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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #249
The Eyes Have It
David Gunn

At the same time the man formerly known as Holy Roman Emperor Charlie VI was gathering his wits, which had scattered all over the floor of the room during his brief tussle with Clementania, an eyrie of eyeballs (about 60) had gathered circumferentially around a giant, freestanding peeper in a grove of garlic brambles not far away in a scene that defied conventional ophthalmological wisdom. Like a noddy of noses, an eyrie constituted a large enough number of eyes to achieve interocular communication -- and converse they did, though to the uninitiated, it looked more like the world's worst case of blepharospasms. The eyes winked and squinted, batted and blinked, fluttered and flapped, at first not all at the same time. But gradually a pattern developed, and the motions synchronized. The big eye around which the others had congregated acted as moderator at a town meeting. An issue was presented to the assemblage. Discussed. A vote ensued. All in favor? Opposed? Big Eyeball tallied the results. The ayes have it.

"The eyes have it," said Kinkajoul at precisely the same time, taking coincidence to a new extreme, though the context was completely different. In this case, "it" was the ability to move about, communicate, carry a grudge and, yes, observe traditional parliamentary rules if the need arose. He had been explaining to Clementania the sequence of implausible events that had led up to this meeting with her.

It -- a still different it -- all started two and a half hundred years ago. Charles VI, as previously documented, had been compiling data on his estate's weasels -- the number of cylinders each had; estimated miles per bushel of bran, city and forest; average daily methane emissions; ability to communicate with inorganic compounds; how to spot them before their Invisibility Quotient overrode normal corporeal viewing; prehensility of tongues -- in preparation for a monograph he was to deliver at Menschenfressergeschichtlichgesellschaft, the local historical society. Observing a widget of them at play that long-ago Friday in November, VI noticed Bob, the alpha weasel, suddenly floating up into the air. As he followed its ascent, he was startled to see a flurry of meteors heading directly for Bob ... and, by the merest of extension, himself. Just as his research, not to mention his poor life, was to be terminated, a strange thing happened -- or rather, the first in a seemingly endless succession of strange things happened. A cloud of translucent matter suddenly materialized, enveloped him, sucked him out of Menschenfresserstadt and deposited him in a different space-time continuum. It was, of course, an Algonquin Hole that the muddled monarch had been appropriated by, but he simply knew it as "Sonderbare Wolke, die mich ergreift und verläßt keine Nachsendeadresse," or, "weird cloud that seizes me and leaves no forwarding address" -- Ergreifenwolke for short. After numerous sojourns in flabbergastingly peculiar parallel universes, he finally wound up back on Earth, though in 20th century Indiana, and there he'd stayed for he didn't know how long until just last month. Thanks to an eight-year long subscription to Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac" prior to his corporeal evanescence, he had no trouble with the English language, and was quickly able to get a job with a local pharmaceutical company. A continuing theme during the seventh year of Franklin's Almanac had been a send-up of newfangled medical practices in America. Franklin concocted an absurd type of operation to improve a patient's self-image called cosmetic surgery. But VI missed the pasquinade and thought it was simply the latest craze by those nutcake Americanskis. Besides, Franklin’s essays were so full of scientific terms -- rhinoplasty, otoplasty and blepharoplasty were real surgeries of the nose, eyes and ears -- that they duped many an aspiring New World physician, too.

To better blend in with the medical community, VI selected a name for himself that he thought was inconspicuous: by suffixing a thermal energy unit to a Panamanian raccoon, he got "Kinkajoul." With a new moniker and a state-of-the-art medical laboratory at his disposal, VI fell happily to experimenting on thousands of sensory organs, many of which came to him from dubious sources. Still, he managed to keep a low profile until he attempted to popularize what he called "the van Gogh look" on increasingly reluctant experimentees. Some of them threatened to report him to the American Medical Guild, but suddenly he had more pressing concerns. As he amassed dozens, then hundreds of similar sensory organs, he discovered some most troubling attributes: they could move, communicate and, in large numbers, even get ornery. He’d managed to segregate them in small enough groups to forestall widespread insurrection, but then the thuginterns showed up to curtain his work, and he was forced to flee to Canada. A tip-off the previous day from a coworker gave him enough time to individually wrap each nose, ear and eyeball in communication-stifling titanium gauze, so they were a passive lot on the road. In fact, the only potentially ticklish moment during the day-and-a-half 1,550 mile Indianapolis-to-Saskatoon bus ride was when the Canadian customs official examined one of the eyeballs and it winked at him. But the sleep-deprived official assumed he was hallucinating, so he waved the bus into Manitoba and off into the night.

When VI arrived in Saskatoon, a representative from Eli Lily, his pharmacological employer, was waiting for him. His name was Wingate, and he told Kinkajoul that he was taking him to a company-owned cabin on the outskirts of town. He'd live there while continuing his research in peace, without that silly American Medical Guild peering over his shoulder. But first, he just had to have a look at whatever was causing all the fuss. VI shrugged, and opened the receptacle that the customs official had examined six hours earlier. Before he had time to be shocked, the four eyeballs staring back at Wingate and him had already begun to mesmerize them both.

"... pul-leze bul-leze pul-leze bul-leze..." The polite request imprinted itself hard and fast on the minds of the two Lily-fusions, and straightaway Wingate drove Kinkajoul to the airport where, without a second thought, he boarded a plane for Belmopan, the capital of Belize.

Belize, by the way, sports the largest volunteer following of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar in all of northernmost Central America. So in a spirit of pan-American unity, we dedicate this 249th episode to the hearty constituents of its aptly named beach colony, Kalvos-by-the-Sea.