Pocket Pal

By Shrinkingman

One day I was typing on this very computer when I looked over to the right of it and saw a man climbing up the mouse cable and onto the desk. This man was about four and a half inches tall, clad in a T-shirt and shorts, with teeny white socks and sandals on his tiny feet. The man walked over and stood on the mouse pad.
"Hello there! I was wondering if I could stay in your apartment for awhile."

I was dazed and tried to say something; the man smiled and said, "Oh, I hope I didn't surprise you. There aren't many like me..."
I put my thumb and forefinger around him--yes, he was real and not a figment of my imagination. "Er, I guess so!", I said.
"I don't take up too much space...and I can do little things around your place."
"Well, at your size, I guess little things are all you CAN do!"

He laughed. "True! Not easy being this size, you know." He touched his T-shirt. "Tough finding clothes my size. And I'm a bit too small to drive a car. But I could ride around in your shirt pocket."

"Funny you should say that," I replied and showed him a cartoon I'd done on the computer of a tiny fox in someone's pocket. The man stood on one of my hands, which I placed in front of the screen. "Very good," he said. He introduced himself as Vardorew (pronounced VARR-doe-roo) and said he was a Liliputian.
"I thought Liliputians were fictional"
"No, we exist, but there aren't too many of us left and we're all spread apart. We live as best we can in a world of giants."
I took out a ruler and saw he was four and a half inches tall. "Thought Liliputians were six inches tall."
The tiny man replied, "Maybe our height was misreported, or maybe we've been shrinking over the years."

"I actually wouldn't mind being your size. Would be fun to be so small..."
"Well, it is at times but it can also be dangerous. Anyway, you don't mind if I move in?"
"Not at all. Hmm, you could live in a mousehole but I don't really have any mouseholes here" (I pictured the type of mouseholes seen in cartoons like Pixie and Dixie). But I told him I had a 4 piece sectional set; three of the pieces were put together like a sofa while the other piece was by itself. "You'd have plenty of room there."

And so I had a roommate. Being fascinated with little people, I could only marvel at how small Vardo was. He was nearly one-sixteenth my height and probably only weighed a few ounces. His hands, feet, arms, and legs were incredibly tiny and he could hide just about anyplace. I'd imagine that most of the animals one would encounter on a typical day would be much bigger than Vardo--cats, dogs, squirrels, birds.

Vardo slept on the cushy sectional and kept his clothes nearby. A lamp cord gave him access to the floor. I put a string next to the sink so he could go up and take baths, although he needed me to control the water flow as the faucets were a bit tough for him to turn. For fun one day, he was taking a bath/swim in the sink and I pushed the drainplug. The water started swirling down and he was in a bit of a whirlpool! I caught him with my hand and lifted him up; then I apologized for pushing the plug. He said it was no problem--in some ways it was fun!

I tend to eat out often so Vardo either ate what little I kept in my apartment or would join me as I ate out. Sometimes I'd order a sausage pizza, bring it home, and put a slice on a plate; he'd reach over and grab a piece of sausage and munch it. Once I made some microwave popcorn and he literally dived into the bowl and started tossing the popped kernels into the air. He'd shoot them up toward my mouth, as if he were shooting baskets.

I got used to having Vardo around. I'd be at the computer and would see something I needed to jot down; I'd look down and see Vardo, in my pocket, thrusting a pen longer than he was up at me.
And sometimes I'd lie on the sectional/sofa, watching TV, and he'd climb up on my T-shirt-covered chest, lie down, and watch along with me, his body rising and falling with each breath I drew into my lungs.

Sometimes Vardo would turn on my Walkman, find a good tape or a certain station, and lie between the headphones as if each earpiece were a speaker.

I tried to imagine what life was like being so small. To him, doorknobs would be about 50 feet off the ground so he could try to squeeze under doors (like the "little people" in "Land of the Giants" did). I would seem about 100 feet tall to him.The tiniest objects would be huge to him, and heavy.

One time we went to a park and I lay on the grass near some bushes. Vardo went walking around and I got a kick out of seeing someone so tiny in such a setting. Some birds landed near him and they weren't afraid of him (or vice-versa), as he tossed some bits of bread toward them. I hoped a cat or dog wouldn't come by--and when a person neared I would gently grab him and place him in my shirt pocket.

I hesitated introducing him to other people but he soon met a couple of them anyway: the Spause kids. They lived on the first floor of my apartment building, nine-year-old Tim and eleven-year-old Scott. Scott had one thing in common with me: a fascination with little people. He saw the movie "the Incredible Shrinking Man" on TV ("wow, he's named Scott just like me!") and I gave him an extra copy of the book that I had.

Well, one day Vardo was on my back porch (I was away at the time) and Scott went up there because he liked the view from my porch. He looked down for a second and saw Vardo,who was sitting down. Vardo stood up and looked up at the boy who seemed over 70 feet tall to him. At first Vardo looked like a toy to him, but Scott knew Vardo was alive when Vardo started running away from him. Gently Scott put his right hand down on the porch's floor, palm facing toward Vardo and Vardo almost ran right into it--he stopped an inch or so away, looked up at the kid and held up his tiny hands as if to say "please don't hurt me!". But Scott gently put his thumb and forefinger around Vardo, placed him in his other hand, and sat down on the porch, admiring the tiny man. It was kinda like "The Indian in the Cupboard".

"Hi there, uh..."
"Scott--yes, I'm Scott Carey, the Incredible Shrinking Man, and I used to be 6 feet tall! Actually I'm Scott Spause."
Vardo introduced himself and said he was living in my apartment. Scott nodded and gently put his thumb and forefinger around Vardo's left arm. "Wow, awesome how small you are!" Tim came up to the porch and Scott showed Vardo to him. "A real live toy--he can ride in our toy cars and ride in our pockets an' stuff!"

Vardo told them that while he'd love to play with them he was also a living human being, if only a small one, so they needed to be very gentle with him. Scott took off one of his sneakers and gently put Vardo in it--"you can sleep in there if ya want!" Of course the smell of the boy's socks or bare feet was clearly evident in the sneaker, and rather overpowering to Vardo. He politely declined. Then Vardo excused himself and squeezed under my back door. The kids banged on the door for him to come back.
"Uh, I'd let you in but I can't reach the doorknob!" said Vardo. The kids laughed.

Vardo told me this story when we went to a park named Centennial Grove on a warm late October Saturday. "You met these kids? I'm not sure that's such a good idea. They might play with you a little TOO hard..."
"Yeah, kids can be that way. I'd love to play with them but I don't want to put myself in danger."

"Well, should I be keeping you a secret? The press would love to reveal that there are little tiny people like you...you'd be a celebrity. But that also could put you in danger. So maybe we should keep people from finding out about you, and that includes those kids."

I sat on a rock overlooking the lake next to the park. The sun shimmered on the water; a man fished nearby, and warm breezes blew at us, scattering leaves and also blowing tiny Vardo off. A breeze that would cause me little harm seemed like a hurricane to a guy who weighed a few ounces.

"So you say the Liliputians are scattered. Wouldn't you want to all stay together so you could be with people your size?" I imagined a village or a city built by people 4 or 5 inches tall.

"We had to move when developers cleared off the island--people your size who didn't even know we existed. So we went our separate ways. Liliputians are around but I just don't know where. But I actually like living in a world of giants."

I told him how I'd talked on instant message with a guy who was only 3 and a half feet tall; an adult who also seemed to live in a world of giants. Kids towered over him, he couldn't reach lightswitches, and everything seemed built for giants. "Now, he has a tough enough time in the world--you're much smaller than him. I'm amazed you're still here...the dangers you face..."

"I'm used to it," he replied.
"But wouldn't you want to be in a city with people your size, with buildings scaled down to your size?"
"Naw, I like being with you giants."
"But won't your people die out? If you don't meet someone and have kids, and if other Liliputians separate and also don't reproduce...that will be the end of you. It's sad." Vardorew looked pensive and sad when I brought that up.

"Well, maybe I could find someone my size...you have the Internet. Maybe you can post something. Who knows, there may be little people like me out there." He was right. I could put a posting on the Net and maybe a giant--er, an average-sized person like myself who happened to have a Liliputian living with them could answer. But the odds were too great. Would it be worth it?

As it turned out, I soon found another Liliputian--thanks to my 11-year-old neighbor.

Scott saw me going up the stairs, with Vardo in my shirt pocket, and he said "Hey Bob, I have a pocket pal, too."

"Got a new toy, huh?,"
"Yeah, his name's Pratrod."
With that Scott Spause reached into his pocket and showed me another living, tiny person...a boy of about 11 or 12. The boy may have been Scott's age but was a mere three and a half inches tall. Scott placed Pratrod on my hand and I took out Vardo and put him next to the Liliputian boy. "hey, I know you!," said Vardo. He looked up at me. "I know his parents-- I let Prat ride my horse."
Obviously a Liliputian horse. At their size, they could ride a mouse, not the type of horses around here. Prat explained that he and his family got separated when Liliput was overtaken by the giant developers. He was hoping to find his mom and dad again but in the meantime found a kid his age...who, uh, was kinda bigger. Prat had made the mistake of hiding in a toolbox; he was knocked out when a giant picked up the toolbox and when he woke up he saw the giant had taken him back to his fellow giants. Given his journey amongst giant screwdrivers and pliers, it was amazing how well he survived. Prat fled before the giant had a chance to see him, and his journeys had brought him here.

So Vardo had a fellow Liliputian to be with. Together they would ride around in Scott's toy cars as he used the remote control to ferry them around his room. They'd ride in my pocket or in Scott's. Vardo and Prat would race each other on my kitchen table-- if they went too far and headed over the edge, Scott would catch them in his cupped hand. They'd pose for pictures, recling in my hand or standing between my socked feet, looking up at how huge I was, and I'd post them on the Net. "Great special effects!," people said. If only they knew it was real!

"We need to repay you for all this," said Vardo. "Letting us stay, feeding us, helping us..."

"Oh, no problem. You guys do help me out a bit around here. And having you two lil' guys around is great entertainment. Plus I like helping little folks. You'd do the same if you were in my position."

"Yeah." He looked down and pretended to pick up someone who was about a quarter of an inch tall. "Hey lil' guy, you can stay with me..." I laughed.

My two Liliputians. We all seemed happy but I kept thinking about the Liliputian race dying out. How many more of there were there, and where? I couldn't let it happen. I couldn't let the Liliputians become extinct. They were people just like me, albeit on a much smaller scale. And their resourcefulness as they lived in a world of giants made me admire them.

And I also wondered if enough Liliputians could be found to not only continue their race, but also to start a city of tiny people. They could live isolated from big people like me, where they could be with their own kind, with houses, furniture, and other things scaled down for them. Better yet, why not have them live amongst big people like me? Their city could be part of my apartment.

It would be like the Borrowers or the Littles. One family under my bookshelves. Another near the TV set. Maybe Liliputian farmers could exist in someone's back yard, next to a garden. They wouldn't need much land. But I was getting ahead of myself.

I told Vardo my idea. "If we find more of you and you reproduce, you could spread all over the world. People could take care of you the way I have."

"Hmm, so we could live with the big people but still have our own cities or something."

"You could live with people your own size, and also spend time with people my size. We could protect you."

"Or maybe find us another place where we could start up our own city." That was possible, too. I thought of a huge nature reservation near me, Castle Hill and Crane's beach. It was simply beautiful. Of course more than a few "big people" visit there but I could find a remote area of it for New Liliput. Well, just an idea anyway.

A week later, as I woke up one day, I heard voices and could sense somebody tugging at my beard. I opened my eyes and there on the bed were Vardo and Prat, pulling at my beard to get my attention. "We found her, she's here!" said Vardo.

"And who is...?", I inquired.

"My mom! She's on the floor!," said Prat, excitedly.

I carefully reached down to the floor and there was a Liliputian woman--Garna, the mother of Prat!I placed Garna, Prat, and Vardo on my hand...Garna was a lovely little woman who seemed full of love and joy. Turns out that I had posted something on the Net talking about Vardo and Prat and someone read it...he had Garna staying with him, dropped her off at my house, and she came in under the door.

Garna said she couldn't find her husband--he was missing and perhaps dead. Sad. But in the week or two after she came here, she took a liking to Vardorew. And vice versa. Hmm, could Vardo become her mate? And a stepdad to Prat? Not to mention that here was our chance to repopulate the Liliputian race. They could marry and have more kids.

Some time later I took the 3 of them (yes, Vardo and Garna were now married) to that park I'd mentioned. Warm breezes came up the gently rising hill to the nature reserve. Trees, plants, animals, a beach, and more, all preserved. I'd worried about the possibility of animals attacking them but Vardo said they were used to it. And so I put them there in their new home (they started building a house in the woods of the nature preserve) and promised I'd come back to visit them.

Sure, I'd miss having a Pocket Pal but I knew they'd be happy. Well, not too long after that I borrowed my father's boat and headed out for a nice trip by myself. I saw an island I didn't remember seeing before, and it wasn't on the map. Curious, I dropped anchor and waded ashore.

Everything seemed a lot bigger. The grass was up to my knees, an eight-foot squirrel scampered by, and gigantic footprints were left in the dirt. Could this be Brobdingnag? A land of giants?

I saw a colossal house and walked in under the door.

A 70 foot tall giant was at a computer. I casually climbed up the mouse cord and stood on the mouse pad, looked up at him, and said, "Hello there! I was wondering if I could stay in your apartment for awhile."

2000 Bob Nelson