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Young adult novel, p.9
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       Young Adult Novel, p.9

           Daniel Pinkwater
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  We all knew that.

  "Ja, zo after a vhile, zhese creaturess vere pretty vell advanced, und could valk around erect, und grunt at vun anozher, und already zhey could paint magnificent picturess on zuh valls of caves, see?"

  Heinrich Bleucher held up a book with color pictures of cave paintings. I had seen some of this stuff in an old copy of Life magazine once.

  "Zhese paintings are zuh goods!" Heinrich Bleucher said. "Not so much painting in zuh zhousands und zhousands of yearss to follow vass better zhan some of ziss stuff. I know about painting—you can take my vord for it. So, zuh guy who painted ziss vass a smart guy, okay? If you try to paint a buffalo like ziss, you vill see it's not so easy to get it right. Ziss painter, vhatever his reasons for making zuh painting—vee come to zhat soon—he vass no dummy!

  "Zo, should vee say zhat ziss painting is great art?" Heinrich Bleucher took a long drag on his cigarette. "No! It iss not art. Vell, it is art to us, because zhat is how vee look at it—but to zuh caveman who painted it, zuh intention vass not to make an artistic performance. Maybe novun vould ever see ziss painting! Zo, you know vhy ziss cave guy painted it in zuh first place? You—young man, vhat iss your name?'

  "Charles the Cat," I said, giving my Dada name without thinking.

  "Ja, goodt! Ziss is a goodt name. It iss like zuh Dadaists—vee vill talk about zhem also. So, Charles zuh Cat, vhy vass zhis cave bozo painting zuh beautiful painting of zuh caribou, hah?"

  It so happened I had just remembered something from the article in the old Life magazine. "He probably painted it as part of some ritual—something to do with hunting that animal."

  "Ja! Bravo! Excellent! Ziss is exactly right! It vass part of a magical performance, so he vould first paint zuh animal, to catch its soul, ja, its essence und zhen he hoped zuh tribe vould be able to catch zuh physical animal. Ziss is interesting, ja? But more interesting is zhat ziss cave clown vass already trying to think. If you consider vhat vass known to zhese poor slobs, it isn't such a bad idea—given vhat zhey had to vork vith. So ziss guy is part of a process by vhich man iss already trying to figure out his environment. Nice going, ja?"

  It was nice going. I felt good about the cave painter. I was really proud of him—and I was really proud of myself for giving a good answer. This was the most interesting thing I'd ever gotten into. Looking around, I could see that the other Wild Dada Ducks felt the same way. Igor had brought a notebook, and was writing in it. Evidently he'd had some conversations with Heinrich Bleucher already.

  Bleucher continued. "If you like, you can read some anthropoligists about shamanism among zuh Eskimos und zhat sort of zhing, und get a better idea of vhat ziss cave painter vass thinking about. So! Now vee jump a few generations. Vee have modern man, anthropologically speaking, und he isn't writing yet, but he's still trying to figure out his environment. Like zuh cave painter, he still iss observing nature, und he believes there is a soul or essence in zuh things he observes.

  "Now you may write ziss down, Mr. Igor, ziss vordt: Mythopoeia. You recognize vhat vordts ziss iss made from? You, young man, vhat iss your name?" Heinrich Bleucher pointed to the Indiana Zephyr.

  The Indiana Zephyr expressed the opinion that the word sounded like myth and poetry.

  "Ja! Brilliant! It is mythos und poiein in Greek, und zuh vordt hass to do vith zuh making of myths—und now vee are talking about zuh first stage in human thought. Zhese guys in zuh mythopoeic period are valking around thinking zhat zhere are souls, spirits, essences in zuh rocks and trees, ja? Zhey think zuh thunder is zuh farting of zuh gods, und so forth. Ziss covers zuh Greek and Roman gods, all zuh primitive religions, ja? Ziss kind of thinking goes on even today, ja? Modern Hinduism iss still a mythopoeic system—und people who believe in astrology are still vorking in a system of myth, zuh exact same myths zuh ancient Greeks believed in. Okay, so vhat? You, Mr. Igor, so vhat?"

  "I don't know so vhat—I mean, so what," Igor said.

  "No, of course you do not know so vhat. Zhat is vhat I am going to tell you. Ziss is so vhat—in a system of thought vhich is based on myth, zhere is no free vill! Zhat is so vhat, und it is a big so vhat. If everything zhat can happen to you is already ordained in zuh heavens, or in zuh guts of a chicken—zhey used to cast fortunes vith zuh guts of a chicken, you knew zhat?—zhen you do not decide your own fate. It is decided for you. So, for a long time, mankind had no vay to think about zhings except in ziss mythopoeic framevork. Ziss doesn't mean zhey vere all dummies! Zhat cave painter vass already hot stuff! Und, vhen you look at zuh Hindu sculptures—und some of zhem are really hot stuff—und zuh art of Sumeria, und zuh Iliad und zuh Odyssey, und zuh Greek dramas, zhat is classy, ja?

  "But even more classy iss vhen vee come to Socrates, und Buddha, und Jesus, und some other guys—but now it iss time for you to go. Zhank you, gentlemen."

  Heinrich Bleucher lit another cigarette. It was clear that he had finished. We wanted more.

  "Uh, Mr. Bleucher," Captain Colossal said.


  "Exactly who are you?"

  "I told you. I am a leprechaun."

  "Excuse me. I don't believe that."

  "Oh? You are calling me a liar? Vhy don't you believe zhat I am a leprechaun?"

  "Because I am not a mythopoeic guy," Captain Colossal said.

  "Goodt! Hot stuff!" Heinrich Bleucher said. "Now you vill all go. Before you come back, maybe you vould like to read zuh Bhagavad-Gita. Look in zuh Martwist College library—but zhey probably von't have it, in vhich case, you can buy it off zuh magazine rack in zuh drugstore. Goodt-bye."

  We made our way out of the woods, speculating about Heinrich Bleucher.

  "Who do you suppose he is?" I asked.

  "He's obviously some sort of teacher," the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) said, "but he's nothing like the professors at Martwist College."

  "And you say he's been here every time you come out to the woods?" we asked Igor.

  "Every single time," Igor said. "The first time I met him, I just assumed he was this old guy taking a walk, like I was doing. That time he talked about Confucius and Lao Tze."

  "Who or what are they?"

  "Neat guys. Sometime you should try to get him to talk about them."

  "So then what happened?"

  "So we had a nice time. Bleucher talked about Confucius and Lao Tze, and I sort of followed most of what he was talking about; and that was all. Then I met him again, and this time he talked about Einstein and the history of modern physics, and quantum mechanics, and Niels Bohr and Max Planck, and those guys. Then another time he told me all about life in ancient Greece. By the way, so far I haven't been able to find one single book he talked about in the college library. Anyway, I started to get a spooky feeling about Heinrich Bleucher. I mean, why is he in the woods all the time? And why couldn't I find any of the books he talked about? Well, I started to wonder if I wasn't imagining him. That's why I wanted you guys to come with me."

  "That's some reason," the Indiana Zephyr said. "Otherwise I suppose you would have just kept him to yourself, huh? I'm really pissed that I missed the talk about physics."

  "You've got to understand—I wasn't sure I wasn't hallucinating. He always wears those exact same clothes, and he never gets dirty or anything—and I don't think he ever goes anywhere. Do you think he's a ghost, maybe?"

  "If ghosts smoke Camels, he might be," Captain Colossal said. "I think he's a retired professor, and he's got no place to go, so he hangs around in the woods—probably he likes nature. When you came along, he just started talking about stuff he's interested in. At any rate, I for one am going back tomorrow."

  "I don't see what strikes you as so supernatural," the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) said. "You didn't see him dematerialize or levitate or anything neat like that, did you?"

  We all laughed at that point. I thought Igor was going to say something, but when we laughed, he just looked frustrated and said nothing.

  By this time
we had gotten back to our room. Upon opening the door, we were confronted with a spectacle of unbelievable destruction and horror. Papers were strewn everywhere, our costly textbooks were crumpled and sloshed with red wine. Smoldering cigarettes made little black nimbuses on the carpet. What had apparently been a vigorous wastebasket fire was still flickering weakly, and a pall of smoke hung beneath the ceiling.

  Most horrible was the damage wrought on our Mozartiana collection—no, that was second or third most horrible. Most horrible, for certain, was the ghastly fragrance of unwashed bodies having recently engaged in strenuous and exciting activity. And horrible was the spectacle of two sets of pudgy white thighs protruding from rumpled tan raincoats side by side on the beds, which had been shoved together and covered with the sleeping bags of the three ancillary Ducks. Right calves balanced comfortably on left knees, toes wiggling, feet bobbing in unison; it seemed for a moment that John Holyrood had somehow cloned—but it was stunningly evident that one naked nether half was male and the other female.

  What had happened was all too clear—John Holyrood, who had shown signs of being in rut for the past few days, had mated—and he had done it in our room!

  "Oh Jesus God!" Captain Colossal said.

  Amid the debris there were a few dainty objects of feminine attire. A guitar with two broken strings lay in the corner. A pair of thicklensed eyeglasses lay carelessly tossed on a desk.

  "Hi!" Pulkeh Rabinowitz said shyly. "I came up here looking for you"—speaking to me—"and John came in and said he was depressed. He let me comfort him. It was beautiful. John has such a sensitive nature."

  There was hardly anything in the room left undestroyed. The worldly possessions of the Wild Dada Ducks, as well as my hopes of being the Edmund Hillary to Pulkeh Rabinowitz's Mount Everest, had been immolated in John Holyrood's (it couldn't have been more than) two hours of love.

  "I'm feeling much better," John Holyrood said. "Please don't worry about me."

  Their arms around each other, wearing nothing but their raincoats, the lovers left the room, gazing fondly, eye to eye.

  "Holy shit!" said the Indiana Zephyr.

  "What do we do, burn all this stuff?" Igor asked.

  "I'm not touching anything without gloves," Captain Colossal said.

  "We're wiped out," I said.

  "Destroyed," said the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico).

  Ronald Rubin appeared. "So you finally decided to unlock your door," he said. He handed us a piece of paper. "This is a summons, from the Campus Christian Crusade and the Student Court—which have recently been consolidated into one body. You are to appear at eight tonight to face charges of moral turpitude, setting a fire, and conducting an orgy. If you don't show, we're going to whip your asses something terrible."

  "Evidently, they heard Holyrood in here," I said.

  "I can imagine that," said Igor. "It must have sounded like the five of us at least."

  "Well, we'll explain all this to the Student Court," I said. "After all, we've got truth on our side."

  "And they've got God on their side," Captain Colossal said. "They're going to destroy us."

  "But even if we'd done all this," I said, "it isn't so different from things everybody here does. Ronald Rubin is balling that creepy little girlfriend of his constantly—and those guys on the third floor have weird parties all night long. And as to destruction of property, this whole building looks bombed—the only difference is that now our room looks like most of the others. What can they do to us?"

  Ronald Rubin poked his head into the room. "Oh, by the way, the Christian Crusade/ Student Court has the power to impose punishments, levy fines, and we can also advise the administration to suspend or expel you, or turn you over to the civil authorities—and, just between ourselves, seeing that you haven't got any friends, there's no reason we shouldn't grind you into shit. And I heard what you said about Nancy, who is a virtuous Christian girl—and guess who's president of the court."


  "No, Nancy. She hates your guts. See you tonight, freaks."

  "No chance," Igor said.

  "None," said the Indiana Zephyr.

  "What would Mozart have done in a case like this?" asked the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico).

  It was so easy! Five minutes later we were in John Holyrood's room. The smitten Pulkeh Rabinowitz had been sent out by her new lover to find instant whipped cream to use in some innovative way. We had heard his instructions, and her tiny sandals clicking down the stairs. John Holyrood was alone. We kicked open the door and rushed him. It was undoubtedly because of his recent expenditure of energy, but immobilizing John Holyrood was no problem for the five furious Ducks. In seconds, ten bony knees pressed relentlessly down on various parts of John Holyrood's body.

  "Now, gentlemen," Holyrood wheezed, "there's no call to become irate. Remember what a good friend I've been to you."

  "You're a shit, Holyrood," I hissed, thumping his head rhythmically on the floor. None of us had ever seen the inside of John Holyrood's room. It was tidy! It had a color television, a sheepskin rug, a little wooden cart with bottles of wine and liquor! There was a coffee table with a little glass bowl full of jelly beans. Copies of Playboy neatly overlapped on the table. There was nothing in the way of desk or books or anything in the room to suggest that the inhabitant was a student—or a well-known slob, iconoclast, and beast.

  The Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) increased the pressure of his knee on Holyrood's windpipe. "Just tell me this, shitball," El Presidente said, "have you ever actually read anything by Nietzsche?"

  "My cousin has," gasped the asphyxiating Holyrood, "he went to Harvard, no fooling!"

  "To business," said Igor. "You ruined our stuff, you creepy scum. Pay for it!"

  "Honestly, I haven't got any money," Holyrood rasped.

  "Kill him," I said.

  The Dada Ducks shifted their weight, kneeling a little more heavily on the Beast of Nixonn Hall.

  "It's in the top drawer!" the agonized Beast wailed.

  Captain Colossal opened the drawer and produced a fat wad of bills. He counted. "Three hundred and forty-five dollars. Think that will cover the damage?"

  "Barely," said the Indiana Zephyr, who was busy hacking away at John Holyrood's beard with his Swiss Army knife, "but we'll take it. Any objections, turd?"

  "Lay off my beard!" the Beast begged—but too late—he was half-shorn.

  "Any objection to our taking this money to pay for all the stuff you defiled?" the Zephyr asked, eyeing Holyrood's member, in evidence as usual. "I've seen entirely too much of that thing," he added.

  "Take the money!" Holyrood shrieked. "It's only fair. I'm sorry I messed up your stuff."

  "Right," said the Wild Dada Ducks, who then tied the Beast of Nixonn Hall hand and foot, gagged him, and stuffed him into his closet.

  "We'd better get completely out of here," I suggested.

  "True," the Indiana Zephyr said. "We're outlaws now."

  "When Pulkeh comes back and finds Holyrood, he'll probably say we came in here and robbed him."

  "Who'd believe that? It was only because he was postcoital that the five of us were able to overpower him."

  "The shits who run everything in this place would believe him because he'd be telling them incriminating stuff about us, and we're scheduled to be lynched as it is."

  "Let's buy some time," Captain Colossal said. He opened the door of the closet. "Hey, Beast, I'm writing a letter to your girlfriend. I'm going to say that you were just using her mediocre body, and that you've had better sex with the family Basset hound at home—and that anyway your real lover is Ronald Rubin. Now I'm signing your name—and let's add a P.S. Oh, yes, folk music sucks! Okay, Beast?" John Holyrood growled and strained at the tape on his wrists and ankles.

  "Don't antagonize him," Igor said. "He's going to work himself loose as it is."

  "It'll take hours," the Captain said. "I'll tape this
note to the door of his room. Pulkeh won't forgive him until after supper at the earliest."

  "By which time we'd better be gone," I said.

  "Agreed," said the Indiana Zephyr. "Where shall we go, home?"

  "Not home!" I said. "That was the only good thing about this shitball college—it's not home. I say let's take to the woods, and hang out with Heinrich Bleucher."

  "He's supernatural," Igor said.

  "He's smart, and he can teach us stuff," I said. "We've heard your supernatural theory."

  "There are things I didn't tell you," Igor said.

  "Tell us later," the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) said. "We've just got a little time to see what we can salvage from our room—and then we need to stop at the army-navy store and buy a tent and some other equipment. And then, let's stop off at the drugstore and see if they really have a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita."

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  Daniel Pinkwater, Young Adult Novel



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