“For the life of me, Old Mabel, I can’t *see it*.”
“I’m saying: turn around please Baker Bloch. You’re looking the wrong way. Look at where *I’m* looking.”
“I *am* Old Mabel. “Nothing is there. Nothing at all.”
“Something is appearing inside,” said Old Mabel, peering down.
“Then I woke up, Baker Bloch. Another dream about the forest. At the tree where Urch disappeared 2 nights before. 125/125.”
“The big eucalyptus tree, yeah. Big enough to hide a man the size of me inside.”
“That tree is a portal.”
“Maybe they all are,” responds Baker. “The eucalyptus, the brown cypress, the green cypress. All along that line. And then Unch himself (or herself) at 168/168. Still haven’t met Unch, er, face to face?”
“How about now?” Baker offers. “It’s nighttime after all.”
“You guys aren’t talking about those woods again, are you?” asks Furry Karl, walking up with another Krings beer for Baker Bloch. “I still don’t like that kind of talk in my bar. I’m up here in SoSo Mall because of it. Just to get a *little* further away from those trees. So they can’t listen in. Careful with that wine glass, baby doll,” he then says to Old Mabel. “It’s been Spillsville around here.”
“I will,” she replies, and then looks at Baker Bloch again. A vision of a double headed Winfield flashes through her mind. Fused. Fire. So much fire.
“I suppose you heard Karoz is back,” says Karl, changing the subject. “Back from space. Still doing the bidding of that demon Wheeler.”
“Shhh,” reprimands Baker. “Don’t say that too loud.”
‘What… *demon*?” speaks Karl defiantly. “She’s over on that island of hers now. She can’t hear us. The *woods* might be able to hear us, but she can’t. I think we have bigger problems if people are starting to dream about that place. It’s 1968 all over again. Treestock.”
“You know so much about local history, Karl,” says Baker.
“I do,” responds Karl quickly.
“Someone should interview you,” completes Baker.
“I’ll do it,” volunteers Old Mabel, raising her hand. Baker wonders if she might be a little drunk tonight. She’s not use to drinking wine, but she purposely spurned her usual lemonade, saying she needed to lay off the sweets to see if it was affecting her dreams. Maybe she’s just trying to numb her brain into a good night’s sleep.
“Well, that’s awfully sweet of you deary.”
“I’m *serious*,” she emphasized. “I want to do it. Let’s set up a date now, while we’re talking about it. If we wait it might be too late.”
Baker thinks he sees Old Mabel sway a bit in her seat. “Maybe we better get you home,” he says, standing up.
Old Mabel shakes her head. “I’m not going back home. I’m not laying down on that couch. I’m not *dreaming* tonight. I don’t want to dream. I want to stay awake. Baker, please stay awake with me. Until sunrise. Then everything will be all right. It’s 2 o’clock now. Sunrise in 3, 4 hours. Stay with me. Hold me.” She falls from her stool and softly sprawls out on the floor. “I’m okay,” she declares, but can’t get up.
“Come on Mabel,” says Baker, offering a hand. “Let’s go home.”