Darl had been watching Kiki with growing interest for the last ten minutes. Kiki appeared to be too absorbed to notice.
She sat oblivious in the dust, not far from where a busy work gang of Doozers were erecting a tower. Kiki reached over for a Doozer stick now and then, and absently chewed on it. Around her feet were a handful of the crystal sticks. She seemed fascinated by them, rearranging them over and over into various patterns … then throwing them into disarray in obvious excitement. Darl gradually gained the impression that she was discovering geometry!
Kiki was smart as Fraggles went, but any calculation beyond “one, two, many” was more than surprising. It was genius at work!
“Kiki, darling, what are you doing?”
Suddenly surprised, she looked up at Darl and said, “Have you ever noticed that if you make a square, all the corners make the same angle?”
Satisfied with her deductions, Kiki rose, scattering the Doozer sticks. "But there is something odd about it when you straighten out one corner to make a thing with three corners, though,” she mused. “I think the length of the sides have to add up somehow.”
My God, though Darl. She has it, and without the benefit of the schooling I got when I was a Silly Creature!
“It’s called the Pythagorean Theorem, and it says that adding the square of the side opposite the right angle is equal to the square of the other two sides.”
“How’s that again?” said Kiki, mystified. “Square angles?”
“I’ll explain another time. It’s really quite simple, but I will have to explain square numbers first.”
She had likely got the idea from the Doozers, who obviously understood some geometry, Darl thought – but still he swelled with pride at her intelligence – she really was a genius among Fraggles.
By then, however, Kiki had put aside thoughts about triangles and was more interested in dusting herself off after lolling on the ground.
“That reminds me,” she said. “You have a message from the Oldest Fraggle in the World, Love. I was supposed to tell when I saw you, but I forgot while messing around with the Doozers. I should have mentioned it a couple of days ago.”
A genius among Fraggles she might be … but Kiki still had a Fraggle’s casual attitude toward time.
The cozy hole that Darl and Kiki shared together was no great distance from the Great Hall, and they were still talking about the Oldest Fraggle’s message when they stepped inside.
“Yeah, I remember about the Festival of the Moon,” said Darl. “There’s one every now and then, when you can see it through the hole in the roof above the Great Hall.”
“No, that’s the Gorg’s Moon. That’s altogether different! I mean, it’s pretty enough as moons go, but the Fraggle Moon is far more beautiful. And when the Fraggle Moon is brightest is only on a midnight, when we have a special Festival. You remember when you arrived here,” Kiki reminisced, “and you saw Gobo capture the Moon and bring it back from the Gorg’s Garden?”
“Was that what all that was about? I’m going to have to explain about the moon sometime, you know. It’s the same moon you see from the Gorg’s Garden. For that matter, it was the same moon in my old world.”
“You already told me about all that. I know it’s the same moon. But other Fraggles don’t know, and they probably don’t care, because the Fraggle Moon is our moon, and is much, much more beautiful than the Gorg’s … which just sort of hangs there, like a sleepy bat. Our Moon swims, just like a Fraggle!”
Darl snorted disdainfully. “Well, so are we due for one of the big festivals again, like the one Gobo celebrated?”
“Yup. You’ll never guess who leads the celebration for the Fraggle Moon this time? Guess!”
“Wembley? Mokey? Red?”
“Nope, nope, and nope.”
“Uh… Willa? Lou? Storyteller? The Herbalist? Convincing John? That guy who cuts hair, uh, Gid? I don’t know!”
“You! You big goof!”
The news was met with widespread incredulity. Everyone in the Rock knew perfectly well that Darl did not like to sing or dance … and for that matter, he was not quite comfortable with simply acting silly, which was such a serious drawback for a Fraggle that he was only now gradually learning to be adept at it. But the notion of becoming the center of attention during an important Fraggle ceremony was terrifying! The only thing Darl could think of was to hurry, with Kiki tagging along, to the home of The World’s Oldest Fraggle, and refuse the “honour.”
The World’s Oldest Fraggle was asleep in a rocking chair outside his cave, as usual. Also as usual, it was nearly impossible to wake him from his morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon or evening snooze. It wouldn’t do to just shake the senior Fraggle awake, since he had a tendency to lash out with a heavy staff that never seemed to be far from his grasp, even in sleep.
There was nothing to do but shake him awake as best they could, once Kiki had set the ornate staff safely aside.
“Who? Who, who’s that?” yelled The World’s Oldest Fraggle, clutching for his absent staff. “I don’t know you. Why don’t you come back after the Moon Festival … I should be plenty rested up by then.” He yawned and his head drooped.
Darl frowned and gave the Aged One another shake before he nodded off again.
“You asked me here!” Darl shouted into a deaf ear. “You named me to do the ceremony for the Moon Festival. You’ll have to find someone else to greet the Moon, because I can’t do it!”
“Eh? What? Well, of course you can’t!” snapped the Aged One. “You already did it last time.”
“No, that was Gobo,” said Kiki. “Gobo conducted the Moon Festival last time, remember?”
“I know that! Gobo greeted the Moon last time, just like I said. Where’s my staff? I want my staff!”
Kiki wisely kept it out of reach.
“Never mind who did it last year,” said Darl, “I don’t want to do it this year. Why can’t someone else greet the Moon? Why not Boober?”
“Uh … that’s no good, Love,” Kiki interrupted. “Boober already did one of the Lesser Moons, where the moon doesn’t come all the way out. I did one myself a few months ago, remember?”
“Oh, yeah, but all you had to do was keep a vigil with a few friends until the moon rose. Maybe I can do one of those, but no singing and dancing, okay? We’ll just watch the moon rise together and go to bed.”
The Oldest Fraggle wasn’t having any of that. “Not so fast, young’uns. It’s time for the Greater Moon to rise, and there isn’t anyone who else who has never cerebrated a Full Fraggle Moon before … except you! So you’ll do it, and that’s that! Now, let me get some sleep. I have a busy day ahead of me when I get up,” the World’s Oldest Fraggle cackled. “But not as busy as you will be if you don’t think up something good soon! You have two days!”
Darl’s groan was loud and clear, and a few of the more timid Blushing Posies growing nearby withdrew into their roots in response.
“So what will I do?” asked Darl.
Gobo, Wembley, Red, Mokey and Boober had gathered around the main pool in the Great Hall to offer their suggestions, while Kiki kept a discreet distance. After all, Darl was still inclined to blame the messenger for the unwanted news that he’d have to preside over the Moon Festival.
“Well, I don’t know,” suggested Gobo, unhelpfully. “Just do what most of us do if called on for a Great Moon. Write a song and sing it. Or compose a poem. Or do a dance. It’s what Fraggles do best.”
“But I’m not a Fraggle! Not really. I just look like one and I’m hardly more than two feet tall, but inside I’m a 100-percent untalented Silly Creature who could no more sing to the Moon than I could fly around it.”
“Boy,” commented Wembly, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so depressed before. No, wait… there was that time when Gobo lost his Great Uncle Gobo’s old compass… ”
“Never mind, Wembley. It’s more important that we help Darl with his problem, not an old one of mine.”
The Fraggles gazed out over the pool in the Great Hall. It was a lake of limpid blue water, right in the middle of the cave, were idlers could dabble their toes, swim or admire their reflections on the surface. It was not, in fact, a simple pool. It was deeper than anyone had ever dived. Everyone believed it went clear past the bottom and all the way through the middle of the world! They knew for a fact, however, that it was connected to tributaries that led in all directions into the heart of the Rock. Following them led to where surprising things could be found – hot springs, cold springs, unexpected fountains, dizzying whirlpools that vanished out of sight down mysterious holes and waterfalls no one had ever seen from the top. But the main pool, where the Fraggles discussed Darl’s problem, was for all intents and purposes the main gathering place for Fraggles who were not otherwise busy.
“Well, of course you’re a Fraggle!” cried Gobo, giving Darl a reassuring pat on his back.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Red. “He never did quite convince me. I think he’s a Gorg.”
“A Gorg? Oh, now that’s silly,” said Wembley. “I don’t think you’re a Gorg. You’re just depressed.”
“Try to feel more not-depressed,” suggested Mokey.
Boober quickly protested. “Hey, I like being depressed!”
“And you’re so good at it, too,” added Red. “It gives you character.”
“When I feel depressed, I like to sing,” continued Mokey, who began to do just that.
“Not now, Mokey. Do you want to make him even more depressed?”
“Well, maybe this isn’t the time … ”
“I appreciate your trying to help,” interrupted Darl, “but you aren’t helping at all by reminding me that I’m depressed as well as untalented. I need practical advice.”
From the background, Kiki suddenly nudged her way into the discussion. “I know where you can find advice.”
Kiki led Darl through the Gorg’s Garden, taking pains to avoid being seen by anyone from the castle. Luck was with them, however, and there was no sign that anyone in the castle knew they were there.
“You are in the presence of the unfathomable, inimitable Trash Heap!” chorused the two whaddayacallems that attended Marjory the Trash Heap whenever anyone called on her.
There was nothing to see apart from the two rat-like creatures … and a wilderness of dead leaves, twigs, wood chips, broken pottery, cracked dishes, empty jars, crumpled paper, soiled rags, worn-out socks, gloves with holes in them, potato peels, banana peels, carrot peels, yesterday’s cold oatmeal, broken garden tools, bed springs, unrecognizable trash and every other sort of unrecognizable and unwanted junk, debris and refuse that were strewn around the yard. But no Madam Trash Heap.
Then, before the two Fraggles knew it, the trash began to rise. Margery the Trash Heap was suddenly there, beaming down at her visitors from two impenetrable black eyes and that were as wise as they were inscrutable.
“Hello, liddle Fraggles. Say, have you eva’ notice how the moon seems to hide from the sun when it gets too close? The more close it gets, the more it shrinks to get away! I been thinkink about it, you know… ” Majorie shook her bulk to dislodge a few uncomfortable tin cans, and continued. “Bud you don’t want to know my problems, do you?”
“Madam Trash Heap?” began Kiki. “We’ve met before, remember?”
“Ov cours, I do! You needed my help to rescue your charming frand. I’m very heppy to finally meet you, Darl! You make a very handome Fraggle too, I must say!”
So far, Darl had been speechless, thunderstruck by the appearance of a living, talking trash heap – even though he had known what to expect from Kiki’s description. It was true that, without the advice the Trash Heap had given Kiki, Darl would certainly not have survived to tell anyone how he became a Fraggle. Nevertheless, there was simply no way to be prepared for such a fantastic sight.
“Thank you, Madam Trash Heap,” he finally managed to stutter. “The dream you sent did the trick … once I was able to understand what it meant. But … I wonder … must the dream have been so … cryptic?”
“Was is?” replied the Trash Heap, astonished. “Id is a bad habit I have, I know. Bud I have confidence in you, so I was sure you would work it out. Dere is something that you know how to do, if only you stop worrying aboud id, and do it!”
And just like that, the Trash Heap broke into a sprightly little song:
“Now, whad is your problem, liddle Fraggles? Is it yours, or yours…?” Her disheveled head nodded from Darl to Kiki.
“Mine, I suppose,” answered Darl.
Kiki quickly added, “We’re both in this together.”
“Very well, den. I like that ven friends share der worries. Now, what is it the problem you both have?”
Taking turns, the two Fraggles described how Darl had to greet the rising of the Great Moon in two days.
“But how can I do it,” cried Darl, in anguish, “when I couldn’t sing or dance without shriveling up into a ball and whimpering until the Moon goes down, and the Festival is ruined!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa… who said you can not sing or dance for der Moon?”
Darl’s reply was inarticulate.
“Alright. Not to worry, den. Someday you will find your voice, you may be sure of it, but until den… ” There was a moment of silence.
“Did you just pause dramatically?” asked Kiki, a bit skeptically.
“Yes, very effective, didn’t you tink? Bud now, listen to me. Maybe now is not the time to find your voice, bud right now you need to find a way to greet der Great Fraggle Moon: isn’t that so? So greet the moon some odder way. Paint a picture, mime a story, cook a crayfish dinner for everyone with braised radishes and double sweetberry pie! Dere is something that you know how to do, if only you stop worrying aboud id, and do id.”
“Wan you got troubles, here is whad you do,
Take a liddle sleep, an’ id’ll come to you!
Dream a liddle dream, id’ll tell you whad to do,
Wan you got troubles, dot is whad you do!”
“Wan you got troubles, hep is never far,
Tell a funny story, an’ it’ll make dem laugh.
Play a wordless tune, and it will bring a smile
And soon you find, you will smile along!
“You won’t have trouble long.
You won’t have trouble long.
(Shake it, booby!)
You won’t have trouble long.
“Wan you got troubles, here is whad you do,
Take a liddle sleep, an’ id’ll come to you!
Dream a liddle dream, id’ll tell you whad to do,
Wan you got troubles, dot is whad you do!
“If you can’t dance, then take a chance!
An’ see the new Moon dance for you!
Spin around an’ sparkle, you’ll find whad you came for.
Dance the night away beneath the old Moon’s beam.
“You see the trouble’s gone,
You see the trouble’s gone.
(Wasn’t dat easy?)
Now, see the trouble’s gone!
Marjory looked quite pleased with herself as she began to sink slowly back into the scattered trash at the foot of the Gorg’s Garden.
“Are you being cryptic again?” demanded Darl and Kiki together.
“Dat really does seem to be a bad habit I’ve got dere!” said Marjorie, and then she was gone.
“The Trash Heap Has Spoken!” chorused the rat creatures.
“Now what?” said Darl.
Back in their hole, he really didn’t feel like doing anything but mope and kick his heel against a chair leg, followed by an “Ow!”
“Not so hard, then,” said Kiki. “You stopped wearing shoe-things ages ago, and you still don’t seem to be used to going barefoot.”
“At least I don’t trip on my tail anymore … not often, anyway. I even got used to radishes being a staple of my diet … though I would give anything if I could phone for a delivery pizza.”
“I remember some food you gave me when I got lost in Outer Space, and you found me. I liked the Twinkles, and the Cocacoco that made me burp.”
Darl remembered that lady-like burp that had made him laugh. “They were ‘Twinkies’ and ‘Coca-Cola.’”
He had also fed the adventurous but overwhelmed little Fraggle a dinner of fish and chips and apple pie, and later made popcorn while they listened to his Beatles and Nat King Cole records. How could he have realized that very soon he would – impossibly –become a Fraggle himself?
Unfortunately, looking back on pleasant memories would not help him with his problem. Only hard thinking would do that … and it encouraged him that Madam Trash Heap had thought a solution could be found. That is, if Darl could only get his mental gears in motion.
But what could he do? Leaving aside the possibility of music in any form, just what could Darl do to perform for other Fraggles? What did he do at all, he wondered? He had held minimum-wage jobs most of his old life, the worst of which consisted of reciting simple yes-or-no questions from a fast-food menu. The last work he did, before leaving the world of Silly Creatures behind, had been to fill shelves at a large chain bookstore … and he was darned if he knew how that skill could be used to greet the Moon!
In some way, Darl knew he was going about the problem wrong. It wasn’t what he did as work that he should focus on, but something that he could do as a celebration of the moon! But thinking about it only led him back to the same impasse. What did he do that would please Fraggles? Arrange books in alphabetical order? Make a suggested reading list? Read from his favourite writers? Anything like that would be met with incomprehension by the Fraggles, who wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of The Catcher in the Rye.
“This is no use!” he groaned. “I don’t know how to do anything that matters!”
“Come to dinner then, Love,” Kiki said soothingly. “I’ve set out your favourites. It’ll take your mind off the Moon Festival for now, and maybe ideas will come easier with a full belly.”
But it didn’t help.
He ate absent-mindedly, picking through the lime salad and hot, aromatic spice rolls Kiki set down for him. Although the dinner was a favourite of his, he scarcely noticed. It was his turn to clean the plates, but he almost left them on the table without washing up, and Kiki had to quickly remind him that grown-up Fraggles didn’t leave dirty forks on the table … now did they? It was only a few steps from the table to the sitting-room chair, and Darl was soon deep in worry again. He fretted away most of the rest of the evening until Kiki finally announced that whatever Darl did, she was going to go to bed.
Darl sat by himself while he let the glow-sticks in the fire slowly fade. He realized that he was tired, tired, tired – and that he was not really thinking of his problem at all. Instead, for the last little while he’d been preoccupied with thoughts of his lost home in Outer Space. How delightful every small detail of his shabby little apartment had seemed to Kiki on the first day he rescued her! To her, everything had been one marvel after another, one more fantastic discovery followed by an even bigger one, and one more surprise even after imagining that another surprise was impossible!
Darl was smiling at the memory in spite of himself.
He had shown the astonished little creature lights that came on as though by magic, moving pictures on a computer, music seemingly from the air, hot or cold water at command. He showed Kiki how to open a can of soup, and how to switch on a cartoon with the television remote. He showed her that Silly Creatures had closets and drawers full of different sorts of clothing. He pointed out, with a certain amount of pride, a row of plastic model kits that he had made himself … none of which Kiki really understood. She commented on a jar of pennies that were all so perfectly alike, and wondered if his food grew in the refrigerator.
Unexpectedly, Kiki was most impressed when he filled the bathtub with a warm, fragrant bubble bath! What was merely ordinary to him was such pure delight to the Fraggle that he, too, was able to share it in a way he couldn’t experience for himself.
“Wow! A pool that fills itself! And warm, with sparkly bubbles!” she chirped – and, completely unself-conscious, she shucked off her bedraggled shirt and plunged in, sending a splash of suds over the floor.
“Aren’t you coming in, too?”
“Ah… no,” Darrell – as he had been, then – averted his gaze. “I had my bath earlier,” he lied. Even with her tufted tail, her odd face and her tiny body, the water that plastered her fur to her slim frame revealed that, while she was not exactly human, she was definitely feminine.
The water on the tiled floor had soaked her skimpy clothes, so Darrell hastily excused himself to go hunt up a long discarded t-shirt imprinted with the Toronto Maple Leafs emblem. By the time Kiki had rubbed her fur dry on a beach towel and emerged from the bathroom wearing the baggy shirt… which reached almost to her furry feet… Darrell had made up a sort of bed on the couch with blankets and an extra pillow. It was very late by then, and both of them were yawning. Darrell gestured discreetly at the makeshift cot, mumbled “Goodnight,” and turned off the lights. He left the door of his bedroom open, so Kiki wouldn’t feel alone and afraid in a strange world …
As it turned out, his discreet gesture was wasted; when he woke up next morning she was snuggled warmly against his back, innocent as a sleeping kitten.
His wandering thoughts were getting him nowhere. It was time for him to be in this bed. Kiki mumbled drowsily as he lay down beside her, then her quiet breathing resumed.
Just as he drifted off into sleep, a fleeting thought came to him that there was something he should remember tomorrow – something that might be more important than it seemed.
Unfortunately, he forgot it.
Morning came, and there only one day remaining before Darl had to present himself, at midnight, to the assembled Fraggles at the Ceremony of the Great Fraggle Moon. Despite the rapidly approaching deadline, life went on as always. Kiki was already awake, and just leaving the hole.
“Willa wants me to pose for some pots,” she said. Willa, the stuttering Fraggle whose pottery was prized by everyone, had recently come to believe that Kiki’s striped shirt gave her inspiration. “Did you have an idea abut the Moon Ceremony last night?”
Darl could’t answer right away. “No,” he finally said in a small voice.
But Kiki was already off.
Sighing, Darl realized he might as well start his own day. Who would have thought he would ever become a schoolteacher?
School – such as it was – usually met close to the Story Teller’s home. When Darl arrived at the customary place, there were the usual dozen or two youngsters waiting for him. A few of them had brought well-polished radishes, under the theory that a proper schoolteacher should be offered a proper bribe. Darl wasn’t surprised to see the marks of nibbling on the radishes, either. Young Fraggles are known for healthy appetites.
“Let’s see,” Darl began. “Last time we talked about water, mainly. Why it ran down hill and not up, for example. And I demonstrated how a full cup always holds the same amount, whatever the shape of the cup. That was all easy, wasn’t it?” Only the youngest Fraggles had any trouble following such simple ideas.
The youngsters all nodded agreement, even little Arlo, and a couple grown-up Fraggles who still found school interesting, even after most Fraggles thought they were too old for it. Those older students were the bright ones. Some of them were every bit as sharp as Doozers.
But even the sharpest students were unprepared for Darl’s demonstration of displacing water in a tub to measure the volume of heavy objects – rocks in this case. He ran through the lesson two dozen times, getting everyone thoroughly soaked, before the idea penetrated the minds of most of the youngsters present … most, not all.
“Unca Darl,” chirped little Arlo, “That’s pretty neat. But why would anyone need to know how big a rock was, when you could just pick it up?”
“Well, yes, you could,” answered Darl, “but you might not know if you could carry a lot of rocks in a cart, say … and you might want to know before the wheels broke.”
Arlo retorted that it was hard to imagine any Fraggle going to the trouble to load a cart heavily enough that it might break. He was a clever little wise guy.
“Since the Fraggle Moon is tomorrow,” said Darl, “Let’s talk about that. Who knows what the Moon has in common with water? You don’t know? There is a connection, though … ask yourself why the moon follows the water in the pond?”
With a flash of inspiration, Darl remembered what he needed to know from yesterday, not only how the water follows the moon, but how the Moon moves around the Earth, and – most important of all – how to lead the celebration of the Great Fraggle Moon Festival.
Very little of Darl’s explanation about the Earth and the Moon made sense to the Fraggles fidgeting around the class, of course. Even Arlo seemed well past “skeptical” on a dial reading from one to ten. Oddly, it wasn’t the difficulty of imagining that the Moon moved – some of them had seen it in the Gorg sky. Nor was it hard to picture the Fraggle Moon moving in the Fraggle Pool. What they were unable to understand was how did the Moon get to the other side of the Earth? And how did the Moon get in the Fraggle Pool, if it was in also in the sky?
Clearly, Unca Darl had gone way over everyone’s head by trying to explain Silly Creature astronomy.
But that didn’t matter much to Darl right now. He could come up with a better explanation some other time. More importantly, he had only a few hours to prepare for tonight’s celebration. Tomorrow began at the stroke of midnight … tomorrow and a new day!
He had much to prepare, but first he had to return to the Trash Heap!
Fraggles had begun to collect alongside the pool of the Great Hall as early as bedtime. They camped out, in a manner of speaking. Those who had bedclothes to stay up late in, those who only owned one piece of clothing for day and night, and those who wore nothing at all, mingled in excitement. There was music, laughter, dancing and a hundred delicious scents of late-night snacks. Gradually, though, the hilarity died away as sleepy Fraggles settled down at the poolside to wait and doze. The Fraggle Moon had not shown its face yet, nor had Darl arrived at the appointed hour to lead the Festival.
The World’s Oldest Fraggle consulted with his Assistant, and his assistanting assistants, in growing concern. “Consarn it! Where is Whatsisname, that young whippersnapper?”
“I don’t know, Your Agedness?” answered Henchy, the cowering chief assistant, fearing a hard clout on his nose from the Aged One’s staff.
“Well, he’s late! The Fraggle Moon is only moments away from appearing at the edge of the Fraggle Pool!”
With that pronouncement, Fraggles began to rouse themselves, and to rhubarb among themselves over the tardiness of the absent Darl.
“Isn’t that Silly Creature here yet?” demanded an unseen Fraggle in the back of the crowd.
Another Fraggle – who had just awakened from nodding off – complained that Darl had probably fallen asleep, and even forgotten all about the Festival. Moreover, he wished that this was all over with, so that he could go to sleep!
“Maybe he went back to Outer Space,” said a worried voice that sounded like one of the Fire Department boys.
Over the growing discontent, Red spoke clearly. “Dry up, you guys! He’s a Fraggle, and nobody better forget it! Isn’t that right?” she called out to her other friends. “Darl would never let any of us down!”
“That’s right!” said a very indignant Wembley, who was in as combative a mood as he could manage. “Our friend won’t let us down even if we have to stay here all night! And tomorrow, too!”
Backing Wembley up, Gobo climbed onto the parapet around the pool, and spoke over the racket of unruly Fraggles crowded around.
“If our friend Darl says he’ll be here, then he’ll be here. What’s the hurry? The Moon hasn’t even appeared yet!”
“Oh … yes, it has,” Mokey said.
A shimmering sliver of light had appeared at the end of the Pool. It momentarily darted from sight, and then – as though it gaining confidence – the Great Fraggle Moon serenely sailed onto the surface of the water. It was beautiful.
The collected Fraggles were hushed. But then their sense of awe was broken by the rasping voice of the Aged One, who was impatient for the Ceremony to begin.
“Where is that slugabed! Why isn’t that lazybones here already? Where’s my staff, I want my staff to give that Gobo something he won’t forget soon!” cried the Aged One, laying about in all directions with the staff that was plainly forgotten in his other hand.
“The Fraggle Moon is here!” shouted Darl and Kiki as they pressed through the crowd. “And I’m not Gobo. They call me Darl. Not the Silly Creature!”
Between then, Kiki and Darl carried a large cardboard box. It had once been a grocery carton of some sort, salvaged from the Gorg’s Gardon and painted over and repurposed for Kiki’s kitchen, but now hurriedly put to use for the Moon Festival. While the other Fraggles cleared a space at the side of the Pool, Darl and Kiki carefully unpacked the contents of the box – and then, to the accompaniment of much oo-ing and ah-ing, laid everything out on the floor.
While the World’s Oldest Fraggle watched suspiciously from his platform, Darl climbed onto the box to hang what appeared to be a wooden clothes hanger from the rocky ceiling, as close as he could reach to the Moon’s Hole . From either end of the hanger, he suspended a pair of carefully balanced rockers made from Doozer sticks. Kiki joined in then. They added more rockers at the ends of other rockers, in lower and lower tiers, until the whole thing somewhat resembled a rickety bush, growing upside-down, whose branches and twigs rotated and twirled slowly around the whole. Kiki and Darl sparingly applied Gorg glue to a stack of silvered paper … helpfully left for them by the Trash Heap … and attached bits of it to the rockers.
With a quick spin, the new Moon danced into life!
The Festival was a stunning success, judging by the sensation created by the make-believe moon. The party went on long after the real Moon no longer illuminated Darl and Kiki’s sparkling mobile, until, at last, only a few Fraggles remained, poking through the left-overs in search for morsels that had somehow been overlooked. Among those who remained were Darl and Kiki, of course, whose night it had been … though officially Darl’s alone.
“I could never have done it without Kiki. That’s not being modest,” explained Darl. “She went to ask the Doozers for newly made Doozer sticks that we could build with. And, by myself, I think I would have been too afraid of Madam Trash Heap to think of asking for her help.”
Gobo gave the twinkling silver mobile a gentle nudge to set it in slow movement again.
“Yeah, she’s gotten us through more scrapes than I think we can count, eh? I still don’t know how you thought of it, though. I wouldn’t have thought of asking Doozers for help, either.”
“Yeah, Kiki is weird that way,” said Red.
“But in a very good way, of course,” added Mokey.
Kiki, who had heard her name, looked up from stacking the discarded crockery from the feast for the owners to collect later. “The Doozers love to help! It gives them more to do. I don’t know why we Fraggles take them so much for granted, when they’re such fascinating creatures.”
“That’s because sometimes you seem so much like a Doozer!” Red laughed uproariously.
“Shhhh!!!” Everyone hushed her. Arlo was asleep in Boober’s arms … who was more than half asleep himself.
“Oooooh … here,” Red whispered. “I’ll take the little tyke to his home … and then Mokey and I are turning in ourselves!”
Kiki had finally finished stacking the empty crockery. As she and Darl strolled off to their hole, she took his hand in hers.
“Well, you are too modest sometimes,” she murmured. You seem to know a lot about things no one else does, and you are pretty handy with your hands. You even seem to be able to teach Doozers a thing of two about building. Like all those odd things you say you made yourself when you were a Silly … oh, sorry.”
Darl thought back to those days when, indeed, he was a Silly Creature. He had spent many happy hours constructing plastic model airplane kits when he was younger, and hanging them from the ceiling in simulated aerial chases.
“Well, some ‘Silly Thing’ skills may just come in handy here in the Rock, sometimes,” he said, pleased with himself. “Just like your interest in the Doozers.”
The green Fraggle shook her black bangs, and yawned. “I guess so,” she smiled at Darl.
They had almost reached the entrance to their hole.
“But that reminds me,” said Kiki, apologetically. “I only just remembered. Do you know what is coming up, just as soon as it can be announced at the Fraggle Horn?”
“Does it have anything to do with filling our hats with radish pudding? Is it Be Good to a Doozer Day? Do we have to wear funny masks, paint our tails with stripes and paste on sparkles?”
“Nope, nope, and nope. And remember, we did that last thing you mentioned, when we joined the Secret Society of Poohbahs,” said Kiki, “ … but I do like like how you think.”
Darl felt a strong premonition that he was out of one jam, only to discover himself in another.
He took his next step cautiously. “Well, all right then, Love. What is it?”
“I just remembered that Story Teller said you were never properly initiated into the Great Hall Clan. All Fraggles who leave one clan to join a different one have to go through a ceremony. It doesn’t happen often, so Story Teller only just remembered that until you have been initiated, you are officially still a Stranger. Story Teller can tell you everything you must do for the ceremony, but I recall that – for one thing – you have to grant a wish to all your friends – whatever they ask for – and then…
But Darl was already hurrying ahead of Kiki as fast as he could, pretending that he didn’t hear a word…