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The King Ferry

By Oren Pierce, B.A, B.S. M.S.G.

You may want some background to understand the story that follows, though the whole matter will still be puzzling after you have read both the recap AND the story.

You, at least, need to know about the Trunkbears.

The Trunkbears:

Teddy Bears and other manufactured, companion-animals (including one very small Lamb who will play a large part in the following chapter), everyone of them abandoned by children, all lived together in an old trunk. The Trunk Animals were mostly not talkers because, for the most part, their mouths were not true mouths but were just painted or sewn on, and so they didn’t talk so much as they mumbled, grumbled, or sometimes hummed … and some hummed most all the time until someone, usually Uncle Threadbear, asked them to please stop.

Uncle Threadbear was one exception to the general rule of mouth. Also Lamb, who had been “born” with one, but Lamb had very little to say: mostly only questions and exclamations.
Threadbear had acquired a mouth long ago when a ten year old boy with a Cub Scout knife cut one on the stitched line, in order to insert a corn-cob, bubble-pipe.

As a result of the operation, Threadbear could open his mouth to speak … but he was deadly fearful of exhaling the saw-dust, or whatever he was stuffed with. It didn’t exactly help that he so loved talking, that he would sometimes get so huffed up with his fabrications and informational lectures, that it caused the sawdust (or whatever he was stuffed with) to come out with his words in visible puffs that frightened him and distracted his listeners.

Every story he told them had to do with fly fishing, and not just fly fishing, but fly fishing for Trout. With Dry Flies. His stories were often awfully dry themselves and heavy on the technical information, as the magazines and books in the bathrooms where he mostly read, were mostly outdoor sporting magazines.

Threadbear was the talker; but most of the time one had to strain to hear him and, he could be boring.

So the other Trunkbears, being a captive audience, were inspired to enhance the unavoidable listening experience, however they could.


The Trunkbears, led by Nowella the mixed-race Bear and Oneil the independent Hand, made him a fly rod out of a turkey feather plucked from an old boy-Indian head dress, and that semblance of a fly rod, inspired him for a while until he grew dissatisfied, and asked for a river.

Following that difficult demand, Nowella and Oneil rolled out a few yards of brown wrapping paper, then hauled in a jar of markers, and all together, the Trunkbears scribbled him a river. They really did a fine job of making it realistic, placing stones and natural objects along it, but there was a problem.

The back story to the back story has to do with Threadbear’s morbid fear of water. You see …. once long ago, when he had been sleeping in a fishing creel, he was accidentally taken fishing, from which he observed the whole adventure in safety, but he rode home with in the creel, on a bed of ferns along with four or six Speckled Trout that slimed him all the way home, so the mother of the house had laundered him in the sink and hung him up by his ears to dry.

It wasn’t the slime that bothered Threadbear … he sort of liked it …. it was the near drowning experience that left him with a fear of water, quite unfortunate in a fisherman.

So he insisted he must have a pair of chest-high waders which, using the hem of a shower curtain, Nowella and Oneil the hand managed to provide.

Next, hesitating Threadbear thought he would really have to have a fishing vest, and proper polarizing glasses In and so on, for several more stages of enhanced reality, to the point that Threadbear feared that they were going to need boats, and sure enough they produced some boats … of sorts .. and, on a rising wave of Bear enthusiasm for the Out of Doors, those Bears rolled the river on and out the door and into the real outdoors, down the steps, not stopping to scribble or elaborate anything, dragging along their various utility boats, with Uncle

Threadbear aboard one of them, the basket he called Kon Tiki, bumping down the steps.
Now they are all in the great outdoors and soon encounter and then travel a ways with a covered wagon full of traveling apes, on their way to meet the Ferry at King Station, in order to get across the water for the Bare Roots Music Festival.

When the apes and the bears reach the shore, the ferry has not yet arrived, and the wind is driving waves like horses right up onto the shore.

Threadbear did not like the water horses one bit.

It seemed to him that this was the Ocean and it was rising up at him. From the radio, he knew about global warming and, thinking again, he thought they ought to go back home so he could work on his memoirs, and develop some ideas he had, and could not speak about right now because they were in process, ideas for fighting the rising waters of Global Weirding. So there we are:


While Missy Hoolihan’s wagon and the Trunkbear boats were drawn up into a circle by the playground awaiting the King Ferry, Lamb stayed at the beach to chase back every wave that dared to attack the shore.

But after a good many such skirmishes, Lamb stopped to stare at a boat drawing near: a double side-wheeler, white as a ghost … except for the twin smoke stacks.

Nobody in the Hoolihan-Trunkbear encampment seemed to notice the boat looming closer.
What seemed at middle distance to be a figurehead, proved, as the boat grew still closer, to be an actual man - a man all in white, except for his brass buttons and the dark brim of his hat. When the boat was only as far off as a monkey could throw a banana, a brindle kitten appeared on his shoulder. Maybe it had been there all the time, and maybe it hadn’t been anywhere before Lamb saw it. In any case, the Kitten watched as the man twirled a spool like a rolling pin to bring up some wine. When the lead fish that weighted it came aboard, the kitten jumped to the deck.

Without benefit of a crew or a dock, the boat nosed ever so neatly up to shore until it was just short of touching … stopped right in front of Lamb, and hung steady there as if it floated on the air, even though the waves continued to rise and slosh, grinding the beach gravel.
The behavior of the boat does not seem to accord with certain basic physical laws that we tend to take for granted and do not easily give up on, so one could doubt even the possibility of such a dockless docking, or the existence of the boat at all, but then Lamb was there and saw it all.

Yes, Lamb saw the boat … however, the mysterious sailor, had not yet seen LAMB.


The wind that did not budge the boat, swirled the pilot’s cloud of white hair, as he moved to a big capstan by the rail. He cranked on it and a ramp began rolling out from between decks.

Lamb leapt to avoid the ramp as it extended out onto the beach.
But she didn’t go far.

“ Great Balls of Fire!" said the white pilot. “You were damn blankety blank near under that thing Child!,” he said.
He actually SAID the words “blankety blank”and not some other words we have switched out to protect anyone. He spoke forcefully from behind the great white prow-wave of mustache, but that mustache did not move when he talked … even though his eye brows, which were otherwise quite like his mustache, DID move when he talked.

“Are you the King Fairy,” Lamb asked.

Despite his relatively strong language on first seeing the young sheep, the Ferry Man looked kindly on the Sheep child … but he did not answer right away.

He cleared his throat with a “Harumph “….… not actually clearing his throat so much as just saying the Harumph word … as he pulled a tobacco pipe from his pocket and examined it .
Of carved ivory or meerschaum, the pipe strongly resembled the man in white himself, although somewhat yellowed by handling and smoke.

Then, his pipe-self having been consulted, the white pilot re-pocketed it and said that, yes, matter of fact, he WAS the King Fairy, but that Lamb should just call him Mr. Sam. Or just Sam. You could call him Samuel if you were serving dinner and there was pie included.

Mr. Sam ambled down the ramp with one end of a thick rope that he lay it over a piece of driftwood, as if that would actually hold a boat.

He looked round about saying that, to be totally accurate, he was FORMERLY King Fairy… that is,when he lived in the here-abouts.

The Former King reckoned he would sit down in the shade for a smoke and some jawboning, after which he might very well go up to Queen Mab’s knob and see how the Old Girl was doing. Or maybe he wouldn’t. Or maybe he and Lamb could both of them NOT do it, and say that they had. How about that?

Liking that, Lamb sprang ahead of the Ferry Pilot to the nearby children’s playground with the play ship, a red plastic mushroom, and all. The Brindle Kitten followed and immediately went aboard the play ship. Sam pulled a handkerchief from an inside pocket and attempted to dust the white spots off the mushroom, which of course did not work, but he sat down on it anyway, re-pocketed the handkerchief, and pulled out the pipe.

Steadying himself on the mushroom with a bouncy spring for a stem, Mr. Sam stuffed and lit his pipe recollectively, then exhaled a great cloud, the shape of which, as he studied it, seemed to remind him of Queen Mab’s house.

“Old Mab’s house was so small I couldn’t go in but had sit on it,” he said, “Even if I could shrink down some, she would surely not let me smoke my cigars in there, and there weren’t a lot of other places on Mab’s knob for a grown human to sit, except for her house, or a rock that is way too much harder than my softer parts. My cigar smoking was a problem, but at the bottom, I am just too consarned big, pardon my language, Child. No, it is nobody’s fault … merely an accident of birth, and there was nothing to be done about it, other than for me to go back on the water. I cotton to life on the water well enough so it isn’t exactly an exile … and out there on the big water under the big sky I am NEVER too large, just pretty much very small,“

“I want to see the Ocean and I want to get small!” said Lamb.

At that, Captain Sam, stood rather suddenly and replaced the pipe in his pocket, though the little man-head was still smoking.

“You are already perfectly small, Lamb.” he insisted. “As for me,” he continued, oblivious of the pipe smoking in his pocket, “I myself may take a stroll up to Mab’s knob, where I’ll pad a rock, sit down, light my pipe. Then I’ll commence talking … and pretty soon she’ll come out and cover me with kisses, because she’s partial to facial hair, nonsense, exaggerations, and tom-foolery.

Also I do believe she might take more kindly to me now that I switched from the cigars to this pipe and the East Indian tobacco.”

“I want to see the ocean so I can get small,”
repeated Lamb.

“Harumph” went Mr. Sam, clearing his throat for real, as he pulled a watch from his vest pocket, and flipped it open. “See here, Child, you yourself need to get BIGGER before you go out on the big water and get small, if you catch my drift.” Which, Lamb clearly did not.

“Well burn my britches behind me, what am I saying?” said Mr. Sam, conveniently changing the subject. ‘I’m due to start boarding passengers within a very few shakes of your tail, Lamb. I tell you what: you had better go back ahead and to see Mab and give her my regards.”

He stood and bowed to Lamb, then backed away a good distance, as if Lamb were Queen Mab and he mustn't turn his back on her.

The kitten came loping from the play ship, and ran right up his back as the pilot went up the ramp. Mister Sam hunched forward, so that the cat would ride more securely, which made it look as if he were aging rapidly as he ascended. Lamb could see that his white pilot britches were NOT burning.

called the captain


Metaphysical Times
Volume X number 4
“Winter Tales”