Okay what’re we looking at here?
Impossible. She’s *green*(!).
He knew if he stayed low like this he would not be seen. The little trees in this park on the northern edge of Ontario were just too thick for proper viewing above knee level. And that was the point of John and Jem being here: out of sight. John gave Jem the “medicine” that would produce the duck and give her the needed results. Probably only 1 day left; cutting it close. As it had to be. Too risky otherwise. “The duck will lead the way,” he says while handing over the zip lock bag with the blue powder (blue? powder?).
In quiet mode, Newt took a couple snapshots with his built in camera then watched John exit west and Jem south, out of the trees and into the world of man again. Martha’s board spelled it out in no uncertain terms last night. SAVE THE GIRL.
(to be… continued)
He was up at 5 AM practicing skateboarding behind the dealership for the big meet with the truck salespeople uptown next week. Actually he was skateboarding mainly on *top* of the dealership, the roof having been designed as such by the owner, anticipating the coming of the duck according to prophecy. At least that’s how John remembered the story. He was certainly getting ideas for a proper plot now. The Wizard had indicated in no uncertain terms that the duck should be the star of the show, and that all dialog should revolve around it. THE DUCK SHOULD SHINE, it spelled out at 3 o’clock, a mere two hours before this. John needed more shut-eye. Maybe he could get away with some later in the morning instead of playing jigsaw games. Duck probably wouldn’t mind. As long as it didn’t distract potential customers from buying cars. Maybe put on some shades to hide the closed eyes, and be careful not to snore — too much.
At 10:00 he admitted he was going to sleep to his new duck friend, and that if he started to fall over just nudge him.
“Up last night, eh? Whatcha doing? Woman?” he asked in his very normal voice for a duck-man.
“No.” How to phrase? John was talking to a Wizard through a wegee board wouldn’t hack it. He had to hide the fact that he was getting his plot from a disembodied spirit and not directly from him. “Okay, yeah,” he decided to say.
“Great! Great, what’s her name?” John thought of Ruth down at the plaza, which he visited every day while she sold her coffee. At least until the duck came along and he had more responsibilities. So he went with Ruth.
“Ruth, huh? I know her. I know her well. I know her mother well, and her grandma and her uncles and aunts. Why I bet there’s not a relative alive she has that I’m not on speaking terms with, and you can probably pull all the ones that have died in the last 20 years or so into that. Uncle Taum — known him for years, worked for his step-dad polishing bats for the Varnishtown Vampires — how they got their name. And Aunt Mini sewed all our uniforms and clorinated the water for our drinks. Cousin Lester? Use to be on my paper route and would tip me if I managed to throw the paper directly through the open front door — he always had it open just for my visit. I almost always got tipped, heh heh. And her maw? Why we use to date! In fact, hmmm. No, couldn’t be, couldn’t be.” He studied Ruth’s figure in his mind. “Not enough duck.”
“Ruth?” John decided to deflect. “Did I say Ruth? I meant Mabel, you know over at the *ice cream* stand — got the wrong stand at the plaza.”
“Welll, then we’d *definitely* be in-laws if you two tied the knot. Check out the yellow in her complexion the next time you’re there. Congratulations!”
John gave up the lies; decided to tell his now constant duck companion the truth.
“Paul, actually,” he corrected. “Paul Duck,” but he said the whole name unassuredly, like he was starting to wake from a dream, like it was turning into a question instead of being the answer.
“Paul, then. You know why you’re here… around me all the time?”
“Yeah, sure sure. I’m your character come to life. You just write down what I say and then your plot is, um, realized. Won’t take too long, bud.” He leans over at pats John on his large, tanned back. “5 years, 10 years. I won’t be in your way. I’m pulling my weight — selling cars and all. “Let’s say 5. Yeah, 5 it is.” He holds out his duck hand for John to shake for the deal. John doesn’t. He knew it wasn’t going to work as soon as he spotted the anthropomorphic being in that grocery cart outside Winnies.
Then suddenly he was gone, the effects of the designer drugs wearing off. John quickly called up Martha to make another appointment tonight for more clarification. *He* was the used car salesman. He only wished he could sleep on the job, pheh (although he still partially did).
He better get to work and sell some cars today lest his boss suspects.
Turns out the duck had as many varied talents as his new master, including the ability to wheel and deal at a rapid pace. He quickly garnered the job of chief salesperson at the local car dealership. John, attached to him by the ankle and neck and some other places, had to tag along. He mainly played jigsaw puzzles on his phone while the other worked. A few hours each night, he was free to roam the streets of town and explore while the other slept. This is when he secretly rendezvoused with Martha and had a chat with the Wizard through that wegee board of hers. W-I-Z-A-R-D it began, announcing the spirit.
Meanwhile, over in Jeogeot Wheeler is surrounded by rainbow colored butterflies.
“Hellow Howward,” Jupiter the Savage returned in a deep voice, not breaking his pace.
“Never mind me,” he called after him about his current situation with the grocery cart and all. “Just doing a thing for a person, heh heh.”
John exited the grocery store with his egg and his other egg at 07:15, bound to return to his underground apt. to devour one of the two and have the other stolen by his amoral and unfaithful girlfriend Peg, but for a particular reason. He was trying to balance karma because he stole an egg from Jake only yesterday while he had his back turned, looking for an old videotape to play in his just set up antique VCR. He enjoyed it so much that he had to run to the store to get another. Back to the egg. The sky spit lightning when John went out later to the grocery store, having finished the 2 videos with Jake that he had owned and then bought at the video store next to the grocery store. In combo with the earth shaking thunder, John knew he did wrong by now, and that some curse was in effect. Like what happened day before yesterday when he paid a visit to Martha.
Martha was one of the uncloned people in town. In fact, that’s how you could tell them from the rest. Almost all the names of the clones, besides Clyde, started with either a J or a P. The non-clones: M or R. Martha, a seer, was going to tell him how to find a plot for his current comic book he was writing, or so she promised. He was almost done and still there was none. The art was amazing, impeccable even. Yet when the main character talked (or squawked), nothing really meaningful came out of his beak. Martha said, “You must bring your protagonist to life, bring him into *this* world.” “Virtual reality?” John queried. “Yesss,” came the answer. She studied the cartoon book he had brought with him further. “This wo-man protagonist, I’m assuming, with the googly eyes…” John peered over at the page the old seer was viewing, not immediately knowing what she was talking about. “Oh,” he said, seeing the error. “That’s not googly eyes. That’s a censor sticker. This is the one the publisher wants me to show people before the R version is actually released. So those googly eyes, as you call them, are covering up… see?” John ripped off the bandage.
Lightning struck, thunder sounded. And now it was happening again. Bit actor
Howard Hector Duck had shown up in a grocery cart outside a supermarket in the virtual village of Ontario off the coast of Maebaleia in the eastern hemisphere of Our Second Lyfe. Playing the role of Hector Herbert.
“Hey bud!” he called after John L. Brown, going the wrong way out of the store with his eggs. “Over here!”
“Oh *dear*,” he muttered when turning around, dropping one of the two in the shock and invoking karma again, SPLAT. One of his eyes was gone. After John had his remaining egg stolen by Peg later that night it popped back out again, good as new to the relief of both.
(I’m not sure this can be continued, ha)
“I’m only talking to you through this wall this time. *John*.”
“You know I’m not John. I’m Jim.”
“I bought that *before*. Not now. (longer pause) *John*.”
“Okay, okay,” he relented while still dancing up a storm. Hadn’t rained in Ontario since last Tuesday’s Wednesday. He’s trying to chip in, help out the town where he can. Week before last it was portraitures for the poor, however worthless that was. Then the week before that: free bungee jumps for babies down at the gorge. Rope and elastic was a speciality, but he had many of those. He could compose music too. This was his song he was dancing to. “Rat Infested Jim,” the first single from his critically panned but nevertheless cult hit psychedelic heavy metal album “Alice in Suds”. It’s about a man who turns into a rodent and eats insulation in the walls of houses, focusing on the hottest summer and coldest winter days. The title song and next released single from the album is about a woman who can’t find a towel because of all the bubbles produced from her bath, eventually going blind as a result.
“You know why I’m here.”
Dancing stays steady. “The duck. You think I know where the duck is.”
“Did you look high? Did you look *while* you’re high? Preferably high as a kite in the hands of an experienced Benjamin Franklin. Like *me*, hehe.”
“Stop the nonsense,” Jem plainly stated, taking a swig of her Stygian to mask another oral fixation. “You know I don’t do that stuff any more. Besides, I don’t have the energy now.” She pivots, peers at him through the opening in the chalkboard bar.
“Like I told you before, I don’t have much time. Not much (sniff), time at all (sniff sniff wipe-nose sniff). Help mee,” she squeaked, desperation in her voice and facial expressions. She wipes her face of tears with her arm, sniffs again, sniffs some more, wipes some more, looks off in the distance all moist eyed and mascara stained.
John took pity on her. He didn’t stop dancing but he was formulating a plan. He knew she met the duck the first time when she was high but that wouldn’t work any longer. They’d have to use the wegee board.
The rain starts. The dance stops. Now on to the next good deed.
(to be continued)
“What did you do to him Jerry?”
“What did *you* do to him… Gerry?”
Pause. “Well whoever did whatever I’ve got to go on patrol. You can stay here and bare the stares — figure it out.”
“We could just go talk to him.” Both laugh. Jack would have no useful information to give the pair of security guards: what he’s apparently pissed off about with one of them or perhaps both of them, or anything about Ontario in general. He’s a bad ass, in a bad way. He does the bidding of the Big Boss and that’s it, period. Doesn’t share anything with no one except for the highest level, the Mayor, the King, perhaps merged now as the Mayor-King. Hafta check; hafta think about that. New angle. Maybe Mexico-Canada related.
“He’s got that gun shop, you know,” states Gerry before he goes to punch keys on his rounds. “He could be toting one right now, ready to go on a killing spree.”
“Nah,” offers seated Jerry. “Wouldn’t come to that. He’s a company man. Doesn’t want to ruin his standings in the hierarchy.” Jerry leans in closer to Gerry. “There’s a potential slot opening for no. 3, you know. The guy in the middle.”
“Not North not South — I’ve heard,” he says back not far above a whisper as well. Mayor-King it is.
Meanwhile, a duck-man on a neighboring rooftop had more useful information, but no one knew how to reach him, least of all Jem, who could use it the most right now. 3 more days and ticking.
Even John had forgotten and he invented the anthropomorphic fellow — let the SOB loose unto the world at large. Repeated cloning comes with a price, but I can’t remember what it is right now (wonder why).
The next time I saw Jack he was pushing me against the wall of a clothing shop I was examining in the plaza where the space pod took me upon exiting the station.
Didn’t take long for him — one of his selves that is — to give me a pointed message. Don’t meddle in the affairs of this town. Stick to the rules, the instructions as he called it. Play the game and then leave. Else everyone gets confused, fearfully so. And, most likely, violently so.
But I was determined not to leave without the information I *wanted* (not needed). I was ruthless like that. I didn’t know that, just underneath the surface, was an interplanetary and interdimensional conspiracy ripe for revealing. I had stumbled not into a bottomless pit this time but the unveiling of the face of God at the bottom of it, Mexico and Canada combined unto one.
Later Ruth showed up working the plaza’s coffee stand and I was back to need not want. Trouble is, John was there too, staring at me staring at her. She was aware of eyes on her but decided not to acquiesce — play hard to get, as her character demanded (she had a secret). And then another John passed in the distance but I missed it.
And then Jack shows up walking toward that clothing store again, pheh. Clones. Town’s full of ’em. I fit right in.
(to be continued)
Edward Daigle discovers riches underneath the larger of the 2 castles on the property. So quickly becoming a Midas figure and never having any money beforehand, he decides not to tell Jem about the find, keeping it all for himself. Maybe they’ll get married now, maybe they won’t. And anyway, she probably has only 30 good days left in her, maybe less. It was actually ten, about the same amount of days it will take for me to complete this here photo-novel, 33 in a series of, so far, 33. Totally serial about that. Jem will be dead, he thinks, and I’ll have all these gold nuggets and gems and such as consolation. If I can keep this a secret.
He suddenly has a desire to go sledding in all of it.
“What did you do while I was away, Edward?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all.”
“Oh you had to do *something.* Did you chop wood? I suspect you chopped wood.”
“Yeah, that’s it. Chopping wood.” He even recalled a pile chopped earlier he could point to for an alibi.
“Well *I* found John.” Oh yeah… in the excitement Edward forgot why Jem had actually left for a couple of days. John. Wait… “John?!”
“Yes: John. The John. With an L in his name.”
“Is (long pause) he dead?” But then Edward remembered that Tessa had the actual 6 shooters attached to her waist and became less worried about that.
Another roll. 2 sixes again. It was becoming clear why they call her the shooter. She moves her red piece to X and pops a stick of Wriggleton spearmint gum into her mouth, irritating Edward further with the subsequent, slightly open mouth mastication. He rolls. 4. Then a 2 then a 3 then a 2. He’s on N still. She’s on W — or maybe it was V — anyway, not only ahead of him in the alphabit (as they called it in those days) but one ahead of him in rounds. When it comes to 3 or a little after he gets so upset he rakes the pieces off the board with his hands and pulls his own 6 shooters out, aiming them all around, toward apparently just observing Edward (the other Edward who, to us, remains Edward after the game and into the present), toward Tessie (our Tessa all grown up). He’d been saving them up his sleeves for a cheat. Dang, Other Edward, he thinks, knowing the 3rd pair of watching eyes joining him and Tessa near the beginning wouldn’t allow him the chance. The Edward who afterwards, to us, becomes Eddy throws one 6 shooter die at one and the other at the other. “Die” he says to each in turn, earnestly but of course without results. Is this some kind of curse? non-participating Edward thinks, rubbing his forehead and feeling a little bump forming there. This is some kind of curse, game dominating Tessie knows, feeling her own bump rise. She’d seen it before. In a bar in Midas, Nevada during the gold rush of the late 1800s. A man became so crazy he went sledding in it. In the middle of July. In circles. She’ll never forget that image, even though it’s from a different life. Rosebud.
Head still smarting, she looked down at the 6 sided die that had fallen in her lap, with 6’s on all sides, 3 visible to her in the instant. This is where it ends, she knows. She decides that her long pondered over and even inevitable tattoo will point there. She will hold ultimate power from now on, 13 always devolving to 12 when push comes to shove. And it will.
(to be continued)
“I don’t think Jem is going to return again tonight, Bob,” red headed Rotate spoke over from her orange mushroom, not wishing to currently fly because of sadness. But Bob was more uplifting.
“He has his wood (bob up). He can chop (bob down up). He’ll be fine (bob down up down).”
“Master Daigle doesn’t think John is going to do a *bit* of good in this matter,” Rotate insisted. “I heard him talking to himself last night through the leaves and the limbs.”
“You should leave the trees to themselves (up down up down). Soon you’ll have deadwood on your hands. Like Ebony (up).”
They weren’t suppose to talk about Ebony and both knew it so the matter dropped. But what about Dove? Rotate thought. But what about Ivory? Bob thought.
The blue haired and blue clothed latter hadn’t gotten the news received by the red former. The white pixy had changed her name, thanks to Greenleaf, the opposite of Deadwood. And then the alphabet spread out before them on the forest floor under a big maple like soup, ready to be spooned.
“Mmmmmm dead,” one of them sung softly when tasting.
“Why do you always say that when we’re about to play?” the other asked, rolling the dice. 12; 2 six shooters. As high as you can get without careening a car over a bank into Thirteenville, as the locals say. Already on L, she thinks. This could be another quickie.