Where we went on our holidays #22
On our last day in Madeira, we heard from a cleaning lady that Laputa, the famous flying city, was hovering just above Funchal. There were still tickets to be had, she added, at the tobacconist if we wanted to take a ride.
My wife Josje looked at her watch: “We still have time before we have to leave for the airport. We probably shouldn’t miss this.”
“All the time in the world,” the lady said. “As long as that thing is hanging around, all flights will be canceled.”
The tickets weren’t exactly cheap, and they might have told that the only way up was by balloon. A rather patched-looking balloon, and the basket didn’t have any railing.
Giant albatrosses were circling the balloon, and I didn’t like the look in their beady eyes.
“What are they waiting for?” I asked the driver. “Should we have bought some mackerels?”
The driver guffawed: it clearly was a question only a stupid tourist would ever ask.
“The giant albatrosses eating a mackerel? No sir, they simply hate fish. They are just hoping we’ll spring a leak.” He nodded at the circling birds. “They sometimes try to dive at us and tear the fabric.” He opened his briefcase and loaded his Uzi. “Which is the reason why I carry this boy.”
“I see.” It made me feel a lot safer.
Laputa wasn’t anything like Vienna or Budapest, nothing ornate and even the cathedral was made of balsa wood. It all looked kind of seedy. I could imagine that stone and mortar would be rather expensive if you had to lift it by balloon.
At the top of the Tower of the Seventh God, we met a sport fisher. Bill Waynes from Oklahoma as he immediately told us. He was just casting his line.
“What are you fishing for, Bill?” I asked. “Swallows?”
It was only half a joke. We were some miles up and the sea was a hazy circle.
“No birds,” the man replied. “Angels.” He handed me his fishing rod. “You want to try?”
“Yes!” Josje said. “Catch me an angel, Teng!’ She turned to the fisher. “You know, my mother collects them.”
“Living angels? Your mother must be one hell of a gutsy lady.”
I reeled the line in and felt a tentative tug.
“Keep reeling it in,” Bill said. “Yes, yes. Move the tip around a bit.”
“What did you bait the hook with?” I asked. “Host?”
‘Nah, they are wise to that.” He leaned forward. “There she comes.” He recoiled. “Sheet! That ain’t no angel…”
The thing landing on the platform had feathers, and there any resemblance to an angel ended. The feathers were black as ink and hooked. The maw was dripping venom, which sizzled on the stones. A maw that certainly had never uttered anything resembling a prayer.
“We’d better run,” Bill told us, and he was the first to reach the entrance of winding stairs.
I closed the door in the face of the slavering demon, slammed the bolts home.
The demon hammered on the door. “Come outside, please. Let me rip your heart out en crush your head!”
“It must be a very well-bred demon,” Josje said. “Did you hear that? He said ‘please’.”
When we left the hallway, I saw Josje open her backpack. She smiled. “I got one of his feathers! My mother will be ever so pleased.”
“That wasn’t an angel!” I protested.
“All demons started out as angels. A dark angel is still an angel.”Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in