I dreamed the snow was butterflies.
Wake up, wake up, wake *up*.
“Her name is Sandy,” Camouflage responded about the white-ish squirrel cautiously approaching them. Sometimes she gave her acorns off another sim, an exotic dish. Squirrels don’t forget. “Like a pickle.”
“Pickle?” questioned Jeffrie Phillips by her side, out of his tuxedo and into his regular duds. This must mean it’s the present.
“You know, a sandy pickle, to contrast with a regular green one. An exotic pickle. Surely you have sandy colored cucumbers in your time period.”
“Time period?” Jeffrey Phillips questioned again.
I’ll just skip to the part where they talk about the sim they’re in, and how it got its name. “Wabd,” responded Camouflage about an original appellation, as exotic as the white-ish squirrel approaching them again.
“Green *Yarn.* And here we are. You must wake up again, and for real this time, Mr. Jeffrie Phillips. You are dreaming too much. You lay in your comfy bed with that woman who hasn’t been clearly identified and listen to that tv static and sleep sleep sleep. If you, say, got up in the middle of the night…”
“I don’t do that,” he said firmly. “I had an uncle who did that. Was into synchronicities. Said they were strongest in the middle of the night. I’d rather be blanketed in a bed of safe white tv static than deal with all that…” Should he say “nonsense” here? Pink Floyd? Bigfoot wearing a hot pink mini dress? It all didn’t add up. Except there *was* Charlene. “I think I’m ready to wake up again.”
“Good, cool,” responded Camouflage out of a permanently wine stained mouth shaped exactly like a regular glass of wine, Merlot most likely. “When you wake up, you’ll know who you’re with.”
Jeffrie Phillips was hoping now it was Charlene, although he guessed it wasn’t.
“I was on the Diagonal next to the Not Quite Gazebo, named so because it wasn’t (quite on the Diagonal). The moon was made of cheese. I try to transfer to the tower which I *know* is on the Diagonal but can’t quite reach the center (Diagonal). Instead: on one of the edge seats. The moon is not made of cheese. I wake up, still looking from the point of the Not Quite.”
“And then the lane,” spoke [delete name]. “Cherry Lane.”
“No, that was something different. In the land of Hana Lei.”
“Which is a catch all name for locations that you don’t want to list out.” Silence for a second, as if Jeffrie Phillips was checking this fact (he was). “Yes… but no. I mean, it wasn’t Cherry Lane on the Diagonal. Instead a path through a clearly haunted or haunting woods filled with wolves, especially at the bend where the path or trail leaves the Diagonal. That was before the Not Quite Gazebo. I wasn’t Peet Archer. I wasn’t wearing the tuxedo to indicate I was Young Kane who was never called that (strangely).”
“Blue Thorn?” guessed [delete name].
“I can’t recall,” responded Jeffrie Phillips, thinking hard. He was pounding a fist into his skull three times. Then three more. He recalled. “Niagara. Peet Archer was at the top. I put him there. I was…” Again a stall. The 1898 room was powerful that way — squelched speech. He wondered again who was beside him in that room while he dreamed. Someone from Hana Lei perhaps.
“Go on, Jeffrie. Do you need some water? Do you want to continued another night? We can wake up at any time. I clap my hands three times, and then three more.” He clapped his hands three times and then three more.
He had a good look at the back of the bartender from his seat but she wasn’t his type, a bold bodied Jessica Rabbit sort from the Roger Rabbit movie franchise, a mixture of cartoon and caricature. The person actually sitting at the bar nearer him was more interesting, but not necessarily in a sexual way. More like she had information he needed to know — he didn’t know how he knew this but he knew. He *knew* he knew. He was becoming aware of who he was. And this dame — woman — was going to help him over the edge. Back to Canada and Picturetown and the alley with the 102 signature and Charlene the Bigfoot punk and all the other stuff. She was reading — he liked to read, at least the red book. He asked what it was; this was her cue. She turned to face him, scars and all.
“Axis,” she requested. “It’s time to give up the gig.”
Axis? Wendell “Biff” Carter thought. Was this role play? Okay, he could go along. “I’ll give up the gig, then, if you tell me what you’re reading.”
“I’m reading the book you have read. I’m reading the book you have *written*.” She showed him the cover, emblazoned with an inky black swastika as big as an alternate 3rd Reich that actually won WWII. Still didn’t mean anything to him. This was 1939 after all. The big switch hadn’t happened yet.
“Okayyy.” He calculates how to further advance this strange conversation. It had been a strange day. First he was awoken at 5 in the morning and asked to fill in for Philburg down at the station, who was sick on pill. Then during his beat (back on the beat!) he encountered a highly dangerous criminal named Orkley Andy — so close to Oakley Annie! — but turned out to be a sweet guy who had lost his dog Hunter who was just hiding under the couch because of all the gunshots. Never mind the cat stench and the almost cleaned up blood stains. Never mind Phyllis down at the Red Dress diner. Orkley Andy had him phone her up on his phone. She’s okay! Orkley Andy wasn’t a bad sort, just a gun sort. Biff had to ask. “Are you related to the famous gunslinger Oakley Annie?” “Never heard of her,” Orkley lied through his gold capped teeth.
How blind could Biff be? He refocused out of his thoughts and onto the stranger’s face again. So familiar. “Don’t I know you?” — making her huff and leave the place. She’d have to try another time.
“I was still just a young guy at the time. Young Kane young guy.”
“They called you Kane?” Tessa tried to clarify about Jeffrie Phillips’ past. He’d regained the ability to talk and she wanted to try to get as much info as possible out of him before a potential recurrence.
“They called me many names. Sometimes Kane, sometimes Old Kane, even though I wasn’t — as stated — and then…”
“Young Kane?” Tessa ventured.
“No, never that. Odd in retrospect. Then Kane yielded to Spankey yielded to Michael yielded to Clark yielded to Woody. It was a whole county full of names, really. And, yes, now I recall about the Kane name. It was short for Hurricane. My actual name was Rainey, and I had a stormy personality.”
Tessa looked at her watch, felt the back of her tired neck. “We better get to the Borderlands again.”
“Right, so I was standing there, in my tuxedo which I always wore in my younger days, clutching my Philip doll — as always, or as usual.”
“We might get into that later on. About the trail…”
“Bunny trail, yes. So I saw one carrot, and the one carrot led to the next carrot led to the next carrot… kind of like the trail of my names from the past.”
“You said something about the Blue Rose,” Tessa said, trying to speed things up. “About *that* particular name.”
“The carrots led right by them. I was on my way.”
“The Bunny Trail leads…” He suddenly ground to a halt. Someone was preventing him from speaking further about this subject!
He remembered, but he couldn’t say.
“Just a minute, Tessa, I’m watching Gigi (pause). Okay, she’s gone. Go ahead.”
“I’m trying to *simplify*, Stumpy. I’m trying to become punkish, I guess you could put it.”
“Like being stuck on the 4th side of a mid-70s art rock concept album, yeah. I get it.”
“‘What would Peter do?’ And that kind of thing.”
“Yeah, yeah, I have some advice for you. I’m a good bartender like that.” He shifts from bartender pose 3 to bartender pose 2 to better explain.
“Yeah, what is it?”
“Sorry. Just raising my elbows out from inside the counter. Right. Here’s my advice.”
(to be continued)
“I don’t know. I guess I tired of sitting on the Thorn Throne all day. I combined the name into Thron, without the ‘e’, and had a chuckle. I became bored again.
I don’t know. I guess I started some wars because I was bored, sorry.”
“Wars that are still going on *now*,” Tessa said to his side.
“Yeah, suppose. I said I was sorry.”
“How did you become *Ray*, Blue Rose Thorn?”
“Just Thorn. I chucked the Rose with the throne. I don’t know.”
“Stop *saying* that.”
“I — I guess, I suppose, I *realize* — now — it started in Tennessee in that mine. It was my mine. The Blue Rose. I was royal blue at the time.”
“So like now.”
“He’s linked to Winterfell all right. The past of Rose Heaven…”
“… when it and Caledonia to the south were linked.”
“Links all around.”
It was still snowing profusely. Tessa was almost up to her knees in it. She stares at the setting (rising?) sun and wonders what star it is. Arcturus? Could she be home again? No, she realized. Too yellow. Arcturus is an orange giant.
Or was it Aldebaran?
According to her sensors, someone named Sunny who was also a star stood in the shack at the end of the pier over there. She also had a number: 7. She might know. But grandpa always told Tessa not to approach strangers in Our Second Lyfe without good reason. Was this a good reason? And was this even still Our Second Lyfe, a shared virtual reality that is real to us permanently inhabited avatars?
And as I was typing this, Sunnystar7 disappeared, leaving only boomboom 2020 in the sim with her. Well, there was certainly a lot of boom boom last night at the (baker b.) house in reality reality. In bed by 11 but woken up at 12 as the boom booms persisted until 12:30. But what is time in a pandemic. Hard to keep track of the days, with weeks and months ahead. Forget time. Forget them all, even years. 2020 can go to boom boom hell for all she cares. She lost her beloved grandfather!
(to be continued)