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Following Directions

by Rudi Dornemann

A sequel to yesterday's "Directions." (You'll probably want to ready that story first.)

No problem with the first few. Goat path and royal city road were easy enough; the old woman was a little suspicious, but I helped get her cart out of the ditch and got the flower.

The trouble was the highwaymen. When they "robbed me of everything," everything included the directions. Which they read. Then Octothorp, the leader of the highwaymen, had one of his henchfolk run back for my goat and planted the old woman's flower.

We were climbing before it finished growing. Since I was the one it kicked least, I got to carry the goat. We must have been ahead of schedule, since the dragon didn't show up for nearly an hour. It took quite a bit of terrified running before we wound up upwind of it.

When we finally got a snootfull of goat dander wafting the right direction, the first sneeze incinerated half the highway men, and, by the time the fourth sneeze shook the coins loose and sent the dragon shivering and sniffling away, only Octothorp and I remained.

We looked at the heaps of coins, re-read the instructions, looked back at the coins (the heavy, heavy coins), and then at each other. It was clear neither of us had remembered to save a couple petals from the "old woman's" flower. No magical wings for us.

"Maybe the stalk we climbed has bloomed," I said. We could see the vast stem in the distance, the only non-cloud thing in sight.

When we got there, having dragged as much gold as we (and the goat) could carry, the plant was wilting. The petals were too floppy to sustain flight, the stem that was our only remaining way home was rapidly shriveling.

"I've worked too hard for too many years to give up now I'm finally a success," said Octothorp.

"There's nothing here," I said.

"Someone built that cloud-castle," he pointed to the direction sheet. "Take what you want, and I'll still have more than enough to make a new start. Been meaning to settle down..."

I filled my pockets, slung the goat over my shoulder, and started for home.

Things went well for me from then on -- pockets full of gold are as good as the best directions. Some days when the sun slips, glittering, behind the clouds, I wonder how Octothorp is doing, and whether he ever reached his destination or his destiny.


Fun !

Posted by: Dan | September 16, 2009 7:08 PM


Posted by: Rudi | September 17, 2009 2:41 AM

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