Ok… I am going to backtrack just a little. There is one aspect of this story that deserves recognition… plus, the idea of time and continuity seems to be relative in the realm of literature. Why you may ask? Or maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway… because I’m the story teller. Because I’m The Persian!
“Right… fat gay Persian’s more accurate,” Says the Angry Beaver, again looking over my shoulder when she should be working.
“Do you ever work?” I gruffly say, closing my iBook and turning around to meet her gaze.
“Yeah… it’s just the mid-day lull.” She says rebuffed.
“Oh… right.” I comment in disbelief.
“Seriously! There’s the “I’m a really intense writer” weasel that spends every afternoon from about one until six intensely hunched over his laptop.” Betsy says as she points to the far corner by the bookshelves.
I turn my head and sure enough, an eccentric stringy haired weasel furiously typing away in a ‘mad scientist’ manner. “Do you wonder what he’s writing about?”
“Probably something EMO. Over there we have the catty nurses on break from the Eighth Street Hospital.”
Why are nurses always hens? There’s bound to be an egg around here somewhere.
“As always, Pouty Puppy, sorry, I mean Anner van der Corgi, is pessimistically muttering to himself over his solo espresso… and if he asks me for another lemon wedge…” Betsy adores Pouty Puppy as we all do… but there are days.
“Ah Pouty Puppy… you can always count on him suck the air out of any dream.” I say with a smile.
“The unemployed mouse fretting because he hasn’t told his spouse yet… and worst of all customers, this fat gay Persian who refuses leave.” She says wickedly smiling at me.
“Ooh, I didn’t know beavers had a sense of humour.” I adore Betsy like the dickens… and I also enjoy getting her riled up… so fast… like a starving dog in front of buffet table.
“You have no idea gay kitty. It’s pretty quiet around here until about six when most people get off work. I can only clean the back bar so many times before I get tired of seeing my face in the shiny reflection.” Betsy takes the seat next to me and sits down.
“Touché Beaver. Isn’t your year anniversary coming up next month?” I say genuinely interested in something the beaver has to say.
“Twenty-one days to be exact. It occurred to Theo and I just this morning right as we were leaving the flat… god, it’s been a year already. It seems like yesterday we were driving across the Eighth Street Bridge screaming our heads off.” Betsy’s gaze trails off out the window at someone walking by.
“Are you going to celebrate?”
“Hmm… haven’t really thought about it… probably. Why, you want to throw us a party?” Betsy turned around and raises her eyebrows.
“I just might… we can have it here. Arnie and I go way back and I am sure he wouldn’t mind closing up shop to celebrate his two best employees (Arnie Alligator, the proprietor of Arnie Alligators Coffee Emporium and Café – but I will explain more on this later, I have to get all you readers caught up). Strippers?” I say pondering what kind of party this will end up being (any party involving these two is sure-fire misadventure)… knowing the adventures these two have gone through in the past year (of which, trust me, I will relay every single detail because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction – like never tell your parents strange, but not Enumclaw Washington strange).
“Of course I want strippers. No piñatas though… there’s something about bashing a papier-mâché animal filled with candy that seriously freaks me out, unless. Guestlist?” Betsy shutters.
“I completely understand. You can find better candy from the creepy old badger in the back alley and acquiring it is significantly less violent. How many people were you thinking to invite? This place can hold about a hundred people before the fire marshal steps in.” I say taking some notes.
“My girlfriends from the strip club – they can get paid and enjoy the party at the same time… I know Theo has some funnies he’d like to invite and of course his boyfriend…”
“Funnies?” I ask perplexed.
“The Funnies – Faggy Bunnies… it’s what I call his friends. Out of all the inhabitants of the Big City, Theo manages to find the Gay Bunny Mafia. Let’s see… can’t forget my landlords Sheila Beaver and her girlfriend Betty Bear, even though she creeps me out… hmm… I’m going to have to ponder more on this. Can I get back to you?” The gears in Betsy’s mind were already turning.
“Well… there are only twenty-one days so if you could get me a guest list by next week I can send out invitations in time. So where’s Theo? I say looking around.
“He’s getting more milk from the grocer’s. Because of the six-car pile up on Mercer Bridge our delivery guy was stalled.” Betsy said as she wiped some crumbs from a scone off the table next to us.
“I thought you guys had deliveries in the morning?” I ask.
“We did until Arnie realised neither Theo nor I where morning people and since he lives in Gardenia, getting here at five AM across the Eighth Street Bridge was next to impossible. So, knowing we would be here in the afternoon and that we actually knew how to inventory, he switched the times.” Betsy said as a customer walked in. “Be right with you… so, I have a question.”
“Shoot.” I said rather intrigued.
“I’ve been to the website, rather simple if you ask me…”
“Thank you?” I retort with a faint air of bitchy (it was a template people because no matter how much I try, I can’t seem to find anyone to help me make it a bit more spectacular… but then again most people in the Big City are wishy-washy noncommittal fuckwits so wrapped up in their own inane drama I am quite surprise they all haven’t been hit by lories… one can dream though).
“You’ve been writing our stories for some time now… does anyone read them? What’s the response?” Betsy said as she gets up from the chair.
“Inspiring!” I said… because honestly, anyone is inspired from reading about other peoples misdeeds and learning not to execute said ideas themselves.
“Very Cool.” Betsy said as she tripped over the chair she just arose from and fell flat on her face, trying to hurry in order to help the only customer to come through the door in the last hour and a half.
So where was I… ah yes… backtracking just a bit to fill in another piece of the puzzle that is The Adventures of Theo and Betsy… but, this one involves me… in a roundabout sort of way.
In the last episode I made mention of the twin queens of The Province (because what’s a faerie tale without a good queen and evil queen… why not make them sisters – adds to the tension).
Many, many…. And I mean many years… like before Jesus was around (but after the dinosaurs… then again, according to some they existed at the same time… yes, it’s true Jesus rode a brontosaurus to the Mount in order to impart his advice to the masses and that very same brontosaurus some how managed to make all the olives into olive oil with which to season the fish and loaves – ‘tis why we are now anointed with oil… thank you great brontosaurus). Ralph and Celeste, upon their journeys across the sky, would rarely meet… Ralph bringing illumination and life with every ray to all the lands, Celeste, with her mother’s hand, creating the most wondrous and enchanting dreams for those whose minds gave way to slumber… and keeping the night creatures company with her mellifluous refrains. For you see, the clouds, the planets, the stars, and all the darkness and light… belong to both of them. When you look up in the night sky and see a shooting star… well, that’s Celeste letting you know she sees you; it’s her way of smiling as if to say “you are not alone.” In the daytime, when you see a rainbow… that’s Ralph refracting his warm and beautiful light through the remaining raindrops… that’s his way of letting you know he sees you and that you are just as precious as his rainbow . Day or night, one only has to look up and be witness to unimaginable beauty.
From on high, they watched as the inhabitants would find each other in the sea of darkness… find love… marry and produce offspring (some with two mommies and some with two daddies and others with two sets of each). The banyan tree, in the beginning did wonders for both Ralph and Celeste… but over time a melancholy grew in their hearts… a longing for something more. Don’t get me wrong, they loved their banyan tree (as did all the inhabitants of The Province)… but there is a certain joy in watching a child being born… growing up and discovering the world around them.
In the gloaming, they found a moment in which they could both meet on their opposite paths. This is what an eclipse is. When the sun and moon find that extremely special and rare moment when their trajectories cross. And on this fateful day, twin daughters were born… La Veilleuse and Soultetha, both innocent and beautiful and full of wonder at the world around them; neither of them knowing that they were the creation of the Sun and Moon. It wasn’t until many years later that Soultetha ‘turned to the dark side’ – if you will. But that’s a story saved for another time… for now I wish to talk about La Veilleuse – the most beautiful woman in all the land and again, whose name means – Light in the Darkness.
Actually that last phrase doesn’t seem apposite in describing her intrinsic beauty. She embodied the wonder of the Moon and the celestial warmth of the sun (and didn’t explode from that much power either… women are amazing). She had grace beyond compare and joy beyond measure. Where ever she journeyed, roses would bloom in her wake… vibrant reds, dazzling corals, graceful pinks to shimmering oranges. One always knew where she was, for the air was full of glittering rose petals… like colourful snow. In the winter, holly and mistletoe would flourish in her wake as snowflakes gently rested upon their leaves. She knew who her parents were and never once abused this knowledge. She was omnipotent, but never used anything more than a hand on your shoulder and a smile rife with unbending kindness in which to convey her thoughts. She was the vibrancy of the dawn and the solitude of the evening. She was promise and forgiveness.
Like her sister, she lived in the only clearing in a dense forest. Her dominion was on the opposite side of The Province from Soultetha. Unlike the rotten trees of her sisters, the forest of La Veilleuse grew the juiciest fruits and most breath-taking blossoms (Madeline Rabbit was under tutelage when she embarked on her garden). In the clearing, at the centre of the pale silver lake, lay her palace… made entirely from Mother Of Pearl. For like the oyster that makes a pearl from waste… she could turn anything into beauty. On rare and special evenings, one could see the faint alabaster glow against the evening clouds from the setting sun massaging her palace walls in just the right way. Meandering through the forest of La Veilleuse was akin to giving your soul permission to escape into an exquisite Sigur Rós composition (Starálfur from the album Ágætis Byrjun being her favourite… also Why Is Adam King by Furniture, from the album Twilight Chases The Sun, this song makes her think of creation).
Though Blue Hollow was in the domain of Soultetha, La Veilleuse never removed it from her gaze. I think because this pissed off her sister to no end… but also, she took a liking to the residents of Blue Hollow (as they did her)… even helping Percival when he was building the city. There is a statue of her in the town centre at the middle of a stone fountain surrounded by roses that forever bloom.
On the Spring Solstice, She would always be the guest of honour at Blue Hollow’s celebration. Now this was a celebration not to be missed, by anyone. Residents from all over The Province would travel for miles to join in the festivities. Streams of lights would be strewn from every ledge, balcony and lamppost turning Blue Hollow into a glistening dreamland… games and competitions would be devised in order to win La Veilleuse’ favour… and the food – table upon table of the most decadent concoctions ever conceived were laid out in front of you. Even the Big City would clear out from an exodus to Blue Hollow for the Solstice (kind of like the White Party in Palm Springs – West Hollywood becomes a gayless desert on that weekend)
Many of the townsfolk professed endless poetry in her name… music and dance trying to unravel her mystery through interpretation… story and legends would be told that illuminate her history; for she was loved by all. Whether the poetry or music was composed by a virtuoso or the rudimentary attempt from a novice, she never wavered in her appreciation of any offering. And she also never allowed any criticism from anyone… for all creations, in her eyes, were perfect and beautiful.
No one quite knows when or how Soultetha went bad… residents of The Province assumed two things though – she’s a jilted lover, or seething with anger that her sister attained all the attention. But then again, no one really concerned themselves with Soultetha since they had grown accustomed to their basic fear of her and went about their daily lives. I know I have painted this glorious picture of The Province, believe me the majority of it is magnificent. But, in every garden there are always a few bad seeds.
As I have mentioned, Soultetha means ‘One Who Tethers Souls.’ In the beginning, Ralph and Celeste chose this name for this reason – when one passes on to the next phase of their journey, their soul is tethered to the universe and they become a part of the vast and magnificent heavens. Just as La Veilleuse can create life, Soultetha can take life – thus mechanical crows and other contraptions populate her palace. Actually she is an extremely skilled metallurgist… steel and bronze being her favourites to work with. She does get a bad rap, and rightly so, but her evilness tends to overshadow her amazing skill and creations (as the deeds with Evil Queens tend to)… but such is the life of an ego driven artist and not one who composes for the beauty of it.
When they were children, just beginning to understand their powers, La Veilleuse would create beautiful gardens and like a shadow, Soultetha would follow extinguishing every creation. This continued for many years, their parents watching in amusement at their daughters shared wonder. That was until one summer.
As you know, Percival rabbit created Blue Hollow. Both queens were equally intrigued with this new creature in their lands and watched him for some time… sitting there in the banyan tree… meandering around The Province and eventually asking their father for permission to build a village. This delighted La Veilleuse to no end; for she could create anything. But, the land was in the jurisdiction of Soultetha. Their parents, being shrewdly balanced, split The Province exactly in half for both their daughters, neither having more than the other. But, being gracious, La Veilleuse would have been happy with a single tree while Soultetha desired the entirety of The Province.
On the first day of planning Blue Hollow, Percival was visited by the twin queens. While La Veilleuse was demonstrating her powers of creation, Soultetha barged in and broke her concentration.
“How dare you build upon my lands without first seeking my permission?” Soultetha declared with venomous ferocity.
“I beg forgiveness; for I thought these lands belonged to Ralph, the sun god.” Percival said turning away from the rose bush growing at his feet.
“My father has no jurisdiction here. These are my lands and no one shall build upon them without my permission.” Soultetha bellowed.
“Rather redundant you are my sister.” La Veilleuse jokingly remarked.
“Stay out of this sister. You have no business here.” Soultetha’s glare even chilled the warm and blissful heart of La Veilleuse. “Who are you and what do you plan to do upon my lands?” She said, turning her frightening gaze back to Percival.
Percival took a deep breath. “From the vantage point of the banyan tree, I saw this shallow valley and to me, there was something special about it… this wondrous energy surrounding the place. I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t this make a beautiful village.’ So I conversed with Ralph and after receiving his permission, I began to plan my village.”
Soultetha took a moment to look around. “Yes, this place does possess a special energy… and because of that I will not permit you to build here unless you are victorious in my challenge.”
Percival’s knees began to shake, as anyone’s would in the presence of an evil queen. He thought for a moment about what this challenge might be… would he lose his life or just the building rights to said area? “I do feel a strong connection to this land, thus, I accept your challenge.” He said wondering if he had just made the biggest mistake of his life.
A devilish smile rife with glee stretched across Soultetha’s leathery face. She had this audacious rabbit in her clutches. “I am known throughout The Province as The One who Tethers Souls… thus everything I touch, dies. Find me something that I can touch that will remain alive and I will grant you this land and all the rights attached to it. For if you fail, I shall take your life and tether your soul to the darkest part of the universe, to remain alone for all eternity.” She knew she had this one in the bag.
“How long do I have to find something that cannot die?” Percival said, scared out of his mind.
“Hmm… I hadn’t really thought about that… how about this evening, when the sun and moon are concurrently in the visible sky. I wish for my parents to see your defeat. I will return to this spot at dusk.” Soultetha said and in a puff of smoke, she vanished.
Percival paced back in forth in fear. “What am I going to do? I will never be able to find something that cannot die in six hours.”
“Fear not my beautiful bunny. She never said anything regarding asking someone for help, did she? My sister tends to be rather vague in her requests. If you let me assist, I will make sure you attain these lands and keep your life.” La Veilleuse said, for she had already figured this one out.
“What should I look for?” Percival said wondering if this land was truly worth it.
“All you have to do is find me anything, preferably something with skin and already dead. Can you do that?”
A little taken aback from her macabre insistence on said thing having skin and being dead, he responded, “I can do that, just point me in the right direction.”
La Veilleuse pointed Percival west and told him to meet her back at this very spot in no less than five hours. At that, La Veilleuse, in a burst of rose petals, vanished. Percival was left there, alone and scared, heading west.
Normally on a beautiful day in The Province, the hours seem to languidly crawl on and on… this is usually a good thing if you have the day off. But, for Percival, the hours rushed by as if lightening were at their feet. ‘Find something already dead’ he thought to himself and he perused the landscape; the desperate fear in him bubbling up to the lump in his throat. Under every rock, behind every bush, up every tree, he searched… until finally tripping over a dead mouse in the shadow of a thicket of grass. He removed his jacket and took off his shirt and wrapped the mouse inside. He has never run faster in his life back to that first spot.
La Veilleuse was waiting for him, having sprouted many rose bushes to bide her time. Percival offered her the mouse.
“This is perfect Percival Rabbit.” She said as she took the mouse still wrapped in his shirt, being very careful not to touch it thus bringing the mouse back to life before she was ready.
She walked over to one of her rose bushes and plucked a bud from the tree. The moment she touched it, a beautiful ruby red rose blossomed in her hand; Percival’s eyes widened in awe (the residents of The Province never grew tired of this). She quickly placed the rose inside the mouse and gave a wink to Percival. After a second or two, the mouse awoke to find itself in the hands of La Veilleuse. Normally it would have dashed away and hid, but the moment it laid eyes upon La Veilleuse, the mouse knew it was safe.
Percival looked at his watch; only ten minutes left. La Veilleuse gave the mouse to Percival and vanished so her sister wouldn’t know she had any involvement. Seconds later Soultetha appeared… early.
“It is time. Have you procured what I asked for?” She said looking down her nose at the frightened rabbit.
“I have your majesty.” He said offering her the mouse.
“Perfect… a mouse… this is going to be far too easy.” She said through an evil laugh. She grabbed the terrified mouse by the tail and moved her hand over its body.
She grabbed the mouse by the head and squeezed.
Again, nothing happened.
Soultetha screamed with furious rage and threw the mouse on the ground and with all her might; she jumped up and landed with both feet on the mouse. This would’ve crushed anything to death instantly.
Again, nothing happened. The mouse, slightly dazed, got up and ran off through the grass.
You know those times when you perpetrate something and your mother is seething with anger at you… well the look on Soultetha’s face was infinitely more fearsome. Never in her wildest dreams did she consider someone besting her at her own game.
Percival was now crouched down in the foetal position fearing the worst. For the wrath of a scorned woman is something everyone should fear.
“I don’t know how you managed to win but mark my words Percival Rabbit, I will avenge this.” And with that declaration, Soultetha vanished and Percival won the rights to build Blue Hollow.
Ralph and Celeste forbade either of their daughters to marry or procreate. The powers that dwell in each of them would be far too intense for a mortal to handle. That being said, La Veilleuse, adding insult to injury for her sister, took a lover, a Persian to be exact (not me… but we’re getting to my affiliation with this episode).
This was no ordinary Persian mind you. He was one of Soultehta’s favourite and most prised mechanical Persians she had created many years ago to run amuck in her palace. The moment La Veilleuse touched the machine it transformed into a rather stunning real Persian cat and fell instantly in love with her. And nine months later, La Veilleuse had a litter of four kittens. My great, great, great, and so on, grandmother was one of those kittens. Over the generations the power of the cosmos has become diluted, but it’s still there, and I am always welcomed at the palace of La Veilleuse.
As just as her intentions were (Ralph and Celeste had grown seriously tired of Soultetha’s evil), La Veilleuse was punished none the less for breaking their cardinal rule. She was never allowed to interfere or assist anyone from The Province again and forbidden to ever take another lover. Also, she was never allowed to offer any of the fruit from her trees nor eat any herself – the scent alone was said to be excruciating for her.
The celebrations Blue Hollow presented were to honour her in besting her sister for the rights to Blue Hollow, and to console the part of her heart that died that day long ago. For she could eat of other peoples fruit, thus, though not ‘assisting,’ she imparted her vast knowledge on gardening to anyone willing to listen. Because who can resist a juicy fruit… she certainly cannot.
You might be wondering how Percival bested Soultetha… well, She only told one of her children what truly transpired that fateful day, my great to the nth power grandmother to be exact… a secret I am only divulging with you and you can’t tell anyone or I will be forbade from her palace… have you seen her palace!!!
As the cold, dead mouse lay tucked inside the shirt in her hand, she plucked the rosebud from the bush and before she placed into the mouse, in her mind she cast a spell upon it. The moment the mouse’s blood touched that rose, it turned into a mechanical heart…
Never to cease its beating.