He Moves With Some Uncertainty
The Do’s Series: Segment 15
© Grandpa Jim
“What is this thing?” LoveJoy leans over the shoulder of the dwarf technician. “The Nurse called it a thumbdrive.”
The TopHouse engineer strokes his flowing gray beard with one hand and turns the small rectangular object over and over again between the fingers of his other hand.
“Do you know, Fritz WonderLeaf, Mentat Compendium in ThoughtService?” DeepDelve HuffSpot rests a hand on the table next to the ghostly form of the diminutive slumped technician. “What is it?”
“It is a small part of me.” Fritz stands, brushes back his black robe and moves to a cluttered workbench, talking as he moves. “A part that has returned and come to take me back.” The Mentat sits down on a roll chair before a thin dark screen on a short stand. Along the bottom of the screen is a silver strip with the image of an apple with a bite missing. “My Mac.” Fritz WonderLeaf reaches behind the screen and inserts the thumbdrive into the back of the I-Machine, his iMac.
Colors suddenly appear upon the flat surface. A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold, impossible to hold in one’s eye, a living fabric of bits and pieces.
“What’s happening?” LoveJoy asks in awe.
“It’s loading. The program is loading.” A thin smile lights the wrinkled face of the ancient dwarf. “Then we shall see what we can see. Then . . . we shall unravel an everlasting vision of the everchanging view, a tapestry to feel and see of rich and royal hue.”
* * *
“I can’t see where this is going.” The speaker moves with some uncertainty, as if he doesn’t know just what he is there for, or where he ought to go. He reaches for the arm of a great chair and spins around. The torn and tattered cloth of his undershift lifts, revealing a tanned and leathered hide. An overcloak of many colors, yellow-green on either side, settles and drapes about the thin figure and over the arms of the chair.
“You are an odd one.” Sir Richard Geoffrey Ingelger of Jobs sticks a finger in his ear. “A mysterious stranger, a drifter passing by, you arrive in the dark of night. From where, I don’t know. A man of fortune, you tell me things I don’t know or haven’t yet seen. And you complain you can’t see. Who are you anyway?”
“I don’t know.”
“You are not much of a villain.”
“Am I a villain?”
“I am and that should be good enough for the two of us.”
“Stop this prattle. Collect yourself. Focus. What new information do you have for me, the remaker of this world?”
“Are you that?”
“The remaker of this world?”
“Well I’m certainly not a politician.”
“Is that meant to be a relief?”
“Yes, and it should be.”
“As the remaker of this world,” the guest seems surer in his speech, “would you like to know who your new guest is? The one who just arrived on the medsled?”
“As always, you seem to know things before I know them. Do you reach up for something golden hanging from a tree and magically find the information there.”
“Not always. Sometimes my hand comes down empty, and I don’t know. Sometimes, I can’t see.” The seated figure slumps back with a deep sigh and rubs his forehead with the back of a hand. He takes a deep breath, sits straight and collects himself. “Do you want to know who has arrived?”
“Yes, yes. I suppose I and my ‘new guest’, as you call him, are related.”
“He is a he, and he and you are cousins. On your mother’s side.”
“Most say I never had a mother.”
“Your mother had a far distant great aunt whose younger brother was not killed by the Kaiser before World War I.”
“Here it comes again. Ancient history.”
“That younger brother survived and had descendants.”
“And this is one of those?”
“He is. Of the Line of the Swan.”
“The heir to the throne, in fact.”
“The Crown Prince and the protector of a young FarWay girl you seem to be following and seeking with some interest.”
“The very KickStart.”
“You are a Man of Fortune. Good fortune, for me.” Sir Richard touches a finger to his lips. “Do the BentOnes know this?”
“They do not.”
Sir Richard eyes the Drifter. “How can you speak with such certainty? The BrownOnes are my subjects, not yours. And they are able in their ways.”
“They are. As I am, in mine.” The Drifter hums a tune and speaks in a modulated rhythm:
“Along the rutted road
On a river rock
In a wicked spell
Sat a mottled toad.
I saw him suffer so
And wept to see him there,
Though I did not know him well.”
“What is this nonsense,” Sir Richard exclaims.
“My story and yours, Sir Richard Geoffrey Ingelger of Jobs, First Count of the Sweeping Lands.” A sad smile crosses the stranger’s tanned and lined face. “My story and yours.”
* * *
“Something out of the ordinary is going on.” MinneSinger HitBolt squints intently at the FaceTime image of Queen Mother Mary Plantagenet Pickford on his iPad.
“You are hardly one to talk, MinneSinger. Much of what you do and are involved with is out of the ordinary.”
“Mary, this is different. Something most unusual is occurring. It disturbs me, and I am not easily disturbed.”
“Are you concerned for LoveJoy? My girl is safe, isn’t she?”
“Yes, yes. DeepDelve is watching over her and her SandRunner friend. LoveJoy is quite safe, for now.”
“And is her boyfriend?”
“If you mean, Prince Lohengrin, I am very concerned for both him and his mouse. They are lost. We know that. That is not what I feel. This is something else. A presence I have not sensed before, or one I have not felt so strongly.”
“What can we do?”
“By The Do’s, I do not know what more we can be doing. We speak, we sing, we act, we do. Our experiences, past and present, are integrated into our lives, our pictures, our music, our stories. . . .”
“You fall silent, old friend. What are you thinking?”
“Our stories, Mary. Our stories are themselves an uncertain creation. Can they be seen and effected from without?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not sure. Linearity prescribes a certain consistency.”
“What is it that you sense?”
“An inconsistency, a distinction not in the context of our actions, which is to be expected, but in the creation of the actions themselves. An external intrusion, of some sort. An interruption.”
“My dear MinneSinger, we can only deal with what we can effect. I think now is the time to change what we can change and to help those we can help. Forces and creations outside our context will be dealt with later, if at all.”
“You are right, of course, Queen Mary. You are a true friend.”
“You are a worried friend, and I would not have you so. Let us return to what we can do for LoveJoy and DawnRunner and how we can find TidBit and HirschTruss.”
“You mean “’Prince Lohengrin.’”
“My girl favors ‘Truss.’”
The two FaceTime screens smile back to each other.
* * *
Setting his fork down, the Abbot of HighHill rolls his broad shoulders adjusting the tan cassock on his great frame. He eyes HammerHands finishing his third dessert and turns to TidBit. “When I was in the ring,” the Abbott begins, “I always had a great appetite. Ah, those were the days. Traveling and fighting. Fighting and traveling. From city to town to hamlet to village and back again. I took on every comer and I fought every champion. Undefeated, I was.”
“A legend,” HammerHands speaks through a mouthful of custardy crisp. “Me idol.” Berry crumbs drop to the white starched tablecloth.
The Abbott addresses the younger pugilist. “I am amazed you found your way here, son. The snows of OverMountain are a cold guard. Few find the path. Fewer still survive the trek.”
“My days in the ring are now few.” HammerHands flexes the muscles of one arm. “Here, mayhaps, there is some use for my remaining strength.”
“Of that, there is welcome worth. Of your spirit, there may be some work.” The Abbott extends a hand in universal welcome, palm out and fingers wide. “Fear not, you have here a found home and a safe retreat.”
Cheeks wide with food, the Pugilist nods his thanks.
“Now, to you.” The Abbott adjusts his chair to face the Mouse across the table. “I have heard your story and it is already a worthy tale, but it is unfinished. Young TidBit McIntyre, there is more for you to do and to be. An ending is far off, as are your friends. Both will not be found here.”
“Your words are true, worthy Abbott.” TidBit pauses. “And your advice is sought. How can I proceed to find my friends?”
“From your words, I know you worry for their safety and wish to reach and help them in their tasks.”
“I do, Abbott true.”
“Then, we shall do what we can do. You need more contacts with the outside world than this isolated valley can afford.”
“How can I find those contacts?”
“Not over the high snows. The exit paths are closed to all who enter here. And not back through the tunnels. Those turns are uncharted.”
“Then how can I go?”
“You must go below. Through the underways. The waterways.”
“Even a fertile valley hidden from sight amidst the peaks of OverMountain requires outside supplies from time to time and a means to make such deliveries without attracting attention that might lead others here.”
“How is this done?”
“Guppies, my Mouse friend. The deep waterways are their domain, and they are themselves a people who seek little attention and are seldom seen by those dwelling above the ground. A special shipment has arrived and I have arranged passage back for you with the Guppie crew.”
“Back to where? I can’t breathe underwater.”
“Details, Mouse TidBit, details. Do not worry. The Guppies have their ways, and you may learn a trick or two. Don’t look glum. Here is another platter of sweettreats. Enjoy our food. I’m not sure what Guppies eat. It may be raw.”
“Raw?” The Mouse’s complexion turns pale.
“A joke, friend TidBit, a joke. Enjoy. Please enjoy your last meal with us.”
TidBit gulps and reaches for an overlarge triple chocolate dreamcream. When in Rome, he thinks in his head. Who knows what the next meal will look or taste like. He takes a huge bite, chews slowly and smiles serenely. When in Rome. His eyelids droop with a blissful sigh. Do as the Romans do.