Off to the Land of Eponyms – (Short Story)

It was during my travels that a wise Fuhsi taught me to hunt, fish, and sometimes cook. I still remember those open camp fires and the smell of pine trees, the rush of a river flowing to the sea, and catching trout. My small chubby cocker spaniel of long ago, guarded my camp fiercely, seldom realizing how minute she was in comparison to black bears.

One night Fuhsi and I sat around the dying embers. At times, the embers glowed red. Then the red disappeared to leave Fuhsi and I in almost total darkness. “You must continue your travels,” he said to me, stroking the dying fire with a dry stick. “Though I love your company, you must not forget your quest.”

His earnest eyes, the color of the dying embers, almost pierced through me. I nodded a bit reluctantly. “You are right,” I said. “I will pack up my things and leave tomorrow.”

Though it was still summer, I started to shiver. I put on my fuchsia colored cardigan with the raglan sleeves and inched closer to what was left of the fire. While I have no branding iron and certainly possess no cattle, I am a maverick. Sometimes I speak in pyrrhic unaccented syllables, sometimes I boycott movements I do not adhere to. Yet, I have invented nothing and I am no Newton. With these profound thoughts, I trudged off to my tent and fell asleep.

Early the next morning, I hugged my Fuhsi and bade him farewell. “I’ll miss the good times with you Fuhsi. Please remember me when you hunt, fish, and cook over your campfires. You have taught me much and it is because of you that I can now survive in the wilderness.”

I mounted my Doberman with his magic gigantic wings and we took off up up up into the almost cloudless sky, closer to where the sun sparkled. It seemed we flew for hours. The giant wingspan of Doberman beat against the winds. Soon it started to rain. I clung to Doberman’s neck, afraid to let go, afraid of falling into an abyss. The pelts of water soaked through my fuchsia cardigan. My skin grew numb from the cold. My hair stuck to my head, and I tried to blink away the rain. This was no marathon I thought and there would be no badges passed out for courage. But my brave mount flew on. Towards evening, we spotted a castle perched high on a rocky cliff. Drenched from the rain, I craved warmth and I knew that Doberman needed food and rest.  We didn’t land on a tarmac, but we managed to land on the roof of the castle. The night was dark. There was no moon shining down on us and no stars twinkled in the sky. I hooked Doberman’s leash to his collar and secured him to an iron rail at the top of the stairway.

“Good boy,” I said and patted his head. “Here, take this dog biscuit for now and I’ll go see if I can get you and me something to eat.”

He gobbled up the biscuit. He seemed to smile at me in reassurance that he would wait. He sat down, placed his head on his paws, and wagged his tail in anticipation. I descended several flights of stairs. Below me, I heard the sound of music and laughter. On the ground floor, I pushed open a door. Before me stood the captain at a counter serving cold and hot drinks. I sauntered up to him, put some coins on the counter and said, “I drink no alcohol, but I sure would like a mug of hot chocolate.”

The fountain captain soon pushed a mug of steaming hot chocolate towards me. He disappeared for a minute or two and came back with a menu and a book. “Here,” he said. “Sign your name on our guest register. Here’s the menu too if you’d care to order some dinner.”

On the black rough cover of the guest register engraved in gold were the words, Hotel California. I signed my John Hancock, then grabbed the menu and studied it. From the bowels of the building I heard the Phantom of the Opera singing. His voice sounded strikingly beautiful yet haunting. I ordered a sandwich for me and something good for Doberman too. A beautiful lady with Shirley Temple curls stood at a microphone and in soft decibels, sang a song also called ” The Hotel California.” The words that chilled me to the bones were, ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.’

The captain at the counter returned with my sandwich and some food for Doberman. His bushy eyebrows knitted in a frown. His mind seemed tiffany-twisted. Did he have the Mercedes Bends? Spots and grease covered his apron. His thick tattooed arms shoved a tray over to me. Something seemed so sinister about him. The room thickened with smoke. Then everything went blank. I found myself floating down down down to a bottomless pit. The sound of the Phantom grew louder. I kept falling. Somewhere in the darkness something cackled. Something shrieked. Long claws reached out to yank at me. Doberman’s bark sounded in a far away distance. I landed on something fluffy. Later, a wet tongue on my face woke me. I stared into the doleful eyes of Doberman, scratched my head and sat up.

I am not sure how much time has passed, but I am crossing off the days by etching marks on my dungeon wall. It is dank and dark here. My food and Doberman’s is pushed through the bars of my cell. I hear rats gnawing in the walls, and somewhere Tasmanian Devils growl. I no longer see the rays of the sun or hear any birds singing. I no longer taste the warm smell of colitas rising up in the air, or feel the cool wind blowing through my hair. What is my crime? I am guilty of trespassing in the Land of Eponyms and I forgot to bring my alibis. Somewhere in the distance, I hear the sound of steely knives grate against each other. Where is my Fuhsi? He taught me how to survive in the wilderness but how can I survive in this dungeon and when will I be free once more? Free to resume my quest.