“They think they are the X, Pitch. But they’re only the western edge: Long Drive. There’s Middle Game left, and there may even be Sink X itself, formerly holding Chip Shot, to complete the game.”
“But the X, the actual crossroads I mean, lies between Long Drive here and Middle Game, which I assume is a destination coming up shortly.”
“But first,” Buster clarified, “The X itself as you put it. Teebestia.”
Buster knew she would be looking in through the secret window. Some called her Blurmaid, half blue, half (mer)maid. She was what Craighead Phillips dreamed about regularly in the aquarium at the center of the X, Maebaleia/Satori’s only true crossroads. And they *were* at one, as we, (the reader) and I, are. This is so top secret that I’m almost inclined to make the remainder of the posts of this current Collagesity novel private. I believe Buster Damm would feel more comfortable if this were so.
“The X is a portal,” he spoke through the bamboo to his old friend Pitch, his best mate for, well, centuries I suppose. This is secret stuff between two old pals, old buddies. “You found the blue rose by the sign — you know that now.”
“Ahh, blue rose. Should’ve known.”
“Novalis, yes. But the blue rose is close yet again.” He peers at the door he cannot see through once more. “We are — being monitored,” he measured in his high pitched voice.
Pitch let this sink in before responding bassly from his reclining position. “Cathy A. I know about her and the blue rose that once was red. Like, er, Marcus Fox Smartville’s. What — happened to them?”
[delete 5 exchanges]
“We will compensate by editing…”
[delete 3 exchanges]
Annaliza appeared from around the corner. “We have had enough of discussions today if you please. Mr. Pitch sir, you will follow me again to the pool room where we will talk more tomorrow. Mr. Dang, if you will excuse us.”
“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.
“Tell us about yourself — Elvis wasn’t it?”
“Black,” added Elvis, because he was. “Well, I liked books, no matter how dusty and boring. I’m a learned man. I enjoy truths over falsehoods. I don’t enjoy singing and dancing and womanizing as much as my white counterpart.” He turned the page, because he was reading and speaking at the same time. The word “white” had just been encountered. “That’s about all for now,” he said plainly.
Buster looked over at Bettie and raised his eyebrows. She knew what he was thinking and visa versa. This is Duncan again, playing some sort of trick on them. Or someone *through* Duncan playing a trick. But just because this was another black man…
Elvis Black changed. Duncan A. indeed.
“Do you know who I am yet?”
“The South was wrong, you know. Worshiping 2 dimensional cartoon people like Hatfield over 3 dimensional history and facts, no matter how dusty and boring.”
Bettie stopped swinging and looked over at still swinging Nancy, imagining a horn growing out the far side of her head for some reason. Then she attempted to synchronize with her again and soon they were side-by-side.
Bettie later brought the subject up to Buster, turning tiny herself in the meantime.
“I’m more focused on the sinks and Lemon vs. Lime.”
“Nancy says that’s related,” spoke Bettie across from him.
Buster sits up while looking in the distance. “Hold on. I think I see Duncan.”
But it was another Black Man. Duncan had been replaced.
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.
“Well this is just a fine pickle, Buster. Professor Suckaluck’s super interesting smart house is gone!”
Buster was checking the About Land options. “And although we can rebuild — kind of — we can’t run scripts here. We’ll have to look elsewhere. Good thing I’m scouting out the total area, huh?” Buster puts hands on hips, defiant.
Bettie wasn’t going to respond to this. Suckaluck’s house should be here (!). Stupid, mutable Our Second Life. But the hills are permanent, she then thinks to reassure herself. Not going anywhere as long as the whole continent is around.
We’ll stay here at the peak tonight, Buster ruminates. Perhaps make love to rejuvenate ourselves but perhaps not. Increase our draw distances to the max. Enjoy the view over the Shallows this way…
… and the (rest of the) hills the other way. Those super interesting hills.
(to be continued)