Well, here we finally are. In the extra long conclusion to the story, we finally say goodbye to Legno, Timothy, and Saggezza. For once, I’m actually not sure what to say. Not to get too sappy, but this was a pretty personal accomplishment for me. So, like it or hate it, I’m proud of it regardless. And for those who’ve enjoyed my writing, don’t fret: I have two stories now that are in production. In two weeks begins Empowered! For all of you pining for the awkwardness, drama, and heartbreak of high school, that will be the tale for you (also, it has superpowers). But for now, join me in the thrilling final post to Wood You Be Mine?
Legno, with Timothy still perched upon his shoulder, made his way up Deus Ex Collina, the highest point of town. The sun was beginning to set, and the orange glow was blanketing the land as the sky began its shift from blue to pink.
“I still think this is a stupid idea,” Legno blurted to Timothy, his words seething with incredulity. “How’s asking a rock for something going to make any sort of a difference?”
With a sigh, Timothy responded, “It’s common folklore, Legno, that those pure of heart will get what they desire most. And although you’re…”
Timothy paused for a moment to choose his next words judiciously.
“…a unique, albeit perhaps callous sort at times, there is indeed a lot of good in you. If the legends are true, then I have no reason to see why it wouldn’t work, son.”
Only half listening to Timothy, Legno was too busy focusing his attention on the ballad being sung in the distance:
There ain’t no prick big or small/Trust us boys, she’s had ‘em all!
“Gah!” Legno yelled. “They’ve started! It’s done! Game over, man! Game over!”
Suddenly, a flash of light appeared in the sky. As the professor had predicted, the star shot through the heavens, a trail of shimmering gold marking its path. In mere seconds, it’d be gone from their sights forever. If Legno had any chance at all, it’d have to be now.
“Legno!” Timothy screamed. “It’s there! Make a wish before it’s too late!”
“This is so damn stupid, Timothy! Giant rocks don’t grant wishes!”
“My word, Legno! I wish you weren’t so stupid!” screamed Timothy in a rare moment of frustration.
“Ha!” Legno screamed back. “It didn’t work! Told you!”
“You have nothing to lose! Just try!”
“Fine!” he said, finally giving in to Timothy’s demands. He turned towards the hurdling meteor, threw his arms out and towards the sky and proclaimed, ‘Oh, spectacularly stupid hunk of rock, I wish I might, I wish I may, be a wooden boy this day!’ ”
For a beat, all remained as it was.
“Welp,” Legno began, “I don’t hate to say ‘I told you…’ ”
Suddenly, a prickling sensation encompassed Legno. It was tolerable for a moment but quickly became unbearable.
“I…uh…ow,” an unnerved Legno blurted out.
“Legno?” a flummoxed Timothy responded.
His body began to convulse. He fell to his knees with his hands planting themselves on the ground to keep himself from totally collapsing. Timothy hopped off and stared in amazement.
“Legno, is it what I think?”
“I…I don’t…ow. Ow! Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!”
It was then that a flash of light surrounded Legno’s body. He tried to talk. He tried to scream. But no words were able to escape his lips. The light appeared to raise Legno’s body in to the air, hovering a meter above the ground. Timothy looked in awe as everything they had worked for that day finally came to fruition.
And within moments, he was dropped back on to the ground, once again on his hands and knees, struggling to catch his breath.
“What…*huff* the crap…*huff*… was that *huff*?”
“Legno,” a wide-eyed Timothy said in disbelief, “look at yourself.”
Slowly, Legno picked himself up off the ground, and just as he did, he understood Timothy’s request. His hands, his feet, his whole body…he had gotten his wish.
Joints were now golden colored hinges.
Pale skin now a light brown oak.
The pimple on his nose now a tiny leaf.
His gray eyes now orbs of glass.
He was finally a wooden boy.
And with that came a price.
“HOLY MOLEY!” screamed Legno. “I take it all back! Everything I said about you, that stupid rock, the professor, all of it! It worked! I…I can’t believe it, it worked! I feel like this isn’t real! I feel like I may wake up at any moment now!”
Legno’s grin spread from wooden ear to wooden ear. He could barely contain his joy.
“Come on, Tim! Hop back on!” he cheered, while patting his shoulder. “We can still make it before the Geminies leave! I just heard them sing something about a rooster inserting itself in to a kitten, whatever the hell that means.”
“Oh,” Timothy began, “pay no mind to the inappropriate spew of those gypsies. As of now, they and this whole ‘Marion’ business are no longer of any concern.”
Legno stood there, dumbfounded. A look of utter confusion was painted on his face as he furrowed his brow to try to understand what Timothy meant.
“Um, do you mean you don’t think we’ll get there in time? I know, so if we leave now, we’ll…”
For the second time that night, Legno let out a loud, shrieking howl.
A hot, searing pain shot through his right ankle. Looking down, he immediately noticed a large chunk had gone missing, sawdust now littering the ground before him. Clutching his wounded ankle with both hands to lessen the unbearable throbbing while tears of agony flowed down from his eyes, he saw Timothy in front of him with a wicked smile draped across his face, specks of wood littered on his lips.
Legno tried to form a rational thought, but his head was spinning. So much had happened in so little time. He could barely process what was happening. “What are you…! Why would you…! I thought we were friends!”
“Oh, Legno,” Timothy said looking at him. “Oh, poor, pathetic Legno. If you only knew. Recticulitermes lucifugus, or ‘rectal fungus,’ as you so lovingly put it, is a breed of termite. Or, in other words…”
He then jumped onto to Legno’s left ankle, taking a large bite out of that one as well. Legno, no longer being able to support his weight, now collapsed to the ground.
“…wood eaters,” he finished as he jumped back on to the ground.
“Tim…” Legno began in utter disbelief, the tears in his eyes no longer just ones of pain, but also of sadness and heartbreak, “…you did all this just to eat me?”
“Mm, well, originally, my plan was to hide in the case of your would-be girlfriend and feast on her, but then I saw you, overheard your plight, and I thought, ‘A real live wooden boy? I should save my appetite.’ I just couldn’t resist, you see.”
In the distance, unheard by either party, there was galloping.
“Oh, and I hate to be melodramatic, and moreover, there’s nothing I want less than to put up with your incessant whining and free-flowing stream of imbecilic thoughts any longer. So before I go right for your head and put you out of your misery, are there any last words? And please, let’s make them coherent for once.”
Just then, a figure slowly came from behind the insect, doing his best to not be overheard. Seeing this, Legno let out a broad smile that encompassed his entire face.
He began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“It…” Legno choked out, trying to hold back his laughter, “it just that looks like I wasn’t the only one with a little crush, Timothy.”
“What are you…”
At that moment, Timothy was interrupt by a booming voice. Loud, angry, and determined.
Turning around to see who it was, Timothy was only able to catch a mere glimpse of his face.
His boot, however, he got more than enough of a view.
“Oh, dear,” Timothy murmured to himself.
And with a disgusting mix of *stomp*, *crunch*, *squish* filling the air, Stefano Saggezza brought down his foot upon Timothy. As the bottom of his boot met the ground, he violently moved it from right to left a dozen times, ensuring that Timothy didn’t survive the experience.
Then, slowly lifting his leg so it was parallel to the ground, he inspected his foot to make sure of Timothy’s demise. Tilting his head, he saw Timothy’s flattened, lifeless body. And with an unforgiving flick of his forefinger, he sent the bug off in to the distance, ending the story of Timothy the termite.
“Should’ve wished for a harder shell, you bastard.”
Turning to his son, Saggezza had a look of sorrow in his eyes. There Legno was, a boy completely made out of wood. His heart broke seeing his like that way. He slowly made his way towards the boy.
“Legno, are you okay?”
“Well, other than, you know, missing huge chunks of my ankles, not as bad as you’d think, all things considered.”
“Oh, Legno. It can’t believe it was true. You did this for a doll?”
“Crap! Marion, is she…” he then popped up and limped forward, despite the pain in his ankles making it feel as if he were stepping on knives.
He stood in silence for a moment, desperately hoping to still here the song of the Geminies.
“They’re gone,” he muttered, downcasted. “She’s gone. All of this was for nothing.”
Putting his hand on Legno’s shoulder, Saggezza said, “Legno, I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry for all of this. If I had been a better…”
Legno looked up at him woefully.
“If I could’ve guided you better or just been there for you…but, it wasn’t for nothing. You’ve learned a lesson today, son.”
“Plastics are the wave of the future?”
“Failure is a part of life,” Saggezza corrected. “There’s no way around that. You can either let it help you…”
Saggezza looked at the ground.
“…or halt you.”
“But I didn’t get the girl.”
Picking his head back up, Saggezza responded, “Most relationships fail, Legno, even before they begin. But you tried; you need to see that that’s the important part. If you hadn’t, you would have failed regardless. She might be gone, but there’s still something to be learned here. And the sad fact is…”
Pausing to take a deep breath and momentarily reflect on his own shortcomings, Saggezza continued, “The sad fact is sometimes we lose. There are just some things we’ll fail at no matter what. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that. When you know what you can’t do, it helps you discover what you can do. Every failure helps us to learn a little more about ourselves; every failure gives us a clue about what we’re doing wrong, and we’re that much wiser next time.”
“But what did I do wrong? I changed everything to be with her.”
“Legno, regardless of all of what happened, you can’t be with an inanimate object. I mean, that’s…that’s just fact. How would you even…”
Saggezza then began miming with his hands Legno and Marion’s possible interactions.
“You know what? Forget that part. The real point is that you went through all this trouble to change yourself for someone. And if you need to completely overhaul who you are and what it is about you that makes you special to get someone to like you, then they’re really not liking you, Legno. They’re liking this fictional character you created. Life’s too short to pretend to be something you’re not. Let’s say it worked. Let’s say you were able to win Marion or any other girl over by being someone who isn’t Legno. How long could you expect to be happy? Eventually, it’d begin to eat you up inside.”
Looking at his ankles, Legno responded, “Or outside.”
Saggezza let out a sad smile. “Come here, son,” he said. Picking up Legno from underneath the armpits, he carried him over to Maggie’s steed and gently lowered him in to the saddle.
“Where’d this come from?”
“An old friend.”
The comment marinated in Legno’s mind for a few moments before it clicked with him. He hadn’t even thought to ask how or why Saggezza knew to save him until now.
“Maggie’s a swell lady.”
Saggezza was quiet for a second, and then smiled and said, “The swellest. Let’s go home, son.”
“Sounds good, pop,” was Legno’s response, turning Saggezza’s smile even wider.
There was a calm, welcomed silence as the two rode off towards the sunset, Legno firmly mounted on the horse while Saggezza followed closely to its right, reigns held safely in hand. Saggezza silently thanked God for letting him save Legno…and for letting Legno save him.
“So when we get home, do you think I should polish myself off before bed?”
Two brothers were stowing away their props for the night. One put a wooden marionette in her case as the other made quick work disassembling their stage.
“It’s a shame,” Giuseppe remarked, “I really was hoping Legno would come to see the show. You know, see ‘Marion’ one last time.”
“Beppe, we both know that that wasn’t his path.”
“Yeah, but I’m a sucker for happy endings, Gio. We can’t all be as dour as you, brother.”
“His ending was happy in its own way. That’s the whole point.”
“Yeah, I know. But still,” Giuseppe remarked pensively. “Anyway, I’m all finished up. You good to go?”
Giving a nod of acknowledgement, Giovanni simply remarked, “Come then, brother. There are other worlds than these.”
The two brothers, going at their own pace, silently made their way north in to the Sicilian woodlands. With a *swoosh* and a bright flash of light, they were gone.
Well, that’s all I got for you clowns. Not much to really say that I haven’t already said, and more importantly, I’d like more to hear from all of you. Let me know if the finale gave you a sense of closure, if it made sense thematically, or really just any thoughts you might have. As always, let me know on Facebook or Twitter. Empowered starts in two weeks, and next week’s post will be a special treat. See you then, and thank you all so, so much for reading!
In a bit of a departure from what I’ve been posting, it’s time to switch gears from the Legno/Timothy story and focus on Saggezza and former flame Magdalena. How will the perpetually inebriated Saggezza react to seeing the woman that broke his heart years ago, a heart that’s never fully healed? Find out below:
Across town, Stefano Saggezza laid on floor, where he had passed out hours ago. He was awoken by a knock at the door.
With a belabored moan, he pushed himself up, wiped the drool from his bottom lip, and stumbled towards the threshold. In a swift motion, he opened the door, only to see the last person he ever expected to see.
The two shared a sad, meaningful look for a moment, and then, without a word uttered between either party, Saggezza shifted to the left to clear the entrance, and the woman slowly entered.
“Hello, Maggie,” Saggezza said.
“Hello, Stef,” she rejoined.
“You know, you’re still the only person I let call me that.”
“And what little pet name did you give for the guy you left me for?” he asked bitterly.
Looking at Saggezza cockeyed, she questioned, “You mean…God?”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty short enough already,” he replied while turning towards the kitchen to rummage through his liquor cabinet.
Now more than ever, he was going to need a drink.
“Campari, Campari…he never brought back the…Legno! Legno! Where’s my Campari!”
“That’s actually what I came here to talk to you about, Stef.”
“What?” he asked, rolling his eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re here to berate me about my drinking, too.”
“No, as much of a concern it is, that’s not why I came. It’s about Legno.”
Snapping back to a sense of sobriety, Saggezza asked, “What’s wrong? How do you even remember him?”
With a sad smile, Magdalena responded, “How could I forget the child you wanted me to raise with you?”
Saggezza didn’t respond.
“He came by the church earlier; he came looking for a ‘miracle.’ He, well…he wanted to become a wooden boy.”
“That *urp* that sounds like Legno all right.” With a worried look beginning to drape over his face as the reality of something happening to Legno starting to sink in, Saggezza asked, “Is he okay?”
“I don’t know. He was with this…talking insect…”
“And I thought I was the drunk.”
“I know it sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. And listen, this overgrown bug – ‘Timothy’ Legno called him – I don’t trust him. There was a malicious air surrounding him. I really think something bad is going to happen to Legno, Stef.”
“You’re sure about this? I…” he stopped himself midsentence and and slowly turned his head to look at the ground, ashamed. “I know I haven’t been the best of fathers and was never really there for him, but if what you’re saying is true…”
“It is. They said they’re going to be at Deus Ex Collina by dusk. They were on their way there when I left. I took one of the church’s horses to get here. Take her; you might be able to beat them there. I can walk back to the church, just bring her back when you’re done.”
Picking his head up, Saggezza replied, “Thank you, Maggie, and I…you know I never stopped loving you.”
“I know, Stef, but this isn’t the time. And please tell me this lifestyle,” she then stretched out her left arm and waved towards the mess of empty bottles and trash, “isn’t because of me.”
With closed eyes and a shrug of his shoulders, he responded, “I don’t know what you want me to say, Maggie.”
“Oh, Stef. I’ll always love you, but just not like that anymore. You need to accept that it’s over and move on. Please, go to Legno. Make sure he’s safe. You still have a chance to make things right between the two of you. But all of this,” she once again waved towards the mess, “it needs to stop.”
“I know. I never wanted to live like this. Without you.”
“Stef. You pushed me away, and now you’re doing the same to him. If he feels empty inside, be there for him. Be the father he needs. Give him strength and guidance. He’s getting that from someone else now because you’re not there. And…and just go, Stef. Before it’s too late.”
Grabbing his boots, mud glued to the bottom and smelling as if something crawled in them and died, he forced them on, not wasting any time to untie and tie them. He whipped his canvas jacket on and rushed out the door. Turning towards Maggie one last time, he said, “Thank you. And I’ll make it all right. I promise.” As a single, hot tear rolled down his eye and on his cheek, he said in a low voice, “I’ll fix everything.”
Maggie walked slowly towards him and kissed the tear away.
Finally, he turned and ran out towards the horse. Planting both hands on its backside, he used all his strength to throw himself up on top of the beast. Grabbing the reigns, he whipped them forcefully, and with a loud “Hyah!” he was off.
And with a pitiful, garbled “Nyah,” he pulled over to vomit.
“Oh, Lord,” prayed a disappointed Magdalena, “please get him there before he gets arrested.”
TO BE CONCLUDED
A bit more serious, personal entry, but one that I’m personally proud of. Do you feel the same? Hopefully the lack of slapstick humor wasn’t too much of a turn off. Was the drama as effective as the comedy? I sure hope so, but let me me know what you think. The next few stories will lean towards the dramatic side, so think of this as a taste of things to come. And guess what? Next week marks the conclusion of the entire tale! I never thought I’d get to this point, and I want to thank all my friends for the support. Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter for questions and comments, and I’ll see you all in a week!
Yes, all: We’re at the start of the final act of Wood You Be Mine? But it’s okay. The next two stories are already in progress. I won’t give away too many details, but here are the titles: Empowered and A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Want to take a guess what they’re about? Drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! But for now, let’s all enjoy the start of Act 3.
“Shooting star; what a quack,” bemoaned Legno. “What now, Timothy?”
“Well, when all else fails and things look their bleakest, it’s not uncommon to turn to a higher power” was Timothy’s response.
“You mean, like, God?”
“Well, the Professor, although being hyperbolic, did say it’d take an act of God. And seeing as we have no other options currently, I don’t see how it could hurt. Granted, I find organized religion to be a bunch of hooey, but I’m not an unreasonable insect. Surely there’s a chapel or some such where we can inquire about a miracle for you.”
“If that’s the case, when I went through my biweekly routine of rummaging through the chest in Saggies’ closet that he thinks I don’t know about, I found a picture of a woman, and on the back it said ‘Magdalena’ and ‘Chiesa dello Spirito Santo.’ So, I don’t know, maybe we see if this Magdalena is still there, drop Saggies’ name, and perhaps she can fast track us a miracle up to the big man himself!”
“Curious. And you two don’t attend church often?”
“No, Saggies says he gave up on all that a long time ago.”
“Well, I can’t quite fault him for that,” Timothy stated pretentiously. “In any event, do you know where this church is located?”
“Yeah,” Legno said as a cold chill went up his spine, “I’m not super keen on the idea of going there, though. It’s right next to a cemetery. I’m not too good around dead things.”
“Death, Legno, is just an extension of life. There’s nothing to fear. If anything, it enhances life, reminds you to live it to the fullest. And that’s exactly what our mission is today, is it not?”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Taking a deep breath in and out, he continued with, “Let’s get a move on then. The place is a bit of a hike, but if we hurry, maybe we can get God to whip us up a miracle before dark.”
Pumping his skinny little calf muscles for what felt like the hundredth time today, Legno headed east until he came upon the church. Noticing that the sun had begun its downward journey from the sky, Legno’s heart started beating with the fury of a stampeding elephant. Time was running out.
Finally arriving, Legno zoomed up the steps. Grabbing the metal ring and pulling open the tall, heavy door, Legno walked in to the church and was immediately awestruck. Adorned in the structure were stained glass paintings depicting the struggles of Christ, rows upon rows of benches, eager for parishioners, and, in the back, a woman lighting one of the many candles on a modest looking table as she silently prayed.
Legno, not being especially religious, wasn’t sure how to approach her. Is he allowed to interrupt? How does he address her?
“Wait are you waiting for?” whispered Timothy. “Go on; ask her if she knows this ‘Magdalena.’ ”
Trepidatiously ambling over to the woman, Legno cleared his throat and spoke. “Um,” he began, “Sister, right?”
The nun, whose eyes had been closed as her lips softly uttered a prayer, stopped midsentence and turned to Legno.
“Sorry for interrupting you,” he said sheepishly, “but, um, we’re looking for someone. I think her name might be Magdalena?”
“Oh yes,” the Sister replied, not at all bothered by Legno halting her prayer, “I believe she’s in the back room cleaning up. I’ll ask her to come over when she’s done. Do you mind waiting a moment?”
“No, no…that’s fine. Thanks.”
The nun turned back to the table to finish her prayer. Moments after, she slowly turned around and gracefully moved towards the back room to retrieve Sister Magdalena. As the pair waited, Legno soaked in the atmosphere of the church. Not a regular attendee, it was the first time he had stepped inside a church in years.
There was a calming ambiance in the building; Saturday mass wasn’t to start for another few hours, and the only persons around were the nuns and clergymen.
“Hello, child,” came a voice from behind him in a warm, motherly tone. “Sister Maryanne told me you wanted to see me. Do I know you?”
Legno turned around to face the woman. She was tall, just over one and three quarters meters. Although older, her face told the tale of a beautiful young girl who graciously aged in to a mature older woman, with her white coif and black veil carefully framing her delicate features.
“Well…” Legno replied, “do you know a man named ‘Stefano Saggezza’? I found your picture in his room, and I thought you might be able to help us since I don’t really know any other religious folks.”
“Stef…” Magdalena replied, in a tone barely above a whisper. “Are you…Legno?”
“Yeah! How’d you know?”
“Stef and I…”
“He prefers ‘Saggies,’ actually.”
She smirked and continued, “He and I were…friends. One of the last conversations we had was on the day he adopted you.”
“Oh,” Legno then paused, confused by this revelation. He cocked his head and squinted his eyes as he looked at her. “Really?”
“Yes, he thought that with you…” Magdalena stopped for a moment and looked down as a pang of emotion swept through her. ‘Stefano Saggezza’ had been a name she’d been trying to forget for a long time.
“He thought that I what?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Timothy said, finally chiming in, “but we’re not exactly here to reminisce, are we, Legno?”
“Yeah,” he agreed, although disappointed he wouldn’t hear the rest of what she had to say on the subject of his parent, “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, Tim.”
Magdalena had not previously noticed Timothy. Although oversized for a bug, he was still easy to miss. Upon the initial sight of him, she jumped back with a shock, her eyes widened, and she let out a frightened squeak before covering her mouth to silence it.
“Oh, ha, yeah. That’s Timothy. We’re buddies.”
“He’s your…friend? A talking bug?”
“I’m so much more than that, dear. And might I add, you look quite becoming in that habit,” Timothy replied in an attempt at playful flirtation. Magdalena hesitated for a moment and gave a forced smile before turning back to Legno.
Magdalena stood without moving or making a sound and let Timothy’s presence sink in. Due to her livelihood, she he knew that there were things that couldn’t quite be explained; that’s why it’s called ‘faith’ and not ‘fact.’ She was able to accept the unacceptable. Today, the unacceptable was the revelation that there are apparently some insects that can talk.
As a nun, she accepted this reality. But as a woman, her intuition told her there was something not quite genuine about this ‘Timothy.’
“Legno, you never told me what it is I can help you with. It’s apparent you’re not here to discuss Stefano,” she said, her bright green eyes shooting a quick glare at Timothy and just as quickly turning back towards Legno, “so what is it I can do for you? I’d be happy to help in any way possible.”
“Well, there’s this girl. And, granted, I don’t really pray that much, nor am I super religious, but, I don’t know, I was hoping the, uh, the big guy up there,” he said, pointing the ceiling, “could throw me a bone or something.”
“I can light a candle and say a prayer for you, dear, but I can’t promise you anything. That’s not quite the way God works. As much as He loves us all, He’s unable to grant wishes and give us anything we want. That would take all the meaning out of life. Do you understand?”
“But why?” Legno asked, his eyes beginning to water, “Does he want me to suffer or something?”
“Oh, Legno,” she said, kneeling down to meet him at eye level, “without suffering, there’s no compassion. Without suffering, we become complacent. Without suffering, one’s true character is never tested. I like to believe that He tests us every day. And every day, we have opportunities. Do we make the selfless choice or the selfish choice? I believe every one of our actions has a consequence even though you may not be able to tell right away. All I can really tell you is to be a good person, do the right thing, and happiness will come to you. Life has a way of balancing itself out. I promise.”
Looking down, he murmured to himself, “But I want happiness to come now…”
Having heard enough, Timothy decided to interject. “Legno, and my dear, please do not take offense, but I think she may be a little off on this. ‘Power of prayer’ and glorification of suffering, if you want to be an outside observer and let life and opportunities pass you by, then by all means, take her advice. However, you can be like me, take initiative, and you can claim what’s rightfully yours.”
Magdalena, feeling furious and condescended to, was boiling up inside but kept a quiet and dignified veil of placidity.
“Come, there’s still time to make our way to the top of Deus Ex Collina to see that shooting star. If what Professor Cannizzaro said is true, you’ll be a wooden boy by dusk.”
‘You’ll be a wooden boy by dusk,’ resonated in Magdalena’s head as her left eyebrow arched in bewilderment.
“Might as well,” Legno sighed, “seeing as we’re all out of options.” After finishing his sentence, he gave a quick hop over to Magdalena and wrapped his arms around her for an unexpected hug.
“Bye, Mag. And thanks anyway. I’ll tell Saggies you said hi.”
Touched by the boy’s tenderness, she said, “Of course, child. And…” she gave a quick look to Timothy once again and finished, “and be careful.”
Down but not quite yet defeated, Legno lightly sprinted back towards to the entrance, pushed the tall wooden door open, and, before leaving, turned around to give the church one last look. And one last poignant look to Magdalena as well.
Magdalena watched him as he left, and, for a few moments, looked at the door. She stood there quietly gathering her thoughts before heading towards the back room and in to the head nun’s quarters.
She knocked on the door and the voice inside invited her in. Wasting no time, Magdalena asked, “Mother Superior, would I be able to take an afternoon leave? There’s someone whom I need to see.”
TO BE CONTINUED
And with that, we begin our winding down of this tale! Next week will be the Act 3 Interlude, and I’m sure you all have an idea on who she’s going to see in a confrontation years in the making. How’s Act 3 so far? Does it tickle your fancy? As always, let me know on Facebook or Twitter! See you all soon!
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!
I’d like to start this one off on a slightly more serious note. As the holidays are approaching, we should all look to give back a bit. For those of you who may have some extra money, think about donating a couple dollars to those less fortunate. One of my favorites is Toys for Tots, but there are a ton out there to choose from. ’Tis the season, loyal readers. Make someone out there smile.
Alright, now that the sappiness is out of the way, last we left off, Legno, with Timothy as his guide, was off to see the witch of the Sicilian forests (no, not you, Aunt Adela). Can she do for Legno what she did for Timothy? Let’s find out in Act 2, Part 3 of Wood You Be Mine?
“Truth be told, I don’t know why she didn’t. Boredom, perhaps? Or maybe just loneliness.”
“You never asked?” said a baffled Legno.
“This is going to sound silly,” Timothy began, “but I suppose I was afraid of knowing the truth. Like if I were to look at it too closely, I might see the cracks beneath the surface of the whole thing. Like knowing the truth would be the pinch that woke me up from the dream.”
“Is that why you didn’t stick around?”
“I did for a while; I owed the old girl that much. So I spent time with her, conversed with her, helped her prepare her meals, and the like. As I said earlier, I believe she just felt like having some companionship.”
“Sounds kind of nice, I suppose.”
“It was for a time. She taught me everything I know. But after a while, I knew that I needed to move on.”
At this point, Legno’s investment in Timothy’s story began to wane. If girls or odd bodily functions weren’t involved, he usually couldn’t care less. Changing the subject to something of more interest, Legno asked, “Could you tell me more about you wife?”
“Oh, certainly. She was someone I had known for some time, but I never had the confidence to tell her how I felt. After I became what I am now, I realized it was finally my time. We fell in love and are now happily married with seven million children.”
“Good Lord, seven million? Your stamina must be out of control. And I can’t even begin to imagine what she looks like down there after popping out all those kids.”
“I think we should change the…”
“I once saw a picture of a guy who lost a big chunk of his torso after a bear bit in to it. If I had to take a guess…”
“So how about your foster father?” Timothy yelled, doing everything he could to speak over Legno. “You haven’t yet spoken of him.”
“Um, I think he’s doing all right down there?”
After a heavy sigh, Timothy rephrased, “I meant, in general, how is he? What does he do?”
“Well, Saggies, as he prefers me to call him, is a teacher. But I don’t think he really likes it or anything. He seems depressed all the time. And he drinks a lot.”
“Oh, that’s…that’s very disheartening. Do you have any idea why?”
“Um…not really. I mean, I’m a ray of sunshine, so it’s not my fault. The only thing I can think of is that I sometimes hear him say the name ‘Maggie’ in his sleep followed by a whimper.”
“Ex-girlfriend I take it?”
“Beats me. I kind of always assumed it was some sort of liquor they don’t make anymore. Or like a pet turtle that he used to have.”
“So those are your best guesses: Discontinued alcohol or turtle?”
“Well, when you say it like that, it just makes me sound like an idiot.”
Timothy bit his tongue and decided it’d be proper to just let that comment slide.
The next few minutes were filled with a comfortable silence; Timothy quietly soaked in the scenery, the forest’s musk filling his senses and reminding him of a time gone by, while Legno’s thoughts were brimming with the life he and Marion were sure to have. It was a life of joy, of passion, of tenderness, and of endless ‘knock on wood’ jokes.
And of late nights sensually applying varnish.
And of even later nights filled with sanding down each other’s edges. Those rough, rough edges.
Life as a wooden boy…oh, it was definitely going to be sweet.
“We’re here, son. Look! You can see her cabin just over that hill!” Timothy exclaimed, snapping Legno back to reality.
With a few shakes of his head, his eyes, which seconds ago were blankly staring at the ground, widened and appeared to fill his entire face as his destination finally came in to view.
“Hey, you’re right!” Legno cheered as he made a dash towards the cabin, too excited to merely walk the last few meters.
As he drew nearer, the mundanity of the cabin’s exterior became apparent. Although unimpressed, Legno attempted to remain positive.
“You’d think such a powerful witch would have a fancier place,” Legno commented as he ran his fingers over the cabin’s oaken façade, which, though unassuming, was still well constructed. “But it’s pretty cool to see such professional craftsmanship. I guess my wood will be safe in her hands, huh?”
“Oh, dear,” Timothy muttered to himself while massaging his forehead in an attempt to circumvent the impending migraine Legno was sure to give him. “Be a good lad and give the door a few raps. I don’t know if the old girl is home or not.”
Legno, making his way to the door, did as Timothy requested and gave the door a hearty knock with his fist.
“Try again,” said Timothy.
Legno once again raised his fist to knock on the door and brought it down with the force of a hammer; he desperately wanted the old witch to be there and was hoping her reticence was due to her not hearing him the first time. The sound of flesh and bone against the wooden door was even louder this time.
Still no answer.
After letting out a heavy sigh of disappointment, Legno responded, “Of course. Of course she wouldn’t be home. Why would I expect to have any sort of luck with the way this day’s been going? Let’s head back. Maybe I can patch things up with Diana. ‘Diana, when I said your ass looked fat, what I meant was you have a great figure for popping out a whole mess of kids. Our kids.’ ”
Timothy snapped back, “Oh, stop complaining! A few bumps in the road and you’re ready to throw in the towel! It may not exactly be proper etiquette, but open the door and see if she’s in. It’s possible that she’s just asleep.”
“Let’s try,” Legno said quietly as he turned his hand and placed the bottom sides of his fingers underneath the hand-carved notch and gently opened it.
*Creeeeeeeeek* went the door as Legno slowly pushed it forward. As he leaned in, his head poked through and he uttered a simple, “Hello?”
For a third time, no answer.
“Walk inside,” Timothy replied. “Here or not, she wouldn’t mind my coming through unannounced.” He then turned his attention away from Legno and yelled, “Esther! Esther, dear, are you home? It’s Timothy, and I brought a friend who is quite intent on meeting you!”
“Look,” Legno said as he pointed to the table in the middle of the room. The cabin was fairly tiny, and it didn’t take the boy long to get a more than cursory examination of the place. “There’s a note on the table.”
“Well, it’s more than a bit rude to read someone’s personal letters, I’d say,” Timothy replied.
Walking towards the table, Legno countered with, “But it looks like it’s addressed to you.”
The note, which laid flat on the table, was filled with big, barely legible scribble, with
sprawled across the top.
“It appears you’re right, son. What does it say?”
“Yeesh,” went Legno as he squinted his eyes to try to make discernible the old woman’s scribble. He proceeded to read the note aloud:
“Germany?” Legno responded, confused. “Can we get there before tonight?”
“Legno,” Timothy sighed, “Germany is almost a thousand miles away with seas and mountains in between.”
“Okay, so, what’s she doing there? Why isn’t she here?” Legno asked, his tone almost turning in to a shout.
“Oh, she has the sweetest little place there. Children from all over…”
“So that’s it!” yelled a once again defeated Legno as he cut off Timothy, “This friend of yours decides to take a goddamned vacay and I’m shit out of luck!”
“Did I say that this was my only idea? Failing to plan is planning to fail, Legno.”
“So then what now?” Legno asked, as some placidity returned to his voice.
“Let me ask you, Legno, are you a student of chemistry?”
TO BE CONTINUED
Believe it or not, we’re just about at the halfway point of this tale. But without the witch Esther, what is poor Legno to do? What’s Timothy’s Plan B? Will there be any more thinly-veiled penis jokes? The answers to all these questions can be found next week for the conclusion of Act 2 of Wood You Be Mine?
And if you need a taste of what’s to come after that: Twists, turns, lost loves, new beginnings, but unfortunately, fewer nut shots (sorry, Alex). See you in a week!
Have you been wondering what Legno, the breakout star of Wood You Be Mine? looks like? Has it given you many sleepless nights? Have you consulted with friends, loved ones, and/or religious leaders? Well, your suffering is over! Thanks to friend/co-worker/roommate/sexually ambiguous Kevin Lafferty, a beautifully rendered portrait of Legno now exists. Feast your eyes:
So how’s he look? Better than you expected? Worse? You can be as critical as you want; Kevin has nothing even close to resembling feelings. And let me know on Facebook or Twitter what you’d like to see him draw next.