Canto Twenty-Three – The Juju Man
“This is a very strange story,” said Pidney, blushing furiously.
“It’s practically pornography,” said Mary softly.
“I think the interesting part is where it tells about the juju man,” said Valerie. “It tells us how to make it work.”
“Yeah, it does kinda, doesn’t it?” said Pid.
“It doesn’t say the order to tap them in,” said Mary, looking at the ugly wooden man with the even uglier wooden mask on his face.
“It doesn’t say they have to be tapped in order,” reminded Valerie. “It just says to tap them each one time and say the magic words.” She reached out her hand and tapped each of the twenty-eight tattoos only one time.
“Good gawd, Val, don’t do it!” whimpered Pidney.
“You mean say the magic words?” asked Mary.
“Yes!” said Pidney.
“Juju do dah goodah!” sang Valerie as if on cue. Nothing happened.
“Don’t !” screeched Pidney.
“You must also have to say oojie-magoober,” said Mary.
“Oh, Mary! No!” cried Pid. At that moment a cloudy stream of purple smoke boiled out of the top of the wooden juju man. The idol began to glow with an eerie greenish-blue neon light. The smoke was sweet smelling, like burning sugar.
The little wooden man began to shake himself as if he was trying to wake himself up.
“Who are you?” Valerie asked him with a Cheshire Cat’s grin.
“Juju do dah! Yaya!” cried the little wooden man. “I am Oojie Magoober. You have summoned me!”
“What?” said Mary. “It was an accident. Go back to sleep or something.”
“I cannot sleep again until my task is complete,”
“What’s your task, then?” asked Pidney. “We will help you do it if we have to.”
“I must take a virgin back to my master, Mangkukulan!”
“Which virgin do you mean?” asked Valerie.
“You will do nicely, but my master asked for the other one.”
“No!” said Pidney. “Not that! You may not do that!” The football hero drew himself up to his full height and towered over the little wooden man.
“Very well. Be warned. I shall cheat and use magic. Oojie Magoober squirrelly doo dah! Yaya!”
The little wooden man twitched his stubby wooden fingers at Pidney, and suddenly the football hero shrank down into his clothes, until nothing was left but a twitching pile of empty boy’s clothing piled upon empty boy’s shoes.
“What have you done!” cried Mary. “Pidney!”
From out of the collar of the empty shirt, a reddish-brown squirrel popped his squirming, chittering body free.
“You turned him into a squirrel?” cried Valerie, distraught.
“Smaller and easier to deal with.”
“But there are still two of us against one of you,” said Mary menacingly. “Both of us are bigger than you.”
“Oojie Magoober squirrelly doo dah, two dah, yaya!” The fingers waggled at Valerie and Mary both.
Valerie felt a wave of nausea pass through her tummy and then the room swirled around her. Everything went dark. Except, it was a colored darkness. Roughly the same color as the pink blouse Val had been wearing. She pushed at the darkness around her and felt that it was cloth. Her hands felt funny. Not the kind of funny that makes you laugh. It was a funny tingly feeling in the finger nails as she clawed at the cloth around her. Then she found an opening.
As she freed her head and eyes from the darkness, she saw one of Mary’s saddle shoes. In it sat a confused and forlorn-looking squirrel covered in about the same shade of auburn fur as Mary’s hair. Then, horrified, she looked at her own two hands. Squirrel paws. Her arms and body were covered with a golden-blond fur that was not far from Val’s own hair color.
“We’ve been turned into squirrels!” she tried to say to the Mary-squirrel. “Chee-chee chit-it-it-it!” was what actually came out.
“No one understands squirrel talk,” said Oojie. “Now get into my sack.”
Valerie-squirrel rushed to the side of the saddle shoe where Pidney-squirrel had joined Mary-squirrel.
“Chit-it-it-it Chree-eek!” cried the Pidney-squirrel, leaping onto the wooden-head’s mask and sinking gnawing buck teeth into it.
“You can’t hurt me,” said the wooden man. “You are just squirrels. And I don’t even have to get you into the sack by myself. That is the very reason I asked the cats to help.” Suddenly, at the top of cellar stairs, five cats appeared. Valerie shuddered as she recognized flat-headed old Skaggs. And he was leering evilly at her.