I sit down, trying to gather some local color. I brighten up the place (smoky blue sky).
Tulsa was taking orders from a white couple nearer the front door. I could tell there was some tension — a bit, but noticeable, at least to me. Peggy and Wanda played with their cell phones at the table nearest me, not engaged in conversation at the moment. I tried to glance at what they were looking at, Peggy at least, who had her back to me. Some site about jobs — they were looking for jobs in this town. They were tense. No: just more focused. The other white couple in the room: well, they were all just kind of normal.
I decided to manufacture a friend for Wanda and Peggy and have him sit at their table with them. Let’s go with Chet. Chet was dressed to the hilt for the holiday season, anticipating December 1st like it was his birthday or something. Wanda had known Chet since college. Peggy was Chet’s girlfriend for the moment, at least until he dumped her for Phyllis. But that was in the future — no more going forward into the future which is also the past. We are *here*. Chet walks up. Ah, another core — not me. I can stay seated; I can still listen in.
Wanda giggled in Peggy’s direction after he sat down. “Isn’t he so cute with his mask and all.” Of course I’m wearing a mask, thought Chet. There’s an f-ing pandemic going on. He had the urge to leave. He wasn’t being respected, like he was some kind of Christmas dupe instead of their friend. He decided then and there: he was going to start dating that girl Phyllis he’s had his eyes on as soon as possible, as soon as he gets out of here. He’ll give it 30 minutes. Peggy didn’t say anything back to Wanda’s little remark. She kept playing on her phone. She wished she’d brought a mask herself now. She didn’t want to get sick just before the holidays (!). Chet was thinking about the holidays, in contrast — all along. I’m going to celebrate it like it’s f-ing Halloween, Christmas and Easter rolled into one (!), he decided on Thanksgiving Day, watching Uncle Bert come down with it afterwards. Then Aunt Jermima. Then Cousin Lute. And with a new baby’s sex to be decided — they weren’t up for it! Uncle Bert never got back up. He was 82 and more susceptible than the rest, having married beyond his age. He went to the emergency room; said his cat bit him. Infection spread; virus weakened the immune system. Gone in 2 days. There was a wake but Chet didn’t go. Instead he went upstairs in his house and decided to wear Christmas garb for, I don’t know, until Arbor Day maybe. Yeah, he got the tree out as his mother demanded, but he got a lot more out of that closet. I can’t really say he snapped, because about a 1/3rd of our great country is bonkers now and at least he wears a mask in public places. Tulsa was uncomfortable with the white couple she was serving because they also weren’t wearing masks in a public place and it put pressure on the owner to say, “don’t wear masks,” while serving them; “makes them uncomfortable and put-off,” he decided. He’s gone over to the dark side, Tulsa thought. She has about 30 minutes on her shift. Won’t be coming back, she punctuates the post.
“F-ing complicated!” he said about the map he stood upon, and all the pins dotting it. Nautilus. The 1st continent. The last continent. Where the Outside gets In.
“Calm down, calm down,” she said from the side, just around the corner. “You know about Marilyn and the alternate national anthem. You know which US of A is peering down into the translucent cube — hypercube, actually — from the Outside. It’s one that has been frozen in time. You have your pattern,” she finalized, looking steady into his eyes now, fully emerged. I couldn’t tell her hair color. I’m going to go with white (for now). I knew this was a 3.16 situation and that a return to Squared Root City was up soon. “Give it some time to mature,” I said, trying to calm myself this go around. Unable to keep stabilized, she receded. I moved forward — past Collagesity. Forward into the past, perhaps.
I start a new folder for my inworld photos and pin it to my Quick access. (photo #) 1950. Here we go!
Ah yes. Starlight.
They called it the Cross Arm of the Starfish Lake or Sea (or whatever) because of the balance of the 2 castles, Princess to the right and Dairocha to the left, coupled with the twins on the vertical axis, north and south, talking and debating about such on opposite coasts. One was right and the other was wrong. Then the situation flipped at the arm: the right one was wrong and visa versa. It all evens out if you figure in the castles… and the Marilyns. “Dot dot dot,” I can hear the opposite say in my head. “Enough with the dots.” And perhaps he was right (not). Also: “Enough with the parentheses.”
At any rate, we need to get back to the original Marilyn and the Monster book stolen from the Dairocha library by Axis-Windmilll and Alysha
Mae Raspberry. Also: “Enough (…) of the crossouts.”
Jesus H. Christ writing is hard!
Deals were being swung all day. Belinda Mae Appletree called her mom, asking for a raise in allowance from 5000 to 10. Dirk Besmurk wondered if he could even afford a fish taco from this central vendor after purchasing a loan on a Ferarri 5000 series from Jebadiah Bush, a former snake oil salesman at Barkley’s hired by the Princess to do her dirty work. And the Princess? Well, we’ve discussed the Princess of the Diagonal already in this here photo-novel (30) but apparently this one is different. No pictures this time — just rumors. Gossip has her as a ditzy blonde, centered by a pole that revolves around and around like a rotisserie chicken being devoured, bit by bit, by onlooking lingering eyes before its time. 15 she was when she inherited the castle from her aunt’s mom’s cousin, one Felicity Day Daghound of the Dartmoor Harbour Bay area — thereabouts. She was just too young for the responsibility, in other words, to be thrust out into the world of Mann at such a tender age. It basically ate her alive; close enough.
They caught up with each other, twin to twin. “Have you heard the latest about the castle?” the black and blue one said to the red and white one. “Dairocha?” the other spoke back. “I’ve heard about the incident in the library and the theft of the all important Monster book. Marilyn was not pleased.” “*Marilyn*,” the first said, “is at the Princess Castle. You mean the Princess Castle, right?” Wrong.
The book flips back.
He kept waiting for the red book to right itself as he read it in the sand down at the beach. Someone approached: an opposite. “I will take over now,” he said confidently, as if his black and blue color demanded it.
A new crop of students arrived at the Princess Castle School for Design and Wealth. You’d think they would have learned their lesson after what happened to Dimmy and Marilyn last semester down at the end of Route 12 but, no. The VW Beetles of the world would still in all likelihood have their backs turned toward them while the glitzier ones demanded all the attention. And the car loaner agents laughed all the way to the bank (by the cliffs (by the sea)).
“Rev it up and see what you think,” agent Scott Johnson said to Tommy Twostep within, fresh from the Outer Rim where fast and furious cars like this were few and far between. He was dazzled by the array here. Daddy would understand the extra cost, he rationalized while crossing 6K rpms heading toward 7.
The handle on the library’s door flickering in and out, indicating irreality.
He knew what needed to be done. Alysha had already left, having to start her shift in the castle’s “core”. Rumor has it she was also a dancer in disguise, going by the name of Francis Wagner. If so, she twirled on yin-yang and did it well, or so they say.
He’d met her (in disguise himself) over on one of the levels below the club, selling sushi. “Two please,” he said, trying to blend in. She saw through it, being a masquerader herself. “Brend,” she said in return. “I didn’t recognize you without my hat on.”
The second “Two”, was strangely different from the first, as if foreign text had just floated in from the sky to roost on the various pages.
He felt his world turn upside down.
It was about time to play the piano to let off steam.
“Well take a picture, silly. I can’t hold this posture forever.” SNAP
Outside: Ghost. *Ghost* of a ghost, so doubly so.
Whose picks led me to this:
“What do you say, dear? The rooms are real cheap and we get to explore fabulous John Fitzgerald Kennedy City this way. We’re right in the middle (!).”
“Okay, darling. But then we must get back to Collagesity and see what’s left of it. Strange about the doubling of the Falmouth name in these locations.”
“Yes. More reason to stay here.”
He recrosses his legs. “I suppose.”
“We can make… a honeymoon of it.”
Axis-Windmill doesn’t say anything to this. He’s not ready to commit to such a pact, or even admit they are married to each other as husband and wife. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Let’s play it loosey goosey, he thinks. Besides, he’s Baker Bloch for the moment, and the male Baker doesn’t marry anyone “beneath” him in the photo-novels, which is everyone else, even his female counterpart Baker Blinker, traditional blog spiritual guide Hucka Doobie, and the rest of the cores. If he could just shift over to another particular core… he shifts in his seat with this thought. He has the urge to get up and dance. “Any music around here?” finally came a response, which made Alysha Raspberry huff and recross her own legs. She knows Falmouth Gallery in Collagesity won’t be any better. *But* (she considers again), they could stay in Danny’s trailer. If he’s truly gone. One Falmouth at a time, though.
“Oh dear. Is that our *porter*?”
He’d met her on one the outer islands of the continent, Pieve I believe. They started out thick and fast with an Adam and Eve kind of situation, like John and Yoko. He was with her everywhere, even the doctor’s office. But as time went by everything slowed. She said her legs were too long and got an operation, but that just made her a 9 instead of a 10. She had to reverse it; he footed the bill since it was his choice to shorten them in the first place. It was his choice for everything, but not because he was a misogynist. It’s because he created her, from his rib as it were. He was her. Madam I’m Adam. So the rumors about the woman of the night, the whore of Babylon and stuff like that. Lunacy — people will believe anything these days. People believe God incarnated on Earth without a motherly womb. That’s cutting out half the equation, removing black from white, dark from light. There *is* no dark without light. 3.16: that was *her*. She lived in new-ish and still-being-constructed Squared Root City and he with her. Because of the Being One thing. She doesn’t exist without him. But is it also Romeo and Juliet? What else is in Florida that I need to consider? Whitehead, obviously. Since he has white hair and it doesn’t work any other way, unless it’s black. She? Red. Let me check…
Interesting that we’ve moved from (considering) Alaska to Florida, as far across the country as you can get. And also: extreme cold to extreme warmth. It was a coastal situation through and through now. But Squared Root City was in the hills between the coasts, between Highways 13 and 14; M and N. Maybe this was a new Mystenopolis developing, he pondered, and then marveled at the possibility. Jesus H. Christ is involved again after all. He must also think about the (Pagan) Faun, the 2 doppleganger houses next to each. Black and white — revolving around each other. No, that’s the right solution. Not black *versus* white. They are one. We are one.
And the Princess of the Diagonal? A boss. He had a job to do and he was doing it pretty well. He still had access to past records of the Oracle, even though it presently was broken and seemed irreparable in its damage. The boss was away a lot. His research kind of mirrored hers. But what of the white hair? That had to do with the Declaration (of Independence). March 1: not far away atall. He will soon be the (fabled) Whitehead of the Woods. It’s projected to coincide with the end of photo-novel 31. Strange, eh?
He gets rid of the illusion.
“There you are.”
Brend woke up, having fallen asleep while reading the book about dreams. The Princess of the Diagonal’s portrait loomed above him. He looked around. Nowhere in sight. Probably out exploring leads while the day people are safely tucked in bed, some having drawn the covers over their head. It was getting cold in the Nautilus highlands. Soon the frost would move down into the coast here. Time to go buy a jacket, he contemplates, maybe a tweed one. He probably has the place to himself for a while, perhaps the rest of the night. Good time to get some work done himself.
He contemplates the square before him while drinking molten silver, as they call the spiked coffee drink round these parts. He thinks of a joke here: “Do you know where the Nome King lives?” “I don’t know. Al-as-ka round.” A variation involves Anchorage, and, rarer, Douglas Fairbanks. Back to the map.
“It probably all starts in Alaska don’t you think?” offers W. from the side. “Northernmost — the cold moves south; down. Parameters established — upper limit. John Fitzgerald Kennedy City,” she then utters, looking me straight in the eye.
We start, of course, with the Diagonal, he thinks while studying. A lot of people enter that way; exit through Borneo. Like Marion Star Harding and his plane that turned endless instead of finite. He wore his inflammable suit which means it didn’t catch on fire which means he didn’t die. The Princess of the Diagonal is a bonafide expert on planes. She created this airport. She created Airton Hill itself, aligned it with Mount Ayr
up in the through the (common) air.
“You are going far,” W. encouraged. “You will get there tonight.”
He drew back. He took another sip of the spiked beverage. He’d lost Iowa. He recalls the old days, when a seed was planted just east of Des Moines. JFK took a bullet for it. What would *he* sacrifice?
(to be continued)