my future with carolynThe long ride up in the Turd Fergus was one of the oddest experiences I have ever had. With death staring me in the face like a bill collector with a nail-studded baseball bat due to an unknown quantity of quality explosive nestled not so safely in the back seat of a lurching vehicle which seemed to practice testing the limits of the law of gravity every time a tire looked at a pothole crosswise, I was in no mood to coddle reality. I felt most of the time as if I was floating on a sea of freeze-dried coffee crystals on their way to a pot of boiling water. It was surreal, not to mention distasteful. That Carolyn spent most of the drive in the seat across from me humming a merry Elizabethan raga only added to an atmosphere of Dali-esque disjointedness. “Would you stop that, please?”


“Humming that funeral dirge.”

“It’s not a funeral dirge.”

“It sounds like a funeral dirge.”

“Well, it’s not. It’s a lively Patamanian Peasant Dance. I learned it from one of my clients.”

“There’s no such thing as a Patamanian Peasant Dance. You made that up.”

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Alright, you had a Patamanian client and he taught you one of his Peasant Dances. What was he on trial for, wearing those balloon pants in public?”

“Patamanians do not prance their Peasant Dances in balloon pants. They parade around in plaid pants pleated and treated with partially-hydrogenated peanut oil. It’s very colorful.”

“I bet it smells yummy, too.” I wrinkled my nose at the thought. Carolyn reached over and scratched it, leaving large red welts in long bands where her fingernails had been.

“Ow!” I yelped, pulling away and almost off the road. “What’d you do that for?”

“You had a nose-itch, didn’t you?”

“I did not have a nose-itch. I was facially expressing my opinion of peanut-oil-treated pleats, which is, I may tell you, not high. I have a very low opinion of treating one’s clothing with food-like substances unless one is going to be, rather than eat, lunch. It’s tacky.”

She shrugged. “It works in Patamania.”

Through gritted teeth I made one last attempt to reason with her. “There is no such place as Patamania.”

“Of course there is.”

“Where is it then?”

“In the Tyrol.”

I snorted. “It is not.”

“Is too.”

“Is not.”

“Is too.”

“Is n–. Oh, this is futile.”

“Is not.”

“Is too! It’s like something out of Monty Python, for gawds-sake. Or my nightmares from when I was a kid on the school playground and I used to have arguments with Doris Kressweiler about whether or not Julius Caesar wore a beehive hairdo.”

“Sort of. It was curly. I saw it on a statue.”

I slumped behind the wheel. “Tell me,” I said. “It can’t get any worse than hearing you explain how the hair on a statue proves that Julius Caesar was really a biker-chick in drag.”

“Tell you about Julius Caesar? That’s an odd topic of conversation.”

“No, you one-woman wrecking-crew. About the marriage.”

“Oh,” she said. “That.”