Wonder of Wonders, or is that World of Wonders? I was upstairs staring at the computer around nine last night when I heard what sounded like a knock on the front door. I haven't had a visitor after dark for more years than I have fingers and toes so I was immediately suspicious. Not frightened or threatened, just curious. When I slipped down stairs in the darkness I could see a head faintly illuminated by starlight framed in the door's small glass window. I opened the door immediately.
"Whinkla!" I yelled, "Whinkla! My God man, come in. Where in heaven's name have you been?"
Whinkla stepped inside and took off his boots. "It has been a while, hasn't it?"
"At least a year. No, closer to two. Where have you been? What have you been up to?"
"One question per customer Larry," Whinkla smiled, but yes, I do have a tale or two to relate."
We moved quickly to the kitchen where I busied myself making a pot of tea. Whinkla sat at the breakfast bar thumbing through a recent copy of Smithsonian magazine and humming softly.
"So tell me everything," I said, " from the beginning, that is from the last time we met."
"When was that Larry? I seem to be having a little difficulty remembering things of late, and so much has happened, or hasn't happened I loose my way. Was it the afternoon we spent investigating and inventing nicknames? That would have been the autumn of 2007."
"No," I said, "I think we saw each other last March, at the Insomniac. You were with a beautiful, raven-haired young lady."
"Ah yes, Vivien, now there's a story to chill your bones Larry. Turned out to be a modern version of Idylls of the King, at least the Merlin and Nimue part."
The kettle had boiled and I placed the cozied teapot between us on the counter. "So," I said. "tell me about her. Was she the 'Lady of the Lake'?"
Whinkla sighed, "Well she certainly cast a spell on me, one of my own I suppose, but I did manage to escape before becoming just a voice in a Hawthorne tree, or worse. . . . Tea should be ready."