General Fiction, Short Fiction

The Karma Chameleon and the Diplomaniac: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical (Season Two Opener) by Leila Allison

A gecko named Keeler escaped her enclosure about twenty minutes after Renfield had brought her home from the pet shop. Keeler didn’t care for the transparency of her new digs and decided that her happiness lay in a blended existence with the walls, furniture and such in the haunted Stoker-Belle household. You see, Keeler didn’t think of herself as a gecko; she self identified as a Karma Chameleon.

Keeler was about three inches long and such an eye scorching shade of neon, rave green that she stood out against anything not similarly colored as obviously as the Pacific Ocean stands out on Earth when viewed from space. She was a particularly colorful gecko, quite pretty, even though she thought herself a Karma Chameleon. Geckos are no better at camouflaging themselves than they are at making martinis, but Keeler believed in her blending talents and snickered “Whatta chump” after Renfield began to search for her.

Whenever small reptiles, birds, rodents or fish suddenly go missing in the house, the usual suspects list should begin and end with the cat. Sometimes profiling makes sense. But Renfield’s aggressively spoiled year-old kitty, Professor Moriarty, was still snoozing away atop the refrigerator, as was his habit during the day. The Professor, conceivably, could have committed the abduction and gone back to bed, but there hadn’t been any of the loud noises which attended his every activity.  

Renfield eventually caught a glimpse of something on the ceiling, something which radiated gamma rays of rave green. “Must like it up there,” she said with a shrug.

The aunt of the pet shop owner was the first reason why Keeler thought of herself as a Karma Chameleon. The lady had come of age in the 1980’s, and even after all those years gone by, she still aligned her musical tastes with the sounds of that day-glo era. “Hullo there, Karma Chameleon,” she’d say to the fledgling lizard Keeler was, “You come and go, come and go.” The pet shop owner never corrected his aunt. He had a hard enough time faking a polite smile whenever she’d greet him with “How’re those west end girls, my pet shop boy?”

Late at night, whilst still in the pet shop, Keeler consulted with the only other reptile who was in the store at the time, a boa named Apollonia, who erroneously substantiated the Karma Chameleon fantasy. Their enclosures lay side by side, far away from those creepy mammals and grotesque birds; over where things made sense, in the cold and logical realm of the superior reptiles, turtles and novelty-sized spiders.

“Apollonia, what’s a Karma Chameleon?”

Poor Apollonia was nice enough, but she was uneducated, thus an unwitting merchant of anti-mammal propaganda. Apollonia was also a bit sensitive about coming off ignorant of the world, especially in front of a green thing not much longer than her own tongue. Apollonia knew nothing about geckos, but since she had been in the shop longer than Keeler, she recalled a since sold, self-important chameleon who’d been her neighbor for about a month, long before Keeler had hatched. His name was Hercule, a fellow bigot who knew everything about his race and considered himself and Apollonia victims of mammalian Imperialism. Although Keeler only resembled the little braggart in the general sense, Apollona figured that one lizard was pretty much the same as any other, and filled Keeler in.

“You my friend are a Karma Chameleon. You blend into their surroundings. Your skin automatically matches the color of whatever you’re on,” Apollonia said, truthfully. “Karma is the land your ancestors are from,” she said, embroidering the truth, as snakes are sometimes known to do. “It’s an instinctive thing, the blending,” she added. “See, you’re doing it now.”

Coincidentally, Keeler’s enclosure was filled with phony ferns which came pretty close to her one and only color. “I’m sure glad that you know about these things,” said Keeler.

“Oh, I’ve been around,” Apollonia lied, “enough to know that you and I are oppressed by those filthy, flea infested, warm-blooded Imperialists!” Apollonia added, thus spreading the Word of Hercule. Then, in keeping with her suddenly discovered creative nature, an inspiration hit her smack in the whimsy, as well as a way of covering her ass (if she had one) in case she was wrong. “Even when you blend, you still see yourself as green. That’s the Karma part of the thing. No fuzzy can do that”

“But isn’t Karma the land I’m from?”

“Um…oh yeah, that too.”

So it came to pass that Keeler the neon rave-green gecko who believed she was a Karma Chameleon spent most of her days at her new home on the ceiling, or high up on a wall, snickering at the grotesque mammals below. The upright piebald creature (who appeared to be the same species of the pet shop owner and that weird-ass looking thing who never failed to say “Hullo there, Karma Chameleon”) was obviously a slave who catered to every little whim of the goddamn cat–A dirty, psychotic, inferior life form that Keeler had plenty of time to observe at the pet shop. 

Renfield had unwittingly reinforced Keeler’s mistaken identity by saying stuff like “Gee, mercy me, where could that clever Keeler be this time?” whenever she brought dried crickets, mealworms and water, even though her eyes were immediately attracted to the wildly green gecko’s location as though it were on fire. Keeler would snicker in a superior sort of way. Only the gold-eyed creep with all the teeth and claws ever sensed where Keeler was. He’d sometimes climb up the drapes and come within a few feet of her perch on the ceiling, all the while making an insipid chattering noise. She’d snicker at him “Good luck trying to walk across the ceiling, A-hole.”

The long-tailed devil excluded, all in all Keeler enjoyed (and still enjoys) her new home. She missed Apollonia a little, but no longer having that weird looking piebald thing peer into her enclosure and say “Hullo there, Karma Chameleon” made up for it. And there was the lucky circumstance that the house was genuinely haunted, quite thick with Spirits. Keeler considered Spirits as normal as licking her eyes. Non-human minds are uncluttered to the degree that they have room for ghosts. Only a few Spirits, however, would pop into the pet shop–and those guys mostly showed interest in the repellent puppies (the idea of having a dog lick her face gave Keeler the heebie-jeebies). But here the paranormal activity was especially high, fair minded and quite invigorating. Even that fuzzy, dirty meathead with all the claws and teeth seemed to enjoy the situation.

A Diplomaniac Spirit who called himself Profumo befriended Keeler. Although Profumo had in life been one of those piebald mammalian creatures (like the pet shop owner, the big-haired aunt and the slave), Keeler didn’t hold it against him. 

Profumo had been a counsellor and a fair-minded arbitrator of international disputes, and he continued a form of this occupation after his death. He knew how to listen. About twenty seconds into their first conversation, Profumo understood that the young gecko knew that she was a Karma Chameleon and held a negative opinion of warm blooded creatures. Someone had dumped plenty of garbage into her tiny head. Still, the Spirit did nothing right off to tamper with that viewpoint; he thought that prior to educating Keeler up to the “it takes a village” way of thinking that it might be wise to see to the safety of this immature and increasingly obnoxious individual who came on louder than a Hawaiian shirt yet was certain of her invisibility.

“I’ve been to the land of Karma,” Profumo said. (Spirits can’t lie, but since his Earthly duties had required extensive travels through India and Asia, it was safe to speak of such in the abstract). “Karma isn’t just the place you know you are from, but the word also describes the belief that the nicer you are today, the better things will go for you tomorrow.” Although that had been a gross oversimplification–yet at heart, true, Profumo let it lay because he saw no reason to overtax a brain about the size of a mustard seed.

Keeler thought it over, but her tiny brain struggled with the concept. Fortunately for all involved, whatever god is responsible for there being a condition in which a ghost may converse with a lizard, allowed Keeler to “get” the premise. 

“I sometimes do nice things,” Keeler said. “Just yesterday, I didn’t defecate on the goddamn cat. Didn’t have to go when he passed under. But did he appreciate it? Oh, noooooo.”

“That’s quite noble of you, Keeler,” said Profumo. He wondered just how an upside down gecko attached to a ceiling might defecate on something below, but that’s when Professor Moriarty sat down on the carpet at the spot directly under Keeler. She detached her back feet from the ceiling, and while hanging on with her front, she dropped a load of guano, which scored a direct hit on the cat’s nose. Professor Moriarty, to put it lightly, went nuclear.

Keeler snickered. “Looks like tomorrow’s not gonna be so hot.”

Any other Spirit would have stood by and let the animals settle their own dispute. But not a Diplomaniac. Keeler had air superiority in this conflict, but that was all. And the facts remained that someone had filled her minute mind with anti-mammal propaganda as well as the false belief that she was a camouflaging chameleon. Propaganda or otherwise, there was a great deal of truth in it when it came to cats, but there was no truth whatsoever in Keeler’s sense of stealth, but it was too early to tell bratty Keeler the truth about herself without doing lasting damage to her psyche. Unless Profumo got involved and moved the warring factions into agreeing to an armistice, the only way the dispute could end was with the sight of Keeler’s green tail sliding down Professor Moriarity’s throat.

Profumo bid Keeler a temporary farewell and engaged the cat.

The Diplomaniac considered himself a brilliant cat psychologist. Since Spirits are immortal and don’t need to devote two thirds of their time to sleep and work and the other third to bitching about the quality of the majority, they tend to develop expertise in fields deemed essentially useless by the living. Forever is an awfully long time; conceptions of what is and isn’t useless

lack the legs to get through it.  

Strangely, the fallacy of preconceived notions truthfully applies to house cats. Of all creatures, only the house cat follows an absolute pattern of existence, which results in behaviors best described as selfish and psychotic. Moreover, house cats express an aggressive laziness found in no other life form except, here and there, humankind. Even so, only some people are like that, whereas all domestic felines are most definitely like that. Still, there’s hope to be located in the improbable proposition of feline persuasion. The key to that lock lies in getting the house cat to know that your idea was his all along.

“Greetings Professor Moriarty,” Profumo said, after waiting for the young tom to burn off his fury over the guano affair.

“Ingrate ghost lawyer!” the prof hissed. “I saw you cavorting with the snack that shat on my magnificence!”

Typical KISS house cat behavior, thought Profumo, who had been mentoring the young tom with limited results since the prof joined the “team” at the age of six weeks. Regardless, the Spirit was the learned scholar who dictated the famous KISS monograph to a Quillemender Spirit able to put such in print. “KISS” is an acronym which brilliantly describes the average male house cat’s world view:  King, Ingrates, Slaves, Snacks. QISS (pronounced the same way) applies to the ladies.

In this case, the prof, of course, is the King ; those who disagree with him on any point (no matter how small) are Ingrates; Slaves fill the food and water bowls and gratefully eat (so the prof assumed) the contents of the litter pan, and all creatures from the size of a moth on up to a pigeon are properly considered Snacks.

Yet even with their divergent ways of looking at things, both Keeler and Professor Moriarty enjoyed the gift of delusion. In the same manner that Keeler thought herself a Karma Chameleon, the prof knew down to the bedrock of his little sociopathic heart that he was a Panther, and that the Ingrates and Snacks would have hell to pay after he enjoyed a rather spectacular growth spurt in the months to come. “Slave” Renfield was the cause of that. The prof happened to be a domestic shorthair black cat, and throughout his kittenhood, Renfield kept filling his pointy head with nonsense like “Who’s Mommy’s baby panther? It’s you, it’s you.”

“Now, now, Professor Moriarty, Prince of the Jungle–”

“King, Ingrate.”

“Sorry, King of the Jungle,” Profumo continued. “Speaking as your counsellor, I advise you to show benevolence toward your subjects. If you keep eating them you’ll have no peasants to lord  your magnificence over.”

Fortunately, the feline attention span is hardly what you’d call wide. It covers about the same brief distance as that of a gecko. As different as they were physically, the prof and Keeler had astonishingly similar childish, selfish, bigoted and credulous personalities. Moreover, both were pretty big talkers who shied away from direct confrontation. Yet Profumo believed that both possessed wonderful inner qualities that he could nurture. But for now, he decided that it might be for the best to prevent future guano dumps and drape climbings.

“Sire,” he said, “if I can convince the other party to lay off her misguided acts of disrespect, and that you make her Countess of the Walls and Ceiling–thus providing someone to oversee future developments in your empire in those areas, without you having to do so yourself–will you please be willing to live and let live, and perhaps cease the unnerving drape assaults?”

Professor Moriarty was sleepy. Regardless, he had a streak of decency in him that he found repellent yet comforting at the same time. Profumo actively stroked the prof’s sizable ego and waited for the desired result, in which his suggestion would suddenly become the cat’s idea.

“I have an idea,” the prof said, before he shuffled off to the top of the fridge for a nap. “If she lays off the shitting and eats the noseeums loitering about the Royal Box, tell her I’ll make her Countess of the Walls and Ceiling. For that I promise not to eat her. But between you and me, counsellor, I have no stomach for green things. They gross me out.”

“You are wise and beneficent, my Liege.” 

Profumo was wise and beneficent for real. He got what he wanted from Professor Moriarty, but he also knew that the gecko species defecated wherever, whenever, and that it would only be a matter of time before the phony treaty went to hell. The way he saw it, the best possible outcome could be arrived at via an action that both of his immature charges would have called “Telling Mom.”

Miss Renfield was a Supernaturalist, a believer who deliberately lived in a haunted house. Unlike most living people, she could be approached in a sensible manner, even though “sensible” was amongst the least likely of adjectives used to describe the lady herself.

The invisible Diplomaniac created a pop of static electricity which tapped the Crystal Ball app on Renfield’s phone. It caused her phone to ring. This was the usual method that the many Spirits who passed through the house used to make contact with her.

Renfield liked Profumo, although she believed that his attempts to make a decent and caring being out of the prof were awfully pie in the sky. She loved cats, but she understood KISS without having to read the monograph.

She saw that it was the Diplomaniac on the horn and sighed that sort of sigh parents sigh when they are about to hear what sin the kid is accused of committing now.

Profumo advised Renfield of the situation.

“I see,” she said, “the gecko not only thinks she’s a Karma Chameleon, but she’s a bit of a turd personality-wise…And the prof‘s just being his little crazy-assed self…Tell you what, counsellor, I’ve got the solution…Keep me wise to the intel.”

Within the hour the wildly green enclosure Keeler had called home at the pet shop arrived at the house. Renfield replaced the converted aquarium that Keeler had rejected with it. And all the while pretending not to see Keeler watching from above with great interest, Renfiled filled the food and water and left the lid open,just a skosh. She then retreated to the kitchen and awaited word from Profumo. 

Renfield emerged from the kitchen thirty seconds later and secured the mesh lid. The enclosure was enormous, designed for the happiness of ten geckos, and as about as cat proof as a showing of All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Renfield and Profumo decided to let the children hold onto their self delusions since neither would have to get jobs and pay taxes when they grew up. But they also agreed to do their best to instill an It Takes a Village attitude in the youngsters, even if it’s always too late to do something about KISS. 

Afterword and the Amoral

Season one of Feeble Fables of the Fantasmagorical turned out to be such an astonishing failure that the author has decided to go ahead with a second season out of spite. Her enmity is not aimed at the three, maybe four persons who actually read her Feeble Fables, but is directed, mostly, at those who (by some perverted twist of evolutionary instinct) automatically tap “Like” whenever presented with that option, even when (perhaps especially when) what they are unknowingly liking contains (as it does here) insults crafted specially for them and their behavior.

There are a few changes this season. Last year, Renfield Stoker-Belle wrote most of the introductions and some of the Feeble Fables. She’s my lead Fictional Character, and as an actress she thought that she was being underserved, so she horned in on both the composition and direction of the Feeble Fables, which, as I’ve stated in the past, take place like little movies. This year I’ve occupied her with the role of herself and that of one of who- or whatevers appears in the title. In this season opener, she played both herself and Keeler. Another too active contributor to last season’s debacle, my great great great great grandfather, Judge Jaspar P. Montague, Quillemender–deceased for more than a century, has “taken to the boards” this season.  He’ll play the title Spirits, such as Profumo the Diplomaniac. And from here on there will be no “morals.” What you’ll get is “The Amoral,” a concept which better describes the soul of the Feeble Fables franchise. The reader will get three amorals to “like.”

Consider yourself warned.

1) The Amorals:Geckos and Leopards Cannot Change Their Spots Until Housebroken

2) Those Who Blend Lack the Will to Mend

3) Shit on the Nose Doesn’t Always Tell of a Recently Kissed Ass

Leila Allison

Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay 

4 thoughts on “The Karma Chameleon and the Diplomaniac: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical (Season Two Opener) by Leila Allison”

  1. Hi Leila,
    I Like the amoral ending although I’ve always wondered about the difference between right and wrong having two names – Isn’t the lesson / acceptance / explanation the same sort of thing no matter if the moral is positive or the amoral negative??
    In yet when I think on it a moral isn’t always positive, it’s sometimes a warning or hindsight.
    I think it is a very smug word. Due to it’s meaning it looks down on those phrases like, ‘Ohhh no…’, ‘Fuckin’ hell’ and the wonderful, ‘Well I didn’t think that would happen.’
    From one total nonsense comment to another – This story caused debate between me and Diane and we ended up talking about self-abusing dolphins. That self-abusing is hopefully clear and everyone realises that it was the dolphins that were abusing themself and not some form of molestation of Flipper!
    But I will admit, it is still worrying where our conversations go at times.
    Anyhow, as always, your writing is brilliant, your imagination is beyond brilliant and the story is a pleasure to read.
    Hugh

    Like

    1. One of the things that comes along with alleged “high intelligence” is a tendency for self abuse. I believe that dolphins and whales and certain primates often enter into toxic relationships because “it hurts so good.” This is why dolphins often hang with delinquent tuna, although the risk of winding up in a cannery should dissuade that kind of behavior.
      Then again, dolphins may be the smartest species in the world. I guarantee that there are no dolphins out there debating the Electoral College this morning.
      Thanks for noticing,
      LA

      Like

  2. I remember the song “Karma Chameleon” I like friendly animals. A bit of polarization between the Professor and the gecko, but you can’t do much about instincts. Speaking of elections, apparently, the song title has been used to describe certain politicians.

    Liked by 1 person

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