Here's the story: This old man came up to Customer Service. He had a pack of pinochle cards. He wanted regular playing cards. I told him the regular cards were out on Register 15 - about 20 feet away and within sight of Customer Service. His answer? "That's too far to walk." So I had to go get the cards and bring them back to Customer Service for this contrary old fart.
Now, here's the story as if imagined by Spanish surrealist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Previously: Jane Austen | Old Testament | What's going on
An abuelo of the familia Contraria shambled up to the bargaining station perched high in the trees over the Amazon basin. The light shone off the beads of the abacus used to tally the figures; water droplets glistened on the flowers of the vines tangled in the trees. Customers clutching their leaf-wrapped purchases lined the footbridge leading to the station like a swarm of ants marching toward the downed carcass of a warthog deep in the rainforest.
A gigantic ebon Amazon clad only in a skirt of receipt papers and a necklace of register keys and obviously deep in grip of a mystic herb moved abacus beads seemingly at random, issuing pronouncements at whim, "Refund," "Credit," "Denied."
The line edged forward slowly, ever slower, seeming to spiral forever in the neverwhere between space, time, infinity and the dream-state of a golden flower unfolding its petals to the welcoming sun.
A tribal chieftain clutching a pack of bark etched with mystical markings and burned with insignia the meaning of which was and is remains unknowable to the modern man gave a deep sigh as he placed one foot in front of the other and moved at last forward onto the steps that meant he was next in line for service.
The ebon Amazon rattled her necklace of register keys, shook out her hair, which when unfurled from its bounds, would surely reach to her feet, and glared at the man who dared her wrath, the lines and the fury of the jungle to return sacred prayer cards.
“You, you, you. I have seen you in my dreams. You poison the jungle. You destroy the trees. You pluck the flowers and consume the resources. Why, why, why. Tell me why I should even deign to hear your worthless words?”
“My princess of the trees, I have seen the light. A great supernova of being and believing came to me in the stillness of the dawn and a heady reckoning lasted all the night and into the midday. These prayers are not the ones for me. I need special prayer cards, prepared by a priestess of the old blood.”
“One tree over, two stations down. Seek and you shall find. The visions are a message from the forest. The violet light of the dawn, the azure auroras of the morning, the red haze of the sun’s rays, these are warnings that you must heed. Take note and mend your ways and cast not back into sin. A new day is breaking. A new time is upon us.”
“Wench of the trees. I shall prune your branches like the winter frost. I am a chief in my own right and ruler of half the basin. I SHALL NOT WALK ANY FARTHER.”
The ebon Amazon began to glower. A furious rage was building.
She made an effort to contain the power that was the heart of her dark soul. The entire forest would suffer if she let loose the fury that sat barely leashed within her.
If she were to but give in to the powers coursing through her soul, generations would tell the tale of the Ebon Goddess and the Fury that Went Uncontained.
The Chieftain continued none the wiser. “Respect thine elders, wench. Fetch my goods for me and bring them back to me.”
The fury built. The sky darkened. The masses fled. The footbridge to the trading station began to rattle and planks began to fly.
Still the chieftain continued. “Have you no respect for me? I walked many miles through the treetops here today. I can go no further. I demand the service due to me, for the simple fact is that I am old and believe that this entitles me to something for simply surviving.”
The Amazon’s resistance, built over many years of deflecting the worst of what her customers could throw at her, crumbled. The walls of reality split. And split again.
The sky turned as black as night. Then yellow. Then red. Then finally day became night and day again and the clouds turned a horrid putrid green.
The keys on the Amazon’s necklace, which had been clicking ceaselessly as if a million insects were locked in a battle to produce cacophony of noise worthy of a band of demons, stopped abruptly. The wind, which had been blowing furiously, as if a hundred giants were blowing out a hundred birthday cakes all at once, ceased to move. The treetops had been swaying as if locked in a soulful tango of fiery love; they fell still, as if locked in an embrace. But there was no love here. There was only hatred.
The Chieftain finally stopped his noisome squawking and realized that he was alone at the trading station. And the sky was green. And the Amazon was a sight to behold.
Her hair had come unbundled and was arrayed behind her head as if in a corona of the rays of a rising sun. Her eyes had lost their color and now a glittered with the light of thousand ingots of gold burning in the furnaces of hell and pulsed with the fury that only the scorned, the scorned, the scorned will ever know.
Lightnings crackled along the braids of the Amazon’s hair. Her face was a sable mask that contained within the deepest hurts, the unknown sorrow of a thousand years of shopkeepers. She leaned over her abacus and turned the awesome hurricane of her rage unabated on the chief.
The forest stood still. There was not a sound. Not one tiny fly moved a single wing for mile. The trees themselves held their leaves close, for fear the fury would fall upon them. Flowers held their petals fast. The worms in their burrows held tight. The waters of the rivers stopped, as if suspended in time.
The Chieftain dared speak. “I …”
The single word was his last.
The sky was rent with a tear so wide it seemed a seam was ripped in the very fabric of time. A source-less nimbus of flame appeared at the feet of the unworthy chieftain and began to burn. With the light of a thousand suns and with the anger of a thousand harried shopgirls, it burned.
In no time at all, the chieftain was but a pile of charred ash.
The wind began to blow.
The flowers on the vines strung along for miles unfurled their mighty blossoms. The sun’s rays shined down in beneficent harmony and joyous love upon the Amazon. The creatures of the rainforest returned to their labors, their loves and their lives. The customers of the trading post took their places in line.
A passing breeze blew away the remains of the chieftain.
Puff. He was gone.
The Amazon straightened her skirt, her necklace of clacking key and righted her abacus.
She gave a broad smile to the next customer and called “How can I help you?"