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The Ingenious Gentlemen Don Roli and Don Wolfi of Salzburg A Tale in the Picaresque Style - Part I-
The Ingenious Gentlemen Don Roli and Don Wolfi of Salzburg
A Tale in the Picaresque Style
Part, the Second
By Joanna from New York
Birds of every description and a host of small creatures awakened on a balmy summer’s morning, focusing their attentions on two young men lying on the side of a well-travelled road, looking dead to the world. Eventually, one of them began to stir, then slowly sat up, rubbing his head.
The young man looked around, confused, then poked his friend, who was still not among the conscious.
“Wolfi!” cried the young man. “Wake up, already!”
His companion awakened with a start, exclaiming, “Roli, don’t ever wake me like that unless the house is one fire!”
Both young men began looking around cautiously, then gradually rose, realizing something very peculiar had occurred.
“Wolfi… I’m not sure why, but I don’t think we’re in Salzburg anymore!” exclaimed Roli.
“Neither do I!” rejoined Wolfi. “The last thing I remember was walking down that road outside of Salzburg after we had escaped the highwaymen.”
“Right,” retorted Roli, “It was pitch dark, and I remember both of us stumbling into a big hole and falling for what seemed like an eternity.” And rubbing the big goose egg on his head, he continued, “Then I remember bumping my head really, really hard.”
“Yah, now I know how Alice felt falling down the rabbit hole. We better figure out where we are, and in a hurry,” said Wolfi. “Let’s just start walking and see where we wind up.” They ambled up the road for a short distance, when they came upon a man who was striding briskly, reading a newspaper.
“Uh, excuse us, stranger, we’re a bit lost,” said Wolfi. “Could you tell us where we are?”
The man looked puzzled, but quickly responded, “Why, you’re just outside of the city!”
“Which city?” asked Roli and Wolfi simultaneously.
“Why, MEXICO City, of course!” exclaimed the man, folding his newspaper and pointing, “That way.”
Roli and Wolfi looked at each other in complete disbelief, then turned to the man, when Wolfi observed the date on the front page of the man’s newspaper. “Wait a minute,” he said incredulously, “That can’t be right…the year is 1772, but this paper says that it’s…1988! There has to be some mistake!”
“The only mistake is that wild party you must have been at last night, boys, because it really is 1988,” said the man, proceeding on his way. “Kids today,” he grumbled.
Wolfi and Roli stared at each other in speechless amazement as the truth of the matter began to set in. Then Wolfi observed, “I was 16 years old in 1772, and so were you. I swear you don’t look any different than you did then. Either that, or you really age well.”
Roli continued, “Now here we are in 1988, and we’re both still 16?! Now my head REALLY hurts.”
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but we better get moving,” said Wolfi. “We don’t have any other choice.”
They set off towards the city, grateful that the Mighty Broomstick of Doom had survived the journey, in the event of another attack by highwaymen. Fortunately, they continued peacefully, observing the population becoming denser and the buildings getting bigger. After hours of trudging, they found themselves surrounded by tall buildings, apartment houses, and huge boulevards, packed with buses and cabs.
The entire time, the young men said nothing, but gazed in wonderment at the throngs of people and the bustling activity of the metropolis. They ambled through the city until they reached an immense square with a majestic cathedral.
“I know this place!” said Roli. “I’ve been here before!”
“Wow, you really DID bump your head!” remarked a concerned Wolfi, “and this is not a good time to have partial amnesia.”
The more they wandered, the more sites Roli recognized. They turned into a park where they stood before a magnificent theatre. Roli tried to remember its name, “It’s the Palacio of something, but I just can’t remember the rest. I’m going to sing there one day.”
His friend slapped him on the back and said, “You know, I believe you!”
They continued down a grand boulevard until Roli stopped and pointed to a statue of a mythological figure—a woman with a bow and arrow. “I know that statue!” exclaimed Roli. “Yes, she’s the huntress!”
Everywhere they turned, there were more glorious surprises for Wolfi and tantalizing but dim memories for Roli. Finally, they approached an enormous wooded park in the vast expanse of the city. As they admired its lush beauty, they soon heard the distinct sound of loud rumbling, accompanied by the terrified screams of what sounded like a multitude of people.
They rushed through the trees, where they beheld an gigantic creature like none they had ever laid eyes on before.
“Look , Wolfi,” cried Roli, “It’s a serpent! Do you see how its back curls up and down, as though forming mountains? It has all of those poor people in its clutches, and they are screaming for mercy! This is horrible! Even children and harmless Polish ladies with pretty babushkas! Look, they are all raising their arms in surrender, but the heartless beast continues to torment them!”
“Roli, or should I say, ‘Don Roli of Mexico City,’ now I know why we’re here! We have finally found the object of our quest!” roared Don Wolfi.
“Yes, Don Wolfi!” exclaimed his jubilant friend, “Finally, the heroic task we’ve been searching for is before us! But, quickly--this is not a time for words, but for action!”
The enthusiasm of the young knights enabled them to spring over a tall fence, and Don Roli lunged at the beast with the Mighty Broomstick of Doom, bashing it as though his life depended on it.
“Release these innocent people at once, vile monster!” he cried, flailing at the towering creature with all his might.
As Don Roli engaged in this epic battle with the serpent, Don Wolfi noticed a man standing over some mechanical levers, apparently controlling the monster. “Stop this serpent at once,” he cried, “or you’ll incur the wrath of Don Roli! I mean, look at him! Trust me, you do NOT want to mess with him when he’s in that state.”
“You dope, what serpent? That’s the Montaña Rusa he’s whacking with that pathetic stick,” responded the man contemptuously.
But doubting the sanity of the two knights, the man behind the controls reluctantly forced the serpent to stop, and the throng of people rushed off screaming at the two knights, “You just stopped the best roller coaster ride ever, you idiots!”
Recognizing that retreat, however inglorious, was their only option, our heroes scrambled over the same fence they sprung over en route to what they hoped was their date with destiny and hid behind a line of peseros stuck in traffic on el Paseo de la Reforma.
“Wow, I was sure that was our monster,” lamented Don Wolfi.
“It was an honest mistake,” reasoned Don Roli. “But this is a huge city—there must be lots of people who need to be rescued; we just have to find them.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, the noble knights repeatedly encountered what looked like dire situations, yet every effort to rescue those in need only earned them numerous thrashings and strings of unholy epithets, not to mention the many beer bottles smashed over their heads.
The young men finally decided that they would cast their net more widely and leave the city in search of glory. They vowed to return to Mexico City once they had gained more experience, and even some measure of success. The knights quickly realized that they would need a means of transportation, so they resolved to earn money in whatever way possible to attain their goal.
Quite inexplicably, the general population of the city seemed perfectly unaware of the noble status of the young knights. They were compelled to accept jobs that might have been regarded as lowly, but their zeal for their cause led them to happily embark on a myriad of apprenticeships. Before long, the young men were schooled in a vast array of arts and sciences, including basket-weaving, dog-sitting, and pretzel-making, and they distinguished themselves in them all. The friends lived frugally, splurging occasionally on a bottle of tequila, which they imbibed as necessary for medicinal purposes.
Finally, after months of work, they pooled their resources and bought all they could possibly afford: a motorcycle that might generously have been described as “pre-enjoyed.” But in the eyes of our knights, it was a noble steed that would carry them to parts unknown. This noble creature deserved a noble name: they settled on “Rocinante,” a name that Don Roli swore he had heard somewhere before.
After much discussion, they resolved to head south to Acapulco. Rocinante, it would appear, had plans that did not include transporting the young knights around the country and objected violently on occasion with great puffs of black smoke and fearful sounds that sent innocent bystanders diving for cover. Nonetheless, the knights coaxed their proud and headstrong Rocinante into forging ahead until at last they arrived at their destination, and as they observed the sand, the water, and palm trees, they wondered who could possibly need to be saved in a place such as this. Undeterred, they climbed the steep rocks for a better view of the ocean, and, as they reached the top, they noticed a man standing precariously close the edge of the cliff.
“Oh, no! That man looks like he intends to jump!” exclaimed an alarmed Don Wolfi.
“There can only be one explanation,” said Don Roli. “This unfortunate man is at the mercy of the Monster of the Deep who demands a sacrifice! His only recourse is to plunge to his death to satisfy the monster’s insatiable appetite for human souls!” said Don Roli.
“Kind of a long explanation, but I bet you’re right. So we must save him from himself!” agreed his companion.
They approached the man slowly and greeted him calmly: “Hello, friend. Please don’t let the Monster of the Deep claim victory over your body and soul! Don’t end it like this!” cried Don Wolfi.
“Step away from the ledge, and give me your hand,” pleaded Don Roli.
The would-be diver turned and faced the knights, and, looking very puzzled and mumbling something uncomplimentary under his breath, assured them that he indeed intended to jump.
“Quickly, before it’s too late!” exclaimed Don Roli. And as they extended their arms out to the young man, he slipped on the wet rocks and tumbled down into the water far below, spewing vivid and colorful expletives at the young knights along the way.
“Oh, no!” cried Don Wolfi. “Help, man overboard!” he exclaimed, flailing his arms to get attention.
“It looks like we’ll have to save him ourselves,” cried his valiant friend.
“Right!” agreed Don Wolfi. “You go first.”
“Me? I thought it was your turn!” responded Don Roli. “Besides, these are my favorite red shoes, and I don’t want to get them wet,” he reasoned.
“OK, fine,” said Don Wolfi, “we’ll jump together.” They approached the cliff and looked down, whereupon Don Wolfi prudently suggested, “Hmm…maybe we should just take the stairs after all.”
Summoning his courage, Don Roli rejoined, “There’s no time for that! Come on! I’m even willing to sacrifice my red shoes for a chance to stare the monster in the face! OK, we’ll jump on the count of three. One…two… two and a half…two and three quarters…three…aaaahhhhh!” Then our brave knights closed their eyes, held their noses closed, and jumped feet-first into the waters below, where they encountered the diver safely bobbing in the waves. He expressed his displeasure with the actions of the knights errant, detailing in the most vigorous terms that they could have gotten him killed, and he vowed to take out his wrath on their miserable hides.
“We’d love to stay and chat, but it’s getting late!” cried the young men as they scrambled to shore and ran towards the beach until they felt all was clear.
“Wow, another close one,” said Don Wolfi, shaking his head. “You know, I’m tired and night is falling—let’s just stay on the beach tonight and collect ourselves.”
His friend agreed, and they found a spot on the shore where they collapsed into the sand and fell asleep. Some hours later, they awoke to find that it was the middle of the night. They rolled over on their backs, folded their arms under their heads, and gazed up at the night sky.
“Look at all those stars!” effused Don Wolfi. “Do they make you feel…small?”
“Nope,” responded his friend without equivocation. “Not at all. They reaffirm that we are all part of something very big. That makes us all big.”
“I like how you think, brother,” agreed Don Wolfi. Then hesitatingly, he asked his friend,” Do you ever think about finding the girl of your dreams in this big universe?”
“Sure I do,” responded his friend. He paused briefly, then continued, “So…what’s she like…I mean the one who’s right for you?”
Closing his eyes for a moment, Don Wolfi replied, “Oh, there are so many important qualities, but above all else, she must be…constant. Yes, constant. I think I might not be the easiest guy in the world to get along with.…”
Don Roli interrupted his friend, and, feigning surprise, commented, “Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed,” whereupon his companion wadded up his wet jacket and flung it in his friend’s face where it landed with a big splat.
Both laughed, then Don Wolfi continued, “Yes, AS I WAS SAYING: because I am such a ‘delightfully challenging’ human being (Don Roli groaned), she must be steady and faithful.”
“So how about you, Roli? What will she be like?” asked Don Wolfi.
His friend looked up intently at the night sky and, with a smile on his face, said, “She must be full of light.”
They continued to gaze at the stars, wondering where they might find such splendid creatures. Then quickly, Don Roli leapt to his feet and exclaimed, “But for now, there’s work to be done to make us worthy of them! Let’s hop on Rocinante and head…and head…hmmm…where should we go?” he asked.
They raced to Rocinante, jumped on, and pondered the road before them.
“So which way do we turn? Left or right?” asked Don Roli, whose turn it was to drive.
“There’s no wrong answer to that,” replied his friend. “Wherever we go, whatever we do, there will always be something out there just beyond our finger tips that makes us want to reach out.”
“You’re right,” agreed Don Roli. “It’s not about the destination, but the journey. OK, this time it’s west. Are you ready?”
“I’m always ready,” replied Don Wolfi.
And on their temperamental Rocinante, who insisted on sputtering loudly and lurching like a bronco in a rodeo, the two friends sped off into the night, perhaps headed for another dark hole that might take them on another odyssey to yet another time and place.