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She told me to shut the door if I was going to make those kind of rude noises. I hadn’t realized anyone else was here; concluded all of these so-called people were actually bots — unreal avatars. Filler. But she spoke to me while I smoked on the toilet. I was trying to purge myself of Tennessee so I could get back to Elsie outside but here was something different, a real “flesh and blood” type who I might talk to and get actual information from about what was going on in town. Like the old days; pre-bots. The bots, true, saw everything, but they were programmed to move certain places, complete certain gestures. Unless this was a really advanced model from, say, Ohio, there was no way she could speak to me like that. She could hear my noises, she could tell I hadn’t shut the door. I had to go find out who this lady of the darkness was. Maybe my head could override my hips for a change.

I suddenly recognized her while she continued to eat. “Oh. You’re that Oz lady, the one with the puppets. I saw one of your shows.” I saw the *beginning* of one of your shows, he thinks, until distracted by baubles as usual. Not Elsie in that case but another. I think her name was Gertrude.

“What do you know… of Oz? What does *anybody* know of Oz?” She slurped her noodles again, another type of rude noise. Tit for tat. Definitely not a bot.

Then the drunk outside joined us and things got really interesting.

Soon we had quite the crowd and I lit another fag, taking it all in. Chatting! Actual chatting. About Seven. Turns out Bimbo, formerly O’Bimbo, and Jimbo, formerly O’Jimbo were brother and sister, some say twins. Some say: one and the same.

I crouch down like a monkey and wait for the rabbit.

Suddenly I was back at war, like in childhood. “Hold your fire!” she called over.

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