If you can imagine a realm that is both infinite and a place where nothing is farther than a mile from anything else, then you can imagine my land of make believe. You see, I failed High School Geometry and have no sense of scientific proportion. I went every day, but it was the first period, and I fell asleep with my eyes open. I wound up with four A’s and one F on that report card. I got my high marks in History, Drama, Music and Sociology. But the world is run by Slide Rule Supremacists who’d rather have kids bomb out in those and score big successes in the ometries.
I had to take an extremely remedial math class (which was as intellectually demanding as “Celebrity Jeopardy”) to gain my diploma. My crowning glory there was the creation of a coordinate graph. When connected, the numbered points revealed the face of Fred Flinstone with dollar signs in his eyes and the caption “Bedrock Lotto.” Although giving up on a freshly minted adult and releasing her into a high tech society armed with no fancier arithmetic in her head than how to arrange a Fred Flintsone graph is probably immoral, that’s just the way the old hypotenuse bounces. Besides, it continues to give me the freedom to create scientifically impossible vistas. Hooray for the armor of ignorance.
According to the 70’s band America, “Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t, didn’t already have.” Well, the Wiz was hardly Great and Powerful then, now was he? For I, the ruling Penname in my little metaverse, have endowed all my Fictional Characters (FC’s) with unretractable Free Will, which they most definitely did not already, already have going in. The person who employs me (whose experiences, skills, shames and lacks are identical to mine) did the same for me; alas, you don’t need a head full of logarithms to conceptualize the vicious circle.
Free Will runs amuck; that’s its main characteristic. So, it follows that my FC’s run amuck in keeping with their Free Will. All my FC’s have “Free Willed” actual lives for themselves, which they lead when not involved in my stories. And they often do interesting things when not in print. Some are known to get a bit freer and interesting than what is good for my sanity. And although it is futile, every now and then I try to at very least inform the freer and more interesting element that they are doing to my sanity what a Cat does to a litter box.
Hezopatha the Witch, who has appeared in four or five productions, is a particularly keen Free Will enthusiast. I guess I could be held to blame there; when I developed “Hezzie” I made her smarter than I, thus a sociopath. (I discovered early that all persons more intelligent than I are sociopaths.)
Like any self loving, intellectual, sociopathic, footloose and Free Willed Witch, Hezopatha lives deep in the Enchanted Forest. But as I have already mentioned she is no farther than a mile from anyplace else in the realm. The entire realm is infested with her Minions and “pets.” Just the other evening I glanced up from my computer and saw a great black Owl sitting on the window sill, studying me. And it is not at all unusual to be walking in the garden and have my left ankle assassinated at any moment by one of her Black Cats. It’s always a quick bap bap bap to the left ankle and then back under cover. I’ve yet to learn why only the left ankle is targeted. You see her Rats and Ravens and Wolves everywhere and get used to them in no time at all.
But it was what Minions were missing that got me thinking about Hezopatha the other day, and filled me with anxiety. Moreover, there were stranger than normal lights and sounds coming from her area. She was up to something and when Hezzie is up to something it is usually over the top. For example, through a robust exertion of Free Will, Hezzie had tricked me into giving her a quarter million billigits for Minions…
(The ellipsis concluding the previous paragraph is there to note a pause in my thoughts–for I’m stuck on deciding how to explain what the hell a “billigit” is to readers new to me; should I just tell or hold off and allow the information to come forward in dialogue and action? A bleat or not to bleat verbal transaction. Though just telling you is easier, it is also indicative of lazy writing. But for it to come out in expository dialogue, I need someone to share my thoughts with. Damn it–all right, fine, whatever…)
(The ellipsis at the end of the previous parenthetical paragraph–which is removed from this parenthetical paragraph by one day, a hard return and several pints of Stout–indicates more pondering on my part. I had to decide which two FC’s to take with me on my visit to Hezopatha…Then I will cleverly have one of them do the backstory work!…)
I’ve learned that ellipses lead to, like Stout, more Stout. But upon getting a handle on myself I chose Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess and her brother Fenwick to accompany me to the Enchanted Wood. Normally I’d bring along my Imaginary Friend and second in command, Renfield, but she and Hezopatha do not like each other. Fortunately even sociopaths approve of Pygmy Goats.
I located Daisy and Fenwick in the Barnyard. They were playing “Kick the Can.” Despite the pernicious cliche, Goats do not eat cans. But they do put them in their mouths and hide them for robust games of Kick the Can. For Goats it is “The beautiful game.”
“Hi, guys, who’s winning?”
Daisy, who has appeared in my productions as everything from a Unicorn to Superhero, shook her head sadly, evidently embarrassed by my ignorance.
“Kick the Can isn’t about the score, Miss Leila,” she said. “It’s a metaphor for the purpose and dignity of life.”
“Yeah, Mama-O,” Fenwick, who is a beatnik, added, “only squares keep a record.”
Only species able to count can keep a record, Daddy-O, was almost out of my mouth, but instead I said: “How interesting–I’ve never equated the struggle with smacking an empty beer can around in the dirt…guess that makes as much sense as anything.”
This witty repartee was interrupted by the appearance of a blue and orange upside-down tornado in the sky above the Enchanted Wood. It was, of course, a mile away, but we could hear the roar and suck of a great wind as though it was much closer.
The vortex was spinning wildly but at the same time holding its place. Being upside down, the pointy end appeared to be boring into the sky like a drill bit. The weather was perfect save for the abnormality above Hezzie’s place. Due to the tree tops we couldn’t see the inverted “top” of the funnel, but I guessed that it was about a hundred yards across at its widest point.
As I’ve said countless times, strange sites are common in our realm. Still, I felt duty bound to check this one out. For blue and orange are the main colors of the billigits–the missing Minions.
I smiled at the little Goats. “You guys up for adventure?”
Daisy and Fenwick were up for adventure, but they didn’t want to walk a mile. Funny how creatures who will frolic for hours batting about a crumpled Coors Light can will all of a sudden get lazy on you. Still, I didn’t feel much like walking, either. Fortunately, I recalled a golf cart I had used in a story about five years ago–Back then I’d called it the “Little Deus Coupe Ex-Machina ”–or similar nonsense. But “golf cart” was good enough for our purposes. Amazingly, it had been on a battery charger for the last five years and nothing had blown up.
Not so amazingly, however, of the three of us, only I knew how to drive. FC Pygmy Goats can do exceptional things, but operating a vehicle ain’t one of them. Daisy and Fenwick are twins, but Daisy is by far the most mature of the two. “I want to drive,” Fenwick said. He got pouty when I informed him that he could, if he’d sprout thumbs, grow two feet taller and tell his left from his right with a hitherto unseen consistency. As I’ve said before, Fenwick is a beatnik. He wears a beret and his little beard is arranged as a “Van Dyke.” He taps his hooves on hard surfaces when he hears jazz and often smokes clove cigarettes. But he’s also as bratty as a two-year-old child.
“Tell you what, Fenwick,” I said, when it appeared that a tantrum was brewing, “you can sit on my lap and steer while I apply the pedals.”
Now, Daisy is the more mature of the two, but only when compared to Fenwick. I could see trouble brewing in her eyes. But there was a way out.
“Since Fenwick and I will be navigating the cart, would you please, dear, dear, Miss Daisy Cloverleaf take over the narrative?”
As luck would have it, there just happened to be a fully charged Chromebook in the cart. And although it remains one of preternature’s great mysteries, FC Pygmy Goats are brilliant typists. I often place Daisy at the keyboard when I am otherwise occupied. She’s good for a hundred words per minute and no errors–save for those in judgment.
I leave part three to Daisy.
The roses smelled rosily and the bees buzzed buzzingy as Miss Leila and Feckwit “drove” us to Mistress Hezopatha’s estate in the enchantingly Enchanted Wood.
“Daisy?” Miss Leila said–with that annoyingly annoying tone she sometimes affects.
She pointed at her phone, which was mounted on the small dashboard of the golf cart. “I can see everything you write.”
“Well, other than again caution you about adverbs, I can’t help but notice a rare typo. You misspelled Fenwick.”
“That’s not a typo,” I said.
“I, Feckwit,” said my brother.
When he first appeared in a story called “I, Feckwit,” I’d convinced his ignorant behind that it was a complimentary term, and that calling himself it would enhance his masculinity and attract girls. Since he refuses to learn how to read, I believe that Feckwit applies.
Leila read what you have just read, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Whatever.”
Although it would overburdenly overburden Miss Leila’s mathematically challenged brain to figure this out, at a top speed of four miles an hour it took roughly fifteen minutely minutes to cover the mile to Mistress Hezopatha’s front door.
“Holy shit, it’s full of billigits,” Miss Leila said when we got close enough to the upside down tornado in the sky to see it was composed of individual components.
“And?” Miss Leila said…
The ellipsis at the end of the previously previous sentence is there to convey the hope Miss Leila had for finally at last getting across to readers new to her (aka “any”) what a billigit is, without having to do so herself.
We exchanged glances. Then I began to type:
“A billigit is an eighteen inch winged orange person who’s equal parts Daddy and Mommy-O and wears a square blue polo shirt, khaki pants and groovy hemp slippers that split the scene in flight. Mommy-O Hezzie-O-path has a zillion billigits as Minions, like wild baby, wild,” Feckwit said.
Miss Leila seized on the opportunity I had givenly given her. She snapped her fingers in the beatnik manner and said, “Don’t stop there Daddy-o, tell me more…lay down the word.”
“Back in Squaresville the Man tagged them billygits–but now they hook their own groove, billigits, baby-billigits. Dig?”
For the record Feckwit pronouncingly pronounced it “bill-luh-gitz.”
By taking her hands off the wheel to snap her fingers, Leila had made the mistake of leaving the steering of the cart to Feckwit–who knows no more about how to drive than Leila does calculus. That and the fact that both she and Feckwit were gazingly gazing at the swirly swirl of billigits, now almost directly above us–and while I was writing, might have led to an accident at four miles an hour, if it hadn’t been for Mistress Hezopatha. We were unaware that we had entered her vast courtyard. She stopped us just short of crashing into one of several small mountains of billigits slippers with a wave of her hand. Suddenly wordlessly arrivals are commonplace with Witches.
Leila glanced at what I had written on her phone. I waited for her to say something derogatively derogative about my shiny prose. Instead, she smiled, patted me on the head and said, “That’ll do, Goatess, that’ll do.”
I’d have closer to a thousand words left in the budget than the eight-hundred and change I find myself looking at if it weren’t for Daisy’s adverb addiction. That’s another thirty-plus down the swirly, including this sentence. Still, I don’t think I’ll need much more than five hundred to put this production to bed.
Smiling, Hezopatha produced an empty tuna can and tossed it in the courtyard. Daisy and Fenwick/Feckwit leapt from the golf cart and went after it; thus another stanza of the majestic physical poetry that is Kick the Can was composed. It also gave the kids a graceful pre-exit from this story.
I got out of the cart and approached Hezzie. I pointed up.
“Oh, you noticed darling.”
“Let’s go inside, I will explain.”
Hezzie is a beautiful Witch–her ego would never allow for green skin, warts and such. In this incarnation of her physical self she has olive skin, honey colored eyes and high cheekbones. A Nefratiti look if there has ever been one.
We went inside to her comfortable living room.
“I must thank you for the billigits,” she said–”they are quite useful–not as much as Rats–but more so than human Minions.”
“As you see, they are employed in a great work.”
“Very soon the billigit vortex will create a geometric dimensional breach.”
“A geometric breach?”
“Euclidean,” Hezzie said with an evil smile.
“You a clidean, me a clidean, we’s all a clidean,” I said. “I take it that your wiseass thinks you can get over on me via fancy math.”
“I sure do.”
I sighed. “Perhaps it would be easier if you told me the goal.”
Our conversation was interrupted by a great crack of thunder. The booted tuna can, closely followed by Daisy and Fenwick came indoors, but they were still so focused on the aesthetic that coming inside was the only concession they made to the blast.
“Hark!” Hezopatha said. “My will hath been done.”
She motioned me to follow her outside.
The billigit tornado was gone. And a giant shadow increasing in size had fallen over the courtyard. A moving shadow that had clearly outlined wings. All quarter million billigits had merged into one gigantic billigit. This immense creature landed in a nearby clearing and took a repose similar to the Sphinx. I’ll admit that it was a unique sight, but perhaps I’m a bit more jaded to such than most.
A few seconds later an immense pair of billigit slippers crashed beside the giant billigit.
“How come the slippers landed after the billigit?” I asked.
“Geometric principles involving air resistance, darling.”
“I see,” I said. “So, whenever I ask you a perfectly reasonable question your reply will be smothered by a pile of science. So, let’s forget about that. Perhaps you might explain why you compressed all the billigits into one giant billigit?”
Hezzie smiled that smile that I was getting awfully tired of. “That involves trigonometry, daring.”
I sighed and began typing on my phone. From inside came a crash. Maybe I couldn’t understand what she was up to, but I could arrange for the Can Kickers to break a vase or three in the house.
“What was that?” she said. It was nice to see the smug expression leave her face.
“That involves gravity, darling.”