“So tell me about this Bennington you are from,” requested Mary to Tronesisia on the porch of the robot lady’s Rose Moondreams Cottage. They had been back for about a day now. Mary wasn’t ready to return to the small house where she and Pitch Darkly lived now beside her favorite fishing hole. Pitch thought they’d be gone for another week. They were hiding out, in effect. Trying to unravel what that kid was doing on the bridge and his cryptic talk about mutable time. Wegee had at least told them his name was not Loki, the orange word printed on his t-shirt. That was a brand.
“Oh, nothing much to tell,” Tronesis answered. “Dangerous town. Moreso than Farmington where you are from, of course. How’s that place doing these days?”
“Same as yours. Nothing’s changed. Peaceful and calm.” Mary thinks back to another part of the wegee session from earlier in the day. “Have I ever told you the story of my last name?”
“Ball, isn’t it?” Tronesisia had heard that from Pitch. “Some relation to Old Martha Ball, I recall.” She takes another swig of her craft beer. Mary does the same with her own. By the way, Mary was not pregnant any longer. She had entered the Realm of Orange again and his influencing sphere. More on that later.
“Yes. My full name is Mary Ball, but not *Chuckles*. Martha was my aunt. Martha Spit Ball. She owned a lot of the Epping Woods. And your killing shack you’re so familiar with now is actually the place I was born. My aunt took care of my mother during the pregnancy. Then we stayed on until I was 3 or 4. Farmington was much more dangerous back then.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” said Tronesisia, surprised at this new twist. And Bennington was peaceful during her own childhood, she thought. Something switched between the two. She swigs again.
“Anyway, I kept coming back and coming back for visits and eventually I just moved here as a teenager. My aunt got me a job as a singer slash dancer slash juggler over in the Blue Angel, which she helped manage. Seedier place in those days.”
“Ahh, love that club,” Tronesisia said. “I use to sing there too. Before your time, however.”
“I didn’t know *that*. We’ll have to compare singing voices sometime. But I was best at juggling, admittedly. That’s how the clowns found me.” Mary gets up from the rocking chair while downing the rest of her beer. “You want another brewsky or are you good?”
“Just bring a whole six pack out here and set it on the floor between us,” Tronesisia requested earnestly.
2 hours later…
“Perhaps the first thing I remember as a child was hearing that awful awful plane crash over at what’s now the Catsocks Crater — sometimes incorrectly called a sinkhole. No, *Sikkima* has a stinking sinkhole. That’s not a sinkhole. That’s just a plain, rotten hole. My mother, at the time see, told me it was the end of the world when it happened. To everyone’s horror, Osborne Well and his monster posse crawled out from the tail piece of the smoldering wreck basically untouched, since, in part, they were already dead, you know. And the fact that they were stored away in those insuladed coffins and crates. Insula-*ted*. Livelies or beaners in the front part, as the monsters were wont to call them — all dead. Plane No. 4. Broke in two. I saw the plane. Everyone in a 1000 meter radius of VHC City came to witness the thing. But it didn’t do its job. Didn’t crash into something.” Mary pointed north beyond Tronesisia with a wobbly hand here.
“But it *did* crash into something,” Tronesisia replied, her own head a bit unsteady as well. “That plain between Tussock and Catpla… Catalp… Catalpa. The plane plain. Fortunately unpopulated at the time. But in former times… prostitutes and jugglers. Elephants and gorillas. Circus, in short. You’d hear, ‘the circus is coming to town,’ and everyone would flock to the same plane… plain, but for a very different reason. Pleasure not plain. Pain!”
“Strange strange world it is, my friend Sissy. My *good* friend Sissy.” Mary takes the last beer from the carton on the floor between them and pops the cap. “Stakes on the big top had just been pulled up the week before, yeah.” She chugs. “But that’s not what I’m talking about, my friend. That’s not what I’m talking about.” She drew herself up from a slouching position while taking another drink. “Pitch Darkly was blamed in part, just because he was about the only monster living in VHC City at the time of the acci-dent. Him and Buster. Even though the vampires and monsters of the plane were victims or potential victims themselves. A line was drawn. You stay across the tracks over there and we good VHC City people will be over here, you see. Pitch was cast out. Buster was cast out, even though he secretly has his coffin still over in town in a hidden nook beneath the Blue Angel. The perv.”
“I know,” replies a hiccuping Tronesisia. “I use to sing there in the’20s!” They both laugh.
“The clowns went underground after that. They thought they were the target because of the presence of the vampires, the monsters. But they weren’t the target. I should know. I lived amongst them for 3 long years. Three long long years.”