The Pooka Problem
by ROY LeBAY
I found something vaguely unsettling about this lack of reaction. It was like waiting for a comatose patient to blink--or scream, or something! I looked up at the waiting mascots, & motioned for Rocky to come over. As he walked over, I pulled up another chair & said, "It's time for you to come through on your end of the deal Rocky! You're sitting in the middle." He snorted, & turned to me as he seated himself. "I really don't think this is necessary anymore..."
Circe still hadn't so much as twitched. "I have no idea how she'll react, & seeing her blow up once was more than enough!" If nothing happens, you'll have nothing to worry about." Circe suddenly blinked, & gave a slight start when she recognized Rocky beside her. She shook her head, & motioned him out of the seat. "That...explains a lot." She seemed to consider & organize her words carefully. "You must have picked up a spark of my magic from the full-body tackle, & that's why our magic couldn't effect you or Wyly. Safety first--amongst sisters, after all!" (Nature favors the hidden flaw). "Now that we know this, we can disperse Wyly, & you can go without fear of repercussion."
I disagreed, & was about to suggest another possibility, when I discovered that Wyly had already taken over. Wyly had resumed his/our coyote form, & silently stood up. We walked to the center of the clearing, & a blindfold materialized over our eyes. I could feel that same grin stretch across my snout again, & my arms crossed behind my back--as Wyly issued the command. "YOU MAY FIRE WHEN READY!"
I couldn't speak
or move, nor could I figure why he would sacrifice himself. This was hardly
a survival trait I'd given him! Several sudden flashes of prismic light
penetrated the blindfold, & a familiar sensation of static touched
my chest, legs, & back. Where the 'bolts' had hit, they raised the
surrounding fur, causing an irresistable tickling sensation. To my surprise,
I found that I had burst out laughing! I reached up, & pulled the
blindfold away--uncertain as to what I would find. The first thing I noticed
was an odd taste in my mouth, & that Wyly's snout was gone. I bent
forward to examine the rest of my body. Everything looked human again,
so I focused on the odd taste. Oh dear,...a large stogie was clenched
in my teeth. Was this a parting gift from Wyly? I turned to Circe &
her sisters to ask what had happened, but before I could say anything..."I
*LOVE* IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER!" I had no doubt that I was
wearing the face of the late George Peppard! Wyly spread his arms apart,
& focused on Circe. "Sorry lady! I used up your spark early on,
& I've been feeding myself ever since. I'm a perpetual pest now!"
I managed to bring Wyly to a screeching halt, & took a few steps back towards the group. I held my hands up to ward off any attack, & said, "Hold it folks, it's me again. Wyly was bluffing in effort to get away without accepting responsibility! Circe, I'm sorry if he frightened you, but you have to consider that the 2 of us are a newborn in this form. I imagine it will take us both some time to adjust." Circe recovered quickly, & allowed me to come before her once more. "Neither of you have to worry about accepting responsibility." (If more than 1 person is responsible for a miscalculation, no one will be at fault). "It was a quirk of an incredible chance that brought this about, & I apologize for it. My sisters & I have done all we can to restore you, but we can do no more. I have no idea what you'll do in the outside world, but..." I held up my furred hand to interrupt her. "Stop! My 'son' has to learn, & I'll be with him every step of the way--literally! Wyly? You've taken grief & a slew of other emotions from these nice folks. Are you prepared to give them something in return?"
Circe shook her head
violently. I ignored her. Wyly hesitantly spoke up. "Like...what?
I--we really don't have any money..." "Stop stalling! You gathered
magic from their emotions & attention, & you should be able to
help rebuild the Funhouse with it!" He cringed, & spoke at barely
a whisper. "Yes, I could, but I didn't really gather enough to be
of much help. I'm sorry!"
I considered this
new development carefully, but however I looked at it, the word newborn
kept coming to mind. Wyly was simply a 2 week old life trying to survive,
& had yet to be given a chance to find his true potential. I also
knew that with his character traits, he was incapable of outright lying,
although he was proficient in stretching & bending the truth to no
end! It might be a scam to get us both out of the carnival, but since
Wyly & I couldn't be touched by the magic here...I reached my decision.
I clasped my hands together in faux prayer, & gave her my best, pleading, Bambi-eyed expression. "Heavy medication?" I asked hopefully. Wyly immediately pushed in as well. "Yeah, please! something tells me that 'morals' are going to be something of a headache! Perchance you have something in Max-pack size?" Circe struggled to keep a straight face, but finally surrendered to a melodious round of laughter, shaking her head as it ended.
"Sorry. All we have here are a few 'special' recreational drugs for certain fair goers." She glanced in the direction of the waiting trucks. "No time like the present. You can start by helping to unload the trucks."
started moving towards the parking lot, but I had 1 more question before
I joined them. "Circe, out of idle curiosity--If Wyly had never come
into existence, would I still have been transformed? And if so, into what?"
Circe seemed to consider for a moment, then turned to me with a
By 11:50, Circe was settling into a sound sleep, when a oddly echoing sound from the direction of the kennel caused her to crack one eye open. The sound resolved itself into a familiar voice. "ALL RIGHT BROTHERS, WAIL ALONG WITH WYLY! AND AH ONE..!" Both eyes shot open. "He wouldn't--he COULDN'T!" "...AND AH TWO, AND AH THREE! AARRROOOOHH!" A cacophany of yips & howls made every glass pane & goblet in the castle tremble in revulsion, & the assault seemed to go on forever. Yells, growls, & roars were starting to answer in protest from the occupied castle rooms. Circe silently cursed as she prepared to pull herself out of bed, when suddenly (only 5 min. later)--it stopped. A sheepish, hesitant voice was heard a moment later. "Er...sorry folks! Wyly got away from me, said something about a midnight snack. I've got his word that this won't happen again, & we're already as good as in the doghouse anyways, so...goodnight folks!"
Circe paused in her
efforts to get up, & listened patiently. No further noises came, &
the other castle residents had settled down as well. The subject of Wyly
had come up between her sisters & herself earlier that evening. As
a pooka alone, Wyly had at least been dependably disruptive, but when
mixed with Roy's humanity; the general consensus was that the 2 made for
1 unpredictable wild card. As such, he would most likely be asked to leave
as soon as the repairs were completed, if not sooner. Unable to return
to her slumber, Circe rose, walked to her mantle; & picked up a small
chunk of driftwood. She returned to her bed, & silently contemplated
the piece of flotsam. It was all that remained of the last 'wild card'
she had encountered, torn from the ruins of Odysseus' beached ship. Odysseus
had been given immunity from her magic by the gods themselves. As a result,
she lost Odysseus & his crew--who would have been better off staying
with her from what she'd heard afterwards. In the long run, she'd considered
herself much more successful in her 'quest' , thanks to Odysseus' word
of mouth; & the help of a few well-respected storytellers. Circe sighed,
& placed the