The sage of Hinga Lum Dura floated eternal and relaxed in the womb of worlds. It’s like smoking pot—he thought with enjoyably laborious sluggishness. A song came to him and he sang it, measuring the time micrometrically.
Seek ye-ee first . . .
His mind began to sense light.
. . . the ki-ingdom . . .
The light was approaching: blinding and like drifting smoke
. . . of god, man!
He rested easy, full and satisfied. He exhaled and watched the swirling smoke a long time before it occurred to him to wonder how he’d exhaled it here.
And then Kameldergaard spoke to him very, very slowly and with so much abundant fulness of meaning he couldn’t even get the least part of it. But he was overawed. He could visualize the colors of the sounds of her speech forming patterns loaded with indiscernible significance. Then it came to him that he should keep on breathing, and he exhaled once more; the smoke intermingled with the colors and he had an eternal moment of rapture.
Then it was over. He was being expelled from the womb of worlds right when he was on the point of understanding! Wherever he was now constricted around him, the colors also squeezing and protesting with a screech like rubber. Time pulsed again and shoved him into some kind of liquid. Now he was moving, accelerating and sliding along with torrents, rushing fantastically and at catastrophic rates, falling in a yawning, gut-in-your-mouth lunge that gentled with amazing continuity into forward motion; then an up, another quick down, an even more sickening left bend and WHAM! He hit some kind of limit.
The Janitor Angelicus heard the bang and looked at the dented door of the crap chute. Dented from the inside—he observed—good thing I locked it. He rattled his keys and found the right one.
“Where am I?” asked the man who fell out.
Being the Janitor Angelicus of the Transcendental Arrangement made for a lot of interesting experiences and inured the janitor to strange arrivals (the only way, really, to get there being unusual). By way of the crap chute? This had never been done before. The janitor answered guardedly, in riddles: “You are where men in shabby suits deal emeralds.”
“Well, ok,” conceding, “Where men in shabby suits and mostly without ties stand around waiting to deal emeralds.”
“Uh, how about this: You’ve come to where sordid flocks of pigeons fly frantically.” This last with a rising note of pleasure, presumably because of the alliteration.
“I don’t get it . . .”
“No. I can see that . . . try this: Where students stand reclining against walls and eating pizza. Do you think if I were to slam you into the glass of a bookstore display you would snap out of it?”
“I don’t see any bookstore displays, do you?”
“Ha! Yes . . . well . . . you have a point there. I do think there’s rain on the mountains though.”
But the sage had decided to ignore the janitor by this time. “I almost had it,” he said, rubbing his head.
“Yeah,” answered the sage, looking around more carefully. “Where did you say this was, again?”
The Janitor Angelicus sighed. “You’re in the Transcendental Arrangement.”
The sage of Hinga Lum Dura blinked and started to his feet crying, “WHAT?!?” Then he fell on a couch, clutching his head and groaning. After a while he recovered himself and said, “I’ve had a vision. I have been and I have seen. I have, as well–it seems–returned.”
The janitor watched him wondering if he had ever really been in the Transcendental Arrangement before. It began to rain.
“I didn’t know it could rain here,” the sage said.
“Now you do, eh?”
A woman wandered up. She was short and was clothed in a pale green overall, had a baseball cap and was carrying newspapers. “Newspaper?” she offered, “only a buck and you get a plastic pumpkin with it.” She held up a bunch of cheap plastic pumpkins.
The sage began to cry. The janitor stirred himself and shooed the newspaper lady away.
“The haunting beauty of the gesture?” he asked the sage.
Sobbing, the sage nodded helplessly.
“Odd,” the janitor mused. “I’ve never had anybody come out of the crap chute—or anything for that matter, thankfully—but that’s exactly what I’d expect somebody entering that way to say about Hermeldergaard.” He wondered why.