“Where’s your wife, David Bowie? I mean, Little Tonshi.”
Little Tonshi then pitched the proposition. “Give me Wheeler (for that). And I’ll give you a whole ‘nother Second Life, Buster. A better one. Like Grand Theft Auto, except 1700 times more choice.”
“Umm… I don’t understand.”
Little Tonshi turned into just Tonshi. Bettie. “The airport on top of the hill. It’s not an airport, of course. It’s a recording studio. There I made ‘Heathen,’ my best later work. Many subterranean passages exist within. In one I’m myself and a shadow of myself.”
“Still not getting it…”
“You deserved better than this Buster. I have many friends that are aiding me. Levi Clownski said he would personally pay for your ticket outta here. He doesn’t want you around.”
“I said I’m sorry (about the killing). Many many years ago. Many times in many years.”
“This is not about that. I’ve learned to accept my fate obviously. We are not enemies. It’s just you don’t belong here.”
“Of course I do.”
“I’ve been living here a long time,” spoke Little Tonshi. “I have my great view, my own Table, even.”
“Are you going to change her back?” queried Buster Damm, talking about Wheeler on the couch between them.
“Not while she’s around me. David Bowie, David Bowie,” she said disgustedly. “*I’m* David Bowie. At least as much as her.”
“I must admit it’s a great view here,” he said. “What’s the movie tonight, hehe? Bowie, I assume.”
“Yes,” replied Little Tonshi. “The early years. The first 3 albums. Up to and including ‘Hunky Dory’.”
“Your masterpiece according to some.”
“‘Life on Mars’ was a surprise,” admitted the purple girl. “A shock, even. I realized I was extraterrestrial by then.”
Buster looked at one and then the other. “Someone will have to go,” he said. “There can’t be 2 David Bowies in this story.”
“Again I’ll leave it up to you. I can return Wheeler at any time. You can head to Ratcliff, then. Leave me back here up on my high mountain, the highest in Second Life.”
“Says some,” added Buster.
“Yes. Shush now. The show is starting.”
“What did you do to my friend?” demanded Buster to Little Tonshi Ashokan.
She laughs, but not in a good way. “I turned her into what she really is. A clown. She will always be clowned. That’s how it is.”
They watched her continuously sway back and forth for a while, then Buster said: “What do I do with her?”
“Up to you.”
Another pause. “We were going to Ratcliff.”
“I know now. Nasty place. *Your* kind of place. What do we do with *you*?” She hesitated, then added: “… murderer.”
“Long time in the past,” Buster excused himself. “Been abiding by the ‘Book of Blood’ since then.”
“You killed me. You killed *me*.”
Buster remained unrattled. “What happened to your fangs? Did you have them removed?”
A statue pointing two ways.
A figure pointing no ways.
… and shadow.
Squaring the circle.
Windmills… whence she came.
Looking for a way inside.
Falling off the mountain.
They had now reached the High Mountain Road where Baker Bloch sat the night before. Of course, Baker had long left the scene. He could be summoned, but Wheeler and Buster didn’t see the point. They seemingly faced another choice: to go back down to Olde Lapara Towne and deal with the changes (the carnival had left town for one thing) or move upwards more into the high hills of northern Lapara to theoretically meet this Little Tonshi Ashokan spirit who dwelt there.
And boy was the latter quite a climb. 200 meters basically straight up between a waterfall and thick forest (!).
Feeling his little legs ache already and thinking about what lived inside the nearby tunnel, Buster offered a 3rd alternative.
High Mountain Road Tunnel, Lapara… and rats.
Looking up the mountain once more.
Little Tonshi waiting patiently near the top. They would return.