Andrea wakes up with her clothes on fire

 Andrea wakes up with her clothes on fire. Considering she is already stopped and dropped, she simply rolls and her flames are extinguished. But there are other fires all around; some are smoky affairs coming from grassy tufts, some are full-out burning shrubs. The ground is all white ash. A strange place! At the far end of this garden of burning herbage, Andrea spots a huddled group of people.

Quite a crowd, in fact. They are jumping and cheering and some wear pumpkins on their heads. Andrea approaches, yet none of them take note of her. She squirms her way through the crowd until at last she breaks into the very front of the pack. In the middle of this circle of observers is a table, and around this table, more men.

Andrea rubs her eyes, but sure enough, she recognizes these people. Here is Plato, there the effeminate Hippocrates, and this the illustrious King Solomon, all of them sitting around the table playing poker. And look—Aristotle is the dealer!

“Salamander, salamander, what’s in your hand?” Plato asks Hippocrates.

A big grin empties across Hippocrates’ face, immediately stifled by a grave pout.

“Alas,” says Plato, who has already put in three great stacks of chips, “as in a city when the evil are permitted to wield power and the finer men are put out of the way, so I must fold this hand.”

Aristotle reveals the last card.

“I bid twenty thousand, and a third of the temple gold,” laughs the illustrious King Solomon. “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor!”

“Guess I’m all in,” lisps Hippocrates.

The King continues, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion… Gentlemen, bow to my pocket queens!”

“Oh, phi on that!” says Hippocrates, “does that mean I lose again? What am I doing here, anyway?” He lets out a disgruntled snort, pushes his chair back to the wall of people, crosses his arms, and pouts.

Aristotle looks at Andrea after the chips are counted up. “Fascinating! I believe I see a girl. See Plato, I told you they existed!”

“Of course girls exist,” replies Plato, “I merely said that they are imitations.”

“Well, I suppose that all men do find pleasure in imitations,” Aristotle says with a smile. “Therefore, the girl shall be given to Solomon, for he has won the game.”

Cheer, cheer goes the crowd, and the illustrious King Solomon steps forward to claim his prize.

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One thought on “Andrea wakes up with her clothes on fire

  1. The scene here plays off of the place of virtuous pagans in the first circle of Dante’s Inferno. What do the philosophers do when they are not philosophizing? Poker, of course. This is actually an excerpt from a longer story called “A Short History of the World,” which is fairly poor, on the whole. In it, Andrea and her twin brother have a wonderland kind of adventure in a world populated with polka-playing bears and absent-minded Greek gods. It can likewise be viewed as a tale of female empowerment in a world dominated by men like King Solomon, featured above.

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