but before james could step into the traffic, he felt a hand on his arm.
he turned and saw the gray haired thick eyebrowed old man he had been introduced to in the police station.
what had the policewoman called him?
thank you, sir, james addressed arthur, for saving me from sudden annihilation. i sincerely appreciate it, although - james started to speak of the meteor, but some indescribable force held him back. i must have had a slight dizzy spell.
not at all, arthur replied gravely. what you need, young man, is an ice cream cone.
yes, james agreed, an ice cream cone might be just what i need.
there is a park across the street, arthur continued. it blossoms in the spring and summer, and is barren in the fall and winter. as it is now summer, an individual dressed as a clown makes a round of the park at midday selling ice cream, on a stick, in a cup , or in a cone, as may be. let us find a bench, and wait for this comically attired and accoutered individual to appear.
again james opened his mouth to say something about the meteor, but what came out of his mouth were the words, yes, that sounds like a good idea.
james and his new acquaintance crossed the street without incident.
a narrow gravel path led into the interior of the park, and they discovered a park bench in a quiet and shady spot only a few yards from the busy street.
they did not have to wait long for a clown to appear with his ice cream, because there was just such an individual waiting beside the park bench. the clown had a little pushcart in front of him which did not look as if could hold a great amount or a great variety of ice cream or anything else.
good morning, big dave, arthur addressed the clown, as he sat down on the bench and motioned to james to sit beside him.
what will you have today? the clown asked.
i will have a vanilla cone, arthur replied, and my young friend here will have a strawberry cone.
james would have preferred a chocolate chip cone, but as it seemed to be arthur’s treat he did not say anything.
the clown opened the top of his cart and produced the cones. arthur gave the clown a bill whose size james could not make out, and the clown departed without giving arthur any change.
james stared at the strawberry ice cream cone. he seemed like a pleasant fellow, he said, just to be saying something.
arthur glanced at the clown disappearing around a bend in the path into the park.
oh him, he said. he is a dead apple pie psychopathic slam green good sad low church horse chestnut joker kumquat right female dad nasty anglethwop dreamer mark round sedentary country up dog. how about you, my friend. what are you?
i am, james replied without hesitation, a live apple pie autistic slam green bad sad high church water chestnut joker persimmon right male mom nasty ooglethwop dreamer sharpie round sedentary town up dog.
and what have you to say for yourself? arthur asked.
at last, james thought. he poured forth his story of the approaching meteor, not remembering that arthur had probably overheard the whole tale back in the police station.
arthur pointed to the scoop of strawberry ice cream that was starting to melt on top of the cone in james’s hand.
there is your meteor, he told james.
the scoop was not very large - james wondered how much arthur had paid for it - and james swallowed it in one gulp.
the cold ice cream made james’s head ache slightly and he winced and closed his eyes for two seconds.
when he opened his eyes arthur was gone.
a gorilla was standing on the opposite side of the gravel path, leaning on a cane.
did you see where that shabby old fellow went? james asked the gorilla.
shabby old fellow? the gorilla growled. shabby old fellow? brother, that was no shabby old fellow - that was arthur schopenhauer himself!