“Next in line, please,” said the DMV lady. She was the latest in a long line of formidable, disinterested ladies acting as gatekeepers for conveyances, ever since her ancestors had landed at Plymouth Rock and begun working at Ye Departmente o’ Carriages & Buggys.

“Hello, hi,” said the pretty but frazzled-looking young woman who was next in line. “My name is Owena Tuttle, and I need to apply for a special exemption.”

“What kind of special exemption, ma’am?” said DMV Lady. She mentally prepared a list of all the various forms, from 37-B to 882-Y, that might need filling out in a clear hand with blue or black ink.

“Well, you see, I’m a professional euryklide or gastromancer; I prefer the former term since people tend to think the latter means I’m a cook and I can’t make Ramen noodles,” Owena babbled.

“Ma’am?” said DMV Lady, raising a formidable eyebrow. “What does that mean, and what does it have to do with a special exemption?”

“Here, see for yourself!” Owena fished around in the oversized purse she carried and reeled in two wooden dummies, male and a female. “The special exemption is for my dear friends and business partners, Llewellyn and Gwyndolyn.”

“We keep getting pulled over because they say miss Dahlia Earnhardt here doesn’t have both hands on the wheel!” quipped Llewellyn, the male dummy.

“They say having us in the car anywhere but the inside of that stinky old bag is reckless driving!” added Gwyndolyn, the female dummy. “We need a piece of paper saying we’re okay to drive even when we’re rehearsing our act!”

DMV Lady raised her other, even more formidable, eyebrow. “You want a special exemption so you can do ventriloquism in your car while you’re driving?” she said, her voice dripping with honeyed contempt.

“Uh-oh, now you’ve done it,” said Llewellyn.

“She used the V-word!” chirped Gwyndolyn. “Shouldn’t have done that!”

“Please refrain from using that vile term,” barked Owena, “especially in front of my partners. Ventriloquism is vile, popularized vaudeville with uncouth stage tricks and falsehoods. Euryklides or gastromancers like myself tap into a much more reverent and mystical tradition of prophecy, with an authentic relationship with real and animatory spirits.”

“So don’t use the V-word!” squeaked Llewellyn.

“And don’t even think of using the D-word, you dummy, or you’ll see just how windy Ms. Hot Air Balloon here can get when she’s steamed!”

“Of course, of course,” said DMV Lady, her tone unchanged. She handed Owena a manila folder with a sheet of paper inside. “Take this copy of form 665-1 through the first door on your left up the hallway.”

“’bout time we got something done around here!” sneered Llewellyn.

“Don’t be rude,” said Owena. “Thank the nice lady.”

“Thanks for the dead trees, lady!” piped Gwyndolyn. “Since we’re made of wood, that’s basically like handing us Soylent Green!”

Her “friends” in tow, Owena followed DMV Lady’s directions and went through the specified door…and found herself in the parking lot, with a locked, handle-less door slamming behind her. The manila folder, when opened, held only a blank sheet of printer paper.

“She got you too, huh?” A guy with a hand-rod puppet stood there among a crowd of other misfits, including a clown, a mime, a juggler, and a unicyclist. The puppet guy moved the rod to place a reassuring felt hand on Owena’s sagging shoulder. “There, there.”

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