In the early afternoon light the Emerald City glistened. The central marketplace, which ran the radius of the city, was alive and packed with people. The denizens of the metropolis leaned back in their café chairs with their coffees and teas, it being too early for alcohol. The urban manner of these Ozians was unvarying. Under their umbrellas and behind their newspapers they silently acknowledged the presence of tourists with a seemingly superior apathy...and an apparent mastery of Oz fashions.
Hastening through the afternoon crowds, one woman dodged the public, who took little notice of her...or the conspicuous bustle and child she dragged behind her. Up the narrow green cobblestone street, Auntie Dee kept a steady focus on the eye of the city before them. The child - a homely young girl trotting to keep up - looked now and then behind her to observe the busy city. Her short stature traveled past dress salons, galleries, a men's club...a tiger (could it be?) in a shirt and tie passed by, a man sat at his easel painting the river. It appeared the child was clutching something. Yes, bouncing alongside the child was a cloth doll. A pitiful plaything in a gingham frock.
A Familiar Trespasser
The rain stopped later that evening. Even in the quiet twilight hours the Emerald City emitted a muted glow. In the outer circle - the ghetto district - the nightclubs and brothels were still in operation.
Meanwhile, closer toward the heart of the metropolis, a cloaked figure cautiously descended on an apartment complex drainpipe. Here the streets were empty and masked in a layer of fog. The only light came from the dim street lamps. The body reached the cobblestones with a quiet thud, stirring the local mist. The creature rose, slightly hunched over...perhaps some animal out of hiding. It surveyed the quiet street, adjusted the cloak and scampered into a dark ally.
The palace was near the correctional institution right in the middle of the city, formerly the residence of the seemingly Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Glinda "the Good," as she was calling herself, had taken up occupation here after the Wizard's sudden departure. Her public appearances had been limited since her taking office; which, according to her press secretary, was due to a head cold.
The cloaked trespasser darted across a side street toward the correctional institution. Before him was the palace, no doubt the center of much controversy after the recent events in Oz. Perhaps if it had not been for the creature's previous acquaintances in the city he would not have made this attempt. Perhaps if it had not been for these acquaintances the monkey would not own a contraband set of the institution's keys.
Chistery approached the prisonment. It was a rather small stone accommodation, only a few levels high (or maybe it only appeared this way due to the palace's grandeur). Chistery scaled the building, attended by some adjusting and distraction of the contraption under his cloak. Having reached the roof, the monkey discovered an abandoned lookout deck; a security precaution for the safety of Oz put in place after the evolution of the Wicked Witch of the West. After trashing the watchman's quarters in a fury, Chistery retrieved a broken telescope and found the rooftop entrance. Finding the set of keys in his satchel, the monkey slid the smuggled device into place. He huffed. Enraged, he bashed the door from its hinges with a mighty blow from the telescope and descended into the building.
Even in the Emerald City the moon cast a blue tint through the skylight. The air was damp. With the aid of the keys Chistery accessed the cellblock he desired. Not wanting to cause alarm he slowly opened the door and let out a slow hush. There was rustling from behind the stall doors, of which there were only eight, four on either side of a cement walk. Using the keys, he released the animal prisoners he could detect. "Up the back staircase to the roof," he whispered. The monkey turned to go.
"Chistery," whispered a weak, throaty voice. The monkey's head jerked. A voice he recognized. His hood fell clumsily on his shoulders.
In the furthermost cell a woman pressed her face between the metal barricades restricting the small window of the door. This framed and accentuated what was already a fish-like face, joined by her aged fingers and their outgrown nails which stroked the bars. The monkey paced backwards, turned around and approached the prison compartment.
"Horrible Morrible," Chistery acknowledged her in tones of arrogance, knitting his brow. His nostrils twitched upon his snout. "Look at you."
"Listen to you," said Madame Morrible, distracted. She eyed him from her restraint. "Oh Chistery. So loyal to the Wizard. We had the highest hopes for you, he and I." Had her hair line receded? Her face was stained with muddled cosmetics.
Stooping forward, Chistery reached passed his neck and scratched his shoulder blade. His cape shifted from the gesture and a wing was exposed. Madame Morrible's arm abruptly thrashed out from the opening in her compartment, straining to grasp the monkey's extremity. "Mag-nificent," she savored the word. Chistery spun around, smacking the woman's hand with his tail. Morrible recoiled, hitting her cold hand on the hard heavy door.
"Why, Madame," taunted the winged monkey. "You're an animal."
Chistery then went underground. The next step of the monkey's plan was in the hands of the Oz postal service.
Glinda had arranged a social gathering at the palace. They were not given the title, but the assembly was truly meant to be her cabinet. Her advisors. The prominent leaders of the four sides of Oz - Glinda herself representing the north - were requested to be in attendance. The mayor of Munchkinland, joined by his uninvited vice-president (the celebrity man made of tin), came from the east. From the south came a wealthy estate owner and spiritual leader known as Freid. Assigning a permanent diplomat for the west was a delicate topic to be determinated at the meeting. For the time being; however, the temporary representation fell in the hands of a former headmaster named Arid.
The guests were led to a large conference hall and were joined promptly by Glinda. Due to the glare on his tin frame, Glinda was quick to notice the uninvited personality. She welcomed the others and the group quickly began discussion.
"Force the west to secede altogether!" Freid proposed.
"My dear chancellor, if we should force the Vinkus into exile there will always remain a direction west in Oz." Glinda had learned she could be pragmatic.
The mayor of Munchkinland was an odd little man. From his booster seat he pushed on. "Now that the Witch as been effectively erased..."
Glinda's heart sank. Her eyes fell to the tabletop. "Mayor, may your associate wait in the anteroom?"
The Munchkinlander recognized his assistant and nodded for him to go. The man of tin stood and started for the double doors. As he reached the table end, however, he turned and approached Glinda. With her cooperation he took her delicate hand in his and brought it to his mouth. His kiss was cold. The tin man backed up, brought his polished hand to the vessel which served as his chest, bowed to her, and left.
"Her familiars have fled into the Gillikin Forest, your goodness," Arid explained. "The vast anthropocentric conspiracy has forced them too." He could tell Glinda was distracted. "Your Goodness?"
Glinda looked up. "I'm sorry, chancellor. I'm a little muddled."
Later that evening Glinda sat in her chambers at her oversized davenport desk. She had not been entirely overwhelmed with correspondences. Yet. She slid a blonde lock of hair from in front of her face and reached for another envelope.
She stopped suddenly and studied her hand. The silence of the room was troubling. Disregarding her lapse she retrieved the next envelope on the pile. She stopped short. A green envelope. It was addressed to Miss Glinda.
What followed were directions, not threats, in an unstable script.
Having read the brief instructions, Glinda stepped out onto the veranda, a large circular balcony with a floor of green tile. It was a cool midsummer night; yet, still illuminated - enough to look out across the Emerald City. Glinda was trembling. She could hear it in her breathing. She swallowed.
She surveyed the unevenly dyed sky. "Elphie?" she whispered. Her lower lip fastened.
Suddenly a figure lifted from the other side of the parapet. "The Good" gasped and stumbled backwards, falling to the floor. Her gown gathered around her. In the dark she was able to make out two wings, which, as the creature landed on the balcony before her, quivered and shut upon the monkey's back. It a moment it was clear. Chistery.
He froze. Glinda looked up into his blank stare. Tears flooded the lining of her eye and the corners of her flawless mouth quivered. She stood and searched Chistery's gaze. In his eyes she found Elphaba. Glinda took a step forward but her knees buckled and she collapsed into Chistery's arms. He caught her awkwardly. He was struck by this activity, never having embraced another. She was weeping convulsively, clutching the lapels of his coat. He discovered his arms were fixed, palms up. Speechless, he brought them close to Glinda and embraced her.
Auntie Dee was followed by a line of young girls, single file; however, her attention was not on the children. She was a haughty woman, with her nose stuck almost as high in the air as the fuchsia parasol she grasped. On their return to the municipal orphanage, she was recognized as "Delia" by her neighbors. As they approached the building, which stood opposite them on the street, Dee gathered the girls to cross. At the same time, Glinda's horse drawn coach loped through the streets of the Emerald City. She was joined by her companion. Unaware the carriage was headed toward them, Delia was more concerned whether or not her shoes were on the right feet and led the girls across the cobblestones. Most of the formation had made it across the street before the coachman realized and jerked the reins.
Startled, the youngest dropped her toy.
The horse cried and bound upon his back legs, stalling the carriage. The coachman was quick to jump off his pedestal to calm the horse and the girl. Inside the coach Glinda collected herself and opened the carriage door...which a stationed footman fumbled to staff. He helped her from the coach onto the cobblestone street. Concerned, she glided to the front of the transport.
"What's this?" she inquired.
"Oh! Your Goodness!" Auntie Dee approached, taking the girl by the wrist. "How clumsy of us."
Bird-like, Chistery popped his head out from the carriage quarterlight. This caught the attention of a young boy who stood on the ground before him. The child, dewy-eyed, coggled his head toward the monkey. The boy's mouth dropped and he stared up at the creature, dazed. Chistery cocked his head and his wings sprung open inside the carriage...their primary feathers jutting out the nearest window.
With her wand in one hand, Glinda knelt down and picked up the doll in the other. She recognized the homemade cloth caricature. The sky blue gingham dress. Those braids. Even the painted on shoes implied on the stumps which served as feet. She looked back at Chistery, whose eyes fell.
The silence was broken when Auntie Dee blurted, "She dropped it."
Turning back to Dee and the child, Glinda pressed the doll to her chest. "The wind could have carried it," she said kindly. "Oz is the location of very odd weather behavior." She bent down to the level of the little girl and smiled. "It's beautiful." After thanking the coachman with her gentle touch she was helped back into the carriage. Chistery, too, drew back into the compartment, but not before sticking out his tongue to the young boy, who had not moved.
As the coach began to drive away, the little girl looked down at her plaything. "It's beautiful," she whispered.
"What's that?" croaked Auntie Dee. At the sight of the doll her eyes grew wide, her jaw dropped, and the parasol she held fell with her arm to her side.
Glinda was looking out of the panoramic window at the back of the carriage. She smiled.
The doll, void of its past attributes, had turned a lovely tint of green.
The Witch put down the glassblown orb. "Horrors," she reflected.
Disregarding the lapse she caressed the painted burlap face beside her...and smiled.