The first thing they saw was an angel heralding them in — or out. “Duncan is good,” said one to the other. “He knows what to see when it looks back at him.” The other didn’t respond, waiting for something better.
“Ahh yes, that’s much better today Mrs. Fox,” says airport assistant vice manager for human interactions Stephan Spaceboy, checking the weight board.
“Miss,” she says. “Actually: Ms.”
“As you wish, *Ms.* Fox. Now. What can I do you for?” Stephan taps his foot nervously against the floor under the desk. Return visits by avatars usually mean trouble. It means they are looking for something. Or somebody.
“Yes, I think I’m ready to talk about Pink again. I hear…”
“… she’s here, yes.” Stephan tries to act casual while looking away from her. He glances out the office window in what he knows is the direction of Pink’s lair, as he calls it. Who is she with now? He doesn’t want to know.
In her own office not 100 meters away to the south, Pink was asleep at her desk, dreaming she was young and, well, alive again. Tom Banks had brought her a vase of flowers, saying he was sorry he had to kill her but it was his role in life. Similarly dead Frankie “Beige” Brown sat across from her, giggling at the conjunction of Pink and Tulip outside on the plane and inserting, “Lips are like one pink,” between snickers. Going further back in time, Doogie Martin was staring at a snow filled tv he’d just mounted on the wall and mumbling something about Aspinwall. It was all being swept away in the (white) noise, all the sorrows put behind her. Then she wakes up.
One thing remains, but silent or at least very low.
In teleporting around Thornwood tonight, I realized that the foxes Muff and Birmingham, last seen in a NWES City wishing store, were getting along better, which means everything was more in balance in Our Second Lyfe and beyond.
The Diagonal was okay now, but I had no place there. Or did I? No, no, if I open up that can of worms, then karma will come into play again and I’ll have to dig deeper into Rose Heaven history — make it up, in essence, which I’m not sure if the locals, as a whole, would enjoy. The Mist represents a barrier. I have to have cooperation to continue. And I’ve decided the cooperation should come to me instead of visa versa. It’s something I’ve learned. Don’t draw attention to yourself.
23, 23, 23
“I was younger back then, still a rocker, still a moder. Cleveland had nothing on me.”
“Drew ‘Grumpy’ Cleveland?” Baker Bloch questioned, still shocked at the revelation. He hardly had breath to ask.
“Yes,” Stefan [last name still to be determined] admitted, thinking back to the lake, the peninsula. So calming after the pansies. He knew who he was… for the very first time. Then a Brendan appeared on a nearby peak and it began in earnest. He understood that this was not a bucolic paradise, and that paradise was a long way off indeed, like his sister knew before him. Brother too.
“Soooo…” Baker caught his breath again. “That’s when you began (inhale) to know… about Pansy…”
“Mouse,” Stefan completed for Baker Bloch. He held all the cards now, was playing with a full set of dice. Die — Certain Death. Red equals white. Alice in Wonderland would be proud. He let the word hang in the air again, like a kite cut loose from its tether, adrift in a sea of nothingness.
“What assets can *you* bring to me, Mr. Baker Bloch.” I wish Stefan [last name yet to be determine] had a German accent but it would be too hard to write. He was applying for an apartment in the Kidd Tower in Apple’s Orchard, a prospective neighbor, then, to the Man About Time who’d be living directly above him in the penthouse suite. This here was Mr. Babyface’s old apartment. Mr. Babyface had decided to move away from the city to carve out a bucolic life for himself in the land of Hana Lei, wherever the f-ck that was. Maybe Rose Heaven.
“Well,” Baker Bloch began his answer. “You’ll become an automatic member of the exclusive Blue Feather Club, with 10 percent discount on all items at any of the Baker Bloch owned businesses in town. That would include, let’s see, the consignment store down in Black Ice, the Red Umbrella (gallery) in same, the Rosehaven Yarn Shop — that would be selling story yarns and not yarn yarns mind you.”
“Shoot,” Stefan mildly cussed here. He was a natural born knitter, weaving and bobbing the needles to whittle away the dreary nights. But he could live with this handicap. Still full price for the yarn yarn. Baker Bloch continued without a beat.
“Then The Cones — that’s the all you can eat buffet style restaurant atop the Blue Feather, part of the overall Sunklands Institute complex. That would be, er, right down there or over there.” Baker Bloch pointed out the transparent wall to his left toward said complex. You can clearly make out the towers at the top from his perspective. Stefan had none of this. He remained undecided whether to move to NWES City, despite what Baker considered his pretty pitch, like a lob thrown to a junior leaguer who could then hit it out of the park on any given day. This was a given. It was up to Stefan to throw away the chance, make a clear error of judgement. Baker held all the aces, he felt.
“I know Pansy Mouse,” Stefan stated out of left field, a game changer. Baker’s plans suddenly flew up in the air like a pack of misshuffled cards.
He knew exactly where to look. He heads across the road toward the hills.
He pauses to roll two dice at Gigi’s place, red and white. “Twins,” he exclaims, seeing the result. “Good. I’m on the right track.” Certain Death can be avoided tonight.
He moves forward…
A wise sparrow looks down from a tree behind him. He stands in flowers again, pansies. This is where it will happen. He waits. He, again, knows Certain Death is not stalking him. This is the day, this is the portal. He waits. The sparrow knows too.
His head begins to vibrate rapidly. It has begun.
“Dum de *dum* de *dum*.” Riiiiinnnng. “Oh dear.” Riiiiiiiinnnng. “That’s the phone.”
“Over… *there*.” Riiinnng.
“Over where, honey?”
“On the wall.” Riiinnnng. “Just over… *there*.”
“The wall… the phone on the wall?”
Riiinnnng. “Yes. Don’t you remember. The phone… on the wall.”
“The *pay phone*? The one that hadn’t worked for 20 years?” Rinnnnng.
“Yes. I think. Go check. I’m scared. I’ll be back in my room.” Riinnng.
She was so happy just seconds before. Now the world seemed to be ending.
Riinnnng. Herbert Glenn Gold walks over, answers the phone. Riinnnn– “Hello?”
“You have become old, Stefan.”
“No… not old. I can still rock.”
“You are a classical man through and through now. Get up out of the rocker. You cannot rock any longer. You are an old man. You…”
“Pansy,” he said, trying to reassure. “I acquiesce.” Old Stefan steps away from the DJ equipment and the dance floor as a whole, walks outside, stands in the flower bed.
Weddings at St. Mary’s traditionally took place after the Munday sermon so Preacher Stephan had to sacrifice a Renaldo O’Donnell clown first to appease the Gods. Tradition as well.
“Oops, that was a real squirter Pitch, ha.” The Darklys excused themselves to go home and wash clothes.
Afterwards church officials found the sacrificial altar was too heavy to move, so they made do with a cheap wedding booth found buried in a pile of junk at the back of the annex. Toothpick and Elberta then said their “I do’s” to Preacher Ziegler, since Preacher Stephan, a Northerner, refused to acknowledge the Deep South tradition of marrying siblings as kosher.
At the reception, Marty sang one of his beautiful love ditties to Saffie sitting with Toothpick, Elberta and best man Zapppa, hoping to get a better rental unit out of it.
Time to cut the cake. Big Wanda becomes annoyed about the orange butterflies that keep flying off her head in the excitement and leaves the task solely to Toothpick.
As feared, Her Majesty the local bigfoot/yeti came up from the new hole behind St. Mary’s to pay her respects to the newlyweds but was surprisingly controlled by the Corona-V pirates and ended up not eating anyone.
Lastly: group picture. Everyone had a laugh about all the innuendos.
And that’s it! Log another Collagesity or Sunklands photo-novel in the books.