Sunday, August 9, 2009

Out of the living room and into the fire

After I finished relatin how I was raised by harbor seals and how pa managed to be around even though he fell through a pier, Dale just sat and looked at me for a time. I figured he was just thinkin about why he'd never learned about the great robot war in school, much like I did when pa told me the whole story. Like pa told me, the hobos asked for the whole story to be stricken from the official record. Then I asked him why no one who was around during the time and had their family or friends killed, maimed or minorly injured by giant steam-powered brass robots never thought to mention it to anyone, he told me, "I dunno, I guess it wasn't that big of deal to them." Me, bein just a kid, not to mention fresh out of an orphanage and still not comfortable with human language, just sort of accepted it. I was ready to tell all this to Dale, should he choose to question. I gotta say, I dunno how long we sat there, but it was long enough for my coffee to get cold, but I'd really had enough by then, so I wasn't complainin.

For a while there, I thought he was gonna speak any second. His mouth was flappin up and down like a bass that's just been landed. Then that stopped and he took that quick inhale that people do when they're just about to say something. Then he slowly exhaled while he was shakin his head. I leaned in to hear him better.

"What..." he started. Then blinked slowly and shook his head. Then we sat there for awhile more. Just about dusk, he asked be, "What in Neptune's great green sea are you talking about?! Robot wars and hobos living under the earth? What has that got to do with anything?! Is this all you do, sit around and think up crazy stories to tell people?!"

"I also sell donuts," I informed him, "though not as many as I like. I think it's probably because the dam on the donut river west of town just broke, but I think, given time, people will come back to me to have their donut needs fulfilled..."

"Donut dam?!" he shouted. "I don't want to hear another word, Pat, unless that word involves a short, succinct summary of everything you've told me this afternoon."

"Well, shoot, Dale," I told him, "if that's what you wanted, you shouldna kept givin me all that coffee. Really, all I was tryin to tell ya is I understand what it's like to live between the land and the sea. I just wanted to tell you, you know, it's tough not belonging to either world, so, I know how you feel."

His claw slammed into the serving tray, sending coffee and shards of cup flying in all directions. "You know nothing!" he bellowed.


"You...know...nothing," he repeated slowly through clenched teeth. " strut around, flaunting your humanity while those like me must live in the shadows like cockroaches. You know nothing of what it's like to be a freak! The stares of children, the comments of drunks, the hesitation on the face of women as they dare one another to touch your shell. You may have been raised by harbor seals, but you're still human! You're one of them!"

He started to get a wild look in his eye. "Calm down, Dale, we can talk about it."

"The time for talking is done, Pat!" He raised both claws and clacked them together loudly. "The time for action is now!" With that, he released the mightiest burst of flatulence I have ever witnessed. The cups exploded. The doors were thrown off their hinges. The whole world flexed outwards once, like it was all painted on the inside of a balloon that was tryin to pop. Then, everything went black.

Did you ever read Alice in Wonderland? She had her one crazy fall in there, right after she went down that there rabbit hole. She passed clocks and ducks and, I think, the wicked witch of the east, though I may be wrong about the ducks. The darkness I was in was sorta like that, except I didn't see anyting. You know, cause it was dark. But I could still feel stuff whiskin by me. And I wasn't exactly fallin. I ain't sure what it was but it felt like I was strapped to the roof of a bullet train in a tub full of jello while some vile temptress whipped me with caterpillars, only less pleasant.

And then, there was a beach. I was wearin the same clothes and still shieldin my face, but I weren't in Dale's living room any more, and I was wearin flip-flops. "Well," I told myself, "it's a good thing I'm wearin my lucky overalls."

I stood there lookin up and down the beach for awhile, waitin for ninjas or lobster men or dinosaurs or somethin to come rushin down on me, but that didn't happen. It seemed like a perfectly normal beach to me. Sure the surf was a little higher than most of the beaches I've been to, and the sky was pink with purple stripes, and, sure, instead of a moon in the sky, you could see a giant planet with rings around it and, yeah, I suppose the fish jumping out of the water may have had the faces of lions and they were eating small, furry birds, but, other than those small details, it was a normal beach.

I didn't know what the heck I was supposed to be doin there, so I just started walking. I figured, when you're stranded on an unfamiliar beach, one way's as good as another as long as you're parallel to the water. If you're perpendicular to the water, it's probably best you walk with your back to the waves, unless, of course, you've got gills or a scuba tank or some other way to not die when you're under water, and you're sure there's nothin in there that's gonna kill you (like a box jellyfish that's been studyin kung fu and has a gun). Since I didn't have any of those things, I thought I'd just go ahead and stroll along the beach until somethin else happened.

Despite being somewhere totally unfamiliar and pretty confused about what had just happened, there was a spring in my step I'd not had since I was a youth and I wore shoes with rocket powered springs on the bottom to win a race against my running rival Springy McGee, whose legs were made of coiled bed springs after a horrible accident at his father's bed factory. The upside was that springy could run faster than anyone else in the tri-county area. The downside was that he couldn't walk through thick brush and he would occasionally tangle his legs together and fall, eliciting the laughter of even his parents, who were often drunk. Springy eventually went to law school and, last I heard, was spending all the profits from his law practice on a personal crusade against the makers of the Slinky, calling it an affront to all spring-legs everywhere.

Regardless, I was just as bouncy walking down the beach as I was in that infamous race. I must have been clearing 20 feet with every step. I was makin good time, though I didn't know where to yet.

Just as the first sun was setting and the second was rising, I spotted a little building in the distance. As I got closer, I saw that it was a tikki bar, complete with bamboo walls, palm fronds on the roof and a pig roast in progress, though there was only one guest. He was right easy to spot because he was wearin a white suit that shone under them twin suns like chrome wheels covered in phosphorus.

I landed right behind him and asked, "Excuse me, sir, but would you happen to know where I am? You see, I woke up here after this whole thing with a lobster man, and..."

"You needn't explain, Pat," he said, turning around, "I already know everything."

I was right confused and even more so when he finished turning enough so I could see his face. "Mr. Lindbergh?" I asked, stunned.

"That's right," he confirmed. "Come on in, we've got some talking to do."


Anonymous said...

Lots of freak, horrible accident tend to happen in your life, huh pat?

Niffiwan said...

Oh my. This is beautiful. *sheds tear*