Butterfly was a few steps ahead of Weasel when she said, "Dad, Weasel farted in my space suit!"
I was halfway through assuring Butterfly that Weasel's fart would soon dissipate when Weasel himself interjected, "Yeah, AFTER she used her telekinesis to put my boots on the top of the highest tree!"
I sighed, of course. Then I gestured for them both to come toward me, and I put my hands upon their shoulders as I guided us all toward the garden gate. On the way I assured Weasel we'd find a way to get his boots down from the tree, and I assured Butterfly that--even though Weasel's fart had infiltrated the regulator and oxygen lines--it would still ultimately dissipate, and there would be no stench or unpleasant flavor at all. If they didn't completely believe me, at least they were content humoring me. I distracted them further by telling them we had quite a busy day ahead of us, and I hinted at something extra special that would be happening at the end of the busy day. They were successfully intrigued, and all hints of bickering evaporated.
We arrived at Achilles' Last Stand, where my lovely gatekeeper was pecking away at her laptop. We had all nearly finished our greetings to her, when Cousin Eddie suddenly emerged from his beer can garage and the entire sacred garden erupted in laughter (yes, even Edwin the Bee!). You see--for the first time ever--we saw Cousin Eddie with bright pink circles around his eyes, carrying a pair of binoculars. And all but one of us wondered if this was some sort of new "look" he was experimenting with...and we continued chuckling, of course.
Cousin Eddie was hardly concerned with our laughter at his expense, though, as he gave us a condescending look, shrugged his shoulders, and handed the binoculars back to Weasel. He told Weasel, "They just needed a minor adjustment. They should focus just fine now." We all snickered, but Weasel snickered just a bit more, and thanked Cousin Eddie.
After a few minor updates from my lovely gatekeeper, Butterfly, Weasel, and I were off to our busy day in the Xanadu Forest--after Weasel made us wait for him to retrieve his shovel, of course--because, as he told me-- "You just never know when a hole will need to be dug." And then we waited once more once Butterfly remembered she needed to retrieve her purse she had just purchased in Lemmington.
Butterfly taunted me a bit as I explained to them both we were headed to the county clerk's office first, so that they could meet Madeleine, and also that I needed to pick up a document from her. Weasel told Butterfly to shut up, but it never did become actual bickering. That was nice.
We caught sweet Madeleine--the albino peacock--a bit off guard as we entered the office; for she appeared to be trying on outfits and practicing poses in front of the full-length mirror...and she had apparently applied more than a subtle amount of makeup to herself. I was happy to see this, of course.
"Oh...hi. I wasn't expecting anyone in the office today," Madeleine said, somewhat awkwardly. Then she turned, brushed some powder off her wings, and continued, "These must be the precious ones Raven AOL instant messaged me about!" And she extended her wings, and hugged them both--one at a time, of course. "It's so nice to meet you," she concluded.
The kids wandered away from my side and began exploring the office as I confirmed with Madeleine that Reginald III had already picked up the property taxes and receipts. He had, and I was happy to hear he didn't suspect a thing. My plan was working! (I didn't say that out loud, of course, though I imagined a nice fist pump while thinking it). Madeleine headed back over to her desk, retrieved her glasses from the drawer, and straightened them upon her face as she sat down.
I leaned over Madeleine's desk just a bit and said, "I'll need a signed vendor's permit for Ptolemy of the Record Emporium, if you don't mind, sweet Madeleine...I mean, when you have the chance. I can't say out loud just what he'll be vending, if you get my drift." Then I smiled as charmingly as I could, and winked at her.
"Well of course I can provide that right away, sweet KeV," Madeleine replied, and began pecking away at her keyboard. And she continued, "And of course I understand completely." And then she winked beautifully at me.
As if on cue, Butterfly emerged between us and said to Madeleine, "You're pretty. I can see why my dad likes you."
Also as if on cue, Weasel spared us another awkward moment by rushing over to Madeleine's side and telling her that there were shortcuts to what she was doing on the computer. "I'm top of my class at electronic information transfer," Weasel told her. Then he politely pushed her aside and demonstrated his knowledge via her keyboard. "See, just like that," he concluded, and just like that the vendor's permit was printed...awaiting only Madeleine's signature. And mine. And they were both shortly thereafter provided. Madeleine seemed genuinely impressed, and I smiled proudly. And I winked back at her, of course.
Madeleine stepped out from behind her desk, rolled the vendor's permit, and handed it to me. And she smiled so sweetly. And I smiled so sweetly back to her. And I confirmed that she'd see us later tonight at the big event. And Madeleine confirmed. Weasel had taken over Madeleine's chair behind the desk, and tapped away at the keyboard, though none of us really noticed.
And Butterfly interjected, "Look, Madeleine, you should wear this one tonight!" And butterfly used her telekinesis to lift a lovely dress out of the old server (now costume) closet and let it hover just in front of sweet Madeleine. Madeleine grabbed the lovely dress out of the air and held it over her body as a sign of acknowledgement. Madeleine seemed impressed again, and that made me smile...again.
Almost before we realized it, Butterfly, Weasel, and I were off to meet Ptolemy at the old Record Emporium, which really wasn't so far of a walk as our conversation made it seem. Butterfly opened the discussion by saying, "You know, I'm okay if you and Madeleine get married, Dad. She's nice. And pretty. I like her."
Weasel added "Geez, Butterfly!" to the conversation.
I spent several steps toward the old Record Emporium adding to the conversation by explaining that Madeleine and I weren't even dating, let alone getting married. And I spent many more steps explaining that Madeleine was my boss, and that we should all be respectful of that.
Butterfly was not content humoring me in this case, and said, "But you said you and Madeleine--or 'sweet Madeleine, as you call her--had your thing. So that means--"
I cut Butterfly off right then and there, and actually raised my palm toward Butterfly saying, "Whoa! You guys have grown up way too fast!" And I tapped Butterfly gently upon her chest and continued, "Look, I appreciate you giving me your blessing, my dear Butterfly, but honestly it's not like that. And you both seriously need to stop growing up so fast!" Then we all laughed and found ourselves at the old Record Emporium.
I'm not sure what my kids were thinking when we discovered the great boxer, Ptolemy, manning a table outside the old Record Emporium, but I personally was surprised. See, when critters enter our Xanadu Forest, there is normally a bit of an adjustment period--and Ptolemy had just recently arrived! In fact, I hadn't even met him yet. Normally I greet new inhabitants at the garden gate when they enter our forest and introduce them to their new eternal home. But in this case Captain Leo and my kids had unexpectedly crashed their rocket into my sacred garden the night before, and I had no chance to play my role as a sort of Mr. Rourke. It turns out my lovely gatekeeper Raven had performed the duties this time...and it seems she might have done a much better job at it than I normally do--for Ptolemy was quite obviously already well-adjusted and completely at home in the Xanadu Forest.
"Greetings, happy strangers!" were the first words I heard Ptolemy speak. He continued, "I am Ptolemy, the boxer...lover of all things innocent, and maker of the finest dairy desserts in all of Interterrestra. Can I interest you in a sample?" He stood proud and waved his paw above an assortment of small bowls filled with ice cream.
Butterfly was the first to bite--both literally and figuratively--and she was quick to tell us all how yummy it tasted. I extended my hand toward Ptolemy (which he grasped and shook vigorously with his warm paw) and I told him, "It's so nice to finally meet you. I am KeV from the sacred garden. I see Mitzy delivered your supplies ahead of schedule!"
"Indeed," Ptolemy replied, and he offered up a small bowl of ice cream to Weasel, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. And Ptolemy continued, "So you are the KeV I've heard so much about! It's wonderful to finally meet you. I take it these are your precious younglings?" And Ptolemy handed me a small bowl of ice cream just as his question ended.
I took the bowl, and a couple of bites of ice cream, and thoroughly enjoyed them, then replied, "Mmm. This is fantastic! Yes...this is my daughter Butterfly, and my son Weasel." I finished the delectable dairy dessert, and set my empty bowl down on the table next to Butterfly and Weasel's empty bowls, and smiled as Ptolemy embraced my children warmly--one at a time, of course.
As if on cue, the fattest of the fat squirrels on Walnut St. entered our happy moment out of nowhere and interjected, "I don't suppose you have a permit for this little operation?!" Yes, it was the dreaded Reginald III, the self-appointed (sort of--hey, we all make mistakes, right?) mayor of the Xanadu Forest, and causer of myriad troubles during my sad and lengthy absence from my sacred garden. I was very smug when I informed Reginald III that Ptolemy actually DID have a permit for this flourishing operation, and I produced the freshly signed and rolled document.
"Hmm," Reginald III muttered as he looked over the document, and looked up at Ptolemy. "It seems to be in order, assuming proper property taxes are made at the proper time."
I knew, of course, this would confuse Ptolemy, so I interjected immediately, "Well, of course, Reginald III, you will know that I know that you know that this property is exempt from all proper property taxes--which is proper, since, it is officially under the jurisdiction of the sacred garden--which is of course always exempt from all such proper property taxes. I can get Edwin the Bee to properly confirm this for you, if you find it necessary."
"No, that won't necessarily be necessary," Reginald III sneered. Then the fat squirrel added, "You will know, of course, that I know that you know that this document will need my signature, however, in order to be officially official. I don't suppose you have a pen handy?"
As if on cue, Weasel proudly pulled a pen out of his pocket and offered it to Reginald III, saying "Here. Use this one. I always have a pen handy." The fat squirrel took the pen, then pressed the button to expose the ink, then shrieked and fell to the ground shaking. For you see, it was a trick pen which emitted quite an electric charge when the button was pressed. All present--fat squirrels excluded--emitted quite an electric laugh at Reginald III's expense, though Ptolemy was kind enough to help the fat squirrel back up to his feet. Reginald III sneered again and mumbled something I can't repeat here. But ultimately he did sign the document and shortly thereafter adjusted his hat, grabbed his briefcase, and disappeared into the forest.
Once Reginald III was far enough off in the distance, we laughed some more and welcomed dear Ptolemy to the Xanadu Forest once again, and soon thereafter we were off to the library tree to meet dear Caesar Emeritus.
*This chapter has run too long. To be continued. Very soon.*
Gratitude of gratitudes, and lovely of lovelies. Always.
Thank you. XX