“Thank you for meeting with me, Hucka Doobie. It’s just that… I didn’t feel comfortable talking with Carrcassonnee about Wheeler and such.”
“Yes, you told me. When did you get glasses Baker Blinker?”
“When did *you*? Yes, we need to catch up anyway. Remember the old days? Azure Islands? We use to hang a lot together.”
“And now you’re all grown up and about to get married,” responded Hucka Doobie. “My little girl”. Both giggle. “Well, spill the wine, er, beans.”
“Thanks again. Wheeler made me an offer, to get to the short of it.”
“What kind of offer?” Hucka Doobie propped her hands under her chin, getting very interested.
“An offer I had to refuse, Hucka. But I *thought* about it. That’s the scary thing. Am I really ready to get married? Is Karoz really the man? *The* Man?
“My guess?” offered Hucka Doobie. “I think it’s Blinkerton coming through.”
“Well, that might apply if *you* were getting married Hucka Doobie.”
“Oh yeah.” Hucka Doobie sat back in her chair, re-contemplating. “How about this? You like girls instead of boys. Deep inside.”
“Perhaps.” Baker Blinker then shook the thought off. “Nah, that’s not it. I’m not into the other side of the sea. What’s the expression?”
“Hunting for shells on the opposite shore of the lake, I think.” Hucka Doobie tried to wink at her but found she couldn’t.
“Well… how’s things with you? What have *you* been up to Hucka?”
“Oh nothing much. Just finished up discovering the center of the universe. Nothing to it really. A hole. A whole lotta hole.”
“Wow. Where’d you find *that*? The center, I mean. I mean, we’re *here*.”
“The center is everything?” Hucka Doobie looked around the Collagesity Cafe, seeming to check each corner.
“I suppose. We need to practice talking together more.”
“Get that owner of yours, baker b., on it. But I have a surprise for you. I need to talk to you about something very important as well. Parallel to your important statement. Which was what? You’re not going to get married?”
“No, I want to get married,” answered Baker. “I really do. And I’ll go through with it. It’s just that this whole, parallel world opened up briefly, the one where Wheeler and I went to this ultra-mysterious Muff-Bermingham planet and started a wrestling confederation.”
“You would be in charge?”
“Wheeler and I together. 50-50. Something like that.”
“Let’s get up and walk,” Hucka Doobie then said. “I want to stretch my legs and explore. I don’t get here to Collagesity enough. I’m often in the center, which is nowhere.”
“You’re talking about the White Palace,” Baker Blinker guessed.
“Yes.” Hucka Doobie pauses, lowering her voice. “Plus my father might be listening in. Karoz’s too.” She pauses again, gauging Baker Blinker’s expression. “From the past, you know.”
“Oh. Oh yeah.”