It didn’t work with Norm the Cashier — dead — but it might with Wendy, another blue square of Earth just over there.
In a dream tonight, she shed something red and he did too: his red tie. They were on a beach in the dream and he was the dreamer and it was his beach. He’d been there a while but Wendy had just arrived — in red. Red Stripe Beach: that was the name, or that became it after the pivotal event. It was all leading somewhere…
Barry woke up, his back aching again. Sleeping on his pink plastic couch won’t hack it long term. He needs a proper bed! First Norm’s couch at the flower shop that was destroyed by a fire week before last and now this nearby place with only a couch again to crash on. Norm let him stay in her bed some nights, but that was it. “Nothing over 50%,” she said. “We must remaining playing just a game and not let it become a philosophy or even religion. We are not a religion,” she ended, puzzling the younger Barry who only wanted the friendly, loving warmth of female companionship. She returned to her cash register with this proclamation and he returned to her couch. The final, fated visit by Amazonia for the 49×61 payment was still days and maybe weeks away. The number 17 comes to mind. He was out and about when it happened, just roaming the streets of Black Ice and wondering if Norm and he had any kind of future. Apparently not, now, although he’d heard the witch doctors down at the market could bring the formerly living back from the dead, a favorite cat or dog, or even a girlfriend or wife for the price. Which he didn’t have anyway — and that’s how Norm got in trouble in the *first* place. He sighs. “Oh well,” he speaks aloud and moves to the other room to write down his dreams per usual before making breakfast. Toasty-O’s, the story of his life.
In another dream, Barry sits across from a guy named Jack Danielsun at a Toasty-O shaped bar but knows his actual name is Dimmy, like a lightbulb. Not the brightest, he ascertained from the dull conversation. Just another unschooled punk. He spoke of bartending at Phantom Hill and how he got there in a row boat from the other side of the rather large island he lived on. Again: not the smartest. And probably schizophrenic on top of it all.
(to be continued?)
One day I’m going to get this boat of mine fixed and row row row all the way around this island, like it was (in) a stream.” Dimmy Gene then takes another sip of his homemade Sumatran blend, further pondering about a hill full of phantoms he’s heard about on its opposite side. He involuntarily shudders and winces at once.
He recalls his old girlfriend Little Oakley Annie coming for a visit in the Fall of ’26, just before the end. “I’m going back home to Green River after this,” she spoke to him, pistol waving around haphazardly in her right hand as usual. It would do her in; Oakley was no more after that, no more visits. Buried at Green River on that hill overlooking the vale. Dimmy then ponders about Teepot, which he hadn’t thought of for a long long time. Maybe he should switch from coffee to tea for a while, he segued, starting with green. No: red. This rogue Sumatran is starting to taste like Raid, like something you’d set out to get rid of pests or something. Darn hurricanes: cutting me off from the real coffee I love. He sips again, looking out at the wavy water and wondering if yet another would hit the west coast this Fall. Clouds were darkening again…
An island surrounded by a River. He ruminated where he got the idea while sipping and then wincing once more. But he dare not pull this tarp up and look at the damning holes again. The Phantom Hill trip won’t be happening anytime soon.
(to be continued?)
“I’m telling you, Jack. They’ve forgotten everything. The war’s over, they go home. Then slowly, one by one, they make their way back .They pick up their arms once more, if they have any arms left to pick them up from the last time. Or maybe they just grow back. Like lizards do. Jack — are you listening to me? You seem distracted. I’m saying–”
“Hitler’s dead, is what all the papers say,” the youthful bartender mutters anxiously to the raccoon man, returned to the Jeogeot Gulf for a timely visit. “Yet the Japs fight on. Soon the war will be over. But then I wake up, it’s 1939 all over again. Poland is invaded.” Jack starts to sob a little here. “It just starts *over*.”
“Well, that’s what I’m trying to *tell* you Jack. I should know. I started out as a private and rose in the ranks to a 5 star general in charge of the whole caboodle. I said, from this position of power: this is it. Surrender. Go home y’all. Lay down your arms… all the things you said. Then I come back and everything is unlearned, undone. Tell me Jack.” He takes another sip of insipid beer, probably American. “Do you even know what side you’re fighting for any more? Some don’t.” He turns and looks at the 1/2 filled bar of military personnel. “If the uniforms were a little grayer here, a little drabber there, I don’t think anyone would know.”
Jack wipes the counter down nervously, thinking that 1/2 the people in the room are watching him and half aren’t. But he doesn’t know which. He tries to determine friend from foe through the caps and helmets but all the lines get blurred together. He’s lost it. He needs to go home but he doesn’t even know where that is any more. Home is here I suppose, he says to himself. He pours two shots of Jack Daniels, one for the raccoon man and one for himself. “Here’s to home,” he proclaims while raising his glass, resigned to the fact. Over in one gulp, he pours another while 1/2 the room still eyes him.
Rocky Racco stares intently down into his own empty glass like it was a scrying device, and maybe it was. He needs to figure out what went awry with his plans and end it for good this time. This smells like a Casey One Hole case in his estimation (he channels?), with everyone vying for that damned mustard seed.
(to be continued)
“You said you wanted to get closer to me, Kate, so here we are.” He turns in his seat. “At the place it all began for Jenny and me. Before she became world famous Your Mama and all turned to rust and rot.”
Kate McCoy was tired of hearing about Keith B.’s daughter but bit her tongue right now. He had brought her along on this trip to Cassandra City and she was grateful for the bonding opportunity. If only *he* were her daddy instead of that low life Craighead Phillips. Where was *he*? Still galavanting around in Bluefield US of A? She didn’t want to know; she didn’t care. She was with Keith B. for the present. She had designs on a long term relationship. Maybe he did too — she didn’t know. Yet.
He starts pointing around the place, indicating changes. “The stage, Kate, use to be in that corner — instead of over there on the side. A lot of these booths have been added too.” Keith B. was disappointed that there’s no indication of their presence in this bar. It was apparently up to him to keep the history alive. “It’s all in the autobiography,” he often tells friends after throwing them a juicy piece of the past. They usually want more and then that’s what he tells them. He’d rather write for many instead of talk for few. He’d learned that lesson decades ago. People like to talk, but words only last if you write them down or record them in some equivalent way. He started a blog in 2008. He could better organize his thoughts about people places things with categories and tags. He had a system.
“Keith?” Kate McCoy spoke, seeing her wanna-be dad spacing out again, most likely about the past. She wanted his full attention once more.
“Thinking about the blog?”
“Yeah. I suppose.” He feels the slightly extra pressure his flip style notepad makes in the back of his pants. He senses the push style lead pencil in his front pocket against a thigh. Tools of his trade. While he was away from the computer. But he must resist the urge to pull it out in front of his wanna-be daughter. That’s not how it works.
(to be continued?)
Dimmy Gene never did get a copy of “Moby Prick”. The other bookstore in town closed 10 minutes before he arrived. He’d have to lay out of school (once more), maybe ride his motocyclone over to Toppsity. But first: an early movie. Cheaper that way.
2:00 in the afternoon and hardly anyone is here. Oh right, everyone *else* is in school, studying away. Studying to be grown-up dunces, he muses, thinking of his father Daffy Gene and his family run chain of fine clothing stores. He’s set up to be another Gene in their line of production. Well I’m *bucking* the system. Buck “Moby Prick.” Buck the red book, even, although he’s heard it’s better than the other. A whole bookstore devoted to that one book, he thinks again, not quite understanding the impossibility of it.
Great. Another movie about the future being in the past. Oh well.
He runs and gets some popcorn, mountainy dew, and candy before settling back in for a long one.
“Where is he?” Warhole demanded to the mechanical soothsayer. “Where’s Gabby?”
“You come — bearing the mantle of other people tonight, Andy War-HOLE. You have been talking to — *people* too much. You are too — *peoplely*.”
“Well, yeah. What of it? I’m an artist. I have to mingle. Socializing sells art. That’s what I’m about. Baby.” He checks his watch with this. Gabby should have been here 20 minutes ago! He needs help.
“Oh I look hideous,” Poetry Dancer complained to Marilyn.
“Won’t take long dearest (*coo*). We’ll have you looking, *exactly* like one of us in a jiffy, darling (*ooo!*).”
“No sir, you don’t understand. We sell *one* book. The red one.” You’ll have to go to the other bookstore in town for “Moby Prick”.
“Aww, *geez*.” Dimmy Gene’s book review was due tomorrow, and now he has to walk all the way across town to get a copy and start reading.
“It’s no good,” Gabby complains at the typewriter with its inserted, still blank sheet of paper. “I need people to write!” Long lunch break’s over. He better head back to the wagons.