My favorite city is the village of Hmmm. For my whole life I have been the unauthorized inventor/fix-it master in Hmmm. To be honest, I don't know why I love Hmmm. I have fixed millions of appliances and invented gizmos both beneficial and interesting to Hmmmkind, but I barely made a nickel overall, soft touch that I am, accepting payment in mustard seeds, busted bricks, homemade underpants, and the like. But I guess a place grows on you.
If you toodle north by southwest along the immense redstone plateau that runs up the middle of the Hermengild Duchy and then down and around the Greater Pertelote Dominion, you'll eventually find your way, with luck, to the village of Hmmm.
Those regions were named for the Cornish and Tuath clans that five centuries before had warred over the natural bounty of tulips and wild goatdung. Those products together produced a beautiful glue that was used in the binding of the first book ever made in these parts, Look Out Behind You, by Erg Neth.
Those old historic folks were one tough hombres. Hmmm's own founder was a outcast from a mixed union between two lovebirds of the rival clans. In fact, she lost the very extremity (that the village would be designed in the shape of) while escaping from the stocks. Namely, she gnawed her own foot off and kept it as sustenance in her purse while fleeing south toward what would become Hmmm when she got there. What doesn't kill you makes you plan a village in the shape of your missing foot.
To the east you get going down through Gnosis Canyon, beautifically desolate, and up and out into a Van Gogh realm of loomful sky and rolling lemon hills, interspreckled by a village now in then of haystacks, mudholes, cows, buckets, donkeys, chimneys, cropfields, shadows, huts, wells, lots of winsome country folk performing winsome country tasks, and silence.
Hmmm is as much the people as the natural beautific panorama.
You have to start with Founder Lola Goetz, whose motto was "Don't follow me, don't lead me, just be my friend and leave me the hell alone." Her motto fits me fine, as I kept to the back roads on my housecall fix-it rounds, traveling by railroad hand-car mostly, not for the romance of it but that it was a mind-your-own-business style of transport. Full name, Lola Goetz Eu Seeque, she was a one-footed 15th century French-German-Chinese-Iroquois gal who nobody knows much about, but that all four of her husbands met their Maker in similar mysterious circumstances involving farm machinery in the middle of the night. Also that she laid the village out in the shape of her remaining foot, which turned out to be quite a shapely form for a village, except for a extra big toe where the park juts out. She named the village after the first word she reportedly said when she got herself born, namely, "Hmmm!"
Another Hmmmizen who is always clear up to his elbows and beret in everything is Dr. Ernie "Transplant" Anderson, the addled voodoo man we called the village doctor, that also owned the Hmmm Drugstore & Casket Corporation.
And then there are the Ehs, Merle and Pearl, Chinese exile body-building scientists hired by Shane as pre-mayoral bodyguards. And Little Sammy of Little Jimmy Sammy's Snacks & Cakes, a Hmmm favorite. And a bunch of other entertaining and annoying characters that you can't count, if you can't count past about 150, the pop. of Hmmm.
Of course the one that entertains and annoys me the most is my sister Shane. Shane runs a lucrative fortune-telling enterprise out of the garage (that she had to put on hold for her mayorial campaign). She's got $240 in contributions from Hmmmizens so far. I asked her what she was going to spend it on.
"A telescope. A bunch of basketballs for the whole village. A scooper for my pond. A new makeover and wardrobe for my campaign for mayor. A hundred pairs of Japanese big-toe socks."
"That's a lot of stuff for $274.25," I say.
"Not if you know where to shop, Bro."
"Where do you shop, the twelfth century?"
"A girl doesn't need to time travel to find things on sale, but I would if I had to."
"You won't find no bunch of basketballs in the twelfth century, on sale or not."
"How many would I find?"
"None. They didn't play basketball in the twelfth century."
"I doubt you know everything that everybody did in the twelfth century."
"I know you won't be able to run no mayorial campaign in the twenty-first century after you spend all your dough on frivulous items. Propaganda costs money."
"I'm going to run on the coin of my personality. However, when I start passing out free basketballs I won't even need a personality."
"I think you just found your campaign slogan."
Shane doesn't have a June bug's chance in Duckville of winning for mayor. Not against the ruthless, corrupt, intrenched, and sarcastic 83-year-old incumbent Mayor Buck "Shuffleboard" Humphrey and his shady entourage. Shuffleboard's perpetual campaign slogan is "It could be lots worse." That scares the bejesus out of everybody, and they kept voting him back in. Shane was born to be mayor or princess of something. However, a boy friend is what she could have used most. But that's another story.
In any case, Hmmm is my favorite city, as villages go. Don't ask me why. I guess you just get used to a place.