He cracks a window and then cracks another to stare out at the linden woods bordering this place. Samantha’s Place. He knew this silhouette of a woman with the dangerous curves came between the private dick in the trench coat — the real gravitas behind surface, buffoonish Wendell “Biff” Carter — and the owner of the magic shop over in Colona with the green geode that Jeffrie Phillips took back to Teepot to “mate” with his smaller pink one to complete the circle and symbolically unite the twinned cities. That’s why the former didn’t want to talk about the later, despite 2 requests to do so in case the first was missed. It was a dame, in retro-speak.
Samantha was also the same as New Nun, a disguise that perhaps she forgot she was wearing, like a mask. New Nun knows. Rhodes > Roads.
The Colona man formerly had a herb shop over in Cassandra City. The private, trench coated investigator now has his office *in this very spot*. He’s trying to complete a triangle, just like the A.Team did in this very same town before him. Scarlet Triangle. It was all there in black and blue. Somewhere.
The Man About Time raised himself up from the ground. The portal looked bigger from the outside
than the inside.
Typical. There would be no safe passage to the Amazon this night, but he knew that was death anyway. Speaking of which…
Just later the Man About Time deduced it also had something to do with this chimney, a Big Chimney indeed. He would have to take it apart brick by brick soon to find out what makes it tick. Clock? Bomb? (another one?)
“So tell me about this Colona,” he requested mildly a bit more later to the man with the orange firebird burning in front of the hearth fire. “I know that Teepot use to be the twin city of Pietmond, long since destroyed, but now it seems to be this one.” He stared at the green geode on the mantlepiece, knowing Jeffrie Phillips hadn’t arrived yet. He should be due any moment. Or any century.
“Different,” uttered the man opposite him in a deeper, less mild voice. “Somewhat,” he amended. “Reason,” he spoke about the overlap, meaning there was a reason for it. “Absorption — *assimilation*.” MAT knew that New Nun had also been assimilated.
(to be continued)
“We may not be finished with Cassandra City, Baker Bloch. I hope you can mustard enough energy to ketchup with me.”
“I relish the thought.”
“I thought you would I thought you would.” Then he became mild again, his normal self. Man About Time, MAT, knew something. I had a meeting with him tomorrow to discuss Beet and the making of their next album, “Lived to Tell”. Lived to tell *what*? I want to ask him. Why did they pick The Crossroads to record that album? I separate myself from MAT for now and fade from the picture.
“So we begin.”
“Is he gone yet? Oh HI!”
“I want to buy this place.” Simple and soft from the end of the bar. “And the jar.”
“Homer?” Moe couldn’t part with Homer he didn’t think. Best to start over somewhere else.
“Bar not jar,” he gruffed over to his old friend in his course manner. His old *enemy* friend. Best to keep them close to the vest; know of their whereabouts. New Nun and Sticky between them nodded, since they were one with his mind. Shut up mind! Did I say that out loud as well?
MAT spit in his hand and moved toward Moe, arm extended. Dare he shake it? he asked internally while shaking in a different way. So mild. So dangerous.
He extended his figure upward. He reached.
“You are a doctor. Aren’t you?”
The doctor puts his arms over his head in a stretch. “I am so, my dear lady. And *you*… are a nun. We are both servants of the community at large. This, erm, *Teepot*. Is that what we lot decided to call it, hmm?”
“I’m afraid you aren’t a part of our lot, doctor,” spoke New Nun honestly. “You are not an inhabited soul. You are merely a prop. I merely ask if you are the doctor to see if *you* realize this.” She was truthful but not harsh. No need to get testy with this fellow servant, as he called himself. Good. He may be worth saving in the long haul.
“I *see*.” But did he really see? He made the queer observation again in his pleasant, proper British accent, as if he were repeating himself at a set interval. “You know, when I started this bartending gig here those statues over there were nude. I just came to work one day and they were suddenly clothed, out of the blue. I remember it being a clear, crisp morning. I had the same tweed jacket I have on today. In fact…”
“You never remove it from your body,” New Nun guessed about what he was going to say.
The doctor eyed her keenly. “Yeeeess. Me thinks you know more than you let on, madam.” He thought back to her earlier statement, absurd in the moment but becoming a growing, flickering possibility in his diamond-like mind. Although a prop true, he was such an extraordinary learned and storied one that he truly may be becoming alive in the moment. New Nun could be right about him being worth saving. Why would I doubt her? It’s in her business after all.
She looked at him squarely. “But you are not the doctor I seek.”
“No.” She took a final sip of her whiskey drink and was gone. The doctor vaguely waved goodbye before forgetting who she was.
New customer, one blacked out but with dangerous curves. She felt the cross and crucifix disappear from her hand beneath the counter. She remembers Rhode… second life. His head pivots toward her as the sequence begins again.
The newest anomaly of Rhodenwald is gone as of sometime in the last 24 hours. A temporary madness.
Maybe that kind of madness will also pass for the country as a whole. But I don’t have my hopes way up.
“Uh herm, you’re showing a bit of an ankle there, New Nun.”
“No, Duncan, it’s just that I can’t hate this place. I *should*. But love is here. So much hate in the world.”
“Like the couple in the park,” Duncan Avocado in the wicker chair beside her said, referring to earlier conversation.
He looked up from the bare ankle. “And the cross?” he spoke. “And the crucifix?”
“Yes, they will always be in hand. A second life must be prepared.” She pauses again.
“*Is* this a second life, a second chance?”
“I cannot say there is not love here,” she finalized, looking across the road at yet another symbol of red hate. Dixie seems to surround this oasis of Rhodenwald, a Meat City all around. We’ll have to talk about it further.
New Nun switched from the red to the gray book in front of Big Dick’s Halfway Inn and realized something was late. Really late, like 20 years. Red across the road was warning from the past, kind of Dixie but also not.
Bullfrog saw the same thing in X City last year. Bullfrog didn’t live long after that, done in by a red hatted crazy chick in the formerly “Mild East” part of NWES City.
Speaking of which…
Later, they’re joined by New Nun and perhaps some others. “New Nun,” the male Baker declares after her arrival, “you hold the cross and the crucifix in your hand at once and thus you are valuable to this here current photo-novel, 21 in a series of 20. Wait — what number are we on now?” New Nun shrugs. Duncan Avocado answers more philosophically. “We are beyond Collagesity and the number 20. We are Sunklands through and through now, the true archive. Collagesity became too — bloated.”
“Bloated?” responds Baker, truly puzzled in the current picture.
Or was it worry.
Duncan, who cannot express facial features since he is a mesh creature, elaborates. “Your original version of a virtual village, Pietmond, was also perhaps your best, or at least best balanced. You had artists coming in from the outside and having their own galleries. Yours was only one of a number. Then the new wave of collages came for you starting in, 2013? (Baker nods). Parallel to this came the new galleries, Power Tower, Falmouth, the largest of them all, followed by the Red Umbrella followed by Boos. Before you had 100 collages in 6 series, a well rounded and contained quantity: Art 10×10 I believe you named it (Baker nods). Then another wave hit, the second — stronger and deadlier. Beware the second wave.”
Baker understood now. Before it was Kenneth Rougeau, Melodie Darwin, Mike Casey, Stegocat, Max Ernst, Baker Bloch, Julie Sadler, and others. Afterwards it was just Baker. The second wave changed it all. Forever.
New Nun opens the attachment.
I do declare I believe that woman needs a cross and a crucifix to hold!, she thought, staring at the silhouetted figure and its dangerous curves.
“I coming bearing both a cross and a crucifix. I bring you Second Life. I am from Rhode…”
“…nwald,” finishes Baker for the new nun. He looks in a direction beyond Cassandra, thinking perhaps it might be Rhode Island instead.
“Ok, you’re hired.”