Adventures in the Science of Imagipology
The third Dotty story by Russell Rosander
Gol-dang it! That yellow, pink headed, son-of-a-bitch pencil hides from me every time I wanna use the damned thing!”
Dotty, my imaginary wife, was watchin’ me with a look of pure, unadulterated bemusement on her face. I was riflin’ through the pile of clutter on the table like a dog lookin’ for a bone he buried when he was six months old. Books, papers, notebooks, bottles of bug spray, rolls of tape you can’t get unstuck to start, old grocery receipts and empty asprin packets were flying in the air. I’d been accumulatin’ this stuff for nearly a month and I wasn’t ready to clear it off and start over yet. I know most people would look at it with the same look of disgust they would use on a pile of pig manure, but I consider it a livin’, growin’, work of art wellin’ up out of the bowels of creation.
Dotty calmly walked over, picked up my pencil from in front of my eyes and handed it to me.
Five minutes later, when she was back to mindin’ her own business again, she was jerked back to attention by me yellin’ “Aw Sheet! Gol-dangit! Now where are my glasses!”
I think imaginary women reside in a different part of the landscape of the mind where men do. Somewhere closer to where memory lives. Nearer to the subconscious where the shadowy light of the moon illuminates better than the blinding glare of the sun. I finally gave in and asked.
“Ok, Dotty. Have you seen my glasses anywhere?”
“All you had to do was ask.” She said as she picked them up and handed them to me. I had left them by the cutting board in the kitchen when I was cutting up a tomato.
I had to admit it. Whether I’m just getting’ old or I smoked too much pot when I was younger, I was getting’ more absent minded than a brain fried egg lately. Dotty says it happens when I’m not paying enough attention to her, but I think it’s just a case of temporary befuddlement caused by the afternoon heat.
I´d watered the whole damn garden, bucket at a time yesterday before comin’ in and takin’ a nap. When I got up and looked outside this mornin´, the first thing I noticed was that half of the cilantro was lookin’ like it needed Viagra. I thought it had a disease or something until I felt the dust they were trying to grow in. Even I was startin’ to think I was getting’ kinda pathetic.
Maybe I was just turnin´ into a hopless old fool.” I thought. “Here I was livin´ more inside my imagination than I was out of it without a pot to piss in. What have I got anyway, well, there´s Dotty. But she´s imaginary as all get out and even she seemed like she was too good for me sometimes. Heck, maybe I oughta just turn into a hermit and save everybody a lotta trouble. Go live in a cave somewhere…..”
“Dang,” I thought, “I need to cut out all this self-denigration crap. It’s not healthy. It’s plain negative thinkin’. Feelin´ sorry for your self is just plain disgustin´.”
I decided to go over to Vivian’s Tienda and Internet Café to type up some more of the story I´d finished yesterday and check my e-mail.
Then, I stepped out the door and tripped over a water bucket and nearly fell on an asparagus fern. I reassembled what was left of my dignity the best I could and headed down the dirt road hopin’ Dotty hadn’t heard the commotion.
Vivian never denigrates me. He probly gets more than enough denigratin’ himself considerin´. Vivian is an unabashed transvestite. Maybe he’s just gotten used to bein’ denigrated and doesn’t pay it any mind to it anymore.
I got out my notebook and set it up by the computer screen then reached into my pocket for my glasses……….Nothin’ there. Dang! Was I havin´ a bad day or what?
I tried stretchin’ and distortin’ my eyeballs for a few minutes tryin’ to read an e-mail and gave up. I paid Vivia for the five minutes and bought an ice cream sandwich hopin´ it would make me feel better and ate it on my way home.
I guess it’s really nothin’ new. My mother used to say I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my shoulders. On some days, she was a pretty good self-denigrater herself. Whenever she flubbed up somethin’, she would say, “I think before I was born and they were passin’ out brains, I thought they said trains and told ‘em I didn’t need any!”
I made myself somethin’ to eat and checked re-e-e-e-e-al careful to make sure I turned off the stove and sat down with Dotty to eat it.
“You know,” she said, “ I think we oughta do something together, like take a trip. That might get you outta this rut you seem to be in.”
I’m thinkin´ takin’ a trip with Dotty usually means somthin´ like takin’ an acid trip without the drugs. But, I looked up at her wary like and asked her, “Where would you like to go?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “I’d just like to do somethin’ with you. I’ll think about it and tell you later.”
A few seconds later she said to me, “Well, I still haven’t decided where I want to go, but I know how we can get there.”
“Un-huh, how´s that?” I asked.
“Well, we can go down to the old airport on the back road to Barra and wait for a plane!”
I couldn’t think of anything to say. Here I´d been worryin´ about my own absent mindedness and poor Dotty had gone around the bend.”
“Dotty, the only time that strip is used by planes is when they do a little crop dustin´ around here. It´s just part or the old road between El Aguacate and Barra de Navidad. The only thing we could catch there is the bus into town.”
“Don’t be silly.” She said. “We can catch a bus into town anytime. I´m talkin´ about a plane. Not a real plane, but an imaginary plane. It could take us anywhere. They can even go backwards and forwards in time.”
Considerin´ that Dotty is my imaginary wife, I had to consider the possibility. “You mean we could fly back in time and I could introduce you to some of my old friends?”
“Well, that might not be such a good idea. We might upset the time continuum or sumpthin´. We shouldn’t go back to any real place cause you wouldn’t even know I was there. I was dormant during that part of your life.”
“Dormant? You mean, you were asleep inside my head all that time?”
“Not all the time. When you were a teenager, you used to keep me hid under your mattress so your mother wouldn’t find me.”
“Those were dirty magazines!”
“Uh-huh. But we can go lots of other places in the past. We could go to Africa and hang out with Tarzan and Jane.”
I was feelin´ a bit stunned. Sorta like I´d just whopped on the side of my head. Of course, we can imagine anything. We just kinda don’t want to most of time. But the fact that I had imagined Dotty had made my life a lot more interestin´ than it was before. It sounded kinda loony but i´ts true. I´d been thinkin´ about maybe a bus tour to Mexico City or the pyramids, but I didn’t have any money and then I thought “An imaginary trip doesn’t cost anythin´!”
“Why don’t we sleep on it and decide in the morning.” She suggested.
I could hear the theme song of “The Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” simultaneously playin´ in my head.
In the cold, hard, light of morning, the whole idea seemed a lot less feasible again. It was sorta, well, “unreal” to say the least. Dotty was still as excited as ever. My whole table had been taken over by imaginary travel brochures and all my stuff was set aside.
“Dotty?” I asked. “Do you really think this is gonna work?”
“I don’t really think nothin´. I not really a real person, am I? I´m the creation of a creation. That’s you. I´m just imaginary. Is that what your thinkin´? What counts is, do you believe it´s possible. ´Course, you imagine me, so I think you know it is.” She snuggled up to me and gave me a kiss.
I was softenin´ up on the idea. I still wasn’t convinced, but the more I thought about actually going on this trip, the more nervous I was becomin´. I hoped she wasn’t going to be disappointed if I chickened out.
“So, what if we go on this trip and somethin´ terrible happens and we never make it back? I kinda like livin´ in Barra in the old ´71 Landyacht. Look at that guy who went to Shangrla after crashing in the Himalayas who almost didn’t get back and his girlfriend shriveled up and turned to dust on the way out”
“Of course we´d make it back, knuckle-head!. We´d make it back because you´d want to make it back. Plus, I ain´t a million years old. Quit worryin´ so much.”
I didn’t want to be the one to disappoint her, but this just had to be a bunch of nonsense. “No plane was ever gonna land on that old airstrip. This was one of Dotty´s wild fantasies”, I thought.
“You know, I don´t think I want to pick a specific place to go. I think it would be more fun justa see where we end up. It´ll be more of an adventure that way. Sorta just take off into the unknown,” Dotty was tellin´ me.
I ´d been driftin´ into a fantasy of my own – The unknown. The Star Trek theme song started to play from somewhere, I started imaginin´ Klingons and Quarks and fazers that´ll either stun ya or dissinigrate you into sparkly dust.
“Ok, you ready?” she asked.
“Don’t we have to pack or somethin´? Don’t we have things to do before we go? I don’t want to go somewhere unprepared.” I´m doin´ backflips tryin´ to think of something to cause a delay. “It´s startin´ to get kinda hot already. Maybe we outta wait till tomorrow. Don’t we have to go to the store to get some food to take with us? Do I need to take a jacket?………”
“Course not. This is an imaginary trip. We can just imagine anything we need along the way. We´ll just sorta live off the ethereality!” she told me.
I´d run out of excuses. The only thing left to do was to trust Dotty. After all, she was an expert in the field of imaginism.
“Ok. What do we do now. Just start walkin´ down to the old airstrip?”
“Heck no! Are you crazy? We can´t leave your real body there. Somebody´d pick you up and put you in a mental institution and we might not ever find you again after we got back. We need to leave it here where it´ll be safe. Have you ever seen yourself sittin´ in that chair while your mind is somewhere else! Quit pretendin´ you don’t know what I´m talkin´ about. Just lock the door and sit down and start imaginin´ us walkin´ down there.”
I sat down and closed my eyes. There we were, walkin´ past the cemetery. A bus passed us goin´ the other way.
“What are we supposed to do now. Just stick out our thumbs and hope a plane stops for us?”
“Course not! No one can see us anyway. We´re imaginary. Just sit down and wait. And so, that´s what we did.
After an hour, four busses had gone by, but no planes. My butt was gettin´ sore from sittin´ on a rock. I kept thinkin´ about my real body, sittin´ in a comfortable chair outta the sun in the ol´ Landyacht. I was startin´ to think I´d been sold a package of goods. I just knew there wasn’t gonna be no airplane landin´ on this airstrip. It was ridiculous. I was startin´ to feel bad for Dotty cause she was gonna be so disappointed.
I finally stood up and said, “Dotty, I don´t think it´s gonna come.”
“Sit down! Of course it´s gonna come!” I felt the breeze comin´ in off the ocean. Then I heard it! It sounded like and old lawn mower, sputterin´ and poppin´ in it´s last death throws. Then I saw it, gliddin´ down towards the old dirt runway.
It was a two seater Autogiro from somewhere around 1939. It had a propeller on it´s nose and a helicopter blade on top for vertical lift offs and landings. I´d made a plastic model of one when I was a kid and had hung it on a string from my bedroom ceiling.
It looked kinda rickety. It didn’t look safe at all, and worst of all it had no pilot. It had got here all by itself and parked right in front of us.
“Ain´t it a beauty!¨ Dotty beamed.
“Dotty! Look at this thing! I´d bet my last dollar that thing wouldn’t make it to the end of the runway judgin´ by the sound of that engine! Besides, it´s only got two seats. Where´s the pilot gonna sit?”
“What pilot. We don’t need no pilot. You´re gonna drive it!”
“What! Are you crazy? I don’t know nothin´ about flyin´ airplanes!”
“It´s easy,” she said. “A ten year old could do it!”
“Well, I´m not doin´ it!”
“Of course you are, Mr. yellow belly, imaginationist, story teller. I dare ya! There´s nothin´ to it!”
I looked at the controls. There wasn’t much to ´em.
“See there?” said Dotty, “That’s the starter button and that’s the off switch. And that’s the control stick. Up is up, down is down, left and right is left and right. Forwards is forwards and all the way back is backwards. Neutral must be in the middle. Piece of Cake!”
She climbed into the back seat and said “Get in!”
I climbed up on the wing and lowered myself into the cockpit. It clunked and rattled as I stepped in. Yellow paint was startin´ to peel off around where the motor should be. It felt like the tires were flat.
“Well?” She asked.
“Well, what?” I asked back.
“Well, start it!”
I gingerly touched the starter button. I whirred for a second and that was it.
“Doesn´t someone have to get out and spin the propeller?” I asked. “Naw, that was the old models. Try it again.”
I touched the button again and suddenly it caught. It startled me and the whole plane started rattlin´. It was backfirin´ and poppin´ and shakin´ like a seven point earthquake. I thought the whole thing was about to fall apart and land in the dirt.
“Smooth out the engine!” Dotty yelled.
“What?” I yelled back. Then I pulled back on the stick hopin´ to kill the engine. We shot out backwards. It felt like we was goin´ sixty. It was shakin´ so bad I could hardly see. I looked back and saw Dotty, hangin´ on and then I saw the orange bus, headin´ straight at us. It wasn’t slowin´ down or movin´ outta the way and neither were we. My eyes musta looked like a couple of pies.
We slammed right into it and I saw the driver flash by, then the passengers. They didn’t even notice as we flew down the aisle and out the back of the bus. Then Dotty was leanin´ over my shoulder and pushed the stick back to the middle. Then she flipped the off switch and we were sittin´ there in the middle of the road.
I lit a cigarette and smoked it down in three puffs. When I could talk, I said “Dotty! If I was in my real body, they´d be pickin´ up pieces of me in Manzanillo.”
“Yeah, but you weren’t. I told you it was safe.”
“No ya didn’t!”
“Well, I thought it. Didn’t ya hear me? Now. Let´s try it again and this time, smooth down the motor.”
“How do you do that?”
“Ya just imagine it runnin´ smoother. This is your story.
“I just ain´t used to bein´ imaginary.
“Of course you are. You´re imaginary half the time. You just forget.”
I pushed the button again and it started right up. The engine started purrin´ like a kitten. I pushed the stick forward a little and we started to roll. Soon we were clippin´ down the runway. When I guessed we were goin´ fast enough, I lifted the stick and we soared up into the sky. I leaned on it a little to the left and we veered around a coconut tree. Soon we was up above all the trees and we could see the lagoon and Barra on the little spit of sand at the mouth. There were houses and hotels and restaurants. We dipped our wings and waved, but I doubt anyone could see us.
We flew out over the ocean. We could see the fishing boats down there, out trollin´ for the big one. Pretty soon, I was fellin´ more confident. I found I could maneuver the plane like it was my own body. All I had to do was think somethin´ and it would do it. Just like a leg.
I tried a few stunt flier tricks showin´ off, rolls and spins and loop the loops. Pretty soon me and Dotty were laughin´ like a couple of kids at a carnival. Carnival is “carne vale”. Medieval Latin for “O flesh, farewell!”
After a while. The wind constantly blowin´ in our faces was makin´ our eyes sore. I wished we had some goggles and “bing” we had ´em and leather hats that covered our ears too. When we got cold, I imagined us some leather flight jackets and scarves that fluttered behind us.
I asked, “If it´s as easy as this, how come more people don´t do it?”
“They’re scared to.” She said. “They think imaginariness is fine for little kids and it’s cute, but as soon as they start goin’ to school, they try to stamp it out of ‘em. They tell ‘em to quit day-dreamin’ and get real. If they make somethin’ up, they tell ‘em it’s bad. They teach ‘em not to trust their imaginations and stick to the facts.
We musta been so high, we were halfway to the moon. We could see all the different countries down there, and each one was a different color. We could see cities, the capitols looked like red dots. Regular cities were black. “Hey, that looks like the globe in Mrs. Beaver’s sixth grade classroom!” It was the one I used to look at daydreamin’ when I was supposed to be conjucatin’ verbs. Dreaming about bein’ somewhere else.
We sailed on through the night. I conjured up a couple of corned beef sandwiches and a couple of mugs of beer, and we ate while watchin’ the stars. From up that high, it seemed like there was twice as many of them. The sky was like an enormous theater curtain with billions of pin prick holes in lt. It made you wonder what kind of light was so bright on the other side.
It seemed so magical, we switched over from Autogiro to magic carpet for a while. We stretched out and laid on our backs makin’ up different constellations than the old astrologers came up with. We imagined everthing from birthday cakes and elephants to Rolls Royce limousines. We even came up with a couple of racey things and laughed like a couple of perverts. I can hear the modern astrologers now. “Ah yes. I can see your moon is in the house of Fornacacia!” or “Yep. You were born under the sign of Copulaticus.”
Around mid-morning on the next day, just as I was feelin’ particularly cocky about my accomplishments in the imagination, the engine started sputterin’ and coughin’ again. I was afraid we were runnin’ outta gas and I started to panic.
“Dotty!” I yelled. “I think were runnin’ outta gas!”
“Well, put some more in the tank!”
“I forgot to bring any extra!”
We started to go into a nose dive. Then the engine completely conked out and we started spinnin’ straight down. The wind was howlin’ past our ears so fast I couldn’t hear anything Dotty was trying to tell me.
“We didn’t bring any parachutes either!” I yelled, but she couldn’t hear me either. My heart popped right outta my throat and was throbbin’ like crazy in front of my eyes. I could see everything on the ground gittin’ bigger and bigger. We were gonna crash.
I woke up on the beach of a river with a headache. My feet were still in the water and my shoes were gone. I wanted a cigarette and reached into my pocket. The whole pack was soppin’ wet. I threw them in the river and watched them float away.
Then I saw Dotty, wadin’ toward the shore and a little ways up, was the Autogiro stickin’ outta the mud and brown water.
“Dang! Some imaginator you are! I thought you were dependable!”
“Dependable!” I hollered back. “When have I ever been dependable! I’ve never been accused of bein’ dependable in my whole life!”
“You sure don’t retain much in that noggin of yours, do you?
“Well, I can’t help it if we ran outta gas! There ain’t no gas gauge on that thing!”
“Well, did you ever think of just imaginin’ that it wasn’t out of gas? Negative thinkin’ can be downright dangerous out here!”
I saw big, yellow, slitted eyes come up outta the water behind her. “Dotty! Run! There’s a gator comin’ up behind you!”
I ran up on the beach and jumped behind a dugout canoe someone had left layin’ there. Dotty calmly waded outta the water and came up to the canoe. The Crocodile swam off.
“What have you got for brains, anyhow! Play-dough!” she yelled. “That crocodile can’t see us. We ain’t real! We’re Imaginary!”
“You mean this is reality?” I asked.
“Could be. Actually, I´m not sure. Looks pretty real.”
I came out from behind the canoe and went and sat down on the beach beside her. We just sat there. I reached into my pocket for a cigarette, but they were gone. Dotty just rolled her eyes.
“Ok, Dr. Livingstone. Just how, exactly do you propose we’re supposed to get home?” she asked.
“I thought you were the expert at navigatin´ the imagination.” I said.
“Me! I´ve never been in a situation like this in my life!”
I looked around. It really was kinda pretty here, though it was a bit hard to appreciate at the moment. There were gorgeous, brightly colored parrots and Macaws flittin’ from tree to tree. Behind a wall of vegetation along the shore, we could hear monkeys playing and chatterin’.
Then we heard the THUMP, thump, thump, thump of drums.
We entered the jungle through an opening in the bushes and started down a narrow path. Everything was kinda dark and eerie in the dappled shadows of the leaves high up in the canopy above. Vines were cats-craddled and hanging everywhere. Huge butterflies and other bugs flitted and hovered around gigantic exotic flowers.
It was everything you could imagine in a jungle, like a quadruple page fold out photo spread in a National Geographic magazine.
Then we saw them and froze. Six or seven naked tattooed men were entering a village in a clearing carrying spears and bows and arrows. They carried braces of birds and small animals on thongs around their waists. The women, also naked were dancing in a circle around a fire while the children beat on logs with sticks. The men joined the women in a circle dance shooting darts tipped with poisonous frog slime from blow guns up into the trees. I have personal experience with frog slime, but that’s a different story.
Red, yellow and blue feathers were bouncin’ around in their bowl cut hairdos as they danced.
“Nice tits.” Said Dotty. “This must be excitin’ for you.”
“Shhhhhhh!” I whispered.
“Why are we whisperin’?” she whispered. “They can’t hear or see us. We’re imaginary…..I think.”
“How can you be sure?” I said, “They look something between National Geographic and the Jungle Book movie to me. What if everything in this whole dang imaginary trip is imaginary, and other imaginary people can hear and see us, ´cause we´re imaginary too.”
“But what if we imagine their real? Then they wouldn’t be able to. Right?” she asked.
“I don´t think you can imagine reality.” I said
“Really? I thought people did it all the time.”
“Uhh…….But look at those poisonous blow dart guns.”
“Hmmm. Maybe your right. We’d better whisper.”
Just then, a loud voice boomed from behind us. “UGHA! UGHA! YOU WHO?”
We spun around to see one of the most ridiculous looking figures we had ever seen. He was painted from head to toe with wild designs in day-glow body-paint. There were flowers painted on his chest and bees were buzzin’ around his nipples. He was wearin’ a paisley Depends diaper. He had a Ronald Mc Donald wig on with feathers stuck in it on his head, and huge pink sun glasses with no lenses. He had a necklace made of Skippy peanut butter jar lids and he was pointing a toy, plastic spear at us.
“You can see us!” We both gasped at once.
“You can see me!” He gasped. “Oh, God!”
We stood there gappin’ at each other.
“But how can you see me?” he asked. “I’m not really here! I mean, I’m only imagining that I’m here. So you must not be real either.”
“We’re imagining we’re here too! Who are you?” we asked.
“My name is Professor Rodric Potsberry Winkletrap. Master of Anthropology, Imagipology, Sexopology and Apology. I came here on an imaginary expedition to study the sexual mores and customs of the Mongo Mongos, who you see there in the village. I came here in 1968 and I never went back home to Gloucester-shire in England.”
“I suppose I´m being inhospitable again. Come with me and I´ll take you to my hut. I´ll make us some tea and we can visit.”
We followed the Professor down a trail through the jungle. Soon, we came to one of the weirdest man-made structures I have ever seen. It consisted of hundreds of umbrellas meant to keep out the tropical rains.
We followed him inside. There was barely anyplace to stand. Junk was piled everywhere and was covered with what looked like…bat droppings. I looked up and could see them hanging from the spokes of the umbrellas. There was also a hammock tied between two umbrella handles. I was full of holes with loose strings hangin´ down everywhere. I wondered how he stayed in it while he slept.
He was fumblin´ around in his stuff, “Dang, I know I put those cups somewhere. It was only a few years ago…..”
“Are these them?” said Dotty as she pointed to three cups hangin´ from one of the umbrellas.
“Oh. Oh! Yes, well, I would have found them eventually. I really didn´t need your help. I´ll just take them to the stream and give them a bit of a rinse.” He walked off muttering to himself.
“Don’t you ever want to go back to the real world?” I asked when the tea was made and we were all sitting around a campfire.
“Oh, heavens no! I’m sure my real body was found and put in an insane asylum years ago. I’d never be able to find it.”
“Don´t you have any family back there?”
“Never had much use for them. Friends either. I don´t really like people very much, except for the Mongo Mongos of course. I just observe them of course. No need to get involved.”
“But what about love,” asked Dotty. “Don´t you love anyone?”
“Not since they put me in jail that time for being a peeping tom…but enough about me. How about the Mongo Mongos. They really are fascinating!”
“Is this the Amazon?” I asked.
“I think so. Actually, I´m not sure. I have an absolutely fascinatin´ theory about how they came to be here too. I´m writing a report on it.”
“How can you be so sure that if the expedition was imaginary, that all the data you sent back isn’t imaginary too?” Dotty asked.
“Well, of course it is. Almost all the expeditions into the jungle were imaginary. Nobody wants to deal with all the mosquitoes. Almost everything in the Scientific Journals is imaginary.”
Dotty looked at me. “We really need to get out of here. This is starting to make sense.”
We said our goodbys and started to walk away, but the Professor kept followin´ behind us. We were walking down the path back to the river. Once the Professor got started, he yammered on incessantly. “Did you know, that the male Mongo Mongo loves nothing better than to wrap his penis in blue leaves and pour a hot, red, sticky substance all over it? The Kama Sutra falls completely short when compared to the Mongo Mongos. I spent years in India studying the Kama Sutra…..The Mongo Mongos like nothing better than to tied by the ankles in trees while monkeys swat their testicles with banana peels and the women jump up and down bouncing their breasts……….”
“It’s amazing Mongo Mongos women can even have babies.” Dotty commented as he followed us down the trail. “Conciderin´ what passes for sex here.”
When we reached the beach, we could see that the current had partially washed the Autogiro out of the mud. We watched as the plane finally broke suction and popped free, shooting mud and fish up into the air. It drifted into an eddy and we ran down the beach to catch it and pull it ashore.
The professor continued to prattle on totally unaware that no one was listening.
“Do you think the motor will still run?” I asked.
“If you want it to.” Replied Dotty “And if you can avoid any more negative thinking until we get home.
We found some coconut shells and started scooping mud out of the plane.
By the time we were done, the Professor was still babbling away at the other end of the beach. He had become something akin to white noise.
We built a fire on the beach and slept snuggled together next to the Autogiro.
All night, the demented Anthropologist babbled on. Now, he had his paisley diaper down around his knees and was demonstrating imaginary Mongo Mongo sexual practices to the moon.
We awoke at dawn and found that the nutty Professor was gone. We did some last minute cleaning of the autogiro and were about to climb in, when one of the natives stepped out of the jungle near the beached dugout canoe, now wearing a loincloth.
“Oh, there you are,” he said, “I was hoping to catch you before you left.”
“You speak English?” Dotty asked.
“That and a bit of Urdu,” he answered. “You see, I´m of Indian extract. My! Is that an autogiro! I haven´t seen one of those since I left England in Nineteen Thirty-nine! Allow me to introduce myself. I´m Robert Punjabi. I´ve been here since the war with my friends. Actually, you´re the first visitors we´ve had here aside from Rodric, the goofy Professor. He came here during the nineteen-sixties.
“Glad to meet you,” I said shakin´ his hand. “I´m Russell and this is my imaginary wife, Dotty. We´re just here on vacation, but we´d love to hear your story. We were just about to make a pot of coffee before taking´ off. You´d be welcome to join us.”
Dotty had already stirred the coals from the last night´s fire and the coffee was just beginning to percolate. We pulled up another log close to the fire and soon we were all sippin´ some delicious French roast Dotty had conjured up.
“Well,” he began, “My friends and I are all the children of servants brought from India in the days of the `empire´. My parent´s employers were good people who sent me to school. I was just about to graduate from Cambridge when the war broke out.”
“You look much younger than you could possibly be,” I commented.
“Well, yes. One of the advantages of living in the imagination,” he said. “I had met several other Indian students in similar situations to mine while in college and we had formed a little group. During the summer, we would go on holiday to the seaside. We had found a little beach that was almost never used and began practicing nudism there.”
“We formed sort of a small nudist colony, I suppose you would call it. We would all go there two or three times a year, sans-clothes and enjoy the sea and the sunshine and each other´s company.”
“When the war began, there was a lot of pressure for us to enlist in the military, but seeing how our religion is pacifistic, we resisted. We became increasingly ostracized as the war continued and retreated to our beach where we lived in the caves once used by smugglers.”
“Eventually, we were allowed to join the Home Guard and were assigned the task of watching the beach for any sign of a German invasion or spies coming ashore there.”
“While we were there, we continued our nudist practices until that was interrupted by the army, who had come to build bunkers there for the defense effort.”
“Then, one day, the enemy attacked. We were straffed and bombed by the Luftwaffe. Several of us were killed along with many soldiers. I myself was taken to a hospital where I was treated for severe shell shock.”
“I never recovered. I retreated further and further from the real world until I finally left it altogether. I found I was able to imagine my dead friends and eventually, we came here where we have lived ever since. We´ve become a kind of family here and have been quite happy living in a world of our own creation, in peace, without violence and war.”
“What a lovely story,” said Dotty, “And what about the Professor?”
“Oh him,” Robert continued, “He´s another story. A bit of an odd duck, our Rodric. You see, he became a hippy during the nineteen sixties, but he never got over his prudish Victorian upbringing. He never could bring himself to join us in our nudist lifestyle, although he´s extremely attracted to it. He took up spying on us from the bushes and still refuses to interact with us.”
“Do you suppose it had sumpthin´ to do with the sexual practices he told us about?” asked Dotty.
“Oh please, those are entirely in his own perverted imagination! People have always imagined crazy things about nudist colonies. His ideas are so extreme that the children are completely afraid of him. I´m afraid he´s become completely delusional. Actually, our lifestyle is quite normal aside from not wearing clothes and considering the primitive environment we live in. He pretends he´s making of study of the sexual practices of the `Mongo mongo´, as he calls us, to justify his `peeping Tom´ activities. It´s really gotten quite weird, but we try to tolerate him.”
“Ah,” said Dotty, “What he told us did seem a little unbelievable.”
“Yes, but he´s really quite harmless. As long as it stays in his imagination, it hurts no one. Actually, he´s a bit entertaining. He´s completely afraid to have any real contact with us. Have you seen that ridiculous diaper he wears! And that umbrella house, isn´t that a hoot! I suspect that maybe he took a little too much LSD before he came here!”
“Well,” Dotty told him, “ Thank you very much for telling us your amazing story, but I´m afraid our vacation has come to an end and it´s about time for us to take off. If you´re ever in Mexico, please feel free to visit us. We live on the imaginary, mystical Costalegre. You only have to imagine it and you´ll find us.”
“You´re welcome to stay with us as well,” he said, “I you don´t mind a bunch of people not wearing any clothes.”
“Maybe next time,” I told him “Goodbye!” both Dotty and I said, and we climbed into the autogiro. I pushed the starter button and the engine roared to life. I put it into copter mode and we rose straight up. Soon, we were high above the jungle canopy. We could see the Mongo Mongo village below. The peeping Tom imaginary scholar was peeking into a small window at the back of one of the huts. We hoped that one day he would overcome his hang-ups and join the others. Maybe he wouldn´t be so lonely then.
We were eager to get home. The garden needed watering and the comforts of the old ’71 Landyacht were calling. We flew along the imaginary Andes, then across the imaginary Carribean and were soon circling above the beautiful imaginary Costalegre.
We put down next to the trailer and watched the battered Autogiro fly off again, pilotless, into the clear, blue, sky.
My body was where I had left it. No one had carted it off to a mental institution. I was soon relishin’ in the comfort of my old canvas chair.
Dotty is a wonderful teacher. Our little adventrure taught me a lot, but I still have much to learn about the science of Imagipology. Right now, I’m just happy to be back in my real body, old and battered and scrawny as it is, with my sweet Dotty beside me in my imagination.
I don´t mind forgettin´ every once in a while where I put things, anymore. I have Dotty, who I appreciate more than ever, that inexplicable part of my mind that always seems to know I laid ´em down. I don´t want to become a hermit and live in a cave anymore. Seein´ how the misguided and perverted Professor had turned out cured me of that. Allowin´ yourself to accept the love of others, either imaginary or real, and give it back, is the only way to go. I believe that real or imaginary, we and others are all just separate parts of a greater heart and we all need one another.