“Just kidding,” Wheeler then says while standing up. “I can drive too. Watch this.” Wheeler performs a golf swing for Old Mabel…
… who strangely can’t see Wheeler any longer from the position of her chair.
“I didn’t catch that,” says the confused Martian. She moves closer to Wheeler’s voice, and almost runs into her. “Oh… sorry.”
“Stop apologizing for everything,” Wheeler demands. “I bet I could hit that 8 Ball over there clear to the other side of those confounded woods.” She then assumes a normal position. “Say this Unch just appeared to you, eh? Snowbob told me. We used the red phone, don’t worry. Protection witness program, pheh. And where’s Jerome T. Wheeler, *sorry*, Newton when you need him to put out the fires? Did you know Unch was a persimmon tree, Old Mabel?”
Old Mabel admitted that she had not.
“You know what persimmons are used for?” Wheeler then answers herself. “Drivers, Old Mabel. Woods and drivers. A seed, a little thing like yourself, grows up into a tree to be harvested for woods. Tigers, Old Mabel. I knew a tiger who loved golf so much that he turned human just to swing those ebony clubs all day and all night. The night swinging part eventually got him in trouble. The bottom fell out of his winning ways; he’ll never catch Jack Nicholson the Joker. Furry’s bar is safe harbor.” Wheeler smiles.
Old Mabel tried to think of a response to this cryptic talk, but Wheeler continues. “It’s late in the night now Old Mabel. Do you think we should go see Unch and ask him about tigers?”
“I’d like to approach Unch,” admits Old Mabel. “But I’m still scared. I’m not ready.”
“Well he — or she — *obviously* wants to speak to you. He’s basically beckoning you over to his spot in the forest: 168/168 isn’t it?”
Old Mabel says she thinks so.
“Yes… Unch is a persnickety creature. The fruits of his thinking are small, detailed and precise. He is a tree who can’t see the forest. He is inside himself all the time. He thinks you will like it inside him too. He wishes to take you away. The 200th wishes you to be with him forever and ever. Forget the other 199. Forget *everything* else. The 200th, Old Mabel. That’s your brother, your mother-father Winfield — is that spelled with one or two “n”s?”
Old Mabel says it’s spelled with one “n”, and then wonders how Wheeler has so much information about her past… and of Unch. She’s only half believing anything Wheeler has to say, though. But for now she’s taking in the *story*. Is Unch a selfish creature? Self absorbed? She’d find out the answer soon enough.
“Come with me, Old Mabel. We need to go back to Corsica. To a village near but not in Askja. I want to show you something there. Something you won’t believe.”
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