To read Some Enchanted Place from the beginning, click here and start at the bottom
I don't know who the Secretary of the Interior is. I don't know how to hit a curve ball. I don't know how to do differential equations. I'm not sure exactly where Sri Lanka is, or why they didn't want to be called Ceylon anymore, either. So maybe in the vast scheme of things, I don't know very much -- but I'm dead certain that if Pecksniff The Amazing Human Cattle Prod sends one more dose of his electricity through me, by turning up behind me unannounced, they'll be able to bury him in a sponge.
I turned to face him and noticed my mistake right away. Never waste your time out in the prison yard by turning your face from the little blue tent of the sky. Pecksniff was the dripping stone walls, and the keeper, too; the moon, the stars and the sun were behind me now.
Pecksniff knew how it worked. I was powerless. If offered a chance to wrestle a rabid tiger to get a lottery ticket with a one in a hundred shot at winning a picture of Immaculada Doyle wearing a burlap sack, I'd have jumped at it. But no one was offering anything. The customer's representative was speaking. I was unable to look away from him.
The Montessori kids would never understand this. They're born and bred to go after everything in this life the way piglets go after the teats. Me first, second, and third. The rest of us go to Catholic School and line up and learn which cog in life's machinery we might be, if we stand quietly in line long enough. It was a dark thing, and ancient. You might talk all sorts of treason in a pub, but you tipped your hat when the patrician passed by. It was involuntary, really; a rubber hammer to some kneecap in your head.
People would point to some preening Fitzgerald, and say: See? The Irish are just like the WASPS now. But they weren't the same breed as us, really. Put us in charge and we just end up stealing the spoons from our own house. We were all born to be James Michael Curley, running for alderman from a jail cell. We won't deny our crimes -- if caught dead to rights -- so we say "I did it for a friend," instead. We can't ever claim any privilege, just wallow in a kind of magnificent stubbornness. Refuse to be bloodless and your blood will never turn blue.
So Pecksniff knew he was no better than me, but that as long as he embodied the voice of who's who, I was going to stand there listening to what's what. Manners are a dreadful thing.
"The bannister leading down from the butler's pantry shall want an additional screw in all of its brackets..."
Stop talking stop talking stop talking...
"...the previous mechanic sent by your patron neglected to fasten it properly..."
...Oh God stop talking like that and stop talking stop talking stop talking...
"... and although the master of the house has no truck with these stairs they are a constant necessary for we who labor here..."
... if you don't stop talking right now I'm going to kill you with my hands I swear it ...
"... and Miss Doyle has often remarked to me of her concern..."
Bingo! Rumpelstiltskin had uttered Rapunzel's name for a change, the iron grip of decorum was lifted, and I turned back to see -- the dining room door swinging back and forth in the frame.
Just then, Pecksniff did the unthinkable. He said something funny.
"Oh; you seem to have dropped your spear, Sir Lancelot."