Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Talking With Dad

"You were seriously born inside a tree?" "Sure. An egg was deposited inside an ash tree by a mammalian skunk-wasp using its ovipositor, and fertilized by the tree itself. The egg matured over the course of about 75 years, and I was born mashed in between layers of dewy phloem. About forty years later the layer of phloem I was born in finally became part of the protective outer layer of the ash tree, and I fell out through the bark and had breakfast." "What?" "Sausage, eggs, kasha, and grapefruit juice. Apparently a hunter had left his breakfast near the tree and forgot about it. I guess." "No, I mean how did you survive for one hundred and fifteen years inside a tree?" "I drank sap, and thought about sports." "What?" "Football, mostly. And the Highland Games, like the caber toss and Maide Leisg. I was lonely, I imagine." "No, I mean how did you even know about sports?" "Everyone knows about sports, son. What's wrong with you?" ... "So you're part tree? And part mammalian skunk-wasp?" "Near as I can figure it, anyway. But I feel like a regular ol' fellow." "Hm. So, how did you meet Mom?" "She was enslaving a village with her three-headed serpent, and I sidled up next to her and asked for a pinch of snuff." "Why didn't she enslave you?" "My pretty eyes, and rakish grin. That's what she always told me. She did entomb me in a chrysolite mine for a few months, though, after I said her chicken-legged apartment was dumpy. Do you have any more tobacco?" "Foma? Tobacco." Foma rose from the mud with a horrendous sucking sound, dropped a leather pouch into the lap of the reclining hermit, and collapsed back into the mud. "Did you actually live together in the chicken-legged apartment?" "No, no doors, no windows. Plus it's full of human bones and old magazines. And she keeps it too damn hot! It's a sauna in there. A sauna of bones and man jerky." "Is there even a shred of human goodness in Mom?" [They laugh heartily together for several minutes] "No, seriously." [They wail with laughter as a light rainstorm passes, and a group of villagers pass by, hunting for mushrooms] "She does love that three-headed serpent, I'll give her that. Say anything bad about ol' Ghugguk and she'll drop you right off her flying mortar into the Sun. And she has a great sense of humor." "Do you still see Mom at all?" "Sure! She's right over there, remember?" And Afanasy remembered that she was, in fact, sitting on the other side of the sauna, whistling, and constructing an enormous deadly scythe out of volcanic pumice.