The Meaning of Plinusian Life (Walter Jid story #19)

The invitation was in Walter’s hand.  It read:

To Walter Jid:

Come!  To the home of Tomas Geraldo Taggo

675 Pine Street, San Fransisco

Play boardgames such as Monopoly Star Wars edition, Batleship, and the Game of Why

Sory if I have acted standoffish in the past few months—this’ll be a blast!

 

After examining Tom’s invitation a few careful times, Walter realized that Tom had several spelling errors in his handwriting.  Walter was right now standing on his driveway on Lincoln Street and he would have to walk al the way across town to Tom’s house on Pine.  Two days before, Tom had told Walter more of his life’s story.  He was a vile hitchhiking crook who had befriended many famous criminals from all over the country.  Who knew who Tom would invite to a party; Walter doubted there would be that many board games, though he liked Tom, he got a bad feeling his friendship with Tom would lead to trouble.

After traveling to Pine St., Walter was surprised to see that the 500’s and 600’s of Pine St. were the “bad side of town” that he had always avoided.  When Walter was nine, a classmate of his had been killed on Pine Street, but Walter passed 653, 669, and then…

Tom’s house was a one-story wooden austere-looking house that Walter was afraid would tumble right down on him, it was so rickety.  But Walter knocked on the squeaky door of the creepy house, and it was Tom that answered the knock.

Tom Taggo, a scrawny, harsh-looking man in his early fifties, with untamed jet-black hair and dark, cold eyes, would be one to help Walter in most cases.  He was stubborn and Walter doubted his IQ was very high, but he was a true friend…and a real phony.

“Come on in,” he calmly said to our hero Walter in his accent (Walter stayed up one night trying to think of where that accent could be from, it seemed partly Russian, but Tom looked to be from Spanish ancestry), “Everyone’s here!  Well, except for Sid, poor
Sid, he’s got a horrible fever, and Cedric, of course, how I miss Cedric…never mind, come on in!”

Walter went into the living room of Tom’s uncomfortable two-room house.  There must have been eight or nine friends of Tom in that room; two men in prison uniforms were playing a game of poker on the rug, one of them had much more money than the other; a bald fellow with a Hawaiian shirt was sleeping on the ripped-up couch with a bottle of Budweiser in his hand and watched an old rerun of Seinfeld on the black-and-white TV; three men with super-long beards, and one with glasses so thick you couldn’t see his eyes, were on a table playing some odd board game called The Game of Why.

            Tom was friendly as usual, and told Walter what to do.  “Victor, Ernest, and Jacques are playing an amusing game I shoplifted with my friend Ivan when I was seventeen.  Very neat, hilarious board game, Walter.”

So Walter went to play that strange game with Tom’s long-bearded friends, as sure that this game would be intriguing as he knew that Calvin Eddino was still President of the United States.

After playing a couple of rounds, Walter was enticed with this “not available in stores” game.  He started thinking of questions he had never thought of since he was a child, such as “Why did the dinosaurs die out?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

“Very interesting, huh, George,” asked Ernest.

V’yomer shmoeal,” agreed Victor, who spoke in some strange language.

Walter asked the trio why life existed.

“I think that life exists merely for the sake of science,” suggested Jacques, though Walter had visited a planet known as Plinus where a mixed-up king had believed that life existed for the sake of arithmetic.  You who have visited a strange planet and tell strangers about your travels know that they will usually not believe you.

Walter had enough questions.  It was time to find answers.  He started to head out the crooked door.

“Wait!” called Tom.  “We’re having some more board games, such as Shrek Monopoly…Shrek 2 was a great movie and all, and then there’s Connect Four and Jenga and…”

But Walter had no time to play silly children’s games.  He burst out the door, leaving ex-vandal Tom in pity.  He had to ask Johnny back on Plinus a question…but how?  What did life on Plinus really revolve upon?  Probably technology, but…

Walter was having a miserable day.  That night he had had a nightmare that the hostile George Hiltrus had a torch and was burning everyone in San Francisco: a wacky dream, but still a nightmare; then Walter got angry at his identical twin Joseph “Joey” Jid.  Joey ran off as a teenager to live in Seattle and become the first Jid to go to Yale University.  Walter remembered the years the family was ashamed of Joey, for they thought he was dead, and then Walter summoned him with a mechanical device, and sure enough, Joey was alive.  Although Walter got along with Joey and agreed to go to a Dodger game with him, there still were moments where the two brothers who were supposed to be lifelong friends, did not get along.

The thirty-year old Walter Jid headed in a clumsy jog to the steep Nob Hill, where he would get out that very same mechanical device, and somehow (Walter was not a very straight thinker), Walter would appear on the planet Plinus.  He knew things didn’t always work out the right way, but he was willing to try his idea.

On the way to Nob Hill, Walter glimpsed Bert’s Pizza Palace which was owned by a childhood friend of Walter’s named Bert Ernus; some guy in a zoo uniform or something standing with a homeless person, but Walter didn’t know the zookeeper; a man with an elevated yellow cowboy hat, thick glasses, a bushy mustache, a long red nose, and heavy eyebrows…like he was wearing some sort of goofy disguise; and Max McNommer, Walter’s quick-witted, handsome pal from elementary school who ditched him to become popular like Hank Jabbo, Walter’s short-tempered nemesis.  Thankfully, Hank was dead for now, along with two of his stupid lackeys.

Walter reached Nob Hill and as soon as he could, took the device, which was actually a small, square, black button he had found on a planet known as Citobor, and teleported himself away by pushing it.  He could see a burst of red light as he drifted off into a blare of nothingness.

Walter found himself off of his feet, but this did not look like Plinus to him.  He was…in a circular chamber full of books, tomes with grueling names that can not be said in a story like this, and then, Walter saw himself facing a red-faced, horned man, who said to him, “Welcome to Hell, a friendly place for you and me,” in a screeching, ersatz voice!

“WHO ARE YOU?  WHY AM I HERE?” cried Walter, for if you have been in a place like this, it is extremely hard to be optimistic.  “I don’t believe in Hell!”

“I am the Devil, and you’ve got to start to believe in Hell.  You’re in…,” began the creature, but Walter had seen enough in his life for one human.  He pressed the black button again and the Devil was swept away from Walter for the rest of his life.

Walter went to his feet again.  This time, he was for sure on the alien planet Plinus.  The orange craters and green sky told Walter he was there.  The first Plinusian (being from Plinus) to find Walter was Citem, a trustworthy pilot who flew the POF spacecraft, though others seemed to work it just as well.

“Ahoy, Wawter!” shouted Citem to our traveling friend.  “Walter, Citobor was infested with large rats and this man in prison…Frank (?)…went wild, so we moved back here.”   Citem was not alone, as you will see.

“Hello, Citem,” responded Walter, who always felt a little strange around beings of another species, although I assume we all probably would.
“Good day for dreaming, eh?” questioned the next Plinusian, Rebmun, a jolly, slightly overweight yellow Plinusian.  “I’m Plinus’ head dreamer.”

“And poetry!” agreed Udlikrop, who was a teenage Plinusian interested in a game similar to Yu-Gi-Oh cards.  “I just finished my first ode, ‘Ode to a Back Hair.’  Walter you probably haven’t met the whole Plinusian tribe, haven’t you?”

“No, I think I haven’t met more than ten of your people,” agreed Walter.

“Then, let’s meet them,” laughed Udlikrop.

First Walter met Ip’s cousin Hykbar.  They went into his hut that day and Walter saw a very depressing sight, for Hykbar was an unhappy pre-teenager who spent all of his days in his room, writing poetry that no one would hear.  The reason was that the king Lamiced had a vision that Hykbar would never amount to anything in his whole life, so he should never try anything.

Next, Walter accidentally walked into the prison, where a Plinusian convict named Zizzem rambled on about all the bad things that Lamiced and Algeb did, and how Algeb framed him for murdering Rithme, but King Johnny Lurg still hadn’t bailed him out.

 

Walter approached the mammoth hut of Mr. Tode, a self-acclaimed scholar on Plinusian literature along with Ip, a Plinusian child prodigy.  Walter needed to know of the Plinusian classics.  Walter knocked twice on the door.  He couldn’t tell what fabric the door was sewed of.

Mr. Tode, a toad-like blue Plinusian, answered the door.  “Well, hello, if it isn’t the guh-RATE Walter Jid.  How can I quote-unquote help you?”

“Hello, Mr. Tode,” said Ip, “Walter needs some help on finding a Plinusian book.”

“Oh really?” asked the extremely cynical Tode.  “This may be a good decision.  That’s D-E-C-I-S-I-O-N, you know, Jiddy.”

Walter went inside.  The house had a suspiciously unpleasant feel, just like Hank Jabbo’s house back in San Francisco.

“Well,  Jid, you may enjoy Mr. Rettop’s Guide to Plinus, eh?”

“Thank you, sir.  What is that one about?”

“Well, dear boy, that one just happens to be the GUIDE TO PLINUS!  Here, have a look ‘n’ see, right?”
Walter looked into the huge, hard-cover green book simply entitled Guide to Plinus.  What did life on Plinus revolve upon?  He looked into the table of contents:

 

WHY DOES LIFE ON PLINUS EXIST?  -Page 169

 

Walter found on one page, in large bold letters, two words, the words that meant the world to him.

 

THE DAGGER!

 

        Walter rushed out of the hut, anxious with discovery.  The thing that Plinus revolved upon was the wacky blue dagger.  That was why everyone that was killed on Plinus was killed with the dagger.  Probably when a Plinusian was 10000 years old and ready to die, they used the dagger to send them to the afterlife.  And when Plinusians were born, the dagger must have been a magical instrument that brought baby Plinusians to life.  What an odd world, thought Walter.

Walter decided to think of what to tell Tom and what not to.  Walter started thinking about his multiple-time savior, Johnny Lurg; a nine-fingered elderly man who seemed to appear in the nastiest of times, right when Walter needed him.  How was Johnny doing now as king of Plinus, with all of these quirky decisions to make?  Walter met with a close yellow reptile-like Plinusian he assumed was named Dexim.

“Um…where is His Majesty?” asked Walter to the Plinusian.  Walter had another old friend on his mind at this time: his former associate Willy Jib, an orphan boy from the desert who had agreed to adventure with Walter.  Keen Willy ended up as a victim of George Hiltrus and his one-eyed disciple Jeremy Rastik, and Walter was left a loner.

“King Glayvin?” questioned Dexim, for in Plinusian tongue, Johnny is “Glayvin.”  “Right now he is visiting Jiparolch’s father, who has Himlims disease.  I’ll lead you there.”

Dexim led Walter across fabric huts, across the POF spacecraft, until they got to a medium-sized hut and they stopped.

“Jiparolch’s father, Henckh, owns the planet’s general store,” explained Dexim, “but while he is sick, I must take care of the place, for I have many jobs.”

Jiparolch’s hut’s door was wide open, so Walter thought it was safe to enter.  He found himself in the one-room hut, with Jiparolch’s father on the rug, looking ill, and pimply Jiparolch and Udlikrop playing a strange game of cards on a chair.  Johnny was there, also, standing in the corner, looking depressed.

“Johnny!” cried Walter.  “How are you, good friend?”

Johnny moaned.  “Oh, Walter, life on Plinus is a pain; I’m losing my hair over this job, I’m getting too old; by Plinusian standards you’re king until you die…if I can’t go back to Earth, I’m ready to die now.

“But who will be king after you?” asked Walter.  “We can’t have an election; that would take too long.”  Walter couldn’t think of a possible idea now, for he was stuck.

Rebmun came in.  “I was eavesdropping, sorry, but I’ll do it!  I’d rather be king than advisor under Algeb, anyway, damn that Algeb.”

“He can’t,” droned Johnny.  “One of Lamiced’s silly laws proclaims that if a Plinusian is both fat and yellow, he can be advisor, but not king.  I never corrected that law.”  Rebmun cast a look at Johnny for calling him fat, but Johnny just groaned with age.

Citem entered the room and approached the men.  “I have this figured out.  I will be king, Rebmun will be one of the advisors, and Henckh will be the other advisor.  Glayvin, my great king, does this work?”

“Yes, it works,” said Johnny, and crashed down onto the floor, into a deep sleep.

To make a long story short, all of Plinus’ king problems were solved.  Walter used the teleportation device to get back to Earth with Johnny Lurg, who is now at San Francisco Retirement Center.  It was still the same day, oddly enough, so Walter went back to Tom’s pad to tell him of his travels.

“…and Plinus revolves around that dagger, yes,” Walter told Tom.  “Johnny’s now in a good place, and all of the Plinusians are happy.”

The bald chap with the Hawaiian shirt woke up from a long slumber and realized that his rerun was long over.  He must have been a slippery guy, for he shook Walter’s hand and hollered, “Plinusians?  You must be Walter Milton Jid!  I am your future counterpart Naughty Naut, and I believe you are the one who unlocked mysterious worlds for tomorrow’s humans.  Have ten thousand dollars; here, have five hundred thousand dollars.  You need it.”

 

(Oh, and Hykbar did get convinced by King Citem that everyone has a role in life, so Hykbar took Henckh’s place as storekeeper.)                -Moe Binns, Author

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