A BRIEF RAMBLE
Are you going to believe my story? Probably not. I know, even though it happened to me I have a hard time believing it. Nonetheless I wish to tell you of my adventure in the really weird, magical, mystical, nonsensical land of Erf.
I am old now and my goal is to find my way back there, for of all the places I have visited in my Gypsy ways Erf is the only one that I ever felt right in. I think it is one of those places I call, Kingdom At the End Of The World, where one needs a very special passport to enter.
PART ONE OF MANY
I was 11 years old, blond, blue eyed, 4 feet 11 inches in height and in excellent shape, owing to my job of 2 years that kept me in better shape than any PE class or modern day gym club. I worked as a pin setter in a bowling alley and was responsible for six lanes. I ran. I jumped and I climbed. I worked Thursday and Friday evening for adult 10 pin leagues, two leagues each night and Saturday morning for a kids 5 pin league. I think I had one of the best paying kid’s jobs in town, certainly better than the pittance received for delivering news papers. With tips I could take home 28 dollars weekly which was good for part time in 1962, at any age.
It was Friday, June 22nd. Two days after my eleventh birthday. I ran home straight after school and ate the supper Mother had put out for me before she went off to work at the photo studio where she was a colourist. I don’t remember now what the fare was, but probably beans and wieners, which was common for Fridays.
Then I headed downtown, crossing the town bridge at a galloping speed, along Dundas St. two blocks and up the stairs to the bowling alley. Mr. Gay was dressing the lanes as always and greeted me cheerfully. He liked me mostly because I always showed up and I was always on time for the 5 o’clock league of six teams, one on each lane and four bowlers to a team.
By 4:45 I was all set up. Water, sweat towel and two sandwiches Mrs. Gay always made for me for between league snacks. The pins were all set for the first game. I had actually managed to train the bowlers to perform their skills so that I had a pin setting system that kept the games moving as quickly as possible, another aspect Mr. Gay liked about my work.
Bowlers were already arriving and getting ready for the league games of the season, the Play Offs, which included a party after, which I could not attend because it was an adult affair, which meant alcoholic beverages.
But I was fairly compensated because the league president always presented me with a bonus.
But things went way out to left field that night, half way through the second of three games.
I was on lane six waiting for Mr. Rollman to pull one of his timely strikes where the head pin always popped into the air and backwards. If I could catch the pin in my feet, which I got really good at, Mr. Rollman would give me fifty cents at the end of the night. In fact I got fifty cents for every head pin I picked out of mid air, sometimes ten over the night.
Mr. Rollman wound up and rolled the perfect strike ball. I positioned myself to catch it but as I reached out with my feet I slid off the running deck, flipped over backwards and crashed head first into the pin pit. And that my friends is where things got weird, magical, mystical and utterly nonsensical.
I said I crashed into the bottom of the pin pit, which should have happened but it didn’t. Instead I fell into a blackness so thick I could not see my hand in front of my face, and believe me I waved it vigorously several times, which leads you to understand I fell for quite a while, at least it seemed It could have been only a few heart beats, but you know how things slow down when things like this happen. How many times have you fallen and felt like you were going down in slow motion, until you hit bottom and crash and it starts to hurt.
Fortunately when I crashed I was not on hard ground. It was into a big fluffy mound of hay.
I suppose this is where I am going lose some of you readers who are now rolling your eyes and getting ready to click me off. Well I guess its TTFN then but you’re going to be missing out, especially that little spark of you that is still a kid and still believes in magic.
To those who are deciding to stay on and enjoy my adventure vicariously from the comfort of your reading chair, let us continue on.
Now to recap. I landed in a fluffy mound of hay startling three jersey milk cows chewing their cud. You can imagine my surprise/alarm when one of them said in very clear and plain English. “Oh my Jorgina and Petra. Something has crushed our dinner.”
“A human boy.” Said the speaker whose name was Matilda.
“What happened? Where….where am I?” I heard myself ask.
A very quick crowing voice came in answer. “Erf. You are in Erf you foolish human. Where else would you be?” Said the Black Rooster in a very annoyed voice. “You nearly landed on me and I would have been crushed had I not been very quick to jump from the mound.”
“Oh Mr. Crowly. Don’t be so mean. I am sure the boy did not mean to try and land on you. You know how these things happen. Humans have no idea what is happening to them until they land and even then they ask stupid and confused questions.” Matilda came to my defense.
“Well. We should send him up to see Farmer Bigoldman before he gets into any more trouble or manages to start trouble. He doesn’t look much like a farm boy.”
“You are right. I am not a farm boy. I work in a bowling alley and I fell….here.” I replied anxiously and I must admit I was really confused and a little scared.
“Here. Here.” This time it was a barking voice and a large black and tan dog of no particular breed appeared from the other side of the hay mound.
“I will take him up to the farm house. It is my job to keep an eye on intruders…..ah guests, after all.”
“Good. Get him out of here before he gets up to any human boy shenanigans.” Crowed Mr. Crowly.
“This way.” Barked the dog in a rather Scottishy brogue if indeed such is possible. He then moved behind me and nudged me with his nose, in the middle of my back. He was not a small dog since his nose stood 2 feet 6 inches or there abouts, from the ground.
“What is your name Boy? I need to know so I can introduce you properly to Farmer Armstrong and his Mrs.” Asked the Dog.
“Donald.” I began. Most people called me Donny but I hated that and I wasn’t really a Don so I introduced myself with my whole name. “Donald Harry Roberts.”
“Well Donald, Donald Harry Roberts. Where have you fallen from besides out of clear air?”
“I was at work setting pins in a bowling alley when I fell, straight through the floor into the blackness. Obviously you know where I landed.” I answered, and then asked. “And who exactly are you?”
“Why I am Mr. Ruffus, head of security here on at Armstrong Farm. I thought everyone knew that.” The dog replied indignantly.
“You have forgotten all ready Mr. Ruffus. I am a complete stranger here.”
“Yes. I suppose you are and can be forgiven for not knowing such a commonly known individual as myself.”
We came around the barn and climbed a long hill to its grassy crest. Away in the distance, beyond a valley and at the crest of a green knoll, stood a house, or should I call it a Castle of huge proportions since even at a distance it was enormous.
“That must be a mile away.” I said.
“And then some Donald, Donald Harry Roberts.”
I had to chuckle. “Just call me Donald, Mr. Ruffus.”
“Ah. I forgot. Humans have multiple names but why is beyond me.”
But that my friends was only a small part of my mounting awe as I looked ahead. As if talking cows, rooster and a dog weren’t enough to put my mind reeling, there appeared in the sky above the castle something just too amazing for my mind to grasp in the first seconds that I saw it. The only thing I could do was stare.”
AND SO BEGAN MY ADVENTURE IN ERF.