Irresistible areas of exploration.
At last, however, October arrived. And, with Professor Stewart's help, I got time off from my other classes to accompany him to Washington. You see, when he was an undergrad, he had not only obviously majored in zoology; he had also minored in political science! So, we both agreed that he would do most of the talking to Mr. Gouverneur.
I have to give him credit. The latter listened to our story without interrupting us, once. It was only after we had finished that he began asking us questions. Starting with:
"And just where is the island in question?"
He had a bemused grin on his face as he said that. So, the professor and I looked each other, with mildly amused grins of our own, before the former replied:
"The co-ordinates...are 0 degrees/0 minutes latitude; 180 degrees/0 minutes longitude."
Mr. Gouverneur's grin disappeared, instantly. Leaving him a stone-faced expression that would have been worthy of Mount Rushmore!
"Would you mind repeating that, please?"
The professor responded by handing him Cookie Gunderson's journal. Letting the treasurer of the National Linnaean Society read the book-marked entry for himself. More specifically; the math that Cookie had done that led him to determine that the strange uncharted island lay at the precise intersection of the Equator...
...and the International Date Line.
"That's not possible," he declared (looking at us, very accusingly): "The IDL was specifically drawn so that it would _never_ directly cross _any_ body of land! This diary _must_ be some kind of fabrication."
"By all means," said Professor Stewart: "Verify its authenticity with whomever you must. Just, please, bear in mind that it does not belong to us. It's on loan from the Gunderson/Saucier family. And, they might take it quite personally if anything were to happen to it. Perhaps even pursue major litigation!"
Mr. Gouverneur looked sincerely offended.
"I assure you, professor. I will have my experts treat this as if they were authenticating a possible long-lost rough draft of the Declaration of Independence!"
Settling for that, the three of us shook hands before Professor Stewart and I headed back to our motel near Dulles International Airport. Unfortunately, the two of us did not get to hit the sack, early. Because, believe it or not, the management allowed their children to go trick-or-treating among the guests! Pre-stashing candy in all the occupied rooms for that express purpose.
Mercifully, however, that all ended at ten o'clock. Following which, the two of us got ready for bed.
I don't know precisely when I fell asleep. So, naturally, I don't know when I started dreaming. Let alone, why! In hindsight, it may have been a combination of things. The stress of the meeting at NLS Headquarters; the multiple re-readings of Cookie's diary; you name it.
All I know for sure is that I did have the dream.
I was back in Florida. Although, not at the University of Saint Augustine. Rather, I was back at Circus World in Sarasota! Only, the place was totally deserted. Well, almost totally. There was one other person there, besides me.
It was Celeste Saucier. And, she was wearing the same red sequined bikini that I had seen her wearing last April! Only, she wasn't wearing it high up off the ground. Rather, she was down on the ground...
...and approximately one hundred feet tall.
"Since I'm now too big for the trapeze," she said to me (kind of belaboring the obvious): "...I've been forced to work up a new act for the circus. How do I strike you as...a contortionist?"
No sooner had she said this than she laid down on her stomach and arched her legs up and over her back!
I was dumbfounded, to say the least. Part of me wanted to run as her bare feet slowly descended past her forehead and down towards me. But, another part me of stayed rooted to that spot.
[Something about that phrase sounded vaguely familiar to me. Yet, my mind refused to divulge where I'd heard it. It kept me steadfastly looking at the soles of Celeste's bare feet, instead.]
Finally, her legs had completed their journey. Making her body resemble a perfect ellipse. It was at this point that the first two toes of her right foot lifted me off the ground. Just like one of those coin-operated cranes in a penny arcade!
And, there was nothing I could do about it. Because, my arms were pinned to my sides. While, at the same time, her toes began to--quite literally--rub me the wrong way.
Below the waist.