Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Characters: "Otto Van Otterson" (pt.3)

Though he would come to be a familiar sight to us, we did not see Otto again immediately. In fact Marcie expressed her concern for him a month or so later, noting his absence from the environs surrounding CVS.

"Honey, remember my little friend Otto?" she asked, her lower lip out a bit. She looked sad.

I nodded as I prepared for tennis class. "Yes, I do... is he okay?"

"I don't know," she said, her hands going from palms up as she looked to the ceiling a moment, dropping against her thighs. The release of bottled-up tension was always like this for her. She was obviously a little upset.

I gave her a hug and tucked her head in my neck, getting a little kiss there for my efforts. She sighed.

"He's just so old and so nice, even if he is a little crazy, so he's vulnerable" she said. "I get worried because I never see him with a group, he's always alone. Now he's gone missing."

I sat her down and held her hands. "He's going to be fine," I said. "He has been there this long, he'll be there again when he wants to. Has he disappeared before?"

"Yes," she said, her voice higher. "But he usually just goes away for a month and it has been like three now."

"If he has been on the street this long, what makes you think he is vulnerable?" I asked.

"Well, I don't know," she said. "But he's a gentleman. I kind of look at him as the ambassador of the people wearing the crazy pants. He is dignified but different."

I guffawed and looked at her, giving her my "tell me more" wide-eyed, fascinated, eyebrow-arched look. She bit her lip and looked off into the corner and then back at me, holding and shaking both my hands at once, then letting go to gesticulate.

"Okay, so he always has a handkerchief in his breast pocket under his jacket," she said. "And he never says anything I can understand or the girl can, but it always sounds the same when he greets us as he walks in."

I nodded and lowered my head, mouth open, prompting a little. Marcie leaned in.

"It's like 'Gooda Morgadanga' which sounds like good morning, but he say it at any time of day," she said, her hands lazily circling as she dished a bit. "And he always adds this stuff to it, like 'jergamergagubbelmub," or some other gibberish. You heard him!"

I nodded. "So he's like the ambassador from the country of Pantalonia Loca? Where the river people wear their traditional crazy pants, multiple vests and watches for all of the possible time zones they could be in at any time? And they speak something Germanish, with extra babble?"

She smiled and her beautiful, more delicate cackle, more of a bubbling, lilting laugh, rolled out. She was reassured and happy again. "You forgot his official ambassadorial plasticware and napkin," she said.

"Well, what's that for?" I asked. "Is it something everyone in Pantalonia has?"

"Well, actually, I call his little country Riverland," she said. "And the plastic utensils are in case a meal breaks out and he has to think fast."

"Like an emergency diplomatic meal?" I asked, chuckling.

She fell forward again, laughing and doing her in-laugh. "Yes!" she gasped out. "Or in case he needs to bring his own utensils for a state dinner... at the... at the mission!"

She started regaining her composure.

"He has had the same golden plastic utensils forever, or he had a good supply of them," she said. "I saw him eat a whole McDonald's Happy Meal with them when I went to lunch with Amy once.'

She looked at me and sighed. "He was very careful to clean them all and place them in order, inside to outside, spoon, fork, knife, and to replace his napkin and put the little fold in it to make it all official."

I nodded and held her hands again. She kissed me on the cheek. I was going to be late.

"So you will tell me if you see him, right?" she asked.

"Oh, sweety, of course I will," I said. "I promise to keep an eye out for him."

And as luck would have it, Otto was not far away at all. If anything, he was closer then ever, if in a new venue.