"Mary," I gasped, but the pumpkin I was hugging was silent. I sat there for a long time, lost and empty. "Hiara pirlu resh kavawn..." I whispered, remembering the cryptic words. But they weren't the spell to bring back the love I'd finally found.

"May Peace Prevail On Earth..." Not that one either.

Tears streamed down my face as I walked up the hill to the road. Her car was a pile of dust and it blew away in a gust of wind.

I held the pumpkin tightly and walked slowly down the road.

After a while I was getting tired, so I sat down on a wall that looked out over a steep cliff, with trees and hills in the distance and a sky that would have been spectacularly beautiful if my sadness hadn't colored everything gray.

There was a flash of light to my left and I saw a window floating in mid-air above the road. Suddenly a shadowy figure leaped out of the window.

"Captain Screw-Up," the tall gangly man announced, and he rolled in the dirt in front of me.

Off to my right, over the edge of the cliff, another window appeared, floating above the sharp drop to the rocky ground far below. It opened and a smaller ragged dog/shadow leaped into the air, "And his dog Boy Blunder..." it barked, and it sailed straight at me, knocking my beloved pumpkin from my hands.

I watched in horror as she sailed up into the air and flew right through the window above the road. Then both windows crashed closed, and I was flying through the air with the mangy mutt attached to my chest.

As I hit the ground beside Captain Screw-Up, I broke into a million sharp pieces.

"Oh, my," the Captain sighed. "Tsk...Tsk ...Now, Boy Blunder, what did we do with that glue?"

I watched with a million eyes as Captain Screw-Up proceeded to glue me together.

"OK, now try to talk," the Captain urged as he polished the top of my head so hard it made a bald spot. "I think that about does it. Everything should be in relatively good order."

He turned to his trusty companion. "What do you think, Blunder...Hey, Boy, put that down!" Captain Screw-Up grabbed a jagged piece out of the dog's mouth and threw it on a pile by the side of the road.

"Those were left over," the Captain shrugged. "Just stuff them in your pocket, if you want."

I found myself mindlessly picking up the pieces. My head was jumbled and confused as I tried to reacquaint myself with myself.

"Now," the Captain was saying. "I've got a Special Delivery Package for you. Please sign here," he said holding a clipboard in one hand and a letter in the other.

I signed the board with an 'X' and he stuck it in his tattered coat and held out the letter.

As I looked blankly at it, a flock of birds flew overhead. I heard their honking and it sounded like they were singing, "Oh where, oh where has his little pumpkin gone? Oh where, oh where can she be..."

My brain still wasn't working, and I watched as they left behind a gooey mess that landed on Captain Screw-Up's shoulder.

He didn't seem to notice and pushed the letter under my nose.

An army of ants marched up the Captain's body, and over his arm, and one by one leaped off the letter like a diving board. "His Mary lies over the ocean. His Mary lies over the sea," they sang as they plunged to the ground.

"Come on Humpty, open it!" Captain Screw-Up was saying, and I took the envelope when the last of the ants had disappeared.

"Humpty," I thought. "I thought my name was George." But George didn't seem to fit anymore. It tasted bitter in my mouth. I did feel more like a Humpty! "But George is what Mary called me," I sighed sadly.

"MARY!" I thought, and finally something clicked in my brain.

"MARY!" I screamed and dashed across the road.

But that darned dog had a tight grip on my pant cuff and I couldn't move. And besides, the window was gone.

Captain Screw-Up grabbed the letter from my hands. "Oh, I'll read it to you!" he grumbled impatiently.

"Humpty Dumpty has hereby been invited to the first annual meeting of the Royal Society of Screw-Ups."

"Sounds thrilling," I hissed. "But no thanks. Now tell this dog to let me go. I've got to get to Mary."

"But you're scheduled to be the guest speaker," Captain Screw-Up exclaimed, and he folded the letter up and ate it.

"Look, I don't want to be in your crummy Society. I just want to get my pumpkin!"

"My, we're awful snippy," the Captain snorted, clicking his tongue and mimicking my words silently as he rocked his head back and forth.

"Screw-ups are supposed to stick together," he continued. "Blunder, let him go."

The dog loosened his grip suddenly and I fell forward, crashing into the annoying Captain Screw-Up. We both fumbled to our feet and the Captain was laughing.

"Now that's more like it, fellow screw-up," he giggled.

He laughed again, and whistled for his dog. "Come on, Boy, we've got plenty to do before the meeting. We're off to screw up whatever seems to be going right; to work on our goal of spending our lives working slowly and inefficiently, fruitlessly and out of synch with everything around us. In a word, to screw up better than we've ever done before. Adieu, my screwed-up friend. Adieu and farewell!"

The Captain and his side-kick bumped into each other as each headed in different directions.

I don't know why I laughed. It wasn't funny. But I did, and suddenly I kind of liked the guy.

"Look," I chuckled as I helped them both up. "Really, can you help me? I need to get that pumpkin. I love her."

The Captain turned his head away from me, raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes. "This guy definitely belongs in the Society -- they should make him president!" he whispered to his dog.

"Sure," he smirked sarcastically as he turned back to face me. "You're in love with a pumpkin. And just where is this little cutie?"

"She went through the window you came out of."

"She...Oh...Um...Well, then I'm afraid it's going to be a little hard to find her. She could be anywhere, you see."

The Captain put his long muscleless arm around me, and we sat together on the wall.

"Do you have anything that belongs to her? It could help in trying to track her down."

I bit my lip. "I don't know," I thought and I reached my hands into my pockets. Absently, I rummaged through the pieces that were left over when the Captain put me together again, and felt something soft and rubbery...my heart...our heart! I pulled it out quickly. I held it up to the Captain and showed him the seam where we had sewn our broken hearts together.

"That's a pumpkin heart, huh?" the Captain smiled, trying not to laugh.

"Well, she turned into a pumpkin. She was a girl first...Oh, never mind. Just how do I get to her?"

"Well, keep that close to you, and just go in after her. Your heart will lead the way... eventually."

I gazed lovingly at our heart, then stuck it deep, deep in my soul, where a simple fall off a wall wouldn't jar it loose again. Then I turned to where I had last seen my beloved.

"But the window is gone!"

Captain Screw-Up looked up. "So it is," he shrugged. "Well, that's a special window, you know. It can't hang around forever. It opens up to other times, other places, other dimensional universes (that's ODUs). It can take you anywhere. But then only dreamers, crazies, and screw-ups can go there."

"But you said I was a screw-up, remember?" I pleaded. "And I've got to be dreaming, so I'm a dreamer, and I'm sure I'm probably a crazie, too."

"Hmm...True...But you haven't been initiated by the Society, yet."

"Can't I do that when I get back? I've got to find her. Please, help me get her back."

The loony captain put his arm around my shoulder again. "All right, kid, but only because I like you. Now, listen up. YODELing is a very complex art..."


"Well, yes, that's what jumping through time, space, and other dimensional universes or ODUs is called. But don't ask me why it's called that. I was too busy screwing-up when they told that story. I've got a couple of theories, though. It might have something to do with the ancient art of yodeling, you know, that famous mountain call, 'YODEL-AY-EE-OO', but personally I doubt it. I think it has to do with a cream-filled snack cake. I know my first YODELing experience occurred while I was eating one."

He leaned back and nearly fell off the wall, then continued explaining as he waved his hands wildly in the air. "YODELing takes a lot of concentration and dedication, I'm told. But I heard that all you've got to do is get a ladder, climb up and grab a star. You following me?"

I nodded hesitantly.

"Bring the star back home, put it in a box, wrap it up with Christmas paper, and put it in the back of your closet until Christmas. Then if you remember it's there (and that isn't always easy to do, I can tell you) well, take it out on Christmas morning, but only if it has snowed -- there's a lot of magic in the air on a snowy Christmas morning. Tear the paper open, pull out the jar, take out the star and let it go. Got that?"

I rolled my eyes and sighing, nodded again.

"Then," the Captain continued after a deep breath, "Then you look up in the sky, find your star, sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle little star'...No... No..you sing 'Star Light, Star Bright, take me through the window of light'. Then you click your heels two times, twirl in a circle, and stand on your head until you get real dizzy. Then you should see the window, if you've followed all the steps correctly, of course."

I pulled away from the crazy guy and jumped to the ground (carefully!). "You've got to be kidding! I'll never get to her that way!"

"Well," Captain Screw-Up sighed. "That's just how to train yourself to YODEL at will, not that Blunder or I have ever had the patience. You could just use a YODELer, like us other screw- ups. If you can get your hands on, I don't know, say a YODEL Time-Splitter, or better yet a pair of YODELshoes, or any YODEL device, for that matter."

He jumped off the wall, and of course, fell head first.

"Personally, we prefer YODELgum," he giggled as he brushed the grass off his crooked nose. "Technically it's called Trans- Time-Space-Other-Dimensional-Universe gum, or Trans-Time-Space- ODU gum, for short. Blunder and I like bubble gum flavor. Peppermint's nice, too, but the bubbles aren't as powerful."

He petted Blunder's head and looked at my impatient face. "Anyway, you just blow a bubble and stick it on your nose, and you've got your window!"

My eyes lit up. "That sounds more like it!"

"Great," the captain smiled. "I guess we'd better be getting along. It's kind of late, and we've so much to do."

"But wait, I need that window gum."


"Yeah, yeah, whatever!"

"You mean you don't have any YODELgum? Oh, sorry. Hmm...Blunder, come here boy. Give the nice man that piece you're chewing."

I started to feel sick, but luckily the dog wouldn't give up his gum.

"Hmm..." the captain thought and he reached into his pocket. "Well, what do you know, an extra pack. What luck."

I grabbed it from him, and nodded my thanks while I quickly began chewing two pieces at once. As soon as it was moist enough, I blew a bubble, pulled it out, and stuck it on my nose.

Sure enough, there was a window in front of me. I leaped through.


Glass went flying everywhere and I felt myself falling in a thick soupy darkness.

"You're supposed to open the window first," I heard a voice far away calling. "Quick, take the gum off your nose and blow another bubble!"


Captain ScrewUp
( Chapter 24- MP3 song demo by Lyndon DeRobertis)

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