We start again not at Ruby’s wagon but instead at the nearby community of Bear occupying a tiny island in Moomit Bay directly below Monevole. Baker Bloch bares his head in deference to the great King of the island: Ted, of course. Ted Bear. You had to bare something, he gathered, to have an audience with him. The hat would do, Ted indicated to the newest visitor to his islet kingdom. Thank you, he added. He was glad of visitors and wished them 24/7. He was an extreme extrovert, thus his isolation in the bay as everyone around him tired of his constant visiting and hovering. We’ll come to you now, they all said around him, wishing him well on his new venture. He didn’t understand at first, cried a lot, but then came to accept his “imprisonment.” *Selective* extroversion, that’s the key, they said, still gathered around him on the shoreline but shortly to leave, back to their spouses and siblings to heave a big collective sigh of relief that Ted wouldn’t come a knocking on their door tonight or tomorrow night or hopefully ever again. Something is not right with you, they said, almost at the end. This is the only way. And then they were gone. Ted turned on the radio. Storm a brewing. More tears fell. The lighthouse blinked on and off at his bidding but there was no way to go inside. The toys down at the beach played on. His only companions now except for the occasional visitor, the ones who cared. Ted foresaw in the palm leaves the coming of a tall, white eyed stranger, a cowboy, no a spaceman. Half and half, although he wasn’t suppose to use that phrase in front of anyone else. Keep it to yourself, they also said that day they left him on that islet, never to return again to normal existence.
So he was not surprised at the appearance of me, Baker Bloch or Baker B., who fit the description of the prophecy. “You have to bare…” he said to me because it was part of his sentence on the islet. Like I said. “… something,” he completed, looking me over good, picking me apart even. I took off my hat. It seemed to do the trick, like I also said before.
Looking at my shiny dead dome, he decided I should go one or two or five steps further and turn into a bobblehead of myself. “This is so we don’t feel you are talking *down* to us,” he says in his bear voice, tamed from years playing with human children. He hasn’t eaten anybody since ’62. Not since he was an actual bear, himself shot in ’65 and stuffed into a toy. He was soo happy at first! A toy! he cried. I can do *anything*, play with anyone, *be* with anyone. Humans watch out! And they did. And so he was here.
So *I* did, and he promptly gave me what he declared was my own island as a reward… just right over here within close earshot; they could talk all the time, he said, trying not to show too much excitement. I had successfully become one of them, whatever that actually meant.
The wrong Ruby suddenly appeared on the beach across the water. I realized I had been trapped as well. I believe she may have been cackling but it could have been the sound of a sudden gush of cold wind blowing across my bare head. Then the others appeared…
I was no extrovert but it was the same with me. They were irritated and they decided to isolate. I counted at least 7 people on the shoreline who I thought were true friends.
(to be continued)