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The Gypsy's Address

“I wish that that hoodoo hare do all she can to assist, so contrary to herself that this wish she insist, so on target that its bulls-eye can’t be missed, for I wish that that hoodoo hare not exist!”

 

As to what happened next I leave this suggestion: There is no way to point in her present direction, so where the Whammy went I leave open to question. Just as suddenly Penny ceased correcting his step to the exact half measure. Just as quickly did the Punc fall on his ass, his feet, or paws, or combination of the twain, no longer in skates supporting his mass. Why they’d been skating the last hour Makin’ couldn’t explain, but just like the Punc she found herself barefoot again. Were they not yet so friendly they’d have blushed, having fun on skates a thing they’d want hushed, hardly fitting their skull-and-bones reputations.

 

Yet was there more to cause the jaw to drop with awe. There returned to the desert the trees that once were, its soil become as rich as before. The potholes in the truck stop parking lot leveled even as the buildings appeared newly painted, being but the paint that had been before the hoodoo hare. Alias barked to return greeting to a cow that mooed in a green pasture nearby. A little further off she saw a couple of horses play, running neck and neck. The sign above the garage returned to its original: ‘HARVEY’S TRUCK REPAIR’. In the cocktail lounge Bugs no longer stifled her yawn, though continued to file her nails, feeling of a sudden like a shiny new button. She greeted a rabbit in gray tones pulling up a stool:

 

“What’s up, Doc? Looks like you ain’t had a brew in so long that its time.”

 

“Thanks,” Jimmy answered. “Harvey, here, wants a Bloody Merry with a big juicy lime.”

 

“That’s all right, pal. To misspell a word when you speak ain’t no crime. God knows it’s enough all we say has to rhyme.”

 

“Now we know why rabbits are friendly,” Old Penny remarked, looking about at the lush countryside as he walked up to Strange. Then he knelt for a moment, a touch overcome by what he’d been through.

 

“Are you all right?” Strange squinted, kneeling, too. Makin’ Wind and the Punctuator approached in clouds of dust as they patted themselves down. They might be presently friendly, but Alias guarded Cuddly jealously as they sniffed and wagged about in the green grasses behind Something’s trailer.

 

“Still no address?” Penny asked, rising.

 

“Nope. I called. Not one, but both phones were dead.”

 

“That’s odd,” Penny frowned, perplexed. “Well, then, let’s do a motel tonight. I could use a shower. And a sink of beer on ice.”

 

“All right. Let’s go. Forty says I’ll beat you at rummy while we ponder this situation.”

 

“Sure,” the Punc added. “We’re ready when you are.”

 

“We’ll bring up your back door,” Makin’ pleasantly agreed.

 

Penny rendered a confused smile as he turned to walk to his Pete. Alias and Cuddly were already in the Ken by the time Strange climbed in.

 

“So how’s that little piggy?” she smiled. “Just as pink and pudgy as can be,” as she gave Cuddly’s shoulders a shaking. She was tempted to try conjuring again, to throw off Makin’ and the Punc. But she was too friendly to entertain the thought more than an instant. Makin’s head abruptly appeared at her passenger window. Then the Punc at her driver’s side. Strange rolled down her windows partially, to protect, then a touch more because she was affable.

 

“I can see you’re pretty concerned about that little guy,” said the Punc. “Hey, why don’t you keep him?”

 

“Yeah,” Makin’ reinforced, “I’m on a veggie diet anyway.” Which her long ears made evident.

 

“Well, thank you. So am I, come to note,” frowning up first at her left floppy ear, then her right. Makin’ and the Punc grinned and waved as they left off to their trucks. “OoooKaaaay,” Strange blinked as she pressed the ignition. She followed Old Penny out of the truck stop as the Punc took up the rear. Once they were through the gears and at an easy pace on the highway she had second thoughts about tricks: “We like me just human, no more rabbit’s complexion. My form shifts from rabbit in a human direction.” . . . But nothing happened. So she tried a wish: “I wish I weren’t a rabbit – simply human’s my notion. My shape now shifts as like a sea from an ocean.” . . . Still nothing happened. Strange gave Cuddly an inquiring look. But Cuddly was mum. So she walkied to the Pete ahead: “Penny, we need to talk.”

 

“Oh, shoot,” knowing it was coming sooner or later. To Penny everything was just fine. Makin’ and the Punc were no threat and he didn’t mind being a rabbit at all, lending such no more thought than if he’d switched one ball cap for another.

 

“Makin’ Wind and the Punctuator are friendly. I’m not complaining,” Strange hesitated. “I mean, you definitely solved that problem. But . . . well . . . heck . . . I don’t want to be a rabbit.”

 

“Why not?” Old Penny genuinely asked, finding no problem with it at all.

 

Strange looked again at her ears bobbing over her head: “Because I can’t keep my nose still. It always . . . wriggles.”

 

“So?” Penny sniffed.

 

“Penny!” in exasperation for an explanation.

 

Penny looked at Kia, you and I, on the perch above the passenger seat: “You don’t have a problem with rabbits, do you, Kia?” brushing the feathers on our breast with his paw, it never entering his mind that were we not who we are we’d be in a falcon’s big game paradise:

 

“That’s because you’re too heavy,” we silently respond to Penny. “Just kidding.”

 

Penny rolled down his window, as was his custom when an especially difficult decision was to be made. Something Strange had no clue that he gave up a year of life each time he defined a world. “All right, Kia,” he presently addressed. “Crunch the numbers. Lead us, if you would, to another hole, another road. Two in one day. I’ll bet that’s a record.” At which point he began to ponder the ability of Makin’ and the Punc to do holes, much less follow him into another world. He doubted not that there were intelligences in the cosmos who could do the same. But he had no notion that science had developed crude means of doing so on the Earth from which he’d come. Only Strange knew the secret of Kia, you and I. . . Why don’t we scout for her as well, you ask? What! The entire neighborhood next? Then the metropolis, the nation, the world? Singularity is expedient to enigmas, the solutions to which I keep to myself for sake of leaving humankind something to do and understand. . . Because if everything happened at once nothing would happen at all, that’s why. Something has her portion more than sufficient to troubles. You cannot conceive, for example, my burdens as a know-it-all . . . albeit, true enough, at leisure and having fun as I do. Responsibility and irresponsibility are mutually interpregnant. . . Surely, people everywhere pass through holes all the time. A busy Manhattan intersection, a construction site, the foyer of an office building. But what they don’t know they miss. . . Yes, a bull’s-eye, so to speak, even as they always feel something is lacking. Not knowing what, some call it God. . . Oh, yes, Alias can sense a hole. She quivers and quakes when near one. But she wouldn’t know why if Penny and Strange had never met. . . You keep asking why! I love that this is in your nature, child. But sometimes more can be done by simply accepting a thing to be than by needing to know every detail. . . Do you not divide and multiply, quite well, without asking ‘Why is there math?’ Leave that to mathematicians and enjoy your beer. . . But Penny is puzzled by our delay. Brace yourself. We’re out the window. . .

 

Whoa! That’s a rush even at only sixty! Graceful, are we not? . . There was a hole but a foot before the big front window to Harvey’s Truck Repair, the one previously cracked and covered with scum. We’re gonna lead Old Penny up to this big concrete plant so he and Something can turn around.

 

This hole wasn’t like the last at only a hundred and twenty miles per hour. Penny followed us at but ten ‘til his rig disappeared. Makin’ donned her cap and cones upon observing this and followed Strange. The Punc likewise vanished, to the awe of three or four truck drivers on Sesame Street (lingo for CB). Once all four were inside the outside, or outside the inside, as you please, they silently waited for Penny to define a world, Alias again beneath Something’s bunk.

 

“Let’s have a world where humans are humans and snow falls year ‘round, because deserts are dirty!” The other three repeated his words exactly. A mist, as before, began to appear, through which a sun eventually shined. The cloud through which they drove disappeared, too, as an horizon of high snow-covered peaks came into view. They found themselves in a very bright world of light-reflecting snow, above alpine level ‘cause not one pine appeared to grow. They were so high that the mountains peaks far off were below. Though nothing compared to some places where trucker have to go, the highway, more an iceway, on which they drove cut through snow banks four feet high to either side.

 

“You ready, Strange? I think here we’re gonna drive,” Penny talkied upon shifting down a gear.

 

“The ice on this road looks half a foot thick. We can’t chain. If we stop, they’ll pounce.”

 

“The Punc’s weapons are useless up here. He isn’t insane enough to take his focus off driving this road. We’re heavy. We’ve got the advantage. They’ll slip and slide.”

 

“Sunglasses,” squinted Cuddly.

 

“Let’s do it. We’re ready,” upon Alias obliging.

 

“She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes. . .” sang Penny to himself as he carefully picked up another gear. Strange shifting as smoothly to not jerk the transmission, they quickly pulled ahead by half a mile, going as fast as they could while maintaining high RPM for the Jakes.

 

“I’m  slippin’,” Makin’ walkied the Punc, following a careful distance behind. “We’re gonna lose ‘em. Toilet tissue can’t compete with potatoes up here.”

 

“Take your time. Keep it straight. They’ve nowhere to go but this road.”

 

Makin’ took a deep breath. She could barely do thirty-five around the curves as Strange and Penny pushed it ten miles an hour faster. Then, on straight road, a gray jay watched them fly eighty miles an hour past her. They disappeared from sight as the mountain they were driving around rose to the right, to the left a sheer slope of snow-buried boulders and rock to a valley half a mile below. Penny purposefully took the most dangerous curve as he came to a fork  about four miles from the hole he’d left behind. He went left and climbed a slope which, had it been steeper, his tires would have spun too much to climb the ice. By the time Makin’ and the Punc arrived Penny and Strange were long gone. The rears of their trailers had been sliding into snow banks left and right, sending sprays of snow into the air. They had no choice but the straighter path to the right.

 

“You know they took the road to the left,” Punc said to Makin’ over the speakers in her cab.

 

“Yeah. They might have. But even on a snow-buried interstate they’d have pulled ahead. Why should they take unnecessary risk? Damn it! We needed a whiteout! What we got was that blasted sun!”

 

“Just keep tracking. They’re . . . Did you hear that? . . Sounds like rifle fire.”

 

Makin’ removed her cones and heard gunshots not greatly distant. She rolled down her window to hear the better: “Yeah. From that cabin just ahead.”

 

Penny and Strange heard the crystal-clear echoes of gunshots as well: “Maybe hunters,” Penny observed over his walkie.

 

“Or Makin’ and the Punctuator. My bet is they took the other road.”

 

“Looks like a break in the bank up here. . . and room to park. . . and a little road.”

 

Not long before Penny, in a frayed jean jacket, stepped down from his Pete onto the ice. He noticed our shadow over a deep blanket of snow and heard us whistle. Pulling the bill of his ball cap lower to shield his eyes from the sun, he looked up to see us gliding through the air a couple hundred feet above. Alias stayed with Cuddly in Something’s Ken while, in a green parka, Strange met with Penny at its nose.

 

“It’s gettin’ time to eat somethin’. Is that a house over there?” Strange wondered as she peered down a rocky lane only a four-wheel drive could do.

 

“No harm to take a look.” Penny and Strange began to walk down the path. Forty slippery feet later: “Looks like an abandoned shack.”

 

Just as Strange stepped near a rusty can in her path a shot rang out, knocking the can into the air.

 

Makin’ and the Punc had meanwhile begun to investigate another place. They, too, had found parking near an old shack. Accustomed to making their domain wherever they pleased, it was fundamentally unlike them to knock on doors or wait for invitations to go inside. The Punc, his .45 ready, stood on the old wooden steps before the front door, about to turn the knob and enter.

 

“If to step into that room you assume, this rifle one dwarf and one giant will consume,”  suddenly threatened a voice from behind.

 

The Punc slowly removed his hand from the doorknob. Makin’, standing behind him before the steps, stayed cool, doing nothing.

 

“That pistol in your hand you’ll drop in that barrel to the right of my porch,” the voice instructed.

 

The Punc, now in a black leather jacket, did as advised, then made a slow motion to turn around:

 

“Don’t move,” the voice advised. “I’ll drill you frontways, sideways and backways with less care than, dead, you’ll hear my next phrase.”

 

“Sir!” Makin’ pretended to plead without turning: “We admit, as you see, this situation’s uniqueness. But I have to go potty. We’re just searching for neatness.”

 

"“You sayin’ my abode looks like a commode?”

 

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