He walked groping for the ground; by which I discerned that he must be blind. He held an umbrella open in his other hand, which did slow his motion.
He crossed the road and came to where we were.
“Who is he?” Inno asked.
“Oh, so there’s really someone there?” he remarked. “A sweet little one, I presume. And who is your friend there?”
“I’m her uncle, Sir… just two of us here. It does seem to be a rather very lonely road,” I answered.
“Yes, it is. All the citizens were summoned to the Gula’s Banquet, you know. She has arranged a magnificent treat for her subjects; so, they have all herded to stomach as much as they can… By the way, if you haven’t got an umbrella, please do come under mine.”
“Thanks,” I replied as we slipped under it, “Are you on way to there?”
“Yes. I just stayed back because I didn’t want anybody to feel I was dependent. Once I knew they were all gone, I started on.”
“Do you think you’d find the way?”
“No problem. My brother, Sensus will soon be here to pick me in his car. We have a program there together anyway.” He smiled. Then, turning half-way towards me, he continued, “I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Imagination or Imagino in short, and I’m a magician by profession here. The people of this district are horribly given to surfeiting; so, I recently came up with a magical invention that would cure their surfeiting by means of magical surfing. A pouch of this powder added to any dainty brings all the power of it to sublime effect; for, what kind of experience is there more magical than that of devouring, for certainly in it is the entirety of experience realized…. Ah! A man would give up any pleasure for the pleasure of the perfect bite…., the smell of sourness that makes your tongue run its water down; the sight of the hot sweet that makes you forgetful of all promises ever; the touch of delicacy with the finger, the lips, the tongue; the insatiable taste of every serve; the sound of the gulp, bite, and the crunch… Truly, eating makes the perfect man! ” I wondered that a blind man could speak like that. But, then I remembered that in the world where I had come there were some blind men who had been the best poets indeed.
As he was speaking, a car arrived and the driver, whom I instantly could recognize as his brother, called out with a large brimming smile, “Bellies for berries and berries for bellies, Imagino… Is there anything else worthwhile?”
“Chilies for cherries and cherries for chilies, Sensus… That will make it quite worthwhile,” Imagino shouted back and they laughed together. Then, Imagino turned to me, “My brother Sensus prepares a special drink which he calls Black Berry Beer. When I add my magical powder called Chilled Chilly Cheer to it, it suddenly bursts into colors, which though I can’t see, I quite visibly know, for my vision has greater power than those who aren’t blind. You should see it when it happens. Drink that and the rest is ecstasy.”
“What kind of ecstasy? Do you know that?”
“Well,” Sensus interrupted, “It helps one see things with closed eyes, you know.”
“You mean just like in a dream?” I asked.
“What is that?” Sensus asked back, a bit puzzled.
“I mean they can see, eat, drink and enjoy things that aren’t really out there,” I mumbled.
“Well, how do you know they aren’t really out there when you really enjoy them,” Imagino countered.
“And, how do you know what you’re enjoying now is more real than what you enjoy then,” Sensus asked.
“You spend money for what you eat now; but, you perhaps don’t for the other,” I answered.
“That’s it! That’s it!” Sensus burst into laughter, growing red and pointing his finger at me. Then, he chuckled and added, “So, that’s what you call a dream, ha! But, well you do have to spend you know, for they get to eat all those things in their “dream” because they pay us for having it earlier, you see,” he raised his brow in a you-see-how-intelligent-I-am way, “It’s like pay before you eat; and we profit thereby!” He laughed again. He certainly seemed to have a remarkable sense of fun. I wondered what it meant to have a dream within a dream. So, they sell dreams, I thought.
“Are you coming with us?” Sensus asked.
“Yes, aren’t you coming with us?” Imagino joined in.
“No,” I replied, “We are in a hurry to meet someone.” I certainly wished to stay away from any more dreamy entanglements.
“Oh, you shouldn’t miss our first shot…” Imagino sighed; then, handing over the umbrella into my hands, he said, “Okay, keep this one. You’ll need this. May be, I’ll get it back from you later on…” he said, “if we meet!” He got into the car and they grunted off leaving a smoky trail behind.