by Apryl Z Anderson
We found him walking along the old port with a battered cardboard suitcase that held nothing but an empty canister of garden herbs and a series of Italian language instruction records. He told us he was out of thyme and wasn’t sure what he was doing there and what it was all about, anyway. He wanted to take the Good News to Italy, but since he didn’t know anybody with a record player, he was ready to give up.
He seemed contented enough despite his conundrum. Nevertheless, he didn’t refuse the invitation to join our company. The port of Marseille was beginning a Euro-project, and he really couldn’t bear the aspect of the inevitable politics.
Mr. Eggcup also came home with us. They were together, although they didn’t have much in common. He was solidly attached to his pipe, and seemed rather empty-headed. We were hoping he’d be a valuable asset to our community. We’d just have to wait and see....
What CB didn’t realize was that there was someone who committed his existence to making our little friend’s life miserable.
LaFon spent most of his days in parasitic survival, fueled by the energies of fear and frustration given off by those in his presence. Naturally, he did everything he could to set up situations that worked to his favor.
In his more socially acceptable days, he was employed as a dwarf clown in the circus. It was frustrating, because everyone else was just as freaky as him and he wanted to rise above the rest. Even if that meant to raise his standards even lower. The final straw broke when his colleagues decided to honor him by using the more politically approved title of ‘little person.’ LaFon favored politics only when they worked to his advantage, so he decided to go underground instead. Unfortunately for all concerned, the underground was rather dank and the mildew aggravated his allergies. As recompense, he chose to continue his life under the cover of darkness.
Occasionally, LaFon liked to dress as a scary lady clown. She’d call herself ‘Lavonne’ and borrow her auntie’s pink poodle while going walking the shopping arcades. But now that cross-dressing has become politically endorsed, he tends to look for more innovative threats to western society.
One year, he decided to take a turn at living in all the homes of an ostentatious suburban neighborhood. He’d break into a house and live there unbeknownst to the family. Their houses were so big, and their lives so busy, that months would go by before anyone would get suspicious. He would notice that furtive look, and then live on the thrill of their terror for a while before shifting to another house.
He got a close call once when he moved into a house with small children. Most of the time he could convince the more alert homeowners that he was just another creepy toy from their uncle in Japan. He kept a copy of the Daily Yomuiri in his back pocket, in case they went searching for the operating instructions. The more clever ones would then go to the website. Soon they’d get so distracted by the worldwide web that they’d forget all about LaFon. It was fantastically easy for him to carry on with his merry life of self-absorption.
One evening, as he heard the hosts on their way out, he had every intention of spending the evening lost in the glow of reality shows on the mega TV. Usually, the hired grandma couldn’t be bothered to fiddle with the assortment of remotes, so he’d have the diversion all to himself. This time, when the new last-minute babysitter entered the room, she was immediately distracted by the mesmerizing glitter of the plasma screen. She hadn’t even noticed LaFon. He had ample time to position himself statuesquely on the hearth.
By the time she finally sensed his presence, he’d already gotten a heavy enough dose of televised marketing and earthly desire to induce a pleasant narcotic stupor.
He had to play it very cool, standing completely still, with only the slightest blink or twitch designed to unnerve the most steadfast guardian. She was, indeed, disconcerted but in admirable control of her wits.
Luckily for him, he overheard her on the phone shortly after she left the room. On the pretext of raiding the fridge, she’d dialed the parents, asking if she could cover the clown statue by the fireplace. “It’s giving me the creeps.”
The next thing that LaFon heard was a girlish shriek, followed by rapidly tiptoeing pitter-patter, and a vigorous closing of the nursery annex door with a decided clap of the bolt.
Fueled with the adrenaline of the chase, he sang a haunting rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to the trembling souls behind the door, before he moved on into the night.
LaFon made his way to Aix in the cargo hold with the belongings of a student who was coming for a study tour. The poor fellow had to report his cello as missing, but in truth, the instrument never left the airport. The case served as a comfortably cushioned travelpod. That’s just the kind of despicable, Narcissistic fiend that LaFon is.
Beatrice came to light in my parents’ cellar. They were clearing their house in preparation to migrate to sunnier climes, and were in the midst of looking through the accumulation of those things saved for a rainy day.
Everyone thought she was a real worm and wondered how long she could survive without dirt, but evidently Beatrice was made of tougher stuff.
My daughter was quite taken with her and although Beatrice was timid, she was charmed as well. She told us she was married, but had not much to say about her husband. He was so busy tilling the soil that he didn’t leave much time for her, so they didn’t know each other all that well.
One thing that really bothered her but she didn’t want to admit, was that he had trouble pronouncing her name. He’d call her “Be-truss” when she felt more like a “Bea-ah-triss.” He was good to her, he worked so hard to provide, that she didn’t want to make a fuss, but it honestly tweaked something deep inside of her that she didn’t understand and really didn’t want to. It was as if he had no idea of who she really was, and it hurt her that he didn’t seem to notice. That was the convenient thing about there being so much dirt for him to turn. If he was so busy then there was no need to go into details. He’d only notice her disappearance when he ran out of mulch to digest.
We found a nice dress for her. She said it made her feel young and happy, like springtime. It helped us, too, because without it, she tends to blend into the background. The cleaning woman almost chucked her out one day by mistake, and it took awhile to explain why we wanted a worm in our house, so the perky clothing made all the difference.
Beatrice was transformed in our company. She had wandered into that cellar in the hopes of finding something that she’d tucked away in a safe place, but then got distracted by the enormity of the project. LaFon happened by in his early days of going his own way, and she said he made her laugh. He taught her to sing the blues, and said she could make a fortune in the nightclubs in Paris, but he left before she knew any more. So, she’d spent a good many years wandering around in the dark, sorting the papers from one pile to another and singing Norah Jones’ tunes.
She told us that she was ready to learn a new song. Could anybody teach her?
When we first met Carpe Diem, she was more ‘seizure’ than ‘seize the day.’ She was so wrapped up with her duties of home and hearth that sometimes we weren’t sure if she was still breathing. How could anyone find signs of life under those layers of exhausting responsibility?
CB knew there were vital signs. He tasted her cooking, and saw a glimmer of recognition for his enthusiasm. He shared her taste in music, and her volume increased. He invited her to hike with us, and her participation added a wildflower to our bouquet. Watching her open up was witnessing springtime in a soul. As she came to trust us with who she was deep inside, the layers of whom she wasn’t were dropping away.
Would she have the courage to stand naked and unashamed?