"When the fuck are they going to get here?"
Joe's surly temper was partially inspired by the cocktail of medication he received that will continue for the following weeks. He and Mali passed the time playing checkers in the lobby, a task hindered by the sling placed on his right arm, a precautionary measure, but an impediment nonetheless.
Joe's happiness at seeing the smarmy Brit enter through the spinning vacuum sealed door superseded the snarky remark made.
"You guys ready to leave?"
"You there with the potatoes for hands, come bake grandpa some ice cream."
"You heard me cod piece. You and all 158,764 hairs on you."
"Uh, Gordon, care to explain?"
While Gordon filled Joe in on the events that had transpired in his absence, Penny began pocketing coloring books from the lobby.
"Is she coming with us?"
"Well I'm certainly not going to argue with her. She probably has a blade in one of her many pockets for boning and the sort. She's looking for her husband anyway."
"Where is he?"
"A Chuck E Cheese in Minnesota."
"How does she not know where he's buried?"
"Not the proper question Joe." Gordon then pointed at her as she knelt in front of a sick child as her mother looked on with some concern.
"No need to fret lumpy wumpkins, you are suffering an an acute case of Roseola Infantum, nothing malignant. A little acetaminophen and you'll be as dapper as an ottoman."
Her words struck the mother curiously, a sense of articulacy muddled by a toothless maw.
"I guess she could be useful for.....something."
"What are you taro sucking faghats looking at? I ate all my makeup so it's not a mighty fine day."
"Well, whatever, let's get a move on then. Quickly."
"Speaking of which, it seems we've stumbled across a small bit of money that I think we should apply. How do you feel about a rental car?"
"Sounds amazing Gordon, but I can't drive."
"Obviously. CASEY, MALI, PARKER, any of you blokes have your license?"
Mali raised her hand, Casey motioned with her hand the American symbol for "kind of", an issue Gordon didn't care to investigate further. Parker stared at his feet.
"Well, looks like you little lady will be steering us to, where was it?"
"Bloody good show, let's see this snow the Ruskies seem to bitch about. Agreed?"
Everyone acquiesced readily.
When they arrived at Hertz, they were greeted by a heavyset gentleman with slick black hair and a widow's peak. He was probably in his mid-forties, but his face portrayed a man at least a decade further in time.
Midway through his interrogation, the old crone threw a penny and demanded the nigger get it. Parker conceded sullenly.
Remarkably, the penny landed under a mini van, a 99' Dodge Caravan with less than 100,000 miles and sat eight comfortably.
"It's perfect," Parker said with enthusiasm, as if serendipity negated the casual insult placed on him.
After making their purchase, the lot of them gathered their belongings in the trunk and started to make seating arrangements with Casey calling shotgun the moments she felt it was applicable. After placing Penny's leather satchel in the trunk, Casey closed the hatchback and looker around only to find the resident homeless among them no longer maintaining the last part.
"Did you see where she went?"
Parker shook his head side to side, a signal reinforced by Mali, Joe and Gordon.
"What do we do with her bag?"
"I guess we take it with us, she did hand it to us after all."
They departed, Mali in the driver's seat, Casey her navigator, Joe and Gordon in the two independent middle seats and Parker alone in the back.
Parker didn't mind this. He immediately began scribbling a story in his notebook.
There once stood a tree. This particular tree was of grave importance. In fact, it was the single most important tree in existence. Protected by the angels themselves, residing in Paradiso's Garden, this is until all went wrong. The tree existed to make of man something more, something greater than it was in its creation. The Garden's owner was very protective of the tree and did not want man to grow until it had become accustomed to its own skin. To grow too fast would cause man to burn through its own shell and fade away before it could shine. Some believe the fruit was never meant for man at all, that the Gardener planted the tree to give man something to strive for.
At the time, man had no reason to scrutinize the tree. The Gardener had found a wife for him, a woman equal to himself and just as pure in spirit. Man couldn't think of a better gift. He was given a person, a companion to share his existence with, a fundamental equal with enough variation to offer new avenues of thought, roads never traveled. They laughed, lived and loved, through time that felt endless, beginning each day with a smile and ending each night with a kiss.
Then came a day different from others. A day where they received a visitor. The Gardener was busy working other plots, readying the planting of other seeds when a neighbor inquired on his garden.
"I see you have creatures dwelling within your paradise. How do they live?"
"With the greatest of comfort sir. I have nurtured them slowly, I'd rather not start again, it is an arduous task you know."
"I do, I have watched intently for some time and I understand what you are doing. Hastening your experimentation would yield tragic results, but what would occur if you offered a simple avenue, a choice as it were. Inevitably the time will come where a decision must be made by them otherwise they will stagnate."
"An accurate observation sir, a wager then in the prospect of my creation? I offer you an opportunity. You may present my creation with a situation. If they take the correct path, you are required to tend to them personally every day, nurturing their growth. If they fail, I will give you a garden of your very own to do with as you wish. Have we come to terms?"
"We have. I do enjoy your garden, let me mull over my options and I will return to you with my course of action. A pleasant evening to you Gardener."
"And you sir."
The visitor spent a considerable amount of time plotting. He was delighted by his neighbor's garden and fluttered at the thought of having one of us his own.
He decided on a simple proposition, an offer that would force man to confront a nature that was previously foreign to it, for until that moment, man and woman had been given everything they needed. His proposition wasn't to be a need.
It was a want.
The neighbor knew that as he stood, man and woman would be alienated by his presence, disturbed by the insinuation of another. He imagined they would react violently in ignorance. His better option was a guise, a form he could take that would look natural, creating a natural reaction. At first he thought of taking the form of a monkey, a form that would stray little from his current state while offering the option of thumbs. For the sake of mobility, he settled on a snake, a body that would offer infinitely more freedom and range.
He approached man and woman in their garden of Paradiso, and spoke to them like any creature would.
"Man and woman, I offer to you as a humble servant, a fruit I had found. It is of a foreign nature, the likes of which I have never seen. It was found near a large tree, the largest in the land in fact. If the Gardener was aware of such a fruit, I'm surprised he wouldn't have informed you. I suppose maybe that is why he warned against investigating the tree." The serpent hten placed the fruit at their feet, a vibrant edible adorned with a multitude of colors in a constant state of movement, as if someone was actively painting it, every second of its existence.
Man and woman were troubled. Why had the Gardener not mentioned the fruit prior? They marveled at the fruit and for the first time in their creation they had to answer a question no one had asked. They were required, by etiquette to make a decision on a question that had no right answer. Well, there was a right answer, but want was slowly pervading their psyche, igniting a fire neither man nor woman knew existed. It clouded their judgement, guiding their eyes to the fruit's brilliant display.
They spoke to one another while the neighbor observed from a nearby branch, allowing them to address the matter and come to a proper conclusion. The neighbor was proud of his plan, regardless of outcome.
After some time passed and the moon replaced the sun, man and woman agreed that if the Gardener had planted it, then the fruit must have been for them. The land was for them therefore whatever has been sown was meant to be reaped by them.
The Gardener was disappointed. His cultivation had reached only so far. They were no longer capable of being sustained in the Garden, the fruit made them ecologically different, so much so, Paradiso was no longer a habitable place. As a consolation, the Gardener planted a seed within them. The ability to seed on their own. The infant that came next offered solace to man and woman for their existence fell into their own hands from then on.
Yeah Casey, a gift.
Parker scribbled that last line out, hoping no one would pick his notes up.