There was a little boy by the name of Billy. Billy was an ordinary little boy who did ordinary little boy things, like playing, eating, bathing, destroying things, and going to school. One day, when Billy went down to the bus stop to meet the bus to go to school, he found all of his friends huddled around in a little group, talking about the Purple Wombat. Being a little boy, Billy was curious. So he asked them, “What’s the Purple Wombat?” “You don’t know what the Purple Wombat is?” the children exclaimed disgustedly. For the rest of the morning, they would not go near Billy, always standing far away and staring at him. Then the bus came. Billy, confused, got on the bus along with the rest of the children. “Hey, Mister Bus Driver!” one of the chldren shouted. “Billy doesn’t know what the Purple Wombat is!” The bus driver turned around abruptly. “You don’t know what the Purple Wombat is?” he said in disbelief. He ordered Billy to sit in the very back of the bus, all by himself. Eventually, they got to school, and Billy got off the bus and went to class. Class proceeded normally; the students did the pledge of allegiance and worked on their multiplication tables for a while. Then the teacher led them into a unit on geography. Billy was not really paying attention, but he heard the teacher mention something about the Purple Wombat. Billy’s hand shot up, and, when the teacher called on him, Billy asked, “Teacher, what’s the Purple Wombat?” “You don’t know what the Purple Wombat is?” the teacher cried in alarm, “Get yourself to the principal’s office right now, young man. No, no buts — march!” So Billy headed down the long, dark, frightening hallway to the principal’s office. He slowly opened the large, heavy door, and timidly entered the room behind it. There, at a large, imposing desk, sat the principal. The principal was a hulking man, balding, with a thin mustache. He spoke in a deep baritone voice. He was enough to frighten little boys like Billy who had been sent to his office almost to tears. “Well, Billy,” he began slowly. “What seems to be the problem?” “Mr. Principal, I just don’t know what’s going on today. Everyone’s been acting weird, and they’re all treating me really badly. Like teacher just sent me to you and stuff.” “Now, Billy, I’m here to help you. I’m the princi-Pal, after all. Heh heh. Can you tell me why everyone’s acting so strangely?” “It’s because I don’t know what some stupid Purple Wombat is.” “What? You don’t know what the Purple Wombat is? That’s it. I am calling your mother, young man. Consider yourself suspended.” The principal threw Billy out of his office and told him to go home. Billy, crying, began the long walk home. When he got there, his mother was standing in the doorway waiting for him. “Billy!” she called, sobbing, “I was so worried about you! What happened?” “Mom,” Billy cried, “Everyone was being mean to me and I had to sit in the back of the bus all by myself and the teacher sent me to the principal’s office and the principal suspended me, all because I don’t know what the Purple Wombat is!” “What? You don’t know what the Purple Wombat is?” Billy’s mother shrieked. “Go to your room this minute. Go! Just wait until your father gets home!” So Billy marched up the stairs and into his room. He collapsed on the bed, crying. After some amount of time, he heard a car pull in and some doors shutting. His father was home. He could hear his parents talking downstairs but didn’t know what they were saying. Then he heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and his door opened. “Billy,” his father began in that lecturing-father tone, “Your mother says you’ve been acting badly lately. Would you like to tell me what you’ve done?” “Dad, I haven’t done anything! I just don’t know what the Purple Wombat is!” “You…don’t know what the Purple Wombat is. Well, in that case, you can just stay in this room all night, mister. And forget about dinner!” Billy’s father slammed the door and stormed off. Billy collapsed on his bed, crying his eyes out. He spent the next several hours that way — lying there, crying, wishing he would wake up. Then, in the middle of the night, he heard a voice. It said: “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat, Billy.” Billy sat up with a start. He looked around the room, trying to find the source of the voice, but he could not. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Find me, Billy.” It was coming from out the window. So Billy got up, put his shoes on, opened the window, and climbed out on to the roof. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat.” Billy jumped down off the roof and followed the voice down the road. He got to the edge of a wood. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Follow me, Billy.” The voice was coming from inside the wood. It was very dark and very frightening, but Billy didn’t care. He had to find out what the Purple Wombat was. So, bravely, he entered the wood. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Keep going, Billy.” Billy kept going into the wood. He could hardly see anything, and he kept falling down and walking into things and hurting himself. But he kept going, driven by a need to find this enigma that kept calling his name. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. This way, Billy.” Eventually, Billy emerged from the wood. He was on the shore of the town lake. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. I’m out here, Billy.” It was coming from out across the lake. Billy got one of the small rowboats from the dock, untied it, and rowed out. Since he was only a small boy, it was very difficult. But he had to find out what the Purple Wombat was. “Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Row, Billy.” The voice was coming from across the lake. Billy doubled his effort, and the boat began to move a little faster. When he was about half way across the lake, he heard: “Billy, I am the Purple Wombat. I’m up here, Billy.” It was coming from directly above him. Billy stopped rowing and stood up to look for it. The boat tipped over, dumping him in the lake. Billy didn’t know how to swim, so he drowned.