It’s perch for God’s sake.
Mr. Babyface direly needs to find his nephew in Hana Lei and attempt to talk some sense into him, but he can’t seem to stop studying this Big E provided with the apartment.
“Ahh, what the heck,” he says, prying himself away from the object. “Time to take the plunge…”
“Me Gods, what a mess. A Messiaen Mess.”
He turns around in his tracks, staring into the heart of infantile Hana Lei. “Where *are* the stoneheads?”
He walks down to take a closer look.
The band now known as Lamb were all gathered at Chunkies playing Guess That Fish when Paul heard him grumbling to himself on Swingset Knoll beyond the door. There could be no mistaking.
After hitting his head against the outside wall of the Bodega Market — hat tossed aside in the action — Jacob I. managed to wander, dazed and confused, into Audrey’s Bar just around the corner. The Bakers later reckon that if the big 420 sign they’d just deleted from that very wall was still present when he exited the portal, the impact could have killed him, what with the many sharp, hard edges of its three involved numerals. Or at the very least, put out his eye, which would have been just as disastrous. Jacob I. was lucky. Fate brought him here.
A familiar face awaited him in the bar. Furry Karl had returned.
They both stared at each other for a minute, trying to gauge the situation. Karl had just “woke up” himself; it would take several days before he was back to his old, jabbering self. He couldn’t remember what beer was on tap or just in bottles. Never mind the liquor, although the license went through yesterday (thanks for the speedy work, town council!).
Finally Karl had gathered himself enough to get the obvious question out of the way. “What’s with the giant peeper, bud?”
It also took several days, but the Wall of Jasper representing foggy perspective would fade away as well.
Collagesity had turned over a new leaf.
the high and low of it
A big door has opened up the outside world to the lowest level of Olde Lapara Towne’s large underground.
Ahh, fresh air down here at last! But alas winter is coming and the cold can rush through as well, pheh.
Baker thinks there’s more stories to be found in this place…
… despite the fact that Rocky’s Bodega Market is definitely going away in 3 days.
Meanwhile, high in Lapara’s mountain country…
… Racket and Sport enjoy 3 day old croissants while fleshing out a plot to keep their wanderlust stricken cousin Rocky in his home sim.
What did Miss. Minton expect would happen when she went away on an extended vacation and left her door standing wide open, huh?
Bad Miss. Minton. Bad Minton!
They were told to stay close to Gaston’s Central Park and act like flies on the wall. Pretty Man disobeyed one morning and wandered down to a side patio beside Sugar’s House, thinking he would be concealed there behind a tall fence. But he was almost immediately spotted by BitterAlmond1995 and propositioned. “Cure for your ails,” she claimed about herself through the intervening walls. Quickly teleporting back to safety, Pretty Man wiped his brow, seeing he wasn’t followed. He was not an alien, true, but what cost for surface beauty? Sugar’s Berries (their slogan: “ripe for pick’n”) stick pretty tight to her house, just like he and his fellow escapees Gregg Oden, Chuck Cheese, and Maury “Jiff” Monroe should keep close to the park, the calm eye center of a storm which contrasts to that eyewall location of greatest sound and fury.
But Sugar herself, being of greater vision and knowing all such storms have such centers, knew why they were there. Her counterpart Jacob I. had escaped in a larger way, with accomplice and experienced jail breaker Tiny Tina trampled under foot. These dudes and dudettes had nowhere to go, like caught in paper.
I will be a fly back at them, she thought the morning of learning about Pretty Man’s intrusion into her territory. They are in my vision and will not leave. I know where they are. There’s a secret parchment, secured by sealing wax, which might allow her control of the *other* “Sugar House” in town, the one now called the Gaston-Berry Police Station. Because there was no Berry to patrol. Berry did not exist except as a concept. This was her secret weapon.
Rolling the dice, she unrolled the parchment.
It was the most expensive apartment in town, but Biker Mann loved it because of the clear view down Old Cannon Road into the woods. Cyberpaperdoll too!
Because demons were coming.
Cyberpaperdoll returned to her home of 5 1/2 years across the Atoll Sea and pondered if Biker Mann and she had any kind of real future together.
Oh. Speaking of swings and futures…
“Tommy Brade was always your mother’s favorite, Paul. But you’re not Paul. You’re Even Whiter Walt. Whiter than Caucasian Tommy Brade. You burn in moonlight. You dance to Guy Lombardo. If you were any whiter, you’d turn into a pillar of salt. Believe me, boy, Mary is not the boy for you. She’s not even a boy.”
“I love her,” counters fellow swinger and estranged nephew Paul. “She’s kind to animals. She sings like a butterfly. I’m hanging my future on her. I’m not going back (to the woods).”
“Sure you are. You’re already there. *They* have spies all around. The Invisibles.”
“I don’t know who those people are, Uncle Babyface,” his nephew reiterates. “All I know is that I’m happy here in Be Happy.”
“Hana Lei,” clarifies Mr. Babyface.
“Sure,” states Paul. “There’s *so* much pot here, uncle. Did I show you the biggest one? Just behind us.” He points to his back right.
Indeed it was a big pot. Three stoned little Story Room wannabes staggered around in a bit of snow in front of the whopper. They could be there for months. Years!
So it is with Peter, Paul and Mary in Hana Lei, Mr. Babyface realizes. Months. Years. He returns to Collagesity and drinks with a broken heart at Audrey’s until the clock strikes one and there is no sun.
Mr. Babyface used the sandcastle portal again to reach Zebrasil and the nice beach he liked. This time he brought a guest.
“Better lather up for the sun,” he suggests to Caucasian Tommy Brade while applying yet another layer of suntan lotion himself. “Ozone hole’s not getting any smaller, ya know.”
But Tommy just sat awkwardly in his own beach cot and stared at his throwing hand. “I remember bees,” he finally managed.
“Good,” said Mr. Babyface. “You’re progressing, Tommy. Slowly but surely. Soon the big picture will fill in for ya. The impossible Super Bowl win that year, the role my nephew had in it. Everything.”
Caucasian Tommy Brade then stared directly into the sun for a full 5 minutes, but it didn’t hurt. He was the sun.
Moving to the other side of the island to get away from the heat, Mr. Babyface realizes that Tommy Brade may be no good for him now. He has to hatch a second plan, perhaps even a third. He thinks back to his conversation day before yesterday with Tronesisia. The Boss. “A certain building added,” she said several times. Gazing toward mainland, Mr. Babyface wonders again what it might mean.
Greg Ogden can’t figure out how to start the painting he wishes to do. It’s all so beautiful as is…
One thing he knows for dead sure is that it *won’t* be a watercolor — oil is his choice of medium. No opening exposed for that Greg with the extra “g” to return to the picture. Stay back in Gaston you old varmit!
Gauging the sun and understanding he can’t delay any longer, he pulls out his tube of Winsor and Newton Permanent Green and gets to work.
The next day he does the same.
Mr. Babyface wasn’t much of a swimmer, much less a diver. But he figured he had to give it a go since the board was here in — wherever this is. Little Chicago? Middletown even? Or a remnant thereof.
The beach of the city was small but cozy. Mr. Babyface could sometimes spy passing warships in the distance. Because, yes, there was a war going on. Apparently the Axis and Allied powers of WWII never really made peace, but just moved their battles to computer games and virtual realities. He may get involved in the fray as well soon, but he has to choose a side. His grandmother was a full blown German, but his old dog Pogo he loved so much came from Kansas, USA. Mr. Babyface himself hailed from deepest Africa; neutral territory in the Great War. His half aunt on his father’s side was Japanese. Could go either way.
The Shamon Palace, he thought while looking across the water and cleaning nacho fragments from between his teeth with his tongue. He’ll go there tomorrow. Someone to meet in the bowels of the island, he’s been told. Caucasian Tommy Brade has been sent back to the woods to be with pals Satan Santa, Cookie the Crumbler, and the rest. Someone new again. Billie Kidd had told him this.
Billie Kidd seemed to know everything about everything.
Deep in thought, he almost misses a passing ship. “Ahh, there’s one,” he says, spotting its motion as it glides beyond the island from his perspective. “Looks like the Rising Sun.”
The last of town’s apple trees would have to be moved, along with the last amphibian (Brazilian Bill).
Richard and Paula too.
The town Rodeo could be slid over to the old Appalachian Spring. For Billie was coming.
Baker Bloch was aiming for a 2 week stay but it might be longer, Gods willing. Mr. Babyface had already come from across the sea. Greg Ogden as well. How about the upper 8 floors beyond the 4 inhabited ones? Kidd Tower has a fairly long history in Collagesity and, before that, VWX Town. It had its beginnings in the Sikkima sinkhole — late 2012 or early 2013. Buildings also remember their history. And now one has come alive as a flesh and blood creature. We’ve lost Terry, true, but another fills his footprint. Not a man, not even a big boy. Not even a boy.
“Golf course. Par three. Hole in one. 1967. (pause) 28064212. (pause) LOST.”
“Bozo,” I said. “Boz*oo*.”
“Nepotism,” he followed quickly. “Nephew. New.”
“But not you.”
Richard vanished. Another took his place.
“To some. To a few,” the young man said.
“Is your name Peter?”
“To most. To a lot.”
“Are you well known?”
“Why do you keep flashing my name above your head.”
“*You* are well known.”
“Hmm. What are you doing here? In this palace?”
“It’s a hotel,” Peter replied. “Can you read?”
“… the land description, yes. (longer pause) So it’s *real*.”
“Kind of,” he said. Peter sat up, exposing less white legs beneath sinking bathing trunks. He was quite sun baked. From Hawaii he was.
“Why do you receive favors?” I continued.
“From Uncle Babyface?” he returned, already knowing my answer. “It’s a nephew thing.”
“I know that. Why are you here? What is your relationship to The Kidd over in Middletown, just across the strait from here? Your uncle can see your place…”
“*My* place?” he questioned, then was gone.
I took off my hat and scratched my head.
I sat there for a long time afterwards reading a book about squirrels.
Mr. Babyface was having that dream again about being submerged in lava. He wakes up.
Upside down again, he thinks. Better get some coffee on.
He pauses on his way to the tiny kitchen to reflect again on lava.
“Ichelus,” he mutters, and moves on.
Ahh. Better, he thinks, downing a fresh brew. His nipples hurt this morning for some reason. He’ll buy some of that ointment at the store later on his aunt recommended. She had the same kind of problem, but in a larger way.
He stares out the mostly transparent wall at the many windowed building just beyond. Definitely not Collagesity this morning, he ruminates. The Kidd will be there. Can’t get too caffeined up before chatting with the precocious child. Third eye she has, he remembers. All seeing most likely, like the one that use to be in Collagesity. Mr. Babyface can’t quite recall the name of the broken deity, a mere idol these days at best. Kazzkark he thinks incorrectly, but for a reason.
Nothing upstairs now. He’ll make some beans later on. Will The Kidd fulfill her promise and bring the rest of her tower to what he knows now is truly Middletown? He thinks that would be cool.
He sets his coffee cup down on the table beside Big E and heads downstairs.
She was looking at the blog again. She always seemed to be doing this. Mr. Babyface wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
“I see you’ve been dreaming about lava once more,” The Kidd began. “Do you know who I am yet? Northeast and southwest. Around the building. I’ll pull up another picture to show you. Give me a moment.”
While waiting for The Kidd to change the page, Mr. Babyface looked around the corner to check if his toilet was still gone. It was. “Have to use the sand again,” he complained softly.
“Done,” she then called. “Come in here and look and I’ll interpret. This Mr. Hucka Bumblebee did a good job before but he left some material out. Can you guess? You try first.”
Mr. Babyface stared at the picture which he knew to be a baker b. collage. He’d seen it in the small gallery above the Bodega Marketplace. Ointment, he thinks again. Must — remember.
“Go ahead,” she urged. “The title is ‘Duncanfollower.'”
“Yes, I can see that,” he said, slightly annoyed. He felt she could be condescending at times. I suppose she can’t help it, he then retracts. She’s not really all that human. Hu-man.
“Try,” she repeats.
Mr. Babyface plunged in. “Let’s see, there’s Woody Allen in the middle…”
“Oh for Pete’s sake. That’s not Woody Allen. Let me go ahead and do it. It’s *Woody*, then *Allen*. Raziel — Rael — is standing behind… purple robe. Purple rose. All this is positive, exposed — third eye stuff; fourth wall. Northwest. But *behind* the square building, and it’s a perfectly square building, is what The Bee called the Malefic. That’s me as well. Positive and negative. They’re in everybody that way. You included, Uncle Babyface.”
Why does she call me uncle? he ponders again. He sees a safe avenue. “I like the way that Duncan fellow is wearing the same black outfit as Woody… Woody *and* Allen.”
“Good,” The Kidd emboldens.
“Same reverse numbers,” he observes. “Well, not the same numbers but reversed nonetheless.”
“Nonetheless,” repeats The Kidd. “I would have used notwithstanding there.”
Whatever, Mr. Babyface thinks, getting slightly irritated again. He falls silent for a bit, hoping she’ll pick up the thread now. He knows she’d have trouble seeing the details of the collage. And she can’t get up from her chair, else all of this would cease to exist.
She leans forward. “This building is me and that’s all I can say about it today. Tomorrow may be different. You should explore the small city now. Leave me to my musings. Another visitor awaits this morning. And Greg Ogden is already down at the docks starting another painting of Treasure Hill. They found a diamond there, you know. Olden days. Largest diamond ever discovered on the continent. Peter knows.”
“Who’s Peter?” queries Mr. Babyface.
Karoz thinks while waiting: *I* need a mask.
20 minutes later, he’d switched over to the booths, trying again to figure out what these crazy typing style animations mean. Only one animation per booth, only one *seat* per booth. Bad designing, he thinks. A place just kind of thrown together. Baker Bloch could do much better here. Kidd Tower is a seed.
So involved was he with his animation that Karoz didn’t notice Old Grey slipping in and sitting at the front counter. “Bucket of blood,” she requests to the lone attendant. “And put some nails in it.” Karoz recognizes the voice.
She never received her drink. This wasn’t a bar. But she and Karoz caught up. They sat at the counter together.
“Baker Blinker is in Collagesity helping Baker Bloch with some apartment rentals,” he said to the old woman in disguise.
“How’s your love life,” Old Grey asked straighforwardly.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m suppose to meet someone, Old Grey. Uncle Babyface. Why are *you* here?”
“I live here,” she said. “In this sim. Kidd Tower… I’m The Kidd. Billie. Here, stand back and I’ll show you. The dress could poof out in the transformation and put someone’s eye out.”
“Okay.” He hops off the chair and takes a couple of steps away from the counter accordingly, not understanding that Old Grey was joking.
“I just thought of the hair,” she said after changing. Grey to black. Young Black, hehe.”
“It’s quite appealing,” encouraged Karoz Blogger.
“If you were a boy of 10, would you ask me out for ice cream?”
“You were never 10,” she joked again. “You were born old. Old and green. Old Green.”
“Just because I never had a mother doesn’t mean I wasn’t born.”
“Immaculate,” whispered The Kidd. She turned toward Karoz and looked at him squarely. “Jesus. You’re Jesus.”
But Karoz didn’t know that name and told her so.
The Kidd tested him further. “Do you know Superman? Aquaman?”
“Of course,” replied Karoz.
Karoz whirled around and looked at the poster behind him. “Obviously,” he said while staring at the superhero’s mask again.
“Then you are like the Green Lantern,” cooed The Kidd. She clapped her hands rapidly together and squealed in excitement. “And with a ring!”
Karoz didn’t get a mask that day but he got something else even better — from The Kidd. She just pulled it out of a secret pocket on her babydoll dress. The ring wasn’t exactly legit Green Lantern style but he thought it quite cool anyway and wore it home to Chilbo. Later that night, the town’s giant central tree caught on fire and burned to the ground. It would take weeks to grow another one.
Perspective enlarged, Chuck Cheese finds herself in a strange place again, walking on a spiraling path upwards toward a rocky summit.
“Both of us can’t be women,” uttered Wheeler Wilson at the top. She changed.
“Right you are, Wilson Wheeler,” returned Chuck Cheese. She also changes.
“A pair of suave, swarthy dudes we make, eh?” said Wilson Wheeler.
Earie was thinking about himself: although just as swarthy, not so suave. “I am almost wholly invisible now,” he complains. “I am just an object to be seen right through. You don’t respect me as a person, Improvio. I mean, Pretty Man. I mean: Wilson Wheeler. Whatever.”
“Do you remember?”
“What happened? Yeah. A merger of church and liquor store.” He looks down into the valley to his right.
“We are the Malefic The Kidd spoke about,” continued Wilson. “With sickly, green wings; tucked in the opposite corner of her, um, building. Imprisoned even. Do you feel like you’re in jail? I do.” He indicates his outfit with a gesture. “This suit. The suit of Bowie.”
“Bowie protects you,” counters Earie. “Without Bowie you are nothing here as well. Object.”
“And who are you suppose to be?” he returns sarcastically. “Sid Vicious?”
Earie lays it out as plain as possible. “We are 2/3rds of the punk band Story Room. Banned from Olde Lapara Towne because of the noise, moved to the hidden vilage of Gaston where there was no ban, turned into pretty things there in order to survive, and then confined like flies to its Central Park. Paper.”
“Fly paper, right,” agrees Wilson Wheeler. “We burn to death again every day. Central Park is without dark and always on fire. Core of a volcano.”
“Seed into tree,” Earie continued even more abstractly. He uncrossed his legs. “Atonal punks we are, Wilson Wheeler.”
“Please,” Wilson Wheeler finally countered. “If am that you are The Musician.”
He stops thinking about the spot marked with an “X” in the valley below and turns back toward his counterpart. “Then I am Earie…
… and you are Pretty Man.
But I also get to be Chuck.”
“Get yourself a shoulder pet and we’ll talk later,” compromises the suaver swarthy man sitting opposite him.
Peterstown 02 (Ladd)
Before leaving Middletown yesterday, Karoz briefly stares at the red, blue and yellow newspaper boxes on the very western edge of the city, picking up an eerie resonance.
The next day, Peter Ladd stares at the same boxes with more knowledge.
He then goes over and squarely stands on one of Main Street’s yellow rubber lines, contemplating Treasure Hill just across the bay.
He reaches into his pocket, pulls out the ring, and puts it on.
Turning back toward the Middletown skyline, he vows never to remove himself again.
He is Peter from now on.