6. Dark Light
Back in my office, just before dawn, I reported to Sogwa. She had set down my fee, the Tooth Fairy money. After I told my story, she said, “You have forgotten something. Two things.”
“Remember that time-loop? Where you clued yourself in?”
“How could I forget?”
“First time through, the other you said, ‘tooth mouse’, and you said, ‘tooth whaat?’ Second time through, you said, ‘tooth mouse’, but the other you said, ‘tooth raat?’ So which was it? ‘Whaat’ or ‘raat’?”
“Huh!” I said. “I must have misheard myself.”
“With those big ears of yours?” Sogwa mewed. “Or maybe that was the Tooth Fairy pretending to be you.”
“So what did you really say?”
“I guess I’ll never know. Time loops can be tricky that way.”
“I get it. And then there’s Bugsy and Rickie-the-Rat.”
“What about them?”
“You said that the two of them are the mayor and the crime lord, but you forgot to mention which one is which.”
“You’re right, I didn’t say! Well, you see –”
“ – no, never mind, don’t tell me!”
“Don’t you want to know?”
“What does it matter?” she said.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Matter of fact, there’s lots of things I don’t know. After this case… I’m not sure what to believe anymore.”
Sogwa said, “What does it matter if the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? After all, she admitted it, didn’t she?”
“Yes, she did.”
“And the teeth do go away, don’t they?”
“The money’s real enough, too,” I said, nodding towards the Tooth Fairy money.
“Yes! And as for her… Well, what do you think of her?”
“You mean, aside from not existing?” I thought it over. “I like her,” I decided. “She’s crazy, but she’s honest.”
“Same thing,” said Sogwa.
“She means well, and she likes what she does.”
“So what’s the problem? Look, does she do a good job?”
“She does a great job, but her job is being a bad example! A ridiculous myth! A self-refuting fiction! She’s a failed lie, repeated like a bad joke to ward off worse lies!”
“And this bothers you?”
“Her job is to be an obvious fraud! She’s a satire!”
“That’s not such a bad job,” said Sogwa. “Actually it sounds kind of fun.”
“But what about us? You and me? We’re caught up in this nonexistence thing too! This whole town is! We’re all fictions!”
“What does that matter either? If that’s our job, then why not do it well?”
I thought it over. “So if we’re fictions, then we might as well be good fictions?”
“That’s right,” said Sogwa.
I chirped, “Are you really OK with this, doll?”
She purred, “You got a better plan, boy-toy?”
She stood on her hind legs. I stretched down. We rubbed noses.
She slinked away. Just short of the door she looked back, meowed, slowly winked her big oval eyes, and glided out.
What a doll!