Everyone have a happy holiday? Fantastic. Ready for it to get even better? I know what you’re saying: “Stephen, master of the written word and, you’ve achieved so much in your short time as a renowned Internet blogger. How could you possibly top your earlier entries?” And that’s a 100% valid question, so you’ll just have to read this latest double-sized entry, the thrilling, pulse pounding, heart stopping (I think those last two contradicted each other) conclusion to Act 2 of Wood You Be Mine? Hold on; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
“Kind of. Sometimes when I’m feeling gassy, I like to take a match and…”
Deciding to stop Legno mid-sentence, Timothy replied with, “Never mind. I knew it was a stupid question before I asked it.”
“Yeah,” Legno said in agreement, “you only have yourself to blame for that one.”
“Regardless, the point I was getting to is that, if magic can’t help us, then perhaps science can. It’s been said that all magic is is science we don’t yet understand. Go to that bookshelf over there and look for a book entitled Scientists of the World – A History. During my time here, I educated myself the best I could. Luckily, Esther had scores of books on a wealth of topics, science being one of them.”
Doing as Timothy said, Legno walked to the bookshelf. He ran his fingers over the spines of the books, feeling their hard, leathery exteriors.
“Stop, there!” Timothy said, with Legno’s hand coming to an immediate halt. Placing his bony pointer and middle on the top of the book, he pulled it down and in to his palms.
“Heavy,” he said. “How is this supposed to help us?”
“Well, let’s start by opening it up. Look in the table of contents to see what page a ‘Stanislao Cannizzaro’ is on.”
Legno flipped open the cover, and immediately the book’s stale smell filled his nostrils. His face winced and eyes watered a bit as he breathed in the stench between the pages.
“Christ,” he managed to cough out, “doesn’t she ever actually, I don’t know, read these things?”
“I think the only time she ever gave them much mind was when I’d ask her to get them for me. And that’s why I think this book may be exactly what we need,” Timothy retorted as a smirk grew upon the left side of his mouth, the thoughts of success exciting him.
“Umm…” Legno began as he ran his forefinger down the index, “Stanislao, Stanislao…ah, here we go!” He then moved his finger across the page, careful to follow the dotted line exactly to its end point.
“Page 42,” Timothy replied, looking at where Legno’s finger stopped, “that should have exactly what we need.”
With the delicacy of a drunk fumbling for his keys, Legno threw the book open, landing on page 187. He then began to feverishly flip backwards through the pages, a *fwipping* noise filling the air as he did so, and a glimmer of hope once again filling his eyes.
“You know,” Timothy said, “you can just…”
“No time!” Legno yelled.
“I mean, we are on a bit of a timeline, so if you could…”
“Can’t stop! Won’t stop! Eye of the tiger!”
“Oh, for the love of…” Timothy sighed, “stop for a second, would you?”
Hopping off Legno’s shoulder and on to his hand, Timothy made his way towards the book, reached out his right hand, and began rifling the pages starting at the beginning, keeping eye on the numbers in the top left corner.
“Ah, he we are,” Timothy proclaimed. “See where my hand is? Open to that page.”
Legno began moving his fingers carefully down the ridges of the dry, unevenly bound pages until he reached the correct one. Flipping it open, he saw the following:
“I have no clue what the hell it was I just read,” remarked a baffled Legno. “How is a Candid Zorro supposed to help me?”
“Cannizzaro,” corrected Timothy, “and it’d be proper to refer to him as ‘professor’ when we meet him.”
“This is the guy you think can help us?”
“That he is. The good professor has made his career on being able to change one organic compound in to another. Who’s to say he wouldn’t be able to change flesh to wood? Granted, it’s a long shot, but it’s the best shot we have.”
“Well, I trust you,” Legno said, although half heartedly, “so where to? It’s not like we can just go knocking on doors until we find him.”
“The book’s a few years old, but if it’s still accurate, then we should be able to find him at the local University in the heart of town.”
“Blah, I’m not looking forward to this walk back,” Legno muttered, “how about this time, you carry me?”
Had any other person made that comment, Timothy would’ve thought they were joking.
Now with the sun at its highest point in the sky, the trek back to the city wasn’t an easy one. Hot sweat poured down Legno’s brow; every inch of his body had a wet stickiness to it; the armpits of his shirt turned that greenish brown color that men know all too well.
Finally back in town, Timothy instructed Legno to walk in to the heart of the city. “That’s where the University is,” he claimed. “One of the biggest buildings in town; you can’t miss it.”
Compared to the walk through the forest and back, traversing to the University felt like no time at all. Within mere minutes, the pair of travelers were already pushing open the big wooden doors and entering the impressive main hallway of the school. The intricately designed gray marble floors ranked amongst the impressive things he had ever seen: The walls were so white that it almost hurt his eyes, and the entire hall had that worldly scent of old literature.
The two wandered the halls until they stumbled upon an elderly lady who appeared to work there. “Excuse me, ma’am?” asked Legno, “I was hoping to find a ‘Stanislao Cann…zinarro’?”
“Yes! Yes, him! Does he still work here?”
“Mmhm,” was her response. She then extended out her left hand, pointed a bony finger, and finished with, “if you follow this hallway all the way to the end and make a left, his will be the third office on the right.”
“Thanks!” he said, turned and took two steps before turning back towards the old woman.
“Is there something else I can hel…” she began before Legno came up, opened his nostrils wide, and breathed in, with the melody of air whipping against the stuffy congestion filling the entire hallway.
The woman stood there, nonplussed as Legno merely said “Thanks again!” and galloped down the hallway.
Turning to Timothy, he said, “I said it before and I’ll say it again: They really do have the most interesting scents!”
It was the second time that day Timothy had to keep his contents of his stomach from decorating Legno’s left shoulder.
Legno banked down the corner of the hallway, nearly overshooting the third door on the right. “Stop, right here!” Timothy exclaimed. “Third office on the right!”
Coming to a screeching halt, Legno needed to catch himself on the wall to avoid having the momentum knock him down. After taking a second to catch his breath, Legno gently knocked on the office door as he pushed it open ever so slightly.
“Excuse me, Professor Cannizzaro?”
The middle-aged man, who up until now was preoccupied with examining a slide with a sampling of ammonia under his microscope, looked up upon Legno, failing to notice Timothy. Despite only being in his mid-30s, the professor was already extremely accomplished, and he sported a neck beard that all professors are expected to grow at some point in their careers.
Although not pleased by Legno’s barging in unannounced, he wasn’t particularly angered by it, either. A straightforward man, he simply asked, “May I help you?”
“Hi, my name’s Legno. And this,” he said pointing to his shoulder, “is my talking bug friend, Timothy.”
“I, um…” he paused, not quite knowing how to react to Timothy’s presence, and finally deciding to finish with, “Okay, fine, why not? How can I help the two of you?”
“Well, Professor, Legno here has a…unique request,” Timothy answered.
“Oh? And what might that be?”
“He’s been quite taken with this *ahem* wooden doll.”
“She’s everything a woman should be and more,” Legno replied, his hands folded and pressing against his chest, his lovelorn eyes staring off in to the distance.
With a confused look on his face, Cannizzaro responded with “I…see. And where do I come in?”
“We’ve read up on your work,” Timothy stated, “The changing of one organic compound to another, and we were hoping that there might be a way to do the same for Legno here.”
“You want me to turn this doll in to a real girl?”
“Ha!” Legno laughed, “That’s retarded. No, I want you to make me a wooden boy.”
Cannizzaro glanced at Timothy quizzically. Timothy’s only response was a shrug of his shoulders and a shake of his head that seemed to imply ‘I know. Trust me, I know.’
Breaking the momentary silence, Cannizzaro answered, “Any other day, I would’ve called you absolutely insane for even suggesting that, but standing before me right now is a walking, talking…Recticulitermes lucifugus, correct?”
“You are quite right, sir!”
“So it certainly appears that the line between ‘possible’ and ‘impossible’ is blurrier than I had previous thought. That said, even if there were a way to do that, it’d take years of research and experimentation, and that’s time I just don’t have. I’m sorry.”
“Me, too,” muttered a disenfranchised Legno, “Marion’s leaving tonight, and now it’ll take a miracle to become a wooden boy by then.”
“Well? Well what?”
“I don’t want to get your hopes up, and I can’t at all guarantee anything, but a hobby of mine is astronomy, and the skies tell me that there’s a meteor shower coming tonight around dusk. It should be dark enough for you to see it clearly.”
“How does that help us?” Timothy responded, asking for the both of them.
“If you believe the old folklore, those with the purest souls will get their heart’s desire when they wish upon a star.”
“Wishing upon a star…that has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” Legno retorted, his response being more than a little skeptical.
Looking up and to the left, Cannizzaro whispered to himself, “Said the boy who wants to become a wooden doll…”
“Pardon his manners, Professor,” Timothy interjected, trying to save face, “but besides that, could we trouble you for any other possible solutions?”
Cannizzaro breathed in slowly, shook his head, and then answered with “An act of God.”
“Ugh. Timothy, let’s go. Professor…” Legno began, and he now had a sheepish expression on his face, “sorry for my attitude, I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m just frustrated is all.”
“No need to apologize. We’ve all been love-struck at one point in our lives or another. And good luck. Remember: Meteor shower tonight. Go to the top of Deus Ex Collina, the hill at the edge of town; it’s one of the highest points in the area. You’d have a great vantage point.”
“Look at it this way: If it works, you get what you want; if it doesn’t, then at least you get to see a spectacular show.”
Legno let out of weak smile and nodded in appreciation as he left.
“Thank you again, Professor,” Timothy responded. “Best of luck with your research.”
“And best of luck to the two of you.”
Pushing open the door, Legno and Timothy left the way they came in. Waiting a moment for the door to close completely, Cannizzaro then turned back to his microscope and muttered to himself, “If you ask me, that boy’s already made of wood.”
He then paused for a second and took his eyes away from his microscope once again and said pensively, “Hm, Recticulitermes lucifugus.” He then leaned back in to the eyepiece of his microscope and began carefully adjusting the lenses before finishing his thought aloud. “I wonder how that boy was able to come upon such refined, intelligent termite.”
END OF ACT 2
And with that, Act 2 comes to a close, and Timothy’s treachery is revealed. Poor, poor Legno. Dramatic irony will fuck you every time. Did you see the twist coming? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter! Next week begins with the premiere of Act 3 as Wood You Be Mine? winds down to its epic finale. See you then!