Ever since your parents told you that your imaginary friends weren’t real, you’ve done your best to ignore them. That is, until you met the man in the Armani suit who calls himself a shaman.
“I am a Shaman, I swear it I am!” the tall figure in his crisp white suit protests.
“Nuh-uh.” Casper replies, “I know about Shaman, read about ’em in books and that. They have earrings and nose-rings and eye-rings and throat-rings…”
“Yes, yes, we have a lot of rings.” the man sighs, “Does this please you?” he flicks up one white sleeve to reveal an arm coated wrist to elbow in dull, copper bracelets.
“They’re not really rings though, are they.” Casper frowns, “Anyway, I was told not to speak to strangers, and you seem pretty strange.”
“My names Griffis.” the man grins and offers his hand, Casper shakes it. “See, now we’re not strangers. Besides, you shouldn’t let your parents tell you who is and who isn’t worth speaking to.” his eyebrows start pumping obnoxiously above his pudgy face.
“It’s not just my parents! You see it in the news too you know. Some child stops to talk to a man and then they’re being rushed off in a nasty looking van…”
The Shaman glances awkwardly over shoulder at his beat-up Volkswagen Camper… don’t you dare say it!
“So you see, I really think it’s best if I leave.” Casper turns to walk away.
But the voices don’t appreciate that. No Casper! Don’t go now, he seems nice. Nice enough. Stay and chat a while.
“What if I told you I could show them to you?” Griffis starts to roll up his sleeves revealing yet more and more rusted rings around his arms.
“Them.” the Shaman persists, hoping by all the Gods Casper has some sense of subtlety.
“Your friends!” the Shaman shakes his head, “The imaginary ones.”
“Oh, right.” Casper shakes his head, “No.” then remembers his manors, “No thank you.”
“No thank you! Boy, do you have any sense of adventure in you?”
Casper shrugs, and then his mind erupts in a ruckus of shouts; do it, do it, do it, do it!
Never one to stand his ground (after all, he did let his parents dictate who he spoke to, how he dressed, when he slept, what he ate, where he wandered… so how exactly did he end up here?) he immediately caves peer pressure.
“That’s my boy! Let’s see if we can’t find what’s hiding in that head of yours.”
The Shaman bustles Capser into the back of his – don’t say it! and they drive off across the desert and the sky (who’d ever heard of driving across the sky?) until finally they arrive at a tent pitched in quite literally the Middle of Nowhere (or at least that’s what the picket fence sign professed this place to be).
“Where is everyone?” Casper asks.
“Hm?” the Shaman is busy concertinaing on parking his – don’t you say it!
“You know, your tribe? Don’t you have one?”
“Had one.” the Shaman curses as his wheels hit the curb… yes the curb, outside his tent in the Middle of Nowhere, “I was cast out, you see. They didn’t much care for how I dressed.”
“You mean you understand?”
Casper nods, “It’s Armani, right?”
“Right, but I hardly see what that has to…”
“My dad says that Armani is French for Arrogant Pr…”
“Right, that’s about enough of what your dad says. Shall we begin?” the Shaman dusts of his suit and guides Casper into through the flap – trap – door of the tent.
Inside is just what you’d expect from an Arrogant Pr… a Shaman who chooses to wear an Armani Suit.
There are leather clad chairs set aside a mahogany table that houses a tortoise shell ash tray and a pack of cards. Across the inner lining of the tent doctrines in frames and certificates of achievement (some as mundane as completed his 100 metre breast stroke and voted most likely to be cast out of his tribe) hang from velvet rope. There’s a glass cabinet in one corner, brimming with whisky and the finest of wines (no doubt the drawers are home to cigarettes, and Mayfair, of course, none of this roll-up b*llocks) and across the room sits a mirror covered by cloth, so jarringly in contrast to the ego of the tent.
“Make yourself comfortable.” the Shaman gestures atthe chairs, but not before he catches Casper glancing at the many framed awards, “Impressive, no?”
“No.” Casper agrees.
“Right then, let’s get down to business.” out from the drawers of glass cabinet the Shaman produces a pack of Mayfair cigarettes (I knew it!).
“I won’t have to smoke, will I? I hear it’s awful bad for you.”
“You won’t have to smoke.” the Shaman growls, “But it would be polite to take a toke.”
When Casper refuses the Shaman gives in, “Alright, alright. You can drink for the Sacred Sippy-Cup of our Lord and Saviour, She called Kim.”
“Don’t you mean God?” Casper asks, confused.
“God?” the Shaman laughs, “There are many Gods my boy, but no, I’m quite sure I mean Kim.”
“Why Kim is She. She of ample bosom and behind!”
Casper shrugs and takes the Sippy-Cup in hand. He struggles to swallow the treacle like liquid inside – this tastes worse than mum’s Spaghetti Bolognese! – but manages just about. “You know, I think I could taste Her.”
“Oh, sure.” the Shaman waves his hands majestically before the boy, chanting from deep within his throat.
Casper’s eyes begin to flicker, the lids too heavy now to hold. It’s under, down under he goes.
When Casper awakes he finds himself atop a hill made entirely of cheese, there are rats scampering inside and arguing about whether or not it’s good manors to eat a hillside.
“Hello?” Casper calls out, “Anyone there?”
“Turn around, numb-but.”
Numb-but? There was only one person – voice – that called him numb-but.
“No. F*cking. Way.”
Sure as day Casper turns around to see the manifestation of his imagination brought to life.
If you can even begin to imagine what it might be like to see something that’s lived so long in your mind brought to life before you, then you might understand a little of how Casper felt. But on the matter of who or what this particular manifestation was, Casper had only this to say:
“I have to admit, I thought you’d be taller…”
Copyright © K R Perry 2019