”
“What’s that thing loaded with?” said Spish.
“Nite!” blurted Willis. “Kryptonite!” Frabbbles and Spish looked at one another. “Liquid Kryptonite that is!”
“Sorry, cake man. I have an itchy ear.” Spish pushed his finger into his ear. “Say again; what’s in the gun?”
“Liquid Kryptonite. Kryptonite plasma!” said Willis.
Cow’s milk and sugar for the most part, said the voice in Spish’s ear. Same thing’s in the cakes.
“What is it you wish us to do?” said Spish
“Take me to your prisoners!” said Willis
Put him in Detex One, said the voice.
“Right!” said Companion Spish. “This way, then!” He and Frabbbles set off down the right-hand fork and Willis followed.
“That’s right, my little unicorndogs,” Just cooperate and no one gets hurt.”
Somehow the passage did not pull its little roundabout trick this time and the trio emerged into a wider hallway with small workstations along one wall and several white-haired Tweeporans standing around in conversation. Wide metal grates lined one wall about nine feet high.
“Nobody move an inch!” Willis shouted, “Or these guys get vaporized! Not an inch!” The spectators all remained in place and silently watched the trio go by.
“Are we still on for lunch, Frabbbles?” said one of the standerby Tweeporans.
“You want lunch-frabbles!” Willis shouted, pointing the super soaker now at the speaker. “I’ll give you lunch-frabbles! I’ll give you lunch-frabbles right up the wazoo! With a side of Kryptonite plasma! Is that what you want, Mister Ed!”
The speaker frowned and gave an exaggerated shrug of his shoulders.
“Yeah sure, but I might be just a bit late,” said Frabbbles, coming to a stop.
“You shut UP!” screamed Mr. Willis, shoving the super soaker up against Frabbbles’ cheek. “Or so help me!” In his excitement, Bruce pulled the trigger just a tiny bit and a little squirt of Queen O’ The Dairy soft serve oozed out on to Companion Frabbbles’ face. It trickled down to the corner of his mouth. “Okay - that - that’s not the Kryptonite there! That’s the bit that comes out right before the Kryptonite! You got really lucky just there! That’s like - the seal. That’s what that is. It’s a new cartridge. You get it?”
“It’s tasty,” said Frabbles.
“Never mind! Just get moving. Get moving now! Take me - you know - where we’re going. Don’t say it out loud though.”
“Pluck a solar-pigeon. It really is tasty. Spish, you got to try it.” The three began moving again. A wide door awaited them at the end of this narrow room.
Spish suddenly halted. “I refuse to obey your commands, cake man!”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“Move it or die!”
“I swear to Jehosifats! I will kill you where you stand!”
Spish stuck out his tongue. “Your mother was an army boot!”
“Fucker!” Willis cried as he sprayed soft serve all over Spish’s head. The Companion dodged about trying to catch the stream in his mouth. Willis finally stopped and backed off a step. He was red-faced and seething with rage.
“Oh my sugar-blossoms!” cried the goopy-white-faced Spish. “It’s delicious! It’s fabulous! Oh yum!”
Willis looked about wildly, trying to think; trying not to panic.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Spish suddenly wailed. “It burns! It burns!” He dropped his staff to the floor and clutched his throat in both hands and made a serious of squorking and snorfelling noises as he slowly sunk to his knees. “I’m dying! Errrrrrrrrrg!”
“See!” cried Willis, pointing the giant squirt gun back at Frabbbles who stood frowning at his dying partner. “Now get moving or you’re next! MOVE IT!” Frabbbles backed away toward the door as Willis followed, his gun pointed at the sentry’s head. “Through the door. NOW!” Frabbbles touched his staff to the door and it dissolved away like a passing rainbow. The two exited into another featureless rubber hallway and the door rematerialized behind them.
Spish then burst into laughter and so did all his peers as he picked up his staff and regained his feet. “It really was delicious though!” he said.
“Did we get the recipe?” someone asked.
“Central Scanning will have it.”
“What was that thing?” said another.
“Earth monkey, I think. Or a human maybe.”
“Human,” said Spish.
“Wow. They’re weird!” said another. “Kind of creepy.”