Queen Plantagenet & The New Sub-Woofer


Lights Bright Tonight Alright


The Do’s Series: Segment 2


© Grandpa Jim



Sunlight dances across the clear green water.

On the rock, she zips the wet skin, adjusts the gill breather between her teeth, ties back her long hair, raises her hands and dives.

With strong strokes, the thin figure propels deeper into the pond, finds the opening and glides into the tunnel. At intervals, rocks glow soft white illumining the path as it turns and drops. Leveling, the girl passes the gate and sights the bright city pulsating in rainbow colors.

A swimmer touches her foot.

Twirling, she pulls the sticknife at her belt and faces the guppy’s wide smile. A webbed hand waves and points her on. Together, they reach the outbubble, wait for the film to lift and enter the hatch.

Water washes down, the inner film opens, and the girl and escort step forward.

In a long ceremonial orange greetmeet robe, the official approaches. The gill openings below the administrator’s ears and chin are fringed in purple cosmoflour, and the serrated headridge is tinted a bright yellow.

Bowing deeply, the guppy HighEmUpThereMe purses thin lips and whistles: “The QueenLeader of all DownTown sends greetings and invites you to now proceed and pass through the traffic of the city, not linger on the sidewalks where the neon signs are pretty, the lights are bright here, you can forget all your troubles here. Follow me.”

To which, the gathered crowd of guppies intone together in a cheerful chorus: “Downtown. Downtown. Things are great when you are DownTown.”

Laughing and singing, the dancing crowd follows the MustHello and girl to the tall CenterBuilding and into the GetWithItHall.

From the elevated throneseat, the older female guppie stands. The matron’s blue dress shimmers with sparkle stones. The regal figure turns her head and pauses. Lightly descending the steps, she walks forward and embraces the girl.

“We are a cheerful bunch, don’t you think, LoveJoy KickStart? Even if our dear MustMeetFellow here is something of a boob.” She steps back to survey the chestnut hair, clear tan skin and lithe girlish figure. “You are a brightening sight for these old eyes. But you’re not going to pull any of your pasta macaroni tricks downhere in undercity. Yes, my dear girl, we guppies can be fish out of water. We have gills everywhere. RhineHold HuffSpot and his clan are a mighty ally, but don’t think Queen Mother Mary Plantagenet Pickford and her schools are so easily contracted.”

“It was properly done in the binding words, Queen Mother. A fair and contracted agreement.”

“For a princely sum. What you know, we hear too. Between you and RhineHold, the Do’s were done, the space closed, and the first Segment made. Of this, there is no contest. There are other concerns.”

“What concerns, M’Lady?”

“That you, my child, delve too deeply.”

“Too deeply?”

“Too deeply, KickStart. Too deeply into the Old Ways. Into the Paths of the Long Ago.”

“The Fonz was fairly made and properly played.”

“You played on a dwarf lord’s weakness. Don’t look glum. I know you mean well. The Parmesan and Reggiano, they concern me. If they were ever old cheese? More likely, I think, magic dust. Or, very old technology? Don’t object. Hear my words. You delve too deeply.”

“But the SCRUMPs must be stopped. They are here.”

“Evil is always here, child. And they will be stopped. It is the Cycle of the Do’s. Even the strange creatures you name are with us too and a part of the March of the Segments”

“Will you join us, Queen Mother Mary Plantagenet Pickford?”

“Of course, my worried and resourceful LoveJoy KickStart, but not for a bowl of singing pasta. Though I also love The Fonz, and agree he may be helpful in a pinch. Don’t look so surprised. We two are not that very different. No, the Guppies join for friendship. With you, the dwarf and others, we shall Seek the Right and March to Fight, if such must be. This is now beyond any agreement or contract, and it is by far the oldest and truest of the Old Ways.”

LoveJoy kneels and touches the Queen’s hand. “Thank you, Mother.”

“Up, up, child. Now you must freshen up. Tonight, we eat, dance and forget our cares. Here you have found many to help and understand you. Don’t wait a minute. Off, off, with you. Everyone is waiting for us DownTown.”

“I was hoping you would say that, Lady Mother Pickford.” From the beltpack of her wetskin, LoveJoy reaches a small disc to the Queen.

“What is this?” Mary Plantagenet examines the bright shiny oval and exclaims, “A true find! There are so few of these CD’s surviving. And this one? Oh, my.”

“Does it please you, Mother?”

“Wonderfully so, daughter. Wonderfully so. The techfixmakers have just devised and installed a new sub-woofer into the commonsounds system. This will play so well. Petula Clark! Where did you ever? Never mind that, the party awaits. Now, off with you. There will be little of sleep this night.”

As LoveJoy enters her coral sleeping atoll, the city sound system squeaks, the volume increases and the first voice of the old song echoes out and over the city.

In the streets, the guppies jump, cheer and whistle harmonies to the lyrics they remember so well:


When you’re alone and life is making you lonely

You can always go downtown

When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry

Seems to help, I know, downtown

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city

Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty

How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there

You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares

So go downtown


Petula was the hit of DownTown — that night and for many more to follow: