The Musician tries to remember where his studio apartment is in this maze of streets, stairs and alleyways.
Eight, nine… He believes his was 5.
Squalor. He thinks for the thousandth time that he must remove himself from this environment. But he’s been inspired (!). The Musician has some new songs. “Terri,” for one, a love ballad.
He found it. Down by the harbour.
How’d he get so lucky?
But he’s got his eyes on this 2 story yellow house 2 doors down. The place remains unlocked, and sometimes he and Terri meet here and jam.
Yesterday he received a telephone call from Wheeler. They caught up. Wheeler said she’s probably heading back to Collagesity in a month or 2, and that some things remain to be tied up in Olde Lapara Towne. He, in turn, tells how he got to Gaston from VHC City. It was pleasant talking to her again. Afterwards he thought of the good times back in their Safe Plaza, where they first met up. The Ear Bar. Yes…
He looks for the landmark. Takes him a while…
Key shop… close enough.
There it is. The Musician almost forgot how to find it.
His favorite pinball machine inside — still broken.
“Howdy Percolator,” The Musician calls toward the bar counter. Percolator is a sentient clown machine.
The red doors across the way were no longer locked. Underground open to all. No OD needed!
He could still stay here. Crash on the upper floor’s couch just like old times.
But there was Terri to think about now. He imagines him sitting in the chair next to the couch, his twin sister Chroma illuminated in the background.
Chroma wishes to be a mathematician, but is limited because she only likes group theory. “0 1 4 9 4 1”, she might randomly say. He can’t recall any other of her rows right off. Chroma’s graphs she calls them in total. She’s red for a reason.
Chroma gets around. The next morning she visits Baker Bloch’s new upstairs gallery at the Olde Lapara Towne’s Bodega Market and takes notes. She especially likes the large red work of the 8 piece exhibit: “See title 02”.
A balance for “See title 01” on the opposite side of the room, hmmm.
Chroma’s all for symmetry. And mystery for that matter. But now it’s time for an early martini at Audrey’s just below (a.k.a. Red Door Bar) and a chat with Terry. Not the same as Terri, obviously, but related.
Teleporting down, Chroma didn’t realize what a big boy Terry was getting to be. He’s grown!
They talk of New Lynne and the purchase of additional magical seeds.
One day, after a particularly intense jamming session the night before, The Musician woke not beside Terri but *as* Terri. Although his name was now Earie. Some people called him Chuck. He lived in the Yellow House — been living there for a pretty good while.
Siblings Chroma and Improvio resided in the same row of houses, but remained in cocoon form, chained to a more basal music. He was the first to emerge.
He gives Improvio next door in the Blue House a ring, knowing he wouldn’t be up, hehe.
Chroma (Red House) was usually down at the waterfront by now, studying symmetry in objects washed up on the beach. She jots down a lot.
Right this moment she happens to be scrutinizing an old waterlogged book found floating underneath a rickety pier.
color row 02
“Giant Jiff,” Buster commands, “this morning we need to dismantle this block of houses and attached tiny village. Location change — other colorful houses used for the set, you see. Also: phone Bettie up and tell her we need to start preparing to get the heck out of Dodge. I have to take a shower.”
“Sure thing boss.”
“Shoot,” exclaims the overhearing sheriff down at Tiny Towne.
“Looks like you’re free to go Prisoner Pothead.”
Earie woke up in a strange place once more. He felt like he’d been drugged. But he recognized the rusty lighting all around. Still Gaston-Berry, he realized. For there indeed was a Berry too, as legends told.
Now where was home again in all this mess?
Ahh, the ocean. He must be close. There’s Stewart’s ship out there. A landmark for his confused mind.
He sits in the worn wooden chair on the pier and tries to remember what happened the night before.
Audrey was her name? No… Leona. Leona Lei. And her sister Hana Lei. Or at least they always wore leis (traditional Hawaiian garland of flowers). But wait — he’s remembering the horrible details now. It was only his siblings Improvio and Chroma, dolled up like women of the night. What was in that weed Jacob sold them last week?? And those wacky glasses (sunglasses?) they passed back and forth between them, with one lens red and the other blue. Yes, he must track down Jacob, who resides downtown somewhere. He remembers an initial for a last name but not the actual name. Jacob I. Maybe that will be sufficient.
But first, to find home.
He must pay more attention to his surroundings.
“So little grass, Broken Heart Jackie.”
“And so much paper.”
Earie (The Musician) realized there were still many mysteries to be resolved concerning VHC City — like the relationship of this Sipvicious logo found in the Quincey Educational Building and the famous punk Sid Vicious who stayed in the town’s grand Hotel Chelsea. Chroma and Improvio, being rooted in a basal nature still, desire to visit the infamous Room 100 where Sid killed Nancy. The All Nancy’s ghost found in the Grand Lapara Hotel more recently is mere reflection of this tragic event, they’ve determined. The Grand Lapara Hotel itself, they say, is a reflection of Hotel Chelsea, in that both are modeled after real life New York City hotels. Earie, who has evolved beyond them now, he feels, thinks otherwise. But his main concern right now is not VHC City nor Olde Lapara Town. It’s Gaston-Berry, and finding Jacob I. and attempting to get him to explain what the heck is happening to him currently. Chroma and Improvio made up like hookers? Red and blue lensed glasses? The Lei sisters? It’s a head scratcher, he realizes while scratching his head. So it’s back to the Yellow House to prepare for a downtown visit.
But first, he must dress more appropriately for the location. Some purchases at historical Blackburns Store in Alabama or Georgia aid him.
Did he go too far with the blue eye? Yes, he determined. He did. A bit too alien, and the new landlord specified in her short rental note: NO aliens.
Eat your heart out Improvio, you old skunk.
Red, yellow, blue, he thinks. Is this *us* again somehow?
And across the street: same colors in a row. Right order according to their houses, even. He peers through the window.
Someone shooting up. Grim town.
Nope. Not here either.
There was just a lot of f-cking places Jacob I. could be.
He decides to retreat back to the safety of his Yellow House and try again tomorrow. Too dangerous at night.
Oh no. He’s lost again.
Is that the burning barrel from the night before? He’s unsure.
A scream from the shack down the plank walkway.
Red and blue glasses thrown through a window. He’s close! But so dangerous here. He senses it all around. Maybe he should put on his blue eye again — look tougher. Or crazier may be good too.
Totally lost. “Shoo cat. Ain’t got time for you.”
But the boney feline persisted. “RreeRRW!” it said. That translates to “follow ME!” in cat language.
Then, gazing at Earie’s turned face, it changed and stood up on two legs. “Blue red,” Broken Heart spoke with an eerie, child-like voice. “Blue red blue red blue red.”
name game 02
Broken Heart led Earie through a series of backyard passages where they met several colorful characters. I’ll get to that story more later. But true to her word they were here outside the Joint Joint, with Jacob I. supposedly within. Broken Heart had further explained that the I. stood for nothing. “Think Harry S. Truman,” she said while striding over some old tires on their journey. Seeing Earie not reply, she added, “or U.S. Grant.” “So his full and legal name is Jacob I.,” Earie replied back, dodging a broken coke bottle. “Formerly Jacob the Lawnmower,” he furthered, alluding to earlier conversation. By this time they were passing through Old Lady Bedford’s clothes line in another tight spot, being careful not to get, well, clotheslined (caught in the neck). At 96 she represented the town’s oldest prostitute, but her only remaining customer was Billy Tokesalot, a nonagenarian himself. Sometimes it took them 10 days.
In the present moment, Earie tried the door to the establishment. Locked. “Don’t knock the knockers,” Broken Heart ordered from below. “He’ll come.” Nothing happened for several minutes. Earie glanced over at the policeman standing beside them a couple of times, but his gaze remained fixed on the window. “Nice night,” Earie finally offered. The policeman didn’t answer; focus unchanged. At 4:45am Jacob I. opened the door, and stared at each figure in front of it. “Broken Heart,” he said, nodding down to the cat-person. Jacob then came back to Earie. “I thought I told you to stay away, Chuck.”
Turns out Jacob I. had mistakened Earie for another punk with a queerly similar mohawk who came in earlier that night. “Chuck,” Jacob said, thinking back to the meeting and shaking his head. “Must have been a clown dressed up as a punk. They do that.”
“Tell him to take off his hat,” purred a tinier Broken Heart, sitting on it. “You know you want to see.”
“See what?” Earie asked.
“The I., of course,” replied Broken Heart.
“Oh he’s not interested in that thing, Jackie.”
“Don’t call me Jackie,” said the bone cat.
“Alright.” Jacob looked to the punk presently sitting with him. “How’s that grass treating you, hehe.”
“Pretty good,” said Earie, taking another toke. He’d finish this joint and be done with it, he decided. Has to walk home still, he knew. But how to navigate that whole backyard journey again? Maybe Broken Heart would escort him. If she did, then perhaps he could partake in at least part of another joint. “Good stuff; starting to see Hawaii, haha,” he finally replied to Jacob’s query. “So… what were we talking about? Oh. I have to ask the bone cat something.”
“Hat,” persisted Broken Heart. She tapped her little paw on Jacob’s straw chapeau for emphasis.
Jacob exhaled a lot of smoke in resignation, raising his eyebrow for Earie while setting his joint down in the ashtray on the table. “She’s not going to give up. But I’m warning you. It’s intense.” Broken Heart jumped to the floor and he removed the hat, laying it carefully on the couch beside him.
Looks like another Big Reveal to me.
Rocky closes up the market and bar tonight and steps outside to look in the direction of the Wanderlust Art Truck. It’s received quite good press in various blogs and other social media outlets,* and the raccoon is certainly glad of the extra business his store has gotten as a result.
He’s saving up quite the nest egg. But as the old saying goes, winter is coming, and the tourists will trickle down and eventually go away as the snow lays thick on the streets of Olde Lapara Towne. He’s frankly tired of cold winters. Peter, Paul and Mary — I mean, Lamb — were smart to retreat down into the much more temperature regulated underground and create Malone Central, he thinks. But that’s disappeared too apparently, as everyone has gone through the sand dunes/sand castle portal into this mythical land of Hana Lei. He thinks here of a particular collage in Baker Bloch’s small art gallery upstairs featuring David Bowie.
Rocky decides to go back into the store to check again, just to make sure. He passes through the phantom red door into Audrey’s and takes the old timey teleporter to Grasslands. He always seems to bring his gun with him when he comes down here lately.
Yes, he remembers now. The last remaining, actual grass of Grasslands, along with the sand dunes portal, had to go away to make prim room for the upstairs art gallery. And local punk band Story Room lost their remaining OLT venue since the theatre space formerly there was also eradicated, and this just after they were banned from playing at Clownski’s after a new noise ordinance was passed by the town council. Our two local bands, lost in a single stroke, he ponders. Rocky thinks of another old saying: Lamb dies with Ram. Baker Bloch tried to prevent it from happening by moving the future focus back into the here and now of the present. Yes, Rocky has his market, has a bar, has a small gallery even. Things are good in October. But even November can get snowy, and the anthropomorphic animal longs to see Santa Claus without Jack Frost always tagging along and nipping at his nose.
He’s not even going to think about how his new novel is coming, and the lack of sales for the old one. Because it’s target practice time once again!
* See, for example, several of my friend Veyot’s recent posts from her “Veyot’s Views” tumblr site (tag = Lapara):
It’s time for Improvio to strike out on his own.
… and Leona too.
The at least part alien Baker Bloch disguised himself as an apple tree before teleporting into the very center of the Gaston sim.
Just like Earie/The Musician indicated to him. The sim’s so-called Central Park is not a name be taken lightly.
And whoever sleeps in this Wastelands Bed next to it holds great power.
Baker then decides to teleport over to the site of Leona’s rehearsal last night. Or are they called The Blackstars? Anyway, another sky island…
After The Blackstars’ latest jam session, lead singer Improvio and drummer Woody Woodmanson hung back in the sky island to chat about the band’s future. Howard, Pretty Man, and Sheriff had all headed to the Ear Bar down in Soho.
“Well Woody,” began Improvio. “You said you had something to talk about. I think it went pretty well tonight. Band’s pretty tight. I had worries about Pretty Man especially but it’s all shaping up. Pretty Man’s not just another pretty face but has real talent at the keyboards.”
“*Howard* was on the keyboards tonight. Not Pretty Man. You need to turn around and acknowledge the band now and then.” Woody was in an unusually pissy mood tonight. The rehearsal didn’t go as well for him as it did for Improvio.
The blue lead singer tried to assuage his wood toy drummer. He changed the subject for a moment. “Tell you what, why don’t you take me down to the center of the Purden Woods tonight and show me this Core-Alena tree you’ve been on about. How about that?”
But Woody would not be deterred. “Here’s my thing,” he said, continuing the mood. “Sure we can jam and jam and jam until we toast ourselves to death. But it’s all spinning wheels and slinging mud. Nothing’s *written down*. Jam, jam, jam,” he said again. “We need…”
“No,” broke off Improvio. “I’m not going back to Gaston and interact with those other two.”
Woody stopped walking on the log and hopped off, holding his brightening key in front of him.
“I’m getting a message from the Great Cheese,” he spoke solemnly. There was a small pause, then: “Yes, you must return to Gaston. But it’s not Gaston, it’s *Garson*.”
“What?” exclaimed Improvio, as he turned to see what Woody was transfixed by. A large, bald man with queerly tilted head had appeared on the edge of the sky island.
He steps further…
“Alright I’ll go back Woody,” proclaims a totally spooked Improvio.
Basically like clockwork, Earie passes Jiff’s abode a couple minutes beyond total darkness. 7:30 tonight, but winter is coming and the days are getting shorter. Tomorrow he should pass at approximately 7:29, the next day 7:28, and so on until time turns around or he leaves the sim. One day Jiff will follow the punk to see where he goes, but right now he needs to get some sleep. Jiff’s usually in bed by about 8 and rises around 6. Sometimes he even sees Earie pass the other way. Then it’s off to work at the Gaston-Berry Police Station as staff psychiatrist. A new and troubled male inmate has just arrived who goes by the name of Wilson. Pretty face, though. Maybe that’s the screw’s turn, Jiff ponders, knowing other information. Maybe this town demands too much from its citizens.
“You’re back Clyde.”
“Yes, Richard,” answers the pink lady-elephant. “But it’s Bonnie.”
“Where’s Gregg?” asks Richard.
“You mean Stan? He said he was on his way. What are you guys up to tonight?”
“Nothing. Heard you got a new band Clyde.”
Bonnie shakes her head. “*Howard* has a new band. That’s my twin brother. They call themselves Leona, yes. Just rehearsing so far, I’ve heard.”
“Blackstars,” says Ziffie the smaller pink elephant on the bar stool to Richard’s left.
“What was that?” Richard asks down to him.
“The name of the band,” Ziffie explains, “is now Blackstars. I think it’s a David Bowie tribute band, but Garson sued and put them in their place.”
“Who’s Garson?” asked the man in the scary rabbit costume.
“Former Bowie keyboardist. ‘Alladin Sane’, ‘Outside’… list goes on.”
“But mainly ‘Alladin Sane’,” pipes up Ziffie again.
“Yes,” agrees Bonnie. “More the (title) song and not the album.”
“Improvisor,” inserts Ziffie.
“Right you are, cousin. Three time’s the charm.”
Stan comes strolling into the cafe.
“What’s up homies?”
“Blackstars,” says Bonnie.
“Blackstars,” Ziffie quickly follows.
Bonnie and Ziffie stare at Richard, pressuring him. He relents. “Hmmm. Blackstars I suppose.”
“Cool. Let’s you and me, Richard, go see the new crop of dead people over at Pervimus’ Gathering Bar.”
Instead of answering, Richard goes up and smells Stan. “That a new perfume, honey?”