THUS SPOKE FRED: Regarding the End (Chapter 22)

Believers in patience and wisdom I implore you.  Do not exchange gods or leaders as you would exchange a beast of burden. Gods should only be exchanged between lives. Beasts of burden should be exchanged every four seasons. Leaders should never be exchanged. They should be followed. If you can not follow them then abandon them. Forsake them only to themselves.

The last cave of knappers in HandOutDorf was a cavern with many halls. One could walk the passageways; from hall to hall. Each hall had thinkers, doers, cipherers and a few knappers. There was one hall that was much larger than the others. At times all the thinkers would leave their own halls and meet there. At other times the cipherers would gather there. Yet at other times the doers would gather. The leaders would never be able to gather there because when they gathered they lost their leadershipness. They tried several times but each time they gathered there they became followers. Leadership had been a fleeting memory. The puppeteers could pull strings and action would take place. The leaders had no strings to pull because they were not true leaders. Some were replaced every four seasons. A few lasted as long as eight seasons. None lasted longer.

This large hall became the central ring for a new circus; a circus that Fred had never seen before. Oh, there were big tubas playing “Oom pah pah, Oom pah pah, Oom pah pah.” And there were clowns. There was even the obligatory dog act and donkeys that leapt from a platform into a tank of water.. There were the trapeze artists and the trained birds, leaping frogs and other such acts. All this was contained in a very large tent erected in this largest of halls in the systems of caves and passageways.

But the lighting was off kilter. It did not seem to center on the act at hand. It centered on the audience. And there was no ringmaster.

Canines on the hunt are magnificent and noble animals. Hunting dogs lead themselves and pack dogs follow. Dogs in the circus are cute and, at times, unpredictable. Or at least they are trained to appear as though they are unpredictable. These dogs were neither cute, nor magnificent, nor trained, nor noble leaders. But they were unpredictable. These dogs were Dobermans. Not brown Dobermans but pink and purple Dobermans. Foam dripped from the corners of their mouths. Their shadows, because of the off kilter lighting, were bigger than the actual size of the dogs. The dogs seemed alarmed at these shadows and leapt around trying to avoid those dark blobs attached to their feet. The more they lept the more excited they became.

Clowns soon appeared to take the edge off of the circus dog act. They were dressed as owls in gaudy colors. Forest owls hunt for prey. They perch in the towering pines to better view their territory. Their silent scouring of the forest floor is earnest research for a better tomorrow. The clown-owls had large orange feathery hats with pointed downy ears. They scoured the audience over their half glasses with turtle shell frames. Each clown-owl carried a leather briefcase with smoke emanating from it. The clowns seemed to either ignore the smoke or be unaware of it. The audience became uneasy because of it.

Fred walked out of the audience and demanded to know where the ringmaster was. One of the clown-owls looked over his half glasses, sneered, harrumphed, smiled knowingly and said “in due time.” Fred then shook the clown by his downy little ears and asked again “Tell me where one would find the ring-master.” This time the clown-owl pulled a scroll out of his costume. He unrolled it with a flourish and held it high. He slowly turned around to ensure that everyone in the audience could read it. In big black block letters it stated:

A collective gasp went up from the audience! “What does it mean?” they asked each other. Quizzical looks were exchanged. “Were you standing around the water cooler?” their eyes seemed to ask each other. Some of the audience in the bleachers turned around to get a quick glance at the water cooler. But no one was there and the ringmaster was not to be seen.

Thus spoke Fred

But that was just the beginning of the end – – – – – – –

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About Waldo "Wally" Tomosky

I am proud of my work life (not the jobs, just the work).  Bait monger  Lawn mower  Paper boy  Windshield cleaner in a drive-in theater (if you don't know what a drive-in theater is there is no sense in you reading any farther)  Snack shack janitor in a drive in theater (ditto for drive-in theater)  Milling machine clean-up boy in a tool and die shop  Plastic injection press operator  Centurion in the US Army  Factory hand  Apprentice boy  Tool and die maker  Software user manual writer  Computer programmer  Ex-patriate par excellence  Engineering manager  Software test manager  Retiree  University administrator  System analyst  Retiree (2nd try)  Licensed amateur paleontologist  Retiree (3rd try)  Shovel bum (archaeology)  Retiree (4th try)  Delivery driver  Retiree (5th try)  Graduate student (skipped AA and BA due to the level of difficulty)  Retiree (finally got the drift of it) I have been writing for fourteen years and have fifteen books on Amazon/Kindle. Some horror, some twisted, some experimental, some essay and a few historical. I think that now I will really, really, really retire and just write. Lets see if I can do retirement correctly this time!
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