In spite of his injuries – a skinned knee, a sore shoulder, and a bruised arm – our singular hero Doff de Chonez continued, undaunted, along the service road toward Modesto, with his associate Sammy Panzov at his side. After a distance of approximately five miles, with very little traffic, the duo stopped at a clearing some two hundred yards from the highway, to enjoy the lunch that Sammy’s wife, Teresa, had packed for them. Munching on fruit and sandwiches, Doff de Chonez gazed up into the very tall trees whose shade was keeping them out of the direct sunlight.
“Observe, Sammy,” he began, “these ancient sycamores. We can look to these trees as models for us, just as we look to leaders like Jorge Bandeira of Manaus, or Pedro Ribeiro of Abricó, or the joven Héctor Martínez of Guadalajara.”
“I know not, Your Nudeness,” began Sammy, between bites of plum, “of the names you speak, although I can assume they are the names of naturist leaders. But what do they have to do with trees?”
“Thou art correct,” replied Doff de Chonez, “that these people I mention are leaders – outstanding ones – who have established naturist groups in Brazil and Mexico where none had existed before. But I tell thee that the sycamores guide us as well. The older they get, the more they denude themselves: not just of their leaves, but also of their bark, branches, and seed pods. With greater height and age, they attain greater nudity. We should strive to live like the sycamores, tall and proud and nude.”
“Of sycamores I know very little,” assessed Sammy, “with the exception of what you’ve just explained. However, of olives I would certainly like to learn more.”
Doff de Chonez looked around. “Where is the olive grove that has prompted this comparison?”
“It is not a grove,” replied Sammy, “but rather a garden, of the kind where they serve comida. Look there – that sign across the highway is what has captured my attention.”
“How is it,” began Doff de Chonez, “that, having just finished a rather generous repast, thou canst already be thinking about more food?”
“It is natural in me,” said Sammy, patting his belly, “for, as it is said, if the knitter is weary the baby will have no new bonnet, especially when, as that sign indicates, we must first cover another ten miles before we arrive at the Olive Garden in Modesto.”
“I suppose it is in our best interest,” affirmed Doff, “that thou art capable of mounting a good plan, even in the face of such nonsensical sayings and non-sequiturs that thou profferest with a frequency both amusing and alarming. But tell me, friend Sammy, what is this object here at the bottom of the lunch bag?”
“This,” said Sammy, holding a cylindrical object, “is something that I’m glad Your Nudeship has found, because I forgot it was there. It is Teresa’s lipstick.”
“Is it,” asked the nudist-errant, “a token of her esteem for you?”
“Todo puede ser,” replied Sammy, “but what she explained to me is that we need to use it in order to spell out another one of her special protections for us, across each other’s backs.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, friend,” said Doff de Chonez, “but frankly, I think that thy wife should have accompanied us. She is a woman of great knowledge and understanding.”
“I did invite her, Your Nakedness,” maintained Sammy, “but she explained that she was anticipating an urgent root canal procedure. In any case, we are to write ‘WNBR,’ which, as I recall her saying, stands for ‘Work Naked Bike Right.’”
“Ah!,” exclaimed Doff de Chonez. “Yes, I see. But the phrase is World Naked Bike Ride, which as far as I know, is an event that is not being held today, and yet her excellent plan is one of protective precaution, no doubt to give notice to drivers. Such a cautious and alert woman she is.”
While there is some debate among historians as to the exact shade of the lipstick – most declare it to have been ‘burgundy’ while some few hold-outs insist it was ‘fire engine red,’ basing their claim on weather conditions, skin tone, income, beauty product marketing and distribution, and any number of further variables – what is certain is that before long, Doff de Chonez and Sammy Panzov were back on the road, each with ‘WNBR’ written in large block letters across his back. Moreover, since Sammy had joked about his tricycle being his ‘lowrider,’ Doff had requested he mark the name Low Rider along the frame, at least provisionally in lipstick, since the moniker so nicely made rhyme and echo with that of his own bicycle, Bare Glider.
As the pair of pelados approached the restaurant, there was an increase in traffic, with a resulting uptick in stares and honks and finger-pointing. It so happened that the Olive Garden was at the close end – that is, the end that our heroes reached first – of a line of businesses and restaurants along the service road that catered to the interstate traffic. Since, from the effort of cycling ten miles farther under the hot sun, they were indeed at least thirsty, if not extremely hungry, they parked Bare Glider and Low Rider behind the restaurant, dismounted, and began to walk toward the entrance.
“¡Santo cielo!” exclaimed Doff. “Look thou, Sammy, at the woman walking ahead of us into the restaurant. Is that not my Lady Mechinelda?”
“Do you mean,” Sammy asked, “our neighbor, Doña Mercedes? Unless she dyed her hair and had plastic surgery, then, no, that’s not her.”
“I swear to you, Sammy,” continued Doff de Chonez, “that I have witnessed my dear naked Lady Mechinelda hanging that very dress, with that exact violet and rose pattern, onto her clothesline in her backyard.”
At this, Sammy looked askance at his friend, and stated, “‘Tis no wonder, for one devil is very like another. There are probably many women who have the same dress, because, as it is often said, good fortune wears a pretty dress but its underclothes do not bear investigation, and this is all to say that…”
But Sammy proceeded no further in this indubitably logical pronouncement, because Doff de Chonez had already run forward, leaping onto the back of the man who accompanied the woman and who, at that moment, had been preparing to open the door to the restaurant.
“Miscreant!” yelled Doff de Chonez. “How darest thou filch the dress of my Lady Mechinelda, and proffer it to someone else, when there be no reason for anybody to wear a dress in the first place?”
The man began swinging around, yelling, trying to get Doff de Chonez off his back, but the nudist-errant hung on with a tight grip by his arms, and by his legs as well, around the man’s chest.
“Señorita,” added Doff de Chonez, trying to address the woman when he could see her but finding this impossible due to all the spinning, “I require thee to remove that stolen dress immediately!”
The woman, who did not know whether to laugh or shout, seeing her partner attacked by a naked madman, quickly became angry when she heard Doff’s demand, and, taking her purse while waiting for her next chance from her spinning partner, slapped Doff with it across his posterior.
“Ouch!” howled our misinformed hero, who, in his agony and shock, relaxed his limbs enough for the man to force him off his back. He fell to the pavement, landing on his already bruised buttocks. The accosted man, muttering something about teaching Doff de Chonez a lesson, was about to punch him when Sammy intervened.
“Don’t hurt him, sir, please!” yelled Sammy. “He’s confused! He thought she was someone else! Here, look,” he added, giving the man and the woman their special cards, “we’re nudists!”
The couple, after reading the non compos mentis cards and staring blankly at each other, gave up on the nudists and began assessing each other’s health and emotional state.
The ruckus had raised the interest of the restaurant customers and staff, who could see what was happening through the window. Several patrons brandished their cell phones, taking photos and videos and texting about the melee. The restaurant door opened, and a large man walked out, whose name tag announced him as Roger, the manager.
“I’ve already called the cops,” said Roger. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get your clothes on, right now,” he added, addressing the nudists-errant. “And for you,” he said to the couple who had been the victims of the attack, “my apologies. Your dinner is on the house.”
The grateful couple thanked the manager and made their way into the restaurant, while Sammy Panzov turned to his friend and spoke, sotto voce, “Señor, follow my lead.”
“OK then, we’re going to put our clothes on!” Sammy loudly announced. “Our clothes are in the basket on my bicycle! We’ll be right back!”
As the restaurant manager looked on, Sammy took Doff’s hand and led him behind a delivery van that had parked in between their bicycles and the restaurant entrance.
“Sammy,” protested Doff, “we haven’t retrieved my Lady’s dress. What art thou about?”
“We have to… uh… alert your Lady to the theft of her dress,” Sammy improvised, “so that she may confirm it is indeed hers.”
“But if we are to do this,” began Doff de Chonez, “then we must act with extreme haste!”
“Sí, señor,” replied Sammy, opening the back doors of the van, “which is why we are getting into the back of this delivery… I mean, denudery van.”
“A denudery van, Sammy?” wondered Doff. “What dost thou mean?”
“Observe that the inside of the van,” Sammy pointed out, “is denuded of any seats, carpeting or anything at all that might be upholstered. Such is the sign of a denudery van, which is a… public service for those who, like us, need help to denude in a hurry. Now, hop in, please, Your Denudeship.”
“In all my readings about naturism and nudism and skyclad happenings,” muttered Doff de Chonez as he climbed into the back of the van, “I have never come across any reference to such a thing as a denudery van.”
“Well, as they say,” answered Sammy, “he who waits for a dead man’s shoes may long go barefoot. Now, crouch down here a moment and, I beg you, hold your tongue.”
The van driver returned, opened the door, sat down behind the wheel and started the engine. Doff de Chonez, once he perceived the van’s movement, whispered to Sammy, “What about Bare Glider? And Low Rider?”
“We shall leave them here at the garden of olives,” consoled Sammy, “and in that way, should your Lady Mechinelda need to pursue the matter of her filched dress, she will know where to locate the thief.”
“This is a very clever plan,” agreed Doff de Chonez, “and she is indeed a most clever woman.”
Sammy nodded and sighed, eyeing, through the back window of the van, the arrival of a patrol car to the restaurant parking lot.
Soon the van had pulled onto the Interstate, and our heroes accommodated their bared buttocks as comfortably as they could against the denuded floor of the van, for an excursion of unknown duration.