"You ever heard of something called a siesta?"
"Siesta? Yeah, sure, I guess."
"You know what a siesta is?"
"Well, um, I think so. It’s like a nap or something, right?"
"Yep. You got it. It’s a nap or rest that one takes in Latin America or Spain after eating."
"Okay, sure. That makes sense."
"Do you know why they have siestas after eating?"
Though I was busy running through a graveyard, I thought for a second. "No, I guess I don’t really know."
"Well, it’s so that we won’t do this." And with that, the chicken quesadilla that I’d had for lunch slugged me in the gut. Hot sauce vapor burped past my lips and my ears popped as I went into a controlled roll.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t a controlled roll. It was more like a graceful ballet dance move.
No, not really, it wasn’t.
A gymnastic spiral?
Um. A tumbler’s spin?
Okay, okay. The truth is, I doubled over in mid stride, my legs collapsing weakly, and stumbled into the sorcerer who was running next to me. He shoved back roughly, causing me to lose all control, trip over a tombstone from a guy who died in 1967, and skid face first into some ragweed missed by the cemetery’s groundskeeper.
I’m allergic to ragweed.
I rolled over, my nose and eyes already itching. "Aw, damn it!"
"You okay, Guy?"
I glared at Thurman. "Why’d you shove me?"
He looked hurt. "I didn’t shove you. You banged into me."
"I didn’t bang into you. I fell into you."
He was sweating profusely. Guess black Goth garb isn’t the best thing to wear when you’re expending unnecessary and excess amounts of energy.
The grass was nicely manicured and comfortable, so I rolled over and rubbed my nose.
"Dude, we have to get out of here," he said.
I sneezed but didn’t move. "All right, Thurman. Do you want to tell me where we’re going?" Something jabbed into my side. A television remote. My travel bag was lying against a tree, its contents strewn over the grass. The remote had likely spilled from the bag, which he’d packed in our rush to leave the house. "And why was this in my bag?"
He gave me a look. "Which do you want to know?"
"Which question? You asked two."
"Oh, uh. Let’s start with…what’s going on? Why are we running?"
"Those are new questions," he accused. "Now you’re up to four. How am I supposed to answer four different questions at once?"
I sighed. I knew better than to get into that argument. So with that really patient voice that parents use to cover up their irritation when talking to a naughty toddler I said, "So, think. You busted into the house swirling purple smoke and yelling ‘they’re here,’ and something about a Quest. Do you remember that?"
"And like big dummies, we dropped our beers, left the stereo on, and ran up into the graveyard. Are we in agreement?"
"Well, yeah, I guess so…"
"And my beer is dying of warmth right now and I’m not there to save it."
"And I got tripped up and landed on my face."
"So the question really is, why am I here right now?’" I sneezed again. A string of gook spewed onto my hand. Gross. I wiped it on the grass. My eyes were watering from the ragweed.
"Oh, that question."
Two panting figures ran up. Knob and Seth.
Knob immediately flopped onto the grass and made himself comfortable. Knob’s an elf. Well, not really, but don’t tell him that.
The other one was my little brother Seth. Yeah, I was letting him tag along. He isn’t too bad as little brothers go.
"So, guys. Why’d you stop? We were running really fast. I was keeping up with Knob really well!" Seth exclaimed.
"I’m trying to figure out why we were running in the first place," I said.
"Exercise, wasn’t it? Weren’t we just working out?" Knob asked. He plucked a piece of ragweed and chewed on a leaf. I winced.
"Uh, no, Knob. If you’ll recall, you and I were having a nice cold beer together when numbnuts here came running in yelling and screaming."
Thurman looked hurt. "I’m not a numbnuts."
"Fine, you’re not a numbnuts. You are a goof, though."
"I think Thurman is pretty neat. He can do magic and wears black, and all that stuff," Seth said rapid-fire. His words practically tripped over themselves in their haste to get out of his mouth.
"Dude, what’s wrong with you?" Knob asked him.
Seth had a manic look on his face. "I only had four words in the last book. I have all kinds of making up to do. I’m going to keep talking until I have something to say."
"Whoa. Dude. Slow down. I get the feeling you’ll get more opportunity this time. Just take it easy."
"Ignore him. He’s a teenager. Besides, there’s always the ‘delete’ key," said Seth’s big brother, who’s had a lot of practice ignoring his little brother, though I still feel kind of bad about it once in a while.
< Delete > responded Seth, his lips going a mile a minute.
"There, see. Okay, now what was I saying?"
Thurman looked scared. "Look, guys, I don’t like being in the open like this. Let’s get under cover somewhere and talk about this."
I glared at him. "We were under cover. You’re the reason we’re out of cover."
He turned red. "Sorry. I don’t think clearly when I’m freaking out."
"When do you think clearly?"
"Look, I’m sorry. But this is serious! We can’t be in the open!" His eyes darted around. He grabbed them and plugged them back in.
"Fine. We can visit the Warrior. Her house is right here." I gestured.
Knob brightened. "Yeah, let’s go there. I haven’t seen her in a while."
Thurman nodded. "I’d feel safe there. That works for me, too."
Seth said something else, but it was deleted again by our helpful writer.
I stood up, sneezed, and brushed crushed grass off my knees. "Okay, let’s go. Knob, would you spit that stuff out?"
Knob spit out a green glob of munched up ragweed.
Then I sneezed again.
"Bless you," Thurman said.
"Bless you," Knob said.
< Delete > Seth said.
< Delete >
"Would you guys—"
"Bless you," they chimed in unison.
All but Seth, who said, < Delete >
"—please stop saying—"
"Bless you. Bless you," < Delete >, they sang.
"—‘bless you’ every time I—"
"Bless you," they chorused.
"—sneeze!" I glared at my three blessers, my nose running like a marathoner.
They looked back with wide-eyed innocence.
Then Knob said, "You’re supposed to say, ‘thank you’ when someone blesses you."
"I’m not thanking you!"
"You’re welcome," he said.
Thurman interrupted, "Why do we bless someone after they sneeze?"
"Yeah, I never thought of that," Knob said.
"We don’t bless people when they cough, right?" Thurman said.
"Or make that noise under your armpit."
"It came from the late 500 AD," I said. Now my nose was lacing up a pair of Nikes.
"What do you mean?" Thurman wondered.
"Hang on, I have it here," Knob said, having pulled a book from somewhere.
"Where’d you get that boo—"
"Hey, check it out," he said. "People used to think that your soul leaves your body when you sneeze, leaving it open for evil spirits."
"Wow! Evil spirits," Thurman said.
"And before that, they thought your heart stopped when you sneezed, and since you were dead for second, you needed to be blessed."
"You think that’s why you can’t keep your eyes open when you sneeze?" Knob asked. "That way you can’t see your soul leaving?"
"You can’t see your soul at all. C’mon, let’s get out of this stuff," I snarled.
We went down the hill, and as we got closer we heard excited kid-chatter. Kid-chatter is that very weird noise that comes from mixing growth hormones with an overabundance of sugar. It reminded me of hyped up African honeybees attacking a wild boar.
The graveyard backed up to the Warrior’s backyard, so we walked around the pool to the deck. The pool’s surface was roiling and frothing as if there were frenzied piranhas feeding underneath. Suddenly, there was an eruption of water, and the top of a kid popped out with an orange floatable noodle, squealing with delight.
The urchin saw us and flashed bright white teeth from a sun browned face. "Hi, Knob!"
Knob’s face lit up. "Sean, little man. Howsup?"
Another brown body catapulted out of the water. "Knob!"
"Hey, Kris. Que Pasa?" He grinned.
"Man, how do you tell them apart?" I said sourly.
Knob slid me a look. "Not my fault if you can’t tell a girl from a boy, kemosabe."
"Just go on in," Kris said. Or Sean. I didn’t know which, and I wasn’t going to hazard a guess. If I had had the right angle to see their swimsuits, I might have figured it out.
"Gracias, Chiquita," Knob said, and pulled the sliding glass door open. The twins slipped like otters back into the water.
We followed Knob into the house and found ourselves in the dining room.
Well, we didn’t ‘find’ ourselves there. We knew exactly where we were and we weren’t lost, so we couldn’t ‘find’ ourselves in the dining room. If we had been lost, it might have been a revelation. But we weren’t…so it wasn’t. Rather, let’s say when we thought about where we were, we realized we were in a dining room.
Uh, okay, sorry. Enough nitpicking. Sometimes I get pretty upset over the abuse of the English language, as amended by Americans and slaughtered by many.
"Hey, boys, how are you?" the Warrior asked from the kitchen. The dining room and kitchen were separated by a tall counter and bar stools.
"Hey, Warrior, what’s shaking?" Thurman chirped.
Then he turned white, most likely considering, first, what could shake on our curvaceous friend, and second, whether she would accept this kind of casual buddy-buddy salutation.
"Oh, er... I’m uh…" he managed, choking over the words.
She smiled and Knob and I took this as permission to let the hair on our necks fall back into normal position.
"Actually, I’m not the Warrior anymore," she said pleasantly.
"Oh, yeah, that’s right. You take on a new name for every quest," Knob exclaimed.
"So you aren’t Buford either?" Seth asked.
"Nope, neither one," she said, casually walking around the counter from the kitchen. Actually, she wasn’t exactly walking. I won’t tell you what she was doing quite yet, so I don’t ruin the surprise.
"Whoa!" I said.
"Whoa!" Thurman said.
…well, you get the point. We all said "whoa."
All except Seth, who said, <Delete>
What you don’t know is why we said "whoa." It wasn’t because all of a sudden we were riding horses, because we weren’t. It was a simple declaratory statement of awe and profound interest uttered by that dumber and less expressive half of humanity…guys.
You see, when the Warrior, or whatever she was known as now, came around the counter, three things preceded her. We were familiar with two of them, Mounts Left and Right. Our memories of these two peaks of pleasure had been burned permanently into our retinas during our first adventure with her.
But now, her mammary twins had somehow increased from their already ponderous proportions of gravity defying wonderfulness. That means that they got bigger.
It was what was beneath them that almost—but not quite—made us lose interest in her twins. And it was what made it so that she wasn’t walking. She was waddling.
About the size of a cantaloupe. Ha ha, just kidding. More like a cantaloupe on steroids.No, a cantaloupe on the steroid of steroids. No. More like, well, you get the point. It wasn’t a teeny thing.
She grinned at our reactions.
"You’re…uh…wow," Thurman exclaimed.
"Yeah, you could say that," she said. She looked down and stroked her belly like the proud winner of a beer drinking contest.
"So, uh, when are you, like, due?" Knob asked
"Oh, a few more months yet. But let’s sit down. I shouldn’t be standing all that much right now."
We filed into the living room and took over the chairs. Knob claimed an armchair and draped over it like an octopus. Knob is a sprawler. He won’t stand if he can sit. He won’t sit if he can lie down. He leans, lays, slumps, lies…well, no, he doesn’t lie. He’s pretty honest. But his favorite position is not vertical. Horizontal is more his game.
"What do you mean, a few more months? It looks like you’re about ready to go," Thurman said.
"Well, you know me. It’s going to be twins again," she said, a grim set to her mouth.
The Warrior already had three sets of twins. And that doesn’t include her personal twins. All because of the double uterti that gave her awesome powers of double PMS for almost a quarter of each month.
"Hey, guys, she isn’t going to be able to come with us," Thurman said quietly, his face tragic.
"Who says we’re going anywhere?" I shot at him.
"Why don’t you boys tell me what’s going on?" she said, curiosity etched on her face.
We turned our gazes to Thurman.
"Oh, well. It’s like this… Um, it’s going to sound silly."
"Like we haven’t heard that before," I said.
"Be nice," the Warrior admonished.
"Okay, look…it’s like this," he stammered.
Seth waved his hand until he had everyone’s attention.
< Delete >
Everyone looked at him and he pointed at a pad of paper and a pencil on the table.
"What’s wrong with him?" the Warrior asked.
"Ah, he, well, kind of pissed off our writer," Knob said.
"Let’s say that he can’t speak right now," I told her.
"Oh, that’s horrible! He couldn’t speak during our adventure last year, either. Do you need to write something down?" she asked him.
Seth nodded vigorously.
"By all means, go ahead," she told him.
He grabbed the pen and paper and started scribbling.
We all waited with interest.
Well, not Knob. He was staring vacuously into space. And Thurman was covertly looking at the Warrior’s belly. Meanwhile, she was looking out the back window, monitoring her sharks, er, kids. And me, I was, uh…I don’t know. Thinking or something.
You get the point. We weren’t paying attention at all. But we’re college kids, so what do you expect? Well, not the Warrior, who was simply being parentally vigilant.
Seth got up and handed the paper to her.
"Let’s see," she said, reading, "If I promise to settle down, may I please have the power to speak normally back?"
She looked up. "That sounds reasonable. And he said ‘may,’ so that has to count for something."
"Yeah, like Mom would let him get away with saying, ‘can,’" I said.
"So who do we talk to about this?" she asked.
"Oh, I can take care of that," Thurman said. "Can I have my remote back?"
"You mean, ‘may I,’" the Warrior interrupted.
"The remote? What do you want my remote for?" I asked.
"Oh, that’s not your remote. It’s mine."
"What did you bring your remote to my house for?"
"I sorta upgraded my wand."
He reached over and snagged the remote from my bag. He pointed it at Seth and touched a button.
< Delet… "…not working. Hey! It worked! I can talk again!"
"Remember your promise," Thurman admonished him.
"Okay, okay. Sorry, I’ll settle down."
Seth shut up but sat grinning like a maniac.
"What are you talking about, you ‘upgraded’ your wand?" Knob asked Thurman.
"This is my new wand," Thurman said, brandishing the remote.
"A television remote? Your wand is a remote?" I scoffed.
"It worked on your brother, didn’t it?"
"What’d you do? Hit the ‘mute’ button?" Knob asked.
"You can’t use a remote as a wand," I sneered.
"I don’t know," the Warrior said. "Guys and remotes…that’s a pretty powerful combination. And he is a sorcerer, after all."
"He’s not a sorcerer," I shot.
"Guy, he is a sorcerer." The Warrior glared me down.
"I don’t know, guys. He’s the Unbeliever, you know," Thurman said.
"Huh?" Knob said.
"The Unbeliever," Thurman repeated.
"So what, I don’t get it," Knob asked.
"I’ve been thinking about it. His powers of unbelief might be significant, even powerful."
"What the heck are you talking about! I’m not an unbeliever!"
"Whoa, you’re right," Knob’s eyes were bright with wonder.
"I’ve been thinking that if he started believing stuff, he might actually become a believer and lose his powers of unbelief, or worse," Thurman explained.
"What powers of unbelief?" I snarled.
The Warrior’s furrow was creased with thought. "You mean like if he unbelieves something that isn’t true, it becomes true?"
"Or vice versa. Who knows how his powers might end up manifesting themselves?" Thurman acknowledged.
"Like my powers of Esquire, right?" In our last adventures, Knob had acquired the powers of Esquire, which gave him the ability to read attorney-speak and converse with attorneys.
"Exactly! Why his powers might be incredibly vast, but so subtle we can’t understand what affect he has on events."
"I don’t have any powers," I raged.
A wind suddenly blew through the living room knocking over knick-knacks, paddy-wacks, brics and bracs, and other stuff artfully arranged around the room as temptations for little kids to destroy.
A silence fell over us as we all were likely considering how amazing this was since the windows were closed tightly and the kids were outside.
"Wow," Seth said in a small voice. "Please don’t ‘unbelieve’ me, okay?"