Turning to see who is speaking to her, always with a pleasant smile on her face,
always expecting the best, and here, so pleased with her new look and first trip away from home, she finds herself at a total loss for words, having been prepared to say, "Why thank you, and isn't this rain something?" but being met by insults delivered in a strange monotone, "a lack of affect," as it is called in psychology ...
...so taken aback is she by the words that she stands there waiting for the punchline; it can't possibly be for real, and why is there no expression on the man's face?
Pinky's got the wind knocked out of her sails and doesn't know just what to do or how to feel, totally confused by this intrusive blindeside attack. Rhubarb too is left dumbfounded by the experience. Both are so shaken by this that they don't notice that a security guard had been watching the entire episode, and the (perpetrator of the attack) is taken aside and questioned about this act of domestic terrorism: an unprovoked attack on two innocents, a sucker punch, shameful cowardice....There seem to be no words to describe the alarming behavior. The security guard also is perplexed, and his suspicions are aroused: the man must be holding back a darker hostility, leaking out at the seams, transferred to two very gentle looking ladies in a bizarre projection of inner fear.
In the station lobby Pinky and Rhubarb attempt to pull themselves together while waiting for Clare, who arrives to find them uncharacteristically downcast, especially at the start of an adventure to which Pinky had been looking forward with so much enthusiasm.
"¿Qué pasa? ¿Qué pasó? ¿Why the long face niña?"
"Something weird just happened, and we don't know enough about it to even be able to tell you. I'm waiting to see a hidden camera revealed at any moment. If we're not on 'The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,' then we just stepped into the Twilight Zone. I'll tell you later -- a weird guy came up to us and started berating Pinky for no reason at all."
"He didn't like the way she looked and just tore into her -- he came up behind her and just started in like we'd been having a conversation all along. Just a weird guy."
"Where is he?"
"I don't know. He disappeared. We were so dumbstruck and confused that we weren't able to pay attention much to what was going on around us anymore."
"Well, Pinky, I have your camp gifts here for you, a bell, book, and candle for each camper to remind them of their camp experience -- or to use at camp. I think the director will get the fun reference, but the campers don't need to.
"I got as many The Science of Harry Potter books as I could, like the one you brought to read on the train, but couldn't find fifteen of them, so I put in as many of the different Harry Potter novels as I could and then put in a humor book and a grown-up Dr. Seuss book and some herbology and other basic texts for the campers."
"I also brought you a jasper pendant -- and I am so thankful I thought of it, in the light of this weirdo out of nowhere -- as Jasper is a wonderful stone to protect you against many kinds of astral attack: it's one of the greatest all-around protective stones you can find. It's like Jade and Turquoise -- it is actually a relative of Jade, with more iron in it to make it the reddish color it is. Since you're an Aries, it will be even better for you. Plus remember, your grandpa's name is Jaspe and your little brother was named Jasper after him."
"Let me put it on you: that way my love will also enter into the circle that protects you and make it even more powerful." * * * * * (editing)
The first thing he does, of course, is ask the man to remove his shoes, not only to begin checking him out thoroughly but to prevent his slipping away. Security asks him to "walk this way," and takes him into an office for further questioning, noticing his feet are beginning to take on a peculiar yellow cast, and "walk this way" begins to take on an unsettling new meaning for the guard, as the slapping of the man's feet draw his attention to the fact that they are beginning to look more and more like duck feet.
"Well if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck..." security jokes with himself, "...my suspicions are well confirmed."
Filthy McNasty, the Starched Underwear Boy, left alone in a locked room while ID and record checks are run on him (above), begins to stew, and as he does, he begins losing control. Barely able to contain himself, he begins reverting to form, or perhaps we should say his real nature starts leaking out of him, uncontained in its crossing over into the world of train stations and those untrained in the occult arts....
...but meanwhile, after seeing Pinky safely onto the train,
"Hey, whose boots are these? I saw them here when I came in and they're just sitting here. I need boots -- it's going to be getting colder and they'll be nice for horseback riding." Even though Clare just sold her horse to help pay for Pinky's trip to camp, she knows she'll be able to visit him and perhaps even have him back some day, as he was sold to a very kind woman whose children need the experience of a horse in the family just now.
"Really? There's no point in leaving them here then -- they'll just wind up in the lost and found. They've been here quite a while -- whoever they belong to must have left on one of the trains out. Take them," Rhubarb advises her aunt.
"Cool -- they look like they'll fit just right. I'll take them home and put some Lysol and powder in them first. It looks like I have a cool pair of real Texas cowboy boots!"
"Well now you see, something bad happens and then something even better happens!"
Well, things were certainly looking up for the ladies, but alone on the train in her compartment, Pinky breaks down under the stress of going off on her own for the first time compounded by having been exposed to an egregious example of churlishness on her first venture out.
Much of her emotional distress was caused by exhaustion and she soon falls asleep, lulled by the repetitive soothing motion of the train.
Pinky's Dream, next page.