Olde Lapara Towne below him lay just beyond his draw distance from this perch. He was admittedly glad of the pause. “What to do with this place?” Baker mumbled to himself. He asked Hucka Doobie to join him here on the High Mountain Road (aka Route 6) for a thinking session. But Hucka im-ed back, saying he was currently tied up helping an old friend prepare for a bar mitzvah over in East Farmington. Shucks. Baker Blinker and Karoz Blogger remained out of communication, having returned to Chilbo just after Mary’s launch into one of the distant corners of space (aka Muff-Bermingham). Wheeler Wilson was part of the current story, so that probably wouldn’t work. Heck, let’s just bring her up here, along with new bestest pal Buster Damm, he then thought. Let’s get them at least to that house just down the hill and see what happens.
Summoned, Wheeler decided on a lark to teleport into the exact center of the Lapara sim to see what was there. A fence barred her from the house Baker Bloch just referenced. She took it as a sign that there would be no meeting between core Baker family members tonight. So on to her and Buster’s continuing adventures…
Having managed to break away from the throng of protesters, thanks to the distraction of a huge popping noise in the southeast part of town (the aforementioned mushroom shaped explosion, quickly sucked in on itself due to the heroic action of All Nancy’s), Wheeler and Buster made their way across the tracks of the SLRR to the town’s northern suburbs. First up on their visiting list…
… was the Lapara TEA house owned by the real Clare Nova, a must see attraction for them.
They walked through a small but beautiful woods to get to the main structure of the compound. As we already knew from her PCH Forest featured in “Collagesity 2017 Early”, the real Clare is a landscape designer of note.
In the center of the woods, Buster became afraid because of what he perceived to be flying fish, perhaps piranhas, but which turned out to be just falling leaves.
Reaching the main gate of the house alone, Wheeler turned around. “Come on Buster! Stop playing in those leaves!”
Leaving Behind 02
“Hmm, some kind of randomly lit alcove wall Buster. Stop playing in the leaves!”
The tea house.
Perhaps an ancient map of Olde Lapara Towne, Wheeler thought.
… the scrapbook again. “Nifty!”
“Buster, get your dead ass in here!!”
That same day, Wheeler and Buster also visited the Moai Shinto shrine next door to the tea house, complete with its own station along the SLRR. Wheeler didn’t understand what was going on inside, however. Easter Island head? What’s that got to do with Japanese culture? The fronting terra-cotta warrior statue was no good for information.
I tried to help her out by googling “Moai Shinto”, but only came up with links about this same virtual temple. I narrowed the search down to Shinto, and understood now, through the associated wikipedia article, this is, “the ethnic religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.” It is actually the largest religion of Japan, practiced by 80 percent of its population according to the article. I’d just forgotten this well known fact, and Wheeler through me. But what of the Easter Island head? I didn’t find a direct connection, but turns out that the word “moai” means statue.
The hypersensitive Buster, already rattled by leaf spectres, fainted upon seeing the incongruous giant yellow head. Poor Buster.
Leaving the sim…
They had now reached the High Mountain Road where Baker Bloch sat the night before. Of course, Baker had long left the scene. He could be summoned, but Wheeler and Buster didn’t see the point. They seemingly faced another choice: to go back down to Olde Lapara Towne and deal with the changes (the carnival had left town for one thing) or move upwards more into the high hills of northern Lapara to theoretically meet this Little Tonshi Ashokan spirit who dwelt there.
And boy was the latter quite a climb. 200 meters basically straight up between a waterfall and thick forest (!).
Feeling his little legs ache already and thinking about what lived inside the nearby tunnel, Buster offered a 3rd alternative.
falling for someone
“What did you do to my friend?” demanded Buster to Little Tonshi Ashokan.
She laughs, but not in a good way. “I turned her into what she really is. A clown. She will always be clowned. That’s how it is.”
They watched her continuously sway back and forth for a while, then Buster said: “What do I do with her?”
“Up to you.”
Another pause. “We were going to Ratcliff.”
“I know now. Nasty place. *Your* kind of place. What do we do with *you*?” She hesitated, then added: “… murderer.”
“Long time in the past,” Buster excused himself. “Been abiding by the ‘Book of Blood’ since then.”
“You killed me. You killed *me*.”
Buster remained unrattled. “What happened to your fangs? Did you have them removed?”
“I’ve been living here a long time,” spoke Little Tonshi. “I have my great view, my own Table, even.”
“Are you going to change her back?” queried Buster Damm, talking about Wheeler on the couch between them.
“Not while she’s around me. David Bowie, David Bowie,” she said disgustedly. “*I’m* David Bowie. At least as much as her.”
“I must admit it’s a great view here,” he said. “What’s the movie tonight, hehe? Bowie, I assume.”
“Yes,” replied Little Tonshi. “The early years. The first 3 albums. Up to and including ‘Hunky Dory’.”
“Your masterpiece according to some.”
“‘Life on Mars’ was a surprise,” admitted the purple girl. “A shock, even. I realized I was extraterrestrial by then.”
Buster looked at one and then the other. “Someone will have to go,” he said. “There can’t be 2 David Bowies in this story.”
“Again I’ll leave it up to you. I can return Wheeler at any time. You can head to Ratcliff, then. Leave me back here up on my high mountain, the highest in Second Life.”
“Says some,” added Buster.
“Yes. Shush now. The show is starting.”
“Where’s your wife, David Bowie? I mean, Little Tonshi.”
Little Tonshi then pitched the proposition. “Give me Wheeler (for that). And I’ll give you a whole ‘nother Second Life, Buster. A better one. Like Grand Theft Auto, except 1700 times more choice.”
“Umm… I don’t understand.”
Little Tonshi turned into just Tonshi. Bettie. “The airport on top of the hill. It’s not an airport, of course. It’s a recording studio. There I made ‘Heathen,’ my best later work. Many subterranean passages exist within. In one I’m myself and a shadow of myself.”
“Still not getting it…”
“You deserved better than this Buster. I have many friends that are aiding me. Levi Clownski said he would personally pay for your ticket outta here. He doesn’t want you around.”
“I said I’m sorry (about the killing). Many many years ago. Many times in many years.”
“This is not about that. I’ve learned to accept my fate obviously. We are not enemies. It’s just you don’t belong here.”
“Of course I do.”
It was simply going to be too expensive for Wheeler and Buster to live in Ratcliff. $L600 a week for a store and an apartment (!). And they weren’t even going to use the store part of the equation.
But wait… the store property directly across the street is only $L200 per week. Hmmm.
They talk at the neighboring Corner Pocket after a tension releasing game of pool. Buster sank the 8 ball to win. Wheeler proclaims she is sleepy and lays her head on the bar table. Buster ponders options.
“This doesn’t feel right Wheeler. We have no business to promote here. I’m not sure a residential status by itself qualifies for town citizenship. And you always seem drained and unhappy.”
“Something about the place, yeah,” Wheeler admits, yawning. “Thank you again for not selling me out to that Tonshi person up in Lapara. I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s wife.”
“Nor will you have to,” reassures Buster. “But we do need a place to exist. Why not Collagesity?”
“I’m not ready to go back. There’s too much else in the world to explore. Time is short.”
“I agree. VHC City?” he then offers. “Let’s go see the PCH Woods anyway. An old haunt (for me).”
“Alright. Can I change costumes first?”
“We could stay in the witch house over there,” states Buster, laying in a familiar, old tree.
“No, I’m not doing that. No more dueling witches. Oz is dead.”
“Oz *is* dead,” agrees Buster. “The forest here is history. And… VHC City? Obviously I can’t go as I am now. I’d have to be in disguise.”
“It would just be too hard for you Buster.”
He sighs. “You’re right. It’s not like the old days when the Novas — Clare, Summerhill, Golden Bee-ing, even Orange — cooperated with each other. Clare was so good to hide me here in these woods when I got in trouble in Olde Lapara Towne. Then she used her sibling ring to get me set up in VHC City. But all that’s over. No… but we’re running out of options.”
They looked at each other. The obvious option remained: return to OLT.
Bendy’s door stood wide open. “Bendy?” they called. No answer. “Let’s try the hotel,” suggested Buster.
“Peter! You’re still here.”
“Not… for long,” he exclaims. “Bendy… left town. With Prissy!”
They talked Peter SoSo into staying a while longer, saying that working on the town trains would keep his mind off his problems. Tronesisia was happy. She didn’t want to be alone again. Positioned in their accustomed places at the raised park, Peter’s thoughts become more interesting to her by the day. Lily created him to be singer-composer Peter Gabriel, she thought to herself, but he turned out differently. He’s beginning to understand that Prissy is perhaps more a sister than a wife — the whole Luke Skywalker-Princess Leila-Star Wars thing again. He feels he didn’t live up to his mother’s hopes, even though the entrance into his own grave secured the sphereing of The Moon’s cube. Second Life’s *Moon* of The Moon, actually. Most curious. And these places don’t seem to exist any longer. They are refugees: Peter, Bendy, Prissy. Drawn here by All Nancy’s who doesn’t seem to be around either. Sacrifice.
Tronesisia is also curiously not that upset about Bendy’s departure with Prissy, unlike Peter. She knows more than him. Something has cleared in her mind. The Muff-Bermingham split is about over.
“I don’t quite get all these references to clowns, Buster. Could this be a Clare Nova influence on the town? Clown town?”
“Here it is, Wheeler,” said Buster beside her, not really listening. “The stairs I took up to my death spot. But now Peter says there are two such structures (in town).”
“Well, let’s go look around. Anyone coming in has to land there. Why did they do that? Some things here puzzle me. Puzzle me greatly.”
“My guess is that there are two forces in Olde Lapara, one for each involved sim. The town is split, in effect. Male and female. Black and white.
Good and bad. Old and new. The town needs to heal itself in order to go forwards. It’s the same with every one of us.”
“Quite the philosopher you are, Buster. I guess that goes along with you being 10,000 years old or something.”
“Yes. I’ve seen a lot. Do you know how hard it is to kill a vampire?” He answers himself. “*Really* hard. If they don’t want to be killed. And I’m simply a coward. I enjoy life in death.”
“Jesus could give you that,” offers Wheeler. “So says the protesters. Where’d they go anyway?”
“So many questions, but we must start at the beginning. And the end.” They walk up the stairs.
“We could just wait here long enough and meet up with everyone that regularly comes through the place,” says Wheeler, staring inside. “Manifestation spot. What does it mean?”
“Stop asking that. Meaning meaning meaning. Maybe it just is what it is. A work in progress. Continual progress.”
“Let’s go see the other one. This one’s empty to me.”
Buster took a closer look.
“You don’t understand, Wheeler Wilson. I couldn’t even look out to see who was continually shooting me. 47 times. They thought I was already a vampire. But I wasn’t. At the time.”
“Who turned you?” queried Wheeler (yet again). “I mean, to become a vampire someone has to kill you — drain you of blood, right?”
Synchronicity. Just then, Bettie manifested in the south side of town using Rocky’s Unique Mushroom Portal, as she called it — RUMP, for short. That was part of the deal. Rocky would possess the small house, but Bettie and her alts like Little Tonshi Ashokan could use it as a shortcut when they wished to come down the mountain for a visit. Which was turning out to be often, much to Rocky’s irritation. He was attempting to jumpstart his second novel. Current working title: “Two to Know.”
On August 8th, 1926, cubic Arnold and Betsy Layne had just arrived in town, demanding a room in the already booked up Grand Lapara Hotel…
Rocky took the sheet out of the typewriter, wadded it up and threw it toward the wastebasket in the corner. “No, that won’t do,” he sighed.
“Do you want to do it or should I?”
“I’ll go. You go get some rest for tomorrow when we explore the other end.”
“I said *I’d* go.”
Peter graciously offers to conduct a cable train down to the duplicate jailhouse for curious Wheeler and Buster. They begin at a raised platform on the east side of town.
Small downpours delay the train for just a minute.
Unexpected twists and turns fill the journey.
Passing through the heart of town.
Wheeler and Buster become more excited as the train then heads southward through a tunnel.
An underground station stop. Peter checks out a strange noise in the back while Buster hides his eyes in fear. No problem however: just a stuck branch from a tree dragging the tracks.
Entering an inexplicable black void. “Are we dead?” Buster utters. Wheeler pats his head for comfort.
Emerging in a different place.
Another brief rain…
… then a final turn to reach End of the Line and the duplicate jailhouse.
The gang stares on, accompanied by an indifferent reindeer.
up the falls
The structure was indeed a duplicate of the jailhouse in town proper. But it was likewise empty, much to the disappointment of Buster.
His attention was then drawn to a jagged incline outside, dotted with those queer, two-dimensional orange trees. “What’s up there?” he asked Peter, who replied he didn’t know. “Wait here with Wheeler,” Buster commanded, steeling his nerves for a new challenge. “We need your conducting powers to get back.”
Buster returned to the others, saying he’d found an alternate way out of the underground beneath the SLRR and that they didn’t have to go through that God awful void again.
My friend and current fellow Olde Lapara Towne resident Veyot has made a nifty short film about the thrills and perils of its transport system.
Veyot has created a number of other recent posts on her tumblr site concerning Levi Clownski’s wonderful mainland city. Check here — some will feature familiar settings and characters to my blog readers!
“Well,” determined Little Tonshi Ashokan while staring up at the bottom of the Lapara Airport from her waterfall hammock. “If I can’t have a wife right now I’ll at least try to make some friends.”
She hops off the hammock and begins strolling the Crooked Pine Walkway toward Calypso Rock where the terminal teleport is stashed, right beside her *still* unfinished house. She thinks again how horribly lazy she is, never completing anything of note. The airport certainly remains a mess. She “borrows” her other, much larger abode from neighbor Simple Wunderlich when needed. And the “Bible Truth” play has now been put on hold thanks to that inbred town council bending to the wishes of those stupid protesters from the southeast sector (R). She may never act the role of Bettie. Back to being just plain old Little Tonshi, the nutjob from the hills, the vampire with no fangs.
“But Calypso Rock is so sacred,” she counters herself while approaching. “This is where I created Nancy, my greatest, perhaps my *only* accomplishment. And maybe that’s all I need.” She steps inside.
“Hi Tonshi! Glad you’re back. Just straightening up the place a bit.”
“Hi Nancy. Want to head down into town with me?”
“Rehearsals were already suppose to start, Nancy. We were gonna be stars. That globe would obviously hafta go.”
“I guess we’ll just have to be each other’s star, then.”
“My thoughts exactly. Let’s go get some cake.”
“It’s a very patriotic town, Bettie. But what is this Us of A?”
“It’s a place our user might want to get away from soon. War is brewing. Two little bitty people commanding militaries with their tiny gestures. We’re safe down here. As long as the infrastructure remains.”
She glared over at him again, he with his own piece of delicious cake. It was a small town. Not a lot of restaurants to choose from, for example. They’d keep running into each other. One day they might be friends. But not today. Too much real world mirroring.
going world? 02
“Rocky is playing a wonderful tune tonight. Cage, you say?”
“Yes. John,” answers Bettie. “‘Suite for Toy Piano.’ Debuted 1948 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Not far from our user’s home. Very close, say, if it were 5, 6, 7 years down the road. If users are even around. We may be on our own by then. Us down here, alone with our actions, our consequences. Might be nice, Nancy. Just us, this town, its inhabitants. The Atoll Continent as a whole. Sansara can go to hell.”
Nancy frowns. “I don’t know. I like the old continent. We should go visit the climbable beanstalk (in Welsh) sometime.” Rocky’s piano tinkling ends and he gets up.
“Babble,” replied Bettie. Then: “Shush. The rant part of Rocky’s performance piece is starting. Let’s dance while he speaks.”
Each one of us must now look to himself. That which formerly held us together and gave meaning to our occupations was our belief in God. When we transferred this belief first to heroes, then to things, we began to walk our separate paths. That island that we have grown to think no longer exists to which we might have retreated to escape from the impact of the world, lies, as it ever did, within each one of our hearts. Towards that final tranquility, which today we so desperately need, any integrating occupation–music and writing are two of them, rightly used–can serve as a guide.
“Peters found this on the interwebs yesterday and passed it up to us, Tronesisia. We thought you’d like to know about the missing post, er piece.”
“I had a dream about Lambs.”