“Did you hear what that alien said right at the last, before she… changed over? She said, ‘the heel is under the water, the heel *is* the water.’ Right with her then solid mouth she did, way up there at the 7 1/2 foot level that soon became the 0 foot level. Or became the same as the foot.” He scratched his heel on his crossed leg reflexively here. “Something.”
“Why don’t you enjoy the fireworks, sonny, and stop thinking about that day, that moment. She did what she had to do to escape us and I applaud her for it. I wish *I* had the gall to change into something totally different like that. Remember, heh, remember when Uncle Stan’s rodeo money turned into dust and blew all away, perhaps to California or even beyond? That kind of change.”
“And now it’s happened again.”
A particularly bright sparkler burst above them. “Yup.”
He found himself playing this game in an arcade. They’d sent Hidi back home, saying the place, this Eveningwood, was too dangerous for a gal like her, all tempting and such. It was a job for a man, they said. A black man. “Me?” he asked, knowing the answer. The look in Buster’s eyes told him. “Me,” he answered himself. Thus: here.
He’d never heard of The Smipsons but he was told to play the game with the little yellow fellow named Bart. He needs to be fast on his skateboard to outrun all those giant tigers, Duncan thought, seeing the kid soar through the air like a bird or a plane.
If only he’d learned Roman numerals before entering that zoo.
“Yelloo!” Homer Smipson said in greeting. Duncan had his clue.
Peter Oesso upstairs, in contrast, had nothing.
“One of us is going to have to speak, twin of mine,” she thought into the other’s head. “Talky films are the way out, Oz be darned.”
“Someone,” the other furthered likewise, “is going to have to return to that three pointed hat bastard of a pirate over there with rising, snoozing chest.” Which is which?
Back in her own camping spot in the caves, just up the tracks from Carolin’s, Tessa was reading a biography of 19th Century German composer Robert Schumann before turning in, and had reached the part where the author was discussing his first major work called “Papillons”, which means butterflies. Tessa recalls the dream again with the snow-as-butterflies, her *last* at Green Yarn, pheh. Kicked out! Just because Jeffrie Phillips slept too long in the 1898 room with his safe, comforting tv static. “This is not a homeless shelter!” she could hear the owner or owners of the sim say upon seeing him in bed. “Banned! And the girl with you.” Another biographer I am, she thinks here. The story of the Blue Rose Thorn.
Oh well, Tessa considers. It’s not too awfully bad in the caves if you have some good books to read to pass the time. And good friends — like Carolin. Too bad about Mabel. Tessa tries not to think back to that awful day in early May when… but she couldn’t help herself. Let them eat cake: she’ll never forget. Mabel saw the passageway and she didn’t. Then: gone. Darn heartless dummies!
Tessa wakes up at 2:01 am with an epiphany. “Q”, she whispers, open Schumann book still in hand. “Curly Q. The island down the tracks!” She couldn’t wait to tell Carolin; morning was too late.
Groggy Carolin didn’t think much of the idea at first but when checking Santa’s list on the blackboard the next day came to understand the significance of it all. We’re going back to New York, she thinks while packing her knapsack for the journey. I’m going… home.
“Carolin?” She turns. “Carolin!!??”
She was walking past the Rosehaven Yarn Shop when she had an epiphany. She goes inside. This is *my* shop, I mean, *queendom*. But someone else would disagree. A brother! He would say *kingdom*. So much like… who? *Mother*! And I take after… the father, pheh. Tully. It’s all coming back like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist (thanks Peet!).
Winter. Just like when: Baker!
She stands on her Castle and thinks about Sanctuary.
The next night, Toothpick remained in the Red Rose, whatever the Red Rose turned out to be. In the moment it was a counseling center. “Alright I’ll bite. Who *are* you guys?”
“You know who we are. *Aqua-boy*. You with your Neptune hair, albeit a try out. You’re Neptune. You sit in the green chair representing the Neptune sim I mean by that. I never sit in that chair any more. Not since…” The reborn, half rabbit/half bat Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer, a psychiatrist originally specializing in bodily fluids back in the days, trailed off here, unable to complete his sentence. Toothpick helped him out.
“Alcatraz? Gettysburg?” He was trying too hard. Settle down, Toothpick. Your nerves are shot. You’re getting married to your sister Sunday after tomorrow’s next Tuesday! It was wrong and both knew it, even though it was right by their culture, their upbringing. She should be sitting here opposite him, he realized. That’s Elberta’s chair over there, the red one. But she’s blonde like me. I saw her change. Toothpick again thinks she’s the most beautiful girl he’s ever laid his wonky, mismatched eyes upon. Darn that she’s my sister! Just my luck. “I have bad luck,” he says to the others after the settle down.
“We all have bad luck,” chips in Supper Man to his other side, still holding his stomach from eating all that food. If he could cut back on the red meat at least… Toothpick realizes something else in his psychic, post-mortem ways. *He* has a better half that should be sitting opposite *him* in this meeting. Toothpick asks him about her without giving away too much.
“Dinner,” he names. “Dinner Girl. Soon to be…” He faded here, unable to complete his sentence. His stomach hurt too much from the perpetual supper he’s always downing bite after bite. He’s getting pudgy… finally. Soon he’ll be a round ball of blubber if the Corona pirates keep storing all that food in his pantry much longer.
“She’s your sister,” tries Toothpick. Wrong again.
Dr. Baumbeer senses it is time for the meeting to start in earnest. Time to bring in the girls.
(to be continued?)
Bake’s Bakery has moved in to one of the 2 lower rooms of my more downtown Teepot apartment. The demon hot beverage dispenser remains, ha ha (he he he (ho ho ho ho)).
Just around the corner (hu hu!).
Also: the important bits of the attached apartment remain. Like this now 5 day old pizza in one of the 2 upstairs rooms (hi!).
“We better get down to business, Jeffrie. Let’s talk about Audrey.”
“Okay, um, *doctor*.”
In encroaching dawn, he looked over at the parcel that use to contain The Mission of town, employed as a portal by Mabel and others to transfer between here and Collagesity back in the days. He wondered what remained of Heartsdale to exploit character-wise and story-wise, but then remembered why he was sitting here in this throne-like chair. The Diamond.
At the same time, he was also in the wee garden against the far wall, raking weeds from a row of carrots. Mmmm, his favorite. Should be any day now…
I then counted them. They were exactly 24 in number, leading me to discover the difference between a carat and a karat.
He was also across the road playing another late Schubert piece as the ravens again gather in the tall church spires beyond the empty Mission lot.
Mid-Hazel has returned.
Still engrossed in the red book after she was relieved of her lunch duties, Pink ran right smack into the rump of Ms. Crumplebottom at the corner of two streets.
“Lordy child!” the elderly schoolteacher exclaimed, then crossed herself and ran home to take a 120 degree shower, then turned the other way and took another. “1 year to retirement,” she complained while sudsing her hair a second time. “And that girl is trying to put me in an early grave!”
But then while drying she remembered the Corona-V wasn’t catching, it was just a catchy drink super popular in town right now. No one could go to church, read the proper, starless black book, and had substituted red for black, like Marty’s most recent hair color. 1975. A good year for Mars, and Venus along with it. Stars in general. Crumplebottom just had a bleed through experience, as if from another dimension (which it was). But at least she was super clean for her date with Bazooka Ferguson tonight, father of the local sheriff Tank Ferguson, the one that would later arrest — well, we jump too far ahead again.
But I think we’ve eliminated Ms. Crumplebottom as the bookstore owner, since she seems to be a local teacher instead. Don’t think you can be two in one, or at least go on dates, since you’d be working all the time. I think it has to be Olive. Maybe another poll is in order, alternate realities at stake and such.
Meanwhile, within the brownstone apartment Pink just ran into Crumplebottom outside of, Bazooka Ferguson lamented the fact that he had to warm up to the school teacher with Olive. “It’s okay,” she comforted after the fact. “You didn’t go all the way through so it isn’t cheating.” She looked in his eyes for understanding. “Is it.”
“Now take off that old uniform and get ready for your date.”
Summerhill Nova’s other job besides running the Bemberg sim in its entirety was preaching to the congregation who congregated at Church of the Elmers in Melder in its entirety each Sundae. Unlike with the Main Church of Cheese, usually a packed crowd for this one, and no exception this day. They began by honoring a fellow parishioner who had been killed in the recent, new troubles down in, “Bena or Bennington or whatever they call the miserable village these days,” white Summerhill lectured from her white pulpit in her big white church to a host of white people dressed in black. She knew harping on the evils of their degenerative sister sim to the south was a certain crowd pleaser. Then she started talking about Ben Wolf.
“I know many of you’n’s frowned when we accepted Ben into our congregation. You said he smelled weird, especially around the full moon. You said he howled when he went to the bathroom. You complained — silently mainly — when we found out his wife the Irish Lass (Summerhill couldn’t remember her name right off either) was also a beast underneath it all, a fox in her case. Yet he heard the calling of the Lord (Summerhill stops here, as if hearing my voice as well), and came to us for guidance, for shelter from the harsh world he saw around him, trying to tear his very limbs apart, pull his very head out of his body and parade it around for all to see and mock. Yes, this Ben, this *Wolf*, was just as much a *man* as any of you lot here.” She pointed around the congregation for emphasis, singling out various men. “And what else has he done for the church you might ask? Well, we set him to tasks — menial tasks but after all he was grateful just to be here. I think each and every one of you will agree that the 17 bathrooms spread out in our various churches across the compound look spotless now; he will be hard to replace for sure in that area.” Agreements and nods across the congregation here. “And what of tree trimmings, and the squirrel bombings, and so many more tasks we set for him that he accomplished with great joy, great glee, great triumph. No, this *man*… will be sorely missed around these here parts.”
“And now — a word from the widow, an exile from Bena or Bennington…” she stops here and covers the mike with her hand, calling over to Phyllis Phox sitting in one of the nearby lawn chairs positioned below the main congregation. “What’s the name, dear?”
“Phyllis,” came Phyllis’ answer, not understanding what Summerhill Nova meant.
“… Phyllis,” Summerhill then continued, thinking that was the correct name of Bena/Bennington now. Phyllis approached the podium to scattered applause.
(to be continued)