Now that I have learned that the Lost Kong can be found somewhere beyond the Side Walk, I know what I must do to find it. I must explore that vast savannah where stuffies go to die, where monstrous creatures burrow beneath the surface and great birds of prey soar high on thermals and huge flocks of crows blot out the sun. I must explore … the Lost Backyard.
My extensive topographical studies of the area have led me to the conclusion that the Lost Backyard can be reached through the mysterious Dog Door. This mystical device, installed by ancient sorcerers, permits travel between the realms of Master Bedroom and Patio. It opens and closes at the whim of unseen Gatekeepers, but today, I am fortunate: It is open. I hurry through before the Gatekeepers change their mind.
Beyond the Dog Door, I find myself deep in thick and hostile vegetation. A wrong move here can mean hours or days lost wandering in the trackless wilderness, fending off thorns and prickers.
Fortunately my sense of direction has not failed me, and I soon emerge from the ghastly weeds into a tangle of pipes and tubes known as the Patio Furniture Set. This is believed to be the remnant of an archaic altar, where the faithful would raise a giant green shade to ward the sun as they sat around the tablet eating charred meat and potato salad. My nose tells me that there have been no such meals consumed here in some time, and I move on.
Beyond the Patio Furniture Set I encounter wonder after wonder in this lost world. First is one of the fabled Hanging Gardens, suspended high in the air. Hordes of hummingbirds are said to have once feasted on the nectar produced by its orange-yellow flowers; clearly, though, this Garden has seen better days. There have been hushed whispers of an infestation of Argentinian ants; could they be responsible for its sorry condition? But that is a question for botanists and entomologists, not an adventuresome archeologist such as myself.
Next I find one of the mammoth Herb Planters, raised up on a pedestal to protect it from the rapacious giant snails that slurp across the Patio and Lost Backyard when the sun goes down. Unlike the Hanging Garden, the Herb Planter is flourishing; the ants have not found it yet, perhaps. But herbs are not what I am seeking here, and so I pass it by.
Behold! I have come upon the great Barbecue, source of the charred meat that was once eaten upon the altar of the Patio Furniture!
Even after all these centuries of disuse, the heady aroma of cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, and chicken still clings to the Barbecue, surrounding it like the ghosts of forgotten summers. I could spend days, even weeks, just lying here, soaking up the smells, trying to penetrate the iron shell that conceals the greasy remnant of long-ago meals. But then I see the corpse of another explorer who perhaps succumbed to this same temptation, and paid the ultimate price:
Yes, the great Grey Elephant lies unmoving in the shadow of the Barbecue, reminding me that my supplies are limited, and so is my time. The sun is moving higher in the sky.
if I am to cross the Lost Backyard, I must do so now, before the heat becomes too intense and I am forced to retreat. Making sure my pack is in good order, I move off from the Patio, into the dry savannah of the Lost Backyard. Along the way I encounter others who attempted this journey, only to fall along the way. Poor Giraffe is not quite dead when I find him; I offer him water and comfort, but it is too late.
He breathes his last, but not before telling me that he has glimpsed the Lost Kong, far to the west. Now I know I am on the right track. Before long, I encounter another relic:
This crashed flying machine is almost completely obscured by the creeping vines that grow along the northern border of the Lost Backyard. Someone attempted to cross the Lost Backyard by air in this strange device, only to go down among the jungle-like foliage. I do not attempt to search the wreckage, lest the vines should entangle me forever.
Not far from the crash site, I come within view of the Wall.
This impenetrable barrier, which stretches north to south as far as the eye can see, is what the crew of the flying machine was trying to clear; Giraffe, with his long neck, was peering over it when he spied the Lost Kong, before his supplies ran out. How can I get to the other side? For a time, I search in vain for a break in the Wall, as my own stock of food and water dwindles; at last, far to the north, perilously close to the jungle, I spot the fabled Ivy Pass.
Beyond this pass lies the Kingdom of Myoporum, where Giraffe claims to have spotted the Lost Kong. Unfortunately I am running low on the bare necessities: Water, fish-skins, beef trachea, pig ears, Nature’s Logic chow and canned food. If I retreat now, I may never come this close again; but if I continue onward and do not find the Lost Kong, or if its rumored payload of treats and cookies turns out to be mere myth, then I could well perish and be claimed by the Myoporum Pacificum. After so many frustrations and dead-ends, though, there can be no real question about what to do next. I must continue onward; because I am Dennis the Vizsla, and I never give up.
God help me.
If you’re looking for James Viscosi’s author (or is that “other”?) blog, you can find it at jamesviscosi.com.
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