Caesar Emeritus looked over the Library Tree directory, and seemed genuinely fascinated by it. We both still lie on our backs, noses pointed upward toward the apparent eternity of the Library Tree. "Most interesting," he said halfway under his breath, and continued, "This will certainly take some getting used to. You Xanaduvians are peculiar folk, there is no doubt about that. Your organizational skills seem to be...well, somewhat disorganized. Even a bit chaotic, I might say."
I smiled warmly at dear Caesar, realizing those were the most words he had ever spoken to me at one time. Yes, we were already starting to bond, and it felt so comforting. "Yes, we are odd critters, most of us," I concurred. "Logic is not one of our strengths."
Caesar Emeritus gestured toward me and pointed his claw at one of the diagrams, "Now this here, it says are the books that haven't yet been written. As I look up," and he pointed to their location high upon a shelf, "I see that the shelf is full of books. You'll understand why that..umm...intrigues me."
"Oh, yes, yes," I happily began, knowing this was a perfect opportunity to explain to dear Caesar just how different things are in the Xanadu Forest; and I continued, "See, we Xanaduvians don't really believe in time as an actual thing, you know. There is at least one critter who would argue this, but basically, our version of what you would call 'time' is based wholly on the perspective of the individual, and duration tends to be measured by events rather than an actual passing of time. Confusing at first, I know, but I think over time this will--"
Just then the door to the Library Tree flung all the way open and slammed upon the inner trunk, and a great bellowing followed: "Well, just what the hell do we have here?!!!! That can't be Mr. KeV here, can it? The Mr. KeV that wanders away from our forest and forgets all about his favorite fairy?"
I sat up with delight as the fairy flew closer to me. "Olga!!!" I exclaimed. "Holy crap, it's so great to see you! I haven't seen a single fairy since I returned. I thought you had left too." I extended my hand and approached her, but her body language made it clear she wasn't ready for a finger hug yet.
Olga crossed her arms and gave me a nasty stare. "And just where the hell else would I go? Of course busy Mr. KeV would have no thought to pop into the Sacred Pub and find out. Hmmph!" Olga the bartender fairy turned her head all the way to the side for effect, and tilted it slightly upward. Caesar Emeritus sat up upon the Love Seat but said nothing, apparently realizing he'd found himself in the middle of an awkward situation. I hadn't mentioned Olga to him yet--only that all the forest fairies had vanished since my return. Oops.
I knew it was a lame and lengthy excuse, but I did my best to let her know how I had thought of her and missed her (that wasn't a lie, I really had). "I've only just recently returned, Olga. Everything is a disaster, even inside my sacred garden. So many have gone, and now Reginald III is the mayor and has changed the currency, and there are property taxes due, and...and there's just so much to be done. And I still don't even know who is still here and who is gone, and how I'm going to fix it all. I thought Reginald III had shut down the Sacred Pub--that's what Madeleine had told me. I know I should have gone in and checked for myself, but--"
Olga turned toward me and softened. "You know I'm just busting your onions, Mr. KeV. It's good to see you. Now come and give Mama a tight squeeze." I approached Olga, and pointed my index finger toward the ground. Olga grabbed it, and squeezed it so hard I had to grit my teeth to keep from crying in pain. You see, Olga is no ordinary fairy--she is strong, thick, and stout--the broadest shoulders of any fairy I have ever seen, and her forearms were thicker than most fairies' thighs. Olga was sort of the mother hen to all the forest fairies when I had left on my journey away from the Xanadu Forest.
Olga sat upon my shoulder as we discussed the disappearance of all the fairies at length, and other great changes I had discovered in our beloved forest. Caesar Emeritus lie down again next to the seated me, looking on, but saying nothing. Olga reminded me how a fairy's first loves were glamour and excitement, and that they had hardly any attention span at all. It turns out that when I left, and Andrew had left, the fairies became bored and left in search of more fabulous things. Olga was also careful to remind me of my tendency to overthink things. I nodded thoughtfully, of course.
Just then, Caesar Emeritus stood up upon the Love Seat and asked Olga, "But what of Talulha? That doesn't sound like her nature."
Olga fired back, "And that reminds me, Mr. KeV, who the hell is this mangy fleabag, and what's he doing on the Love Seat?!!"
"Olga!" I frowned. "This is dear Caesar Emeritus, my friend, and now our forever librarian at the Library Tree. He was a great salad chef in his former life. I'm sure you will--"
Dear Caesar leaped off the Love Seat, and stood tall, staring at me in wonder as though insulted, and raised his voice, "A salad chef?!!! What in heaven's name led you to that conclusion?! I was a professor at a university--and a highly esteemed one at that!"
I sort of shrugged my shoulders at dear Caesar, and fumbled for words..."Well, Caesar, you know. I thought of the salad. And it was obvious you were well educated, so I figured you would be some sort of expert--like a chef you know. A salad chef. That made sense--"
Caesar Emeritus poked his massive paw at my chest (gently, yes always gently) and said "You were right about one thing: logic is certainly not your strength. It's a wonder you even--"
Then Olga interrupted dear Caesar with a roar of laughter, saying "Ha! See, Mr. Caesar Emeritus, this is our brilliant Mr. KeV. Welcome to the Xanadu Forest!" Though it was at my own expense, I smiled, overjoyed that Olga and Caesar Emeritus had bonded so soon. It was another comfort I felt that I wouldn't soon forget. All three of us had a great laugh together after that--a very warm one--and Olga and dear Caesar exchanged a few more jokes at my expense.
Not long after that, Olga hopped off my shoulder and flew toward the door. "Come on boys," she said somewhat authoritative, "let's head over to the Sacred Pub for a few pints of Minute Mead."
I stood and approached the door, explaining to Olga just how much work needed to be done in my sacred garden, and that the Ottermans' were coming to clear the scum from Freddie's Pond of Fanciness, and that I had to supervise to make sure they didn't damage the magical lily pads, and that I had to pay them, and so on and so forth.
Olga responded, "I see, Mr. KeV--gone soft on me, huh? Figures." Then she turned and flew out the door despite my pleas for her to let me finish making excuses. Finally, just when she was about to disappear from my sight, she stopped and hovered, and turned toward me. "Your ass better be seated on one of my bar stools before that leaf hits the ground, or you'll be more sorry than you imagine!" Olga proceeded to fly to the top of a great oak, and plucked a leaf from one of its highest branches. Then she dropped it, winked at me, and off she went.
I knew better than to mess with Olga, so in no time at all, Caesar Emeritus and I found ourselves entering the Sacred Pub. What a lovely and familiar smell it was: ancient--but timeless; stale--but refreshing. So comforting. So home. Dear Caesar and I sat down next to each other in front of Olga's bar, and she happily delivered us each a pint of Tick-Tock Doc's famous Minute Mead. She had poured herself a pint too, of course. I raised my mug as if to toast, and Caesar Emeritus followed suit.
Olga hovered between us, however, and wagged her finger at us. "Not yet, lads...I think the gorgeous spirit behind you should lead the toast."
Caesar Emeritus and I both turned to look behind us, and I nearly fainted--for there behind me was my third angel, Andrew. It's very difficult to describe in words all the things I was feeling as I looked upon him. Saying I was incredibly happy and grateful to lay eyes upon him again doesn't begin to do it justice. But there were so many other emotions, all flooding me at once. There was joy, of course, but also wonder, sadness, longing, shame, remorse, hope, and Love. Yes, overwhelming Love. And not the slightest trace of fear. Andrew smiled, and the most beautiful tear I've ever made trickled down my cheek. Andrew stepped to the side just a bit to reveal Cousin Eddie, and my lovely gatekeeper waving from behind him. Raven was wearing the cutest apron...it was shimmering white, decorated with images of garden-fresh tomatoes.
Olga flew around us all quickly and made sure each of us had a pint of Minute Mead in our hand (or wing, as the case may be). She landed on Andrew's shoulder and nodded to indicate he should begin the toast.
Andrew smiled, and stroked Olga's hair ever so gently, and said, "Not just quite yet. I second more." Then Andrew closed his eyes, snapped his fingers, and pointed toward the door of the Sacred Pub.
Ever glowing, and dressed in his full drag regalia, Casey the Cardinal (known in Olympus as Janus) marched through the door and landed upon Andrew's shoulder. I was happily overwhelmed and speechless, but thankfully Andrew was not.
Once Olga had placed a pint of Minute Mead into Casey the Cardinal's wing, Andrew began the toast:
"From the glories of Olympus above, to the shores of Interterrestria--and all points between. From here, now, and forevermore; from there, then, and always was--and all points between. To us, to Love, to never again part ways. To life, to breathe evermore. Cheers!"
Andrew raised his pint high, as if it might actually touch the base of Olympus--and we all followed suit joyfully. Just as we were all about to take a sip, Andrew held up his finger to stop us. He placed it upon his lips as if to say "Shhh," and we all had stopped our motion. Then my third angel snapped his fingers once more, and "The Lemon Song" began to play on the jukebox. Then did Andrew drink, and so did all of us. I hope the reader will understand how difficult it is to describe this moment with my limited knowledge of words. It was truly magical beyond description. I am so grateful to have such an amazing family. Never again shall I take it for granted.
After we'd all had a couple pints in us, Cousin Eddie disappeared then reappeared with a bunch of soup bowls (yes, constructed out of beer cans, of course!) and placed them upon one of the banquet tables. Just a few steps behind him, my lovely gatekeeper Raven appeared with a large pot of Dragon Soup (Don't worry, dear reader, it is not made of dragons--for we adore dragons in our beloved forest--it is a secret recipe given my lovely gatekeeper BY a dragon). To be honest, I'm not sure what's inside Dragon Soup, and I thought it better not to ask. It was hot and delicious, that's what mattered. And family. The comfort of my true family surrounding me, then, and forever more.
The reader may want some explanation as to how Andrew and Casey the Cardinal (Janus) magically appeared in the Sacred Pub out of nowhere...but tonight is not the night. Trust me, dear reader, I also thought to ask these questions, but was told not to bother with thoughts that night by every single family member. Tonight was a night to celebrate our Love, and to enjoy the eternal life we had all been given--that's what I was told by all that I asked questions of. And it was wonderful advice. Never in my life had I felt such a balance of freedom, comfort, joy, and gratitude within myself.
And just so you know, dear reader, Edwin the Bee was with us too, inside the Sacred Pub that night, but He asked me not to report any details of His presence there. And so I won't.
The beauty of life flows forever. The comfort of Love never leaves your side, if only you'll open your heart to it. Love is Love, and shall always be.
Thank you, my sacred family. I love you.
Lovely of lovelies.