Hero

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           Sydney sensed that he was in a dark, enclosed space, which normally meant that he was back in his box safe and sound with all the other wigs, waiting to be called on for the next day's work, but then he remembered his heartless abandonment and subsequent retrievals by Mr. Wayne, first from the camel who had picked him up in the desert after Mr. Wayne had so cruelly discarded him, a camel whose name Sydney hadn't had time to get so short had been their tenure together, and then a second time when Mr. Wayne had rescued him from a bowl of stew after making a violent and unexpected sneeze, which Sydney knew was no excuse for his failure to remain on Mr. Wayne's head, when you were a pro like he was you were expected to be ready at all times for any contingency, but even if he had been expecting the sneeze Sydney doubted he could have held on, such had been the force of its whiplash. He remembered the horrible feeling he had felt when he was sinking, such an inglorious end, and then Mr. Wayne had scooped him up in a wooden spoon, surreptitiously shaken him off and stuffed him not even dry into a coat pocket, treatment that ordinarily Sydney wouldn't have stood for but under the circumstances found quite acceptable.

           After that, in the quiet darkness of Mr. Wayne's coat pocket, Sydney drifted off as he always did when he wasn't on the job, falling into a strange, nebulous state of semi-consciousness that was practically automatic when he wasn't working or in conversation with the other wigs, talking or listening to them--- was that their voices he could hear? Sydney listened with every fiber of his being and the voices, at first faint and distant, became strong and clear. It was the Entourage, his friends, having the sort of discussion they had had many times before, which meant that they had to be somewhere nearby or that the conditions had to be right for him to be able to listen in, whatever those conditions needed to be.

           "God does not exist," opined Jules, in his phony, foppish French accent. "He is a mirage, an illusion, a fantasy encouraged by the powerful to keep the powerless in their place."

           "Then what explains us?" asked Fergus. "Or anything. Someone must have created the universe, it couldn't have just sprung into existence by itself, could it?"

           "Why not?" said Andy. "If you believe God always existed without being created, why not the universe too? Same thing."

           "That's like saying that everything can be explained," Fergus rejoined. "That there is no reality beyond what can be detected by our senses or imagined by our brains."

           "So the opposite extreme is true, that ultimately nothing can be explained and everything is an unfathomable mystery?"

           "I didn't say that. I'd just like some wiggle room."

           "Wiggle---what?"

           "I wish Sydney were here," commented Max. "He's okay for a fag."

           "What do you mean, a fag?" asked Andy.

           "You know, swishy, fruity-tooty. I bet it would burn Mr. Wayne's ass if he knew he had a queer hairpiece."

           "What are you talking about? We're wigs. We don't have any sexual orientation."

           "Speak for yourself, buddy. We're not wigs for some actress, are we? That's a tip-off right there. I'm definitely all-man and Sydney is, well, Sydney. Not that I mind, I just think it's kind of funny. He's been gone a long time, I wonder where he is."

           "He must be out on the town with the boss," said Paulie. "Probably having the time of his life. I just hope Sid can handle himself because sometimes it gets a little rough being with the Duke after hours."

           "How would you know?" asked Jules in a hurt tone, dropping the French accent.

           "I've had the pleasure of accompanying Mr. Wayne on a couple of his nocturnal, non-work related odysseys, and they can get pretty wild. Sydney had better keep his wits about him."

           "I'm sure Sid can handle it," said Fergus. "Whatever his sexual orientation, he's definitely all-wig. We'd all get more work if he doesn't make it back in one piece, but we would also be diminished in some way. I hope Sid makes it back."

           "Is there anything we can do to help him, if he is in trouble?" asked Andy.

           "I don't know. It's amazing how powerless we are, at the mercy of forces beyond our control, even someone like Mr. Wayne. It's like we're all trapped in a web, the same all-encompassing web, forced to play out the roles assigned to us whether we want to or not. It's weird."

           "Like---there's a Plan?" tentatively asked Max.

           "I'm not going down that rat hole," said Fergus. "Let's see if we can get in touch with Sid and give him some words of encouragement. He might be listening in."

           "What do we say?" asked Andy. "We don't know where he is or what he's doing, or what the Duke is doing."

           "Let's keep it simple, then. How about everybody saying good luck?"

           "Good luck, Sid!" the Entourage started calling out in unison. "Good luck, good luck!"

           The voices of the Entourage started to fade away. "do you think he heard us..." Sydney tried to respond but could not, struck by an unaccountable shame at being a mere wig, the first time he had ever experienced such a feeling. Oh, how he wished he could ask the others if they had ever felt the same thing too! Then he realized that something was wrong, something was happening to Mr. Wayne, he was in a real fight and not only that, seemed to be losing. Sydney wished that he was on Mr. Wayne's head, so that by making a supreme effort he could throw himself off and blind or at least distract Mr. Wayne's opponent at a crucial moment, but stuck as he was in Mr. Wayne's pocket, there was nothing he could do. Suddenly Sydney felt rough, strong fingers grabbing him and the next thing he knew he was being jammed into the smooth, round barrel of a gun, a maneuver made possible because he was just a partial hairpiece, not a full one, but mainly made possible by the fact that after his dunking in the stew, and then being rescued and going from boiling hot to freezing cold, he had shrunk incredibly, becoming a mere pencil-like shadow of his former full-bodied self, making what he had to do next all the easier, since he certainly no longer had any future as a professional wig. Without hesitation Sydney attempted to cram himself as deep down the gun barrel as he could and waited for the inevitable.

           When the explosion came, Sydney was surprised and not surprised. He saw the flash in his mind's eye but felt no pain, then everything turned black. It was like being put back in his box with the satisfaction of a job well done, and that was all that mattered.


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