For this inquiry, I have decided to make a call upon the curator of my Wondrous Cabinet, Mr. Leeks. Mr. Leeks did come into this job most recently, after the last curator was driven mad and screaming into the streets by certain items contained in a carefully scrimshawed chest made out of the rib of a blue whale. That curator had lasted for the previous ten years, though only just barely, as he had gazed into the bejeweled eye sockets of a skull taken from a Byzantium crypt, but traced to certain tribal groups of the Hyperborean period. What he did see deep in the hollow gaze is unknown to all, for after that he could only cower and whimper.
I did keep him aboard the rolls of employ, for to fire him and send him back to his wife and children would have elicited certain inquiries, and most likely have resulted in a Comp-o-The-Working-Man claim, which I can not duly afford.
He also did implement a cataloging system for the Cabinet's library, but of course it was conceived of by a madman cursed by witch doctor's from a Dimension Beyond Time. As such, I have been called upon on certain occasions to adjudicate disputes amongst the books about their placement. These are festive occasions, and I do cherish them. Some day I shall report on one such event.
But not today.
The first thing Mr. Leeks did report after receiving my inquiry was that fully twenty-four of my previous curators and curatorial interns had been thusly struck by the scrimshawed chest, and perhaps it would be well for us, in terms of the premiums paid on our liability insurance, to install a padlock on the chest. He had drawn up a preliminary plan for the installation of said lock such that the priceless antiquity would not be damaged. I have filed the request with our board of directors.
In the meantime, I suggested that Leeks return to the cabinet for a complete accounting of my comprehensive tentacle collection. I suggested most directly that he might look first in a certain carefully scrimshawed chest made out of the rib of a blue whale.
Mr. Leeks did decline that request.
I then asserted that Mr. Leeks lacked of the good nature and sense of fun.
Mr. Leeks sighed and produced a full accounting of my tentacle collection, and returned to his new station in the Cabinet (which is, in fact, not a cabinet at all, but instead a series of interconnected rooms which challenge an entrants sense of proportion and size, for with each room there comes a deepening sense of foreboding, as though one were slowly passing out beyond the veil of sleep, untangling one's heart from the tendrils of the manifest world).
After a thorough review, I have decided that Mr. Leeks' account was inappropriate on its own merits as a response to the inquiry for its dearth of elliptical poetry, and its surfeit of numerical exactitude—for example, the listing is an entirely accurate accounting of the current contents of the cabinet, and figured by standards of accounting prevalent in a linearly logical four-dimensional space; entirely inappropriate to the task!
None of this can properly measure the many of my tentacles, nor the how of that many, and certainly not the got of my have.
I did submit my complaint to Mr. Leeks via a mailing electronique and he did reply as follows:
There are 37 tentacles, 15 tentacle-fragments, 64 unidentifiable items classified as related to, similar to, or smelling like a tentacle. On the last tabulation I can only rely on the notes of one Doctor Charles Theoderic de Polo, Ph.D. Divinity, who set down his accounting in 1932. Many of the boxes associated with that tabulation contain sealed vials or jars that are apparently empty. Several of the other boxes contain textile remnants or other ephemera in which a tentacle is likely to have been incorporated. In the last week I have been reverse contacting all of the institutions who have made academic requests for visitations in the hope that some notes might remain in the papers of the scholars, though many of those request were processed at such an antique period that I am doubtful a full accounting can be made.Suffice it to say, this was the most thorough communique I have as yet received from Mr. Leeks.
Do you realize that several of these request were made in the 18th century? One of the institutions was razed by Napoleon!
In any event, your request has been filed and is under consideration, though I would caution you: non-numerical accounting is outside of my field, and all experts more directly in line with your needs have been released on extended leaves of absence prompted by medical concerns, probably as a result of this institution.
As for the matter of a lock to secure your scrimshawed case: As a stop-gap measure while the board of directors deliberates, I have affixed a Post It note to the chest. State Farm has subsequently agreed to lower our liability coverage by .5%, which will net as a savings of $1300 for the remainder of this coverage year, although they stress that this is a one-time arrangement, and that the box will need to be soundly secured before they will finalize a renewal.
I considered then the nature of the man, the nature of the inquiry, and the perils inherent in my current needs.
Trael, apprised of only what he absolutely needed to understand, agreed to my request almost immediately. Within the quarter hour, a great chest was brought up from the Cabinet and placed before my tank. The boy's elder brother, my typist Jarwaun, opened it and did remove six items:
"Whoo!," Trael did say, "that box smell worse than Nana's attic!"
"True that," Jarwaun nodded as Trael clutched his nose and squinted his eyes, "And she got stuff up there from before the Riots, and a leak in her roof just about as old, too. Also a cat died up there, once, but they never found it. Never." He waved his hand in front of his face, nodded to me, and did exit the room.
The innocent may tread where the learned man would surely die.
My dear reader, while it is true that I have many tentacles, and many other mysteries besides, it is the mystery of purity which escapes each of us too quickly. For those who you hold dear, help them to keep their purity for as long as they might.
If you should know definitively, the answer is three. I own many things, but if having is the same as holding, and holding is an embrace like love, then I only "have" in the truest sense, three tentacles, and they are dear and ancient, and their mysteries are innumerable and unspeakable, for they were blessed by a priest from an undersea culture gone before the age of mammals, and when they are presented with a true soul they dangle lifeless, but when they sense any corruption of spirit, any slight fleck upon the divine spark, they do rise up like writhing avengers and twist the mind.
And currently, I use them to guard my bootlegged copy of the original version of Catcher. Beware.
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