he door in the Tree, the Great Checkerboard of sunlight, the forest overhead and the great Golf Green in the distance all had wavered into immateriality.
In their place was a watering hole, indeed a cabaret with a grand piano at which a large Blue Rat was playing jazz, and tables with trios of card players choosing cards and pushing their bets to the center, and a row of customers on bar stools with little crowns upon their immense Fish Heads, slurping their drinks down noisily as a great White Sheep tending the bar wiped out a clear glass beer mug with a blue and white rag very much the colors of a Quebec Fleur de Lys ….
Over the whole scene a sign hung suspended, announcing “SPQ Libre Bar and Golf Lounge”.
Why, that’s bilingual , declared Alice aloud, still vertiginous from the sudden shift from one reality to another.
The Sheep, who was wearing an apron over his shirt and bow-tie, bore a marked resemblance to an infamous politician, a graduate of the London School of Golfenomics … Why , thought Alice, the Black Queen with her “Par! Par! Par! ” wasn’t talking Golf at all; she was trying to blurt out the name of the Sheep … Pah-Pah-Pah-rizeau !
“What’s your pleasure?” said the Bar Sheep at last, looking up for a moment from his wiping. He positioned yet another clean glass mug on the counter.
“I don’t quite know yet,” answered Alice gently. “I should like to look around first, if I might.”
“New in town?” ventured the woolly barkeep. Alice, disquieted, had no meaningful reply.
“Then,” prescribed the Sheep: “You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like, but you can’t actually look all around you — unless you have eyes at the back of your head.”
These, as it happened, Alice had not got, except metaphorically speaking. So she contented herself with turning round and round on the red swivel bar stool at the near end of the counter, until she stopped it with her feet.
Once again facing the bar, the bartender, and the shelves of curious things, Alice examined the menu on the back wall of the Bar beside the inevitable mirror.
The menu had only this to say:
“Eggs: 2 for the price
Alice next examined the shelves in hope of finding something to quell her incipient appetite. Or, at least, she tried to examine them. Squint as she might, stare as hard as she could, the more she looked, the more the things upon the shelves appeared to rush and fade away into the distance.
There were flying jars of pickled eggs, floating bottles and shot glasses, spinning toothpicks with colored cellophane twirls on their tips, stuffed and pickled olives jostling one another in their jars as the jars themselves sped through space and away.
The only clear grasp that Alice could conceive of anything was the impression formed in the corner of her eye that something was there … but as soon as she turned to face an object directly, off it flew, evaporating to a vanishing point.
Sometimes one must see things to believe them , philosophized Alice, but other times, one must believe them to see them. Perhaps I’m just not believing hard enough , she concluded, as the shrinking and spinning contents of the shelves continued flying off into the distance.
Alice toed herself off again and began spinning, round and round on her bar stool.
“You’ll make me giddy soon, if you go on turning like that,” criticized the Sheep, still methodically twisting the towel in a beer mug.
Continuing to spin, Alice called out, “I am hungry, Sir. Have you any take-out?”
“Are you a Teetotaller or a Teetotum?” the Sheep replied by way of pointed inquiry.
Alice took another spin before answering. But the Sheep spoke first.
“No take-out,” said the Sheep. You buy it here, you eat it here. “Special of the Day: two EGGS for the price of less than one.”
“Two EGGS are cheaper than one?” echoed Alice, skeptical. “How much are they?”
“Twooney for one — two for a Looney,” said the Barkeep. “Only you must eat both, if you buy two.”
“Then, I should like to buy ONE EGG, please,” requested Alice, depositing her Twooney deliberately on the counter and pushing it toward the Sheep. For she thought to herself, They mightn’t be at all nice, you know .
The Old Sheep took the coin so fast it seemed to evaporate into the till where it struck with a diminishing “cling!”.
“I never put EGGS into people’s hands — that would never do,” said the Sheep. EGGS are taken not given. You must take it yourself, if you think you can do so.”
The Sheep then took an EGG out of the cooler behind the counter, went off to the far end of the bar, and set the EGG up at the very end of it.
All along the Bar, Nine crowned Fish Heads paused in their slurping. Arching their scaly necks in unison, they followed Alice with their Fishy critical eyes as Alice jumped off her bar stool and walked confidently in the direction of the EGG.
Shell on, the EGG stood up on its end as if in an EGG cup. (Alice hardly stopped to wonder how it did that.)
Why would I have had to eat the two Eggs? speculated Alice to herself, groping her way amongst the crowded tables to reach the far end of the Bar.
But the nearer Alice approached the Egg, the more the Egg seemed to get further away. The more she walked, the longer the Bar became, the farther the Egg receded. Why, you never could reach the end!
The Nine staring Fish seemed to sneer in unison.
Gritting her teeth, Alice picked up speed hoping to out-pace the receding Egg …. but just as she lunged for it, the Egg flew up and up and hovered amongst the rows of glassware suspended by their stems …. then the Egg rose like a balloon and vanished through the ceiling.
All Nine Fish Heads clinked their glasses, still in unison; while a voice from the tables cried out, “It’s a floor, not a ceiling!”
Alice immediately recognized Law Professor Stephen Allan Scott’s erroneous theory of the federal residuary power. She picked her way through the crowded bar to the table where Scott and Henderson were playing cards. Tyler was napping between the two of them, face down in his betting tokens. Scott was shuffling.
“We’re short a man,” snickered Henderson, “have a seat, we’ll deal you in.”
Alice gratefully slipped into a seat, choosing to ignore what she thought was a veiled reference to the slur on her height at the Tea Party.
Scott proffered a plate of betting tokens: “Chip?”
“Oh, no! Not again !” cried Alice.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” said Henderson.
“How can you say that! We just had tea together. Well, I didn’t have any, but it was tea-time ,” said Alice.
“You’re bluffing,” said Scott.
“This round face-up,” said Henderson. (Tyler grumbled in his sleep.)
“Is this to be a friendly game?” interrogated Alice.
But Scott began dealing the cards face-up, first in front of Alice, then before Henderson, and finally in front of himself.
… To be continued …
– 30 –
UPDATED: 7 August 2018. 15 January 2022.