"I think that we're lost," Ramona said.
"Lost? I have an interview to get to!" Chester said. "Mr. Bigmaul doesn't take kindly to problems in the interview process! We can't be lost!"
"Considering that I was trying to drive you downtown and now we're in the middle of a forest, you may want to give them a call to reschedule."
"You don't just reschedule with Mr. Bigmaul!" Chester wailed.
Ramona slammed on the brakes and let the car skid into the gravel next to the burned-out metal skeleton of a car. Her eyes blazed.
"Then I have a great idea. Why don't you take the wheel and drive us to your interview?" Ramona said.
"That's stupid. You're stupid," Chester said, fumbling to get the phone out of his suit jacket. "I'll just call them and tell them that I'll be a little late because I'm lost. No big deal."
"No signal," Chester said. He climbed out of the car.
"Be careful out there. I don't know where we are," Ramona said, trying to sound angry but biting her lip. Her mind raced with all the anxiety of seeing the wreck of the car.
"Still nothing," he said, standing next to the edge of the forest. Behind him, the undergrowth shivered. A cloud eclipsed the sun and a small, shabby man scuttled out from behind an aggressive weed. He took a flying leap onto the rusty hood of the wreck and by time he'd landed, he'd packed and lit a briar pipe that was so long that the bowl waggled down by his knees.
"Some more for our party!" the little man announced. He took out a small whistle and blew three sharp chirps.
Ramona and Chester both stared at the little man. Chester had forgotten about checking his phone signal, and the device hung at his side in his hand.
As peculiar as the little man was, he had little to recommend him in comparison to the menagerie that erupted from the forest in response to his signal. One of them was a long, tall man on long, tall stilts. He was dressed in white from head to toe and his stilts were painted white. Clouds of white powder erupted from his hair with every step.
Beneath him, darting in between the long poles of the Stiltman, was a beautiful woman in a tattered evening gown and a pair of goggles. The skin around her eyes was raw and red in the shape of stars, as if it had been very carefully scoured into those shapes with a delicate sandblaster. She carried a lyre, which she strummed in tune to her acrobatics.
Behind her came a couple holding hands and dressed in French 1770s finery - from the waist up. Below both were as nude as the day they were born.
Along with dozens of others that were much harder to describe.
"The lost! The revellers! The eternal!" shouted the little man, with puffs of smoke erupting from his mouth like a chimney while he clapped his hands in tune to the lyre that Goggles played. He wiggled his eyebrows at Chester, then at Ramona. "Are you two members of the lost?"
"Er, well, we are lost, but we'd really-" Chester began, but the little man cut him off.
"That's grand, it has been quite a while since we found a new lost person! Whenever we stumble upon them, they always claim that they're no longer lost!" he slid off of the car to run towards Chester, except he seemed to forget about his comically long pipe. As he went forward, the stem jabbed him in the roof of the mouth. From his throat came a terrible gurgle, like a rat gargling a mouthful of marbles, and his graceful slide turned into him bouncing off of the fender and landing next to an empty fast food wrapper.
"Oh!" Ramona said. She got out of her car and ran over to the little man, where Chester was already helping him up.
"Are you okay?" Chester asked.
The little man winced, but nodded. Then winced somemore.
"I guess I forgot about the pipe," he said.
"It seems like it," Ramona said. She glanced over her shoulder.
The revellers were revelling, apparently oblivious to the plight of the little man's bruised palate.
"Don't they care about you?" she asked.
"Apparently not!" the little man said. He brushed himself off, stood up, and hawked a loogie into the grass. "Oi, you're a right bunch of fancy bastards!"
"We're the lost! We're the revellers! We're the eternal!" said the man on stilts.
"You're the useless! The selfish! The half-dressed! Literally, Claude and Sophie, put on some trousers!" the little man yelled. "I could have died right then!"
"We're the etern-" began the man on stilts.
"Cram it all fifteen feet up where the sun don't shine, stickman!"
Goggles stopped playing the lyre. She frowned.
"Lay off of him, you overgrown toad," she said.
"Talk to me after you get yourself lost in a store and buy some ointment for your damn eyes. Sheesh! I think I've had enough to do with you lot," the little man said. He turned to Ramona and Chester.
"You're on a bypass of Route 4, go up about a mile and take a left and you'll come out at Breekman Boulevard and Ringwort Avenue, in the Nin District."
"But that's right in the heart of the city!" Ramona said.
"And next to the Bigmaul Building!" Chester said.
"That's what bypasses do. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to go find some more people who aren't complete bastards!" the little man said, shouting the last two words at the revellers, some of whom made very rude gestures back at him. He tromped into the woods.
"Come on, if we're only a mile away I might be able to make it on time!" Chester said, throwing himself back into the car. Ramona followed him, and started the engine.
One white stilt came down right in front of the hood.
"And where do you think that you're going? The lost cannot be found, regardless of what that hormone deficient chipmunk says!"
The gentle thuwp of an approaching helicopter sent the stiltman clopping back into the forest.
Ramona drove Chester to the Bigmaul Building, where he got the job as assistant to the Chief Financial Officer, Robert Finnigan.
The Moral: it's impossible to find somebody who is lost.