The Gypsy's Address
Not a rumba done in Munchkin Land ever surpassed the Punc’s performance. All stood with broad, gleaming smiles as he finished swinging and twisting about. But the Empress, who had been dancing, too, was reminded of her duty. She fell back into her throne, grabbed her bullhorn and yodeled, “Hodl-hodl-ay-ee-dee! Believe that that was a sonnet it you must. But if you do, what you believe at least don’t trust.”
The Punc slowly turned his laser gun on Penny, drawing a red bead in the middle of his brow. The gig was up, thank God: “I say that was a sonnet with ease. The brains of who don’t agree will soon feel a breeze.”
Makin’ kept her eyes on Strange and the Kidd. Snaking her chain: “Well, Cuddly. Who’s the winner here in this unconscious frontier?” Which to hear, BB sent through the atmosphere a crackling zap of lightning four feet from her right ear. Which she waved off with her hand and, “Yeah, yeah.”
All waited in suspense for Cuddly’s decision. Finally . . . “Penny.”
At the instant of Cuddly’s pronouncement the Punc pressed the hair trigger of his ray gun. Penny moved his head left to right. The Punc aimed left to right, then sent a stream of blue laser light into the stratosphere of BB’s brain.
“Aaaah!” roared the heavens, BB feeling the pain.
“Ooh!” Alice pursed her lips with a frown, sympathetic.
Penny caught the beam with the blade of his knife, reflecting it to the Punc’s rear toward the bucket of the huge backhoe where it sprayed melting steel into the air. As Alias rushed Cuddly into the safety of Something’s truck Makin’ ran up to Strange, swinging her chain. Something ducked, jumped, ducked, jumped.
“Giant!” called the Kidd, who had run forward for range. Just as Makin’ turned the Kidd sent a stone from his sling into her forehead, dead-center between her eyes. Imbedding halfway into her skull with a THUNK! it was enough to stop Makin’ for several seconds. Until she looked up toward the rock lodged in her brow and said:
“More than pebbles it will take to knock this giant off her feet. Now I advise you run in fear. ‘Cause what I do I do complete!”
Just as Makin’ moved to attack, the Kidd he sent his other round stone precisely where he’d imbedded the first. With a CONK! it drove the first deeper into her brain, now two stones fixed in her head. Makin’ stopped in her tracks, wavered, toppled to the ground.
Alice wetted a thread between her lips and dipped it into her scrying bowl: “Tie this rope around her ankle,” she urged Something Strange. Strange grabbed one end of the rope hanging midair and did two half hitches in seven tenths of a second around Makin’s ankle. Alice hoisted Makin’ into the air, up through the surface of the water in her bowl, then studied her with a magnifying glass. Makin’, dangling unconscious, released a great Phphph! from her bum: “Oh, my!” said Alice, then deposited Makin’ into an empty teacup. Makin’ plopped belly-first with yet another fierce Phphph!
Penny was meanwhile in a predicament. Deflecting the Punc’s laser so it wouldn’t fry BB’s brain, the blade of his knife was starting to melt. Though it had three times the density of the pin that pulls a semi trailer, the Punc smiled as he gradually began to drill through the blade, his weapon aimed directly at Penny’s heart should it finally burn through. The Kidd thought to yank the Punc from his feet with Makin’s chain. Something thought to snap his ray gun from his grip with her whip. But either move could cause the laser to jerk wild, perhaps slice off Penny’s head. No one dared to intervene in this contest, twenty feet apart, between hope and will. Penny could not but trust his blade would hold while the Punc, knowing Penny’s reflexes were far too fast to match, concentrated on rendering his blade into worthless metal scrap.
“I’m gonna to fry Makin’ a heart for her dinner,” said the Punc as he watched the spatter from Penny’s blade which lit up the faces of all about with its arcing: “The rest I’m feeding to birds that eat dead meat.”
“I’m guessant you’ll become more quiescent when I reflect your laser at your head, to make more luminescent what seems now less than present,” Penny answered, stalling for time to think.
“You’re not a killer,” answered the Punc. “You don’t have what it takes to swat a fly.”
“Sorry, BB,” Old Penny thought to himself, turning his head as if to glance at something to his left. The Punc followed his bluff, turning his head slightly to the right for but an instant, yet an instant which gave Penny time to duck and throw his knife.
“Aaaah!” BB winced as the laser beam fired past Penny, already one shot of scotch denied to convalesce from the last ripping blaze.
“Ooh!” Alice pursed her lips and frowned, sympathetically again, twice in a single day approaching a record.
CONK! went the butt of the hilt of Penny’s knife when it made contact with the Punctuator’s forehead. Upon which the Punc dropped his laser and followed it to the ground.
“You’re right,” Penny belatedly answered the Punc, walking up to stand above him, the Punc knocked out but yet alive.
The Kidd picked up the laser weapon, studied it several seconds, then tossed it to Penny with, “Thanks for the entertainment.”
Penny smiled back as Strange took her time with another double half hitch around the Punctuator’s ankle. They watched the Punc disappear as Alice pulled him out of the water, then studied him with a magnifying glass as she craned him over to her teacup to drape him over Makin’s yet unconscious body.
“Do you two like chili?” asked the Kidd.
Penny and Strange widely smiled at each other, then replied together, “Love it!”
That night BB prepared a pot of chili, singing the while:
“Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Get ready! Get ready!
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Get ready! Get ready!
Get ready, ‘cause here I come!
Get ready, ‘cause here I come!”
Alice put out the cat and rouged her cheeks with assistance from the Empress, each looking at one another in a mirror: “Perfect. . . Just the touch. . . Not too flagrant. . . That’ll keep home and off the scotch that truck driving vagrant.”
The Kidd didn’t have to take Penny or Strange anywhere in his pickup truck to treat them to his indescribably delicious chili. He lived at the quarry. That night he put together two homemade slingshots, consisting of nothing but a leather pocket between two strands of leather. The next day he showed them how to sling during some four wheeling with his truck in the hills around the quarry, all the more exciting in the strobe atmosphere of BB’s brain. The Kidd couldn’t lose. He had acquired two trailers loaded with toilet tissue addressed to a consignee, from a shipper, neither of which existed in that world. Not to mention two big trucks with a lot of haul, gravel or otherwise, left on them. It was too early to say, though, if BB’s suddenly nascent notion to start a collection of grenade launchers and machine guns would be allowed by Alice. Penny and Strange received an open invitation from BB and the Kidd to drop by for any reason any time in any world, and would be paid half the profits of all the freight that Makin’s Star and the Punc’s Freightliner moved. Do the math in a universe of multiple universes.
The next evening BB poured what was left of his scotch down the kitchen drain, in favor of more lively companionship, being Alice, her cat learning where the back door was. To the tune of Setzer’s Hot Rod Girl BB walked out his front door with a pot of chili, cut across the lawn past his mud-splattered four-wheel drive pick up parked at the curb in front of his house, climbed the steps to Alice’s front porch and rang her doorbell. Several hours later they were observing Makin’ and the Punc through a microscope together:
“Ooh! Aren’t you cute!” Alice uttered, giving her chair to BB to take a look. BB chuckled as he watched Makin’, seated with a rock jammed between her frowning eyes, talking to the Punc, who sat beside her with a huge bump in the same spot from the butt of Penny’s knife.
“We’re gonna catch that little snorter! Next time I’m gonna eat it!” Makin’ let the Punc to know.
The Punc replies, “That you have rocks for brains do you not recognize?”
“”You look twice as ridiculous with that lump between your eyes.”
“Were you as mute as you are a scumbag your words I might more prize.”
Each then made reply to the sky that was BB’s great eye with gestures of defiance. But since what faces they made at the giants I can’t tell with reliance I’ll leave such to you and but express my compliance.
When Strange whistled her truck to come to her next morning it was fitted with Makin’s tracking system. Over which was draped Makin’s ball cap equipped with the scopes that had enabled her to locate and zero in on holes. Over which was looped Makin’s hole communications receiver, which Penny had modified with simple earphones, dispensing with the silly cones. All in the event that Strange became separated from Penny. Penny took a glance at the Punc’s laser rifle on the bunk in his sleeper before he pushed in the valve to his tractor brakes and led Strange out of the quarry. As they waved goodbye to the Kidd the Empress kissed his image in her mirror:
“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me . . . Penny?”
The hole to which Kia led them was up a steep narrow gravel road not far from the quarry, where they disappeared from the Kidd’s sight and out of BB’s brain.
“Let’s have the world in which Cuddly joined us – because we have two loads of potatoes to deliver!”
Upon which Penny and Strange found themselves slowly exiting into the same rest area that was the source of the course all to which I’ve attested. It was the same bright sun beneath which they stopped their trucks and their wheels now rested. Except that now all was quiet, Makin’ missing with her ravenous diet, together with the Punc whose unholy will had wrought many a wound that couldn’t heal.
Penny’s broker, who had before disappeared of surging flood waters feared, put his phone to his nose while three men with a hose siphoned water a hundred feet beyond his window. An address the shipper to Strange now related, since the winds had abated which had threatened to send hovering the roof that was his covering.
“How far?” Penny shouted out his window past Cuddly and Alias in the Kenworth to his left, as Elfman’s score faded into Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces.
“Four thirty!” Strange shouted back through her open passenger window, reflecting Penny’s smile.
“Our appointment’s at two! Five hours! Think we’ll do it?”
“You bet!” Strange beamed. “I’ve got forty dollars!” Penny grinned, started up easy through a few gears as he drove to the exit ramp, then stopped to the left.
“For. . . Fore. . . Four. . .” Strange said to herself as she followed, trying to figure Cuddly’s clue.
“There must be a way a wish to say that gets the answer that one wants underway. . . These last few days I’ve been compelled to own a dream, which of my travels with Penny one could think a secret theme. I admit it – I’m in love. I feel its seam. I wish Penny loved me, too, with an urge to make some steam.”
Strange pulled up to Penny’s right on the wide-paved ramp, stopped and playfully revved her engine. Penny did the same. But as he looked over at her to his right he was overcome by her beauty inexpressible, so full of life, with sensibilities nigh his own. He turned away his gaze and cogitated a several seconds as he looked out his driver window. Then he pulled his tractor brake, leapt from his Pete, walked around its front grill and climbed the steps to Something’s window. He stood there beholding Something’s face for a few seconds.
“What?” Something coyly asked, averting her eyes with a squint. She was astonished that her wish might so suddenly be coming true. Which realization then prompted her to not delay what she must do. Each moved toward one another, but the brims of their hats got in the way. Penny removed his ball cap. Strange took off her cowboy hat. Then a light hesitant lick. Then they were communicating.
Alias barked. Cuddly, sunglasses resting at the end of his nose, commented, “Uncivilized.”
Penny returned to his truck a little dizzy, his ears ringing. He pushed in his brakes, then sang through his CB,” It’s one for the money!”
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