Old Mabel had pulled in a suave chair from the patio of the Perch restaurant next door to become friendlier with Tin S. Man, who turned out to be a fount of knowledge once you got him to open up (heart exposed).
“All those Lower Minoans were celebrating the chopping of what they thought was the forest’s last tree,” he continued, “a brown cypress which now stands proudly again right beside Unch. They were gathered in the center of Lucky at sunset, hooting and hollering and carrying on, when the suddenly descended 200th whopped down terror from the skies with his thick, deadly cluster of limbs and leaves. Everyone dead, like ants under heel. Whop, whop, whop!” he emphasized, holding his axe high, blade outward.
“Fascinating,” said Old Mabel, carefully watching the axe. “When did you yourself arrive in the forest?”
Tin S. Man lowered his weapon again. “After the East-West Agreement. This opened up Our Second Lyfe to the world where I am from.”
“Oz,” spoke Old Mabel.
“Yes,” agreed Tin S. Man. “I was an experienced tree chopper there — my original name is even Nick Chopper.” He sighed. “But it was all because of the love of a Munchkin maid that I met my sad fate. An arm there, a leg here, then finally my head, my heart. All gone. Nicked away by my formerly trusted axe, enchanted by the jealous, evil witch that was her ward. I was fully tin when the Intense Shower came upon me unexpectantly that one summer afternoon while I was chopping away in the deep woods, freezing me up for perhaps all time. Then finally, after a long long wait, another maiden arrived: Dorothy of Kansas, along with her friend Scarecrow and, later, the Cowardly Lion. They became my friends. My Intense Friends. They oiled me back to life. My heart pumped blood again. I became Dr. Blood.”
“But how did you get *here*?” Old Mabel repeated.
“When the Reverse World came, I chopped in reverse. Kcaw, kcaw, kcaw,” he attempted. “Reverse chopping sound there,” he said, and smiled. “I used this new found talent to restore the Rubi Woods. It was a very satisfying chore. I liked it much better than the opposite, or removing parts of the woods. I believe a word for this satisfaction is karma. But it was strange nonetheless. Have you ever walked in reverse, talked in reverse? You may know what I’m talking about, then.”
“I *think* I understand,” said Old Mabel. She thought back to Little and herself writing backwards to hide their actual intent to Winfield, like when they sneaked out of the Dawg Pound to explored the forbidden Sandusty camp one weekend. Boy did they get in trouble.
“I learned of the 200th — Unch — the day I reverse chopped the 199th back to life,” Tin S. Man went on. “That brown cypress,” he clarified. “I knew there were 200 trees instead of 199 then because Collagesity had returned, as emphasized by my new and good friend Homer S. Simpson. S. — like me. His S. doesn’t stand for Soldier, though.”
Old Mabel tried to keep the metal giant focused. “Did Dorothy send you to the Rubi Woods?”
“Ozma,” he corrected. “The queen ruler. But Dorothy, of course, agreed to the task. They are in agreement about almost everything. Except one time…” He cut himself off there, reversing direction. “No, I better not. I respect both of them so much. We all have our differences.” But his heart had suddenly lost some warmth.”
“Another pointed question, then, Tin S. Man — Dr. Blood now. Are you Ray Davies?”
“Yes,” he answered quickly. No hesitation like in former times. “I am also the 11th beyond the 10. ‘Dark Side of the Rainbow’ is ten, like me (tin). Dorothy then finds me in the woods; brings me back to life, along with her friends, now my friends. I am Dr. Blood.”
“Thanks for telling me this.”
“You’re welcome, young maiden. I salute you.” He stands and salutes.