And so it was that as one day went after another day, and another place merged into some other place, Zed and the Onager had wandered back along a road, Road number 15, that took them many miles first in one direction and then in another. And after many days and nights of wandering, Zed arrived with the onager at the City of Angels whence they had been many years before.
And so it was, also, for we have already said “and so it was,” and these are details to which we must be attentive, especially if we wish to attend to detailed matters, that the free rider stood before a large building and mused, “Do you know, gentle onager, I do believe I have seen that building before.” The building was called, for reasons unbeknownst to many, including Zed and including also the Onager which did not pay attention to such matters whether detailed or no…..the building was called South Hall. “Well,” sighed Zed, “I expect that means there would be a North Hall and an East Hall….and….” At this point someone was walking by in sandals and other clothes of the Californian variety, and said, “Did you say something?” And Zed looked at the interlocutor, and the onager also looked at the interlocutor, and Zed said, “I expect there may also be a West-North-West hall, don’t you?” And the friend to the interlocutor looked incredulously at Zed and the onager, and said, “What?”
Zed did not reply, at least not to them. Instead, patting the onager, went on saying, “Or perhaps even a South South West Hall!” But the onager did not reply. It so happened that these two persons were students, and they were studying all the irrational economic phenomena, such as those proposed by Thorstein Veblen, and the ones concerning bandwagons, and even it, turned out, of free riders. But they did not share this information with Zed, for Zed was more preoccupied with the building. “I have definitely seen this building before…..in 1929, I think. Or maybe it was 1951. Or some other year of that kind.” And the onager said nothing, because that was her wont, or at least so far as we can tell, except for the time when somene said the onager spoke.
And another person, also a student, came by, this time on a bicycle. And stopped suddenly with a ringing and clanging of bells and books a-tumbling. “Whyfore are you stopping like that with your books a-tumbling?” asked the free rider. “Why? Because you are here on campus with a donkey! And I nearly ran into you!” At this the onager looked around with wide incurious eyes, and appeared to study the one who was now straightening up his load and preparing to remount the bicycle. “And where,” asked Zed politely, “are you travelling on that velocipede?”
“What?” said the one who was known as a student. “I am late for class….IT. Computing.” Zed looked blankly at the student and replied, “O is that what they do in there now? It was different before.”
And so it went on, a stream of the ones known as students, some going to class, some just apparently wandering around. For this was a place that was known as a university. And Zed also wandered around, and was not pleased at all. “This place is far less pleasant than the last time I was here, in 1940 something I think. Or maybe it was 1929 after all. Or 1969. Yes 1969. There was something happened around then which I prefer to forget so much that I have, in fact, forgotten it.” But there were matters troubling the free rider so that even the onager snorted.
As they went on they came to another side of a large quadrangle, and there again, Zed felt a stab of something like pain. “O I must be hungry!” And Zed proceeded to pick up some uneaten food from a seat where some students had left their rubbish. “Ugh!” said another on her velocipede. But Zed paid no attention. Then, suddenly a sign appeared, “Campbell Hall.” And again Zed’s brow was furrowed. That name, those places….these grounds are all so changed, and yet I must say I do not like it here very much. As the light now was failing, Zed lost interest in these sad pursuits, the sadder for not being recalled.
And so it was that as Zed did not recall those things that happened before, it was in the way of the free rider is to forget unpleasant things. And it did not matter really, at least not to the free rider, in the way of things, such things, or even other things just simply do not matter. And gently they moved away in an entirely different direction until they were surrounded by all manner of beautiful plants. “Hey look at that donkey!” shouted another student, but Zed, and perhaps even the onager besides, was tiring of this, and especially the habit of casual indolence that is associated with those who most resent free riders.
“Ah these are sweeter smells now!” And it was indeed true. They were suddenly, and inexplicably enfolded in a beautiful forest. There were plants from all parts of the world, and the onager had been, without Zed paying attention, headed this way for reason of the sweet scents themselves. And had Zed troubled to read the signs by the failing light, then it would have been clear that there were bromeliads, and cycads and even rhododendrons and plants also from Australia. They came eventually to a pleasant stand of cedars, and Zed said, “Why do we not sleep here, my dear friend?” The onager indeed was most pleased with this arrangement, for there had been many delightful things for an onager to nibble on, far better than at the grim edifices of Royce Hall or Haines Hall besides.
“So then, here we are!” sighed Zed. And they lay down each to each, and very soon were asleep. It is not clear how long they stayed in this state, but there were those with torches and other such apparatuses and they came and they said in no uncertain terms that as they were not students, they would have to leave…and so it was that the five and thirtieth tale of the free rider ended in a way as unsatisfying for the free rider and for the reader alike. Indeed only the onager was content, for never had she gorged on so many sweet leaves from so many different places in the world. And while this was a matter of some confusion to Zed, it is the way of onagers not to worry about such things, for in the end all that really matters to a parasite whether it be a free rider or indeed the onager living with the free rider, is that there be food aplenty and a time and a place to sleep. And while they were disturbed they were yet rested enough for their next adventure. But that is not this adventure. For it it were, then this tale would not have been told, but rather there would be some other tale in its place.
And since this is the tale that has been told, then it must be that this indeed, for all its faults and gaps, must surely have been the five and thirtieth tale of the free rider….