“Sorry about all the construction noise going on tonight, Furry Karl.”
“Ahh, I’m getting use to it. Midday my whole bar even sunk about 2 feet into the ground. Quite a jolt! Then I go upstairs and the walls are being sawed in half. A new entrance into Starbuccaneers forms. Then I come back down and the portal ’round back has turned orange. And Starbuccarina still stands within! What gives? Is she alive or dead? I almost rung up your father to tell him the news. Then it occurred to me that Starbuccarina back there may be a ghost. I can pass right through her now. Before she was solid. Right?”
“Right, Karl,” Baker Bloch replies. “I don’t know. A great clearing has formed. The headwaters of Confluence Stream are now exposed again. Gallery Jack has disappeared. SoSo is on one side, and that’s now the main portal into the Art 10×10.”
“Those darn, old collages, Baker Bloch. They’ve caused Collagesity a lot of problems lately. Why don’t you just get rid of them. Virtually speaking of course. ‘Nother beer?”
“Sure. We may be ready now for the next step. Are the visitors still coming through the Portal? Since it’s still here? Or is the whole turning orange thing sealed that part up or sumtin?”
“Dunno,” came the answer. “So those 100 collages are still over near the Kerchal Forest? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes Karl.” Karl pops him another Heinny. “Thanks Karl.” He takes a good gulp. “Where is everyone today? Getting away from the construction hub bub?”
“Karoz said something about testing the woods,” replies Karl. “Baker Blinker is down at Gloomy Gus typing away on her semi-private journal. She let me proofread the latest section, me being a published writer myself and all.”
“Yes.” Baker looks down into his beer.
“Pretty good, pretty interesting. Did you know Wheeler was just a kidd?”
“Yes, I know that.”
“Not a man, all grown up. She’s missing the M and the N, just like the Kidd Tower. While she’s in that tower she’s just a kidd. And elsewhere as well. She is a time portal. Kinda like Dr. Who.”
“Doctor who?” Baker then laughs. “Yeah, I know Dr. Who. The carrcasses — he’s in several. Carrcassonnee knows him quite well. They hang.”
“Isn’t that Dr. Mulholland sorta Dr. Who, Baker Bloch? I recall that.”
Only 15 minutes later, Dr. Mulholland himself — as John Lockfry 02 — arrived at the bar, but came in at a diagonal and went into the back passageway instead.
“Ma’am, can you tell me the way to Karl’s bar?”
She didn’t answer, but John Lockfry 02 was star struck. What a beautiful girl, he thought. But then he remembered he was technically dating Wheeler, and that’s what he wanted to talk to someone about tonight. The town bar seemed a good place to start a chat about it. Many rumors were swirling around town about the nature of Wheeler. He wanted to explain.
“Whoever that is back there, the bar is over here,” Karl then shouted through the wall. Just head away from the orange door. Think Twin Peaks.”
“That’s an obscure reference, Karl,” Baker Bloch responds. Then John Lockfry was at the bar.
“Well. Here I am.” He laughs long and hard.
“Great,” says Karl to Baker. “Another one.”