Any similarity of the characters to persons (or jerks,) living or dead is protected by some lawyer stuff somebody told me about one time.
The Speaker Monster
I must have slept because waking up was not pleasant. My eyes had reacted to something in the air, and were swollen and gunked up. Dirk, who never had that problem, told me that it was a system in my body that thought I was under attack from pollen, or dust. All I needed to do was flip my inner switch and it would go away. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take me into my area of switches the way he could take me to the school of amazing stuff.
I picked off the piles of gunk and hoped I didn’t look as bad as Mage-e-not. The paste that never came completely out of his shirt, had now plastered it to his body. Form-fitting was not a good look for Mage-e-not.
Lip Ton Tease, dripping and radiant, looked at each of us back and forth. “Showers,” he said, pointing in a more precise way than non-monks pointed. The point was so precise, that for a moment, I thought I saw a red dotted line form across the landscape. I wiped my eyes and looked again. It was gone.
“I prefer baths,” said Mage-e-not.
But we figured the monk was probably right – a shower would make life much better for us and the people we traveled with. We trundled off to where Tease had pointed so precisely. We trundled there because Mage-e-not and I shared the joy of trundling, just as we disliked clambering. I realized that Mage-e-not was becoming a friend.
Maybe a shower would wash that away.
The showers were impressive. A line of personal-sized waterfalls fell from forty feet above. Carved in stone above each fall were symbols which on reflection became words in my mind, “freezing, cold, cool, tepid, warm, hot, scalding,” and “are you kidding?”
“Are those words?” asked Mage-e-not.
“No,” I said. “They’re >#@%*’s.”
“Of course,” said Mage-e-not. “How do you spell that?”
“Exactly,” said a Showr Rinn master we had not noticed till that moment. “Contemplate that while under the waters, and you will reach enlightenment.” He produced a loofah and broke it in three sections with one hand. With the other hand he rebound and braided the seven cords of his braids with two fingers while healing the wings of a wounded butterfly with two others.
His thumb just sat and contemplated the experience.
The monk gave a section of loofah to Mage-e-not and another to me.
I was about to thank him, but he had left or was no longer visible. In my hand was a full sized loofah.
“Wish I could do that,” said Mage-e-not.
“Maybe you should join the Showr Rinn.”
“Nah, I like baths.”
Mage-e-not took two steps toward the tepid shower, and I was contemplating the scalding when I saw the naked form of Akwar showering beneath it.
There’s got to be a switch in my head to erase that.
That’s when we saw the speaking pair.
I had heard of the speaking pair, but hadn’t run across them before. At first glance they appeared to be two beings, the first a salamander-like creature with a long tail. The second being was a man of sorts, immediately behind the salamander and with a bright orange face.
“I don’t want to go to the ‘are you kidding’ shower, said the man with the orange face. I would like to go to the tepid shower.
The salamander flamed, and it became clear how the man acquired his orange face.
“Look,” said the orange-faced man, “I’m very important. I’m more important than you are now. You haven’t been speaking for years.”
The salamander just flamed again.
The man reeled, and the pair nearly knocked over Mage-e-not.
“What’s the problem?” said Mage-e-not.
“Grinchking here wants to use the ‘are you kidding,’ shower, but it’s too hot for me,” Said the orange-faced man.
“I know you,” said Mage-e-not. “You’re Jonma Burner.”
“That’s me,” said Jonma Burner. “I’m very important. I’m much more important than Grinchking.”
Predictably, the lizard flamed again.
“So why don’t you each go to the shower you prefer?” asked Mage-e-not.
I knew the answer. The salamander’s tail, though it appeared to be only wrapped around Jonma Burner, actually was connected to the man at the naval. Jonma Burner gave the tail a tug which made his belly bulge.
“I could have lived without seeing that,” said Mage-e-not.
“It’s only temporary,” said Jonma Burner. “As soon as he becomes completely irrelevant, I’ll be able to stand on my own. Then you’ll hear some powerfully moderate middle-of-the-roading that will get me fire from both sides – not just his backside.”
“Good luck with that,” said Mage-e-not.
The lizard dragged the Jonma off towards the ‘are you kidding’ shower, and the thought of Akwar made me abandon any thought of scalding and settle for the warm shower next to Mage-e-not’s tepid. “There seem to be a lot of Jonmas around,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Mage-e-not. “We’re close to the Ton That Needs Washing where all the dirty politics happens. Politics produces Jonmas, or attracts the ones that are already produced. I haven’t figured out which.
“Loofas are great, though,” he said.
I had to agree.
I came out of the shower feeling much better, though Mage-e-not and I still seemed to be becoming friends. I guess even showers and loofahs can’t fix everything.
We returned to the campsite and Ono eyed my loofah. I handed it over to her without her even having to ask, and she ran off towards the shower. Lustavious tried to grab Mage-e-not’s loofah, and the little man showed surprising back bone by putting it out of reach. Swampy landed on Mage-e-not’s shoulder, mangling his shirt, though not defecating on it, and nearly pecked Lustavious’ eyes out.
“Pretty bird?” said Mage-e-not uncertainly.
“Yeah, right,” squawked Swampy, and flew off after Ono. Tease, apparently unable to resist a chance at a second shower, grabbed Mage-e-not’s loofah.
While we waited for Ono and Tease to shower, I made algae bars which we covered with the last of the celestial tomato paste. I saved two for Ono and nobody complained. She seemed to be the only one able to enjoy them.
“I wonder what’s on the menu at the school today,” said Mage-e-not.
“I’m not going back.”
“Why not? You even have something to put food in besides my shirt,” he said waving the shiny silver bag which Ono had left behind.
“The custodian banned me.”
“Owww,” said Mage-e-not, “the custodian with his mop of glory! It’s very frightening.”
“You go,” I said.
“I can’t,” he pouted.
“Besides,” I told him. “This whole party is gathered together to banish my brother and me to oblivion. Do you think I should be expected to cater the affair?”
Mage-e-not was silent after that, and I held out hope that a budding friendship that loofah couldn’t crush, might get destroyed by algae bars. I performed a ritual that Dirk told me brought luck, taking my middle finger and laying it across my index finger.
“We’re late getting schtarted,” sputtered Jonma Claim after Ono and Tease returned. “Lesh get moving.”
“Where?” said Mage-e-not.
“Light Bringer?” said Jonma Claim. “Your prey is close. Which way do we go?”
Lustavious looked very pleased and dramatically held his lit finger above his head. It might have been more dramatic after dark, because Lustavious being so tall, and the morning sun so bright, it was hard to tell if the finger was lit at all.
But it was dramatic, and Lustavious was pleased, so that was probably the only thing that really mattered.
“This way!” sang Lustavious, and he began humming a hum that sounded like heavy horses, clad in armor with incredibly large and blond warriors on them. It was a pretty ambitious hum, and Lustavious pulled it off very well.
So we all followed the hum.
Whenever we fall into despair concerning the American government, we can always cheer ourselves by listening to the Brits. Where did they get this crowd - from the lock-up during a soccer (yes, I know you call it football,) match?