The Gypsy's Address
Makin’ noticed Belle staring her down, loosing little snorts, his great muscles bulging and rippling restlessly: “Who you lookin’ at, cow? You’d make a good rump roast, a nice change from sow.”
The police had had their weapons trained on the Hand. Now confused, each attempted to determine who the greatest threat was.
“You’re bluffing!” Poop estimated to Strange. “You’re not as good with that bow as you pose to be! You’ll shoot your sister if think to hit me!” drawing Something’s twin more squarely before him. There was a moment of tense suspense, everyone choosing, eyeing, their target intently.
“What are you going to do with that heater hose, Penny?” the Punctuator sneered. “Go ahead. Employ it. You’ll find it fateful.”
Nancom was becoming impatient with the Cold War. He was about to shout “Arrest the scum!” when the Punc went for the .45 in his shoulder holster. He barely touched it before the end of Penny’s hose hit him square in the forehead, knocked him cold, then bounced back into Penny’s hand. All instantly acted according to plan. Something Strange instantly lowered her bow and nailed Nancom’s right foot directly through the front joint of his ankle. Nancom had underestimated. At eighty feet the shot would have been a challenge to Strange. But at forty it was like popping a grape into her mouth. Belle ran twenty to Makin’ Wind, lifted her by her crotch with his great nose and tossed her through the air sixty feet behind him. The driver was quick, indeed, managing to draw his weapon before the Hand shot him in the wrist, sending his short-barreled Winchester sliding across the concrete floor. The Hand couldn’t kill him outright, sensing he was a rising star. Something’s double, freed from Nancom’s hold, was quick to retrieve the loose weapon and send a bullet through the left hip of a policeman, this relatively long after the Matador had knocked the pistol out of the hand of the cop to his left with one of his swords. Having peripheraled two policemen who had made him their target, he then swiftly stepped forward and bent over at the waist as the paths of their bullets crossed where his stomach was. Two more cops immediately made him their target. He dropped to the ground, they shooting each other instead. Penny turned and somersaulted his hose at the forehead of one of the cops who’d shot at the Matador. It conked and bounced back into Penny’s hand three times in a row until the thick-headed officer dropped. Something meanwhile had turned to penetrate the foreheads of two policemen with arrows.
“Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” was admitted by one brain as the blood seeped.
“Chirp! Chirp!” which changed its mind to “Tweet! Tweet!” was heard escaping from the other with an arrow likewise buried in his brow.
“Birdbrains,” Something concluded to herself.
The Hand wheeled from the driver to deliver a shot into the bosom of the other policeman who had fired at the Matador. Belle, however, was in trouble. He attacked the cop whose weapon the Matador had knocked from his hand and butted him clear out of the cavern past Makin’. Just then another policeman took aim at him. But the Side, a savvy missing element to the fray for only eighteen years old, dropped the cop with a bullet from his rifle at the cavern entrance. This, as the Matador overwhelmed the only cop left with swordplay before his eyes, removed his pistol from his hand with the tip of one of his weapons, backed him against a wall of munitions, then caught him fast as he sank his swords crosswise into a wooden pallet to each side of his neck.
One cop run away, three captured, five in some other domain – not a bad day’s work in less than a minute. But that Makin’ and the Punc had escaped to their trucks. Makin’ wasn’t the brightest star in the universe, but when she’d landed hard on her left buttock and looked back she was clever enough to not reenter the fight. Nor was the Punctuator, a midget of steel, to be long undone by the tip of a rubber hose. He’d regained consciousness in only three seconds and made his escape with everyone’s focus on the battle as his veil.
On the day that Something’s twin celebrated her election to the office of mayor, Nancom Poop and his driver, both in bandages, played Hearts with several cops tending to be plaintive ‘cause their jail cell was restraintive. Mayor Strange pinned badges, squeezing in a pleasing sneezing, onto the t-shirts of one new sheriff and two new deputies later that afternoon, there on the porch of the white-washed courthouse. The Stray Cats played a medley of Rock This Town and Good Rockin’ Tonight in the auditorium. As cougars and other assorted cats lounged with the populace in the grottos Belle and the Matador earned a fortune staging bullfights which always came to a tie. During a break in the music it had been put to a vote amidst the audience, including a few wild-coifed and painted pygmies, to reward Old Penny and Something Strange thirty thousand dollars for their assistance in the rescue of Mayor Strange and diverting the stampede of the terrible ballerinas away from Memphis. That same day Makin’s double had been arrested at her desk by the FBI.
Makin’ and the Punc spent those days camped ten miles out of town, switching shifts at Makin’s monitor for the first sign of movement by Strange. Which came six days later with great fanfare to the score, by the Stray Cats, of Johnny Cash’s I’ve Been Everywhere. Kia, you and I, guided Penny and Strange to a hole north of Noncom Poop’s destroyed compound of ballerina-ravaged trucks. They drove pleasantly further north past Poop’s weapons stockpile, now under guard of the United States Army. They topped a ridge and quietly disappeared from sunlight, knowing Makin’ and the Punc were, no doubt, in pursuit.
Penny ordered from a menu of too many possibilities to print: “Let’s have a world a little smaller, not such that sand to me is the size of rocks to a gravel hauler, but where to bulls like Belle I now stand a little taller!”
Something echoed Penny’s words, whence began to appear, as if that world could hear, beyond the mist through which they drove in seventh gear, a world where a thing from there to here seemed, compared to ours, neither further nor more near. All looked fairly much to not much of a plan, but for the sky above the road on which they ran: there was no sun for the moon to rhyme, for neither sun to mark the time. There were, rather, bolts of lightning flashing off and on, some very brightly, others dim, some very near, others far away. Penny and Strange toggled on their headlamps as the atmosphere intermittently became more brilliant than day, then darker than night, all depending on the zapping of the light which the arcs of lightning streaked, some traveling not far, others clear across the sky.
“Seems like the stars up there have switches,” Strange observed, then noticed a faint tickle of an echo to her word.
“What are all those rocks floating about?” Penny asked. Driving casually, he pulled binoculars and studied one hovering past perhaps forty feet in the air: “This is odd! It has an engraving!” Penny read what was etched into the boulder floating past, then walkied Strange: “’But I don’t want to make my bed! It’s a chore from which I flee as a practice in futility!’”
Something peered through her binoculars as well. A big rock crossing the path of the one Penny had read floated past her driver window. She rolled it down, read it as she drove, then quoted to Penny: “’Mind your father, my precocious dear. Or you’ll learn the smarts of a switch to your rear.’”
This required investigation. Penny pulled off the highway onto a wide dirt road appearing to lead to a quarry cut into the side of a mountain a couple miles off. Amidst sometimes blinding flashes of lightning they reached the base of the quarry, passed through a gap in a steel fence, then passed into the midst of all that was common to a quarry: a couple bulldozers, a front loader, a huge backhoe, several dump trucks and belly dumps, large piles of gravel, sand and rock.
“It doesn’t look like anyone’s here,” Penny observed, not seeing a very powerful pickup truck, once white beneath the mud, behind a trailer.
“May be a day off.”
A man, looking uncannily like Mickey Rourke, turned his head from one side to the other on his pillow, now lending a profile appearing remarkably like Nicolas Cage. . . I don’t know. Since in my head who wins this role is tied it’s best that you decide.
“This place is huge,” Penny remarked. “We can ambush them here without the Punc’s artillery. Let’s turn around and block the road at the gate.”
Penny pulled around and backed up one side of road. Strange did the same, the rears of their trailers blocking access to the quarry in the gap of the steel fence. They ratcheted down their landing gear, unhooked, then bobtailed deeper into the quarry, parking their trucks behind an enormous pile of sand at the far side near the scarred mountain.
“Tinkle,” Cuddly informed.
Old Penny marveled at the sky of electrical storms and floating boulders, creating shadows on the ground as they passed. Strange helped Cuddly out the passenger side of her Ken, Alias already out, trotting shakily about: the electric sky was frightening to her, but she had to study the situation against some possible threat. Penny peered through his binoculars and read aloud the engraving on a boulder slowly wafting by: “’To make me come home at nine o’clock wants mental power. There’s no curfew when I go out in the field to help you plow her.’”
Strange recited, likewise, from a large rock passing in another direction: ‘”Did you forget it’s skipping school that’s to blame? Each hour of homework raises your bedtime the same.’”
Penny read another: “’Buy me this bike and it will improve our Dad-Son relationship!’”
Then Strange: “”Buy you that bike and see my body bag zipped! ‘Cause my heart from my bosom your mother will rip!’”
“One could think we found Memory Lane,” Penny mused.
“One could think this world a brain,” Something fused. “A head full of rocks, though smarter than an ox.’”
Which head was lifted from pillow. To reach hand to bed table. To tilt clock to be read. Then to the pillow again dropped the sleepy dreaming head.
“’I do’,” recited Penny.
“’I do’,” iterated Strange.
Upon which each turned and gave one another a slightly lingering look, at once as little involving as possible. Penny gave Strange a trace of a smile, then redirected his eyes to the skies, thinking to himself, “”You keep me from going insane. But that would be as inane.”
Something’s gaze met Penny’s for but a second, before thinking, “Not a few troubles does it conceal when love appears with a feel that’s ideal.”
Suddenly a great groan was heard in the heavens, reverberating through the skies like rolling thunder. The man with his head on the pillow raised it, then slowly opened his eyes.
“I’d say that wherever we are it’s wired for sound,” Penny remarked
“No kidding! My feet felt it shake the ground,” Strange replied. “I don’t know what the brain in your pot has wrought. If this is Earth it’s less like most Earthlings have got and more like an Earth which most Earthlings have not.”
“Perhaps this one is in another, a dot in a spot in another caught.”
The skies began now to twinkle as the man stood at his toilet to sprinkle. The heavens vibrated again with a moan of satisfaction. Upon which the man stood motionlessly, attempting to discern as to a very slight itch between his ears. Then he shook his powwower: “No Freightshaker today. We’re free,” said he to himself.
Which voice so filled the heavens that Penny and Strange had to shout, “We agree!” in unison as they fearfully crouched, throwing up their arms to protect them from what they knew not. Alias, guarding Cuddly, barked as she ushered the latter beneath Something’s truck. The man frowned in reaction to what he knew not as he picked up a tube of toothpaste.
“We’ve arrived, no doubt, to some inner place,” Penny recovered.
“Yet as much a universe as outer space,” Strange observed.
Of a sudden was heard the click of a pistol being cocked behind them. Followed by the voice of, if not Brad Pitt, one so like him in appearance that it may as well have been: “Sniffing around on my property is just plain dumb. It’s wounded not a few neurons and buried some.”
“You again,” echoed the heavens, less than clearly, spoken with a toothbrush in the man’s mouth.
“Shut up!” shouted the man behind Penny and Strange. He stood with a three-hundred year-old flintlock pistol resting over his raised forearm, aimed at Penny’s cerebral cortex. Alias, meanwhile, came out from beneath Something’s Ken and sniffed at the man’s right leg, wagging her tail. Cuddly sat on his haunches four feet before him, looking up, also wagging a tail.
“You shut up!” answered the heavens, soon followed by an earthshaking roar of gargling. After which the man spat into the sink, turned to a towel and dried his lips.
“I don’t like talking to butts. Turn around, if you’ve got the guts,” spoke the man behind Penny and Strange, keeping his pistol trained over his forearm.
Penny and Strange obliged, keeping their hands in the air. Penny couldn’t but observe Cuddly and Alias wagging their tails at the stranger in knee-high pirate boots, ponytail and white shirt with ruffles appearing as if donned hastily. He kept his old flintlock aimed while attempting to shake off Alias, now sniffing at his left leg.
“Pose as a threat if you must. But it doesn’t seem just,” imperceptible relief hidden in Penny’s expression.
“Shoot and I’ll pretend to fall,” offered Strange. “You’ll need a flint in the clamp before that gun will send a ball.” She hid her smiling as well, while Alias pawed at the man’s bootleg for a rub.
The man gave a look of resignation before lifting the barrel of his pistol to his lips: “Shshsh! He doesn’t know that,” nodding to indicate the sky.
“Be quiet!” resounded the heavens, the man behind it now in his kitchen, having pressed the switch of his coffee machine.
Strange cringed a touch from the voice, then pointed to her partner, lowering her hands: “This is Old Penny,” she introduced.
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