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The Legend of Sia – Chapter 2

August 30, 2010

A continuing tale to celebrate the independence and entrepreneurial spirit of West Didsbury

Chapter 1 – The Wrong Peg

Chapter 2 – The Elixir of Truth – read on…

It had been six months since the Director had handed Sia his mysterious instruction to ‘Find Crazy Wendy’, and nothing had changed.

Actually, that wasn’t true. She had changed.

No longer could Sia perform her simple tasks with the precise, detached actions of an automaton. She was distracted, rattled, losing focus. Strange cravings gnawed at the edges of her mind. And the tune in her head was getting louder, more insistent, with each day that passed.

Di-dee di-di-di-di dee dee, dee di-di-di dee.
Di-dee di-di-di-di dee dee, dee di-di-di dee.

At least it was drowning out Kylie.

Every night, Sia cried herself to sleep. Every day she awoke to restlessness pacing inside her belly like a caged tiger, increasing in intensity with each stride.

Until, one day, she strode with it.

She walked straight past her office. Fast and furious, with no notion of where she was heading, she strode past uniform block after uniform block of grey, soulless streets. She walked until the wind whipped at her eyes and made them weep; until her Killer Heels rubbed raw blisters into her soles; until she couldn’t walk any more.

Exhausted, embittered and crying once more, Sia collapsed onto the side of the pavement, panting heavily with effort and emotion.

And then she heard it. The tune in her head.

Except this time it wasn’t in her head. It was floating on a side street breeze. And there were words, too, although she couldn’t quite make them out.

Oo-aay uh-ee-uh-uh ow-or, aye ee-or-a aye.

Picking herself up from the gutter, she hobbled in the direction of the music, turned into the nearby side street and paused in amazement. For there, tucked incongruously between two identical gloomy grey buildings, was a tiny bungalow painted in golden sunshine, upon whose frontage danced the merrily scrawled words:

Crazy Wendy’s Thai Restaurant and Spiritual Guidance

Sia blinked in the dimly lit restaurant and wondered if she were seeing things.

In the centre of a makeshift wooden stage, a diminutive figure clad in a glittering, hot-pink showgirl dress, a matching feather boa and a massive orange beehive wig was strutting her stuff enthusiastically, as if performing for a wildly screaming audience at Glastonbury, instead of rows upon rows of empty tables.

Grasping a microphone with thin golden fingers bejewelled with cheap plastic rings, the showgirl was bellowing:

You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound dog, crying all the time!
You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound dog, crying all the time!

“Er, excuse me?” Sia called out. “Are you Wendy?”

“Hey!” cried Wendy in delight – for yes, it was she – and bounded off the stage towards Sia. “Come in, come in, sit down. You want food?”

“Actually, I was more interested in the spiritual guidance?” Sia ventured, hesitantly.

“Bah,” snorted Wendy, and clapped her hands. “Look at you, skinny girl. You need food.”

And, before she knew it, Sia was sitting at a table tucking into strange and exotic dishes with fragrant aromas that tickled her nostrils and made her mouth water.

“I’ve never tried anything like this before,” she mumbled through mouthfuls.

“Ha! Nowhere like this place in this City,” said Wendy. “In fact, nowhere like this place in the world. It is my place; it is one-hundred-percent Wendy. Well, me and Elvis. I couldn’t have done this without him.”

She beamed and waved her hand around the room at the walls that, Sia now noticed, were plastered with pictures featuring the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll at various stages of his life. The plastic rings on Wendy’s fingers caught the dim light and shone like real crystals, blinding Sia momentarily.

“Wendy,” Sia whispered, leaning forward, “Is it true? Are you… Crazy?”

“Ha!” cried Wendy again in delight. “Isn’t everyone? Aren’t you?”

Seeing Sia’s confused face, she leant closer and hissed confidingly: “Everyone a little bit crazy, you know. Some people, they try to bury their craziness deep inside, some so deep that they’ll never find it again. But you.”

She peered into Sia’s eyes, smiled and nodded.

“You have the craziness. It bubbling up inside you. But you have to recognise it, accept it and act on it. Otherwise…”

“Otherwise what?” Sia hissed back.

Wendy threw back her head, almost dislodging the orange wig, and cackled uproariously. “Otherwise you really WILL go crazy!”

She pushed a bowl of steaming liquid towards Sia. “Here. Have this. You’ll see.”

Obediently, Sia grasped a spoon and took a gulp of the liquid. Instantly her mouth was flooded with a warm, tingling sensation that tangoed with her tongue and bounced at the back of her throat, making her cough and splutter.

And then, the magic started to happen.

That cheeky tingle danced its way through every inch of Sia’s body, shooing away her torpid fatigue and shaking every nerve ending into life. Suddenly she realised: this was what she had been missing. This feeling of herself, fully conscious, feeling alive.

And, she thought further: this was what she wanted. To be, like Wendy, original; to be eccentric, even crazy, if that were required. But, above all, to be true to herself.

“Wow!” she gasped. “What is this stuff – is it some kind of Truth Elixir?”

“Actually, we call it tom yum soup,” shrugged Wendy. “But whatever work for you. Now,” she leapt up and danced back towards the stage, “I must continue rehearsing for tonight!”

“But, me, hang on, what do I do?” cried Sia.

But Crazy Wendy was whirling her pink feather boa once more in renewed Elvis-inspired ecstasy:

Ohhhh, you ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine!

The Guardian seemed smaller somehow. Less intimidating. And he was sat idly at a table, playing Patience.

“You’re not quite as scary on this side of the gate,” Sia said. The Guardian of Conformity looked up.

“Oh, it’s you. Are you leaving? Hang on, I’ll get your stuff.”

“Is that it?” asked Sia in surprise. “I thought you’d try to stop me.”

“Oh no,” chuckled the Guardian. “You can leave any time you like – anyone can. It’s just that people rarely do. Better the devil you know. You know?”

From the inky depths of his helmet, Sia was sure she saw a pale eye wink.

“Oh,” said the Guardian, spotting the bag on her back, “You can’t take all that with you. Company policy, you know how it is. Choose three things and leave the rest.”

“Okay,” said Sia.

She stepped through the gate. Reunited with her Imagination and Creativity, her corporate Killer Heels replaced with practical purple pumps, and with her new travelling companions of a compass, the star-shaped metal peg from Tess & Co and a flask of tom yum soup, Sia was ready to set out on the next stage of her journey to she knew not where.

However, as she breathed the air of freedom with deep satisfaction, she failed to notice the Guardian of Conformity quietly transforming himself into a tiny spider, scuttling up behind her and tying a silver cobweb to the shoelace of one of her purple pumps.

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