Don’t Worry About It

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Don´t Worry About It

A Dotty Story with Bob the Dog by Russell Rosander

 
Dotty, my imaginary wife, woke up terrified.  She had been sleepin´ curled up next to me and had startled me awake too with her cry.  She jumped up outta bed and went to the front door.  She looked out and saw……nothin´.  Just our patio and yard bathed in peaceful moonlight as a few crickets chirped and frogs croaked and a firefly darted in a crazy pattern, blinkin´ through the garden.  In the distance, a dog barked and then gave it up and all was quiet again.

“What´s the matter?” I asked.

“It musta been a dream,” she said, “I dreamt I heard a sound, that there was something evil out there tryin´ to get in and get us.”

“Ah!” I joked. “The boogey-man strikes again!”

“It´s not funny,” she admonished. “I was terrified!  Now I don´t know if I can go back to sleep.”

I got up and put on some pants, went into the kitchen, filled the kettle and lit the stove to make us some hot cocoa.  “Let´s just give ourselves a little time to calm down again,” I said, “It´s only three in the mornin´.  There´s still plenty of time for sleep.”

“Ahh!” she said, visibly relaxin´. “I have no idea what it was all about.  Do you suppose it was some sorta premonition?”

“I´m not really all that big on premonitions,” I said, “I´ve had a lotta dreams like that and they usually turn out to be just nothin´.”

“Well, you live in reality.  In the imagination where I live, there are serious monsters.”

“There are monsters in real life too.” I said, “There´s real narco-traffickers and banditos out there.”

“Well, sumpthin´ sure scared me!”

“Sometimes,” I told her, “our dreams are just about our hopes and fears.  I suppose some of the fears are things that started during our childhoods and ended up in our subconscious where they come to life again as bad dreams, but by the time they do, we don´t even recognize them and they´ve grown.  They were once just silly childhood fears and somehow, they never got revealed for what they were, just empty fears about nothin´.”

“Why is that not comforting?  Something triggered it and there must be a reason.  Please don´t make light of it.  This could be serious.”

We drank our cocoa and went back to bed.  Soon, we were both sawin´ logs again, but Dotty´s sleep was fitful. When we awoke in the mornin´, however, all seemed right with the world again.

Dotty said nothin´ more about the dream.  I knew she hadn´t forgotten about it.  Dotty is a curious person and anything that comes along that she doesn´t understand will niggle her until she finally figures it out, or at least, comes up with some sort of explanation that will ease her mind.

I used to wonder if the people I imagined had imaginations of their own.  I´m now convinced that they do.  Dotty has repeatedly come up with explanations for things that I never would have thought of.  When a story is growin´ in my head, I sometimes ask her what she thinks about this or that. I have often been dumbfounded by her perceptions.  Dotty has taught me that there is always another way to look at just about anything and it´s often useful to see both ends of the horse before deciding which way to get on.

By the time the morning had passed and the thermometer had risen and the day moved on into a typical lazy Mexican afternoon, I looked out and saw Dotty engrossed in a pile of books on the patio table. I went out to take a closer look.  Judging by the titles they were all self-help books.  Some were written by prominent authors and authorities on various subjects. Others were pseudo-science such as “5000 Dreams Interpreted” which is basically just fortune telling. There was “Conquer Your Fears” by Dr. FredricoValoroso, “Take Back Your Head” by Maria Antonionetta, “In Defense of Irrationality” by Oscar Wildman, and what the cover touted as “The Consummate Psychological Mystery Solver”, Bob the Dog´s “Transcendental Cures for Whatever´s Bothering You”  Under Bob´s name was written, “The Guru of Calle Michoacán”.

“Is this by our Bob the Dog?  I´ve never heard of it.  Where did all these books come from?”  I asked her.

“The Bob book is imaginary.  There all Imaginary. I got them at the Imaginary Beer Bob´s Book Exchange.  There´s a much better selection there than there is at the real one.”

“I knew he had a couple of short stories, in fact, I transcribed them for him and helped him with the spellin.  I thought he only wrote fiction.”

“It is fiction,” Dotty said, “Fictional people such as myself need fictional psychological advice sometimes.  He didn´t need help with transcribin´orspellin´ on this one because it´s never been written.  It´s totally fictional.It´s so fictional that most booksellers refuse to carry it.  They say there´s no profit in books that don´t exist.  The genre is called `real fiction´.”

“Do you mind if I take a look at it?” I asked.

“You can read it after I do. I was goin´ to check that one out next.”

As Dotty picked it up I thought “Jeeze Bob. The guru of Calle Michoacán?”  She thumbed to the back lookin´ for an index hopin´ to see a list of problems that were addressed in the book.  Nope. Nothin´.  She flipped back to the front.  “That´s strange,” she said.  “Most of the pages are blank.”  In the front of the book she found a portrait of Bob on the title page.  She went to the first chapter.  It read, “Don´t worry about it.” And that was all there was.  “Oh my gawd!” she said burying her eyes in her hand.  “I always knew he was a nut. These self proclaimed mystical gurus are always the same.  They speak in riddles or tell you things that nobody could understand and call it wisdom.  If they knew anything, why not just say it in a way that´s clear and understandable and save everyone a lot of trouble for nothin´. I´ve half-a-mind to go into town and tell him what I think about this!”

Dotty, being imaginary, lives in an imaginary universe.  It parallels the real one, but isn´t exactly the same.  It has many of the same features.  The Barra de Navidad she was headed for was the mythical, imaginary one.  All my friends who live in the real one are in this one too, just as I imagine them and hopefully even nicer than they are in the real life.  Dotty, of course knows just about all of them, and considers them her friends as well. Having read some of the “Dotty stories” I have written, she now exists in their imaginations as well.  When she walked into Hector´s Corner Bar at 132B Calle Michoacán, everybody greeted her warmly.

Bob the Dog was ensconced in his “office” in the middle of Michoacán street where the cars were swerving around him.  When he saw Dotty, he got up and sauntered over,while a truck slammed on it´s brakes to avoid hittin´ him, for a pat on the head.  Bob always was a ladies man.

“Bob,” she said withholdin´ the pat, “I´ve got an issue with you.  I just read your book, “Transcendental Cures For Whatever´s Bothering You”, because I´ve got a problem I´m tryin´ to figure out and it´s only got one dang sentence in it.  What kind of book is that?”

“I thought it was very concise and to the point.” Bob said. “Actually, I thought it was a little long, over two hundred pages!”

“But they´re all blank!  I´m no closer to understandin´ my problem than I was before I read it. `Don´t worry about it?´Jeeze!  What a bunch of nonsense!”

“My point exactly” Bob said. “Ultimately, in a transcendental sense, everything is just a bunch of nonsense.”

“Hrumph! My wog told me it was the `boogie-man´.  Are you two conspirin´ to confuse me?”

“The BOOGIE-MAN!  Oh my!  This is serious! Maybe you´d better tell me the whole story.  If it´s a mystery, The Transcendental Detective Agency is at your service.It´s a free service.  For a nominal pat on the head, I´ll gladly take your case.”

“No, you´d only tell me it was pirates or sumpthin´….. Oh, what the heck,” and she told him about the dream.

Bob listened in silence as he always does, but the gears were spinnin´ in his head, grindin´away.  When she was finished he said, “Hmmmmm. So your worried about the dream.  Did you try `5000 Dreams Interpreted´?”

“I´m hopin´ it´s not a premonition.  I don´t want my fortune told.”

“Wise, wise, most fortune tellers are charlatans.  I´ll begin my investigation immediately.  Why don´t you go have a beer or two while I meditate on it.”

“Ok,” she said and went in an ordered a beer from Gladys.  She sat down at a table under an umbrella to drink it.  Five or six beers later, despite having enjoyed a pleasant afternoon chatting with friends, Bob was still in the middle of the street.  He looked like he was asleep.  She decided to go home and finding herself a little tipsy when she got up, chose to take the bus instead of walkin´.

When Dotty came home, I saw her wobbling down the road from the bus stop.  “Oh my gawd!” I thought, “She´s drunk. She´s been so frightened by that nightmare, she´s taken to the bottle.”

“Dotty!,” I said, “What´s wrong?”

“Don´t worry about it,” she said, and promptly went inside, closed the door behind her, and went to bed.

 

The next morning, I decided to go to town and have a talk with Bob myself.  Whatever had happened there yesterday, couldn´t have been good.  Dotty´s not much of a drinker.  It was totally out of character for her to come home drunk.  Whatever Bob had told her, it musta upset the hell out of her.

It was almost noon when I headed out.  Dotty was still sleepin´ it off.  Soon, I was walkin´ down calle Michoacán toward the Corner Bar.  There was Bob, sittin´ upright in a chair, like he was just another human, leanin´ with his back to the wall and wearin´ a silly deer-stalker hat, smokin´ a pipe and holdin´ a magnifying glass in one paw.  He was obviously trying to look like Sherlock Holmes.  I´ve never seen him look so ridiculous.  Seems this detective business must have gone to his head.  I ordered a beer and went and sat down next to him.

“What´s happnin man?”he asked.

“Well, conciderin´ that that phrase went outta style a long time ago, you´re lucky I´m old enough to remember it.  What´s happening is that I want to know what the hell happened here yesterday that got Dotty so upset.”

“Oh,” he said, “I heard she was a little tipsy when she left, but I missed it.  I´d fallen asleep by then.  She was a little bent outta shape about my new book though and she told me about a dream that was really buggin´ her.  She wanted to know what it meant and I told her I would investigate it for her.  I went out to my office to meditate on it, but I got sleepy and dozed off for a few minutes.  When I woke up, she was gone.”

“So what´s the deal with that book?  I thought it was kinda ridiculous myself.  Most people expect more than one sentence when they buy a book.”

“Oh dude! That hurts!  Have I ever criticized the crap you write?  All that poetry.Pleeeeeeze!Have I ever said one bad word about all that mushy junk?  No, I haven´t! I respect your crap, man, I respect it!”

“Oh knock it off, Bob,” I told him.  “Do you really expect to get away with one sentence in a two hundred page book?”

“What´s wrong with that? It just needed a few extra pages for filler.  The content seemed like pretty good advice to me!”

“Jeeze Bob. All it said was, ´Don´t worry about it.”!

“Correct-o-mundo!  Good in almost any situation.  But the book says a lot more than that!”

“Where?  All the other pages are blank!”

“Here,” he said, handing me a copy. “Look for yourself.”

I opened the book to page one.  This time, there were two sentences, “If you encounter something you don´t understand, bite it. If it´s bigger than you, just bark.”.That was it. “This one´s a little different, just as stupid, but different.  Are you tellin´ me that every copy has different advice in it?” I asked.

“Nope, they´re all the same.  This book is interactive.  It transcendentally anticipates your question and gives you only that answer.  It´s kinda like a Magic Eightball.  Way better than “5000 Dreams Interpreted”.

“You mean, it has an unlimited number of answers?” I asked.

“Well, I am just a dog.  I only have so many, but to tell you the truth, I don´t need that many, ´cause so few people ask dogs for advice.”

“Well,” I sighed, “Actually Bob, it´s way more than I thought possible from you.  So have you come up with anything on this mysterious boogie man of Dotty´s in your meditations?”

“Well, actually, no.  I was gonna get back on it later this afternoon after I´ve changed costumes.”

“Changed costumes?”

“It´s a promotional gimmick I´ve come up with to advertise my services.”

“So what´s this afternoon´s costume?”

“I´ve got a Marharishi outfit.”

“Oh gawd!”

“I meditate better when I´m in it.”

“Oh. So I suppose you actually take this dream seriously? I mean, Boogie man dreams are pretty common. I suspect that just about everybody has had one or two in their life time.  Maybe it´s just a stupid dream.”

“Dreams are never stupid dude.  They just take an irrational mind like mine to understand  them.”

“So you really think the Boogie man is out to get us?

“Not us dude, you.  This whole story is goin´ on in your head.  He`s out to get you!”

“Out to get me! That´s absurd! I know for a fact the Boogie man is imaginary!”

“Exactly!  Just what world do you think you´re in at the moment Dude?

I swallowed the rest of my beer and headed for home.

 

When I got there, I found I was in for a shock. I hadn´t imagined that Dotty would carry things this far.

The old ´71Airstream Landyacht had been transformed into a fortress.  It looked like a battleship, complete with canons sticking out of every port.  It was surrounded by a wall of sandbags which Dotty was still busy pilling higher.  There were numerous Danger! And Beware of the Dog! signs around the perimeter.  I stood before it all in utter amazement.  It was difficult to believe my eyes.  My jaw was touchin´ my toes.

“Jeeze, Dotty,” I said, “I see your prepared for a siege.”

“You can´t be too careful,” she responded, “You may think I´m bein´ silly, but in the imagination, situations like this can become deadly serious in a heartbeat.  I just want to be ready.”

“Have you figured out yet just what or who we´re up against here?”

“Nope, but I know it scares me whitless.”

I reached out to encircle her with my arms to comfort her, but she stepped back and said,  “I´ve got a lot more work to do here.  This is no time for playin´ around!”

I went inside and sat down feelin´ a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.  I was feelin´ kinda dazed.  I was startin´ to wonder if this isn´t what happened when a person spends too much time in his imagination.  I knew Dotty well enough that if I went back outside and told her that I thought she was unnecessarily freakin´ out that she´d prob´ly turn on me and tell me that I was the one bein´ foolish and just didn´t have a clue how dangerous a place the imagination could be.

While I was thinkin´ this, Charlie, our imaginary nine year old boy came up behind me outta his room in my subconscious.  “Whatta we gonna do Wog?” he asked.

I turned to face him. “D´ya thinkshe´s gone loco or sumpthin?” he continued.

“Well,” I answered. “I ´spect she may be over-reacting a little.”

“She won´t let me go outside and play with Moonbeam,” he pleaded. “She says he´s got a job to do.”

“Jeeze, Charlie, I just don´t know what to do.  If I didn´t feel so danged sorry for her, I think I´d want to go out there and kick her butt.”

“I heard that!” cameDotty´s voice from outside, “You can just sleep by yourself tonight!”

“Dang,” I said.

 

For the next three days and nights, Dotty didn´t sleep a wink.  She never left the ramparts she had built around the trailer.  On the fourth day, I found her passed out, exhausted, slumped over the pile of sandbags.

I picked her up, brought her inside and laid her on the bed.  She had insisted that Charlie and me stay indoors the entire time.  I had been feeling sorta uncomfortably virtuous by conceding to it.  We had both contracted a bad case of cabin fever.  It was a relief to be able to go outside again.

I decided to use the time Dotty was sleeping to go to town and see it Bob had made any progress in his “investigation”.  It was a slim hope, but I was fresh out of ideas and didn´t know what else to do.  I asked Charlie to stick around with Moonbeam in case she woke up so he could tell her where I was.  I didn´t want her worryin´ any more than she already was.

When I reached the bar, I didn´t see Bob anywhere.  I could hear Hector, inside, yellin´.  “Damn it Clive, how many times have I told you not to listen to that dog!”  Clive is one of the wonderful local characters that live in Barra de Navidad, and he often “works” at Hector´s in exchange for a few beers. He occasionally performs street theater there as well, for free, to everyone´s amusement.

“I don´t care if he told you,” Hector bellowed, “that it was OK to help yourself to anything in the refrigerator or drink as much beer as you liked!  He doesn´t buy that stuff!  I do!  Bob has never bought anything in his life!  He´s just a dog, just a damned dog!”

“Well I thought,” Clive defended, “Considering how I´m dying and all………”

I sat down and Gladys brought me a beer.  “What happened?” I asked.

“Don´t ask,” she said.

“Is Bob around anywhere?

“Nope.  Hector 86ed him.  I suppose he’d be back tomorrow though.   He always is.”

“Any idea where he went?”

“Who knows where Bob goes.”

“Has this happened before?”

“Many times,” she told me.

“Dang,” I thought to myself, “I wonder if I´ve wandered into the real world by mistake?”

I thought about what to do next as I sipped my beer.  I didn´t want to go home empty handed, without any new information that would help our situation, but that´s exactly what I ended up doin´.  Dotty was still asleep when I got home.

She never woke up the rest of the day. She was still asleep when I crawled into bed next to her.  It felt good to be lyin´ beside her again.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I was blasted into consciousness  by a huge explosion that must of lifted me a half a meter off the bed.

I took me a moment to grasp what was goin´ on.  My eyes fluttered around the room until they finally alit on Dotty, who was standing next to one of the cannons with a match in her hand.  The air was air was full of acrid smoke that smelled like cordite. I opened my mouth to speak when “BLAM!”, the trailer was rocked again.

“It´s out there!” I heard Dotty say through the terrible ringing in my ears.  “ It tripped my tin can alarm and I woke up just in time!  Don´t worry.   I´ll get him!  I´ll protect you!”

“From who?” I asked. “Jeeze Dotty! You don´t even know who´s out there!  It could be just some innocent animal!  Where´s Moonbeam anyway?”

“Oh gawd!  I don´t know where he is!,,,,,,” and then we heard him barkin´ outside in the darkness.

“Hold your fire Dotty, I´m goin´ out there!” I said.

“NOOOOOOO!!!!” Dotty screamed.

“Well it hasn´t gotten Moonbeam,” I said, “ You´ve prob´ly scared whatever it is half to death with those cannons. Who or whatever it is is prob´ly long gone.”

“I´m goin´ with you then,” she said.  Then she thrust a blunderbuss into my hands.

“Blunderbuss?” I thought, “Where does she get this stuff?  Is there some sorta “Pirate Surplus Store” around here that I don´t know about”

We collided trying to go through the narrow trailer door at the same time and stumbled out onto the patio.  Moonbeam was still barking somewhere out in the darkness.  I looked towards the sound but didn´t see nothin´.  I dashed back inside for a flashlight, tellin Dotty, “Don´t shoot until you can see what it is!”

Back outside, I pointed the beam towards the barkin´.

“Oh my gawd!” Dotty screamed as my light found it.

There was Moonbeam and the phantom facin´ one another off.  It was really ugly.  It was grotesque!  Then it turned towards the light.  Fear was risin´ in my throat.  Finally I could see……..it looked a lot like………….Bob!

“What are you doin´out here Bob?” I asked

He turned back towards Moonbeam before he could answer.  Moonbeam was about to attack.  “MOONBEAM!!!” Dotty yelled. “STOP!”

Moonbeam froze in his tracks.

 

Bob was still tremblin´ when we got him up and into the trailer.  He didn´t sit upright in a chair the way I had seen him do at Hector´s when he was in costume.  He laid spread eagle on the floor like he was tryin´ to hug it or sumpthin.  He had a dazed look in his eyes.

I went and found some leftover meat and put it in front of his nose.  He just stared at it.

“Jeeze, Bob, you coulda got yourself killed out there. What are you doin´ here in the middle of the night, anyway?”

“I….I….gulp…..gulp…..”

“Would you like some water?” Dotty asked.

“Yeah,” he said.  He didn´t move again until it was in front of him, then he propped up a bit and took a few laps.  He stopped and looked around the trailer.  He was still breathin´ kinda heavy.  The smell of smoke and explosives still hung in the air.  His eyes rolled a bit in his head, and then, suddenly, he blurted out, “I figured it out.  I couldn´t wait to tell Dotty.”

Dotty looked at him, “Well jeeze Bob.  Don´t leave me hangin´! What the hell is it?”

“It´s a nothing´,” he said, “It´s just a nothin´.”

“A nothin´!  What´s a nothin´?” she asked.

“A nothin´,” he said slowly, “is just about the meanest, scariest kind of monster there is!  I´m surprised you don´t know about them.  I thought everybody was afraid of nothins.”

“I thought it was gonna take my husband away from me.  How could a nothin´ do that?”

“That´s just the point,” Bob said. “You´d be left with nothin´.  No imagination to be in, just nothin´.

“How can nothin´ be a monster.  Nothin´ is just nothin´.” I asked.

“The monster,” Bob said, “is fear.  The fear of loosing somethin´ or someone you love.  It´s the thought of nothin´ that scares us.”

“Well, how do you fight a monster like that?” Dotty asked.

“You can´t fight them,” Bob said, “there´s nothing´ to fight.  The only thing you can do to make them go away is……..

Don´t worry about it.”

Adventures in the Science of Imagipology – The third Dotty story

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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.

An Account of the Search for the Source of the Imagination – The 13th Dotty Story

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An Account of the Search for the Source of the Imagination

A Dotty Story by Russell Rosander

 

I was wonderin´ to myself, “Is not bein´ real a terminal condition?” and then, “blip” , and I was gone.

Once again, I was my real self, sittin´ in my favorite chair in the old ´71 LandYacht, writin´ this story with a smirk on my face.  “That´ll teach him!  Who does he think he is anyway, tryin´ to take over my reality!”

Then I leaned back and thought of my beloved Dotty, my imaginary wife, and feelin´ a little bit guilty about leavin´ her alone in my imagination, “blip”, I put him back in.

There he was, outside the screen door again, sittin´ on his butt in the dirt with his mouth open, gaspin´ for imaginary air.  I opened the screen door and said to him, “Look.  I´m sorry I disillusioned you.  You ARE me and I am you, but your imaginary and I´m real.  Get used to it!”

He looked at me angrily and said, “Same to you buddy!”

I said, “Look. There´s nothin´ to be angry about.  There´s another trailer that looks just like this one in the same place.  You just came to the wrong door.  Look again and you´ll find the right one.”

Then I switched into character mode.  “Whew!” I said outloud.  I was startin´ to worry where I was goin´ to sleep tonight.” I blinked my eyes and looked again.  The figure in the door was gone.  I looked around and the garden was a little more vivid and vibrant.  I went up and tentatively opened the door and peeked inside.  There was Dotty laughin´ her head off.

“You saw all that?” I asked her.

“Yep. Sure did,” she giggled.

“Well why didn´t you say sumpthin´ earlier?”

“What could I say?  Would you have believed me?” she asked.

“It´s all so confusin´,” I said “I´ve never been so humiliated in my life.  It´s like I´ve been on some humungous ego trip and my bubble just burst.”

“Well, you can take comfort in the fact that real people have a hell-of-a-lot more responsibilities than we do.  All in All, it´s a pretty good deal.  It´s much more pleasant to be imaginary!”

“And all this time I thought it was me writin´ this story.”

“Well, were never really truly separate from the one´s that imagine us.  It´s the same for him I `spect.”

“You mean he´s just part of somebody else´s imagination? He´s not writin´ it either?”

“Quite possibly.  As Shakespeare once said, “Life is but a stage.”  I ´spect were all just actors in the play of life.”

“Very philosophical.  Life´s a wonder, ain´t it?”

Later, after the shock wore off a little, I realized that the revelation was an epiphany.  I found myself walkin´ a little lighter on my feet  realizing that I was weightless and didn´t have any kinda physical substance.  It was an extremely pleasant experience.  I was beginning to wonder if thinkin´ of myself as real wasn´t some kinda self-imprisonment.  It felt really good to be free.

 

Sometime later one afternoon, our little family was relaxin´ out on the patio.  It was a pleasant day as most days are in this particular imagination.  We are blessed that our imaginer is not particularly pessimistic.  Some artists are plagued with hellish landscapes  and perverse fantasies, like that old artist, Bruegel the Elder and others.  Some people´s imaginations are full of frightful and malevolent phantasms that they have no control over.  To them, even the most beautiful flower can appear to be some evil specter.

I shuddered at the thought and renewed my thankfulness that our dude was partially sane.

 

Moonbeam , Charley´s dog was twitchin´ in a dream under the table while Charley, perpetually nine years old, was sittin´ on an upturned bucket in the shade engrossed in a pile of comic books he´d found in the attic of our dude´s brain.

Dotty, sittin´ across from me at the table asked, “Have you ever wondered where all the things in our imagination come from?  Some of those ideas seem to just pop up outta nowhere!”

“I wonder about that all the time.” I said.  Even when I thought I was real and was writin´ the story I wondered about that.”

“I suppose ya gotta wonder just what the imagination actually is.  Ya can´t really put your finger on it, yet everyone knows they´ve got one ´cause they use them all the time.”  Dotty said. “And we know the imagination exists ´cause we´re the proof in the puddin´.”

“Scientists have got machines that can take pictures of the brain that show that different places light up when we think or dream or imagine sumpthin´, but that doesn´t explain where the thoughts and ideas come from in the first place.”  I told her.

“Well, it seems to me that a person wouldn´t be able to find out unless he or she was inside the mind to search for it.” She said.

“I think your right,” I said.  “Those fancy machines can tell that sumpthin´s happening but they can´t tell you what it is.  I doubt they´ll ever figure it out from the outside.  And have you noticed that sometimes the imagination seems so real that it´s hard to tell the difference?”

“Yep, people believe all kinds of things are real that are actually one-hundred percent imaginary.  There was a time when people didn´t differentiate between imaginary and real at all!  There are still quite a few that still don´t. ”

“Sorta explains why people have such a hard time agreein´ on anything, considerin´ everybody sees things different through their imaginations .”

“Ya know,” said Dotty, “I´ve got an idea.  Don´t ask me where it came from. But, since we live in the imagination, what if we mounted an expedition and go lookin´ for the source.  It would be a service to the cause of scientific discovery.”

“´Cept most people see anything that they think has been imagined as something false and unreliable, right up there along side fibbin´.  Wouldn´t anything we found in our imagination be different than what other imaginary people found in theirs?”

“Sure, but there would be similarities.  Imaginations can´t be all that different from one another.  They must all sorta basically work the same way.”

“Where would we start lookin´?” I asked.

“I was thinkin´ that ol´ swamp that Charlie came out of.  Remember he said there´s a river on the other side?  That could be the river of the imagination considerin´ that´s what it´s in. I´d bet-ya five bucks to one that´s it.  We could canoe up it and see where it starts.”

So that´s how our adventure began.  We decided to leave the next mornin´ in our imaginary canoe. As a totally imaginary person I was now free to do whatever I wanted without the constraints of reality!

 

Havin´ developed a love of writin´ durin´ the period of my dissolutionment, I decided to write an account of the journey in the tradition of the great explorers such as Lewis and Clark and Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who discovered where the source of the Nile wasn´t. It was actually discovered by John Speke in 1858 as Lake Victoria Nyanze above Ripon Falls. There are still people who dispute it because there are so many tributaries it´s hard to tell. The annals (Is that spelled annals or anals?) of Stanley´s journeys are still enjoyed by many today. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” When I told Dotty about it, she said, “Ya know, It seems to me that he was actually lookin´ for the source of the imagination since at the time there were so many myths about unknown places like that, ´cept that he was lookin´ in the wrong realm and all he found was more physical places.”  I will also attempt to draw a map for future reference, however that might not work out. Everybody´s imagination prob´ly laid out different anyway. Also, even though north, east, south and west are totally imaginary terms, they generally apply only to the physical universe.  In the imagination they have no bearin´.

 And so we begin……

170px-Henry_Morton_Stanley,_1872

Sir Henry Morton Stanley

who did not discover the source of the Nile.

 

 

“Nous verrons çe que nous verrons.”

– We shall see what we shall see.

 

The First Day

The next mornin´ we got up early and headed down towards the swamp.  Imaginary expeditions don´t require much preparation.  For example, eatin´ is optional in the imagination because we don´t have physical bodies.  We only do it for pleasure and not for maintenance.  We didn´t need to hire bearers either ´cause we didn´t have anythin´ to bear. We chose travel by canoe ´cause it´s a colorful mode of transportation.  We coulda just as easily sprouted imaginary wings and flew up the river the way the crow flies, but we didn´t.  We wanted to experience the whole shebang just like Stanley did.

We shoved the canoe into the murky water and while we were pushin´ a mosquito made and unfortunate turn and flew up my nose.  I started sneezin´ violently at once.

“Really, wog,” Dotty said. “We outta try to disturb nature here as little as possible.  This is a voyage of discovery, not conquest.  We want to leave the natives unharmed.!”

“I, I, I´d…AH..CHOO!…like to leave.. ACH..CHOOOOO!…..myself unharmed as little as possible too! Sniffle, sniffle.

We found the poor hapless mosquito dead and grotesquely disfigured in a glob of snot on the handle of one of the paddles.  Dotty carefully scraped it off with a dead cattail leaf and set it on the water for a sorta Viking funeral.  We all saluted as it drifted away.  “You really ought to be more careful!” Dotty told me.

“But I…..” I started to protest.

“It´s your imagination Dude.  You can either make it lovely or horrid!”  Charley was standin´ next to her.  His entire body was shakin´ as he was tryin´ to stifle a laugh.  Moonbeam was grinnin´ as usual.

We all climbed into the canoe and shoved off.  I was hopin´ that that little episode wasn´t some kinda portent for the future.  Stanley, I recalled, suffered all kinds of adversity on his journey.  However, expeditions in the imagination tend to be much less arduous, at least I hoped so, but here we had barely started and we´d already had our first disastrous mishap.

We paddled off into the unknown.  The vast uncharted regions of the imagination lay before us.  It soon became apparent that we weren´t getting´ anywhere.  All we were accomplishin´ was to push water behind us while we stayed in the same place.  It seems the water weeds were so thick here we couldn´t go forward.  We backpaddled a little until we saw an openin´.  Sumpthin´ had passed that way before us, prob´ly one of those huge amphibians known as crocodiles that feed on ideas in these parts.  Considerin´ that imaginary people are ideas themselves, this was makin´ me quite nervous.

“Hopefully,” Dotty said noticin´ my state, “Since these lazy creatures feed mostly on undeveloped and faulty ideas and we´re pretty well formed, maybe they´ll leave us alone.”

The word “mostly” didn´t comfort me. “An exception establishes the rule of things unexpected,” as the old sayin´ goes.  I figured we were gonna have to stay on our toes and keep our eyes peeled if we wanted to get through this swamp without getting´ eaten alive.

“On the other hand,” Dotty said, “since this is your imagination, I suppose you get to choose what happens.  You aren´t feelin´ murderous today are you?”

So easy to forget how often we just get caught up in the flow of what´s happenin´ and forget to make choices that could change the outcome.  I would have to pay special attention here and try to keep a positive outlook.  “I ´spose your safe for the moment,” I told her.

As the day wore on, we never even caught a glimpse of one of those fearsome beasts.  I surmise that it was because I had kept repeatin´ a sorta visual mantra where I imagined them to be cute little cuddly toys in a row like you see at carnivals.  I usually avoid visualizin´ such insipid things, but I actually smiled every time I saw a bit of cattail fluff.

Soon, the excitement of our departure diminished and we were all lulled by the rhythmic strokin´ of our paddles until each of us was lost in daydreams.  Our reverie was suddenly interrupted by a great flappin´ of wings as a huge bird, about the size of “Rodan” in that old Japanese horror movie, flew up outta the reeds in front of us.  It scared us half to death!

“This is how the unexpected happens!  Vigilance! Vigilance!” I thought as we watched the ordinary heron fly across the swamp and disappear.

Dotty and Charley had been noticin´ all the strange globular shapes of the stuff that was floatin´ in the water.  They were tryin´ to see shapes that were recognizable in them the way dreamers do lookin´ at clouds.  This has always been a stimulatin´ and pleasin´ activity that the imagination thoroughly enjoyed.  Most imaginary people know that if we please her, she will please us.  She is, in fact, the imaginary equivalent of Mother earth.  The imagination mirrors the real world in many ways.

“Ya know Charley,” Dotty said, “either my imagination is failin´ me or there´s sumthin´ wrong with these blobs.”

“I don´t think it´s your imagination,” he told her, “These blobs are the remains of ideas that were so poorly formed in the first place and so cock-eyed, we can´t make anything outta them.

“That makes sense,” I said, “I think most people have got about a million of those floatin´ around their brain.  I´ve always wondered where they ended up.”

“Do you ´spose this swamp is really a sorta big filter?” I asked Dotty.

“Yep.  And I ´spect a lotta good ideas end up here too,” she said.

“Why would good ideas end up here?” I asked.

“Lotta reasons,” she said, “Maybe our dude was asleep at the wheel when they come along and they never got a chance to spark up the old noggin.  Or maybe he was just too busy to notice ´ em.  Maybe they got misunderstood and rejected ´cause they were too far out. Humans are terribly wasteful.”

“It´s sorta like a graveyard, isn´t it?” I asked, “A graveyard for ideas.  No wonder so few people ever come here.”

“Yep,” Dotty answered, “I´ll be a little happy to get outta here myself. The stench alone is enough to deter most people.  But ya know, It´s kinda pretty too, in it´s own way.  I´m glad we came this way.  I´ll bet imaginary anthropologists and archeologists would have a hey-day in here.  They love to poke around in old garbage heaps lookin´ for clues to the past.”

 

It was mid afternoon when the reeds and swamp weed thinned out and we found ourselves in open water.  We discovered we were in an oxbow of the river where a lotta stuff that drifted down it naturally got stuck in the still waters of the swamp.

“It´s more beautiful than I ever imagined,” gushed Dotty. “My mother told me about it once when I was little, but seein´ is believin´!”

The river was unlike any river I´d ever seen.  The water sparkled in iridescent rainbow colors.  Beneath the surface, we could see the shapes of unformed ideas, some connected to each other in geometric patterns of nearly whole concepts driftin´ down stream.  These had colors of their own, in deeper shade such as when you wet a stone.

“Don´t some ideas start out whole?” I asked Dotty.

“Nope, never.  I sometimes wonder if ideas are ever complete.  We just sorta string `em together until sumpthin´ makes sense to us.  Completeness is just another imaginary concept, a pattern in which we connect the pieces into a circle or some other form in which we see sumpthin´ we think we recognize.  Sumpthin´ that sort of resonates deep within us that we consider the truth.  It´s like when a string on a guitar is tuned to a certain note vibrates when the same note is struck on another string.  Some people call it `intuition´.  Artists, writers, musicians, creative people of all types and of course women use it all the time.”

“Women! Isn´t that a little sexist?” I said.

“I only say that because a lot more men don´t recognize it than women.”  She said.

I wasn´t goin´ to argue the point.

Across the river were fields of wildflowers, many that I had never seen before, and widely space trees covered with the chartreuse buds of leaves in springtime.  Some were already in full blossom adding to the colorful splendor of the scene.

“Luckily,” I said as I took it all in, “that self-righteous egotistical jerk back in the `real´ trailer isn´t here to dampen my enjoyment of all this wonder!”

Suddenly, the water began to shake and frothy spumes shot up in a hundred places across the river.  We all grabbed onto the  gunwales  of the canoe and held on for dear life.  It seemed as though the sky itself was quakin´.

Then an eerie, raucous laughter filled the air striking me straight in the face like a gale.  From no volition of my own, I started laughin´ uncontrollably too, so hard tears started formin´ in my eyes.

It stopped as abruptly as it had began leavin´ me dumbstruck and out of breath.  Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam were starin´ at me like I was some kinda apparition.

“What the heck was that!” asked Charley.

“It was nothin´,” I told him between deep gulpin´ breaths. “I just forgot for a moment whose head we were in.”

“Sheesh!” said Charley, “He sure must have a weird head.”

We decided to call it a day and make camp on the other side of the river where we could see Charley´s old bicycle leanin´ up against a tree near the bank.  We beached the canoe and started to explore the spot, curious if there were any clues to be found as to where Charley had come from.  He didn´t remember a thing from before he´d parked the bike there.

We found no path leading to the spot.  The old bike itself was now just a rustin´ hulk.  We finally gave up on it.  Maybe we would find sumpthin´ up-river that would clear up the mystery.

Charley and I set up our tent and conjured up a picnic table while Dotty wandered out into the field to pick a bunch of wildflowers for a centerpiece.  Soon the imaginary sun was goin´ down…in the direction of your choice.

Dotty retrieved a picnic basket from the canoe and soon we were munchin´ down on a buncha delicious sandwiches and potato salad.  Our imaginary appetites were peaked after all the paddlin´ we´d done that day.

We built a campfire and and sat crosslegged around it as darkness closed in. We sat starin´  into the fire as our  musin´s danced in the flames and we made up stories and shared them with one another.

When we all grew too sleepy to hear another one, we crawled into our sleepin´ bags.  Moonbeam curled up on the foot of Charley´s and we bid each other goodnight and laid there wonderin´ what the next day would bring until we each drifted off to sleep.

 

Day 2

“Qui fácit per álium per se.”

-“He who does through others, does through himself”

 

         The next mornin´ we rose and shined with the dawn.  We were eager to be on our way to see what new wonders awaited us.

We emerged from our tent only to be greeted by shock and dismay.  Our camp had been invaded while we slept.

“Some watchdog you are Moonbeam.” I said frownin´ at the dog. “Aren´t ya supposed to bark or sumpthin´ when sumpthin´ like this is goin´ on?”´ The dog put his tail between his legs and his chin dropped to his front paws.

“Can´t ya see he´s remorseful?” said Charley defendin´ him. “He was keepin´ me company all night.  It ain´t his fault!”

“Imps,” said Dotty with a look of disgust on her face. “Look at this mess!”

All our stuff had been rearranged.  Nothin´ was in the same place as we had left it the night before.  Even the campfire had been moved and our tent was on the opposite side of the tree from where we had pitched it.

“How´d they do that without wakin´ us?” I asked.

“I guess we must be pretty sound sleepers,” Dotty said.

We found the paddles at opposite ends of our camp site.  The pots and pans were up in the tree and the path down to the river now led into the bushes and disappeared.  “In the imagination, no reliance can be placed on appearance.” Dotty said.

“What do imps look like anyway?” Charley asked.

“I imagine like mischievous little monkeys with red spear shaped tails and horns on top of their grinnin´ little faces, but in reality they look like ordinary people.”  Dotty told him, “and I don´t imagine we´ve seen the last of  `em either now that they know were here.  They like nothin´ better than to mix everythin´ up and cause confusion.  If we think sumpthin´ belongs in one place, they put it in another when no one´s lookin´, just to mess with us.”

“We must have a lot of `em around the trailer,” I said. “I´m always lookin´ for things I thought I misplaced.  I always thought it was just my own forgetfulness.  I always thought imps were just imaginary.”

“Of course they are! Where do you think you are? Reality?” Dotty said.

“Oh yeah, I forgot for a minute.” I said. “You say the ones in reality look like ordinary people?”

“Yep,” she told me. “There seems to be a lotta people in reality that like to stir up trouble.  All kinds of spoilsports.  Sometimes they do serve a purpose, but mostly it´s just mischief.  Humans seldom question their beliefs until things go haywire.  When ideas that have always worked quit workin´, it´s usually because some imp threw a monkey wrench into the works.  If they never did it, people would just keep on believin´ wacky ideas no matter how goofy they were, and never look for better ways of thinkin´.”

That brought to mind my attitude towards my real self.  Why was I envious of him when I lived in this delightful and interestin´ imagination and he was confined to the cold cruel world.  It just didn´t make any sense.

We gathered our stuff together and broke camp.  We found our picnic basket behind a rock, now empty.  It seems the rascals had eaten the rest of our food, but Dotty reached in anyway and lo and behold, came out with the makin´s of a breakfast.  It mostly consisted of sweets since nutrition isn´t a consideration here in the imagination and eatin´ is done purely for pleasure.  The delightful meal greatly restored our spirits and we were soon ready to be on our way.

 

We pointed our canoe upstream and started paddlin´ again.  The current wasn´t strong here and we glided along with ease.

The river was flowin´ from between two smooth hills covered with low growin´ wildflowers that looked like two enormous thighs.  They spread out to knobbed peaks that looked like knees.  “The birth canal of ideas of the great mother imagination!” said Dotty. “I suppose we all came down that way ourselves before we developed memories.”  I immediately thought of Charley.

Once we reached the crotch of the hills, we passed through an arched tunnel and the river narrowed and became swifter.  We found that by usin´ the eddies which flow upstream along the shore, we were able to rest between times when there was no choice but to buck the mainstream.

We were now in a canyon where there was greater play of light and shadow.  We saw that the water had a luminosity of it´s own, gleamin´ colorfully  when it passed through a patch of shade.  Hundreds of birds were singing in the trees along the shore providin´ a pleasant background music to our journey.  It was almost like bein´ in a movie.

After a few hours, we reached a confluence where three rivers met to become the one we had been traveling on.  In the center of the confluence was an island. It was covered with vegetation, the likes of which we had never seen before.  There was a small beach on the down river side which we headed for.

Strangely, as we paddled towards it, it seemed to be rushing towards us, increasing rapidly in size.  It seemed like we arrived at the beach no sooner that we had pointed our canoe at it.

Once on shore, we were amazed by the trees and plants which sped through their life cycles as if in time lapse photography.   Trees went though their seasonal changes in the blink of  an eye.  Other plants sprouted, grew, blossomed and withered in a time span of minutes, as if time itself had sped up to an incredible rate.

As we stood on the shore watching this rapid transformation, it seemed that we and the ground we stood on were the only constants here.  The effect was dizzying, somewhat like standin´ in the center of a merry-go-round.  When we tried to step forward, each of us staggered and nearly stumbled.  It took a few minutes to regain our orientation by looking away from the ever changing plants.

In the center of the island was a mountain.  We could see a clear path spiralin´ around it up to the peak.  Our curiosity led us towards it.  We gingerly stepped onto it and found it stable.  We feared that anyone unlucky enough to step off of it would begin to age rapidly and turn to dust along with the undulating life that grew there.  We decided to go up it, in fact it seemed as if some invisible force was beckoning us to the top.

Our assent was amazingly rapid.  It was if gravity were pulling up upward instead of down.  At the peak the spinning of time ceased and everything around us came to a standstill.  We each experienced a calmness more profound than any of us had ever felt before.  None of our ordinary anxieties and afflictions were present here.  There was a warm glow that seemed to emanate from beneath our feet and spread upward envelopin´ us in a feeling of almost overwhelming well being.

We could see out in every direction, the splendid panorama of the imagination.  Below us we could see the path winding down to the little beach and our canoe and could look beyond to the multicolored river we had traveled up flowing away from us.

In the opposite direction, was a grotto in which there was a beautiful waterfall tumbling out of an enormous lake which brought to mind pictures I had seen of Lake Victoria and Ripon Falls in the heart of Africa.  It seemed appropriate that our river of the imagination should appear to be so similar to the Nile which flowed from the birthplace of mankind believed to be some seven million years ago.  The difference bein´, that the birth of ideas doesn´t just happen once, but continuously in the present.  We surmised that the huge lake must be the lake of memories, a major tributary to our river.

As we faced the grotto, there was another great river to our left.  This river was remarkable for it´s ordinariness.  This was the strongest of the three tributaries.  It´s water was the same green water of most rivers.  The vegetation which grew on the shore and the slopes leading up from the river, was all familiar.  Plants and trees I had known through out my life.  From this high vantage point, we could see that it circled around some hills and connected again with the river below at another place on the side of our swamp.  The two rivers merged again to flow on down to the sea of consciousness.  It entered the sea through the lagoon behind our beloved imaginary Barra de Navidad.

The most unusual thing about this river was that it seemed to flow both ways at once.  We assumed that this was the river that connected the imagination with reality.

To our right was another fabulous river.  This one was very strange indeed.  It was wild and frothy.  It´s waters were the most colorful of the three.  Fiery reds and bright yellows tumbled together with dark purples and cheerful sky blues.  It cascaded down a steep canyon in turbulent rapids that crashed and spewed high above huge boulders.  Up the river, dark storm clouds hovered above it.  We could see the lightnin´ and hear the thunder from here.  There were breaks in the clouds through which streamed beautiful golden sunbeams which burst with the intensity of the sun when they touched the water below.

This would have to be the river of emotions down which flowed the entire spectrum of feelin´s.  The sunbeams we surmised must be pure love.

While the others were still gazin´ at the amazing vista, I walked over to the very center of the peak and sat down lotus style and closed my eyes.  I wanted to contemplate what I had seen, but what appeared in my mind´s eye surprised me.

There were both trailers superimposed on each other.  I saw the real me come out of his door and look up look up into the sky.  Then he said, “You know you really are a part of me.  Through you is the only way I could embark on this journey to discover the source of the imagination.  You are my eyes and ears there.  I couldn´t get to where you are going from here in reality without you.  I´m dependin´ on you.”  And then it all disappeared.

Startled, I opened my eyes and I was filled with pride. Even if I wasn´t the person who was writin´ the story, I was the one livin´ it, which was even better.

I stood up, full of renewed vigor.  I turned to Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam and said, “Well guys, I guess it´s about time we headed down the hill.  It´ll be gettin´ dark soon.”

The way down the hill more difficult and slower than comin´ up.  Now, we had to fight that upwards gravity.  It seemed more like climbin´ than decendin´.  Also, the spiral path seemed to be growin´ longer as it spiraled outward.  It seemed to me, that if we had stayed at the peak any longer, we might have never made it back to the beach and the canoe.

Once we got there, we made camp in the last of the light.  We were all so tired that we didn´t stay up around the campfire for long, just long enough to discuss which course we would follow in the mornin´.

We decided that we would try for the lake of memory.  The river of reality only circled back home and was already familiar to us and the river of emotion seemed too wild and was likely impassable.

Soon we were in our beds sawin´ logs like all good adventurers after a long and eventful day, dreamin´ on the morn´.

 

Day Three

“Of all our memories none are more precious

                                     than those of whom we have loved.”

 

I was the last to awake the next day.  The walk, if you can call it that, down the mountain against the force of upward gravity plum tuckered me out.  I might not have made it if not for the fact that our host delusionally imagines himself as being twenty five years younger than he actually is.

Dotty was already up busy conjurin´ up our breakfast while Charley was lookin´ for sticks to throw for Moonbeam.  He wasn´t havin´ much luck.  It seemed they turned to dust as soon as he reached for one just as quickly as others fell from the trees that had ended their life cycle moments before.

Dotty was just comin´ up from the canoe with a basket fulla fresh fried donuts and sweet rolls as well as a small bag of dog food for Moonbeam when the dog started barkin´ his head off.

We turned towards the source of the commotion and saw Charley peerin´ into a pile of rocks while Moonbeam bared his teeth and growled at it.  Charley yelled us over to take a look.  When we arrived hurriedly and peeked into the pile, there cowerin´ in a nitch was one of the sorriest and depraved creatures I have ever seen.  It was an imp.

The little devil was scrunched back up against some rocks as far away from us as he could get jabbin´ a little rubber toy pitchfork at us while his horns twitched in fear.  “Get back! Get back! You´ll never find it! I won´t let you!” it kept repeatin´ in a little squeaky voice.

The pathetic little rascal was so pitiful lookin´ holdin´ that silly pitchfork that we didn´t know whether to laugh or cry.

“Don´t worry, we won´t hurt you,” Dotty cooed.

The imp looked warily, jerkin´ it´s little head this way and that vyin´ us one at a time.  “You´ll never find it! You won´t, you won´t, you won´t!”

“Find what?” Dotty asked.

“The source of course.  I know what you want! It´s mine. Mine, mine, mine!  You just want to steal it for yourselves!”

“No we don´t,” said Charley, squattin´ down to the imp´s level.  “we´re not stealers. We never steal stuff. We just want to find it and look at it.”

“Hah! You think I´d believe you?  I don´t trust anybody.  Everybody wants it for themselves! You´re no different!” he cried.

“Who´s everybody?” I asked.

“All the other imps of course, and I don´t like any of them. Not one little bit!”

“But we´re not imps.” I told him.

“Your not?  Then what are you?”

“We´re imaginary humans on an expedition explorin´ the imagination.  We´re here as representatives of our benefactor, a human in the real world that this imagination belongs to.” I said.

“EEEEEEEK!” he shrieked, “He doesn´t own it!  I do!  This is my imagination!  Mine, mine, mine, mine!”

“Wait a minute,” I said, “We´re not here to take it away from you.  We´re just curious to see where it comes from.”

“Curiosity! Ha ha ha! Curiosity! Now you´ve got me! Ha ha ha!

“This is startin´ to look like a Pandora moment.” Commented Dotty.

“Look,” I said to the imp. “We´re sorry our dog bothered you.  Now we´ll just be on our way.”

“Oh no you don´t!” he screeched, “You´re not gettin´ off this island without me!”  Then he turned and pulled our paddles from out behind a rock.

“Hey! Those are our paddles!” Charlie yelled. “Give `em back to us!”

“Not unless you take me with you!  I´ve been marooned on this island for months.  Left here to die like a…….,” he looked at Charley, “….RAT!”

“Why were you marooned?” I asked. “Who did it?”

“The other imps.  Just ´cause I want it all for myself just like they do.  I was tryin´ to keep them from getting´ it first and they tricked me and went off and left me here.  This is a terrible place.  The fruit from these trees goes bad so fast you don´t have time to eat it.  Say, are those donuts I smell?”

“Yep,” said Dotty “We were about to eat `em for breakfast.  Do you want some?  There´s more than enough.”

“Well I might give you these paddles for some of those.”

“Deal!” Dotty said.

“….but you still have to take me with you!”

“Well all right,” Dotty told him, “Which shore would you prefer to be left off on?  There appear to be several around here.”

“Same one your goin´ to of course.”

“Well if we take you there, you can´t follow us.” Charley said.

“Oh no! No, no, no, no! I´d never do that.”

“Do you promise?”

“Oh sure.  I always promise,” he said.

“Well all right then, you can come with us.”

After breakfast, the little imp ate most of the donuts, we all climbed into the canoe and shoved off.

 

We paddled away from the island and after a few strokes, I looked back.  Miraculously, the island was now a long ways behind us.  “How odd.”  I thought. “That time and space act so different here.”  We turned our canoe around and headed back upstream choosin´ to pass the island on the side of the river of reality.  The waters spewing from the river of emotions looked frighteningly turbulent.

As we were passing the mouth of the river of reality, we saw our first human in the imagination.  He was waving to us from the shore.  As we came closer,  I was surprised to see that it was none other than me!  I felt an urge to talk to him, to make sure past misunderstandings had been cleared up but the nearer we came, the two way current became trickier to navigate.  Finally, we gave up and from the shore I waved us on.  Soon I had disappeared in the distance behind us.

The little imp insisted on riding in the bow on top of Moonbeam´s head.  He looked somewhat like a figurehead on the prow of a Viking ship.

Soon, we entered the mouth of the grotto.  The thunderous roar of the waterfall drowned out all conversation.  The little imp started jumping up and down on top of Moonbeam´s head causin´ his eyes to roll and his tongue to hang out even farther than usual.  He was frantically pointing to a stone landing we couldn´t see from on top of the mountain.  There was a switchback path leading up the grotto wall goin´ all the way to the top.  From here we could see a stone outcropping extending out in front of the lip of the falls.

We headed for the dock.  I leaned over and spoke directly into Dotty´s ear so she could hear over the din of the falls.  “You know,” I said, “I´ve been thinkin´.  I don´t think it´s a good idea to leave the imp here with the canoe.  He might decide to swipe it and leave us stranded here.  We might never be able to get home.”

“I guess we´ll have to take him with us,” she said.

We tied our canoe to the iron rings embedded in the stone and went up the steps to the top of the quay.  Once we were all standing on dry ground, the imp was deviously eyein´ us and the canoe.  “We´ve changed our minds,” I told him. “We want you to come along with us.”

He started jumpin´ up and down with glee. “Goody, goody, goody, yes, yes! I go where you go!”

Dotty whispered in my ear, “You know, he acts an awful lot like an extremely immature child.”

The trail up the side of the grotto would have terrified anyone with a fear of heights.  One misstep would result in an undignified plunge into the roiling water below.  Personally, I´ve never seen the appeal of extreme high divin´ and I´d just as soon never try it.

We insisted that the little imp take the lead to keep him from scamperin´ back down the trail and stealin´ our canoe, but he seemed more than happy with the arrangement.  I suppose it appealed to his not so little ego.  “I the leader!  I lead the exhibition!” he shouted as a scampered ahead of us.  We went up one switchback after another, passin´ dozens of beautiful rainbows in the mists of the falls until we reached the top.

Here the trail forked.  To the left, we could see that it led out onto the promontory facing the waterfall.  To the right, it led to a little stone hut a short distance away, surrounded by a beautiful garden.

We decided first to crawl out on to the overhang, slick with water from the mist, to check out the view.

We crawled out onto the protruding rock gingerly on our hands and knees because it was so slick with mist.  Moonbeam, of course, is always in four-paw drive.  When we reached the end we timidly stood up facin´ the waterfall.  It´s always amazed me how difficult it is to stand on a precipice.  Our sense of balance is no different there than in other places, yet it feels different and far less steady.  From here we could see a small cove back a ways from the mouth where children were playing in bathin´ suits.  Dotty handed me a pair of binoculars outta nowhere.  I messed with the little knob in the center until the children came into focus.  “My God!” I shouted.  “It´s me!”  There I was, no more than nine or ten years old along with my little brothers.

Then the pit fell outta the bottom of my stomach as I watched then run and jump into the water.  I saw their heads bobbin´ along in the rapidly speeding current towards the lip of the falls.  I saw their screamin´ faces as they plunged over the edge and disappeared.  My legs became wobbly and I felt both unable to stand or sit down.  I dropped the binoculars and peered over the edge of the precipice.  At first I could see only the foamin´ spume rising from the bottom, but then I saw them, swimmin´ out of the spray towards the landin´.

They climbed out of the water and up the steps and took off runnin´ and yellin´ full of excitement up the dangerous switchback path up the face of the rock, arms and feet flyin´ without a care for their own safety.  Soon we saw them pass the fork in the trail we had turned off on and disappear.  A few moments later, they were back in the cove, apparently ready to do it all over again.

“That was insane!” I said to Dotty.

“You must have been a pretty wild little rascal back then to pull a stunt like that,” she said. “Why on earth did you do it?”

“Stunt?  Do it? I never……I remember slidin´ down a little waterfall over some smooth rocks when I was a kid but I never…..”

“Story musta grown in the tellin´.  A lotta memories change like that,” she said.

“But…” I started to say.

“Hey! That was cool! Can I try it?” Charley asked interuptin´.

“Whaaaa…..?” I started to ask.

“We´ll see,” Dotty said “If we ever get near that spot.”  Dotty and I looked at each other nervously.

Then the imp, who I´d forgotten about completely started laughin´ and jumpin´ up and down on the rock.  “He, he, he, HE!  I knew it!  I gotcha!  I saw!  And you said you weren´t an imp!”

“But I never…..” I didn´t finish.  The imp continued jumpin´ up and down even harder, shriekin´ with laughter.  Then I heard a “chink” through the noise of the falls and a slight tremble.  “I think we otta get off this thing!”

Dotty led me down the unstable rock followed by the others.  As soon as we were all on solid ground, there was a rumble and a loud “CRACK!” and the rock tumbled into the chasm.  Half a second later, a plume of water shot up and came down on our heads.

We sat on the grass a ways from the edge with our clothes steamin´ in the warm sunshine.  The imp was solemnly quiet after seein´ the rock fall.  Moonbeam and Charley went over to the edge and reported that our canoe was unharmed and still floatin´ peacefully next to the dock.

After a while, when we were a little dryer and had somewhat gathered our wits about us, Dotty took my arm, I was still feelin´ a little dizzy,  and we headed down the trail towards the little hut.

 

As got nearer, we saw an old man workin´ in his garden outside.  He straightened up to a half-stoop and waved at us, callin´ out, “Wonderful! Wonderful! You´re here!”

He smiled from ear to ear as we approached.  “I´m sorry Judith isn´t here to greet you as well, but she´s out pickin´ berries for some pies she was hopin´ to bake before you got here.”

“You knew we were comin´?” I asked.

“Of course.  We follow everything you do…And you must be Dotty and Charley!  I´ve been wantin´ an opportunity to thank you for takin´ such good care of our boy!”  He looked down disdainfully at the imp, “I normally don´t let the likes of him in the house, but come on inside and have a cup of tea.  It´ll warm you after that plunge you took.  The kids love it, but we older people don´t care for it much.”

“Well the rock went down, but we weren´t on it, dang it.” Said Charley. “It was our imps fault.”

“Oh that dang thing falls off all the time.  It always grows back though.  Everything is alive here in the imagination.  The imp huh?  It usually is their fault.”

“How come you don´t like imps?” Charley asked.  Apparently, he was becomin´ fond of the imp.

“First of all, ya can never trust `em.  Second, they´re always rearrangin´ the plants in my garden.”

“We like `em in different places!” the imp piped up.

“Yes,” the old man said to the imp. “So you can distract me from my other duties at the waterfall.”  He turned to us. “I´m the gatekeeper here.”

“Do you decide which ideas get to go down the river?” Dotty asked.

“Oh no!  My job is to keep the flow goin´.  These little rascals are always tryin´ to plug up the falls with their junk.  If I didn´t clean it out on a regular basis, pretty soon it´d get so clogged I´d never get it unplugged.  That´s when you get Alzheimer’s. Little blockages are just ordinary forgetfulness.”

“We don´t want those ideas to get out of the lake!” the little imp started to rant.  “They´re ours.  You have no right to let `em go!”

“And why not!” the old man said to him, “Memories are meant to be remembered, not locked up here!  And actually, they´re not yours, they´re his.” He pointed at me. “Besides, they always come back unless they´re not good anymore and have been spoiled by the likes of you!”

“HIS!” the imp screamed, “They´re not his! They´re mine! Mine, mine, mine!”  The imp was throwin´ a tantrum on the floor.

“Maybe we should but him back outside for a while so we can visit in peace.  It´s been such a long time.”  Then he pushed the imp out the door screamin´ and yellin´ all the way and closed it.  We could still hear him but only half as loud now.

“Whew!” the old man said. “They are a trial.  I think if I had to listen to him repeatin´ his nonsense for one more minute, my head would explode.”

“You say those are all my memories in the lake?”

“Around it too.  Well, of course they´re your memories, this is your head.  Of course you always were good at sharin´.  Don´t you remember me? You didn´t get amnesia fallin´ down into the grotto with that rock, did you?”

“We got off just in time.  You know, you do seem a little familiar.”

“I´m not really surprised. You couldn´t have been more that four or five when I passed on, and I don´t get down the river to the sea of consciousness much anymore at my age.  I just turned a hundred and thirty-five you know!  But Judith and me have always kept tabs on ya.  One of the nice things about livin´ in the memory is that you get to meet all the new memories as they come along.”

“Are you my grandpop?” I asked

“One and the same.  I knew you´d catch on sooner or later.”

“I hardly remember you,” I said. “Mostly from the stories grandma told me when I was a kid.”

“Ah yes, she should be home soon with the berries.”

A few minutes later, the back door opened and there she was, with a bucket in each hand. “You´re here!” she cried then put down the buckets and ran over to give me a kiss and a hug.

She turned to my grandpop. “You didn´t let that little imp outside in here did you?  They´re as bad as the ants.  Your always bringin´ in strays.

I let out a laugh as a memory flooded over me of my grandmother, who always fried up a batch of homemade donuts when ever we came over.  She always served them to us on a children´s tea set she´d had since she was a little girl.  It was wonderful to have an adult in your life that knew how to play with children.  She told us a story about my grandpop one day about how she was always catchin´ him feedin´ the ants sugar on her kitchen counter.”

“He kept sayin´ that they wouldn´ta come in if they weren´t hungry,” said my grandma.  She always did seem to be able to read my mind.  Then I wondered if she had really just said that out loud or was it just in my memory of a long time ago.  Then I smiled at the realization of where I was.  “How wonderful it would be,” I thought, “If more adults today would relate stories of love and kindness to the children that are truthful, so many aren´t, in their lives so that those good concepts might take hold in their lives and make them better people.

“The imp is with us,” Charley told my grandma. “He´s a lotta trouble but he´s our friend.”

“I see,” my grandma told him approvingly. “Then there´s hope for him after all.  Some of them grow out of their foolish selfishness or are taught a better way to be.  Your grandpop has rehabilitated several of `em.  They´re usually the way they are because their parents never grew past that stage themselves.  It´s so unfortunate.  A lot of them have never heard a good story except on TV or in a movie and those aren´t always the best examples.”

“Have you by any chance seen my Mother here? I sure do miss her since she died.” I asked.

“Oh of course!  Your dad´s here too!  They come over all the time to visit.  I´m sure they´d love to see you on your way back from your quest when you have more time,” my grandma said.

That brought me back to the present.  “Grandpops, Do you happen to know anything about the source of the imagination?”

“Well,” he said, “Actually, there´s more than one.  Some of it comes from our interaction with reality on a daily basis.  As you saw at the confluence, that river flows both ways.  It´s the connection between the sea of consciousness and everything else in here.

Then there´s the river of emotions.  That give color to all our thoughts and ideas.

The memory, where we are now, is where much of the substance of ideas come from.  We wouldn´t be able to talk or think without memory.  Nothing would make sense either ´cause because we´d have nothin´ to form the concepts out of that we need to understand anything.

Actually, the imagination is not limitless as some people think.  It can only draw from what it has to work with, with what´s here. Reality, memory and emotion.  The imagination is really the whole mind and has the same limitations that all minds have.”

“But do you know where everything starts out?” I asked.

“There is one more source.  It´s just a stream that enters the confluence from behind the waterfall so you can´t see it.  And it´s not exactly water that flows in it, but light.  The true light that illuminates everything, the spark that sparks the imagination and all life.  That´s where true originality comes from.  Everything else is re-cycled.”

“Where does it start from?” I asked.

“It seems to come from deep inside your mind, but that´s an illusion.  Actually, it comes from outside your mind.  You have to go outside your head to get there.”

“How does a person get outside his own mind?  Do you mean go crazy”  I asked.

“Crazy? No, anything but.  I know of only one route. Judith and I have visited it many times.  It´s a path that goes outside both reality and the imagination.”

“How do we get there?”

“You follow the path out back of the hut.  It goes high up into the mountains to a special peak.  That peak is the hightest of all.  At the top is a spring, but no ordinary spring.  It doesn´t seep out of the ground, it seeps into it and it comes from above.  When you get there, if you look up, you´ll see it.  Next to it is a door.  If you knock on that door, an old lady will come and open it for you.”

We decided to set out for it at first light in the mornin´.

Soon the pies were done and grandma served us on her best china.  It was more delicious than any I ever remembered.  Charley took a small piece out to the imp.  We didn´t want him to get anymore greedy than he already was.

“Oh, one more thing,” my grandfather said before we headed for bed.

“The old lady is not fond of imps.  She might not let you up if your little friend is with you.  It seems they´re always trying to poison the spring with their vile ideas that contaminate everything else.  Imps don´t like originality or illumination because it exposes all their deceptions.  You can leave him here. ”

“Won´t he be an awful lot of trouble for you?”

“Don´t worry about me.  I rather enjoy tryin´ to reform ´em, and you´ve already gotten a pretty good start with him.”

My grandma said, “It´s just like back in the great depression.  He was always takin´ in tramps he found out in the alley behind the house.  He´d let ´em use the bathroom to clean up and invite them to dinner with the family even though we didn´t have much ourselves.”

This was another story I remembered from long ago.  Hearin´ it again made me love these two old people even more.

 

 

Day 4

“Am I so foolish as to dream of a world which possibly can never be?  If so, I do not apologize.”

 

In the mornin´ we slipped out the back door.  Grandpop had already wished us good fortune on our journey.  He had taken the imp with him earlier to go and look for pretty wild plants to transplant into his garden, just as he had loved to do in life.  He had promised the imp that he could choose where they were to be planted.  This had appealed to the rascal and he´d gone along eagerly.

My grandma was there to see us off.  She gave us a basket containin´ two of the pies she had baked the night before.  “The old lady loves my pies,” she said. “be sure to save one for her.”  Then she hugged and kissed us all goodbye and we were off.

The way here was much steeper and we had to stop and rest often.  Sometimes we stopped at beautiful vista overlookin´ the lake and others on the other side of the mountain where even more mountains seem to extend forever.

The trail led over a pass and we went deeper into the wilderness.  Sometimes we saw animals, some I had never seen before and others were familiar.  There were many deer and occasionally, rabbits would scamper along with us showin´ no fear.  Sometimes they went right up to Moonbeam and touched noses as if makin´ friends.  Apparently, few humans or dogs had ever been here.

Soon we were ascendin´ another mountain.  This one was higher than the rest and steeper.  The path was a mere goat trail.  I wondered how my grandparents had managed it in their old age.  We passed many small streams and these all flowed uphill instead of down.

The higher we went, the more the vegetation thinned out and the air became more rarified.  With every turn the mountain seemed to grow higher.  I remembered the peak on the island in the confluence and wondered if we would ever get to the top.  Or if this path, going down would lengthen continuously trapping us in the in-between forever.  I didn´t voice my worry to Dotty and Charley, but I wondered if they were feelin´ the same forebodin´.

By mid-afternoon, we could finally see the summit.  There were patches of snow here meltin´ in the shadowy spots and crocuses were bloomin´ on the side of the trail.  We were breathin´ the purest air we had ever breathed in our lives.

The peak was a spire shaped crag and we now had to really climb in places where there was no trail at all.

When we reached the top, we stood on a point only a few yards across.  The view was incredible. There were mountains as far as you could see in every direction.  Some were shrouded by clouds while others shown in the sun like this one.

After takin´ in the view for a few moments, we looked up.  There was the wall floatin´ above us, layin´ few feet above our heads. It was transparent, like a ceiling made of glass stones. In the center was a spiralin´ steam of light leadin´ from a nipple down to a cairn made of crystals of many colors.  The light was pulsatin´ and burst where it touched the tip of the cairn then fell and spread weavin´ about the crystals and finally disappearin´ in the center.  The whole scene had a feelin´ of magic about it.

To one side of the cairn, was a glass ladder that led up to a door that was darker than the wall as if tinted so we couldn´t see through it.

In tentatively climbed the ladder testin´ the strength of the rungs while my lovin´ companions looked on.  At the top, I rapped on the door and was about to rap again when a voice that sounded like the tinklin´ of bells asked, “Who´s in there?”

“Doncha mean out there?” Charley asked.

“Nope.  I mean in there.  This is out here, you´re in there.  Who are you?” the voice said.

“We´re explorers,” I said, “lookin´ for the source of the imagination.”

“Well, the source of everything is out here,” she said. “Wait a minute while I find the right key and I´ll let you out.”

We heard a rattle and then she said, “You might wanna……Ooops!” The door fell open wackin´ me on the head.  I saw stars, went dizzy and fell.

When I came to, Dotty, Charley, Moonbeam and the old lady were standin´ over me.  They were all swimmin´ into focus. “Sorry `bout that,” the old lady said, “It slipped.”

I felt a knot growin´ on top of my head. “Help me up,” I said.

“Are you alright?” Dotty asked me as they all pulled me to my feet.  I grabbed onto the glass ladder to steady myself and told them, “I think so.  I don´t think anything´s broken.  I´m just a little stunned is all.”

“Do you think you can make it up the ladder?” the old lady asked.

“I think so and I slowly started back up.

Surprisingly, all my aches and dizziness vanished as I pulled my self through the door, but that wasn´t the only surprise.  The floor wasn´t where I expected it to be. It was if everything tilted forty-five degrees.  As soon as I was all the way through, everything righted.  When I turned around and faced the door I saw the old lady walk through with Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam behind her.

“Things are on a different plane out here,” the old lady said as she closed the door.  Suddenly, we were engulfed in utter darkness.  When our eyes adjusted we could see by the light of a thin spiral of pulsating light that spiraled from the nothingness above to the center of the wall which was now opaque.  I stood now as a monolith surrounded by, well, more nothingness.  What had first seemed to be a floor was actually just nothingness.  “How can nothin´  be somethin´?,”  I thought.

“It takes a little gettin´ used to,” the old lady told us. “But we´ll be up in my studio soon and you´ll be more comfortable there.”

“Where is it?” Dotty asked.

“It isn´t anywhere.  In fact, there isn´t any anywhere out here at all, but I´ll take you.  Come over towards the light.  Just touch the spiral and it´ll take you there.”

And so we did.  We were spinnin´ through space up the spiral of light and then we stopped.

“Here we are,” the old lady said.

We looked around.  It was an artist´s studio, but it had no walls, floor or ceilin´.  It too was surrounded by nothingness.  There were tables and easels everywhere.  The tables were filled with unfinished sculptures and the easels held unfinished paintings.  All the images were abstract.  They looked, in fact, much like the shapes and forms of the ideas and concepts we had seen in the river of the imagination.

“Who are you?” I asked, “What is this place?”

“Well, actually, it isn´t really a place.  It only looks like one to you so you can perceive it.  We´re actually in pure nothingness.  None of us are here.  In fact, at the moment, none of us are anywhere. But everything comes from nothingness originally,” she told us. “I´m the connection between nothingness and everything.  This is where all creation begins and ends.”

“Are you an artist?” Charley asked.

“Hah! Well Charley, I just sorta help all the new ideas get to the light so they can flow into the imagination below.”

“Well who makes all this stuff then.  It´s really cool!” Charley said.

“It just comes out of nothingness,” she said. “And nothin´ is nothin´ until it becomes sumpthin´.  Nothingness is infinite and inconceivable to us, so who knows.  We can only imagine.  Mankind has come up with several versions durin´ it´s history.  Every now and then I get confused about who´s makin´ this stuff upmyself.  Sometimes it seems like I´m the one making it up, but I know it isn´t”

“Well that certainly rang a bell.” I thought.

“I don´t really have a name, but you can call me….let´s see….how about Estrella. That one sounds pretty nice.  I already know who you are.  You´ve all been here before.”

Glad to meet you Estrella,” I said.

“Oh,” said Dotty, “By the way.  Judith gave us this pie to give you.  Actually there are two, but maybe we can eat them together later.”

“I love Judith´s pies,” she said. “Her and her husband will be comin´ here to live someday, but for now, they prefer to live in the imaginations of the people who are still living that they´ve loved.  As long as there are people who remember them fondly, there´s no reason for them to return to nothingness.  If more people knew how this worked, I think more would conduct their lives differently.  They would know how important others are to them and behave less selfishly and spend more time cultivatin´ love.  We all need the help of others sometime.  But  alas, we all make mistakes.  It´s usually the imps in our heads that cause them.”

“They´re my grandparents.  They were heroes of mine.” I said proudly.

“Yes I know,” she said.

We looked at her in amazement as she seemed to become more luminous each moment.  “Well, let me put the pies in my kitchen and then I´ll take you to the source.

When she returned from he kitchen, Charley asked her a question.  “Estrella, do you know who my parents are?”

“Actually, I do,” she said, “They were two imps that were too immature to care for you, so one of my assistants took you down the river of imagination after she had given you the gift of love so you could find the folks you live with now.  We were sure they would take you in.  I´ve heard reports that they are takin´ pretty good care of you.”

“They are,” Charley agreed. “I really love them a lot, but where are my real parents now?”

“Oh, those two! They lead one of the bands of imps that keep tryin´ to poison the spring with their bad ideas” she said with disgust. “Did you know that you were once an imp yourself?  We helped you grow out of your selfishness and now you’re a fine young man.  We´re so proud of you!”

Charley beamed and smiled at the praise.

“Well, come along now,” she said, and led us over to the spiral of light.

We touched it again and found ourselves in a city in which, like the studio, no walls.  Just the outlines of buildin´s floatin´ in space on yet another plane.  It seemed to me that we must be totally upside down by now.  We´d tilted again as we entered, but perhaps there was no up and down in this strange realm.

In the center was a plaza with a beautiful fountain in the center.  It was incredibly beautiful, sparkling colored light flowed from it which rose up and fell in undulating plumes of spray to the pool below.  There were several luminous beings goin´ to an fro carryin´ jugs which they filled there.

“Those are my assistants,” Estrella told us.  They´re healers among other things.  The light from the fountain is what makes healin´ possible.  I suppose some people would call them angels.  They do other things to help mankind as well, helpin´ them in many ways without bein´ seen.  Your grandparents volunteer here sometimes.  They´ve brought you some of your best ideas while you slept and cooled your fevers many times.  The water, or light they carry is the life force that flows through all living things.  Sometimes when people get sick, they need a little extra creation to get them over the hump.”

“Creation heals?”  I asked.

“Of course, and teaches too.  Haven´t you noticed?”

“Well, I suppose I have.  I just never thought of it that way. I suppose it´s not really about recognition, praise, fame or fortune at all.  Is that the spring?”

“No but it comes from there.  The spring itself is cloaked in ordinariness to protect it from imps.  This place is easier to defend.  We try to get all the bad ideas out that they put in, but some always slip through before we catch on that the imps have been here.  A few more get caught in the filtration system that you call the swamp, but some get to the sea of consciousness anyway.  Now, let me take you to the source.”

We walked a short ways out of the city on an invisible path that she seemed to know.  It it amazed us how some nothingness became almost substantial to support us when we needed it.  I supposed that it was just some kinda trick of the mind that made it seem so, but then considerin´ we´re imaginary and have no weight…I wonder if real people would just fall right through!  We followed her up invisible stairs up through the darkness of nothin´.  Soon we came to a place that was not solid, you could see right through it, and it seemed like there was something there.  We could make out an ordinary lookin´ pile of stones with ordinary lookin´ water flowing out of ´em in to a pool with ordinary lookin´ grass growin´ around it.  She invited us to sit on the grass with her.  It was like an oasis in the middle of nothingness.  “This is such a peaceful spot,” she said. “Sometimes I sit up here for hours, just enjoying being away from all the flamboyance and spectacle of everythingness.”

“It looks so ordinary!  It doesn´t seem special at all,” Dotty said as she sat down.

“It´s the ordinary things in life that are truly special,” she told her. “Now that you´ve seen it, maybe you can help others appreciate those kinds of things a little bit more in your own world.”

After a bit, she suggested that we go back to her kitchen and have some pie.

We ate both pies and loved every bite, thankin´ my grandmother in our heads numerous times.  When we were done, Estrella invited us to spend the night. “Not that there is either night or day in this realm, but it would be night where your goin´ and I wouldn´t wanchya to get lost in the dark when you got there.”

It was strange sleepin´ in beds that weren´t really there, just outlines floatin´ in space, but we slept well.  Soon the blankness of nothingness merged with the blankness of deep sleep.  I don´t suppose we had ever slept better in our whole lives.

 

Day 5 Epiloge

“Stories are meant to be told, not hoarded away where no one can hear them.”

 

After we woke up, we thanked Estrella for her hospitality and said our goodbyes.  She hugged us all and led us once again to the spiral of light.

We spun through space and soon found ourselves back in the realm of the imagination in the mouth of a cave behind the veil of the waterfall that flowed into the river.  We could see the faint trickle of light seeping from the back of the cave out to the mouth and mix with the churning water at the bottom of the falls.  We walked through the mist around the edge of the grotto to the dock and the trail that let up the wall.  We went up it and were soon back at my grandparents hut.  The little imp ran out to meet us hugging Charley around the knees.  He had changed.  He had shed his tail and one of his horns had fallen off.  The other was just danglin´ there.  The silly rubber pitchfork was gone too.

Out of the hut a stream of people ran out to greet us, all anxious to hear about our adventures. There was my father and mother, just as I remembered them from my childhood and numerous friends and lovers from throughout my life and all my heroes as well. They are the one´s that provided me with the most important lessons in life, my teachers.  In fact, all of my fondest memories were present.  There are, of course, bad memories here too, but my grandfather has taught me that we should try not to allow them to prevent us from becomin´ better people.

We spent the next two days visitin´ with them re-tellin´ our story dozens of times, but eventually it was time for us to leave.  We said goodbyes to everyone and promised to return soon and headed down the path to the bottom of the grotto and the canoe.

As we paddled away downstream I thought of one more person I knew was anxiously waitin´ to hear our story so he could write it down, sittin´ at a table in an old trailer near a little town by the sea in Mexico.

Did we actually find the source of the imagination?  Well, who knows.  This particular imagination is prob´ly a bit different than everybody elses after all, each contains different memories and ideas. For instance some people might see the imagination as a field to be cultivated, planted and nurtured so it will bear beautiful flowers, fruit and seed.  It´s up to each of us to create our own personal mythologies, our own creation myths, and share them as well to help others with theirs.

But we did follow the river up to where it disappeared into nothingness.  What´s beyond that, we may never know.  It seems to me, that life would be a lot less interestin´ if there wasn´t at least one more thing yet to be discovered.  The best stories, after all, never end.

The Theory of Relativity – The twelfth Dotty Story

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The Theory of Relativity

The twelfth Dotty story by Russell Rosander

Reality is a hard thing to define.  If you look at it closely, it dissolves into billions of atoms, spinning in space like little solar systems, just pure energy and nothing solid.

It only seems to be what we call real when compared to the imagination.  Somehow, that seems even less definable.  In the end, perhaps it´s all illusion, but what is this thing I call me?  Who is the one who imagines; who is seeing the illusion?  Is it all just some kinda trick?

I was out on the patio one afternoon, when I saw Dotty, my imaginary wife, reclinin´ on a soft, fluffy cloud, diftin´ by overhead.  Then, she rose up and floated gently down into the chair across from mine.

“Whacha doin´?”  she asked.

“Nothin´ out of the ordinary.  Just writin´.” I answered.

“Ya know,” she asked, “I´ve always wondered .  Do you suppose that he writes the same things as you?”

“Who?”

“Well, the guy who´s writing this story, of course.”

“I´m the guy writing this story.  We´re the same person…aren´t we?”

“If you say so.  I´m just wonderin´ if what he writes in the real world is the same as what you write in the imaginary one.”

The question confounded me.  How the hell was I supposed to answer a question like that.  Of course, the character is the story is the same person who´s writing the story.  Then I thought, “Well, wait a minute. Who is writing it?  How could a person know?  Was my character writing the story or was I?”

“Maybe my brain´s not highly enough developed to answer a squishy question like that.  I always thought we were the same person, that I just visit the imagination while you and Charley and Moonbeam are permanent residents.”

“I just wondered ´cause when we go on adventures, he keeps writin´ while you play.”

“Well, he…….  You know what Dotty?  Let´s talk about somethin´ else that´s less confussin´.”

“If you say so.”

Whenever Dotty says “If you say so,” it´s always a clear indication that she doesn´t believe a word of it.  I suppose, havin´ an imaginary wife might seem a little weird to some people, but so what?  Everybody´s a little weird  in one way or another.  I doubt if there is such a thing as normal.  It seems, these days, that just about everybody has some sorta “syndrome” or “complex” or whatever you want to call it.  That he and me are the same person, just seems sorta obvious to me.  Why would she not believe me?  Have I ever told her a lie?  Oh, there´ve been times that I´ve said something that wasn´t true, but it was usually because I believed it was true at the time and didn´t know it wasn´t.  Maybe my syndrome was tryin´ to be honest all the time; still tryin´ to be a good boy for my mama.  That didn´t make it a bad thing to be though.  There are a lot of reasons to try to be as honest as possible.

I looked up from my reverie and Dotty was gone.  There was a mosquito sittin´ on my right pinky, poised for a poke.  I swatted with my left, but I was too slow.  My left jab never was that good.  “Well, if the mosquitoes had found me, I might as well go inside,” I thought.  So I got up and headed for the trailer door.  Maybe I would work on a Sudoku.  At least that was a sort of puzzle I could solve.

I opened the door and was just about blasted into a dozen back-flips off the steps.  I peeked back in and saw that my little dining room area had been expanded to about six times the size of the whole dang trailer.  There was an old black and white TV in the corner, blastin´ away at full volume.  There was a throng of kids sprawled out on the rug in front of it in various impossible positions.  The floor was littered with popcorn, Cheerios and army men.  Then I noticed that all the children were kids I know, or have known.  Some were buds of mine when I was eight or nine years old.  And there were my brothers, Scott and Ken, as little kids.  My own kids, Tai and Faith were there too, and then there was Charley and Moonbeam, curled up on an, old, thread bare couch with anti-macassars on it under an old framed print of an old woman feeding duck by a pond that used to hang in my grandfather´s house.

The TV was flippin´ through programs at lightnin´ speed.  Old cartoons and comedies, like the “Honeymooners” and “I love Lucy”.  Cowboy shows too and Tarzan yodelin´ through the trees in the jungle.  “What the hell, Dotty?”  “He he he HEY HEE….., he he he HEY HEE…..,” Woody Woodpecker laughed.

“I would appreciate it if you didn´t cuss in front of the children!  You´ll set a bad example!” Dotty yelled over the cacophony of screaming and laughing children and the over amped TV.

“But, What……?”  I asked.

“It´s a surprise birthday party for you,” she yelled. “We´ve got German chocolate cake and Neapolitan ice cream too!”

“But my birthday isn´t until June.  This is January.”

“You mean it used to be January.”  Dotty answered.

“What. The month or my birthday?” I asked.

“Take your pick.”

Woody Woodpecker´s manic laugh was still assaultin´ my ears. “He he he HEY HE…..!”

“Turn it down!”  I yelled. “Where´s the clicker?”

“These old things didn´t have clickers.”  She said, and then it was quiet.  The whole tableaux froze in mid moment..

“I thought you´d be surprised.”  She said.

“Well, I am.  It was just a little chaotic and overwhelmin´ is all.”

The room turned back to normal.  Dotty was sittin´ calmly at the table in my ordinary dining room space.  “Normal” I thought. “I guess normal is a pretty relative term.  “Good Gawd, Dotty?  What the hell is goin´on?”

“Oh, just wanted to show you sumpthin.”

“But what´s a weird flashback like that got to do with anything?

“Weird? I thought it was pretty normal.”

“Normal?” I said. But then she was gone.  I sat down and suddenly realized I had no interest in doin´ a Sudoku.  I looked around the room.  There was my guitar, leanin´ against a shelf.  There was the clutter on my table.  There were the books from Beer Bob´s Book Exchange, sittin´ on a book shelf.  All pretty ordinary.  “Normal – Ordinary – reality.”  I guess pretty relative words.  Just whatever you get used to.  “Hmmm.  I wonder if I´m still sixty-six?” I thought.

Maybe weird is just whatever happens so suddenly we don´t have time to get used to it. Changes that seem bizarre and un-real because they don´t fit in the ordinary.  Well, here I am, sittin´ at my table writing again and it seems pretty ordinary and real.  Come to think of it, there have been times in my life when the chaos and confusion of childhood was familiar.  It seemed normal enough at the time as well, but now, it was just an old memory, and here I was peacefully sittin´ at my table writin´.  My real self too!   “Well, let´s see here now:  new paragraph – indent- capitol letter M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-……Damn you, Walt Disney! What have you done to me!”

The next morning, I was out waterin´ the garden.  The sun had only been up for an hour and it was shapin´ up to be a fine, warm, winter´s day in Mexico.  I stuck my thumb over the end of the cut off hose to make a spray and wet down a bunch of seedlings.  Cosmos, Zinnias, Four-O´clocks and others from seed a friend brought down from up north.  Then I moved on to the main garden.  Beautiful, wild, blue sweet peas, hibiscus´s palms that woulda been in pots up north, colorful rubber plants, several types of birds-of-paradise and more.  What could be more real than all this vividity.  I felt cool drips of water, runnin´ down my arm, off my elbow and onto my sandaled toes.

Suddenly, there was Dotty and Charley in bathing suits and Moonbeam snappin´ at the spray.  “Squirt us wog!” they yelled and I did.  They were laughin´ and jumpin´ around it the spray, havin´ fun.  What could be more real than this!  Hmmmmmm.

Then, in a flash, the next thing ya know, we´re all in a canoe, driftin´ into some rapids.  Dotty in front, Charley in the middle, Moonbeam on the bow with his tongue hangin´ out, and me in the back, holdin´ a paddle instead of a garden hose.  I glanced around.  Where were we? Looks like -Salmon River, in Idaho.  I haven´t been here in years!  Then I noticed everyone was wearin´ life jackets but me.  “Hey Dotty!  Where´s…….”  Just then, we slid down a funnel of water and into the spray.  “Whooo Wheee!” they were yellin´.  Then, we flew up in the air and came down with a jolt and we were off…racin´ on the waves.  I was holdin´ on for dear life.  We spun and twisted and flew though the air, and then, we were tippin´on a swell besides a big rock.  The next thing ya know, we were tumblin´ in the water until we reached the end of the rapids and the water got calm again.

I blew water out my nose and looked around.  There was Charley, swimmin´ like a fish, pullin´ the canoe towards shore with Moonbeam dog-paddlin´ behind.  Dotty was on the shore wringin´ the water out of her hair.  I headed for them and, soon, we were all on the shore, drippin´ in the sunshine.

“Dang, Dotty!  You outta give a person a little warnin´ before takin´ ´em on a trip like this.”

“Me?” she said, “I didn´t write this into the story.  Didn´t you?”

“Well, well,…..I musta.”  I said in a puzzled voice.  “Who else coulda done it?”  But I didn´t remember writin´ a word of it.

“How come you guys had life jackets and I didn´t?” I asked her.

“I don´t know.  Maybe it´s ´cause your real and we´re imaginary.  We could drown in the imagination ´cause this is our real world.  Technically, you´re not really even here.”  She said.  Ouch, that stung.  “Nice spot, ain´t it?”  she added.

I looked about.  The sun was goin´ down over the rim of the canyon wall.  An eagle was glidin´ high in the sky above us.  Charley was buildin´ a campfire in front of a tent next to the overturned canoe.  “Damn!” I thought. “If I´m not really here, I sure wanna be.”

After we had our fill of marshmallows and hot dogs and singin´ around the fire, we all climbed into our sleepin´ bags and went to sleep.  I layed awake for a while, listenin´ to the coyotes howl thinkin´ how wonderful it was.

When I awoke again, I found myself still standing in the garden, waterin´ the cantaloupes.  “So it was just a day-dream after all.”  I said to myself. “Sure seemed real……weird.”  Well, there are a lotta `Twilight Zone´ moments when you hung out with Dotty.  Maybe my syndrome is just an overactive imagination.

I went inside and fixed myself a bacon, lettuce and tomata sandwich with a little avocado thrown in and sat down to eat it in silence.

After lunch,  I took my guitar outside and plucked around a bit.  “Loney Tunes” I thought  “Why did I always feel a little nutty whenever I hung out with Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam?”  Wasn´t it normal to have an imagination?  Wasn´t it an ordinary and important part of the human make up?”

Just then, Charley rode up on his bicycle with Moonbeam trailin´ behind.  Dotty suddenly appeared sittin´ in a chair clappin´ her hands.  “Nice tune you´re noodlin´ there wog!”  “Thanks for the canoe trip!” beamed Charley.

“What?” I asked. “Oh that.  But it was nothin´ Charley, just a day-dream.  Completely imaginary.”

“Of course it was! What else would it be? Real?,” asked Charley. “I don´t even believe in reality!”

Dotty frowned at me. “Wog, do you remember the birthday party?”

“Sure, but that was….”

Dotty finished for me. “Your imagination tryin´to show you sumpthin that played a big role in makin´ you who you are.”

“Naw, it was just part of a story I´m writin´.”

“Really?  When did you write that part, before or after?”

“Well, I musta wrote it……well, …..how else…..?”

“HE wrote it wog!”  and with that, they all disappeared.

I sat there, holdin´ my guitar.  “What the heck?” I said to myself as I leaned it up against the table.  I sat there for awhile, thinkin´ about the whole business.  It was sorta like a Sudoku puzzle where you´re stuck.  There are a lotta empty squares and you can´t figure out what numbers go in ´em.  Then I heard Dotty´s voice. “A two goes in that one,” and a square lights up in my brain.  I put a two there, but I´m still stuck.  Then I heard a sigh.  “Did that come from me?” I asked out loud.

I sat there tryin´ to figure it out.  Back to the original question: “Was he, me?  Who´s writin´ these stories anyway?”

Finally, I gave up and headed for the door of the old ´71 Landyacht.  I looked at the painting I had painted of Dotty on the door, with a mirror pointin´ back a me from her hand and another on her forehead with other shards all over it.  I opened the door and looked in. “Yikes! There was somebody there, sittin´ in my chair!”  It was sorta a Goldilocks déjà-vous, ´cept I wasn´t a bear.  I looked in closer.  Then he turned and looked out as he was lookin´ straight through me.

IT WAS ME!!! “He didn´t even notice me!  What a pickle.  Where was I gonna live tonight!”  ran through my head.

I turned around and walked away.  Past the garden and down the road , then I stopped and just stood there starin´ at nothin´.   I don´t know how long I stood there, but after a while, I had to pee.

I pulled down my zipper and started goin and kept starin´ into the nothingness, tryin´to make sense of it.

Then. I felt somethin´, so I looked down.  It was then that it registered.  I finally got it!

I WAS PEEIN´ ON MY OWN FOOT!!!!

The Three Wise Cows – The Second Dotty Story

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The Three Wise Cows
The second Dotty story by Russell Rosander

 It was late at night and I was yawnin’ and noddin’. I was pretty much wilted and thinking of bed. I was just about ready to go lay down and snuggle up with Dotty and drift on over to the other side of the clock.
I was sitting in the parlor of the ’71 Airstream LandYacht when I hear a commotion outside. Things were bangin’ around and tippin’ over. I thought maybe someone was out there, drunker than a skunk, or maybe some sorta wild animal like an javalina.

I looked up at the screen door and I could see several big white shapes like dish towels flappin’ against the screen. At first, I thought of the big white moths, bigger than your hand, that bang up there from time to time looking for the light, but I doubted they were capable of knockin’ over buckets and chairs.

I grabbed my flashlight and pointed it out, and there, to my surprise, were three white brahma cows, starin’ back at me. It was their big floppy ears flappin’ against the screen that got my attention. My flashlight was shinnin’ right in their eyes.  I felt like a cop.  “Have you been drinkin’ this evening, Sir? Would you please step out of your vehicle?”  “Sure officer. But let me hide this beer between the seats first.”

My light startled them and they started movin’ back, knockin’ over another flower pot. I yelled at ‘em to get outta here and watched them leave, stumblin’ over everthing on the patio. I went out behind them and watched them disappear into the darkness. The stars were twinkling’ brightly over head.

The next morning, I went out to see it they were still hangin’ around, but they were nowhere in sight. Just some knocked over stuff and not a single cow pie.  The water bucket by the well was knocked over and empty too.

Dotty poured us a glass of orange juice and I put some coffee water on. After the coffee was ready, we sat down at the table and started speculatin’ about the whole affair. I said, “ They were probably just some cows that got out of wherever they were supposed to be, and the vaqueros will probably be comin’ around soon looking for them. Cows are valuable animals and wouldn’t go unmissed for long.”

Dotty said, “Remember yesterday when you were thinking about the word ‘imagination’ and you noticed that the word ‘magi’ was in it? Maybe the cows aren’t ordinary cows but ‘Magicows’, The Three Wise Cows comin’ to give you the gift of magination so you could write this story.”

I was tryin’ to think up some tactful response when she said, “You know what I think? I think they ARE Magicows. I think they were following a communication satellite all the way across Mexico to Barra de Navidad, lookin’ for a newborn baby to bless. It could even be that the baby is the reincarnation of Pancho Villa. It’s true that Pancho Villa did some bad thing, but when he got to the river Jordan, The charioteers made him take a bath with that catharsic soap they make everone use to wash away their sins and cleanse their souls so they’re all clean before they give ‘em the white robes. God gave John the Baptist the recipe cause he figured Jesus was muckin´ around and takin´ himself too seriously and wanted him to take a bath and they’ve been usin´ it ever since. Dr. Bonner tried to make some for people on earth, ‘Dr. Bonner’s Castille Soap’, but it only works on dirt. The real stuff makes you laugh a lot and like to play with little rubber duckies and think kind thoughts about everone.”

I tried to imagine the “Three Wise Cows” following the light of a communication satellite to the manger of a ’71 Airstream LandYacht comin’ to give a dumb little kid tryin’ to write a story a helping hoof.  It seemed a little far fetched to me, but I’ve got into trouble before,  disputin’ Dotty’s wild ideas.

“ This time Pancho is gonna be a girl and their gonna call her Panchita and she’s gonna pick up the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe and save Mexico from corrupt politicians and narco-trafficers.”
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. Dotty has a way of leaving me dumb-struck that few people are capable of.

“You shoulda invited them in instead of chasin’ them away. You shoulda givin’ them a drink of water or somethin’. We coulda said that we helped the Three Wise Cows on their journey to find the baby Panchita.”

Two shouldas and a coulda. Way over the top for me. “For your information, they drank all the water in the bucket by the well before they came to the door. Where do you get crazy ideas like that?”

“Well, It’s obvious. What else would three Magi-brahma cows be doin’ comin’ to a town called Navidad which means Christmas, afterall?”

Dotty gets wild ideas sometimes. Well, of course she does.  She lives in the imagination.  Her whole theory seemed about as possible to me as cows jumping over the moon, but she wasn’t finished.

“Besides, isn’t Brahma the Hindu creator of the universe? She’s probably the one who sent them.

“How do you know Brahma is a she?” I asked.

“Well of course she’s a she. Just look it up in the dictionary.”

I pulled out my old, tattered, 1941 Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.  The one  I had bought thirty years ago in a thrift shop. The definition didn’t mention gender, but there was one of those little line engravings next to it showin a statue of Brahma sitting lotus style, on a little platform being held up by a duck. There was a crowned head with not one, but four faces, all the same. They did look a little feminine but it was hard to tell. There were four arms stickin’ out holdin’ things. One was a flower, but I couldn’t make out the others. Then I noticed that the figure had large breasts.

“How’d ya like to snuggle up to them cushion, Bubba?”  pointed out Dotty.  “And four arms to hold you. See, I told you. All of us sucklin’ on the nipples of creation and 1t’s definitely a she!

It brought to mind a friend of mine years ago who’s phone number was listed under the name “Harriet Krisha”.    I could see I wasn’t gonna win this one and decided to go for a walk. “What’s the deal with the duck?”, I thought, too late for the repartee.

I walked down the back road towards Barra and turned off on a side road I’d never been down before. I didn’t see any Magicows, but I did find a pasture where there were regular cows and I sat down under a tree.

I don’t really know much about cows, other than what I’ve read in Western novels and what I remember from the cowboy movies I loved as a kid.

There was a cow once that belonged to my neighbors in Idaho that got into my vegetable garden. The cow’s name was “Hamburger” and when it´s time came, Earl and Iona gave me a box of beef to replace the lost produce.

Watching the cows, I could see they spent most of their time eatin’ an’ makin’ cow pies. I seem to remember something’ about cows having seven stomachs, shich may explain how they make compost so fast. Occasionally, one of them would let out a plaintive soundin’ moo. I suspect it’s an expression of some kind of distress like bein’ made to go somewhere they didn’t want to go, or callin’ a calf that was cavortin’ too far away or lettin’ him know she needed him. “Gol-dang-it, Junior, get over here and suck on this thing afore it explodes.

After a while, I headed for home cause it was getting’ kinda hot. I stopped at the store and got somethin’ to cook for dinner. I didn’t buy beef cause I felt a little squeamish about it at the time.

On the way home from the store, I passed the emergency room of the IMSS hospital. I noticed the maintenance guy was sweepin’ up cow turds in front of the door.

“Aha, of course,” I thought. A baby wouldn’t be born in a manger these days. Even really poor people just go to the emergency room these days.

“See, I told you so.” Dotty said the minute I got in the door.

“Dotty,” I said. “All I know is that the cows were here and they were over at the hospital too. The rest of it could be just a bunch of hooey.

“Well, at least my theory offer hope.” She rejoined, “What does your explanation offer? With that, she wouldn’t talk to me for the rest of the day.

I tried to write more of the story but I outta ideas for the present. I was stuck. Even if Dotty was right and there was a Panchita Villa out there, it would take years for that story to unfold.

After I cooked and ate some vegetarian stirfry and noodles, I sat back and read for a while before going to bed.

Just before I nodded off, I heard the water bucket being knocked around. I got up again and looked outside. There they were. I went outside and got the drip bucket from under my icebox and gave that to them too.                                                           Then I went back to bed thinking, “Damn, Being rational and logical can sure be boring. I was asleep five minutes later, gone back to the other side of the clock.

That night, I had a dream. I was down the road under the tree by the cow pasture. I could see the cows, still grazing in the silvery blue-light of the moon, but something strange was going on. I could hear them talking to each other, not in human language, but one that I somehow understood.
The cows were communicating with each other, not with words and sound, but telepathically. I was witnessing the secret life of cows. The cows began gatherin’ and circling in the center of the pasture. They were having an Epiphany. An old word that use to mean:  “The celebration of the coming of the Magi.”

They were passing information to one another, from cow to cow, pasture to pasture, all the way around the world. They were sayin’ that a special baby was about to be born. They were to choose three emissaries, the Magicows to carry a message to some poor, unsuspecting, innocent baby. They were to get as close as they could to where the baby was being born and speak to the baby in Magicow talk which even infants can understand. They were supposed to plant the seeds of dreams that would grow as the child grew up until it would be able to fulfill it’s special destiny.

I watched as the cows circled the three Magicows and broke off towards the fence in a line. They crowded around a weak fence post and pushed on it until it fell over.

I watched from under the tree as the three Magicows stepped over the broken fence and out of the pasture into the road. They started comin’ down the road towards where I was standin’ and as they got closer, I could see they were being led.

What was leading them was white as snow in the moonlight. I watched the procession move slowly closer until I could see that the Magicows were being led by a waddling, white duck.

They passed me and kept on goin’ down the road and I watched them disappear around the bend.

The next thing I knew, I was awake holding a glass of orange juice. Dotty had gotten up before me and poured it as I sleepwalked to the table.
She knew all about the dream. After all, we share the same brain.

I don’t know where the Magicows went to, who was born or what destiny he or she will fulfill, but I have a hope that it really happens.  I do know that there are some babies out there who will grow up to do things that will amaze us, things that will help all of humankind, so maybe it does.

Later that morning, I was out waterin’ the garden and pullin’ weeds. A vaquero came down the road riding high in the saddle with a lariat tied to his pommel.

He halloed me and I halloed him back and I could see it was the patron of a family of vaqueros that are my neighbors. He told me he was looking for three missing white cows.

I told him they had been here during the night.
He tipped his hat and said “Gracias amigo.”, turned around and headed back down the road.

My Imaginary Wife

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This was the first of the Dotty Stories.

By Russell Rosander

         Dotty and I have been having marital problems lately. She´s been a regular crocodile, snappin´ at me without provocation, every time I walk in the door. Every conversation lately, has turned into a battle in the gender wars. I can´t figure it out. If I try to tell her about some good lookin´ produce I saw on a vegetable vender´s truck in town, it gets turned into something about dishrags or being treated like a doormat.
I didn’t think imaginary wives could get like that. Considering imaginary people, by nature, are incapable of physical activity in the real world, I thought she would be happy that I did all the household chores like washing the dishes, cooking, sweepin´ and cleanin´ the toilet bowl, while all she had to do was lay about admiring her painted toenails. What more could a woman ask for. Admittedly, I´m not not the best housekeeper in the world, but hey, it works for me.
Dotty and I have only been together a short while. I´ve been livin´ here in Barra de Navidad for about four years now. I came here from the North Idaho panhandle with my significant other of the time pullin´ a beat up, nineteen seventy-one, thirty-one foot, Airstream Land Yacht aluminum trailer and parked on a lot I had bought the year before under some Parota trees.
For all the adventure of it, the trip down here was not a happy time for me. I had just retired from my job at age sixty-two and should have been elated. But, my partner was awfully sick and the journey was a trial.  She knew she was dyin´ and told me she would only be happy if died in Barra She died less than a month after we got here.
After that experience, I was ready to spend some time alone. I didn’t want the responsibility of takin´ care of anybody but myself.
I took solace in my singularity and began making my home as comfortable a place as I could. Where I could be happy and live out my days.
I´ve been spending my time painting and writing poetry and have recently started writing short stories, which I have never done before.
I´ve also been exploring a new culture and a new environment that is really quite different from North Idaho. I´ve also been exploring spiritual avenues that I´ve neglected since my hippy days ended and other responsibilities of raising a family and making a living came to dominate my life.
Everything was progressing nicely when, one day, I realized that I was getting kinda lonely. I still don’t want to take on the onus of a real relationship with a real woman, then I thought, Hell, if children are allowed to have imaginary playmates, why can´t old people. Who is it that does all that allowin´ and disallowin´ anyway. I don’t remember taking some oath to some authority that allowed and disallowed any such thing. Anyhow, It seemed kinda doubtful that any real woman would want to take up with an crusty old coot with no teeth and barely any meat on his bones anyway.
So, porque no? I named her Dotty, after the little black spot on my side of the Ying/Yang symbol, the male/female principle. It couldn’t get me into too much trouble….could it?
As I was saying. We´ve been having our problems lately. I don’t mind when she gets on me about keepin´ the clutter down on the table or telling me that I need to take a bath ´cause I smell like something that crawled out of a pig slop barrel. After all, we share the good times too, laughing and carryin´ on till long into the night.
But, lately, she´s been getting´ real owley.  Normally, (did I just use that word?) a peck on her rose-bud lips would make everything all right.
After all, I thought, she´s my invention. I get to pull the strings that make her mouth move.  Right?
It was startin´ to scare me a little. I was startin´ to have doubts about this. Maybe it could be dangerous. Look at Vivia, the  transvestite that runs the tienda in the colonia where I buy ice and go to use the internet. Check him/her out some Friday night when he/she is all gussied up to go out after he/she closes up the store. It´s enough to make even the staunchest sexually liberated male in the world feel a little queezy. Here´s a guy who´s little back dot has completely taken over. Now, he/she seems to be a black polliwog with a black eyeball.  It´s almost like he´s more feminine than most women.
Don’t get me wrong, Vivia is a hell of a nice person. She´s kind and considerate to everyone and I consider her a friend.
So one night, were sitting in the parlor of the old seventy-one Land-yacht trying to think up something to talk about when she blurts out “God damn it, you little dip-shit, I can´t take this anymore. If something doesn’t give, I´m going to leave your sorry old ass!”
I´ve heard these ominous words before in previous stages of my life. “Wait just a damned minute, Dotty. You know your just a figment of my imagination. You don’t even exist outside my head and you can´t go anywhere or do anything without my say-so!”
I tell you. That did it. She came back at me steamin´ like a locomotive.
“Figment? I´m your figment? Did you just call me a figment? How the hell do you know that you´re not my figment? Have you ever thought of that? What proof have you got anyway?”
“Hell!” I replied, “I created you and I can un-create you, you ungrateful image!  Who do you think you are, talking to me like that?”  I was beginning to wonder what I had un-leashed upon myself.
“Don’t even go there, little man. I know everything your thinking ´cause we share the same brain cells, but if you think you created me, you’ve got another think coming. I´ve been around since before you even knew what a dot was. I´m every woman you’ve ever known in your whole, god damned, miserable life. What I´m trying to tell you is, that I´m sick and tired of being locked up in your little pumpkin-eater pumpkin. You go to town and hang out with your friends and I´m always left here sittin´ by myself. I´m bored silly!”
“Well, considering you’re a figment, what would happen if I did take you to town. Nobody could see you or hear you but me. What´d my friends think if I just started talkin´ to the breeze. They´d think I should be locked up. Where would we be then?”
“What! Do you think there´s some kind of super secret Federal Imagination Police out there somewhere? Honey buns, you know I love you but you get some weird ideas sometimes. I don’t know, maybe I´m jealous, but how do you think I feel when you come home and re-shape me to look like some little hottie you saw somewhere in town and then you start undressin´ me and then you start…….”
I cut her off.
I´d thought I was gettin´ the upper hand there for a while, but evidently not. “That ain´t exactly the same thing as messin´ around on ya, is it? I know you like it just as much as……”
“That’s it! Just how excitin´ do you think that ancient, shriveled up old pecker or yours is, anyway? I´m going out. I´m gonna go over to El Aguacate and make me some friends of my own. I´ll just get into somebody else´s head.”
“Wait a minute! That’s cheatin´! I won´t have you getting´ into some other guy´s head and giving him what you give me!”
“Well, how about I get into another woman´s head. What are you afraid of? What´s the harm in that? You have friends, why can´t I?”
An image of a bunch of women sitting around inside my skull drinking coffee and chatterin´ away about all kinds of shit about me flashed before my eyes. “You listen hear, figment……..”
“That´s it! You´re not listenin´ to me!” and the screen door slammed behind her as she disappeared into the darkness. I just sat there, listening to the silence banging around the room.
After a few minutes, I got my bearings. I knew I had gone too far. I opened the door and followed her out into the night, headed for El Aguacate.
I spotted her walking across the jardin. It was cena time, the Mexican evening meal. The taco stands were hoppin´ and families sat around tables in the street while children ran around everywhere. I front of some of the houses, old people sat in plastic chairs shakin´ their heads whenever a car full of teen-agers drove by blasting Techno-pop from oversized speakers. Other kids were practicing traditional dances in front of a boom-box playing old rancho music.
She turned down a dark street and I followed at a distance, staying out of sight. She stopped in front of a crummy looking casita and just stood there listening.
A man and a woman were arguin´ loudly inside. It seems the gender wars have spread over here too. I could hear words that aren’t in the Spanish/English dictionary being used. Hateful words, yelled so loud they coulda drowned out the banda music coming from down the street. I couldn’t understand a lot of it, but I could get the tone. The guy was aggressive. The woman, pleading. Then there was the thwack, thwack, thwack of somebody hittin´ someone and things crashing and breaking.
Dotty ducked into the bushes just in time after we heard “You don´t want to fuck me? Well, guess what? I know somebody who will and like it!” The door flew open and he strode out, bristling with anger. Behind him, the woman was crying, long deep sobs that would tear at the heart of even the most hardened psycho-path.
He mounted an old beat up Italica motorbike. The engine roared to life and he turned into the street. The single headlamp was blinkin´ on and off with every dip and bump as his taillights disappeared down the cobbled street.
Dotty ran inside the door and closed it behind her. I stood outside and listened to the woman´s moans as they gradually quieted to a whimper. Dotty didn’t come back out. I sat outside on an upturned plastic bucket for a couple of hours and then got up and headed for home.
The streets were quiet then. The only sounds all the way home were the long-haul semis blastin´ through on the highway, hittin´ their “jake brakes” each time they came to a tope (speed bump). The mile home seemed like ten and I stepped into the emptiness inside my little trailer.
I didn’t go to bed. I just sat there in my chair until I fell asleep. Nothing seemed to matter any more now that Dotty was gone.
I was dreamin´ I was standing alone in a field of white as far as you could see in any direction without any other color when I heard someone or something crashing through the garden outside. Then I heard a long, keening wail and I woke up, but the sound didn’t stop.
Someone started pounding on my door. I got up and found my flashlight and poked it up to the widow to stop the reflection from blinding me, and peered outside.
He froze like a deer in headlights and stopped screaming for a second. Then he resumed his awful howl. It was the man from El Aguacate  who had been abusin´ his wife.  I thought maybe he was here to kill me ´cause Dotty was messin´ with their lives, but then, I saw the terror in his eyes.
Blood was streaming down his face and his eyes glowed red, but from fear, not hate. His clothes were shredded from the cuts of the thousands of sharp thorns in the brush. Blood was running down his scratched up arms and was dripping from his finger tips. He let out another howl, “Ayudaaaaa! (help!)” that threatened to burst my eardrums. I yelled “Basta! (stop it!)” and he fell into a heap in front of my door.
I went out and knelt beside him. He was still conscious and moaning, “Mi espousa, mi espousa. Ella is loco! (My wife, my wife. She is crazy!)” From what I had seen, he seemed to be the loco one.
Gradually, I figured out what he was saying. He told me he had come home from Bar de Gus, a whorehouse out on the highway. She came out when he pulled up and she seemed like a different person. She had a heavy piece of re-bar in her hand and she swung it at his head and hit him. She kept beating on him until he was down and then went to work on the motorbike. She smashed the heck out of it and then turned and come back at him. He managed to get up and run and kept running until he saw the light in my trailer and came up for help.
He was fading fast. I helped him up and we stumbled down the dirt road towards the little hospital in the colonia. We fell several times over the tall weeds in my driveway. When we finally got close enough, I yelled to the night guards and they came running. They got him inside the emergency room door just as he passed out.
I waited outside, talking with the guards, telling them about what happened, leaving the part out about Dotty. Those guys wear uniforms and look kinda official, you never know. Now I know why writers use nom-de-plumes.
The doctor came out after a while, and told me the man had a concussion and had some broken bones and a lotta cuts, but he was gonna live. They had sent for the ambulance to take him to the big Red Cross hospital in Cihuatlan where they could keep an eye on him for a few days.
I was so tired, I could barely see the lightning bugs on the way home. It was starting to get light when I reached the door.
Dotty was waiting for me inside.
“Where you been?” she asked.
“Took a man to the hospital.”
“Good” she said.
“Is the woman O.K.?”
“More than O.K. She´s better than she´s been in a long time. That bastard had been beating on her for years. She´d never fought back or even called the cops. She said guys like him just pay money that the families need to survive and they let them go. I got into her head and gave her the courage to stand up for herself.”
It was then that I realized that Dotty, my lonely imaginary wife had a life of her own. She was no more my creation than my left foot.
I looked into her eyes with a totally new respect and love.
“It was kinda fun.” She said.
I just sat down and didn’t say a word.
“So, when are you going to introduce me to your friends?” She asked.
I picked up my notebook and wrote: By the way, Dotty says “Nice to meet you.”

Imaginary Love

Standard

The holidays were over and I was sitting out on my patio one afternoon enjoying the unexcitingness of it all.  I have discovered that unexciting days are a blessing.  Days, in which, there is time that needn´t be accounted for and the imagination can blossom.  Days, in which, a person can examine the subtleties and intricacies of life and reflect, unobscured  by the hustle and bustle.

Dotty, my imaginary wife, was standing at the other end of the patio where the barbecue´s at, and was as lovely an apparition as I have ever seen.  She was making a lot of strange hand gestures, which I thought at first, was some kinda sign language, and then, thought maybe it was some sorta tai chi exercise.  She had a look of extreme concentration on her face.

“What the hell are you doin´ Dotty?” I asked.

“What does it look like?” she answered.

“Well, I don´t know.  I´ve never seen you do that before!”

“Well, then use your imagination!” she said without stopping.

“Huh?”

“Can´tcha see I´m washing the dishes?”

“What! I don´t see any dishes!”

“That´s because your not imaginin´ them!  Come on!  Take a look!”

She was right.  I had only been imagining her! Now, I could see a counter and sink full of sudsy water and dishes piled in a rack.  “Why are you doin´ that?” I exclaimed.

“Well, I don´t want you gettin´ miffed `cause you do all the housework around here.”

“But, I´m not miffed.  I understand perfectly that imaginary people aren´t of the physical realm.  You don´t have to wash the dishes!”

Now, she snatched up a towel and started wipin´ them and puttin´ them away in an imaginary cupboard.  “Just the same, I don´t wancha to get that way and start unappreciatin´ me.”

“Aw, Dotty!  I could never unappreciate you!”  But then again, the holidays had been a busy time.  There had been a lot of friends visiting here in Barra de Navidad that I hadn´t seen all year, and we´d been celebrating non-stop for a couple of weeks.  Maybe, I had been neglecting her a little.  I went over and wrapped my arms around her and planted a big kiss on her rose-bud lips.

“How about you and I do something special tonight, something romantic, just the two of us?  Charley and Moonbeam can take care of themselves for a couple of hours.”  Charley is an inner child of mine and is nine years old and quite capable.   Moonbeam is his imaginary dog.

“Whaddya have in mind?” she asked.

“Oh, I don´t know. Maybe a moonlight walk along the beach.  We can sit on the beach while the moonbeams flicker around us and see what happens.”

“Are you sure Charlie will be alright?  You know how boys are.”

“Sure.  Besides, Moonbeam will be here to protect him.  That dog can sniff out an imaginary demon from a mile away and he´d bark up such a racket, that none would dare come near.”  We live, much of the time, in an imaginary universe which parallels the real one.  The Indians called it “The spirit world”, and in it, there are spirits a-plenty.  Even in the minds of the most cynical realists, they romp riotously through their dreams as they sleep.  Even though they deny their existence, they still influence how they perceive the world.  Many people fear the imagination and dreams, and hopelessly try to exclude it all from their daytime thoughts, but they never truly succeed.  They believe it to be a place of terror and horror.  Or, maybe they just consider it to be too volatile and unpredictable.  They don´t seem to know, that it can be a place of beauty and wonder if they want it to be.

“It´s a date!” she said and went back to drying her imaginary dishes.  It reminded me, that I needed to wash the real ones, so I went inside the old `71 Landyacht Airstream trailer in which I live, and did just that.

That night, I arose in my sleep and entered the world of dreams.  Dotty was already up and was wearin´ a mischievous grin on her face.  The night was warm and smellin´ sweet from the winter flowers that grow here, and the moon was high and shinnin´ bright.

Leaving my real body asleep in my bed, we tip-toed towards the door.  “Where ya goin´ ?” came a high sweet voice from Charlie´s corner.

“Oh, we´re just goin´ out for awhile to enjoy the moonlight.” Dotty told him. “Do you think you´ll be alright for a couple of hours?”

“Sure.  I´m kinda tired `cause we had such a busy day in imaginary school today.”  Actually, the denizens of my imagination sleep during the times of my inattention, although, sometimes, they have business of their own in my subconscious, which I know little about.  Sometimes, their activities become startlingly apparent, when I least expect it.

The walk from the trailer to the beach is much shorter in this realm that it is in real life.  We chose to ignore the mosquitoes this night, so they were not with us. It´s a simple thing to do, once you get the knack of it.  We heard an owl, hootin´ in the coconut palms and the crickets, katydids and frogs sang us a serenade as we walked.  The fireflies were blinkin´ everywhere to the beat of the song. Soon, we rounded a bend in the path, and there it was, the beautiful ocean, glistening in the moonlight.

Actually, there are many people, even in the frigid north, locked in winter´s grip, that know that these paths to the lovely imaginary tropical beaches are short for them as well.  Only a snooze or a daydream away.

The dolphins were leapin´ high in the crystalline sparkles of the waves along the shore, come to greet us in their play.  For a few minutes, we watched them as they cavorted in the surf, and then, they invited us to join them.

In an instant, we were among them, dancing in the moonlight on the water.  We circled and spun and leapt in ecstatic celebration of our existence in this beautiful universe.

Once the dolphins had left us, we were again, alone, back on the beach.  Dotty and I gazed deeply into each other´s eyes, through the sparkles of moon and starlight that were reflected there.  We embraced and kissed, each drinking in the essence and love of the other.  How sweet it was.

We laid together on a blanket on the sand and held each other close, soaking in the luminous wonder of it all.  The little cove was cupping us like the palm of a hand, as we watched the moonbeams and starlights capering mirthfully on the wavelets as far as we could see.  They multiplied and grew, and surrounded us, gently touching our hair and faces.  Then, they swirled about us and lifted us high into the air.  We were transported by the love of all things, places and each other, in overwhelming, rapturous delight.

There are those who might think that the love for an imaginary woman is a form of self love, but let me tell you, love transcends the self, whether imaginary or real.  In fact, love is never truly imaginary.  It is always real, and the effect is always the same.  We leave our mortal egos behind and fly on the wings of angels to heights that are unbound, beyond expectation, beyond imagination or reality, to a better place.

Why is it that so many men and women are afraid of it?  What they fear, is the hurt and suffering that comes from a precipitous fall.  In reality, the suffering is the result of the lack of love.  Actually, not to love is what causes damage to the soul.  Love doesn´t need reciprocation, the gift is in the giving.  The reward is itself and, if we can avoid blame, criticism and admonishment, need never end.

We rode high into the night sky and neither of us spoke a word, for mere words could never convey what we shared and still shared.  We can experience it whenever we visit our friends, family, parents, children and grandchildren, all those we have ever loved, whether in reality, imagination, in thought or remembrance, no matter how far away they are, or whether they are living or have passed on.  And we can never fall, as long as we keep the gift of love in our hearts and minds.

Love is a song which reverberates from our center outward and touches the most distant stars.  Sometimes it does, indeed come back like an echo and blesses us and the light within us grows.  But it can never come back if we don´t put it out there in the first place. Even though it is given, it can never be lost or wasted, whether it comes back or not.  All it takes is a kind word or a smile and a little respect for others.   Love is not a possession, it´s an act.

When the moon was just about to slip below the distant horizon of the sea, we started for home.  The owl was still in the tree, asking it´s plaintive question and the creatures of the night continued to sing.  The fireflies lit the way.

Dotty and I held each other in each other´s arms once again, before I returned to my still sleeping body to await the dawn.  “It was wonderful!” she told me.

When morning came, I awoke with three words on my lips, “I Love You”, the most magical words in any language, wanting to be told, once again and to never be forgotten.  And so, I give these words to you, if you might be so kind as to pass them on.