Lost Between the Teeth
A was sure this was going end up being a ruse, and that they would be feeling the hot sting of ending up the fool once again.
Confounded B, they thought to themselves with abnormal venom, this time they have gone entirely too far.
But A immediately walked that back a bit. Certainly they could not be certain just yet. All the hallmarks of a hack or setup, sure, but the last time they assumed such a thing and acted upon said assumptions, it was, well, a long hot summer night.
Summer nights! Ripped unceremoniously from us. The truth in the news and the news in the truth were getting further divided and a house like that can't stand for very long. So A, B and C pooled their resources and backed Truth Horse #1 and it worked out...okay.
Could be better, sure, but everything could, and we all just thank our lucky stars in whatever way we're familiar with at dinner that we didn't back Truth Horse #2.
Even got a two bedroom apartment. And B found a futon at a swap meet so now there's a monthly rotation of sleeping location, done in a way that everyone gets 66% of the year on a bonafide mattress.
That was the plan, anyway. And at first it was going along swimmingly, including all the swimming in the still refreshing river, where rumours of buried treasure persisted enough that aging fisherman were renting out their boats in the afternoon to eager and unending arrivals.
But then the retreating resource teams overran the entire outpost, and most of them had to scatter for a day or two, and some boats were stolen, some goods were smashed, and every mouth now had a bad taste in it.
A sprained their wrist and had a pretty bad gash over their right eye, while B ended up with some sort of chest infection, and breathed so loud and raggedly at night you'd rather have them snore.
And C, well, they're still missing, aren't they, and that makes all the difference. Removes all the happiness and harmony. A fresh helping of the opposite. B hit the nail on the head the first hour without: 'Nothing gets done without the third way.'
So even though everyone there was still try to create a new sort of normal to get back to, A and B reached out across imposing mountaintops and through even grander canyons. Resources, recipes, recovery kits, reassurances, respect. Anything to get their dear accomplice and associate C back.
The plane arrived the next day. The pilot flew it down into the river, and drove it right up to the dock, the floats bobbing serenely upon the gentle waves.
Once A helped tie the vehicle up, the pilot quickly leapt out, murmured some rather uncouth question about using the restroom, to which A wordlessly pointed to the three story building atop the cliff. After additional swearing, the pilot quickly and erratically rushed up the trail and out of view, clearly in lavatorial haste.
An hour later (in which time, A had successfully recalled three Eliot poems, a passage from a Letterman skit, nine commercial jingles, and a series of Dylan album reviews), B walked down the trail alone and announced the pilot was dead, having slipped not far from the end of the path, tumbling down a rocky incline and hitting the wrong part of his neck on the wrong part of the rock.
"Agreed", replied B, "but I believe you aren't a half bad pilot yourself?"
A was surprised. They were generally tight lipped about embarrassing moments in their past, so how could B have known? The site supervisor probably knew, and at least three of the wait staff must have overheard their phone call to the lawyer a few weeks ago, but would any of those four talk to B? Perhaps B went to them, gently snooping for any sort of compromising information for just such an occasion such as now.
And A had to hand it to B. It worked. Fifteen minutes later they were both in the pontoon plane, A testing the engines when the got far enough away from the dock. B pressing random buttons on the radio trying to get in touch with anyone else in the vicinity, vehicle, tower, or superfan.
How do I get myself into these things? A asked themselves, I'm a good, pleasant person, maybe even a little boring, just trying to stay out of trouble's path.
Suddenly they were sailing, no- flying!
The waters were waving them goodbye and wishing them the best of luck.
Higher and higher they went, the river looking more and more like a runway, the sky becoming more and more like a destiny unfolding.
"This was up where we belong", B said with a smile.
You may feel different when I try to land, A thought, hoping their face wasn't showing it.
Above the cliffs, and suddenly they weren't cliffs. Just very long plateaus with a weird lightning crack splitting them in two, a strange winding river down below, forests and the odd outpost lining the water.
But now there was something new.
Atop the plateau, along the aforementioned crack, was a massive object. Hundreds of meters long, frozen in one spot, painted a light terracotta brown.
It was a crocodile. It's elongated snout stretching far over the cliff's edge, balancing precariously, mouth open to a frozen, untrustworthy smile with the rows and rows of teeth dangling down from above and reaching up from below.
"What in the name of all things unholy is that?" A asked.
"It's where we'll find C." B replied.
"It's what? How can you possibly know that?"
"I feel it in every fibre of my being. Can you not?"
And perhaps the feeling was exacerbated thanks to the overt concern that they were flying a plane when they were no position to do so, but B's seemingly innocuous question cut deep into A's heart. Why could they not feel C? Certainly over the last six months there were strong emotional bonds forged. Certainly the slow accumulations of gestures, slang terms, and double-inside jokes should provide enough of a neural network to get some quantum meta-physics juices flowing.
But no. Nothing.
A's mouth opened, as if asking aloud for C to somehow get in contact, to make their presence known, but no sound came out. Instead, B offered the sort of confidence that meant this couldn't possibly be a joke.
"We're going in. C's lost between the teeth."
"Lost...", A echoed, obeying unconsciously, turning the plane gently towards the gaping mouth of the massive statute.
For a moment the whirring of the engines and whooshing of the wind was all that could be heard. The head grew in size as they approached, yet not exactly enough, and B made their opinion known.
"Actually, nevermind, the plane will never fit in there."
But that's ridiculous. Of course it would fit perfectly inside the animal's mouth. That's how these adventures worked. The friend was found in the nick of time, and the heroes pulled out all the stops and the seemingly impossible became surprisingly do-able.
"I can make it."
"What? No you can't. Just land on the plateau beside it and we'll go on foot and just climb inside."
What meek madness is this? How can B suggest such a dry, disappointing plan? It's like...it's like a plan of A's, really. Old A, that is. Not this new A, suddenly transformed into a risk-taking Dynamo! Looks like B is going to become the new wet blanket A! We'll see who's playing all the jokes and tricks now
It's going to happen. it's going to happen.
"What are you doing?! Right! Right! Turn to the right!"
B's the new A. A's the new B. This is going to be great. We're going to slip right in like a sock in a shoe (A needs a new pair of sneakers). Like a zipper slider fitting perfectly between its teeth (they could use a new spring jacket, now that they think about it).
C will be completely surprised to find a re-energized and re-branded A, leading the rescue team, taking the necessary risks, saving the day to allow time for further adventures.
"Stop! Stop! Why aren't you listening to me?!"
And then B's hand were on A's hands, trying to wrest control of the yoke which was about to make a perfectly lined up landing into the mouth of a fake brown crocodile that probably was holding C somewhere inside its fake lower intestine.
"Just let me-" A began, thinking of a thousand different things to tell B in a new reassuring way, but B was beside themselves in crazed fear.
"We're going to die if-" B screamed, and was unable to finish because the left wing of the plane nicked one of the reptile's top teeth, almost sheering it off and causing the plane to rapidly lose speed, sending both A and B forward into the windshield, where they cracked and it didnít. At roughly the same time the plane veered awkwardly upright, into the roof of the crocodile's mouth, crumpling into something much less recognizable before finally exploding.
A's last thought was of a much better ending-
The sky wasn't taking no for an answer and parted majestically.
|When optics mean more than reality, everything is a victory|