I didn’t feel good about what I’d done. Ono probably thought I didn’t want her, and I didn’t want her to think that. But would it be any easier for her if she thought that I hated her going to Phasia without me?
There were a lot of things I couldn’t control. Being Dirk’s brother had given me a deep appreciation of that fact, but I could still avoid being selfish. As I searched for Dirk, or rather separated myself from the Light Bringer enough for Dirk to find me, I passed Swampy. The rat-bird was waddling like a duck.
“What’s wrong with you, Swampy?”
Swampy looked up at me with unfocussed eyes. “Fish stick?” he said unevenly.
I’d never seen Swampy like this, and never was a long time with us. The closest was the time when Swampy had tried to eat an entire tuna. Maybe there were bigger fish in the brook than I’d seen.
“Do you need help?”
“Nope,” said Swampy followed by a disgusting belch.
It wasn’t as if I knew anything about fixing sick rat-birds. I shrugged my shoulders and kept walking. A salamander fell from a branch above me and landed on my shoulder. “So,” said the salamander, “you fix things up for your friends?”
“Ono fixed it for them. I didn’t have much to do with it, but yes, the monk will take them to Phasia.”
“Good,” said Dirk. He was sitting about two body lengths up on a thick branch. Jonma Carry was tied to the trunk for some reason, but he didn’t seem to be in distress, so I ignored him.
“You were never much for climbing trees, Dirk” I said.
“It’s something new I got from the school of amazing stuff.”
“Tree climbing doesn’t sound all that amazing to me.”
“It isn’t,” said Dirk, “but this is.” He put his hand on the trunk above Jonma Carry, and the trees branches began to shift. Three branches formed themselves into a rough basket. Dirk stepped into the basket and the tree lowered him to the ground.
“Is that good for the tree – or even the Jonma?” I asked.
“Who cares,” said Dirk.
I didn’t pursue it. Apathy washed over me. I not sure why they even use the word wash in connection with apathy because this particular wash of apathy didn’t make me feel clean. I felt dirty, low, and completely incapable of doing anything about it.
I just sat on the dirt and sulked.
“Elmer,” said Dirk. “Don’t be like that. You’ll feel better when we get to So-Ho, I promise. There’s a little tobacconist shop around the corner that has cigars like you’ve never imagined.”
“That sounds good,” I said, sulkily. I wasn’t being sarcastic. It did sound good. A week before, I would have been excited to go with Dirk to a place like So-Ho and try new cigars. Now it just felt empty.
“Well,” said Dirk, “I guess if we’re going to get cast out, we might as well get to it. You got the scratchwing?”
I held up the instrument which Dirk could clearly see before I lifted it. “Why is this so important?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” said Dirk.
“You know,” I said, “once in a while I’d like to be the one to decide if I understand something or not.”
“You’re right,” said Dirk. “Tell me what you know about the tonal aspects of trans-dimensional travel?”
“You’re right,” I grumbled, “I wouldn’t understand.”
We walked slowly back the way I came. It felt like a dream – not a bad dream, or a good one either. It was as if I was in someone else’s dream, playing an unimportant role. My whole life felt like that – cannon fodder in someone else’s battle, an extra in someone else’s play, a spare horickvock for somebody else’s scratchwing.
I don’t know how far we walked. I didn’t care.
“They’re here!” shouted Akwar, as we approached a clearing. It might have been the clearing I left Mage-e-not and Ono in. “They’re right here!”
“Where’d that come from!” shouted Dirk, who was rarely surprised by anything.
Well, there was one thing to look forward to. This was probably the last time I’d ever see Youtickubus Akwar again.
“Dirth Dethroyersh,” said a wobbling, triumphant Jonma Claim. “Thith worldth thwill finally beth flreeth ofth schou nowsh!”
Dirk just started laughing.
Even when we were children, Dirk used to say he wanted to learn to laugh like a villain. Like most things that my brother set out to do, he accomplished his goal, exceeding even his own expectations. Dirk’s laugh wasn’t just loud, it was jarring, deep, throaty, gravelly, and impossible to hear without the skin of my forearms, (not to mention my ear lobes,) puckering and shifting, and looking for a place to hide.
My brother really enjoyed being Dirk Destroyer, and most of the time I was happy for him. I wanted my brother to feel fulfilled. I just wish it didn’t require me to lose the love of my largely love-less life.
“Uriculous!” shouted Dirk. “Is that you trying to control that Jonma?”
“Yeth, Dethtroer, ith –schmee. Ith goth schou now!”
Dirk started laughing again. He was really going over the top with his evil laugh. I was about to nudge him, when I realized that tears were forming in his eyes. He wasn’t just laughing for effect. He was really laughing.
I looked around and tried to figure out what was so funny. I hate it when I’m the only one that doesn’t get a joke. I saw Ono and Mage-e-not. I went over to them.
“What’s he laughing about?” asked Mage-e-not.
“You don’t get it?”
“No,” he said.
“Good. I don’t get it either.”
“Uriculous!” shouted Dirk, “You sound like your tongue connection is loose; you wouldn’t be having any trouble with your Jonma now, would you?”
“Ofsh coursch snot!” snapped Jonma Claim.
“Because,” said Dirk, “you weren’t much brighter than a Jonma yourself, and that was when you were still alive. I don’t think being dead all this time has helped that much.”
“Schtill shalive enoughsh shew baniscsssh shoe.”
“What’s that you say Uriculous? I think someone else is fighting you for that tongue.”
“Where’s the Jonma Carry?” said Akwar. “The Jonma Carry is supposed to help the high priest keep control.”
“The guy whose face looks like a bad sculpture?” asked Dirk. “I left him tied up to a tree back there.”
“I’ll get him, High Priest,” said Akwar. “Just hold on!”
“Shno Schneedsch,” said Jonma Claim. That might have been, ‘no need,’ but he was getting harder to understand by the minute. Akwar took off, supposedly in search of the Jonma Carry.
“You’re barely holding on, Uriculous,” said Dirk. “My guess is that you’ve been getting weaker for some time. Pretty soon, you’ll disappear, and there won’t be enough of you to possess a Jonma rat-bird.”
“Like Swampy?” I asked. “Is Swampy a possessed Jonma bird?”
“I’ll tell you later,” said Dirk.
“Schwhere’sch Sha Schlighsh Schringersh?” roared Jonma Claim. “Schurrys, schurrys!”
“What’s he talking about?” asked Mage-e-not,” who had Ono’s silver bag in his hand for some reason.
“He wants the Light Bringer,” said Dirk. “Watch this.” The look of fury and triumph in Jonma Claim’s eyes turned to fear as Dirk approached. “I’ll be your Light Bringer,” he said, and as he stuck out his middle finger at Jonma Claim, a two-inch flame appeared at the end.
“Schnosh!” screamed Jonma Claim in obvious, though unintelligible distress. “Schelpsh! Schelpsh!”
Dirk made little feints with his lighted finger at Jonma Claim. “I’m not torching you,” he said. “I’m not torching you!”
“I’m not torching you!”
“Schmommysch!” blurted Jonma Claim. “Schmschaschkschesch schhschischm schsschtschoschpsh!!!!”
“That’s it,” said Mage-e-not. “I can’t follow him at all now.”
“I’m not torching you.”
“Schschschscheeeeeesch!” said Jonma Claim, as he fell to the earth in a heap.
“Am I late,” said the stone-faced Jonma Carry, now free of the tree and looking down at the other Jonma.
“Elmer,” cried Ono. “Uriculous Wisehind is kaput! You’re jingle, jangle, wee! You no zap ka-pow!”
“I wouldn’t count on that, Little Lady,” sang Lustavious, slightly more late than Jonma Carry.
Mage-e-not went over to the pile of Jonma Claim and prodded it with his foot. The pile lurched, and made a gurgling sound, then said, “No more torture. I give up. One of you guys tell me how to say, ‘I’ll cooperate’ in Phasian.”
“Which Phasian Language,” asked Lip Ton Tease, who would’ve been later even than Lustavious and Jonma Carry, but for the fact that nobody asked for him, which made him independent of time – though not of space.
“The nation needs me,” said Jonma Claim, who in his present state was probably oblivious of many things, and specifically Tease’s question. Either that, or he was being rude.
“I must serve where I’m needed,” he said.
“Do you have any skill as a waiter?” asked Dirk.
At this point the Jonma Claim went into a monolog about heroism, straight shooting, taking bribes, and undermining his own party in the quest for fair play. The monolog’s best quality was that it was ignorable, so I went up to Dirk.
“So,” I said, “this changes things, right?”
“I wouldn’t count on it, Big Brother.”
“But without Uriculous, we can…”
“Live on a world about to fall to global swarming?”
“We could live in Phasia. You’re good at math.”
Dirk grimaced. “Not that good. And you’re forgetting the Light Bringer.”
“I still don’t get how…”
At this point, Jonma Claim raised his voice sufficiently to be less ignorable, and Dirk’s attention turned to him.
“I am not Uriculous,” said Jonma Claim. “I am not even Jonma Claim,” said the non-Jonma Claim. “I am,” and the round-faced man raised his arms to shoulder height, peering around at each person in the clearing, “Jo4n McLame!”
“Big deal,” said Swampy, waddling in and standing by Ono.
“I have to go with the bird on this one,” said Mage-e-not.
“I’m Jo4n McLame,” said Jo4n McLame unnecessarily. “I was this close to being the leader of the…”
“Not that close,” said Jonma Carry. “I was closer.”
“What about him?” asked Akwar, who had not only reappeared, but she had brought All Bore with her,
“You know,” said All Bore, “I should have won, but I have a patent pending on politics, so I’m a sure bet next time.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Mage-e-not, “we don’t care.”
“How about giving me a shot,” said the RunPol monster who unexpectedly showed up at this precise moment in the story.
“Never,” cried Jo4n McLame, Jonma Carry, and All Bore in bipartisan unanimity.
“Still don’t care,” said Mage-e-not. “What we need to know is if we’re still sending Elmer and his evil brother to oblivion.”
“And that’s what I’ll do right now,” said Lustavious.
“Wait,” said Jo4n McLame, “I’m Commander in Chief around here. You take orders from me!”
Ono stepped up to the former Jonma. “And you want Elmer and Dirk to stay, don’t you?”
All eyes turned to Jo4n McLame, who held his chin up, and would have been impressive – except he wasn’t. He was still, round, frumpy, and stupid-looking, but he looked like he thought he looked impressive, which while pathetic is… Well, it’s still pathetic.
“This is my decision,” said Jo4n McLame…”
A friend posted this on FB and said it was funny. I don't get it, but maybe you will.