It was raining when he got back to Collagesity and it made his depression worse. He decided to go to Vivian Blue Hair, the new girl — or one of ’em — for advice. She was a fire scryer, using candles for the most part, like here. He asked what was foremost in his mind. “Which… one?”
Vivian could have been selfish and said she was the one, but almost immediately upon staring into the flame saw black and white patterns all around. She slips deeper into trance, closing her eyes. “I see two countries — or counties — one black and the other white, but both named Austra.”
“Austra, yes,” Phillip replies. “There’s a Lower and an Upper — everyone knows that–” Phillip stops here, understanding that Vivian Blue Hair arrived off continent just day before last week. She was a friend of… he can’t remember. Maybe Man About Time, wherever the heck he is these days. Phillip is already itching to leave his Collagesity but has nowhere left to go, he doesn’t think. Not after Wendy.
Vivian Blue Hair changed into someone else, chessboard patterns moved to the face. “A promise made, a promise lost.”
It was the cards (!), heart upside down being a spade.
Jeffrie Phillips wakes up from the rabbit hole as the lot of ’em fall to the chessboard floor in a disheveled mess, like roses. He’s received his clue.
“Charlene,” he says to the woman beside him, the usual one, but probably not *the* one. This also stirs her.
“Yes, Mr. Jeffrie Phillips, sir,” she dutifully and groggily recites, automatically reaching for his red tie hung on the bed post but then realizing it was still the middle of the night. She returns her hand to his bare chest.
“That new girl in town…”
“Right… see where *this* is going.” She yawns and looks at her nails.
“No, no, I don’t fancy her or anything.” Jeffrey Phillips definitely fancies her as he does most women, but that wasn’t the point here. “She has black hair, correct? Not blue or anything crazy like that.”
“First off, blue *isn’t* crazy. My Aunt Zelda had blue, red, and green in a row before her death in the early 80’s.”
“She lived that long, huh,” Jeffrey replied, starting to contemplate time and the colors that one can change into at the end. “But to my point…”
“In a certain light,” Charlene said in answer, “yes, it could be considered blue. But the light has to shine upon her hair in a very particular setting, I’ve noticed. Early morning or late day perhaps: hafta check.”
“So: blue.” Jeffrey decides to lay the cards on the table, this time in an orderly manner. “I dreamed about her just now.”
“I bet you did.”
“Not that kind of dream. A dream of this whole continent, which (he then realized) broke down into a series of black and white squares — *sims*.”
“Fascinating,” she deadpanned, and put on her babydoll and got up to get some water. “Want anything to drink or eat while I’m in the kitchen?” He watched her move away from him in a satisfying manner. Nice to have compensation when he returned home. Charlene is a swell mate as well as lover. He’ll keep her around for sure; a short leash. Strange way to think about it, he realized. I don’t *own* her. Or maybe… maybe I do in a way. I pay her bills, I give her a place to stay here at the Blue Feather (building). She was rummaging around the kitchen now. “Are you going to answer me?” she called, hoping he could hear her over the static this time. “I’ll get you something anyway.” More noises, and then about 5 minutes later she returned with some milk and a plate of choco chip cookies. She lay down beside him, put the plate on his partially bare belly, and picked up the top one for herself, studying it. “Cow chips, they’re called. Saw them advertised on TV. Big beaver holds one up in his paws.” She extends her arms here and holds the cookie between them like a small steering wheel toward the static filled TV on a table just beyond the bed. “Like this.” In the snow, she imagined the big beaver mirroring this back to her.
He studies her, then he follows her arms to the cookie, realizing what this meant. “That’s disgusting.” He picks one up himself using just the one arm. Oversized and heavy on choco chunks, he sees, but otherwise just an ordinary cookie.
In another dream that night, the cookie Charlene holds expands and turns into a whirling vortex, sucking up everything in the room including his milk. “And so on the 5th day…” he heard her say beside him as they fell and fell, blobs of white and chunks of brown all around. The rabbit hole seemed endless this time.