As Itsy crested over a tree-covered hill, she saw a fox in a hat and another in his fur both perched beside a pile of supplies overlooking a chasm filled with thick fog.
“Greetings!” said the hatted. “I wonder if you might assist us. We are building a bridge from here to THERE.” He pointed off into the fog, towards nothing Itsy could see.
“Yeah, and we could knock it over, but we’ve made other finer, fancier plans!” said the other, beaming at his hatted brother.
“Yes, as amusing as that might be,” said the hatted, “we’ve decided the bridge should stand properly, at least for some decent length of time.”
“Yeah, at least until we get to THERE,” said the unhatted with a confident nod of his head.
“Where?” asked Itsy, shading her eight eyes with her favored leg and scanning the horizon, seeing nothing beyond the jungle and fog.
“THERE!” they cried and pointed, together in the same direction.
“And what will you do when you get to this “there”?” asked Itsy.
The two looked at each other, confused, then together at Itsy, then off into the fog in widely and wildly different directions.
“We’ll build another bridge… back to HERE!” the unhatted triumphantly volunteered.
“No, certainly not,” said the hatted. “We’ll already have done that!”
“Oh… yeah…” the unhatted admitted.
The hatted looked at the other annoyed, then at Itsy. “Look here! We’re not going to get this bridge built if we all just stand around speculating.”
“I’m not building anything anymore,” said Itsy, “not with anyone, two or three even. I built my web, by myself, over an over-long time, and now I go wherever I please, letting others build whatever they want. It’s plenty for me to go on.”
“Must be nice!” said the unhatted. “Going THERE whenever you please, and back HERE again whenever you don’t!”
“It certainly sounds divine,” agreed the hatted. “Perhaps when we two get over to THERE, you’ll be THERE with us too!”
Itsy looked at them both, quite confused. “I don’t go merely HERE and THERE, but anywhere, to any there!”
“Wait, where?” said the unhatted, clearly puzzled. “There’s no wheres other than THERE and HERE!”
“Actually, there are many wheres,” said Itsy. “I’m doubtless they’re countless.”
“Really!” said the hatted, clearly intrigued, stroking his trimmed whiskers with interest. “Then if we build our bridge… over-long,” he looked over to Itsy to check his correctness, “we will not only get THERE, but another THERE beyond THAT!”
“Now, hold on for one fine and fancy minute!” said the unhatted, panicked. “I’m not so sure and certain I want to leave HERE now!”
“Well, we certainly have to get somewhere,” reasoned the hatted.
“WHY?!?” screamed the other, clutching his hatless head with both hands in sheer terror.
“Now, now, and here, here,” said the fox in said hat. “Everyone knows the world works a particular way, therefore we work a particular way. It’s common logic.”
“Does the world really work?” asked the other. “It just sits around, really.”
“The world works because it has purpose!” insisted the hatted. “Rocks have purposes! Pillars have purposes! It’s only up, or THERE, from HERE! There’s no need for downtime! A bit of work will cheer you up! Let’s start with a pillar, a fine and firm foundation!”
The other fox thought this over in silence, then turned to the pile, dragged out a pillar and placed it squarely in the direction of THERE. “Pillar in place,” he affirmed.
“And, let’s add a beam!” said the hatted fox with a renewed confidence in their common project.
The other sulked back to the pile, found a beam, dragged it and lifted it onto the pillar, though slowly. “Beam, balanced,” he said in a lower voice than before.
“And, to ceremoniously complete the first section of what I am sure will be a monumental bridge, we must have a slab!” the hatted cried with delight. “Something to support our walking weight.”
The other turned and stared at pile, then shuffled over to drag out a slab, but instead of balancing it on top of the beam, he laid down on the slab looking hopelessness, and said nothing.
The hatted looked mad. “What, do you gather, is the problem?”
“I don’t think I’m going to gather anymore,” said the fox without coverage. “Why should I bring you a slab? What’s my motivation? Why should a slab determine my existence?”
“Because without work there is no purpose, and without purpose there is no sustenance, and without sustenance there is no existence,” said the fox from the shade of his hat.
“Well, if I keel over and die, at least there’s this slab,” said the other.
“This is serious!” said the hatted. “We must proceed with the series!”
“I don’t see why,” said the other from the comfort of his slab.
“If we’ve already begun, we must somehow agree!” said the hatted.
“I don’t recall us agreeing to anything, other than getting to THERE,” said the other.
“It is imperially imperative,” the hatted growled, “that we build one bridge to SOMEWHERE!”
“Why a bridge?” asked the other. “Why not a tower, or a tunnel, or a shallow trench to die in?”
“Because there is a serious and proper way to do things!” said the orderer.
The orderly stroked his whiskers, then shook his head. “That doesn’t seem entirely clear.”
The hatted clenched his teeth. “There’s only one way to do one and two: One and one are two,” he said, pointing first to himself with one paw, then to the other with the other, then bringing the two together like a little bridge that illustrated his point quite nicely. “At least we agree with that!”
“I’ve heard one and one can be three, if you’re not careful,” said the fox on the slab. “Sometimes one and nothing are one, and other times one and nothing are ten, and sometimes they’re even nothing at all, if you stack ‘em right.”
“ARE YOU GOING TO BUILD THIS WAY WITH ME OR NOT?” the hatted shot back.
The reclined crossed his arms on his chest and declined. “Convince me.”
“Well, isn’t this a kick in the two on all fours!” spat the hatted, unhatting himself in frustration. He twisted his hat back and forth in his hands as if he didn’t know what to do with it, then slowly put it back on his head and gathered himself. “Let’s start again, as we haven’t started much yet. Let us agree that one and two are three.”
“Maybe,” said the other at rest.
“Oh, come on,” said the rehatted. “If I have one thing, and you have two, then we certainly and unquestionably have three between us!”
“What if one gets lost or broken?” said the other, sitting up, who eyed his own other with narrowing suspicion. “Even worse, what if something is stolen?”
“If we both work together, that shouldn’t happen,” said the fox with both hands on his hat.
“PROVE IT!” said the fox who stood up from his slab.
“Well, I suppose I should get going,” said Itsy. She figured this back and forth would last a very long time or a terribly short one. “I have things to find and do once I find them, but I’ll be happy to see your bridge, tower or trench if you reach an agreement.”
Itsy slid onward into the fog beyond, leaving the two and the hat and the slab behind, unsure if she would ever see any again. “I have no more time to give an opposed pair of fox and must be on my way and my web.”