“Go ahead and take off your head and roll it into the center of the sink. That way you’ll be free of it. You can enter Pipersville unencumbered.”
“Of what?” Hucka Doobie speaks behind me in the void. “Yarns?”
Beyond the resourcefulness of its porcine citizens, there wasn’t much to recommend the small mining town of Rumpus Ridge. But even in such a hardscrabble place, they had created something they could be proud of: over the years they had collected the biggest ball of string in the world. Folks came from miles around to see it. But one night, a flood carries their prized string away and washes it ashore near the town of Cornwall. Rather than return it, the Cornwallians decide to keep the string for themselves.
“See what we did, Keith B.? I *told* you we couldn’t avoid Horns.”
“Do you think I’m pretty, Jim A. *Sorry* — Jim B. I did it again.”
“You *did* do it again,” spoke Jim B. from the bed. “You’re *always* doing that. There never *was* a Jim A. It’s *B*. Always was, always will be.”
“Jim Brown,” Your Mama pronounces the name fully. “But you didn’t answer me. Do you think I’m beautiful?”
“That’s not what you asked,” Jim B. answers, tightening the noose around his neck. Definitely not a nouse. Definitely not Jim A.
She had come to see the band but they were away. Well, Jim A. was *permanently* away, replaced by this mysterious Jim B. who was 20 years younger. And what about herself? Also 20 years displaced. It was 20 years ago today (etc.).
The Band; a make-believe one inside a real one. But the make-believe one had come to overshadow the real, like a Virtual Reality within Reality Reality begins to take over and work its powers outside in as well as inside out. Glove.
“Hell-o hell-o hell-o.”
“This Lena Horned is good, admittedly.” Older Keith B. looks over at the singer currently crooning “The Ballad of Stormy Daniel.” He then leans closer to Kate McCoy sitting beside him. “But she’s not as good as my little girl.”
A noncommittal Kate turns toward the dance floor. “Well… Zach and The Mann seem to be enjoying it enough.”
“And The Dogg too,” Keith B. laughingly adds.
“So tell me about this chicken outside, The Mann. I thought this place was the North already. Why the big, Southern mascot, then?”
“Do you like this song? The *black* Elvis, not the white one. Listen to that smooth, jazz-cat voice, eh?”
“Now, now. You’re switching subjects on me again, white man. But — then again, I guess if you’re playing the black Elvis on the jukebox then this has to be the North.”
“Well,” and The Mann turned around to look at the chicken here, “we have interlopers here still. *Close* to the South here. But when you reached this truck stop you could feel safe and breath freely once more. Just a sim down on Route 8: a different story potentially. No trust there yet.”
“Where did you get your car?” I asked, looking outside myself but in a different direction.
“Bought it from some dude who hailed from Pipersville. Heard of it? Sweet deal. Only 60,000 lindens — *no* shipping.”
But then the man in front of me changed. I was speaking to Keith B. again. Or was it Kevin A.? Of the Kevin Orchardsity trio. Time and Space and *Options* were still unstable here.
And who was I?
Better get further North. Totally away from the Chicken People.
“Good one, Aqua Dude!”
“Where’s Chicken Guy today!?” he shouted in return, but Chesteria had already run out of earshot. So fast. Cheetah fast, of course, since she was 1/2.
Watch out for that fountain, Speedy Gonzales! But she was nimble as well as fast. Best of both worlds.
The cows wouldn’t recognize her if she stood still. Always a blur to them.
Then something suddenly made her STOP. A running plane at the airport on the west side of town — new one. Circle within circle design on the wings. It somehow rang a bell. Like a cow.
“Help!” shouted the occupant, a lone flyer. But now: no fly. He had landed in Regaltown and he wasn’t gay, so the scripts didn’t work here. “Help!” he repeated, unable to even separate himself from the cockpit.
Keith B. 1/2 of the non-gay team called The Basterds. He suddenly found himself 20 years younger. Maybe 40 after the glasses also disappeared. Grammy’s vortex powers were still in effect for the area, eating up the decades in pairs.
“I wish they wouldn’t emphasize that rocket so much here. Makes me cold inside, brrr.”
“Well,” jested older Keith B. a bit. “It was a big deal in the days. Put Golden City on the map.”
“Put it *on* the map by taking it *off*, brrr. Nothing left but a big hole.” She glances sideways at The Man, who was scanning pictures on the wall at the back of the stage, focusing on one in particular. “Speaking of which… he needs to get back over here and finish his story.”
“True,” agreed Keith B. “He can’t just leave us hanging in mid air about that whale.”
“Hey!” Kate McCoy called over to The Man. “We gotta keep moving down the road, to the fork. Else…”
“I know,” The Man replied in his cool, bass voice while still studying, still looking. “All of this will be in vain. But I believe — this man — is wearing — lipstick.” He touches Jimmy’s gray lips with his finger, as if he could swipe them and then check for color.