“It’s going to be *beautiful* Cloe, a beautiful scene.
Let’s go take a look again.”
“Dead Lakes and The Basin in one. Fate, my blue haired friend. Beginning of a stream.”
“So you see, Chloe. It’s all about the interior to that game. This game within a game you are on about. The Basin. We must get beyond Dead Lake — both of them — and enter the place of the burning dog.”
“I don’t like that idea,” returned a worried, slumped over, hand crossed Chloe. “I just want to stay in the trailer park, shoot up some people, and then *leave*. I don’t want to find this door into a hidden place. Just leave me out of it.”
Sandy breathes out. “Okay, okay. I’ll try the other Chloe, then.”
“It won’t be any different.”
“Soo Chloe. Whadda you knoow?”
“Get away. Playing on phone.”
“Just a couple…”
“GO AWAY, JEEZ.”
“I suppose I owe you an apology.”
“Just leave me in the trailer park,” she reinforced.
So he returned to EM at the blue painted coffee shop of Fishers Island, mission seemingly a failure. But EM thought otherwise.
“You got them thinking! They’ll come around. A seed has been *planted*.”
The next time Chloe Price approached the end of the pavement representing the limit of the Gunn Mobile Trailer Park game…
… she suddenly recalled that thing about a glitch which allowed one to go further down this road — into the dirt part — all the way to a place called Dead Man’s Lake. No: just Dead Lake. Dead Sea, something. But it had to be done a certain way. Today, unlike yesterday or the day before or the day before that, etc., she decided it might be worth the risk. Checking back into the heart of the trailer park to make sure none of her enemies were following her (or were left alive, period)…
… she walks over and shoots her oh-so-familiar weapon at what looks like a weirdly shaped grey rock in front of her (the “glitch”). Not once, not twice, but three times.
She then sticks her gun into a suddenly opening black vortex, never to be held or used again.
The dirt road opens up before her. “Dead Sea — whatever — here we come!”
“So here we are on the hands again, EM. Waiting for someone to cross that bridge.”
“Could be a man with a million dollars, could be some dude with a gun.” He paused. “Both… neither.”
“But probably neither,” opined Sandy Beech, anxious to get this scene over since Chloe Price was waiting for him over at Bay City. Both of them!
Sandy then heard something, a rumbling, getting louder. EM pointed. “Look Sandy, a hog. Bikers again. Spocari Nemoy is going to be *soo* upset.”
Sandy looked as well, but all he could see crossing the bridge was a man not on a motorcycle as he expected, but just an ordinary bicycle. Burning — the actual source of the noise. A Burning Man.
“Wait Sandy!” EM reassessed over the growing roar. The burning man had just come upon the center of the bridge. “Not a hog, a *dog*!”
A mysterious object appears along The Diagonal at 193/195 Miata. Oscar the cat is *very* curious about what’s inside.
Once again, Golden Jim knows more than he’s letting on.
“Gonna be a cold one tonight, Bendy. But you make a great stove — quite toasty.”
“Thank you. I try.”
Fisher thinks this could be one of those nights he also employs Bendy for that other thing they don’t talk about much. Sure wish Lisa V. was here, he laments. I wonder how she is — way over there on the Corsica continent in her big ol’ houseboat. *Alone* hopefully.
Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson just found out about David Jaspers and her best friend Linda Halsey. That’s *it*, she steams. I’m leaving this stupid cartoon town and *never* coming back!
Madame Silver’s yellow figure is stuck no more, thanks to the fix by recently promoted Doll Pedlar Inc. employee Herbert Dune.
However, he appears to be in the doghouse with her tonight…
… but it’s actually just another, larger dollhouse they’re testing out.
She’s done with him for now. He knows this ensures another sale, though. Rich rich rich, up up up!
A mysterious stranger appears in Adgatetown knowing the whereabouts of Lisa’s missing brother Bartholomew.
“How do you like my painting, Mr. Dune. I’m thinking of calling it ‘Life on an Orange.'”
Pathetic, Herbert Dune thinks to himself. “Exquisite,” he says aloud. “Listen, Madame Silver. I see that you’re a very busy and productive young woman.”
Madame Silver giggles outlandishly. “Oooo, young *man*. You flatter me!”
“Thank you. I won’t waste any more of your precious time. I’m here for the complaint about one of our dollhouses. You said a characters within is… stuck?”
Madame Silver talks while continuing to paint. “Yes, um, but why don’t we discuss it over tea. Do you like tea? Hot tea I mean. Cold tea is for barbarians. I hope you’re not a cold tea lover. For the sake of our continued business transactions.”
“You are one of our most loyal customers, Madame Silver. I will be glad to have tea with you if you can take time from your busy schedule.” I *hate* tea, Herbert Dune grumbles to himself again. Cold *or* hot. But I’ll swallow it for the deal.
“Well this is simply *delightful*. I’m glad you like the tea.”
“It is so so delicious, Madame Silver. I haven’t had tea like that in a long time. Perhaps back before I joined the company.”
“How many years have you been there now? Five, six? I’m glad you got your promotion. That way you finally get to meet *me*.”
“I am glad to be in your humble service, Madame Silver. I’ve heard so many good things about you.” He pauses significantly, hoping the old codger will *finally* get to the dollhouse and needed repairs. Of course he’s going to try to sell her a brand new dollhouse… at a significant discount of course. But pushing upgrades instead of expensive repair is standard practice in the business. In any business, really. Those based on pure capitalism and money and greed. And certainly like Doll Pedlars, Inc.
She flattens out her skirt and stands up. “*Well*. I suppose we should get to that dollhouse, eh? Back up the stairs we go!”
“Yes, I think I see the problem, Madame Silver. But it’s a bad one. We’ll have to take the whole dollhouse back to the office for repairs. *Or*… we could sell you an upgrade for a cut rate price. Maybe save you money in the end. Your choice of course. But this looks like a 02350 malfunction of the circuit board. I’d highly recommend the upgrade. I’ll deliver it to you in person, make sure everything works perfectly before leaving.”
“Oooo. Look at that fluffy feather bed up there on the next level, Mr. Dune,” Madame Silver deviates. “I’m sooo sleepy. I could use a nap. Could you also use a nap? We could sleep on opposite sides. Unless…”
Oh. She’s *that* type of old codger, thought Herbert Dune. A cougar codger. Chris withheld that valuable piece of information about the work.
He pauses to consider. He decides to be frank. “Will it help seal the deal?”
“It *might*” She giggles in that grating way again. Herbert Dune makes a note to not say things that might induce it again.
“Alright. But I have to be back at the office by 8.”
“Make it 9.” She giggles once more.
“So is this her?” Ruby asked without a hint of jealousy. The Green (Eyed) Monster.
“Yes. Beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Yes.” I wish I were a 100th that beautiful, Ruby then thinks. Eraserhead Man was thinking at the same time: But not as beautiful as you are right now, Young Ruby. EM is certainly smitten (!).
“This is Smithy’s House,” EM then declares. “Not finished. We also don’t know who’s going to play Smithy. Maybe the man in the bright green coat who came on the set earlier. But maybe not.”
“Where are all the others, Pencil? (for that was what Ruby always called EM since their days back on New Island — Pencil)
EM points to his eraser topped noggin with a stubby arm. “In here.” He waits an appropriate beat. “Nah, just kidding. They’re in the southeast corner of Fishers Island. Doing my bidding.”
“Gwin included?” Ruby tried to word her thoughts properly. “She… returned to the set?”
“Yes. Sorry you can’t play the part, Ruby. But we have something special cooked up for you. Did I ever tell you I have a doppleganger too? Some call him Penn Mann. Some just penhead, because he’s quite irksome. But lately he’s been sporting a pink mohawk and disguising himself as a she. Under this guise (he’s known as) Chuck Cheese. Sometimes Heidi, which I suppose indicates his ability to hide well. But we’ve struck a deal. Man to man-as-woman. I get the southeast corner of Fishers Island, he gets Wallytown of Fishers Island.”
Ruby pondered on this new information. “Then who gets Fisher?”
“Ahh, so logical, so precise you are. Yes, our Orange Boy. Orange itself. That is the conundrum. To answer that we must first go back to when Herbert Dune was just a boy on the threshold of adolescence. Or just beyond, I guess. Rounding a corner. Seeing something earlier on that day that he didn’t understand. A flesh and blood woman turned into a doll. Heidi — or whatever she or he’s called — insisted that he — or she — direct the shoot.”
“Do you have the orange makeup on all over the appropriate spot, Chloe?”
“Yeees.” Chloe Price was being paid quite handsomely for this scene, but still her voice had an edge. She was nervous. She never had done anything close to a nude scene for a film, never exposed her midriff for anything. Oh, there was that pool scene in “Life is Strange”. But that was all innocent fun and games. This is different. She could back out… but she was already inside.
“Alright. Young Herbert Dune — George — you come around the corner just there and then spot Chloe. You slink back around the corner. Chloe doesn’t see you. The case is opaque, not transparent. Here… let me set the mood better.”
“So the case is darkened. All except that circular opening. And then, Young Herbert can’t help himself, takes another look. The legend of All Orange is born.”
“I’m giving you back your 50,000 lindens, EM. I couldn’t do it. Director Heidi took my place. She was a better height for it anyway.” Chloe Price huffed. “You don’t know *what* I went through in ‘Life is Strange’. Creepy stuff. I couldn’t do it,” she reinforced.
EM pats her hand. He’s finally breaking through that tough exterior. “There there, friend. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to here on *my* set.”
That day, Chloe may have fallen a little bit for Eraserhead Man as well.
“Thank you Yip Yip! We’ll be speaking later on these matters!”
“You’re welcome!” gruffed the large, blue creature while shuffling his way out of the same colored coffee shop.
“So… that leaves just you and me, Sandy. ” Eraserhead Man counts the characters off on his yellow hand. “Jer Horne, Benny Horne, Gwin, Doris Drane, Blue Yip Yip… oh, the *rabbits* (!). He shakes his eraser topped head, breathes out heavily. “Oh well, I’ll talk to them individually later. Frank Bowers and Jenny have some large issues going down, Sandy. And Commander Yip Yip — Cookie — is right smack in the middle of it all.”
Suavely dressed Sandy Beech just stared at his director, letting him unwind his ideas as he’s wont to do. He’s *trying* to be patient. It *is* an important role in his career, perhaps a defining one. He decides to simply nod instead of speak at EM’s implied prompt for a response. Auteurs needs affirmation. Over and over. He’ll give him this right now and nothing more. After nodding, he settles back in his golden seat.
EM leans forward at the same time, reaches over and pats Sandy’s nearest foot to further get his attention. “But *you*. I wanted to keep this just to ourselves, Sandy, so that’s why we’re here. Inside. “I consider *your* role in this production the most important. Sure, sure, Chloe’s has elevated as well, and she’s certainly the principle female protagonist what with this new payoff I’m giving her. Which means she’s the love interest you’ve been wondering about, Sandy. Chloe’s the one.”
Sandy sits back up, interested now. “You mean All Blue?”
“No Sandy, I want to stop you right there. That’s a mythological term borrowed from your source character. Hmm…” EM snaps his stubby yellow fingers, trying to get the name. “Sanji,” he comes up with. “Yeah. But your character is different. Just like Frank *borrows* from both Frank of ‘Donnie Darko’ — love that film, by the way — and also Frank Bowers of the ‘Life is Strange’ production. Another great work, especially using certain edits. That series gave me the idea for multiple plot lines diverging off from each other.” EM here raises his hands in front of him and spreads his fingers out.
“What, then?” Sandy Beech was both excited and irritated at once.
“Get this, Sandy. Not All Blue. All *Orange*. It’s something you saw as a child. Now pay attention here. It wasn’t your mother — that would be too inappropriate — not your aunt, *maybe* a cousin or maybe just someone who lives on your street. But you saw a person, a *woman*, turn into a doll while a kid. And then you saw the container where they put her after the transmutation — like we had Sally transmuted from an ordinary woman in the shoot several days back.
“I remember,” offered Sandy, trying to resist the impulse to tap his fingers impatiently against the arm of his golden chair. He stared as graciously as possible once more.
“But the container,” continued EM, “had only one opening, a round one. And through that opening you saw a navel, a belly button, framed as perfectly as possible within it. Like an orange with a navel. And that started your life long search for All Orange, the whole shebang. And along with that, the obsession with cooking with oranges — souffles, cakes, pies, you name it. And, of course, the, er, doll peddling.” He paused — another response was needed, Sandy sensed.
“And this — doll — is Chloe. Doris Drane I mean.”
“Right you are. And I’m $50,000 lindens poorer because of it. We just have to think of the setting, the lighting and so on. But that’s the pivotal vision I had. A navel in a round opening. An orange.”
I wonder what Chloe thinks about all this, Sandy then ponders. I’ll have to ask her the first chance I get. Maybe an, ahem, accidental rendezvous is needed tonight, hehe.