In all honesty, I've been making it a point recently to punch the time and space fabric even harder with my imagination, so that--one day--there need be no separation at all between my story life and my earthly life...that the two lives could happily and organically become ONE with one another. A blessed marriage between imagination and tangible worldly existence, if you will. This led me to wonder, of course, what the characters in these chapters would do were I not here to write and watch over them. In other words, have I pushed these characters deeply enough into the space/time continuum that they have become a tangible reality? Science cannot prove that I have not. Long after I have passed on and left the earthly realm, would the characters of these chapters continue to write the chapters without me? Science cannot prove that they wouldn't be able to.
I decided to come up with my own little experiment...far from scientific, I'm well aware, but could be interesting just the same. For the first time ever in these chapters, I'm going to write a chapter in which Kev doesn't appear at all, nor will he be mentioned (aside from this introduction): This chapter, Chapter 47. For purposes of continuity, we shall assume, dear reader, that Kev and dear Caesar Emeritus are happily taking their sweet time in returning to the Sacred Garden from far north in Flatlandia, and are collecting many more ancient Xanaduvian Dead Tree Scrolls along the way. Let us see where our lovely gardenistas will take us?
Reigna Rellena, the Salsa Chili dog, had by now grown so comfortable with the Sacred Garden that she would stroll in and out of its gate without any sort of announcement at all...when she wasn't busy with band rehearsal or playing shows at the Sacred Pub. This bothered the gatekeeper, dear Caw-Caw Carl, not at all, of course, since he was the Salsa Chili Dog's chisto-bird boyfriend, and she was his bonita salsa girl girlfriend. Many a fine sun-greeting would she appear upon Achilles' Last Stand (Caw-Caw Carl's desk) with a plate of freshly-made honey cakes, and a glitter lipstick peck on the beak for dear Caw-Caw. Truly they were a lovely couple, and very much in love with one another.
But see, for all of her sweet passion, Reigna Rellena is also a very feisty and possessive Salsa Chili Girl lover, and this was no good thing on this particular sun-greeting when she passed through the Sacred Garden gate with a plate of fresh honey cakes and found a beautiful lady sitting close--much too close!--to her chisto-bird boyfriend upon Achilles' Last Stand. Reigna Rellena said nothing as she tossed the plate of honey cakes onto the top of the desk and began to stomp back toward the garden gate.
"Hola, my bonita pretty salsa amor!" dear Caw-Caw exclaimed, ever genuinely innocent and naive.
"Don't you 'Hola' ME, my chisto-bird!" Reigna Rellena shouted. "Amor?! Hah! I see just any bonita girl can cuddle up with you now. Does she give you besos on the beak, or make muy sweet honey cakes like me?! If she does she will be muy sorry for sure."
"But, my bonita amor," poor frightened Caw-Caw Carl tried to respond, but he was now trembling, and his Stellers Jay beak refused to open.
The lovely lady upon Achilles' Last Stand instinctively hopped down and sat down cross-legged right in front of the angry Salsa Chili Dog. "Aww, muy bonita salsa girl fer sure, please don't be angry with Caw-Caw Carl. It is not his fault. I am not his lover, nor anyone else's. I am Calliope. I came here to live in the Treehouse of the Holy." Then Calliope turned and pointed at the poor Stellers Jay gatekeeper, "Now see what you have done to him? You have terrified him and he cannot speak or even move...and after he was just telling me how wonderful his girlfriend is! "
Reigna Rellena was still angry, of course--always so filled with passion--but Calliope's spirit had a calm and soothing effect upon the bonita salsa girl's heart, and the chili dog sat down, exhaled deeply, sighed, and finally spoke, "I did not mean to frighten him. Well, maybe un poco, but not really, no. It looked very muy bad from my angle when I came in, and my little salsa heart holds too much passion for my own good...sometimes. I am sorry, Calliope. You seem muy nice." Calliope and Reigna Rellena looked over at poor Caw-Caw, and he was still sitting motionless upon the desk (except for the trembling), staring blankly into the forest, and quite unable to speak.
Just then, with the most perfect of timing, Cousin Eddie the Raven rolled up in his remote control patrol jeep and retrieved cans of beer from the little trailer it was pulling. He tossed a can to Calliope, two cans to Reigna Rellena, and cracked one open for himself. Then, just before chugging down his beer, he winked and nodded at the bonita chili dog, who understood the gesture immediately.
By the time Cousin Eddie had chugged down his second can of beer, bonita salsa dog had taken her proper seat next to her chisto-bird boyfriend, and she was stroking his head so that his trembling finally ceased. She gave the handsome Stellers Jay gatekeeper a glitter lipstick peck on the beak, and opened their cans of beer. Chisto-bird boyfriend was grateful to be able to speak again, and even more grateful to have her by his side. They sipped their cans of beer slowly, and laughed, and spoke fondly of amor, musica, and indeed, all things lovely.
Calliope finally finished her can of beer, and she asked Cousin Eddie if he might join her in the Treehouse of the Holy and help her arrange her new home, now that her furnishings had arrived. Needless to say, she didn't have to ask the Raven twice! Cousin Eddie filled a backpack with many cans of beer, and parked his remote control patrol jeep inside his little garage, so that he and Calliope could walk together to the treehouse. A most pleasant saunter it was, and they each enjoyed another can of beer.
Once Cousin Eddie and Calliope had climbed the Stairway To Heaven and officially entered the Treehouse of the Holy through the Out Door, the Raven dropped his backpack full of beer onto Calliope's princess futon, and began setting up her entertainment system, complete with TV, Nintendo, DVD/VHS combo, and vintage audio equipment (including a turntable, of course!). He apologized that he hadn't had a chance to remove the older gardenista belongings before her arrival, and assured Calliope he'd gladly remove any of their belongings that might be in her way.
Calliope assured Cousin Eddie that nothing was in her way, and that, actually, she would enjoy having them there with her. Fer sure. While the Raven continued plugging in, unplugging, and re-plugging in various RCA cables from behind the entertainment center, Calliope began unpacking bags of makeup and brushes, and sorting and arranging them perfectly into the drawers of her vanity. Soon after, she found an electric drill lying on an old shelf on the other side of the room, and used it to install hooks for her hair dryer and curling iron. Cousin Eddie looked on in wonder, and smiled.
"Welp, time to test it out," Cousin Eddie finally spoke, and he pushed the entertainment center back up against the northern wall. Then he pulled out a Van Halen record and slipped it gently onto the turntable, and powered everything up. The record began to spin, and everything worked perfectly.
"Nice choice!" Calliope exclaimed, as she opened up a box of masks, and started sifting through them. "Their second album was always my favorite. Fer sure."
"Yeah, yeah, mine too!" Cousin Eddie replied, and he cracked open a can of beer and tossed one to Calliope. "You're gonna fit in perfectly here, Calliope. I'm so happy you found us."
"Fer sure. Me too." And Calliope cracked open her beer and chugged it down. "After our break, maybe you can help me hang these masks on the walls? Then maybe we can get my gowns hung up in the wardrobe and call it a day? Maybe play some games or something?"
"Fer sure, baby, that sounds like a great idea," Cousin Eddie replied, and he chugged down another can of beer. Then he gestured for Calliope to come join him in the southwest corner of the Treehouse of the Holy, and he opened the treasure chest that was nestled there. "There's some pretty cool stuff in here I bet you'd dig." He retrieved a saltshaker from the bottom of the treasure chest, and held it up proudly.
"A saltshaker?" Calliope asked, as she looked on and wrinkled her forehead.
"Not just any saltshaker, doll," the Raven spoke proudly, "This is Jimmy Buffett's saltshaker that he's still looking for...like, the actual one! Cool, huh?" Calliope was impressed fer sure."And that's not all..." Then Cousin Eddie rummaged through the treasure chest again, and removed a knee brace.
"Let me guess," Calliope chuckled, "Rod Stewart's brace from when he had knee surgery?"
"Wow, you're good at this, Calliope! Fer sure!" the Raven exclaimed. Then the two laughed and cracked open two more cans of beer. And chugged them down. Cousin Eddie showed her a few more items from the treasure chest, and Calliope was impressed a few more times, then back to work they went. By the time Calliope's last gown was neatly hung inside the wardrobe--which rest upon the eastern wall--Van Halen's Fair Warning was playing upon the turntable, and Cousin Eddie's backpack was getting much, much lighter.
Calliope glanced at the various board games that were stacked up on the dusty old bookshelf along the western wall, and nursed down her can of beer. She recognized most of them, of course, but there was one that stood out. "Hey Eddie, what's this 'Serpents & Scalawags' game here?" Calliope asked the Raven. "I've never ever heard of that one fer sure."
Cousin Eddie rushed over by her side, and slid it off the dusty bookshelf. "Oh! That's a Sacred Garden original...we made it ourselves. Wanna try it out?"
"Fer sure," Calliope simply said.
Lovely lady and Raven dropped down to the floor and sat cross-legged, and Cousin Eddie unfolded the game board, and spun it so it faced just right. Then he began removing various parts and pieces from the box and explained, "I'll explain as we go. Basically, I am the Serpents, so these green pegs are mine. You are the Scalawags, so these red pegs are yours." And he handed Calliope a handful of red pegs. Then Cousin Eddie pointed toward the center of the board, and continued, "See that? That is the island where the treasure is. Since you're the Scalawags, the treasure already belongs to you...so you're already lucky, see?"
"Fer sure," Calliope spoke. Then she asked, "But what if I want to be the Serpents?"
"No," Cousin Eddie immediately replied. "You can't be Serpents, because I'm Serpents. Now here's your ship." And he handed Calliope a small plastic pirate ship with 3 sails and a single cannon. "Now place this anywhere you want on the board on that side of the island."
Calliope wrinkled her forehead again and questioned, "But isn't yours an aircraft carrier with missiles and fighter jets?"
"Well, yeah, but don't worry you can upgrade your ship," Cousin Eddie somewhat sheepishly replied. "See, you have the treasure. That's your bonus...AND you get to go first, so that's your other bonus. Go ahead and take your turn." There was by now a large pile of random dice, cards, and action figures that Cousin Eddie had formed next to the board.
"But what do I DO?" Calliope asked, falling just short of wrinkling her forehead again. And she looked at the pile of random cards, dice, and action figures.
"Well," Cousin Eddie began, "you can do whatever you want. You can move your ship, attack me, upgrade your ship, or whatever else you might want to do."
"Um, okay," Calliope hesitated, "I think I'd better upgrade my ship. How do I do that?"
"Very easily," Cousin Eddie answered. "You just forfeit your turn and you can add another cannon to your pirate ship. But I should warn you, my aircraft carrier is already in range of attacking you...which I would surely do on my first turn."
"Would that destroy my ship?" Calliope asked.
"Only if I roll a 2 or higher," Cousin Eddie answered, and he pointed to a translucent purple, 20-sided die. "But," the Raven continued, "even if I DO manage to get a 2 or higher, you can still draw a Mercy Card."
"Would that save my pirate ship?" Lovely lady asked.
"Yes, fer sure," Cousin Eddie assured her, "but you would forfeit your next turn, and I would get all of your Scalawag treasure."
Calliope wrinkled her forehead once again and exclaimed, "This is no game, Eddie...this is extortion!" She looked once more into the pile of random dice, cards, and action figures, and suddenly she had an epiphany, and unwrinkled her forehead. Then she cracked open another can of beer and chugged it down. After that, she removed a Darth Vader action figure from the pile and spoke proudly, "I use the Force to crash your aircraft carrier into the rocks, and everyone and everything on it is destroyed." Then Calliope smiled, and grabbed Cousin Eddie's pile of little green pegs, and tossed them across the room.
Cousin Eddie sat stunned for a moment, then unleashed a belly full of laughter. After that, he chugged down another can of beer, grabbed Calliope's pile of little red pegs, and tossed them across the room. Calliope joined him in laughter, and they played Van Halen's 1984 record album very loudly, then danced to Drop Dead Legs. It was well into the moon-greeting when the music finally died down, and Cousin Eddie's backpack had been emptied of its entire contents. Calliope plopped down onto her princess futon, and the Raven retrieved a wooden sword from the treasure chest. "I have an idea, Calliope. Pick a mask from your walls--any mask."
Calliope smiled warmly, and retrieved a mask from the southern wall...directly above the right side of her princess futon. It was a fox mask. She chuckled, and put the mask over her face.
"Impressive. Most impressive," Cousin Eddie snickered. And they both laughed heartily! Then he took the wooden sword, and tapped Calliope's shoulders with it, and he spoke solemnly, "On behalf of the Sacred Garden, and our beloved Xanadu Forest, I hereby dub thee Calliope, the new guardian of the treasure chest of the Treehouse of the Holy."
Upon the princess futon they finally fell and nestled, and snored heartily...and shared the sweetest of synchronic dreams.
*Message from Kev:
You have done well, my fellow gardenistas--both the new and the old. I love you so much, and am so honored and grateful to dwell in such a magical and arbitrary place with you.
Thank you for joining me on this fantastic journey!
Once again, I love you.