The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoat-Pamphlet –
The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoat-Pamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig amongst the Giant Pygmies of Beccles, Volume Eight
Once Terry had opened the invitation, it read
“To whom it may concern (and We hope that it only concerns Terry);
This is your official invitation to the Grand Royal Ball of Yorkshirehamptontown. Attendance is compulsory- tardiness will be met with the swift and sure annihilation of all that you have loved, known and forgotten (unless, of course, you have forgotten us).
Formal dress (or undress if that is your preference).
Please bring cookies and cupcakes.
The Royal Commiserate High Lawyers and Other People of Importance,
Smith, Farkle, Bludgeon and He Who Shall Not Be Named”
in a very high, tinny voice. This was a surprise to Terry since, up until that point, he had no idea that invitations could actually read themselves out loud. Terry was happy that it read itself since he had no idea what some of the words meant. “Compulsory” gave him trouble as did “Yorkshirehamptontown” (although he was sort of sure that this last one was a place, which, of course it sort of was. It was a place in the same way that licorice was an entree- through no means of its own and only because somebody insisted that it was against all evidence to the contrary.) Terry checked compulsory in his thesaurus and it read “Compulsory- mandatory, necessary, because Wednesday is booked at the restaurant, yadda, yadda, yadda. I hate my job, why does everything I say show up on this screen? I need more sleep- it’s been days; I hate deadlines. Who told the printer that we would have this whole book ready in a week? I mean, really! Where was I? We can edit this later, right? Good. O.k…. Congo Line-“.
“Come on,” said Spot, “or we’ll be late.” Spot then pulled a motorcycle with a side car out of his dog house. The motorcycle was lime green with blue polka-dots and purple elephants painted on the side of it. Terry had a sub-conscious insight that, if he had been wiser, this would have scared him in a way that would have been hard to describe. However, since he was unknowingly and unwittingly taking the “ignorance is bliss” route, he was quite unaware of what should have frightened him and only mildly aware that he was unaware of something that should have been frightening. (The “ignorance is bliss” route, by the way, is never, ever a bad route to take if you want to truly be happy. I mean, irreverent governmental jokes aside, the happiest people in the world seem to be the most ignorant. Watch ten adults who read the papers and watch the news. Then, watch ten adults who do not. You will find that the happiest of them all are the ones who ignore the world outside of what they come into contact with on a day to day basis. They only worry about their little section of the world and they try to make it a happier place. Then again, I’m happy, so what in the world do I know?)
Terry climbed into the side-car of the lime green with blue polka-dots and purple elephants painted on the side of it motorcycle and looked around for a helmet. Terry was quite sure that he was supposed to be wearing a helmet. However, he could not find one. (Well, to be more precise, he couldn’t find one at this time since there was not one to be found; to be sure, if there had been a helmet to be found, then he would have found it since his locative abilities would have found one if one would have been able to be found. In other words, he was not lacking in the ability to find a helmet, just in a helmet to find.)
“Here, put this on,” said Spot and he handed Terry a five pound chicken to stick onto his head. Terry looked at Spot who was already sporting a live pink flamingo tied to his head with ribbon. Terry tied on his chicken with ribbon as Spot had done, and feeling quite like the fool (much like most people who ride in the side car of a lime green motorcycle with blue polka-dots and purple elephants painted on the side of it with a chicken tied to their heads do; he should have had a pink flamingo like Spot as they do have a much, much higher crash test rating) he settled in for the journey to wherever it was that they were going. In fact, he thought that he should ask.
“I think that I should ask where it is that we are going” queried Terry.
“Well then, ask” replied Spot.
“Um… o.k… Where are we going?”
“Where are we going?”
“Oh, are you talking to me?” said Spot.
“Yes, you are the only one here.”
“Actually, you should ask the motorcycle; he is the only one who knows.”
“Yes, the motorcycle”
“Motorcycle, where are we going?” asked Terry.
“You don’t have to call me motorcycle,” said the motorcycle. “I have a name.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Terry, very much surprised to receive an answer from the machine at all. (It should suffice it to say that, at this point, Terry’s surprise meter had run empty and he was completely running on fumes when it came to surprises. From here on out in the story, he is hardly dazed anymore by anything that happens, much less truly surprised. Sort of like when you come home and, for the 333rd day in a row, a new and different cat is in your living room protesting your treatment of the cottage cheese with picket signs and the local union; you might be dazed at a new and previously non-sentient life-form communicating with you in a way that seems utterly amazing, but you would have absolutely no amazement or surprise left you, just a little bit of haggard and tired daze.) “What is your name?”
“My name is Dennis. Thank you very much for asking, not that it ever occurred to you to ask before. I could have been called Martha or Oswald or Phillip, but you would have never known or cared if I hadn’t told you to ask, if I hadn’t put up a fight. Where’s the dignity, I ask you? Where’s the common courtesy? Where’s the humanity? It’s enough these days for a motorcycle to quit working and hang up his gaskets for want of some civilized treatment and respect. Just because I’m the hired help doesn’t mean that I have to be treated like an underling. ‘Oh, thank you for hauling me for six thousand miles, Motorcycle; I just wanted to get some food in Paris. Thanks for driving over water with no gasoline.’ Right! The nerve of some drivers,” said the motorcycle Dennis “And do you think that they would ever consider a new coat of paint on me? I mean, what’s the deal with the polka-dots. The elephants I understand, but polka-dots? I’ve never polka-ed or dotted in my life!”
“Dennis?” Terry asked very hesitatingly.
“Well, how many things are exactly eighteen minutes and twenty seconds long?” replied Dennis the motorcycle.
“What?” replied Terry, nonplussed, nonminused and non-everything else that would have made a difference in his current level of understanding the situation.
“Never mind. Now what was your question?”
“Where are we going?” asked Terry, who suddenly noticed that the chicken on his head had changed into a giant egg. It was at this moment that he also noticed that the pink flamingo on Spot’s head had changed into a tortoise and the fact that Spot had fallen asleep at the wheel. If any of these facts could have unsettled him at this point, he would have had a very hard time choosing between them which was the most unsettling.
“It’s where and when. Look at my meter. We’re travelling at the rate of two days an hour.”
Terry looked at the meter on the handlebars and it did indeed say “Two days per hour”. Terry, having given up on the impossible being impossible frame of mind and settling into the impossible must not only be likely but inevitable today frame of mind (which is funny, because, as far as frames go, the former is more conventional, but the latter looks better hung on the wall around an art print), took all of this in stride. “O.k.,” said Terry, “where and when are we going?”
“We are going to the Grand Royal Ball, which took place last week. Thus, we are going to last Thursday and Yorkshirehamptontown, which would have been a suburb of Albuquerque if Albuquerque would have been formed in an outer time loop instead of in a time stilted desert. However, if there is one place that comes close to transcending time and space like Yorkshirehamptontown does on a what-will-come-to-be-as-soon-as-their-full-daytimeness-comes-into-existence daily basis, it’s Albuquerque. I love Albuquerque.”
Terry noticed a stamp on the side of Dennis which said “Made in Albuquerque” and he thought that he might have made the connection. Then, he noticed that his egg was a chicken again. Despite the fact that the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is an old question for most of us, it was a very new question for Terry. He contemplated this while Dennis whizzed along the road. Finally, Terry fell asleep comfortably in the side-car with the thesaurus as a pillow. (While most thesauruses don’t make good pillows, the deluxe edition didn’t either. Thus, Terry’s comfort had as much to do with the fact that he was exhausted as it did with the fact that the thesaurus made a good pillow- because it didn’t.)
Dennis continued to speed along back in time at a rate measured in time in exactly the way that most physicists believe that they can travel in time at a rate measured in time but can’t since it is utterly impossible unless you have a lime green motorcycle with blue polka-dots and purple elephants painted on the side named Dennis. (Actually, the purple elephants are named Phyllis, Frank and Bob; the motorcycle is named Dennis.)