The novelist watched his arm arc slowly for the pitch. He watched, fascinated, as the pie soared aloft, spiraling gently in a trail of cream. He watched the pirate captain lift his head and stare, fascinated, as the pie wobbled at the top of its parabola, and swept inexorably downward.
As the pie fell, the novelist closed his eyes and pondered the riddle of time and space.
If, for instance, he had more time between the toss and the splatter, he would happily find ways of occupying nearly any other space in the material universe than the one he happened to occupy.
It would be a space without cream pies or Cap’n Jonas Sly. He knew that much.
He saw himself at the seaside, the content owner of a fish and ship shop. Every day he toddled to work and heated great vats of oil, where fish of dubious nature and unspeakable sausages bubbled and fizzed. Snot-nosed children and sun-burned parents crowded round his window, clamoring for orders in cryptic dialogues, like worshippers at some barbaric shrine clamoring for blessing from the shaman.
And blessings he gave, dripping grease through paper wrappings, and the pious left happy to seek enlightenment on other shores.
The novelist was happy at his chippy. He wrote no writings and told no tale. He boiled oil and blessed the masses, ate, slept, and found contentment in the rhythm of commercial life.
Until, of course, the winter came. No one wanted chippy. And this turned out to be the coastline where the pirate ship Despair harbored for winter—as the novelist who wasn’t a novelist learned when the grinning face of Cap’n Jonas Sly appeared at the window, knife in teeth.
So the novelist saw himself on radical pilgrimage for reunion with nature. He sought for the meaning of time and space through labor on the farm. He nurtured the earth with his toil, and he knowingly harmed no living thing. No poison sprays sullied his garden, no crops through killing. Through peaceful negotiation he befriended all manner of bugs and crawling things.
And, because of their friendship, the crawling things and bug did not harm his garden, but went instead to the Eternal Gardens of Repose in the Gray Mountains, to seek enlightenment through contemplation of the sacred shrubberies.
The novelist was happy in his garden. Word of his success spread far and wide, and he became a highly popular motivational speaker in certain circles. He wrote a book—but not a novel—and everywhere farmers convinced their friends the pests to seek enlightenment in the Eternal Gardens of Repose.
But the keeper of the Eternal Gardens of Repose found no joy in contemplating the sacred shrubberies gnawed to blackened sticks. The novelist who wasn’t a novelist learned this when the keeper sent heavies to collect him. They dragged him back to the Eternal Gardens of Repose, where Most Reverend Keeper Salai Yo-na waited, picking his teeth with his cutlass.
So the novelist saw himself back home in his study, where his chaotic adventure had began.
That was a mistake, because the whole chaotic adventure began beginning again. Only this time he knew already how badly everything was going to turn out. And it would most certainly turn out with Cap’n Jonas Sly eventually.
“Oh, heck,” said the novelist.
He stopped trying to see anything, and opened his eyes.
The pie struck Cap’n Jonas Sly in the face with a satisfying splot.