Jack’s puzzled expression grated on Jack’s nerves but he patiently, if not petulantly enunciated,
“There is a place for everyone in this universe.”
It was simple, it was profound and it was true, Jack knew that. In fact, wasn’t that the very premise of his new book? An acceptance of differences, embracing the variations rather than trying to do away with them…that’s what he prescribed as the way to govern the new integrated world.
“Finally. HMMMMMMPP. He used to be-HMMMPH-such a bright boy. Took him this long to get here. HARRRUMMMPHH”
The woman’s harrumping seemed a tad more sensible now as they were more words than sounds.
“Okay, yes, you are right.”
“I’m sorry. Very sorry. I didn’t know.”
“Hmph. That. Hmmph. Much. Harrum. Is. Hmph. Obvious.”
“Give him a chance, m’love. He’s coming around.” The other Jack patted his wife’s meaty arm with his bony fingers.
“But how did you get here? How did you survive?”
“Like, I said, it wasn’t easy. The soldiers threw us into jail first. But I passed through the bars easy-peasy and got us out of there.”
As he spoke he turned and the big Jack could now see that in profile, the little Jack was lean to the point of flatness. He was no more than a card, a paper cutout of a man.
“We hid inside your sleep and only one of us would get out at a time, to forage for food or a way forward. You see, we’re only visible when we’re together. All those times, you woke up and your guard-thoughts passed us off as stray dreams.”
“But how did you get out of my mind?”
“That was the nub, it was. We almost got caught. We nearly ran headlonjg into a mountain of rational thinking. But that’s where my lady showed her true worth.”
It was rather difficult to think of the matron as a superheroine. As Jack had that thought, a vision of her in spandex tights flashed and she directed a look of extreme hostility at him. In irritation, he swatted it away, aided by the guardian host of tidy thinking.
“None of that. I’m telling you the story.”
“So what happened then?”
“I wrapped myself around her waist and she dropped her apron over me. And then we rolled down the mountain. As you can see, she’s well suited to rolling evenly.”
The grin he gave his wife, was one of pure devotion and the lady, brimming with rage only a second ago, was all smiles again.
“But what about the last vestige of control?” said Jack, picturing the foot soldiers at the base of the mountain, the impenetrable (or so he had thought) fortress that no beings such as Jack should have been able to penetrate.
“Gave her a full search, didn’t they?” chuckled the other Jack. The lady was laughing too now, trumpeting in bursts.
“When they felt around her waist, she jiggled so much that it alarmed a few of the guards. Then she said that she had always been chubby and the last few meals that you had been having, especially the lobster, were causing extra tyres and other strange eruptions. Which is why she had to get out of your consciousness before she burst.”
Jack was stumped. He had had a splitting headache when he woke up that morning which he had put down to too much of rich food for dinner and lunch the previous day. Obviously that was the very time, the renegade Jack and his wife had been outwitting his carefully erected barricades. He sighed.