“There’s no one there, honey.”
“Oh, but there *is*.”
She heard the alley whispers.
She knew she had to go back to Creepy Alley, where *it* happened. The falling of the pipe. The raising of the voice. 3 notes now she could sing that she couldn’t before. The town (Pipersville) even welcomed her back.
She felt like a mannequin, stuck there until I told her she could move forward. I sensed she hated me for that; didn’t like to be controlled. I moved her toward the alley. I’d done this before.
Still there. Perhaps expanded, even. There was a confusion, a mix-up, involving Your Mama and herself dealing with this alley. She always knew this. She dreamed about it often, this so called Creepy Alley. The only… the only way to deal with it is to make a song about the place, she then thought, influenced by the energy, creepy or not. She remembers Zach Black owning a (Texaco) gas station along it, with a back door importantly without an eye in it — he made sure of that. But then, yes, Marion “Star” Harding, Cowboy for life, bought the station, although he didn’t really *buy* it. Said money is no option. She recalls that as well. Then Jim’s Diamond Club right across from her here. She remembers… she sang… Here she looks down at her fur outfit. Why do I *wear* this all the time. Must be a dream. And indeed, here comes Jim, now Jim A. or Jim Brown or Jim A. Brown (altogether now), walking up the hill toward her, dead flesh still in place and not fallen away.
“Jim,” she says, but remembers she shouldn’t call him that. Or she needs to *add* onto that. “Jim A., Jim A. Brown.”
But suddenly he was walking away from her, as if forward had switched to backwards in an instant, a blink of the eye. “F-ing cursed alley,” she cursed.
She couldn’t stop playing with the Cube of Space, no matter how hard she tried. She’d given in to the urges, complacent in the moment…
She always knew she’d return to (the general) Crabwoo (area). Horses — in the middle of Horsa, or at least an ass, donkeys they call them around these here Northern parts. Loaded down with flowers for the market. And where was that place? That’s what she had to find out next.
She hadn’t heard good music in what seemed like ages. Yet here she was, listening to the beautiful crooning of famous Lena Horned in a cafe she just stumbled upon by accident it seemed. Rehearsals of course, else the place would obviously be packed. Another black person accompanied her to her immediate right drinking bitter wine. Zach Black — caved in to the pressure from the central government of the South. “You help her reach her highest peak pitch or else,” Jer Left Horn demanded in the alley out back of his Cass City club, brother Benny Right Horn with grease monkey wrench beating in hand next to him. A threat in other words. If nice doesn’t work then it’s back to the routine of being bullies, which they’re better at than regular diplomacy anyhoot. Horns of Hatton must be completed. A continental tour will be the warmup. And thus here she is, in the far North, ready for conquest like the British Beatles did with America. Similar. “We have to get you another hit,” said Zach Black after the alley scene was over, now understanding his position in the big scheme of things. Else: walking dead. Like Jim A. Brown before him.
The phone rings for her but is answered by another. She has a personal assistant now. Thank Gods. Time for herself at last.
“Oh it was just awful, Zach. That *look* in his eyes.”
Always the same, Zach thinks. She repeats herself over and over about their description, these “walking dead” as she calls them.
“But then the last dream I had about David Bowie was *fun*. Cute umbrella people — New People they called themselves, but come from a flooded country. They turned into umbrellas — that stopped the rains. Very cute,” she reinforced. “And David Bowie was their leader (!). Except he called himself… umm.” She couldn’t recall the name Bogota, because that could put a kind of damper on the cuteness. Because: another walking dead obviously.
She sat as far apart from him on the bench they shared as possible without being *too* obvious about it. Along with looking just plain awful he also reeked of dead flesh — death itself. Yet he talked as if nothing was out of the ordinary. He was chattering on and on about his club — Jim’s Club, before he insisted that you add an A. to it, a Brown, or an A. Brown if you wish. But not plain ol’ Jim; not after his club sank after, first, Your Mama and Keith B. left, and then Lena herself. She’d never known him as Jim A./Jim Brown/Jim A. Brown, since she hadn’t seen him since the fall of the Club — last fall she believes. She only knew him as Jim.
“Jim,” she began innocently, trying to excuse herself and daring to insert his name in his soliloquy. Bad mistake.
He waited for more which didn’t come, then: “Jim. That’s it? As in Jim’s Diamond Club, red and black together to make something not quite as good as either separately? *Jim*?”
“Yeah: Jim,” she repeated. “Isn’t — that your name?” She was sweating now. She shouldn’t have wore her fur costume she was going to sing in tonight. Probably brought back bad memories for Jim (Jim?) and his club — same outfit she wore at times there, she now recalled.
He stared at her: no life atall in his eyes. “Call me that again and you’ll be as dead as me. Get it?”
Lena Horned got it. She just let him talk and ramble on about the past after that. Finally he’d unwound everything he wanted to say to her. He got up. “Well, ’bout time to head back into the grave, honey. I thank you. I think you’ve — saved me.” He left the park, sauntering up the street he came down from, into the sunset. She stayed on the bench, wondering what just happened. She better get back to her apartment and talk to Zach Black about all this, before she forgets. Was this all a dream? she wondered, snapping her fingers and finding they just pass through each other. Yeah: dream.
Thank Gods. She takes the tension out of her shoulders and heaves a deep sigh and wakes up, Zach’s arm draped about her midsection. Her new man. Her new *club* man.
“The past again?” She’d been fidgeting for a while, keeping him awake. He contemplated prodding her but just let the dream unwind. Always the sigh at the end to wake up. He knew it wouldn’t last long; never did. The dead can’t leave their grave for too long.
(to be continued?)
Lena Horned waits at the park for everything to rez in. Then she takes a picture to remember it by. The day she met Jim A., aka Jim A. Brown aka Jim Brown. But don’t call him (just) Jim. What would they talk about? A new gig at his old club? Hardly. Jim A.’s a washup; she’d moved on, starting with the success of what turned out to be her signature song, “The Ballad of Stormy Daniels.” Who knew a court transcript would so successfully transfer to song lyrics (!?). But she’s having trouble following up on her initial success. Repetition for gain of fame is not the same as mutable creativity. Ask David Bowie: she’d been getting into his music lately, determining he’s half black himself. Has a black wife, his soul mate. Lena Horned had met her once at a fashion show. She had wisdom in her eyes. She was a deep soul — just like David.
There: a picture.
And there: Jim A./Jim A. Brown/Jim Brown.
But Jim wasn’t fully formed and apparently only Lena could see it. Instead: walking dead. Too late to run.
“Yeah, I’ve got one like it back home,” Jeffrie Phillips speaks about the geode on the mantlepiece before him. ‘Cept mine is pink and and *maybe* a tiny bit smaller, maybe.” Much smaller, he thinks here. But I like it just as much. Not everything has to be *big*, pheh. Except in — well, he’s got that department covered anyway, he he. He can always lord that over the people he meets. The girls flock to him, Charlene the punk being only the latest in a long line. Too bad she liked the catacombs. I was hoping I could get rid of her that way. But her mettle has been put to the test and she survived. Round 2 coming up — only about a 1/3rd make it to round 2.
“Do you know what you have to do?” Jeffrie Phillips knew that David A.B.’s diamond-like brain lie within this new host with voice deep and bass. He couldn’t look him in the whites of his eyes. This never happened.
“Um.” Jeffrie instead looks down at his shoes randomly scuffing the floor. “Sure.”
“You must coordinate the two places, there and here. This is a connector. Take it and place it with the other one. Make sure they face each other. You know the rest.”
Jeffrie Phillips didn’t know the rest but he could guess. Alchemical sex, large to small, or one inside the other. Maybe he shouldn’t have lied about the size. He decides to tell the new host. “Listen, um, Jim.”
But Jim would have nothing of it. “Coordinate!” he demanded, which made
Jeffrie Phillips quickly gather up the green geode and high tail it outta there.
“I’d say it’s from the future,” studying Jim B. answered Baker Bloch about the revolving head in a jar. “Connected to Cassandra and its own head in a jar, of course. Something about dad…”
“And *root* beer,” he furthered, looking at the 6-pack on the table with the head. “Not beer beer. So something not involving alcohol. I’d say this man was an alcoholic on the wagon. Perhaps that is the thing which did him in.”
“Isn’t Anderson called Blacks?” Baker Bloch called from the back, nearer the video feed. He was checking.
“How would I know?” answered Jim B., who preferred the surname Brown himself. “But if it is, and you should probably know…”
He had acquired the list of Pipersville landmarks and was checking each one individually. No sign of life at the old Weston residence out on Sandpiper Lane, and the house itself seemed to have mysteriously shrunk. Or maybe he was just gaining weight, he rationalized — or… height? He was still a growing boy after all, merely masquerading as a soldier man. At least he wasn’t tin like his friend from the sticks, way out in the woods. He always forgets his name, though. Johnny Something. From Somewhere. South Something. Johnny South — I believe that’s it. Cpt. Americus might know. If he wasn’t dead in his grave from that atom bomb dropped on the town only last year. Seems like two.
This Grove place just south — South again — of Sandpiper Lane still seems interesting. Hobbits, pheh. Lt. Salt hated Hobbits, even more than mustard (gas).
He finds a couple in bedroom cutting some small z’s and shoots them dead, blowing the smoke away from his gun hole at the end in satisfaction of a good day’s work. And it’s only 2 in the afternoon, he thought, checking his white watch to match his snowy outfit. Two again, hmph.
The woman hobbit’s name was Grabby, because she did from the male, a Chestershire example named Givey. Givey Witherspoon, hence Grabby Witherspoon, since Hobbits didn’t really get into modern marriage things like the wife keeping a given surname. So in that one respect she *wasn’t* a Grabby, I suppose. Accepted what was given to her by the husband. But the name was about it; all else was taken, including the family heirloom silverware the husband wanted to donate to families of the unfortunate wee ones from their coastal region eating by sea monsters each year. But I diverge. We must return to Lt. Salt and his exploration of old Pipersville links, eventually leading…
… to the Pipe Room of course. The Room.
He hears footsteps outside: Jim A. and lover Sweet Alice, ready to pose as Venus once more. Nowhere to hide!