Axis again worships Lu Ellen Hutchison (or Hutchinson) before entering his NWES coffee shop. Who is now his wife, at least last time he checked (Wednesday).
He enters the coffee shop proper…
… only to see two avatars sitting at his favorite table instead of the one he expected. The conversation already taking place was briefly interrupted.
“There he is,” whispered Man About Time to Tracy Austin. “Behind the column. It’s as if he doesn’t think we can *see*.”
They talked about many things that night, the two of them and then all three together when Axis finally came out of “hiding”. One by one (by one), they began to understand all revolved around Peter — after all, the only Variant at The Table who was never a Variant. Peter and “Lamb”. They vowed, 3 hands clasped together at the center of *this* table (standing, remorseful Axis from the side), that Grandpapa didn’t die in Vain. Because, of course, we already know he died in Kowloon. His “Lamb” will live on.
“I am pleased,” I can hear him say from that Great Elderly Center in the Sky, lost cane back in hand again.
“I can’t believe it,” Guy Benjamin exclaimed a little later to Grandmama after she broke the news. “Grandpapa’s dead!”
“Did in with his own cane,” she explained, her voice starting to waver. “The old fool.” She was inconsolable for months, maybe years. Axis had done a bad thing. A bad bad thing. We must reexamine the ultimate motives of his character in light of this horrendous act.
There was only one place to go.
“I can’t see, Fish Head. I had to borrow an old man’s cane just to get here. He’s laying back there in the alley — may want to tell the local authorities in an hour or two. Make it two… since I’m blind. Anyway, you better tell the Heart Queen that I’m going to have to abort the mission.”
Fish Head begin mixing the booze in his hands again, eventually saying, “she’s not going to like it.”
“I know, I know,” Axis followed quickly. “Just tell her.” He points to his sightless, red eyes. “Not much choice.”
Fish Head retrieved a glass underneath the bar and poured the mixed drink in from the canister. He pushed the glass toward Axis. “Here. Drink this down. Then have a re-consider.”
Axis knew he wasn’t going to “have a re-consider” but took the drink anyway. Free booze was always a weakness. But Fish Head, of course, knew that already. “Go ahead,” he urged. Axis drank.
He woke up in a trench beneath the water. He wasn’t blind any longer — looked up and saw a spinny red, fabric-like thingie wielding scissors and knife in metal hands. Another doctor.
He knew he had been fixed up.
He stands up and makes his way through the trench back to the surface. Still in the service of the Heart Queen obviously.
I’m very close to the answer, Axis thinks while staring up.
He turns. Very close.
He buys the “white eye” offered on top of the old drum can for a linden dollar, wears, and instantly becomes blinded.
Feng Sui and Qi stare at the door waiting for customers that never come. “Damn that Fish Head,” sitting Qi exclaims at one point. “Damn the Head and the Fish,” reinforces her standing sister at the time, then later thinks, while still standing and staring over: maybe we should fix the bullet holes in the door. Maybe that doesn’t help with the customers. The Store Zero slaughters were a long time ago, after all. Maybe it’s time to finally heal the wounds. “We can’t have a repeat of the past, sister of mine,” she speaks down to Qi after telling her the same. “Oh *no*,” Qi doubles down. They both know, no matter what’s going on with Fish Head and the Bird above them, that they cannot return to the ugly, brutal past. The Dark Days.
Qi rises from the stool. “I’ll go try to find some sealant.” ‘Bout time.
Later: back at their nearby apartment…
… Qi dwells on the dark past…
… while Feng Sui discusses what to fix for supper with Uncle Jack.
“Quinoa all right?”
Jack: “You’ll have to ask Uncle *John* about that,” indicating the man sitting in the rocking chair on the balcony. John Lockfry 01. Been a long time.
Tronesisia sits out of the way on the docks so that Baker Bloch can get a shot of “pipe alley”, leading to the doctor. He suspects this may be the Dr. of “Lamb”….
But then Baker Bloch changes his mind and has Tronesisia interact with this so-called doctor, who turns out to be an old friend: Dr. Diper, who helped her (and her parents) out immensely when she was a mere baby. Before she became, well, robotic. Gynoidic.
“It’s so so good to see you old friend,” he began, instantly recognizing his work. Perhaps his greatest work.
“Likewise Dr. Wiper!” cheered Tronesisia, just glad to be in a scene again.
“Diper,” corrected the doctor. “But we’re both grown up now. Call me…”
“Peter?” Tronesisia guessed. Yes. It was Peter. One of ’em.
Clanking within. The doctor was working on another case. Another Peter.
“It wasn’t going to hurt me,” he practiced, and then swiped his bloodied knife in front of him again, a built-in reflex action.
“Good, good,” the tv doctor cooed. “*Why* wasn’t it going to hurt you?”
Jack appeared beside him. Glowering. “Yeah, *John*. Why???”
Benny Right Horn was swaying while listening to the song of the wind and enjoying it thoroughly. He’s decided to at least temporarily abandon his search for Tessa on the railroad and stay here, in a secret camp next to the cascading water at this particular cave mouth. Soon, gun in hand again, he will run into likewise EOT visitor Jackson Bloch, also looking for the grandchild of Herbert Gold. The meeting may not turn out as expected.
In fact, here he comes now from the direction of Wabe. Or is it Wabd? Rebl would know. She’ll reenter the picture soon as well.
In fact, there she is.
“I heard clanking.”