Canto 9 – Mr. Mephisto
Mark and Shandra were both hanging up against the theater wall by their strings. Both were naked. But they were no longer real children. They were now both jointed wooden marionettes.
“Mark? Can you still talk?”
“How did you say that without moving your mouth?”
“You must have some idea, dummy. Your mouth didn’t move either.”
“Yeezus, Shandra, what happened to us?”
“That damned toy man changed us into Pinocchios.”
“Oh, no! Does that mean we have to get swallowed by a whale in order to turn back into human beings?”
“Gawd dang, Mark. You are such a child. We have been cursed by some kinda monster devil-man. We are screwed.”
The curtain opposite the two puppets parted and a man came through. It was the man who had pulled them out of the toy man’s magic box.
“Well, well… awake again, are we?”
“What are you doing to us, devil-man?” shouted Shandra.
“You are a feisty one, I’ll give you that. It’s no wonder the archangel asked me to hide you two.”
“That’s what you be doing to us?” asked Shandra.
“You need to not have Poppa Dark find you for a while, am I right?”
“Well… yeah. But you changed us without our permission.”
“And you made us naked too,” whined Mark.
“Oh, shut up, Mark. You ain’t suffering by being naked. You don’t even got no little wooden dick on you as a puppet.”
“She has a point. While in this guise, you can more-or-less be anything or anyone by simply dressing you up in new puppet costumes. Want to be a girl for a while Mark? New wig and a gingham dress, and voila! Mark becomes Mary.”
“Do I gotta be a girl? Or can I be like a pirate?”
“Or maybe a soldier?” said the man.
“Oh, yeah. That would be neat!”
“Now, wait just a minute, devil-man. Who the hell are you? You gonna help us? Or cook us and eat us?”
“Now, Shandra, my dear, if I were going to eat the two of you, would I have turned you into wooden puppets? Kind of harder to chew that way, don’t you think?”
“Well, how do we know you don’t like to eat wood like a dang beaver?”
“I have no plans on changing myself into a beaver.”
“Who and what are you?” Shandra sharply demanded.
“My name is Nicholas L. Mephisto. I am the owner of Aunt Phillia’s Toy Emporium. And you two have been changed into marionettes to put on a few shows before we try to solve your collective problems.”
“Well, whatever you gonna do to us… you better at least put some clothes on us. And don’t you dare touch my private parts while you are doing it!”
“Shandra, you don’t any longer have any private parts,” reminded Mark.
Mr. Mephisto smiled at the girl marionette as he picked out for her a nice red dress with white polka dots and a frizzy blond wig to complement her ebony black-painted skin and super-sassy attitude.