The Pooka Problem
by ROY LeBAY

Chapter 6

"I wasn't here for the 2 weeks, so I can't explain his actions during that time. I can, however, reveal Wyly's methods behind the madness he caused on the first day I was here. For the first example, the mice in the tent & the restaurant incident. Apparently, the mice here at the Funhouse are essentially free agents, & can run anywhere, & disturb anyone within its' boundaries. This is probably because they're seen to be too small to be of any help, or to be useful volunteers." Circe made a small nod, seemingly in agreement. "You know, Patches brought up something along those lines the other day! So how does this explain the 'method'?"

"I'm getting there. I remember very clearly that there was only a slight breeze, not nearly enough to lift the heavy canvas for the sheepdog to spot us. I think Wyly pulled it back..." Wyly broke his silence. "That's right, I pulled it open to show Roy & the mice to your sheepdog. The loose lion, flaming umbrellas, & the screams of the audience were just gravy. That snack had a delicious sweet & sour aftertaste!" I rolled my eyes, trying not to imagine the kind of diet my related ego Wyly might develop. "Thank-you Wyly." I muttered sarcastically.

"My point is, there's big business in helping people to face their fears. Rodents of any kind, including mice & hamsters, are near the top of the list; & that's how these 'free agents' can help. I'd suggest a miniature city, with unique features that these intelligent mice & such can best make use of. We're talking about a lot more than exercise wheels & water bottles here. To help sooth the furry phobias, there would have to be someone there to help reveal the truth about mice, & supervise their proper handling. This is to say nothing about mouse & hamster lovers you could attract via the 'Net! Of course, the rubber bars on the cages are a 'unique' safety feature in the animals' best interest, but they're prone to being accidentally revealed, the lion being a prime example. I'd suggest a trick switch inside the cage that only your volunteer animals could use.You'll need fireproof umbrellas outside the one restaurant, keeping in mind that asbestos is still illegal. Also, the fire-eaters," I cocked my head at Circe, "Dragons, right?" She nodded. "They need something to keep their tails off the ground. I'm sure the children are severely tempted to step on them. Perhaps they should also have a 'safety' feature to keep them from accidentally belching fire as well!" "Don't forget the rolling marble, my Coincidental Art display, & my first audience applause!" Wyly actually licked his chops at the memory. "Rolling..? Oh, that's right, the table at the buffet--your sister should remember this Circe!" The redhead favored me with a frown & brushed at the phantom stains on her toga.

"I know you wan to keep a Greek theme going, & carved marble is always beautiful, but are you trying to crush your customers?! You should either add sturdier legs to the tables, or switch to plastic tables instead. Plastic compared to marble is cheaper by far anyways." At this point I couldn't tell if I was making sense, or just being pushy. Circe had assumed the 'lecture position,' with chin in hand, & eyes glazed over. It was hard to tell if I was scoring points or not. I was about to push ahead, when I spotted a mouse scampering over a maze of pipes between buildings--triggering an unusual memory. Strange as it was, I found myself thinking about the proposed mouse metropolis. For some reason, the idea reminded me of something I'd seen at the county fair, but what was it? Oh yes--the enormous, heavily padded, full body sumo wrestler suits. In their place I pictured rubbery, well-padded MOVIE MONSTER suits! In the spirit of the choice between classic Elvis & Fat Elvis, you could choose between classic Godzilla, & the new Warner Bros. version. A large selection of other classic giant monsters & robots would be included as well. The site of the two-way 'battles' wouldn't be the mouse city, of course, but rather a specially designed iMax/prop room. The ceiling, 3 back walls, & the floor would show: projected planes, explosions, actual demolition film clips, & clips containing the various characters. The floor screen would show the panicked, screaming masses--complete with the horrendous lip-synching. You know--the lips move, & three seconds later you hear, "Oh No! Look Out! It's A Copyright Violation!" The city on top of the floor screen would be a real piece of work. Stepping on the mini power lines would give a fine electrical crackle. Sky scrappers will topple exactly like dominoes. Magnetic fall-apart buildings will give off clouds of dust as they crumble, & strategically placed 6" tall 'people' dolls will give a VERY satisfying THHPPPT! (a la whoopie cushions) when stomped! Throw in a few cap-firing toy tanks, plastic army men, a killer sound system; & you're ready to monster mash! The first monster to have any part of themselves: extra head, tail, tentacles, etc. fall outside the city limits--looses. Seeing a similar scene in Disney's Lilo & Stitch helped to set the idea in place, but come on, who *wouldn't* want to do something like this?! For those who hail to the spirit of Johnny Rotten, "I just wanna destroy everything!"

Something disturbed my vision. "Roy?" Circe had come out of her glazed coma to snap me out of mine. "Roy, what is it?" Wyly spoke in my place. "Well, it was a vision of sorts, & it wouldn't be much for transformations; but it would really rake in the money! It's nothing, just a thought...for later." Now that we had Circe's full attention again, I continued. "Anyways, the last incident that I remember was in the gift shop, &...now what Wyly?" I was getting used to predicting his interruptions. "That was the easiest one of all! I went into the store a minute before you, & man, you just missed the floor show! A law student shrank, & transformed into a weasel! It was SWEET! Then he jumped into his briefcase & started rooting around, muttering something about 'Jerry Garcia's stash off eBay!' He dropped the totem stone while he was under the table, & I just pushed it under Absinthe's foot as she came towards you! Did I mention how I love playing dominoes?"

At least Wyly had ended his stubborn streak. Now all I had to do was sell my point to Circe. She sighed, & stretched. "Well, we've established that this pooka plans ahead, but you've copped out from answering my main question. Why did he cause all of the incidents?" "His collection of traits--confidence man, etc. ties it all together. You see, Wyly thinks you should thank him for,
well...troubleshooting your Funhouse." Circe's eyes widened, & she made a move to stand up. "Please," I begged her, "Let me finish!" She reluctantly settled down again. "Finding & exploiting weaknesses is the common link between con men, salesmen, actors, tricksters, & survivors. Wyly found a mess of weak spots here in your Funhouse, & had a blast exposing them! Not only that, but he managed to feed himself at the same time! You see, I never finished deciding all of Wyly's character traits. Balancing human traits like compassion, responsibility, & fear of retribution, etc. hadn't been added yet; so he had no qualms in giving hands-on demonstrations of your weak spots. While you were following his path of destruction, he fed on the attention & emotions you directed towards him & his work! Now that he's joined with me, my complete traits fill the missing spaces in his own. As long as he feeds on enough emotion & attention, the form of magic he can make might be limited only by *my* imagination!" Circe arched an eyebrow. "We'll explore your ego trip later. What about the roller coaster & my mud bath?"

Oops! This explanation I was going to have trouble with. "Actually,...I don't think Wyly had anything to do with that. Wyly? When you first became aware of yourself, what's the first thing you remember?" My arm came up, & my fingers formed a point--directly at Circe. "The first thing was Muddy Mary here, & after that, I pretty much stayed with you until you left the property!" That's what I was afraid of. This explanation was going to be a tiebreaker, & the thought of losing, followed by whatever worse-case senario was possible--I just couldn't imagine. Circe had grown perplexed, & leaned closer. "Then how, & why..?" I had to tell her. "The broken rail on the 'coaster was a true accident, as my being there at that moment was by true, random chance. I'd heard the rail snap, & saw the car coming directly towards me, so..." She pulled back, her mouth forming a small 'o' as she placed her hand over it. "So you pushed me out of the way! Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

I gritted my teeth. "That's not exactly what happened. When I saw the car headed my way, I'd... forgotten all about you being behind me. I was only trying to save myself, & my blind jump luckily happened to be in your direction. That's why I didn't say anything except that I was sorry, & I had ran back to the coaster to make sure the accident wasn't repeated. By the time Rocky & I headed back to check out the car, you were nowhere to be seen." Wyly seemed to sense that this was a difficult moment for me. "Don't sweat it, brother! We both know there's nothing she can do to us anyways! Besides, the instinct to survive is as strong as conscious thought itself, & believe me--I should know. You did nothing wrong. In fact, since *I* was born with that tackle into the mud, you; & no-one else on earth couldn't have done any better! After all, many great things crawled from the disgusting slime of the primordial ooze, & I happen to be one of the best!" That had to be the strangest pep talk I'd ever heard, especially with Wyly leaving himself open to more insults. "Yes,...thank-you Wyly, but you're about to find out about a few of the pitfalls of having a complete, working personality. You've had your 'fun', but the wrong kind of fun--for the past 2 weeks, without worrying about retribution. Now the both of us will wind up paying for it, & Circe is the one who will decide how this is to be done." I turned toward Circe in askance. "Circe?" She gave no indication that she'd heard me. She seemed frozen in place, with a vacant stare angled towards the roller coaster.

Onward to Chapter 7

Return to "The Funhouse - As Seen By Others"