“Don’t kill me sir!” the puppet man pleaded vigorously in his high, wavering voice. “I’m an innocent! I haven’t done nothing wrong, done no one no harm!”
Charlie stares into the eyes of innocence, lowers the knife. He can’t do it. Charlie Banana begins untying Freedom Puppet.
“Get up. Here. Take the knife.”
“That trick was easier than I thought,” Freedom Puppet said while quickly cutting a circle around the center of Charlie Banana. “Eat your heart out Gene Kelly.”
At her Fruity Island house boat, Parasol goes to check the morning mail. “Ahh. A real heart instead of a puppet one.” Parasol sighs. “Poor Charlie Banana. We had a good run, though.”
“Looks like blue might win out after all.”
“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.
“Ahh. Justt liike Bakker Bee saidd. Here att *Cee*. Four headds as one. Sam Bee, Duncan Aaa, Parasoll, and, lett’s see, Charrlie?” Ruby Fanatsie considered again. “Banana Boyy, yess. And *I* inn the middle againn. The *centree*”.
Ruby walks further; passes the left pair of walkers and enters the circle proper. C. Right pair of walkers straight ahead.
Ruby Fantasie pauses at the right pair, then looks around, stupefied. “I have entered a collagewold! And I am talking local again. Baker B. must be nearby. Very nearby. But this is Sam Bee true enough. Basketball. Orange and basketball as one. Orange Peel.”
Ruby turned around. “Geez, Baker Bloch. You scared me! I am almost on top of you!” But Baker, I, couldn’t answer as this was collagewold and not the real wold.
Still, through the density, I was able to eek out a weak “saucer”. Ruby stared ahead down the road with this. The Pineapple Highway Road.
The spectre of Private Investigator Keat Owens didn’t phase her a bit as she continued.
(to be continued)
He could feel her hot, putrid breath against his neck. Death, Angel of. Head like a grapefruit. Or a basketball.
“Come on, Sam Bee. Time to take the plunge. She’ll be waiting here for us when it’s over.”
“You don’t know,” he hissed, gazes still locked. “You weren’t there, Duncan.”
“I was there,” Duncan reassured his friend. His war vet friend.
“We — almost — had them — by the BALLS.”
Parasol woke up, looked over at Charlie sitting heavily on the couch beside her. “You’ve changed.”
“Something’s happening,” he agreed.
Someone was about to enter the circle.
Parasol woke up again, Charlie still beside her.
“Duncan A. and Sam B. are about to enter the gorgeous gorge. I saw it in my dream.”
“Then I guess you’re gonna split, huh?”
“Not till Sundae.”
Parasol woke up.
“I think there’s a fly in my beer, Baker Bloch. So catch me up more. What’s happening in town? *Who’s* in town… now? I saw Roger Pine Ridge staring at me from his perch up Old Cannon Road. Who else?”
“No time tonight unfortunately, Baker Blinker. We must return to Parasol.”
“I’m glad you enjoy my company, Charlie. I enjoy yours as well.”
“You know, don’t you?” Charlie began suspecting for some reason during the climax.
“Hmmm, about Bandit Boy? About how you betrayed your supposed good friend Roger Pine Ridge and then changed forms after Cyberpaperdoll left you in turn to try to make amends? Do I know about the stolen Rainbow Sphere and the fame and fortune that goes along with it? Yes. I do.” She turns and stares at him squarely. “And there’s not a gosh darn thing you can do about it.” She blinks her red-blue eyes innocently.
“I see.” He avoids her stare in turn, looks at his feet, his hands. Gazes at the horizon while in thought. “Are… you going to tell.. on me?” he then manages. He liked Collagesity. He wasn’t ready to leave yet.
“I have a deal for you, double faced boy. There’s a puppet in town that I want killed. Cut his heart out and bring it to me. Then we’ll talk.”
Silence, then Parasol tacked on: “It’s only a puppet after all. A *doll*.”
“I have 9 linden dollars to my name, Charlie. We need to go back to Rodentia and gamble again. I won last time!”
“You also *lost*,” Roger Pine Ridge’s new Collagesity roommate Charlie Banana reminded and reprimanded. Both loved smokes, and that’s how they “accidentally” met. Rodentia speak-easy.
“Now… let’s talk about Parasol.”