Lisa was such a good writer there was little to correct for Alysha. The one truth, she thought while staring at the end paragraph of her newest text. “Cowabunga” was first uttered by her brother and used commonly after that. And *Bartholomew*… more corrections, much more. He laid in the hammock outside while waiting, eager to get the news about his own stuff. He knew there would be red line after red line, but — more time with Red (!).
“Bart,” she called through the open window, tired of having him follow her around like a little yellow puppy. “Why don’t you go see what *Lena* is up to today. This is *not* your day off, you know.”
“Oh, *pheh*, she’s looking at barns, saloons, anywhere that could possibly act as that studio she wants to make her comeback album in. And, anyway, Zach’s there for her.”
Zach, of course, she thought. Lena has Zach, I have Bartholomew. Two dogs for two masters. “I just finished your sister’s. Could be a while is all I’m saying. Why don’t you go prepare the sink. I want to dye my hair again this afternoon.”
“Blue?” He was eager to see that if it happened, but it was only red again.
She was done. Bart had hardly started. So much red!
“First off, Carumba is not a word. It’s *Caramba*. And that’s the title (!).”
“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.
I have found you again stone well. Well well well, as they say.
“Who is that girl over there,” said Zach Black in a low tone across the table to Lena Horned. “I’ve seen her before… somewhere. Maybe a fan?”
“Maybe,” Lena said between bites of food, not looking over for fear of *him* again. She knows he’s lurking.
The horse spotted her from the saloon, even neighed at her, seeming to beckon her toward him. But maybe it’s just the attraction to the sim of Horsa in general, and what it means for the future of this continent, indeed Our Second Lyfe. We are trying out the whole “give peace a chance” angle, and “love love love.” Interesting. And Lena Horned is here too (!), gigs extended to perhaps the end of the month. She’s hinted around that she might record her comeback album here, if she can find a suitable barn or something to transform into a studio. That’s why *she’s* here. To make sure all this happens in the most correct patterns.
Better get back to the boy, she thinks. He seems a bit down today; probably that attempted contact with his father. She shakes her red head with this. 102 — the *boy* is *102*. Must be. Not Rael McCoy but the *real* McCoy plain and simple. And with a more well respected and rounded sister. She’s next…
And following the advice of her smaller self she can still meet in dreams, she’s decided to put a tattoo on her back and neck, although it’s covered up by her rose shirt from this angle. *Rose*. She’s forgotten about the renegade Wells over at the Blue Feather Sea. Wonder if she’s procured that telescope she needs to see beyond Uranus yet, further into the corners of Space. Because Space indeed has a limit. She knows all about that.
Oh: he’s also the Mouse as well.
It was a peculiar dream for the boy. A happy Green in the midst of a sea of unhappy Red. And he himself: that color. He looks down at the world that he doesn’t realize is Earth but knows is a globe. “Our Second Lyfe looks strange today,” he says, studying it. Maebaleia — thicker or something — and over there, Zindra, he thought. The forbidden continent, ha ha. I’ve seen pictures. And up there: Corsica. Loooonnng. But Nautilus… *Nautilus*…
He wakes up. Also stirring Lena Horned is ready to go home and he’s in charge of seeing her there. Groggy Zach Black says he’s going to stay a little longer and drink some more coffee and sober up. I was the sane one right now. But was I unhappy? Did I really have a good boss? Yes, he decided, looking down at his real yellow skin on his hands and arms. I answer for Red but she also answers for me in the lonnng game, which I’m playing. Because one day I’m going to marry her, different species or not, he determined then and there. Lena was leaning on him now, still struggling to put one foot after another. It was up to him to protect, she said. Use the powers of the Great Black Swamp, The Abyss, if needed. But *carefully* and also only what you absolutely have to. The Abyss, pheh, he thinks. He’s not sure it is a real place yet.
In another dream, he was a circle that had been straightened out.
(to be continued)
He told me to look for Green…
“Alright, let’s give up the gig. *Master*.”
He said to give peace a chance and that Horsa is the place. Go see Lena Horned. “She’s the complete package,” he reiterates with others.
after the gig
I was back in Bellisaria. Red’s daughter, or at least the (old?) neighbors.
I decide to head west into Cowabunga. Misdirection? We’ll see.
I spotted something to the west after I entered the northeast corner of the sim. Just plain colors. I went there next…
What was it?
I see. A *witch*.
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.
Back down at her lake house, cat-girl Coffee phones up Zach to spill the beans.
“Hello sweetness, have you heard the *latest*?”
“Leave??” He spat it out toward Lena like it was a meal of fresh shite. He didn’t like it one *bite*.
“It’s only for the holiday season,” she tried innocently.
“Listen honey, I *know* how these things *work*.” He shakes his head. “Lord lord lord, first Jim A. and now *me*.”
“It’s not… like that.”
“You know, she really is the complete package, brother Jer, this Lena Horned.”
“I hear you brother Ben. I hear *her*.”
They listen to the completion of “The Ballad of Stormy Daniels,” preparing for their pitch. Come with us, they’ll tell her. Come back to the capital of all of the South, not just the Deep South. Help us make the South great again, that’s what they’ll say.
“Thank you (applause whistles applause). Thank you very much (applause applause applause).”