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"Well," I said, "It all started when I was just a little tri-pod, tricycling around the Tri-cities. At every three-way intersection, there was the great big face of the Three-way God, with his three great big green eyes, his three enormous ears, his three button noses, and his three forked tongues, slipping out between this three long, white fangs. The Three-way God's face hovered over each intersection, directing the three-wheelers to stop and to go.
"STOP!" he roared and the traffic from one lane stopped.
"GO!" he roared at the next lane, and the three-wheelers went.
After awhile he hollered "STOP" and the going traffic and "GO" at the next lane of three-wheelers ready to go.
It was an idyllic childhood.
But Jimmy Three-hands' ice cream was starting to melt.
I had one hand on the three-handled handle bars of my trike, and another hand holding one ice cream cone, and another hand holding two ice cream cones, and drips from all three ice cream cones drip drip dripping on my three-legged corduroy slacks. Waiting for the whole cycle of STOPs and GOs was something Little Jimmy Three-hands didn't have time for, as the three suns in the sky were beating down hard.
Just then, Little Jimmy Three-hands had an idea.
"Our Three-eyed God, who art hovering in the intersections, I have an idea for you!"
The Great Three-eyed God turned his three eyes to Little Jimmy Three-hands. There was a lot of down-time for the Three-eyed God between traffic changes.
"I'm sure you've got much better three-minded things to worry about than just directing traffic."
The Three-eyed God raised one of his three eye brows.
"We were thinking... If you just put a big statue of your grand, three-eyed face there in the middle of the intersection, and told all the three-wheelers to take turns, one at a time, driving around it, turning off where they liked, well... these three-way intersections could run themselves! And you could be off doing better things!"
The Three-eyed God's three eyes opened wide.
And that's how Little Jimmy Three-hands invented the roundabout.
And made it home before his ice cream melted."
The Araceli had a funny smell.
Not a ha-ha funny smell, but a wet dog kind of smell.
The sunny shores of the Mermaid Imperium was a great place to let the Araceli air out. Get all that close air of Bakemono Road out of the ship and have a fresh start. The windows and hatches and cargo doors were all left open, while yours truly, Jimmy Three-hands, spent time with the metal detector in the sands, strolling around in my three-legged Bermuda shorts.
So it didn't seem right that the ship would be beset by such a rank odor.
A familiar odor.
An evil odor.
"All right you Raccoons! Jimmy Three-hands may not see you with his three eyes, or hear you with his three ears, or have you by the scruffs of your privacy-invading necks in his three hands, but he's ready to kick you right out the door of this flying airship with his three feet if you don't fess up and come out right now!"
"Well heck, Jimmy Three-hands. No reason to be so sore about it."
It was a Rocky Blaze, star reporter for the Bakemono Register, crawling out from behind the sink.
And a team of Raccoon photographers, Raccoon editors, Raccoon proofreaders, and Raccoon copy raccoons. Crawling out of the cabinets and from behind the storage lockers and up from the secret smuggler holds.
"We just wanted the scoop on the man who tricked old Bakemono Toad, tricked Joe King Crow, crashed Skunk's party, tricked the Demon Lawmen, and lived to tell the tale. The readers of the Bakemono Register want to know! They need to know! You're a hero! A star! Let us tell your story and you won't be sorry, Jimmy Three-hands."
Now Jimmy Three-hands isn't interested in fame. And Jimmy Three-hands isn't interested in creating any more of a reputation than he has to. And Jimmy Three-hands knows better than to trust Raccoon reporters any farther than he can throw them. But this was a lot of Raccoons to throw, and Jimmy Three-hands knows better than to take on a troop of angry Raccoon reporters in close quarters.
"Well... Jimmy Three-hands just might tell you a story, Rocky Blaze, star reporter for the Bakemono Register. You just get yourself comfortable while old Jimmy Three-hands takes the pilot seat and we'll have a little talk."
Jimmy Three-Hands didn't really think through about how The Mermaid Imperium Giant-sized Annual by @SLYR was mostly underwater. Just as it is too much to be too long anywhere on the ground, I also believe it is too much to be too long anywhere beneath the surface of the ocean.
It is true that a turtle can take you to the Dragon Palace at the bottom of an ocean.
And it is true you can be entertained quite a bit in the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the ocean.
And it is true that you can be gone a long, long time.
But never open up that tiny box!
I've got mine right here.
Which is why I was in no hurry to go underneath the surface of the ocean to visit the Mermaid Imperium. Oh I played around in the surf, and I used the shower on the beach. But Jimmy Three-hands was happy to just skim the surface of the ocean, looking for the signs of the Mermaids lurking underneath.
Jimmy Three-hands like to keep one hand on the ground, one hand in the water, and one hand in the air. I'd had all my hands on the ground for too long, and you'll believe me when I say they were getting dirty. Now my hands were in the air, getting the wheel of he Araceli dirty. It was time for a bit of that cool, clear, water.
I looked around the walls of my beautiful, three-hands-made ship, looking at the pages of all my favorite comic-books. Where would Jimmy Three-hands like to take a bath the most.
And there it was! The Mermaid Imperium Giant-sized Annual. By @SLYR. Just the cleansing I need!
Brrrrrrrr. Being dead sure is cold.
I was freezing cold and dead out by the woodpile. One of my three eyes wanted to wake up, and the other of my three eyes wanted to go back to being dead, and the third of my three eyes just wanted the others to stop bickering.
Bakemono Toad's ribbit ripped through me like a torn skirt. It tore right through me like lightning. As Ol' Jimmy Three Hand's brain was flapping in the wind, I had a hazy memory of filling Bakemono Toad's gullet with Lightning Wine, or Skunk Wine as they call it. Bakemono Toad's broken up body seemed to be doing much better because of it. Which was ironic since it was that very same Skunk Wine that had much the opposite effect on Ol' Jimmy Three Hands.
All three of my eyes had to open now, and as they gained their triangular focus, I saw the party of the night before had broken up, with all manner of refuse and detritus strewn across the field, and the smoldering remains of the bonfire.
As my eyes regained their triangular focus more, they were able to focus on a pair of Demon lawmen standing aside of Bakemono Toad, with their stars pointed upside down.
I was mostly glad just not to see any of those Raccoons.
"Well I guess I better get what's comin' to me," I said.
The lawmen hoisted me up by my three arms and began to frog march me back to town, but as we reached the edge of the field where the woods began, they explained how they'd be needing to shove a burlap sack over my head, on account of the secrecy, and no one being able to know where Skunk's field lay. The also shoved a sack over the head of Bakemono Toad, and over their own heads too, on account of the secrecy.
The trip back to town would have been much more efficient without these hoods. As you might imagine.
You also might imagine that, with all the tripping and falling and bumping into trees, things might get a little mixed up with our party. And by the time they reached Nudleton and removed their sacks, Jimmy Three Hands might not be among them.
And if you did imagine that, you'd be right. Because by that time, Jimmy Three Hands was back in the air, flying in his homemade airship, the Araceli, plotting a course far away from Bakemono Road.
The Skunk's burn party was a rager.
All the hoity-toity of Bakemono Road was there. There were Turtlemen, pounding in their shells, and Badgers running the catering, Foxes at the bar, Demon lawmen with their stars pointed upside down. And plenty of Raccoons--Raccoons in the logs, Raccoons in the house, Raccoons in the fields and streams. The party was crawling with Raccoons. Lousy with Raccoons. Jimmy Three-hands wasn't about to get spotted by those Raccoons.
Skunk didn't take much more notice of me once he'd sniffed me up and good. And he didn't seem too interested in Bakemono Toad's old beat up carcass either. I was below the notice of the Skunk, once he established I didn't pose a threat.
And I didn't pose a threat. Not Jimmy-Three hands. I was just there to stumble into the Skunk's den and meet my maker and see if I couldn't find out another thing or two about the whole she-bang, the whole nine yards. I wanted to see what the Skunk knew that I didn't know.
"Here! Take Skunk Wine!"
The fox moved off with a tray in her hand and a glass in mine.
Now Skunk Wine is a one of a kind thing. It's through a deal with the Bees he has. It's mighty tasty. Mighty sweet. And mighty strong.
Pretty soon Jimmy Three-hands had to sit down. And then Jimmy Three-hands had to lay down. And when Jimmy Three-hands had to get up and head to the wood pile, there was Bakemono Toad's old broken up carcass.
"Here Bakemono Toad drink this. Join me here to meet your maker," and I poured a gourd down his broken gullet.
Then Jimmy Three-hands curled up somewhere and died.
Well Jimmy Three-hand's bones were certainly messed up now. I hurled myself off Joe King Crow's back, fell through the sky like a rock, right down into the den of the unknown, right down into the very maw of Bakemono Road, right down smack middle into the eye of the storm. Right down into the backyard of the Skunk.
And it was hard. Rock hard. Skunk didn't keep up a nice plush lawn. It was the hard surface of the earth. Luckily Bakemono Toad's blubber and bone were there to cushion me. A bit. I'm afraid Bakemono Toad got the worst of it.
Bakemono Toad's neck was broke real good, and I couldn't see out his gullet anymore and peer through his mouth with my third eye. The smell of the Skunk had already shut down my olfactory capacity, but I could still hear the Great One sniffing around outside Toad's body.
Now Skunk has been known to eat just about anything. Especially if it doesn't put up a fight. Bakemono Toad wasn't ready to put up anything, and as long as I was stuck inside him I would have no agency in this matter.
"Now hold on there a minute, your Highness Great One!" I hollered in a no doubt muffled tone. "I've got something I think will come as a surprise, even for one as high and great as you!"
And I pulled my first hand out of Bakemono Toad's right arm, and pulled my second hand out of his left arm, and pulled my third hand out from his right leg, and pulled my right foot out of his left leg, and slithered my whole body up out of his gullet and slopped out onto the ground like a burped up slug.
I wiped the slime from my eyes and saw fire and shadows dancing in the dark. I saw the great big face of Skunk with his lightning marks staring down at me. And I saw a curl of smoke rising into the stars.
Skunk was having a bonfire. It was a burn party with all of Skunk's closest friends dancing round the flames.
"Well hello, Skunk! I'm Jimmy Three-hands!"
"Oh I just know it's around here somewhere, Joe King Crow. We'll find it eventually. Just keep on flying!"
I had no idea where we were going, of course. There was no Diamond Mine, and I was up on top of the King of the Crows, inside of Bakemono Toad's smelly body, high above the forests of Bakemono Road, flying around in circles.
"Well it can't be any farther that-a-way," said Joe King Crow. "That's where the Skunk lives."
"Oh??? I don't smell any skunk."
"Really? Can't you smell that? I'll get a little closer."
Joe King Crow altered his course just a little.
I could sure smell skunk know, even stuck down inside Bakemono Toad's body like I was. But I still couldn't quite get a fix on it.
"I think you're making all this up to impress me, Joe King Crow. I can't smell any skunk."
"Well then I think your nose is as broken as your bones, Bakemono Toad. See if you can smell THIS!"
Suddenly the smell was mighty strong. Joe King Crow must have taken us right up over the den. It was time to take my leave.
"Thank you, Joe King Crow. I'll be on my way now."
And I jumped right off Joe King Crow's back.
"You're right about my bones being all messed up, Joe King Crow," I croaked. "My insides are shattered like a broken clock! I wish I'd never found that old Diamond Mine and fell down in it! Oh these old bones ache..."
I knew this would get Joe King Crow's attention. He cocked his head one way and another and looked at me closely with this black crow eyes.
"Could you help fly me to the veterinarian in Nudleton, Joe King Crow? I need my bones all set right again."
Now the crows learned their lesson when they got too fascinated by man and allowed themselves to be trapped in iron cages. But if there was one thing that still fasciated them it was shiny objects. And there's few things as shiny as diamonds.
"You see how I can't walk too good, Joe King Crow. Won't you put me on your back and fly me?"
I could see Joe King Crow's gears turning underneath his jaunty crown.
"Oh, I'd be happy to take you to the vet, Bakemono Toad. But I sure would like to know where this diamond mine of yours is. You know, to make sure we close it up tight, so nobody else falls in like you."
"That's real responsible of you, Joe King Crow. Real civic minded. Yes I could show you where that old Diamond Mine is, and then you could fly me to the veterinarian in Nudleton. It's a deal!"
And with that, Joe King Crow picked me up in his beak, threw me on his back, and we were up in the air.
I took Bakemono Toad for a good long walk down Bakemono Road, just to let him know who wore the pants in this particular relationship.
Bakemono Toad didn’t fit so well, what with my first hand pushed up into his right arm, and my second hand pushed up into his left arm, and my third hand pushed down in his right leg, and my right foot pushed down into his left leg.
“You don’t look so well, Bakemono Toad.”
I squished my head up through Bakemono Toad’s gullet till I could just peek out his mouth with my third eye. I turned around and around till I spotted Joe King Crow sitting on the branch of a skinny old tree, laughing at me.
“You look like a sack of bones falling down the stairs, Bakemono Toad!”
Now Joe King Crow was the biggest of all the crows, bigger than Bakemono Toad, bigger than me, and likely bigger than you. His crown sat at a jaunty angle on his big crow head.
“You look like a bag of hammers having a fight, Bakemono Toad!”
Joe King Crow was a hard one to trick. A long time ago the crows got too fascinated by man and allowed themselves to be trapped in iron cages. But they broke free, and they learned how not to get tricked again.
“You look like a bunch of bees can’t find their way out of a hive, Bakemono Toad!”
But oh how Joe King Crow was full of himself, and his jaunty crown.
Just then Jimmy Three-hands had an idea.
"Oh old Joe King Crow," I called in my croakiest voice. "I wonder if you could help me..."