Then, before you realize it, you need actual prescription glasses now, not only because--even on a good day--you can't read the microwave instructions on your frozen burrito wrapper, but also because you have to renew your driver's license next month. You no longer hop capriciously down a flight of stairs, but concentrate and walk them methodically, more and more often using the handrail. Just in case, you know. Hair and gum lines recede beyond comfort (it turns out that phrase "long in the tooth" that always used to confuse me makes literal sense now), and skin begins to wither ever so slightly.
Now I know what you're thinking...and you're probably right: "Aging is nothing to be ashamed of," "You're only as old as you feel," "Father Time is the only undefeated champion," and such like that. Some of you even know that part of the reason I write these stories is so that at least PART of me remains unaffected by gravity. See, no one ages in Interterrestria unless they choose to...and, so far, no one has ever chosen to. Certainly not myself! Yes, I know in my heart that the best thing for me to do is to accept the unsavory effects of gravity with grace and gratitude. I tell myself I will try to do a better job of this in the future, but the truth is, the rebel inside me still carries a sword with a rainbow blade. I believe it always will. Even if I can't win this battle, I'm not going down without a fight. Gravity can kiss my still-best feature, for the moment. And many after. The war rages on!
And now, finally, back to the story...the conclusion to this hidden Comnandrai Trilogy:
We begin near the gate of my Sacred Garden, where my gatekeeper, Caw-Caw Carl, and my Raven soulmate, Cousin Eddie were still seated upon the desk, Achilles' Last Stand, staring miserably and most despondently into the Dragon's Eye. They had managed to convince themselves that war was indeed upon our beloved lands, and that Kev wasn't coming back this time from the Comnandrai Council upon Dew Mound, far north in Flatlandia.
Though the mysterious playing of Led Zeppelin's "Houses Of The Holy" album distracted them for a moment, it wasn't enough to overcome their pending grief, which surprised even Edwin the Bee, who, as it turns out, was the one who had mysteriously played the record. This surprised Edwin so much, even, that He felt the need to plop down onto the top of Achilles' Last Stand and block their view of the Dragon's Eye. "Well, aren't we a couple of sad sops!" the Bee quipped. Then He added, "You DO realize, of course, Kev's Sacred Garden is a place of joy and tranquility?"
"How can we be joyful and tranquil when it's all coming to an end?" asked Cousin Eddie.
"Yes, yes," added Caw-Caw Carl, "What he most saidly said."
Edwin the Bee hopped up onto the Dragon's Eye, balanced Himself upon the silvery sphere, and crossed his little Bee legs most formally. "Aww, come now, My silly corvids, you don't really buy into that end-of-times stuff do you? Listen to your hearts, not your foolish little minds. Kev HAS to come back, you know. He can't very well leave himSELF, now, can he?"
"Well if anyone could, it would be him," Cousin Eddie a little bit more than sighed. "And besides," Cousin Eddie continued, "Even if Kev does come back, that doesn't stop the war."
"Yes, yes, most exactly exact, Mr. Edwin," dear Caw-Caw added.
"Come now, you dear corvid fools!" Edwin chastised, "You've actually fallen for his dramatic flair, haven't you?! I don't blame you so much, Caw-Caw, for you are still learning about Kev and his imaginary lands...but, Cousin Eddie, I'm quite surprised at you! You should know better. You've known Kev since the beginning. You are his soulmate even!"
"Well, yes, of course, Edwin. I get all that," Cousin Eddie spoke. "But the war. I'm not ready for war...even if it IS only in Kev's imagination. Like you just said, the Sacred Garden is a place of joy and tranquility. The thought of combat is unthinkable to me."
"Combat???!!!" Edwin shouted. "What in Eternity's name made you think of combat???" Then Cousin Eddie shrugged his wings a bit shamefully, and looked aside. Edwin the Bee exhaled deeply, calmed Himself, and explained, "Look, you two. There has always been war, and there always will be. Especially inside Kev's imagination...and even in your imaginations too. Is Kev the one that taught you war is combat?"
"Well, he sorta implied it," Cousin Eddie spoke, "and so did Adamna Comnandra. At least that's how I took it."
Poor confused Caw-Caw the Stellers Jay added, "Well I wasn't there when Kev Kev left on the great dragon Dragon's back, but from Cousin Eddie Eddie's description, that's how I also took it too."
Then Edwin the Bee hopped off of the Dragon's Eye sphere, and buzzed His way up into the air above the two corvids, "Well, just you two remember how much Kev enjoys his dramatic and foolish flair, and know of a certainty that there will never be any actual combat inside his Sacred Garden. But now, it seems, you two have a guest to tend to." The two corvids looked toward the garden gate and saw nothing except Edwin the Bee, who had by now settled back into His lotus flower.
And now, dear reader, we return to the scene of the aforementioned Comnandrai Council, upon Dew Mound, far north in Flatlandia:
There, upon Dew Mound, in front of good King Midas LeBottom's cottage, The Comnandrai Council continued, great Dragons' breath flames still leaping from inside the massive pit the council's members had arranged themselves around. Were it not for the gentleness and compassion of the 3 great Dragon brothers, the flames might well have engulfed the entire moon-greeting itself--moon and all! Kev and dear Caesar Emeritus, the Baloo-eyed Akita, sat next to each other, one hand in paw, one paw in hand, and two arms around one another's shoulders. Good King Midas LeBottom, himself, sat not more than a flagon's toss away from the two, to their right, and the Comnandrai (the 3 Dragon brothers) sat evenly spaced, around the other arc of the fire pit almost directly across from the other 3 council members. All council members present looked solemnly into the tremendous flames, and saw segments of past, present, future, and other possible pasts, presents, and futures--and even more beyond that. Some of the visions were painful, some were comforting, and still more were well beyond Kev's understanding. Dear Caesar patted Kev's thigh tenderly with his massive paw at just the right times, each and every time, as an added and much-needed comfort.
It had, by now, officially been decided unanimously by the Comnandrai Council that Kev had nothing at all to do with the unauthorized activation and use of the portal which had caused the fear and threat of war upon Interterrestria to begin with. That was good news for Kev, indeed. The question as to WHO activated and used the portal remained, however. As well as the even more important question, "WHY?"
Having run out of any reasonable answers to those questions, the council's conversation eventually wandered into much ado about percentages, and percentages of percentages. Without going into the boring explanation behind their calculations, the council ultimately agreed to settle on a figure for the probability of war that was now much smaller than it had begun with--37.3%, to be specific (It had begun with 97.3%). After that, the council agreed unanimously that this was very good news indeed. Good King Midas LeBottom decided this was enough good news, even, that it was worthy of at least a small celebration. The council agreed unanimously once again, and the good King proceeded to pass out flagons of Minute Mead to those who accepted them. Those who accepted the flagons also enjoyed the flagons of Minute Mead that other council members had declined.
And now, dear, reader, we return to Achilles' Last Stand, from inside Kev's Sacred Garden, where Caw-Caw Carl the Stellers Jay gatekeeper, and Kev's Raven soulmate, Cousin Eddie, are still seated...and looking for a supposed guest Edwin the Bee had told them they must tend to:
"Knock, knock?" the two corvids heard in the form of a lovely, invisible would-be guest.
"Who's there?" asked Cousin Eddie.
"Calliope," the would-be guest spoke, most sweetly.
Still, the two corvids saw nothing, but remained seated upon Achilles' Last Stand. Caw-Caw Carl finally spoke, "Calliope Calliope who who?"
"No, just Calliope," the invisible would-be guest replied, and "And I'm not an owl, silly! I'm here to see Kev. I'm supposed to live here now--in the Treehouse of the Holy. Can I come in?"
It was that instant that Cousin Eddie finally noticed the garden gate was closed, and he hopped down from the desk very quickly to go open it. [You see, dear reader, the garden gate is always left open...it had only been closed due to the threat of war. So Cousin Eddie, of course, had never seen it this way!]
Caw-Caw Carl, ever the responsible and loyal gatekeeper, stopped Cousin Eddie mid-stride and shouted, "Wait, wait! We are not to let anyone inside the garden garden gate, with the muy threat of war and all. No exceptional exceptions, even. Kev Kev most saidly said!"
"Well, I'm not letting her in, Caw-Caw," Cousin Eddie retorted, "I'm just opening the gate to see who it is we're dealing with." And Kev's soulmate proceeded to open the gate. Then he gasped, and said "Wow. Umm, I mean, uhh... hi, Calliope. Cousin Eddie the Raven at your service. I would, uhh..let you in...but like Caw-Caw said, I mean. I would..."
[One can hardly blame Kev's Raven soulmate for being so bumblingly flabbergasted at the sight of Calliope, for she was most glowing and gorgeous to behold--and human! Those unfamiliar with these stories should know that Kev is--err, WAS--the only other human being in all of his imaginary lands].
"Say no more, dear Cousin Eddie, and it's very nice to meet you fer sure!" Calliope spoke sweetly. It was almost as if she were singing the words, "War is a very serious matter. I wouldn't want to break the rules and cause trouble. I can come back later." The fabulous Calliope began to turn and walk away, but then she spotted the Dragon's Eye upon Achilles' Last Stand. "Hey! Is that a Dragon's Eye?! Wow! This IS an amazing place, fer sure!"
Suspicions began to arise within dear Caw-Caw's responsible and loyal mind, and he fired off a look into Cousin Eddie's eyes that indicated the utmost caution must be used. "I muy respectfully respect you muchly, of course, Cousin Eddie Eddie, but we have to must remember Kev Kev's instructions. No exceptional exceptions, even." Then the Stellers Jay spoke to Calliope (from the the comfort of Achilles' Last Stand), "Yes, that is a Dragon's Eye. But I'm sorry, but we can't let you entrada. No, no way. I'm sorrilly sorry."
"I understand, handsome Caw-Caw," Calliope sang. Like I said before, I don't want to cause you any trouble. I can come back when Kev returns. I only mentioned the Dragon's Eye because I haven't seen one in so long. They are very rare throughout the universes, you know."
Then some words just slipped and fell out of Cousin Eddie's Raven mouth: "If only we knew how to use it. Kev left it with me when he left for the Comnandrai Council in Flatlandia. The war, you know. We've been waiting to hear back from him. King Midas LeBottom has the other Dragon's Eye." Cousin Eddie shrugged his wings and turned toward Caw-Caw Carl. "Sorry, I think I've already said too much." Then Kev's soulmate Raven sighed, and looked down at Edwin the Bee (who was meditating upon His lotus flower just to the the left of the loose-lipped corvid) and their beautiful, would-be guest).
With that, Edwin the Bee lifted up His little Bee head toward Cousin Eddie, and He snickered and spoke simply, "What would Kev do?"
Cousin Eddie looked back down at Edwin and replied, "Well, I've known Kev since the beginning, You know. He'd find a way to bend the rules without breaking them. He wouldn't turn away hardly anyone...and certainly not a gorgeous lady like Calliope."
Edwin adjusted his little Bee glasses, then winked, and spoke succinctly to Kev's soulmate, "Well, then you have your answer. This IS Kev's imagination, after all."
Just then, the loyal and responsible gatekeeping Stellers Jay felt the need to hop down from Achilles' Last Stand, and join the others gathered at the Sacred Garden gate. He finally spoke, "Before we all start habla-ing and talking about bendingly bending and maybe perhaps even breaking rules, can I ask Calliope Calliope just how she found her way aqui, here?"
"Fer sure, handsome Stellers Jay," Calliope replied sweetly. Then she sang, "I came through a portal, of course!...with a little help from my fairy godmother."
To this day, no one has ever heard Edwin the Bee laugh louder or more sincerely.
And so this is how the fabulous Calliope came to dwell inside my Sacred Garden.
Thank you for coming along on my crazy journey...all of you, dear readers!
Life is beautiful beautiful.
And we love you.