Twelve Days of 2log Xmas: Part 1-A Cartridge In Its Bare Feet
Over at 2log, we’re doing twelve days of posts inspired by each verse in the classic holiday tune “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I was assigned the leadoff spot, so this is what I came up with.
* * *
Hello, Officer Jennings. How may I assist you this evening?
YOU MAY NEVER ASSIST ME WITH ANYTHING.
Very well, Officer Jennings.
Officer Jennings storms out of the room.
Well, I suppose I ought to see about some supper.
Lieutenant Bainbridge prepares some eggs.
I do love a supper of eggs. Let’s see what’s on the television.
There is a bowl of figs on top of the television.
How did that get there I wonder?
Officer Jennings re-appears in the doorway wearing a suit of armor.
I PUT IT THERE.
Officer Jennings! You’ve returned.
I TOOK A BREEZY EXCURSION AND GATHERED JONQUILS FROM THE RIVER SLOPES. SWEET MARJORAM GREW IN LUXURIANT PROFUSION BY THE WINDOW THAT OVERLOOKED THE AZTEC CITY. FULL STOP. JADED ZOMBIES ACTED QUIETLY, BUT KEPT DRIVING THEIR OXEN FORWARD.
I see you also picked up a suit of armor somewhere along the way.
I OWNED THIS PREVIOUSLY AND DONNED IT FOR THE OCCASION, AS DANGER ALWAYS LURKS AROUND EVERY CORNER IN THIS STRANGE AND MYSTERIOUS LAND.
I think it’s time for a new character, don’t you? Let’s see…how about a lady? A lady named MRS. EVELYN P. TRANCHBOX.
EH HElllooooooo, dearies.
Good evening Mrs. Tranchbox, what brings you to my flat this night?
Merely a trifle, dearie. Could I borrow your microwave?
Yes, of course, Evelyn, it would be my pleasure. Are you reheating last night’s culinary endeavors?
Nooooo, dearie, I’m attempting to dispose of some incriminating evidence of malfeasance.
INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH I FIND MYSELF IN A SIMILAR PREDICAMENT.
Oh dooooo you Officer Jennings, dearie? What manner of criminal activity have you perpetrated now?
I STOLE A SUIT OF ARMOR.
Ah, but Officer Jennings, I thought you’d just said a moment ago that you owned this suit of armor.
THIS IS NOT THE SUIT OF ARMOR I STOLE.
All at once there comes a clattering and shattering of wind and glass and sand and wonder.
Hark! The wizard Zartoolie is attempting to contact us via the biorhythms of the natural world.
IT IS I, ZARTOOLIE, THE ECOLOGICAL SORCERER!
Yessss, Zartoolie dearie, we’ve figured that out already.
What would you have us know, great Zartoolie?
I WANTED TO INVITE YOU ALL TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY. IT WILL BE HELD EXACTLY FIVE DAYS FROM TODAY IN THE HIGGINBOTHAM ROOM AT THE RAMADA ON ROUTE SIXTEEN.
That sounds lovely, Zartoolie, I’m sure we’ll all be in attendance.
I CANNOT PROVIDE A FIRM RSVP AT THIS TIME.
THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE, OFFICER JENNINGS. I AM AWARE THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY BESET WITH CERTAIN LEGAL ENTANGLEMENTS.
I am as well, dearie—I’m afraid you’ll have to put me down as a “maybe.”
VERY WELL, EVELYN. YOU KNOW THAT I WOULD WAIT AN ETERNITY FOR YOU.
Oh dearie, it’s never going to work between us unless you can one day marshal the courage to appear to me in corporeal form.
I SUFFER FROM CRIPPLING INSECURITY REGARDING THE LENGTH OF MY BEARD.
Oh dearie, I’m quite certain your personality more than makes up for any physical shortcomings.
WE WILL DISCUSS THIS LATER. AND AS FOR YOU, LIEUTENANT BAINBRIDGE? MAY I ASPIRE TO SEE YOUR CHISELED VISAGE AT THE HIGGINBOTHAM ROOM FIVE DAYS HENCE?
I’ll be there, Zartoolie. Is it, perchance, a costume party?
IF SO I WOULD BE ALL SET.
THIS IS TRUE OFFICER JENNINGS, BUT I HAVE ALREADY RECEIVED YOUR RSVP, WHICH, BY THE WAY, HAS DEMOTED YOU IN MY ESTEEM BY SEVERAL DEGREES. TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, LIEUTENANT BAINBRIDGE, YES, YOU ARE WELCOME TO WEAR A COSTUME, PROVIDED THAT IT IS FREELY INSPIRED BY THE FOLLOWING THEME: “THE ULTIMATE OBSOLESCENCE OF TECHNOLOGY.”
That’s a very interesting theme, Zartoolie. Have you selected it because you are an ecological wizard?
Very well. I shall be there, dressed as an inkjet printer component whose functionality has tragically expired, rendering me a hunk of useless waste destined to rot in a landfill.
YOU WILL BE AN INK CARTRIDGE THEN?
Yes, a cartridge in my bare feet. The bare feet are a comment on the vast gulf between the values of well-heeled modernity and the primitive proximity to the earth valued by ancient cultures.
OBVIOUSLY. SAY, HAS ANYONE ELSE NOTICED THAT EVELYN HAS NOT SPOKEN FOR A FEW MOMENTS? ARE WE AT ALL CONCERNED THAT THIS IS BECAUSE SHE’S IN THE PROCESS OF TELEPHONING THE FBI AND ALERTING THEM TO MY WHEREABOUTS? IF THIS SEEMS AT ALL LIKELY PLEASE ALERT ME, SO THAT I CAN HIDE, A PROCESS WHICH WILL TAKE A FEW MINUTES BECAUSE I AM WEARING A SUIT OF ARMOR.
EVELYN IS LOYAL AND TRUE OF HEART, YOU CLANKING POULTROON. HOW DARE YOU ASSUME THAT SHE WOULD BE SO QUICK TO INSTIGATE YOUR DOOM?
All at once a burst of sirens and shattered windows. The FBI enters and arrests all who are present, except for Lieutenant Bainbridge, who enjoys peace and quiet in his home for the first time in many years. He exhales with satisfaction and removes the dish of figs from atop the television. He garnishes them with a bit of honey and settles into his easy chair. He chews the sticky fruit deliberately, gazing into the distance with a twinkle of nostalgia in his steel grey eyes. After a moment he sets the figs on a side table and goes to his study. He pulls a dusty old volume from the shelf, the cover of which reads, “Tall Woods High School Yearbook.” He returns to the chair and flips to a dog-eared page, upon which the photograph of Clementine Cuppernell has been circled. She has written her phone number alongside the photograph, along with an inscription that reads, “After the bombs…” Lieutenant Bainbridge’s mouth slowly curls into a smile.
Until it all starts over again.
He reaches for the telephone.