On A Talisman

There is a big damp building and at the top of the building there is an attic and in the attic are stacked some wooden crates and in one of the crates, wrapped up in yellowing newspaper, there is a talisman of great significance.

The talisman in this case takes the form of a pewter dog. Neither the pewter nor the simulacrum of a dog is in itself significant, nor the combination of the two. There is a sense in which the talisman might as well be a plasticine shoggoth. The talismanic property of the pewter dog inheres in its significance, not in its physical form. That form is, in any case, ephemeral, for everything crumbles, everything on earth, eventually. The earth itself will crumble. We are speaking of unimaginable stretches of time, the consecutive life-spans of millions and billions, oh! uncountable, gnats.

The pewter dog in the crate has a terrible power. It has been forgotten, wrapped up and stored away in a crate among other crates in an attic in a big damp building now abandoned and, eek!, slated for demolition. So says the sign tied with tough plastic tags to a post outside the building. The word CONDEMNED is prominent, in big bold black block capitals. Bulldozers will be appearing any day now, grumbling along the street first thing in the morning, in the mist.

But who should come clumping along the street this moment, on a windy afternoon? Why, it is Tiny Enid! The plucky tot with the club foot, in her polka dot dress, has heard tell of the pewter dog. Do not ask how, for there are mysteries within mysteries where the doings of Tiny Enid are concerned. As she clumps along the street she is swinging a crowbar. She is going to break into the big damp building and rummage through its rooms until she finds the talisman.

Also coming along the street, from the opposite direction, is a copper. Constable Globule is an old-fashioned copper with a bristly moustache and an avuncular manner. He is also a man suffused with a terrible righteousness. He is a lay preacher in a small and peculiar religious sect, for whom a vast swathe of human behaviour is sinful and unforgiveable. Breaking into an empty big damp building with a crowbar, for example, consigns the perpetrator to eternal hellfire.

Tiny Enid does not believe in hell. Nor does she believe in heaven. It is difficult to say what she does believe in, other than her own heroics, and perhaps one or two tenets of fascist ideology. We could say, then, that the imminent meeting of Tiny Enid and Constable Globule, both approaching the big damp building from opposite directions, is equivalent to the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. Which represents which is not a question we are qualified to answer.

Before they meet, however, there is a moment of congruence when, if we were to draw imaginary lines between Tiny Enid and Constable Globule and the pewter dog talisman in the crate, they would form an equilateral triangle. Hold on to your hats!, for this will prove to be a decisive moment in the history of the world. Were the triangle to be drawn between Tiny Enid and Constable Globule and any other object, any other object whatsoever, we would not be bandying about such a dramatic claim. But the talisman, remember, is significant, even if we are not sure wherein its significance lies. All we know, at this stage, is that somehow its significance is connected, in some unfathomable yet decisive manner, with both Tiny Enid and Constable Globule.

Interestingly, neither the plucky tot nor the copper are aware of any of this. Tiny Enid’s thoughts are bent on breaking and entering, with the aid of her shiny new crowbar. Constable Globule’s brain is filled with prayer, a silent prayer, one beloved of his sect. He is also on the alert for any signs of wrongdoing.

Now watch, as the tot and the copper move inexorably towards the points on the street where they will make up an equilateral triangle with the pewter dog in the crate in the attic of the big damp building. Do not cover your eyes, do not plug your ears with cotton wool. Be not afraid, for there is nothing to fear. The decisive moment is fast approaching. There will be wonders.

Oops! Tiny Enid has taken a tumble. She has a club foot, remember, and sometimes totters, for example if the paving slabs of a pathway have not settled flat, due to shoddy workmanship by paviours. And Constable Globule has spotted a misdemeanour. An urchin has discarded a toffee apple wrapper on the street. The copper swerves off his allotted course, to cross the street to apprehend the urchin and give him a ticking off. Then he will march him to a litter bin and have him dispose of his wrapper lawfully.

Now the triangle will never be formed. The future of the world will take a different course. Tiny Enid, winded from her tumble, and her crowbar having fallen down a drain, decides to return home. Constable Globule, having ticked off the urchin, goes to tick off further urchins. And far far away, in the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.

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