George George and Mimi (Briefly) Tour the World
This is a follow-up to The Otherworldly Visitor of Oscaloo. Click here to read that story!
It was a rare sight for the Mona Lisa: The backs of the heads of many people at once.
The scalp closest to the iconic painting was crowned with a cherry-red beret and belonged to Mindy Campbell. She was a tour guide, 25 years old, who hailed from Aberdeen, Scotland. She had the enviable task of giving after-hours, English-language tours of the Louvre.
However, this ordinarily chirpy and talkative tour guide found herself in a rare state: At a loss for words. She stood there, frozen, with the kind of wide-eyed gape a bride might give at her wedding toast if her granddad suddenly announced he had feelings for his live-in nurse. The dozen or so people on her tour were also turned around, staring, their jaws dropped to the floor.
Mindy had gotten to where she was partly due to the clever ways she’d been known to field the bizarre questions she’d get from (frequently American) tourists, particularly about the Mona Lisa. For example: Did people just not have eyebrows back then?; Why couldn’t Leonardo have painted that a bit larger?; or her personal favorite Do you think she was smirking because Leonardo was naked?
However, it wasn’t until George George that she’d ever encountered a grown adult who seemed to genuinely confuse the Renaissance painter with the Ninja Turtle.
“I heard Leonardo was handy with the Ninjatos,” George George said to Mindy, and everyone else in the tour, in a matter-of-fact tone.
George George had only become aware of the Ninja Turtles a few hours ago in Oscaloo, Florida where he stood in line at the Santa Claus Meet and Greet. Waiting behind him was a seven-year-old girl named Samantha, clad in a Ninja Turtles t-shirt, who’d given him a brief rundown of the characters’ mythos. One such fact was Leonardo’s choice of weapons were in fact the Ninjatos, not to be confused with the katanas.
George George tilted his head and put a stiff index finger to his chin in an attempt to appear thoughtful.
“However, I wasn’t aware until now that Leonardo was also a painter. Is that another skill he’d picked up from the mutant rat?”
George George of course was referring to the Ninja Turtles character known as Splinter—an anthropomorphic rat and mentor to the crime-fighting quartet of turtles. However, he’d refrained from evoking Splinter’s name, because he was also aware that “splinter” might refer to a sliver of wood that one might get lodged into the finger. He wanted to make the distinction clear, lest Mindy or anyone else think he was suggesting a little sliver of wood could teach somebody to paint. Because that would be absurd.
Mindy’s eyes then started to narrow at this strange, lanky man garbed in a panama hat. For one thing, for such a distinctive looking person, it had struck her odd that this was the first time on the tour that she’d noticed him.
“Sir, where did you come from?” she asked. “I don’t recall seeing you at the check-in desk.”
George George forced a grin that he hoped would come across as jovial, but it only gave him a dopey, intoxicated look reminiscent of Stan Laurel.
“I come from the planet—Ow!”
George George, Jawaean through and through, hadn’t suddenly changed his background story about what planet he’d come from. (And there was in fact a planet named Ow! whose chief export, perhaps not coincidentally, was coffee tables.) Rather, George George was slugged unceremoniously in the arm by his new Earthling comrade, 10-year-old Mimi. As brusque as it might seem, this was quickly becoming a vital means of communication between the two. Mimi was learning that a punch in the arm was the only way to get her extra-terrestrial friend’s attention, just as quickly as George George was learning that it meant he should say “Ow!” and stop talking.
“Did you two get lost from another tour?” Mindy asked. “May I see your tickets, please?”
George George lifted up the sleeve of his Hawaiian shirt and thumped the price tag that dangled from it.
“That’s not a ticket!” Mimi said to him in a hushed tone.
“Oh,” George George said, then looking at it rather despondently. “What is this thing, anyway?”
“That’s not important right now!” she snapped.
“How do we get tickets?”
“Again, not important.”
“Ahem!” Mindy interrupted, then standing akimbo with her head tilted. “If you two don’t have tickets, then I’m afraid we’re going to have to get security to escort you out.”
She expeditiously unfastened a walkie-talkie from her belt and clicked it on.
George George, continuing to speak in that hurried, hushed tone and asked: “Is there security personnel everywhere on this planet?”
“Pretty much,” Mimi responded.
Foot steps were heard in the distance, echoing through the Louvre’s resonant galleries. They were quickly getting louder.
“Quick, run!“ Mimi cried before skedaddling off. George George followed, running in the same peculiar manner that he walked—by making 90-degree angles with his elbows and knees. They jolted into the Grand Galerie, a long room with purple marble pillars and an arched glass ceiling, and ducked behind a bust of a Roman imperial.
Mimi removed a spiral-bound notebook of postcards from her back pocket, which had depicted various places from all around the world. The page had been opened to a postcard depicting the Louvre, and she quickly flipped to an arbitrary page—this one depicting the Great Wall of China.
“Quick, George George,” Mimi said. “Take us here!”
As the footsteps were getting louder and louder, George George put his index fingers to his temples and spent a few long seconds to stare intensely at the photograph before shutting his eyes.
The security guards found them.
“Hé, ils sont là!” cried a security guard.
Security guards had seemed to pop out of every entrance of the Grand Galerie and were quickly approaching when George George suddenly spread out his legs and arms.
The next thing they knew, George George and Mimi were standing before the Great Wall of China. It was sunrise, and the sky was the color of orange cream. The brown-stone, ancient Chinese construction zigzagged from horizon to horizon through a barren, Chinese landscape that was dusted with snow.
They realized there was a tourist standing not 20 feet away from them who was garbed in a khaki, wide-brimmed hat and wielding a single-lens, detachable Nikon camera. He glared at this peculiar duo with a furrowed brow.
The man’s name was Lambert Zanzi, a German freelance photographer. Had it not been for the ferocious hangover he had from indulging in a wild bender the night before, he would have swornthey’d just appeared out of nowhere. Lambert silently swore off alcohol for the umpteenth morning in a row before snapping a frivolous photograph and sauntering away to get more sunrise views of the Great Wall.
Mimi took out a permanent marker from her front pocket.
“OK, the Great Wall of China is real, too,” she said, putting a black check mark at the corner of that postcard in her spiral notebook. “So far, I’d say, this book has a pretty good track record.”
Mimi and George George had taken a brief detour back to Oscaloo so that she could grab that book, leave a note for her grandma, and tie up some loose ends with her friend Barbara and her mom, who were supposed to be watching her at the mall. That is, before they would have a chance to alert the police about Mimi’s unexpected disappearance. Barbara was in the same class as Mimi and lived catty-corner to her house.
The Grand Canyon was their fifth stop from Mimi’s postcard book so far that evening—after the Statue of Liberty in New York, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, The Palace of Westminster in London, the Louvre Museum in Paris to check out the Mona Lisa, and now finally the Great Wall. She’d inadvertently skipped over huge parts of Europe, all of Africa, and most of Asia, but there wouldn’t be much to see in those parts, as it was nightfall.
Mimi’s grandmother, Marianita, had purchased that notebook a few years ago at a thrift shop for $1.39. Mimi had been begging her for a big destination vacation. She didn’t care where it was—as long as it was so far away that they’d need to take an airplane to get there. Marianita, feeling gutted that she couldn’t afford to appease her granddaughter’s thirst for world travel, gave her that notebook in hopes that it would inspire her in the future to work hard so that she could afford to visit these places on her own. Of course, Marianita didn’t know that Mimi was going to meet an extra-terrestrial who could transport her to these places instantaneously. But who could anticipate such a thing?
Mimi’s idea to visit these places with George George had sprung mainly because her grandmother had also given her a book about Santa Claus having workshop at the North Pole. Finding out that was all a hoax, it put all the other literature provided to Mimi by her grandmother in doubt.
“My, my,” George George said, scanning the wall. “This was quite the construction.”
“Yeah, this place is amazing,” Mimi said, looking all around her, beaming. She looked at the fine print written underneath the picture.
“It says Imperial China built the Wall starting in the 7th Century B.C. it to keep the Mongols out.”
“Huh,” George George said, taking another look at it. “Did it work?”
It was sunsetting over the Grand Canyon. George George and Mimi sat cross legged atop a pillar that would normally only be accessible to the most daring of rock climbers. They gazed in silence over the miles and miles of deep, rugged terrain—a sweeping cathedral that overloaded the senses with its rich strata of reds, yellows, and maroons that were continuously changing color as the sunset in the dusty sky was remaking itself—from deep blue to cerulean to hot orange and finally to a dull red.
“Isn’t this beautiful?” Mimi asked George George.
“Indeed,” he replied. “It’s just like it looks in the photograph.”
“Well yeah, you can see this in a photograph, but doesn’t it just … I don’t know … give you the feeling like you’re breathing for the first time?”
George George took in a breath of air, but it felt like any other breath he’d taken since materializing on Earth. Albeit, this air was certainly thinner and crispier than the air Oscaloo.
George George then turned his head from left to right and thought of something to say that might perhaps skirt at what Mimi was noting.
“I would say being able to turn my head and see things outside of the bounds of the picture frame is most agreeable,” he said, nodding.
“It isn’t just that,” Mimi replied. “From a picture, you can’t smell the air, feel the rock underneath you, or hear the quiet like you can when we are here in real life.”
“Huh,” George George said, recalling a conversation with Mimi at the Statue of Liberty about human’s experiences with five senses. “Sight, smell, sound and touch. All that’s missing is taste.”
He picked up a loose rock about the size of a hockey puck and licked it. He then pursed his lips and tried to spit out the dry dust that had accumulated on his tongue.
Mimi flipped her head back and laughed so boisterously she could hear the sound bounce off the rocks in the canyon.
“You know something, George George?” Mimi said.
He paused to consider that question before saying finally: “I know some things.”
“This has been the best day of my life,” she said.
George George winced a bit.
“Which day did this replace?” he asked sincerely.
“I don’t know,” she replied, now tilting her head and furrowing her brow. “The day I was born, I guess. …I can’t even remember that day.”
“Ah,” George George said. “Well, I’m glad you’ve found a day you’ve enjoyed more than a day you don’t remember.”
“Yeah,” Mimi replied, giving a wistful smile.
It was 10 p.m. back at Oscaloo (two hours after she said she’d be home according to the note she left) and George George and Mimi stood on the sidewalk outside to say their goodbyes.
They stood there, staring at one another silently until Mimi suddenly wrapped her arms around his skinny torso, which took him aback a bit. George George had learned that people squeezing other people was customary on this planet as a means of imparting comfort. However, all George George could feel from it was his lungs contracting, and it being slightly more difficult to breathe.
“George George, I can’t thank you, enough!” she cried.
“Just once is fine,” George George replied. “I would also like to thank you for showing me around!”
“Oh, that was nothing,” Mimi responded, flipping her hand at him dismissively.
Then she turned to look at her front door, and she felt a small tinge of apprehension manifest across her face. She never went missing like this ever in her life. She bet her grandmother was worried sick. She looked back to George George, and her eyes started to moisten.
“Say, George George,” she said. “Will you come visit me again?”
“Yes, I will return,” he said, giving a small grin. “We need to visit this place called Santorini, you’ve been talking about.”
Mimi grinned and nodded her head. She ran to up the walk to her grandmother’s front door and opened it. She gave one last silent wave and then shut the door slowly behind her.
And with that, George George was alone. He still felt a little disoriented on this planet, but there was something about Paris that he thought made sense to him (despite having been chased out of the Louvre).
George George closed his eyes and then pressed his fingers to his temples.
Just as he was about to spread out his legs and arms, Mimi’s front door suddenly banged open.
“George George!” Mimi yelled. She was shivering in panic. “My grandmother’s gone!”