Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 2: Peek-a-boo
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kala pona kin li tawa lon telo jaki pi kala ante.
– Toki Ponist Pu
Solitude allowed Tipi time to think. How amazing he could get by doing everyday things with no recollection of his own identity or past. He knew how to walk, except for that slight mishap on the pavement earlier that day, and a relentless stream of words popped into his head and out of his mouth that he seemed to understand. He had not gone insane and was doing alright so far.
In the bathroom, he inspected himself. Dull dark-green eyes, a decent nose, and a suitable set of hair. Far too much and with no style, but he could work on that. Either this mirror hung ridiculously low on the wall or he was hitting three-sigma tallness.
He noticed a string around his neck. It was a tiny key. He took it off and put it in one of his pockets. A key is most powerful when you don’t know what it opens. There would be a time to ponder on this, but now was not it.
He had been a grand master guru on the path of light. But not much of a guru. Look at that outfit. They are more like pajamas. And why no shoes? Maybe he had left bed like this, yesterday. That would explain so very much. Maybe he was sleepwalking and woke up in the middle of the street, even though it was already past noon when he had stumped his toe. He was not only looking for answers, but explanations too.
He examined his foot by placing it on the closed toilet lid. It no longer hurt, so he uncoiled the bandages and found only embarrassment. A slight scratch and a cracked toenail is not something to harass a poor helpful woman about, let alone being carried by two grown men into a makeshift hospital serving coffee and cakes.
Not much of a guru acting out for no good reason. It was of no use talking himself down in a crazy time like this. The three stooges that helped Tipi earlier that day told him to stay put until tomorrow. They meant well and had Tipi’s best interest in mind as devout followers. Countering their words, Tipi’s tummy rumbled and there was no minibar in his room. Feeling his pocket, he found a few bank notes telling him to go out and get something to eat. He considered ordering room service, but he had seen no menu in his room and he suspected the Russian-only staff would pose an obstacle. A quick scan of his vocabulary returned words in German, such as Gesundheitsunterwäsche and Angelschreibmaschine which seemed unhelpful not only in ordering food from Russians but in any situation.
There was no way he would face the streets on his bare feet again. In the wardrobe Tipi found brand new inferior quality bath slippers all wrapped up in plastic. His tummy agreed they would have to do for now and so Tipi left his room taking the elevator to the streets below.
It was a mild, late afternoon in what felt like summer. Without a concept of where and whereto, he headed in no particular direction, taking extra mental notes of the things he saw in case he would lose his memory again and needed to find his way back. He stopped to check the logic in his reasoning, gave up, and then turned into another street that seemed to end up in a more lively quarter.
One skill that remained with him spotting the bright and colorful signage of fast-food restaurant chains. Peek-a-boo Burgers appeared to be a decent place for a hungry citizen like himself to grab a bite without having to get into any small talk. He entered the place and ordered the most standard burger meal the menu offered. Tipi answered with a polite yes to all questions concerning extras, add-ons, and power-ups preventing possible fuss. He paid with the wad of banknotes in his pocket and took his tray to the most secluded seat of the over-lit dining area.
The burger was an admirable adversary to the appetite, but he rejoiced that one of the add-ons he had agreed to was another burger. Wiping sauce from his beard with a napkin, he noticed a woman giving him a sour look.
“Hey, aren’t you that guru guy?” she said after Tipi started accidental eye contact.
“Maybe?” Tipi said.
“Yea it’s you: mister I-have-no-ego.”
Tipi smiled and hoped the woman would somehow disappear in a puff of fairy dust. She did not.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Telling everyone how to live their lives? Love everyone, be one with the universe and here you are stuffing your face with animal souls.”
“I am eating their meat,” Tipi said, and spread the burger buns to investigate what, in fact, he had been eating. “Can’t you just leave me alone, you are eating fast-food here too, you know.”
“I have a salad!” This talking back did not appease matters because the woman stood up and launched another tirade.
“How can you be eating meat? Murderer! You’re nothing but a fraud! Aren’t you supposed to be a breatharian? Surviving for years without food or water? Now we know you’ve been lying to all of us.”
She paused, which could only mean she held back for the last punch. He braced for impact.
“And to yourself.”
That could have been worse. Tipi had no clue how to respond. He did not know what he had been preaching as a guru. He also did not know whether he was a vegetarian or a charlatan breatharian. But the food felt very good inside, and he had hoped to finish his meal in peace.
A uniformed staff member came their way to help him out and let him have a quiet meal.
“Is everything alright here? Is he bothering you, madam?” she said to the red-faced spreader of potential malign misinformation.
“I’m fine,” the woman lied with her nose up in the air. “But this lowly bastard can go to hell where he can burn with the other blood-drinking pedophiles.”
The manager turned to Tipi.
“Sir, I need you to leave.”
“Me?” Tipi said. “What did I do? I just want to eat my meal without being called whatever that was.”
“Calm down, sir. Please take your stuff and move to the exit.”
“Do you even know who I am?” Tipi said trying out something he felt celebrities would say to get out of nasty situations.
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, neither do I!”
“But you look and smell like a bum, with your rugged clothes, dirty beard and stolen hotel slippers. And your presence is disturbing the clients.”
“I did not steal those, they were complementary, and this is your sauce in my beard.” He saw the manager nodding to a big security guy who reacted as if pricked by an unannounced needle.
“I’m going, I’m going,” Tipi said and collected the bonus burger and fries into the brown bag they served it in.
Tipi stumbled into the streets again and grabbed a few fries to counter the anxiety of the last encounter. This seemed to help a bit. He finished the rest of his meal on a nearby bench and sat back, satisfied.
A young man took a seat next to him and just as Tipi wanted to get up, a hand from behind held him down by the shoulder.
“Is this you?” the young man said and showed him a five second, bouncy, back and forward video on his smartphone. The clip showed a disheveled hobo yelling and making a fuss, pushing a woman around. It took a while for Tipi to realize he was looking at himself.
“That’s not how it went,” Tipi said. This triggered the five people that now stood around him to bombard him with more of the material that the salad-woman had been spewing minutes before.
“The world can now see who you truly are,” someone in the group said. “You’re nothing but a racist money-hogging socialist!”
Tipi got up and wanted to get away from all the aggression, but these five had other plans. One grabbed him from behind while another took the remaining banknotes from his pocket.
“You won’t be needing any. Buddhist beggar. Let’s see how you do with no money for real. And gimme your shoes!”
The gang, including Tipi, looked at the now dirty hotel slippers and an awkward silenced ensued. Tipi wrestled himself free from the weakened grasp of his assailant and yelled: “Gimme back my money!”
Three smartphone cameras popped out of nowhere. Agitated voices narrated the filmed encounter in words that went by too fast. He ran with tears in his eyes towards the hotel entrance, losing a single slipper along the way.
“You’re canceled, old man!” he heard them yell. “You’ll be a nobody tomorrow with no followers. Nobody wants you anymore, your life is over!”
Tipi fled into the empty elevator and panted the trip up to the sixth floor. He closed the hotel room door behind him and locked it tight. What kind of person was he? He seemed terrible. When Alex had told him he was this great sage, he had expected a bit more respect from the public. Maybe he did not read this world well yet, and his brain was not ready to live in the society he was experiencing right now.
He had to find out who he was and what this world was all about. His right hand felt into his pocket in search for a smartphone: the gateway to answers when you need them. But there was nothing. There also was no computer in the room, and he had not seen one in the hotel hallway either. The room also lacked essentials such as a tv. He just had to deal with the mystery of his being without modern tools. The lack of closure and the uncertainty of his own moral standing gnawed at him. It had been too much for one day. Exhausted, he fell asleep.
In that way station before dreaming, he appreciated his decision to sleep. It seemed to be a good idea for multiple reasons. In the morning, the only three friendly faces he had encountered so far would visit him, and they might help him further. But higher in his hopes was the possibility that he would wake up somewhere else in a more familiar reality and find out that this day has just been a nasty dream he would soon forget.Read the next chapter