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The Eclectic Pen - The Great Book Safari

By: Herbert M. (vunderbar)   + 5 more  
Date Submitted: 12/28/2006
Genre: Literature & Fiction » Short Stories & Anthologies
Words: 2,426

  Still hunting the legendary lost book. Crawled under all beds and stuck my head under couches. Very close call when I came face to face with a fierce mouse and my head got stuck. Must remember brush next time. Very difficult to remove dust bunnies from beard. Must go on. Civilization as we know it in the balance. At least as we know it on PBS. Planning a bold foray into darkest attic crawl space. (Hire native guide? )

Day three. Attic crawl space. Hired native guide. Small hairy creature who offered to work for a DAY-O for an autographed picture of Harry Belafonte and a beautiful-bunch-a- ripe- banana. Strange fellow. Eight legs and numerous eyes.
Several widows with red hour glasses on stomachs invited me into their parlor. Tempted but must not let myself be distracted from the search.
Saw several tracks. Book has been here but gone now. Native bearers have deserted. The sound of drums is driving me crazy. Last peanut butter sandwich eaten hours ago. Out of water. Flashlight batteries running low. Will put this message in safe place in case I don't get out alive. Tell my dog I love her.

DAY 4 - Into the depths of the earth. I suspect the book has gone underground. Gathered all of my spelunking gear together; miners lamp, ropes and pitons for climbing sheer rock walls. climbing shoes, oxygen in case I encounter bad air, numerous smaller items. It made quite a pile but I found I couldn't get it all into the foundation access hole. Most of it had to be abandoned right at the start.
On entering this dark forbidding space I immediately encountered several natives with rattles tied to their tails. Probably something to do with their religion. They shook their rattles at me in what I took as a friendly greeting ritual. When asked if they had seen the wayward book they opened their mouths and said SSSSSS which I took for a yes. Very encouraging. Pressing onward I met a termite who remarked that he had found the book rather dry. Two silverfish agreed saying they hadn't been able to get into it. An ant had a different opinion saying that the book was quite tastefull, especially the glue on the binding.
I then entered a strange region where several round long objects hung from overhead and decended into the earth. I was informed by the natives that they had been left by an explorer who had been ahead of me. A mysterious man they knew only as Plumber.
Exhausted. Must rest now. Will continue onward tomorrow if I have the strength.

Day 5 - I am nearing the end of my strength. After wriggling free of Plumber's deadly trap I tried to inch forward but some strange power kept drawing me back. I finally realized that my elastic suspenders were caught on a nail. With a mighty wrench I tore loose only to have the snaps come flying back and strike me between the eyes. When I regained consciousness I was looking into the eyes of a small black creature with a white stripe down her back. "You almost fell on me", she shouted,"That really stinks". I started to make a remark but thought better of it. Must not get the natives angry when I am at their mercy.
Just then I became conscious of a strange rhythmic sound that I had been hearing for quite some time. It sounded like "99 - thump. 99 - thump. 99 - thump". It was drawing closer by the minute. I drew the only weapon I had brought with me, my trusty nail clippers, and prepared to defend myself but when it got to me I could see that it was only a centipede with a wooden leg.
As I watched the centipede pass my eyes fell on a calico cat that had been sitting watching me all this time. She was going through a strange ritual. First she would look at me and make a circular motion beside her ear with one paw. Then she would make a goofy face and stick out her tongue. I knew she was trying to tell me something so when she trotted off I followed.
LIGHT!! There was a light up ahead. The roof was getting lower and I was wiggling along on my stomach but finally I crawled forth into the fresh air. How wonderfull to feel the sun on my face and the wind blowing into the hole I had torn in the seat of my britches.
But I had failed in my quest. Once more the wily book had eluded me. There was only one place left to look and I shuddered when I thought of it. The canyons!!!!

Day 6 - Into the Canyons. - I strode boldly into the dreaded canyons. One must not show fear here. Striding isn't easy when wearing high heeled cowboy boots. Had planned to ride my trusty dog but coward refused to come out from under bed.
Sheer rock walls bear uncanny resemblance to cinderblock and brick. Once thriving civilization here. Mysteriously left. Cryptic messages sprayed on walls may explain if can be deciphered. Paco 13 in rather garish colors seems to be most frequent. Perhaps the last ruler of vanished tribe. Evidence of habitation still remains. Broken furniture, abandoned washers and dryers. Here and there ancient vehicles. All parts removed leaving only empty shells
Most numerous present inhabitants are square and green. They are known as dumbsters and hug the walls all along canyon. Like pack rats they collect all sorts of things. Once a week at 5 AM a strange beast comes roaring into canyon and turns dumbsters upside down to shake out their entire collection of treasures and steal them. They are ridden by members of the fierce Sanitation Workers Tribe. Rumored they bury treasure in lanfils.(whatever they are) Don't understand why dumbsters don't hide or flee. Beast can be heard roaring for long distance. Perhaps why they are called dumbsters. Tribe who lives on top of canyon walls stick heads out of windows and shout encouragement to the beast in unknown languages. Messages like "holitdown wudja ?" or "Trynasleephere". Hope book wasn't hiding in dumbster.
Oddly shaped tumbleweeds roll down canyon in wind. Have markings almost like printing. Some say Slurpie, others Happy Meal, some carry other strange words.
Was about to question dumbsters about book when I heard a sound that chilled me to the bone. The padding of numerous feet. I turned to flee but had forgotten to remove spurs and they tangled in a Slurpie tumbleweed. Flat on my back I stared fearfully upward at the faces of the most dreaded sight in the canyons. A pack of killer Chihuahuas.

Day 7 - Chihuahuas and chalupas. The leader of the killer chihuhua pack was a fierce looking fellow fully four inches tall. He wore a red bandana. As I struggled to my feet and started to dust myself off he looked at me sternly and demanded. "OK mon drop de chalupa" I admitted fearfully that I had no chalupa and he seemed to wilt before my eyes.
"Si. Nobody have chalupa for Pancho Villain any more. Once I say drop de chalupa and chalupas fall like rain. Then I eat de chalupa an look at camera an say, 'Te quero Taco Bell'. Beeg mon come from back room an give me bag full of money"
Suddely I realized I was looking at the dregs of a once famous star. "What happened"?
"I don know mon. I have my own dressing room. Even gold plated fire hydrant jus for me. Was good. I have party pad in Malibu right nex to hiway. Good road kill to roll in anytime but you know, dried peeg ears, squeaky toys, doggie bags from bes French restaurants, fancy girl poodles; pretty soon is all gone. I get high on road kill, can't remember my lines. But was good times eh amigos?" All the dogs in the pack agreed it was good times. " Now I am just Pancho Villain the terror of the canyons." His fierce look came back, "Hokay wat ju got"?
I searched through my pockets and came up with a chocolate chip cookie, covered with pocket lint and half a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. He accepted it glumly.
I explained what I was looking for and he brightened. " BOOKS? I get you lots of steenkin books. What you gonna give me"? We finally settled on a BIGMACDOUBLEFRIES. I had no idea where I could get one or even what it was but I was in no position to argue.
The pack disappeared as though by magic. My entire store of supplies had been stolen and I had no water. Glumly I built a small fire with Happy Meal tumbleweeds and settled behind a dumbster for the night. Perhaps tomorow Pancho Villian and his pack would return with my wayward book. Or perhaps they would attack me savagely and tear my socks to shreds. One never knows with these desperate bandidos.
The sun was just burning through the strange haze the canyon dwellers call smog when I arose stiff and sore from my night behind the dumbster. I shivered in the cold wind that was blowing down the canyon. My fire had gone out and there was nothing left to eat. From somewhere far down the canyon came a strange squeaking noise. Presently Pancho Villain and his pack of killers emerged from the smog pulling a red wagon with rusty wheels piled high with books. Surely my wayward book was in there somewhere.
Suddenly my nose was assailed by a strong odor of spoiled shrimp. I had thought it was just a figure of speech when he offered to get me some "Steenkin books". "Ees no my fault thrift shop shares dumbster with Chinese restaurant", he replied to my complaint.
He led me around the corner and to my amazement I beheld a strange temple. No doubt it was ancient but someone had been keeping this edifice in good repair. Even the soaring golden arches gleamed with the shine of fresh plastic. One of the priests capered in front of it in robes that strangely resembled a clown costume. He had bright red hair and was wearing a huge pair of shoes. On his chest was painted McD, the emblem of the god of fat and cholesterol.
Inside an acolyte stood behind the altar passing out ritual food to the worshipers in exchange for their offerings. He gladly handed me a bigmacdoublefries and then gave me the ritual blessing. "Jalika apllepie widdat"? I nodded and he added a token that seemed to consist of soggy dough wrapped around a gooey substance with a tiny bit of fruit embedded in it. I took that for my breakfast and went outside where I exchanged the bigmacdoublefries for the wagon load of books.
Quickly pawing through the books with one hand while holding my nose with the other I could see that my lost book was not among them. Sadly I turned homeward, towing the wagon behind me. Buzzards circled overhead and a pack of yowling cats followed along behind.

DAY 9 - Home again, Home again (jiggety jig). I trundled my red wagon full of books into the house. My dog immediately went back under the bed with a clothespin on her nose.
I sat contemplating the books and wondering what to do. On the one hand I can't think of any PBS member who has, "No books smelling of rotten shrimp", on their conditions but the post office might consider them hazardous material and refuse them.
Finally, in desperation, I put them in the washing machine taking the precautions of setting it to the gentle cycle and using Woolite. An hour later I was forced to admit the experiment had been a failure. The books came out fused together into one lump of pulp. I should have remembered that most of them were pulp fiction to start with.
They were buried in a mass grave in the petunia patch. After playing taps on my kazoo and firing a twenty gun salute with my trusty Red Ryder BB gun I erected a simple stone monument with a genuine Reynolds Wrap plaque reading, "Here lie those brave books who gave their all that Free Swapping might survive". I wiped a tear from my eye and went back into the house to drown my troubles in root beer.
My spirits were at a low ebb (as opposed to a high ebb) I had no idea how many root beers I had drank. My trash can was overflowing with empties. I considered calling RBA (Root beer anonymous) But I can quit any time I want to. I know I can. I can so. Don't argue with me. OH NO!!!. I was hearing voices.
Suddenly I realized the voice was coming from my book shelf. I KNOW THAT VOICE!! Swiftly I ran to my book shelves and began tearing off the set of 1962 Encyclopedia Britannica I had been trying to convince Goodwill to take off my hands.
In my haste I had neglected to put on the steel toed shoes I usually wore when working with my book shelf. Several heavy volumes fell onto my foot. Fortunately I had shared my camp behind the dumbster in the Canyons with a holy man (Muscatel Sam by name) who had taught me a mystical exercise to dispel pain. It consists of hopping on one foot while chanting the sacred phrase OWWWW OWWWW OWWW. My dog joined in with her own form of canine Yoga which consists of rolling on the floor and laughing.
When the pain had subsided somewhat I hobbled over to the bookshelf and there , peeping shyly out behind AZ - BL was my prodigal book. I danced wildly about the room, holding it to my breast. Now we shall have a great feast We shall invite all the cats who had followed me from the canyons. I was not sure about the buzzards who lined the porch rail. We shall feast on baloney sandwiches with Kraft cheese and slathered with mustard. We shall drink great tankards full of ginger ale. We shall spare no expense. MY BOOK IS BACK.
I held the wayward book at arms length and read the title, "Breed To Come" Wait a minute. That book is about an intelligent race of cats who inhabit the Earth when men leave. CATS??? That explains everything. There had been no need for all of the searching. Everyone knows that no matter how cats may roam, they always come back.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Herbert M. (vunderbar)

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Comments 1 to 8 of 8
katzpawz - 12/28/2006 6:55 PM ET
This is so doggone much fun to read!!! Thank you Herbert and from now on I will think of you as VunderBitchin instead of Vunderbar. Definately California styling! What a blast!
Linda J. (SassyLady) - , - 12/28/2006 6:58 PM ET
Loved reading his comments on the boards - this was truly amusing. Keep it up.
Debra D. (Nemo) - 12/28/2006 8:30 PM ET
This is the genious of someone who must have a fantastic sense of humor! Very funny - I'll say what I say when I hear great ideas or funny lines - HOW did you think of that? Bravo.
Laron C. (icepigs) - 12/29/2006 9:53 AM ET
Very funny. I enjoyed it!
DeAnnette H. (deanie) - 12/29/2006 12:40 PM ET
Cute story!!
Tanya M. (smeghead) - 12/29/2006 3:42 PM ET
I love how you took a hunt for a book and made it an adventure. Unfortunately the Taco Bell dog is dead. It could have been an overdose of chalupas for all I know. RIP Taco Dog.
Herbert M. (vunderbar) - 12/29/2006 11:04 PM ET
Maybe he choked on the BIGMACDOUBLEFRIES
Athena S. (Friday) - 2/4/2007 1:28 PM ET
Great story
Comments 1 to 8 of 8