PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…
PARTS 1-5 – In which BQB dies on the toilet, wakes up in God’s Waiting Room, and is told he must seek out the meaning of life in order to find one brief moment of contentment.
PART 6 – Dr. Goetleib loses one hundred bucks after betting his patient wouldn’t make it. He explains that crapping lightning is a more common medical problem than one might think.
Tiny Tessa, no taller than a few inches, stood on my chest, sulking and pouting.
I was back home, resting in my own bed, recovering from my recent attempt to pass concentrated lightning out of a place that was definitely not designed to be a conduit for electricity.
“I’m sorry,” Tessa mumbled, refusing to make eye contact.
“For?” I asked.
The heroine of the Arrowblast book series looked straight at me.
“Fine!” Tessa said. “I am sorry for violating the cease fire agreement you negotiated between the Arrowblast books and Tales of the Lost French Children books on your bookshelf. You decreed that all characters from these books must stop fighting. I ignored your order. You got hurt.”
“And how did I get hurt?” I asked.
“I really have to say?” Tessa asked, kicking one of the buttons on my pajama shirt with her black boot.
“It’s the only way you’ll learn,” I said.
Like a teenage daughter caught taking the family car out for an unapproved joyride, Tessa folded her arms and expelled an exaggerated sigh.
“When I fired explosive arrows at your copy of The Journey of the Tedious Plotline, I woke you up at 3 a.m.,” Tessa said. “Had I not interrupted your sleepy time, you would have not gone to the kitchen, and your toaster pastry would not have been struck by lightning.”
“And?” I asked.
“What?” Tessa asked. “You’re the one who actually ate a lightning infused toaster pastry! That’s on you, pal!”
“Good point,” I said.
Jean Paul Crossantier, the second son of the family who gets chronically lost in Tales of the Lost French Children, had been standing quietly next to Tessa the entire time. Finally, he chimed in.
“Oui oui I’m also sorry for the role my siblings and I played in this mess, Mr. Bookshelf,” Jean Paul said with a French accent. “I told my sister Emmy not to hang that ‘Tessa Stinks!’ banner off the side of your bookshelf, but she refused to listen to reason.”
“Mistakes happen,” I said. “I just wish you all could get along. I love you all and there’s enough room in my heart and on my shelf for all of you. There’s no need to fight.”
Little tears welled up in the eyes of Tiny Tessa and Tiny Jean Paul.
“I’ll admit sometimes we do take your role as the caretaker of the bookshelf for granted,” Tessa said.
“Yes,” Jean Paul added. “By the way, Mr. Bookshelf, how is it possible that all of the characters in the books on your cramped bookshelf come to life in miniature versions of themselves and then proceed to attack one another over the limited space on your shelf?”
“I don’t know, Jean Paul,” I said. “How does your family climb down a hatch underneath a laundry hamper and end up in a magical land that is being fought over by a hideous crone and a saintly aardvark? Stuff just happens. Stop asking dumb questions.”
“Yeah, Jean Paul!” Tessa said. “You’re totally the Benedict Arnold of your story anyway!”
Aunt Gertie, wearing an apron and a pair of yellow dish washing gloves, walked into my room. Tessa and Jean Paul seized up and remained completely still.
“BQB,” Aunt Gertie said. “I took out your trash, did your laundry, washed your dishes, baked you some cookies, and made you a big pot of soup.”
“Thanks Aunt Gertie,” I said. “You’re the best.”
“Do you need anything else before I shuffle off to the nursing home you dumped me in because you could care less about the Aunt who raised you?”
Good Ole’ Guilt Trip Gertie.
“That place is a palace!” I said. “They’ve got a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, make your own sundae bar…Jeeze Gertie, I wish I lived at that nursing home!”
“Oh big fancy sundae bar!” Aunt Gertie said. “Patooie! They don’t even have rum raisin.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That really stinks, Gert. So uhhh…I guess you’d best mosey along now. You don’t want to miss the four p.m. dinner special…”
“Will you look at this?” Gertie said as she grabbed the still and silent Tessa. She lifted the tiny person up to her face and squinted at her.
“A grown man playing with dolls!” Aunt Gertie said. “Your Uncle Hardass would roll over in his grave if he could see this!”
“It’s not a doll!” I said. “She’s a…a…”
“What?” Aunt Gertie asked.
“A limited edition collector’s item!” I said. “Can I have that back? It’ll go down in value if you get finger prints on it.”
Aunt Gertie set Tessa down in my hand.
“Where’s your donut?” Aunt Gertie asked.
“Your donut!” Aunt Gertie said. “Your inflatable butt pillow! Dr. Goetleib specifically prescribed that to you to ease the pain your cheeks are in!”
“Only when you’re sitting,” I said. “I’m lying down.”
“I don’t think it makes a difference,” Aunt Gertie said. “Use your butt pillow!”
“There’s no pressure on my butt,” I said. “I’m not in a sitting position and therefore the weight of my body is not resting on my butt. I don’t need a butt pillow at the moment Gert, that’s just science! You can’t argue with science!!!”
Aunt Gertie turned and walked away. I heard her voice trail off as she walked down the hallway.
“I’m going to call your doctor as soon as I get home and I’m going to get to the bottom of this…and another thing, why do you…blah blah blah….”
Tessa and Jean Paul, who had been holding their breath the entire time, gasped for air. They choked and sputtered as they began moving around again.
“Your Aunt needs a breathe mint!” Tessa complained.
Here’s a fun fact about book characters who come to life in miniature form thanks to a magic bookshelf. They watch a lot of television. They are particularly interested in science-fiction.
What is one of the oldest sci-fi tropes? Hide the alien because if the government gets its hands on him, they’ll dissect him and study him in a lab. Assuming that practice would extend to tiny representations of literary characters, the beings from my bookshelf only trusted me.
I never told anyone about them, not even Aunt Gertie. Whenever another human was around, they stopped in their tracks and remained still. In fact, one might say that to the untrained eye, they just looked like a bunch of silly action figures.
Jean Paul laughed hysterically.
“What?” I asked.
“Butt…you…you have a butt pillow!”
Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Angry old man photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.