"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
Albert Einstein, Smithsonian, February 1979
Veronica knocked on the door. From inside she could hear loud music but no response to her knock. She knocked again. Nothing. She pushed the door open a little and peered inside. The room was thick with smoke. 'Is anyone there?' she called. Someone was in there. 'Hallo?' she called again louder, 'Anyone there?'
Someone suddenly leapt from a chair on the other side of the room.
'Geez girl,' said a man with voice startled yet also strangely relaxed. 'Do not scare me like that, like some purple banshee.' The figure in the smoke waved his hands either side of his face when he said banshee.
'Are you the geologist?' Veronica asked the figure.
'What?' the man asked.
'Are you the geologist?' Veronica asked again, louder this time against the music.
'Wait a moment,' the man said before turning some dial on a device maybe to reduce volume although the music still seemed as loud as it was before. 'What did you say?'
'Are you the geologist?' Veronica said this time with some impatience.
'Sure am girl!' the man responded. 'Rocky they call me. Rocks in the soul girl! In the soul!'
'Hmm... okay,' Veronica said bewildered. 'I was wondering if you could help me. I have something to show you.'
'Sure!' the man said before waving his hand for Veronica to enter. 'Come in! Come in!'
* * *
'Come in!' Sharky said eagerly. 'It is in this old store.'
Veronica entered and followed Sharky who pointed to a purple crystal in the middle of a dusty shelf.
'Ooooh! What is that?' Veronica asked fascinated.
'Purple death ray laser focuser?' Sharky suggested with a grin. 'I really have no idea. Looks neat though.'
'Yes. Very... complicated yet beautiful,' Veronica said examining the crystal.
'Maybe something to study,' Sharky suggested.
Veronica, her eyes still on the crystal, nodded. 'Perhaps i could ask a geologist.'
'These Rest Stops always had weird little items like this in then, before the fall,' Sharky explained. 'Knickknacks. Funny little rocks.'
'Knickknacks? Is that what they call these rocks?' Veronica asked turning to Sharky.
'Sounds like a good name for it to me,' Sharky responded with a smile.
* * *
With a smile Veronica said 'Thank you,' and walked into the smoke filled room and approached the man. She saw now his grinning face, his eyebrows a little raised as if stuck, his eyes bloodshot, his hair wild and curly.
'I want to ask you about this,' Veronica said showing him the crystal. 'I think it is a Knickknack crystal.'
Suddenly Rocky burst into laughter, tears came to his eyes and he sat back on his chair with one hand pressing on a table in front of the chair and the other to his stomach as if to stop it running out the door. Veronica noticed various rocks and chemicals on the table including a large stone with eyes and mouth painted on it, some straw stuck on top as if hair and under the stone seemed to be little feet. She coughed from the smoke which she now saw was rising from a large cigarette balancing on the neck of a bottle.
The man eventually stopped laughing and then laughed a little more before finally his his speach returned to him again.
'Knickknack! Knickknack! ha! haha! hahaha! ha! Oh... ha! Hmm... not sure why that was so funny,' he said. He picked up the cigarette and sucked on it. Veronica saw it was probably the largest thickest cigarette she had ever seen. He offered it to Veronica who shook her head. 'No thank you,' she said.
'Sure?' he asked. 'My Vista friends sure do know how to grow.'
'No thank you,' Veronica repeated again somewhat confused by the idea of Vista people suddenly growing. Her head was beginning to feel a little dizzy, there was a lot of smoke in the room. She glanced back to the stone with the eyes and mouth. Rocky noticed.
'You like him?' he asked. 'That is Einstein.'
Did it blink? Did those stone eyes blink? Veronica looked quickly back to Rocky. 'Sorry?' she said not sure what they were talking about before.
'Let me take closer look at that,' he said.
'At what?' Veronica asked. Was the room moving a little? Was this what being in a boat was like? Was she in a boat?
'The crystal girl! The crystal!' Rocky sucked on the large cigarette again, then tapped ash into the bottle, missing it completely. He placed the cigarette back on the bottle neck before taking the crystal from Veronica. He placed it on the table, moved a magnifying lens on a stand over the crystal and began to examine it closer while smoke blew from his nose. 'Sparkly!' he said looking from the lens. He waved his hands either side of his face when he said sparkly. He returned to looking through the lens.
Was the music louder? It seemed louder. Why do they want to paint it black? Surely purple would be better. There really was a lot of smoke in the room. She looked back to the stone with the eyes.
'Hallo!,' the stone said. 'Ich bin Einstein. Magst du Rockmusik?'
Did that stone talk to me? Veronica thought.
'AC/DC vielleicht?' Einstein added.
Veronica quickly looked back to crazy geologist. 'Do you always have musik so loud?' she asked. Rocky turned and glanced at her. 'It is the Stones girl! The Stones! It has to be loud.' He waved his hands either side of his face when he said loud. The sounds were flying around her head like flies in a jar. 'Hey, do you have anything to eat?' the man asked. Veronica shook her head part as reply and part to get the sounds in her head to escape.
Rocky shrugged. 'Want to come and get rockcakes from the diner?'
Veronica shook her head and pointed to the crystal on the table with a rather unsteady finger. 'Do you know what it is?'
'What? What is what?' Rocky asked.
Veronica had forgetten what she was saying. She thought for a few seconds, or was it minutes and then remembered. 'The crystal, what is it?'
'You sure about the rockcakes?' the geologist asked.
'Sure, I am not hungry,' Veronica said. 'The crystal? What is the crystal?'
Rocky looked back to the purple crystal on the table. 'With that purple! Trippy girl! Trippy! That it is what it is!' He looked back to Veronica 'What the...'
Veronica was asleep on the floor.
The man rushed out slowly through the door to get help and returned with a bag of rockcakes. Rocky bit into one of the cakes. The Stones continued playing, Einstein continued smiling and Veronica continued sleeping.
'Purple sparkly,' Rocky said looking at Veronica. He glanced to his stone friend and added 'Trippy'. Einstein grinned back.