Millie Tilly Dilly, the filly from Philly with a sister Lilly who called their brother Willy Nilly Billy, stood fast asleep on her hooves. A small jungle leaf hung from her saggy lips. One Son the Belcher Monkey lay flat on his back, also asleep. He dreamed of bananas in secret sauces—whole hot tubs filled with them while he lay on his back, floating in squishy comfort, shoving one after the other into his mouth and chewing. Ahhh, chewing. In his sleep, his mouth began to move.
Little Lindsay emerged from the center of the tree. Amber followed, carrying a wide-awake Lucky, wide-eyed and curious, by his neck in her mouth. “Wake up, you two! It’s time to go.”
One Son twitched once, scratched his armpit, turned on his side and let out a long, slow belch. It was not an unpleasant sound, perhaps similar to a medium sized tuba submerged in water, with the tremolo of a flugelhorn, except it didn’t come from his mouth.
“Oh! Cheese whiz, One Son!”
Millie awoke with a snort. “Oh, whew! Is somebody making popcorn?”
“One Son! Wake up! We have to go!”
One Son stirred grumpily, not wishing to leave his dreamy hot tub filled with bananas and secret sauce, but opened his eyes and leaned forward anyway. “You’ve ruined me for regular bananas, I hope you know that.” He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “BRA-A-A-AP! Where am I? How did I get down here?” He looked around, then straight up. “Uh-oh—”
“Cougher Monkeys,” Amber said to Little Lindsay. “We’d better get moving.”
“You mean the ones who get high in the trees?”
“That’s them, Little One. And they’ll be looking for munchies soon,” One Son said. “Amber’s correct, we should go. Which way?”
Little Lindsay composed herself and grew calm. Which way? Silence prevailed for a moment, then, “That way,” she pronounced firmly, pointing west.
One Son jumped up into the thick trees. “I’ll keep lookout from up here. If I tell you to run you’d better get your horse in gear and fly! Vamos!” He shot forward with great leaps, straight through the foliage, and disappeared.
Little Lindsay led the way, with Amber carrying Lucky behind her and Millie protecting her flank. “It’s not far, but we have to hurry. Mommy and Daddy are worried.”
They set a steady pace. Little Lindsay brushed aside branches easily, with no fear of what might lie beneath them, or on top. Young saplings were stepped past gingerly, like a ninja bypassing her own shadow, and left unharmed. They walked for minutes, then more minutes, and more followed by more and more until roughly thirty-eight of them passed before…
“What was that?” Little Lindsay said. “Did something fall from the tree?”
“Moofey fuffas!” Amber tried to say with the puppy in her mouth.
“I don’t mean to be an alarmist right out of the gate,” Millie said from behind, somewhat uneasily, “but there’s a lot of movement going on high in the trees. And… Ouch! That kind of stung!”
“Moofey fuffas!” Amber tried to say again. Finally she stopped (which caused Millie to stand on two legs for a moment with her rump in the air) and spit Lucky out of her mouth. “Monkey pellets! Little Lindsay, get on Millie’s back! Millie, run like you’ve never run before!” She grabbed Lucky by the neck and threw him onto her back. “Hold on tight, Lucky! We’re going to afterburners! Move over, Little Lindsay, coming through! See you at home!” With that, Amber turned on the nitro and bolted forward with great, long strides—Lucky flapping on her back like a small cape—and swerved in and out of the trees, dodging an increasing number of monkey pellets, until she and Lucky were out of sight.
“That’s gotta hurt,” Millie winced. “Come on, girl, jump up!”
“BRA-A-A-AP! It’s Coughers, and they’re a little testy. Fly, you two! I’ll try to slow them down.”
“One Son! One Son! Don’t be a hero, run!” Little Lindsay called into the trees. A monkey pellet landed in her open mouth. “Ew, pah!” She spit it out. “Disgusting!”
“Millie!” his voice came from above, fading as he spoke, “Run, you silly filly from Philly! Run like your lives depend…” but she could hear no more.
While Little Lindsay struggled to climb on her back, Millie had a momentary flashback. She had a distant relative in the country back home, long since passed away but a legend in the family. His name was Hidalgo. He was small, like Millie. He was strong, also like Millie. And he won a three-thousand mile long race in a desert called Arabia where he was a long-shot to even survive. Hidalgo was not a horse who shied away from long odds and danger. He was a proud Mustang who spent his youth running freely on open plains. Running, always running… Millie’s face was stern with resolve.
Little Lindsay finally made it onto Millie’s back. “Millie, are you okay?” she asked.
“Hang on tight to my mane, long-legged Little Lindsay. It’s time to fly!”
Before she knew what was going to happen, Little Lindsay was doing all she could to hang on tight.
And run they did. Man did they run! They were flying! A toucan got whiplash watching them go by. A squirrel dropped his nuts. A sloth, two miles back, was still turning his head. “What th—?” he said. Monkey pellets rained from the sky. Little Lindsay squeezed Millie with all her might as they zipped through the jungle, never slowing down even a little for even an instant. Looking ahead, she saw Amber with Lucky flapping on her back. Millie was gaining on them. They were so close, but the pellets were coming in greater numbers and it was hard to see very far in the distance. Still, through all of that, Little Lindsay knew she was close to Mommy and Daddy. If they could only just push on a little more, a little faster…
Just at that moment, at that precise point in time, there came a loud sound. It was the biggest sound of its kind ever to shake the jungle. It was mighty. It was all-enveloping. It was…
…disgusting, but effective. Everything, with the exceptions of Amber and Millie, stopped in its tracks. Cougher monkeys close to the initial blast fainted and fell to the ground, some of them hanging off branches like limp towels. Or spaghetti. Or perhaps an old sock, if you prefer. One Son was nowhere to be seen. The kickback from his eruption had sent him soaring into the canopy, where he was last seen tumbling end over end out of sight. Millie and Amber kept up the pace while the remaining Coughers held their noses and re-grouped.
“There!” Little Lindsay yelled, pointing to a small clearing not far in the distance. “There they are!” The moment was at hand. The payoff. The cards were about to be shown and the winner announced. The curtain was going up. It was showtime. With one final push, one final stretch of their bodies, one final use of their juice and kick of the hind legs, Amber and Millie quite literally and unilaterally, summarily and undoubtedly, even unforgettably, soared through the air with the greatest of ease like those flying young men without a trapeze.
“Look out everybody!” Little Lindsay screamed with joy, “Hang on to your limones, this train is coming into Pura Vita-Veedaville! Yeee-hawwww!”
That’s when, clearly belabored readers, according to Little Lindsay’s account some non-exact time later, time stopped. All four of our unlikely set of travelers floated like a mist in the tropics toward their final destination. Experts refuse to even attempt to calculate the group’s alleged rate of speed during what they refer to as “This Floating Nonsense” stage.
What have you learned, Little Lindsay? It was Lemu-eel’s voice coming to her from she knew not where.
Being still inside is pleasant.
And magic is no more than pure intention.
Who won the poker game?
There are no losers, Little Lindsay.
This suspension of time, unfortunately, allowed the Cougher Monkeys to gather more pellets.
“Ouch! Daddy, did you throw something at me?” Mommy stopped hanging clothes and opened her umbrella, which she always kept nearby.
“Huh?” Daddy said, then “Ouch!” after a pellet hit him on the forehead. He picked it up to examine. “Smells like— Holy Cow!”
Soaring over Amber and Lucky, Millie hit the clearing first. She came down with her hind legs in front, sliding like a baseball player stealing home, and stopped in front of Daddy. Amber and Lucky followed, skidding to a stop barely inches from Millie’s midsection. Daddy could have sworn he heard the little pup laughing. It must have been a chipmunk, though. Or a cricket on laughing gas.
“Amber! Good girl. What’s going on here?” Daddy demanded an answer. Amber looked at Millie, who was still lying on her side, safe at home.
Suddenly a hand came from behind the small but swift filly, and a head popped up. “Thank you, Millie. I love you!”
“Little Lindsay!” Mommy rushed over and scooped Little Lindsay into her arms.
“We were so worried about you!” Daddy said, with immense relief. The pellets were getting more plentiful so he raised his umbrella, too.
Little Lindsay turned to Millie and Amber, both of whom were staring at something in the sky. Amber whispered to Millie, “Do you smell what I smell?”
“Unfortunately, yes. We’d better make room.” Millie got off the ground and moved to the side a little bit.
“What’s the matter, Millie?”
Millie looked up. Little Lindsay followed. “What’s tha—?”
One Son hit the ground with a SLAP! heard ‘round the world. What little breath left in him puffed out of his mouth like a tiny mushroom cloud. Monkey pellets bounced off his face but he neither flinched nor belched (nor anything else) as a result.
“One Son!” Little Lindsay jumped from Mommy and Daddy’s arms and ran to his side. “Speak to me! Belch at me, please!”
Daddy looked at Mommy with concern all over his face. “Belch at me?”
“Quickly! We have to move him inside. Everybody has to get inside!”
“Even the horse?” Daddy seemed confused.
“Of course, the horse! Mommy, grab Lucky.”
“Lucky, the puppy. Hurry!”
Pellets landed everywhere. Daddy picked up One Son, brought him inside, and laid him gently on the couch. When he turned around, there was no place to go. Millie shuffled uncomfortably on the hard floor right next to him. The pellet storm got louder on the tin roof.
“What the heck is going on out there?”
“It’s Cougher Monkeys, Daddy. They get high in the trees and then throw pellets at you when they get the munchies. What are we to do?” An avocado pit landed on the roof with a loud bang.
Daddy sat on the couch next to the sprawled One Son, crossed his legs, and rested his chin on his hand. His other arm hung limp on his knee. He was The Thinker of the family. Everyone held their breath to hear what he would say next.
“Well,” he said, “we could throw potato chips at them, but I don’t think we have enough. Besides, I like them with a sandwich and a cold beer some times. But, I think I have an idea…” He jumped up from the couch. “Uh, excuse me, horse.”
“That’s Millie from Philly, Daddy.”
Daddy gave Mommy that same look of concern. “From Philly?” He spoke to Millie, “How nice. You must be having a lovely time. Why the long face? Ha-ha! Get it?”
Millie got it, again, but didn’t want any part of it.
“I’ll be right back.” Daddy went into his study and closed the door.
“If I hear that joke one more time…”
“What did you say, Little Lindsay?” Mommy asked. “Are you sick? You sound hoarse.”
“No, Mommy. I’m fine. I’m so happy you and Daddy are okay. It’s so good to—”
The study door flew open as if it were Kramer on Seinfeld, the TeeVee show, except it was Daddy, and he was holding a plastic bag filled with…
“Magic Mist!” he exclaimed with glee. “This’ll slow ’em down!” He moved toward the door. “Excuse me, uh, Millie from Philly. Ouch, banged my knee…” When he opened the front door he held the bag high and squeezed it. “Take that, Coffee Munchers, or whatever you are! And that! And that!” he said, squeezing more and more puffs of Magic Mist into the air. He even swallowed one himself and blew it into a hail of raining pellets. Daddy was so brave!
Little by little the pellets became less, until there were no more. The Coughers were draped peacefully on the highest branches. They seemed to have forgotten what their purpose was, and began making their way back from whence they came.
“Yay, Daddy!” both Mommy and Little Lindsay cheered. Amber barked. Even Lucky felt the excitement and tried to bark like Amber but it came out like a mouse squeak and he fell over. Millie, along with everyone, smiled with relief and couldn’t help but chuckle at the little brown puppy.
Little Lindsay looked to the couch. One Son was still unconscious. “Daddy,” she said, “can your Magic Mist save One Son? Ple-e-e-ase?”
Daddy looked at the little bit left in the bag, and at One Son. “I don’t know, but we can try. I have an idea.”
Millie turned herself around and walked out the front door, then poked her head in the open window to watch.
“Smart horse,” Daddy said. He grabbed a dish rag and went to the couch, where he put the rag over One Son’s mouth and slowly fed Magic Mist into the Belcher’s nostrils. Everyone watched and waited for some sign of consciousness, some clue, some movement…
“Oh! There!” Daddy said, and he pulled the rag off. “His mouth is moving a little. It looks like… If I’m not mistaken, I think he’s chewing.”
“One Son! Quick! Mommy, can you make some secret sauce and banana? He loves that.”
Mommy laughed on her way to the kitchen. “Of course he does, honey. I have a nice, sweet banana, too.”
“That’ll work,” Millie said from the window.
Both Mommy and Daddy thought the other said that. “Are you getting a cold, hon? You sound hoarse,” Daddy asked.
“Oh, and can you make me some french toast, Mommy?”
“Yes, dear. Here’s the secret sauce. I have some already made in the refrigerator.” Mommy looked inside the fridge. “Oh Daddy, the power is out.”
Daddy groaned. “Again?”
“I know, I know,” Mommy said. “Here, Little Lindsay, take this to Daddy. Let him do it.”
“Oh he won’t hurt us, Mommy.” Little Lindsay handed her father the secret sauce and banana. “Just wave it under his nose and he’ll get religious.”
Daddy looked at Mommy again. “Religious?”
“Do it, Daddy!”
Daddy did as Daddy was commanded—on the double! He dipped the banana in the secret sauce and placed the sweetest end into One Son’s open mouth. It only took a second before his chewing movements increased in scope. Then his tongue slid the rest of the banana into his mouth. He chewed, then swallowed.
“Wa-a-a-it for it,” Little Lindsay said, and held her nose. One Son’s eyes popped open and he sat bolt upright.
“One Son!” Little Lindsay, unable to contain herself, ran to him and wrapped her arms around him.
“Oh! Cheesy nachos! I’ll go get the ozone machine.” Daddy ran to the bodega.
“Oh thank you, One Son! Thank you thank you thank you…”
A lone parrot circled high above. No one knew he was there. Just as suddenly as he had risen from the near-dead, One Son fell back onto the couch in a semi-conscious state, but this time with a bliss-ninny expression. “He’s fine,” Little Lindsay said. “He’s just being religious right now.”
And so it was in Expert eyes, Little Lindsay’s tale was all lies. “Balderdash and poppycock!” was what they offered. “Malarkey and baloney,” they also proffered. “Oh come all ye faithful, listen to Us. We will let you know what you must! This is ballyhoo, and too much to Tweet. If you don’t mind, Little Lindsay, please take a seat!”
Let it be noted this tale is now told. A lesson was learned for both young and old. Mind your intentions and let them be pure. The universe is magic, that’s for sure.
This Narrator now asks you, dearly beleaguered reader, to be the Expert.
Copyright © October 31, 2012, Mitchell Geller.