Before I could answer, however, Cousin Eddie blurted out, "What you should do first is put on a record album and play it loud!" Then Cousin Eddie slugged down another beer. I looked over at Edwin the Bee's lotus flower, and even the suggestion of playing a loud record was enough for poor Edwin to yank His little shower curtain shut.
[for those readers new to these stories, Edwin the Bee has a circular ring with a shower curtain on it atop his lotus flower. Most of the time it is open, but if we are making too much noise, or even just annoying him too much, he pulls the shower curtain shut. You see, it is a magic shower curtain, and when it is closed it blocks out all sounds so that Edwin can have absolute silence]
I decided to let Weasel pick out a record album to play for Cousin Eddie, though I had to assist with powering up the stereo and starting the record, of course. I was honestly curious what sort of record he might choose, and Weasel passed my secret little test with flying colors by choosing a Van Halen record. We played it loud so that Cousin Eddie could hear it easily from Achilles' Last Stand, and we were able to hear him shouting and screaming along with the record, quite happy with Weasel's choice of course!
After that, I decided to walk Weasel over to Freddie's Pond of Fanciness just to sort of reminisce, and also to see what paths he would remember. Weasel commented on there being a lot of disgusting overgrowth on the way to the pond, and I told him how I was sad and had left the garden for a couple of years after they left to study starmapping, and that the disgusting overgrowth took over while I was away. I took Weasel round to the other side of the pond so I could show him areas where Cousin Eddie and I had already cleared away the disgusting overgrowth. There was a long way to go, but I was making progress, I explained, and that there was something very soothing about clearing it away each day, just a little bit at a time.
Weasel concurred. Then he said, "We should clear away some of the overgrowth together. I think that would be good. Do you still have mine and Mongoose's old shovels?"
I smiled a huge smile, of course--oh so very proud of this young man--and told him, "Yes, of course. Your old shovel is up in the tree house. And Cousin Eddie made me a device we decided to call the de-disgustinator that we've been using. What a great idea, Weasel!" With that we were off to the old tree house, though of course Weasel hadn't seen it since Cousin Eddie and I had painted it as a gift for my lovely gatekeeper.
"Why does it say 'The Out Door' on the door to the treehouse?" was the first comment Weasel made regarding the new paint job."
I chuckled a bit, and answered, "It's kind of a joke. It's from a Led Zeppelin record called 'In Through The Out Door.' Led Zeppelin is Raven's favorite band, you know, and Cousin Eddie and I painted it special as a gift for her...so all of the paintings on it are from Led Zeppelin songs and record albums."
Weasel seemed to think that was pretty cool. And I thought it was pretty cool that he seemed to think it was pretty cool. Then we climbed the "Stairway To Heaven" up and inside of the tree house. "Whoa, dad, what's that treasure chest?!! I don't remember that there before! Can we open it?"
I replied, "Actually, now that you mention it, you're right...that treasure chest wasn't there before. I'm honestly not sure where it used to be stored when you guys were here. But yes, we can open it. We just can't take the stuff out of the tree house is all."
Weasel's eyes had grown huge with enthusiasm as we knelt down in front of the treasure chest and he unlatched the hasp. But only for a second! Oh how his expression changed after he opened the lid and looked inside. "Aww, dad, this is just junk!"
"What do you mean junk? These are some of the greatest treasures that ever existed!"
Weasel started pulling out items one at a time and showing them to me to prove that there was nothing but junk inside the treasure chest. "A salt shaker? Really?!!"
"That is Jimmy Buffett's lost shaker of salt...the very one he wrote about in the song. An amazing treasure!"
Weasel continued, "A dumb red key chain?"
"A key chain made from strips of leather cut from Mike Reno's pants," I added. "Of course that's treasure!"
Weasel thought he had me with the next item, "Okay, now how can a plush toy rainbow possibly be treasure?"
"Ahh, my dear Weasel," I nearly sneered, and I added a phony British accent for emphasis,"that must indeed be the rarest of rare treasures, my son, for that is the very rainbow that Johnny Nash was praying for!"
Weasel burst out laughing after that and said, "Dad, you're so full of crap...you have to be! Now what about this one? A crusty bandage wrap?!!"
I dropped the British accent and told Weasel, "No way, dude. This stuff is all treasure, it really is! That bandage wrap has a very special story behind it." I took it from Weasel's hands and unwrapped it. "You'd be too young to remember, I think, but where the Persian rug is now, there used to be a cottage. We never stayed inside the cottage, but guests used to come through once in a while and stay there. The very last guest that stayed in the cottage before we destroyed it and took it down was Rod Stewart. He was recovering from knee surgery and came here to heal for a few days before he went back out on tour. So that is Rod Stewart's bandage wrap he left behind."
Weasel's face suddenly turned introspective, and he asked, "Why did you tear the cottage down?"
I scooted closer over to Weasel upon the floor and told him, "I don't want to go into the whole story, for there are things that must never be uttered or even thought about in our sacred garden. We had to learn that the hard way. I can tell you that there was a time when darkness tried very hard to take over our sacred garden, and it very nearly did. We had no choice but to destroy and remove the cottage. It was the only way to save the sacred garden from darkness. It was replaced of course with the Persian rug which we all know so well, and which has only ever been a happy happy place."
And for all that I explained, Weasel simply replied, "Interesting." Then he stood up, found his old shovel propped up in the corner, and said, "Well, I'm glad you guys saved it." And we climbed back down the Stairway To Heaven and began de-disgustinating more areas of our sacred garden.
We worked steadily, but at a leisurely pace, since our work was a most leisurely work. We discussed many great things while clearing the garden--some of them deep and emotional and some of them just silly. And there were other guy sounds we made too--from both ends, of course--and more than once or twice.
At one point, while we were discussing his and Butterfly's studies, Weasel became a bit sheepish and, I suppose, was wisely trying to get out in front of it, saying, "To be honest, dad, I haven't been doing very well with my studies at the academy in Mangnik. I've been doing fine on my starmapping when we're out with Captain Leo, but I'm having a harder time inside the academy. I think I'm kind of like you...I mean how you said you got sad and left the sacred garden after we left. But see, you came back and you're doing so much better now, I can feel it. And though Butterfly and me will have to go back soon, I think I needed this time here too. And I'm going to start doing better at my studies. I promise."
I was so proud of my son, once again. It seemed every time I thought I had realized how much he had grown, his very next sentence would prove me wrong--since he had actually grown even more! "Well I'm very proud of both of you," I told him, and added, "And you are a lot like me in many ways, you're right, Weasel. That's why the River Zoe spoke to you last night. You and I have our special gifts and abilities, just like Butterfly is getting very advanced with her telekinesis. And no, as I can feel you wondering, I've never had telekinetic abilities either. But I'm very happy with the gifts and abilities I've been given."
Weasel smiled and wiped some sweat from his forehead. Then he said, "Yeah, it's cool to be able to feel stuff like that, I know what you mean. I can always feel when you think of me, you know, and no matter how far across the universe we are, I can always feel how you're doing. And even though I'm just the kid, and you're the grown up, I'm proud of you too. I know it's been pretty hard for you, and you've done a good job working through it. And Butterfly and me are doing good too, and we're happy, so you never need to worry about us."
Both of us having been content with the amount of quality conversation we shared, we decided to wrap up our de-disgustinating for the day and started heading over toward the Persian rug. During the walk, Weasel and I discussed how much progress we had made, concluded that our progress was indeed much, and decided officially that we make a very good team.
I decided to lie down for a bit upon the Persian rug, and Weasel was sifting through record albums again, presumably looking for a soft one to play. I had no chance to shut my eyes, however, as a loud and enthusiastic Butterfly came darting out of the bushes. "Dad, Weasel, come on! We've got the coolest stuff to show you. Hurry up!"
When we had arrived near the garden gate, the first thing I noticed was that my lovely gatekeeper had an annoyed face. I knew this couldn't be good, since I've never seen her with an annoyed face before. Patented blank stare, yes. Annoyed face, no. Then I understood why! Cousin Eddie had left empty beer cans all over Achilles' Last Stand, and there were even some beer splatters on her now famous laptop. Cousin Eddie tried to calm her by assuring her he never turned on the laptop or messed with it at all. And because my gatekeeper is a lovely gatekeeper, she actually let his attempt at calming her work, and she did calm down...even as she was removing beer cans from Achilles' Last Stand and, one by one, chucking them at Cousin Eddie's garage. After the last of the beer cans had been tossed, Raven slapped her wings upon Achilles' Last Stand, let out one loud, long sigh, then said, "There. Much better." Then she looked at me and said, "We had the loveliest of times. Butterfly was a most wonderful companion."
I looked off to the side to see Butterfly showing Weasel some things she had picked up in Lemmington, as I replied to my lovely gatekeeper, "Oh, good. I'm so happy to hear that, and I can see how happy she is and how much she enjoyed it."
Butterfly finished showing Weasel the things she wanted to show him, apparently, because she shouted out to me, "Dad, come here! You gotta see this!" I approached her, and she was holding a little paper sack. She touched my hand and said, "Now close your eyes. Good. Now open your hand. And don't worry, I'm not going to put anything gross in it, I promise. Okay, good. Now open them!" I honestly didn't know what the little lump was she had put in my hand, and said as much. "It's so awesome, dad! It's a magic anagram message pod. You whisper something from your heart to it when you plant it, and when the flowers bloom, the letters to your secret message are on the petals...but they're all jumbled up so you have to solve it like a puzzle. Isn't that cool?! We all got one, so maybe we can plant them tomorrow."
I was genuinely awed and excited when I said, "Wow...that is super awesome! I love that!"
"And guess what else, dad?" Butterfly went on, then interrupted herself, "Hey Captain Leo, come over here so you can show my dad!" Leo came over right away and sort of rolled his eyes as he held up his paws in front of me. "Look, dad...we talked Captain Leo into getting a pawdicure! He really didn't want one, but he loved it once they were doing it. Don't his paws look fantabulous? I picked out the design. I mean, Captain Leo picked out the color and wanted the shiny purple nail polish, but I had them put little moons and stars on them since he's a starmapper captain. Cool, huh?!" Weasel came over and looked at Captain Leo's pawdicure too, but he didn't say anything about it.
Then Butterfly flitted off for a few seconds and reappeared just like that shouting, "And in case you thought that was all, you'd be wrong! Ta-da!!! Giant bags of popcorn...one super extra buttery and the other one caramel. Cuz you know why?!! That's right, cuz it's movie night, yay!!!"
Actually we were all very excited to hear about movie night...even Edwin opened up His shower curtain and smiled. Movie nights in my sacred garden are very special, you know. Cousin Eddie went and retrieved the very large sheet we use as a movie screen, and Raven gathered her projector attachments and powered up her laptop. Cousin Eddie called out to Weasel and asked him to come help set up the movie screen. That was very nice of Cousin Eddie to do that, for it gave Butterfly and I a few minutes alone to walk and talk as everyone began gathering on the Persian rug.
Much like my conversations with Weasel, Butterfly and I had great conversation that was sometimes touching and sentimental, and sometimes silly and absurd. We loved each other, and we told each other that much. And I, of course, told her how proud of her I am, to which she replied, "I know. I'm really good at the academy, and telekinesis."
Cousin Eddie had finished suspending our movie screen from the line of trees along the northern edge of the Persian rug, and Raven had her laptop up and ready to go. Butterfly was in charge of passing out popcorn, and I put myself in charge of our pile of pillows. We were finally set. I lie my head upon the center of the pile of pillows, Butterfly on my left, and Weasel on my right. Butterfly commented on how beautiful it was that all the stars and the moon were shining above us so bright. Weasel proudly informed her that the moon and the stars were my cousins, and Butterfly wasn't believing it. I was about to tell Butterfly that it actually is true, but someone shushed me from right behind and above me, which meant it had to be Edwin. So I said no more.
Tonight's feature? "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark." Beautiful. Wonderful. Peaceful. Grateful. Oh what a night.
I love you