Circus Madness: A Novella: (Part Four)
Collaborators: Me, the wingedcentaur, and my friend Doc LS (aka "Moppet")
He could not get clear guidance on these matters. Some people said that the animals were from Earth,our dimension, but that they had been the pets of human beings. Somehow the humans who had come here, had brought their animals with them. And the journey to this place had somehow produced an effect that had conflated, that was the word most often used, "conflated" their consciousness.
Some said that the animals were from different planets or dimensions, were beings we think of as animals were indeed sentient and articulate. Were there humans at these places, and were they the slaves of the "animals?" In any event, most of the inhabitants of Kwaljuk were long term residents of the dimension. They have chosen to stay here.
Why, George wanted to know. Because this place was more agreeable to them than the place they had come from, came the answer. How did such a preposterous society come to be developed, George asked. The consensus response that came back to him was that the original voyagers, who had come to this place, had created the best, most coherent civilization that they could given their disparate natures, species, states of mind, cultures, languages, places of origin, etc. Moreover, most of his fellow inmates, despite their prisoner status, -- those that still remembered where they came from -- believed that Kwaljuk was no more absurd than any other society that ever was.
George would never learn everything, would never have all of his questions answered. He really didn't want to hang around long enough to get them answered. Therefore he applied himself with industry to the projectof escape. He put all of the hard work ethic, all the courage, all the resourcefulness, all the vision, all the true grit, blah, blah, blah, that had seen him rise to the top of the financial world, blah, blah, blah.
During his stay at prison he had become reasonably skilled in the ways of smuggling contraband and the surreptitious manufacture of weapons and other devices. He made a convincing effigy of himself which he put in his bed, as though he were sleeping. He built a crude stun weapon capable of delivering a charge that could penetrate the thick hide of a panda bear.
He had used smuggled silverware and a battery he had put together with various materials, and which had been helped in no small part by the unusually high alkaloid content of the toilet bowl water. He had acquired various things he needed to create a panda bear disguise. He mixed the dyes in the toilet bowl and had gotten his hands on mounds of down stuffing from his and other inmates mattresses and pillows.
The help he got from others and the materials he acquired with their help had not come for free. His money was no good in this dimension and he was obviously not connected with any smuggling network of desired substances. George Sanders had traded on the only asset he had and he had done things he'd rather not think about.
When the time came he yelled for a guard. He was squirming on the floor, feigning illness. He needed to get a doctor, a hospital. He was dying. He was sure. The guard came in to investigate and George zapped him with a lethal burst from the homemade stun device.
George had gotten some other help with the security camera in his cell. He didn't know the details but the monitor back at the guard station was showing nothing irregular at all, just George Sanders in slumber. He simply rolled the panda corpse under his bed and walked out of his cell.
No need to hurry, he strutted around like he owned the place. Once outside he kept walking when one of the panda called out to him, "Officer."
"Sir," George said with a good approximation of the panda accent and saluting crisply as he had seen them do.
The other guard pointed to a car with a bound human in the back seat. "You're supposed to be transporting the prisoner to Sector Seven. Get a move on."
"Right," George said, saluting.
He found the human being in the back seat to be a little simple-minded.
"Alright, buddy," George said once they were on the move, "this is your lucky day. We're gonna get out of here."
The prisoner smiled and clapped his hands together. "Get out of here. Get out of here. Get out of here. Get out of here. Get out of here."
In his old life, a thousand years ago, it seemed, George would have become impatient. But there was no getting around the fact that he, George Sanders, heroic Wall Street legend, was dressed in a panda bear suit, driving a car.
He was surprised but not shocked to find that the road he traveled on seemed to be made of yellow bricks. Why not?
But as they drove George started recognizing certain landmarks repeating themselves. They passed Kwaljuk General Libraray three times. The Kwaljuk General Fire Department four times. The Kwaljuk General Police Department five times. Etc., etc.
Most distressing of all, George kept seeing Ringmaster Zanzibar -- the midget ringleader of the circus troupe who had started all of this -- at certain intervals, standing by the roadside, brushing his teeth. Once, twice, thrice, a thousand times. This reminded him of something. What was it?
The thing was, the guy didn't spit. The toothpast foam was spilling out of his mouth, running down his chin, and getting into his mustache and beard. But he just kept brushing in a quick, frantic motion. When George pointed this out to his passenger, the man said, "Man brushing his teeth. Man brushing his teeth. Man brushing his teeth," and clapped his hands.
Hours went by and they had made absolutely no progress. "Turn left," the man in the back said. "Turn left."
"There is no left," George said. "No right either, come to think of it. The road only goes straight."
"Turn left anyway. Maybe you're supposed to turn left anyway."
George gave the wheel a sharp turn to the left. And they were airborne.
George yelled, "Awwww."
The man in the back whooped and hollered as though this were a fun amusement park ride. "Wheee."
"Hey," George said, "we're not falling."
"Doh!" the man in the back said, clearly disappointed.
Should I stay or should I go? As the song says.
George decided to go. "Come on. Jump out of the car," he said.
They watched the car continue to float away. Where was it going? Who knew?
They had been low enough so that when they jumped nothing got broken. They got up and George saw Ringmaster Zanzibar brushing his teeth. George grabbed the simpleton by the hand and took off running.
By this time George's absence and the body of the panda bear jailer had been discovered. An all points bulletin, a wanted dead or alive alert was put out on him. George and the simple-minded man ran.
They ran through a farmer's fied -- kind of looked like amber waves of grain. They were pursued by a World War Two era bomber plane, flown by two clowns. Once clown was at the controls while the other clown threw exploding custard pies at them.
They ran through a park. When they passed a group of boys playing Frisbee, one of the lads got the disk and shouted to George, "He mister. Heads off!"
The boy threw the disk at George's head and of course razor sharp blades popped out of the rim. When George had ducked just in time, the disk of death had sliced off a thick branch of a nearby mighty oak tree.
They ran through the outer grounds of a busy, crowded mega mall. There was one particular woman pushing a baby carriage. The hood of the carriage went back and a baby, yes, baby, sat up holding a Mac-10 machine gun in either hand, firing at George and his companion. The woman fired at them with a sawed off shotgun.
George and the simple-minded man escaped these perils, somehow, and found temporary refuge in a drainage ditch. There, George grumbled. He grumbled about the incomprehensively nonsensical nature of the situation in general. He found time to grumble about his life in the real world, about feeling trapped, about feeling unable to express who he truly was, about the constraints on his freedom.
He grumbled about having been bullied by his wife into taking a Saturday off to go to the silly circus with his family. And once they had gotten there to find no circus, what had George had to endure? The one thing he hated more than circuses -- orchestral music.
He grumbled about feeling unappreciated by his family, all the sacrifices he made for them to give them the good life. Especially since the good life came at the expense of his not fulfilling his own dreams.
After high school George had wanted to study photography and fashion design. But his iron-willed mother would have none of it. So he went to Ivy League schools and studied economics and busines administration, cheating on exams and buying term papers.
His mother had practically forced him to marry Sandra. Just because the two of them had known each other since childhood. Just because Sandra had always liked George very much, far and away above every other little boy in their posh country club social set. Just because she always had loved him, always pined for him. Though he had done nothing encourage it.
When George had made a serious threat to live his own life, his mother had responded by threatening to deploy the nuclear option, as it were. She said that she would disown him and cut him completely out of her will. George had known his mother meant what she said, and the threat had cowed him, as she'd known it would.
One thing George Sanders had always been was windy. Now his grumbling became situation-specific. He grumbled about his son laughing at him and accusing him of killing Bobo. He grumbled about being sprayed with pepper spray by that clown; and about he, George Sanders, a rich and important white man in America, being given the Rodney King treatment by all those cops.
He grumbled about the bogus charges and prison. He grumbled about the trial and the kangaroo judge and his court-appointed lawyer and her cockamamie appeal scheme. He grumbled about the dopey assassins that had been sent after him after he had made his escape. He might yet actually be killed by a custard pie!
George was the grumbliest grumbler that ever grumbled. Finally he got on to grumbling about that douche bag Zanzibar, showing up everywhere brushing his teeth.
At the mention of this particular motiff, the simple-minded man, whose name turned out to be Derek, by the way, -- and who had become more and more coherent the more time he spent with George -- became inquisitive.
"You know," George said, "that midget with the mustache bigger than him, showing up every mile or so brushing his teeth."