The Guardian of Aloons/2
|Genre||Fantasy, Humor, Mystery|
I laid on the soft earth behind my office for a few seconds trying to grasp what was going on. Hastily penned and blown-out notes in my left hand, a smoking bird’s leg in my right, my naked legs and scrunched undergarments a wee bit lower, and ol’ cranky Gurptshonis standing over me with flames and smoke blocking out the sky behind her head. I will admit that this image haunted my dreams for weeks to come.
It was quickly replaced by pants. My pants.
“Still running around with no pants on? You nothing!”
And the sound of my lovely wife.
A crowd was gathering to watch my office burn, a victim of a dive-bombing of enflamed postal-carrying birds. No one was rushing in to save anything and I saw a few kids running around playing tag with burning sticks. Flames don’t hurt us too much though prolonged exposure still isn’t a good idea. Gurptshonis could have dragged me out with her bare hands with no ill effect, but she and that hook of hers had a romance that was fit to write an encyclopedia entry about.
“They know there’s nothing to save, Henry. Put your pants on.”
Olivia Birns, my wife. She must have rushed to my rescue when she heard the crashing of the birds and fetched new pants to save me further embarrassment. Must be fixin' to invite me back home and she'd carry my suitcase herself. I stuffed the pockets of my thrown pants with what I was holding, put them on, and rose up to thank my wife for her love.
“This is our Hive-Lord, the great Henry Bother,” she called out to the crowd. “And this”, a triumphant finger point, “is his contribution to the community, going up in flames.” No one said a thing. The kids stopped playing.
“How many of you have benefited from our Hive-Lord’s guidance, his tutelage of our children? How many of your spawn have answered one of his questions, graduating from the grubs they are now to the farmers, scholars, and leaders of tomorrow?” Still, no one said a thing. I didn’t really like the way she was building me up. I resolved to help her with that for the next time.
“Every town and city has a Hive-Lord. Every child needs one to assert their readiness to enter society. Every child requires that push, that gumption, to answer a Hive-Lord’s question and show that, yes!, they are not bottom feeders! But Henry Bother, my husband...”, she laughed. Probably remembering the day we met. It was right after I came to town to replace Sakadamas: she had come by the office as I was moving in, with a bowl of her homemade sou...
“He hasn’t done a thing for our children, has he? Oh, he’s asked me plenty of questions: where’s his this, what’s that doing there, Livvy-lovey I’m hungry!” Scorn was hardening her features and by golly I knew I should have stepped in and planted one on her face, but Gurptshonis had hooked me again as she nodded along in agreement to what I was beginning to think wasn’t my wife’s expression of adoration.
One of the kids started to cry. It was that Eduard person again.
“A week ago, I ended the relationship with my husband. He has yet to sign his papers, has yet to foot the bill for the badge extrication”, wait, what?, “just as he has as yet to provide our children with a way to become the men and women they need to be. TransAvian's mishaps have given us an opportunity to request a new Hive-Lord!” There were some agreeing murmurs and something crossed the kids’ faces which better not have been hope.
“You want questions?” I had had enough. I loved Liv, but this reverse psychology of hers was having the opposite effect on those assembled. Could the flames of my office excite the simmerings of the past week into a boil? With the loss of my notes, my margins, a clean slate of questions, nay, demands, starting bubbling forth.
“I’ll give you questions!”, I yelled. The ire in my gullet threatened to become the same indigestion and acid that my wife flung so freely. I backed slowly away from the crowd which felt like it was closing in. The nearness of the fire warmed my carapace and I imagined myself a revelatory sight, arms outstretched, crazed look in my eye, flames and burning birds and building behind me.
“Why is my office on fire?”, I pointed to a yellow striped kid on my left.
“What branch of TransAvian is responsible?”, to one on my right whose mandibles were hanging open in a stunned silence.
“What’s the longest way to stall a badge extrication?” Oh, I was getting in the mood now, and the parents of the kid on the receiving end of my accusatory fingers gasped slightly. My wife’s eyes narrowed and I took a small delight in it. Reverse psychology, when properly applied, works. I began to giggle!
“And”, I paused for dramatic effect, the only sound the crackling of flames, the splintering of beams of my once-office, and shouted “WHITHER MY MISSING PANTS!?” I had saved the best for Menford (Lenvard? I really must figure out his name). Every day he had come to my office, every day he had sat there waiting for acknowledgement. I had seen the most hope in his eyes during my wife’s ranting and it veritably tickled me to see it dashed away so.
I stood there victorious, my wife surely awed at these questions that had come so easily. I had promised her I’d give out some doozies, and doozies given I had!
If memory serves, that’s when my office collapsed on top of me.