For their 5th date, Nancy decides to take Danny to Collagesity, to dine at the exclusive Blue Feather Club. Bettie had told them of Baker Bloch’s open offer to come live here if they ever tire of Olde Lapara Towne. However, upon teleporting in, Danny becomes scared of what’s outside the window and tries to run away. He’s never seen an actual forest with real Linden trees before. They have to return to OLT.
“Don’t you ever get tired of eating cake and dessert?” Nancy asks.
Bettie and Buster sat, heads down, at another table in the Clownski establishment. Not praying, but just sharing an awkward moment. It was their first “date” in 771 years.
“We should eat the rosemary sprig that comes with our plates,” Buster then suggested. “Else we won’t get any vegetables tonight.”
“Rocky is playing a wonderful tune tonight. Cage, you say?”
“Yes. John,” answers Bettie. “‘Suite for Toy Piano.’ Debuted 1948 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Not far from our user’s home. Very close, say, if it were 5, 6, 7 years down the road. If users are even around. We may be on our own by then. Us down here, alone with our actions, our consequences. Might be nice, Nancy. Just us, this town, its inhabitants. The Atoll Continent as a whole. Sansara can go to hell.”
Nancy frowns. “I don’t know. I like the old continent. We should go visit the climbable beanstalk (in Welsh) sometime.” Rocky’s piano tinkling ends and he gets up.
“Babble,” replied Bettie. Then: “Shush. The rant part of Rocky’s performance piece is starting. Let’s dance while he speaks.”
Each one of us must now look to himself. That which formerly held us together and gave meaning to our occupations was our belief in God. When we transferred this belief first to heroes, then to things, we began to walk our separate paths. That island that we have grown to think no longer exists to which we might have retreated to escape from the impact of the world, lies, as it ever did, within each one of our hearts. Towards that final tranquility, which today we so desperately need, any integrating occupation–music and writing are two of them, rightly used–can serve as a guide.
“Rehearsals were already suppose to start, Nancy. We were gonna be stars. That globe would obviously hafta go.”
“I guess we’ll just have to be each other’s star, then.”
“My thoughts exactly. Let’s go get some cake.”
“It’s a very patriotic town, Bettie. But what is this Us of A?”
“It’s a place our user might want to get away from soon. War is brewing. Two little bitty people commanding militaries with their tiny gestures. We’re safe down here. As long as the infrastructure remains.”
She glared over at him again, he with his own piece of delicious cake. It was a small town. Not a lot of restaurants to choose from, for example. They’d keep running into each other. One day they might be friends. But not today. Too much real world mirroring.
“Well,” determined Little Tonshi Ashokan while staring up at the bottom of the Lapara Airport from her waterfall hammock. “If I can’t have a wife right now I’ll at least try to make some friends.”
She hops off the hammock and begins strolling the Crooked Pine Walkway toward Calypso Rock where the terminal teleport is stashed, right beside her *still* unfinished house. She thinks again how horribly lazy she is, never completing anything of note. The airport certainly remains a mess. She “borrows” her other, much larger abode from neighbor Simple when needed. And the “Bible Truth” play has now been put on hold thanks to that inbred town council bending to the wishes of those stupid protesters from the southeast sector (R). She may never act the role of Bettie. Back to being just plain old Little Tonshi, the nutjob from the hills, the vampire with no fangs.
“But Calypso Rock is so sacred,” she counters herself while approaching. “This is where I created Nancy, my greatest, perhaps my *only* accomplishment. And maybe that’s all I need.” She steps inside.
“Hi Tonshi! Glad you’re back. Just straightening up the place a bit.”
“Hi Nancy. Want to head down into town with me?”
“Oh look Bettie. There’s Rocky. The guy who wrote the book.”
“But not the play,” added Bettie.
“Hi Rocky!” Nancy waves.
“It just appeared out of thin air,” he chanted to them from his stump seat. He kept looking up all googly eyed at the house, a smile upon his face as broad as Clownski Avenue. “Not 6 feet in front of me. I always wanted a house. God has rewarded my grand accomplishment.”
Nancy turned to Bettie, who just shrugged. “He’s the one who’s responsible for us being here,” she said. “Maybe he’s right.”
Bettie sighed. “Okay, we’ll remain in the hotel together. But I want you home at quarter past 8 at the latest tonight.”
Rocky saved the day yet again. As soon as the shock wore off, he was packing up his stuff in the hotel’s crawlspace. Rocky would go on to write many more novels after “Bible Truth” while based in the mushroom house, some better some worse. But none that came close to being as controversial. Or as cursed. Rocky’s path was set from this point on. Trajectory.
“Isn’t it adorable Nancy? Why keep renting at that expensive hotel when we — I mean I — can have a place of my own. Want to take a look inside?”
“Maybe later Bettie,” replies Nancy. “I have a date!”
“With whom?” Nancy could hardly conceal the venom.
“Danny, that’s who. Daniel. The guy in the play.”
“I know who Danny is. What do you expect to happen?”
“I don’t know,” states a puzzled Nancy, wondering about Bettie’s concern. “The usual. Dinner, dancing, maybe a couple of drinks mixed in. Then…”
“I don’t know. He’s *cute.*” Nancy smiles and tries to nudge Bettie in the ribs. Bettie skillfully avoids the jab.
“This is not good. Remember the curse attached to that book, that play? You must always keep that foremost in your mind. The play’s the thing. Any extracurricular activity connected with it could spell trouble. Look at the protesters. This towne is like a ticking bomb.”
“Ridiculous,” responds Nancy. “It’s just a harmless date.”
But Bettie was right. The events of the play were repeating in real life, just reversed or inverted from before. Concealed in a way. The pattern remains, though. Now Bettie doesn’t have a gun but she has other weapons at her disposal. Poison, just like in the joke back at the hotel. Because, deep down in the depths of her soul, she was only half joking anyway.
He spotted her between 2 groups of silhouetted protesters. She didn’t appear to him like she did to other people, like to her best friend and co-worker Nancy, for instance. He saw her for who she really was. A being as dead as himself. Perhaps moreso.
Breaking off her glare, Bettie turns to Nancy, hidden by a rusty pipe from his angle. “We better get you back inside before things get nasty down here.”