The house seemed empty. But it had a portal room.
In the thin woods eyes were watching.
Maybe 1/2 and 1/2.
We should walk back to GASTON.
.daor eht ssorc mih gnihctaw ,nacnuD desserpmi na denipo ”,onimoD ,naem uoy tahw ees I“
Dimmy Gene never did get a copy of “Moby Prick”. The other bookstore in town closed 10 minutes before he arrived. He’d have to lay out of school (once more), maybe ride his motocyclone over to Toppsity. But first: an early movie. Cheaper that way.
2:00 in the afternoon and hardly anyone is here. Oh right, everyone *else* is in school, studying away. Studying to be grown-up dunces, he muses, thinking of his father Daffy Gene and his family run chain of fine clothing stores. He’s set up to be another Gene in their line of production. Well I’m *bucking* the system. Buck “Moby Prick.” Buck the red book, even, although he’s heard it’s better than the other. A whole bookstore devoted to that one book, he thinks again, not quite understanding the impossibility of it.
Great. Another movie about the future being in the past. Oh well.
He runs and gets some popcorn, mountainy dew, and candy before settling back in for a long one.
SEAN “Green” Penn was the last person who lived on Arnold Lane, now covered in sand and almost forgotten in time. And now he was leaving as well, heritage perhaps lost to the town. Back to New Orleans where he came, back to The Man and perpetual plans to move to Little Rock in Arkansas and decrease the blues a bit. Just a little, just enough to put thoughts of ending it all out of the picture. The more limiting framework of a polaroid might help here again, so he took Pink’s with him, studied it until sometimes late at night when the moon was full and the stars were obscured by lighted sky. “We will be married one day and I can reveal to her my truth self, black behind white. 28 years old and developing rheumatoid arthritis in my back and neck and not a 15 year old with developing acne.” He’d learned that from Olive, *remembered* it because of her. Now the heritage was with him. He must return.
It was 5 years in the past 5 years in the past 5 years in the past. But it was also present. Marsha “Pink” Krakow had a choice to make.
“Welllll. I guess this is it, Marsha. Out with the Old, in with the New, as they say.”
“New *What*, though?” asked Marsha, piggybacking on something SEAN had revealed earlier in the evening. Marty had sent former top assassin Arthur Kill away — a possible way to cross the river into Staten Island and New York proper. She *knew* that. But she kept asking. *Was* she a star? *Could* she be? She stared over at SEAN, studied the lines on his concerned face, the pain of realization. No. She couldn’t go with him. Not now not ever. Storybrook remains Story*book* forever and ever. There were different currents, true, but only one unity under church and god, and that church had a red top. STAR, she must be.
She picked up the drumsticks she brought with her and went over and kissed SEAN full on the lips before departing. Back to the “Good Side” and loving parents who are, yes, split right now because of her, but also loving and caring still. And Dogg! Who could forget Dogg, both shades of him. A true Great Dane he is.
SEAN will be *fine*, she tried to reassure herself as she walked away from Arnold Lane that night, tears in her eyes. I will send him another polaroid when I become a true star to cheer him up again.
Ant figures out how to hang up so’s he can make another call, this time to old friend Hucka Doobie.
“Hiya Hucka, old friend. How’s it buzzing? haha. What’s the buzz, I mean. Listen. (reply) She’s fine — thanks for asking. Anyway, get this, I just hung up one of your old *Blinkerton* works in my castle over here at [Elephants Trunk], hehe. (surprised reply) Yeah, I’m staring right at the *ant* who’s taking a piss on the whole world. Reminds me of Trump. (reply) Oh right, not suppose to say that here. (reply) Monitoring, huh? (longer reply) Uh huh? (shorter longer reply) Uh hum. (reply) Well, I must say, I think things will come around in the end and run him over from behind. The ass will get hit in his ass! (reply) Yeah, I agree. But we could talk politics all night, me and you. Like back in the Bomb Squad. Those were the days! (longer reply) Right, Jimmy’s okay. I just talked to him last week. He’s totally over the yellow jacket fever. Wearing red these days. (reply) Oh, I guess that could be a kind of joke. (reply) Yeah, I want to talk to you about, you know, how you were a bee and all and now you’re kind of human and such. H-how does that all work? I know you’ve explained it to me, but just review it again (reply) Yeah, you got it. I’m thinking about changing myself. (reply) I know it will be hard. I’ve got a rock solid plan. (reply) Oh August — Easter in August. (reply) Easter *is* in August this year? (short reply) Oh, yucks, you’re a funny one. Guess you still got the old Blinkerton in you
still, the joker.” Ant looks at the Charles Nelson Blinkerton work just hung on the wall, and reads. “‘Sawmill *Heir* Wins Pis-Ant Reward Ha.’ What was the other hotel sign you changed? (reply) ‘Rebel Ho’s’, right. Not as successful. *This* one won that award. (reply) What’s the plan, heh? Well (he turns), we better ask Stan.”
When Duncan was rudely woken up he was falling. The 87 Room he had been sitting in and composing songs to mark time was suddenly no more. He fell on top of what was left of room 71 — its roof it appeared. Or maybe the floor of 72.
Certainly time to go groundside now and contemplate the next move. The 100 Story Building of Kowloon was no more. Will another replace it? Time to talk to this Fish Head hub-of-a-man to get the latest….
Oh. He’d figured something out in the meantime. The one ball in pool is *not* blue, as he had mistakenly thought before; been a while since he played the game. That’s instead the two ball. And two of the 3 remaining pool stools in what use to be Room 87, all exposed in contrast, were colored wrongly. The 3 is colored yellow instead of red and the 2 is orange instead of the yellow it should be — orange belongs to 5 instead. Only the 8 stool is aptly hued. So the question remains: what number was under the XVideos labeled laptop?
Ahh, never mind that now, Duncan thinks while peering around at inky space dotted with milky stars. A new stage beckons in Kowloon below, perhaps a new building along with it. He jumps and falls again…
“Two Joint Joints, side by side. One in Gaston — here. The other: NWES. How could this be?” Then Greg Ogden remembers who he is, deep down. He loses the hair, the campy hobo shirt. The Red Cross returns.
He recalls bastard pirate Randolph two (motel) doors down, not one to cross by any means.
4×4: it was all coming back to him.
He has to reach Climax.
“Alright Mr. Pitch Darkly darling. You have suffered enough on the America’s flag. You are allowed to see Mr. Burster Dang in the bamboo park this morning.”
“*Finally* You hear that down there Mary?”
“I heard,” she gurgled upward.
“So what gives, Burster? I mean, Buster?”
“Just lay there and don’t move. And talk *through* the bamboo as much as possible. The bamboo is sacred, the bamboo is healing.”
Pitch Darkly intuits he wants to add on something like, “All Hail the Wild Green Grass,” even if Buster doesn’t say it out loud. What made him think this? Then something else came in his mind. “Is — this an audition?” he asked.
Buster became even more serious. “Annaliza. Will you kindly leave Pitch and me alone for a moment.”
Annaliza hesitates, but then acquiesces, bowing deeply before departing in silence. Pitch wanted to shout, “Are you all right down there!” to Mary, but knew she couldn’t hear through the floor. She wasn’t allowed (again). This was very, very wrong.
Buster Damm dared to take off a tiny bit of time from studying and scouting to bring our old friend Duncan Avocado into the picture. They sat in the same VHC City diner, in the same booth even where the original agreement was made. Duncan still wore the Pot-D heart-within-skeleton-hands pendant. Buster still knew where he was at any moment. “Sooo. Here we are, Duncan.”
“We are,” spoke Duncan plainly. He didn’t hesitate this time; he’d been around the cell block too many times in the meantime. “Whatever it is: yes.”
“Great!” Buster immediately spat in his hand and leaned forwards across the table. 5 minutes till sunrise…
Duncan A. woke up in a captive position, but then stood up. No chains this time. Relief! He wipes his forehead of perspiration and looks around. Pipes. This must be Pipersville Buster talked about. He moves to the table on the far side of the room.
African-American nudie pic, he ruminates. Jim A.’s heartthrob, he understands, the thing that held *him* captive. What happened to her? he wonders, then turns. One way to find out. He ascends the stairs out of there and tries the door: unlocked. Still not a captive.
He opens the door. Music.
I’ve got to text Baker to come find me and get me. But what year is it? 2020? 1920? If the latter, then Septimius might be of aid. If the former, then Baker alone.
She looks down at her spacesuit like garb; realizes it has to be the former.
Unless we had children, she ponders further. Grandchildren. She searches for Wallytown + Septimius. Name is probably archaic but it’s worth a try.
She studies the search results. No Septimius. On a hunch, she tries Seppy. No luck again. Then Sep. Sep Felton. Ah ha. 8 hits down. Sep Felton. 128 Wall Lane. Number: 882-226-4371. She dials through her notebook.
“Hello?” Female voice — Wheeler was thinking male.
“Hi. Is this Sep? Sep Felton?”
Wheeler decides what to say. “I’ve been looking up possible relatives in the area. My name is Felton as well. By marriage.”
“Well, that’s interesting. I only know of 1 other Felton, and he’s over in Meat City. Runs a small packing industry. No relation, though.” The voice was pleasant, inviting.
“I was wondering… could we meet sometime today? Or tomorrow perhaps? I’m only in town the two days. Today would be preferable.” Wheeler was thinking: it better be today. I’m ready to get the heck out of Dodge!
“I get off work at 5. How about 6? Bar Lemon is a popular place to meet. Dancers there as well. We can chat before the entertainment. Molly, one of the dancers, is a good friend of mine. She can get us a good deal on drinks.”
How strange, thought Wheeler. Of all the places. Does she know as well?? “Swell,” she answered. “See you in a couple of hours.”
“Thanks. It will be nice to compare family trees. See if we’re actually related. Perhaps you’re instead related to Sven over in Meat City. Or perhaps — I’ve often wondered this too — there’s a missing link between the 2 Feltons. We would be so isolated otherwise. Perhaps we can figure it out together. That would be nifty.”
A little chatty, thought Wheeler. But otherwise: quite nice. Pleasant — that’s important. No nasal in her voice. “Super. I’d like to see the dancers.” It was a hobby of Wheeler’s as well. So many dances in the world. So many more to learn.
“That’s wonderful. I’m a dancer too, but not professionally like Molly. Just amateur stuff.”
Queer again, thought Wheeler. Just like me once more. But enough talk for now. “Goodbye. I’m looking forward to it.” She touches the phone symbol on the notebook, making it turn from green to red. Disconnected. But later, perhaps connected in a much more meaningful and deeper way. Love.
“So *you* were the Prince all along. This Ingo. Should’ve known by the name. Ingo… Ingor, your drummer.”
“And you have been the witch Hazel all along,” declared Col. Flagstaff from his log. “My ancient nemesis.”
“Perhaps not any more. Maybe moving forward from this centre spot we can be allies instead of axis. Depends if I can choose blue over red. It will be hard.”
“You should ditch Banana Boy to begin. Your yellow lover.”
“I need him still,” countered Parasol.
“Alright. Suit yourself.” Both knew this was a mistake, though.
Parasol looked at Col. Flagstaff. “You’ll have to remove the sphere to make a final decision. You can’t take that thing with you.”
“Sure about that?”
“Say they — we — were trying to get rid of you, huh?”
“Yeah. Implied I was a liability.”
“And you saw this in the cave.”
“Yeah. I was the fire in the center of it all. The observing fire.”
Charlie Banana knew that if he didn’t kill the puppet man soon Parasol would need his heart instead. Better move into action.