Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 22: Getting pu-blissed
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sina wile ala musi e musi wile la, sina musi e musi ante sewi.
– Toki Ponist Pu
“Do you know where we are?” Julian said.
They walked up the road and looked left and right. Water. Water on both sides as far as the eye could see. A small strip of land cut through two large bodies of water. Houses lined on one side of the road and a bike path marked the other waterfront.
“Let’s just walk,” he said to Julian, who was still sobbing. This was too much for a little guy like him, but there was not much else to do than trying to tag him along. He could not leave him in the house with those people, that was certain. A few cars passed them by. Tipi had waved at them to stop, but other than frowning at Tipi and his pet chair, they did not slow down at all.
A passenger bus approached, at the same time as he saw the bus stop ahead on the roadside.
“Run!” he called out to Julian. “Try to stop that bus.”
Tipi also attempted to run hindered by the dangling chair chafing his calfs. Out of breath, Tipi carried himself and the chair into the bus and paid for his fare. The bus driver pretended not to see the chair.
“Where are we going?” Julian asked when they sat down in the spacious seats intended for the disabled with a wheelchair or desk chair.
Julian pointed to the mini-map on the wall of the bus.
“Utrecht. They did not take me that far.”
“Are you getting rid of me again?”
Julian looked out the window in clear disbelief. It must have been tough all those years with his parents to make him want to run away. Tipi experienced flashes of the suicide dive Julian had attempted that strange evening. What was several months ago could just as well be an eternity.
“It is different now,” he said to Julian. “I have found my passport, and my other stuff. I have lots of money from selling my house. Living as a mooching, possessed, enlightened vagabond costs little. I am no longer aimless and helpless. I’m getting my regular life back on the rails.”
“Good for you,” Julian said and closed his eyes and either trying or pretending to sleep against the window of the shaking bus.
“I’m just saying I can do things now, not just for me, but also for you.”
Tipi did not know what he could do. Julian’s parents would look for him with dubious intentions, getting the authorities involved, and that meant Tipi was not in an excellent position at all to take good care of the boy.
After about an hour of being jostled about in the bus, they got out at a stop that Tipi deemed closest to his hotel. He entered the lobby and asked Julian to wait in the bathroom while Tipi got all his stuff and checked out again. Then they both walked out the door. If the crow people wanted to find him again, this would be the first place they would check.
“We have to go to another city,” he said. “I don’t know how they found me in the first place, but it’s not safe around here, that is for sure.”
Tipi turned around and saw nobody. He looked at Julian, who did not understand what Tipi was doing.
Tipi looked closer at where the sound was coming from. He stared into the shopping window of a bookstore. “Not again,” he said. Inside was a copy of a brand new book. With large golden lettering the title “My mount to the top” hovered in front of a steep, snowy mountaintop, “How mountain metaphors can increase your productivity and happiness, by Kathy Dillinger,” it said in smaller print.
“Hello,” said the mountain behind all the lettering.
Tipi refused to answer the call of the mountain.
“We’ve been here before, get in here now, lumpy-dump, you’ve got nothing to lose.”
Kathy got her book published. Good for her, although she gave mountains a bad name with her shallow analysis and focus on silly things like happiness. Tipi forced Julian and then himself into the bookstore.
A bell chimed three times, correlating with a round woman peeking around a corner. “I’ll be with you in a sec,” she said.
Julian looked around and started browsing a book on dinosaurs.
“Can I help you?” the owner of the bookstore said when she took her place at her desk. “Looking for a present, or a pleasant read for your son?”
Tipi walked around thinking about what he could need from this place. He had not the slightest interest in the book by Kathy. And this time, outdated English poets from the lake district also would not push him in the right direction. Getting Julian some place safe was the most important thing now, not discussing literature. How can books be a part of his rescue plan? Tipi went for the most glaring but least appealing of all conceivable options.
“I saw a book on mountains?”
“Oh yes,” she pushed her hexagonal spectacles back up her nose. “There’s a stack of them right there.”
Tipi took a copy of the book in his hands. On the backside, a radiant Kathy looked out into the world. Best-selling author, it said. An expert on life, health, and business. The blurb talked about the book being laden with nuggets of wisdom and funny anecdotes from rock climbing to unsurmountable putt-putt bumps. They sealed the book in plastic.
“Could I have a look inside?”
“Certainly not,” she said. “These books are all about the little gems of information. People browse these books to steal the two bits of the information they think they need and then leave without paying.”
“Do you know how I can reach the author?”
“Are you going to buy this book, sir?”
A staring contest ensued.
“Fine, here’s your money.” Tipi produced a large enough banknote and then unwrapped the book, flipping the pages. In a nonchalant manner, he hoped he would bump into the anecdote about the putt-putt course that should include him in some manner.
“The author?” Tipi tried again.
“No. But you could try contacting the publisher.”
“Will I get through if I call them?”
“I doubt it,” she said.
“Then I take you up on your offer.”
“The one where you offered your help when I first came in.”
“I didn’t offer, I asked if I could help you, not that I would.”
“But you can help me, and I paid for the damn book.”
“Your son seems to like the dino book.”
“I will buy the damned dinosaur encyclopedia, if that will get you to make that call for me.”
“Very well, one moment. Who can I say wants to talk to the author?”
“Just tell her: lederhosen.”
She paused, decided she did not care, and left her desk. After using a hidden laptop perched on a bookshelf, she wrote a number on a yellow post-it note and returned. Then she took the shop’s phone and called the number. Tipi walked up and down the store. He hated phone calls, even if other people were having them.
“Sir!” the woman called out from her desk. “Very unusual, but the author wishes to speak to you.”
He walked up to the front of the shop and took the telephone receiver.
“Tipi,” she called out. “You’ve bought my book!”Read the next chapter