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Three Mile Road was said to be a lonely road. I will tell you that. It was said to be the straightest road. It was said to be the flatest road. And it was said to be the most boring road there ever was.
But I will tell you what. Growing up in the Tri-cities, where everyone's got one, two, three different ideas about everything, you get used to seeing everything from three different directions. And you could take little Jimmy Three-hands out of the Tri-cities, out of the Three Great Nations, and out of Kingdom of the Three-eyed God, but you couldn't take the Three-ways of Seeing out of Jimmy Three-hands.
And I will tell you this. What might have looked like a simple, flat, Three Mile Road to you, looked a whole lot different to Jimmy Three-hands.
I could see around the road.
I could see through the road.
I could see under the road.
Jimmy Three-hands took a moment to consider just which way to walk this road.
"Well howdy, stranger. You look a bit lost here on Three Mile Road."
And there, walking upside down on the underside of Three Mile Road, was the biggest Traveling Ant I've ever met.
You can see how Jimmy Three-hands was tired of all the three-ways. Tied up and nearly tripped up on them, as you can see. Too many threes for me! Too many threes from Jimmy Three-hands.
Don't get me wrong! I was respectful of our three-pronged culture, and of the Tri-cities, and my three parents, and the Three-eyed God, the Three Great Nations. I just found myself a bit lost in that three-holed world. Every time I turned around I had one of my three hands caught in three different mail slots, or three different mousetraps, or three different cheesecakes.
My three brothers and three sisters found their ways in their three-fold career paths, but I was lost.
"Too many threes for me!" I told my three brothers and three sisters.
"Too many threes for me!" I told my three parents.
"Too many threes for me!" I told the Three-eyed God.
And I did three things.
I took all the many three-way hands and made them one. One in each of my three hands.
I took all the many three-way legs and made them one. One in each of my three legs.
I took all the many three-way eyes and made them one. One in each of my three eyes.
And do you know what Jimmy Three-hands did? That's right. I put all of the Tri-cities, and all my threes of relatives, and the Three-eyed God, and I put them all inside me.
And along with those three things came the three suns in the sky and the three moons in space and the Three Great Nations, all wrapped up in threes on threes inside me, all buckling to get out.
And with that, I walked away, on one and one path only. Jimmy Three-hands wasn't going to go in three directions at once any longer. Jimmy Three-hands was going to walk Three Mile Road alone.
"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.