“Mother, I don’t know where I am. I’m scared. Oh, gotta get off the line. Someone’s coming in.”
“And… CUT! That was great Chloe! We’ll definitely keep you in mind! Good job!”
Next, Eraserhead Man, we have Jill MacGill all the way from Bennington South,” introduces the casting manager. “Her credentials are ‘Pull the String’, ‘Willoby Point’, and ‘Tarzan the Super Man’ — you may remember John Willoby was also the producer of that one.”
“My brother-in-law, yeah! EX Brother-in-Law! Well, Ms. MacGill, let’s get right to it!”
“MOTHER! I… I don’t know WHERE I am! And I’m scared, real scared. Really REALLY scared. Oh I’ve got to get off the line now, sorry. Someone’s coming in…
I’ll call you later.” Doris Drone quietly hangs up, and turns to face the only other person in the diner.
“What do you think, Sandy!?”
“I think we’ve found our Doris is what I think,” the actor playing Herbert Dune in the production says while arching his visible eyebrow considerably higher than normal. I even believe he begins to salivate a bit.
“Remember, your motivation is that you found your Urbane Blue, your dream place! And your dream girl matches your dream place 1:1! Cool, huh!?”
“Right. I’ve got it Mr. Director. Believe you me I’ve got it.” He arches his spiraling eyebrow even higher.
Urbane Blue Phillip Jeffries
“Urbane Blue by Phillip Jeffries, Baker Bloch, er, Pitch Darkly.”
“I see it. I see it very clearly. Laggy in here tonight. Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” replies Bill/Wheeler plainly. “Do you have to go back to Darkly Manor to prepare food in the next couple of minutes? Do you have a moment — 15 minutes, say — for a chat Mr. Mary?”
“But the pattern — it’s the Black Lodge floor again, even.
And this is *not* the origin of the name Urbane Blue.”
“Bracket’s playing Sandy Beech, eh?” Pitch says, half to himself. “Good for him. Found a way to work him into the story. But *you*…” He turns.
Bill/Wheeler shrugs. “I was all set to play Doris Drone as Jill MacGill but then Chloe Price just showed up. Now it’s up in the air. Who do *you* think won the role, Pitch Darkly? I assumed Jill won it, the second actress in that last post. But maybe she overdid it. Maybe Chloe won with her more soft spoken mannerisms.”
“I assumed the opposite. Chloe instead of Jill.”
“Sandy Beech obviously knows who won the part. Maybe we should check back with him tonight. Is Bracket available?”
“Blue roses at the entrance. Blue policeman — hi Derek.”
“Hello Mr. Beech. Nice evening isn’t it?”
“You gonna explore Smithy’s House?” asked the beat cop. “Not finished yet, though. Don’t even know who’s going to play Smithy, I don’t believe.”
“No I don’t think so.” Sandy then thinks: And that’s not the only role still up in the air.
Who’s Mary? Sandy Beech ponders while trying unsuccessfully to sit on the only provided furniture of the house.
“Oh, that reminds me,” Pitch exclaims, suddenly popping up out of the suave chair. “I’ve got to get home to Mary!”
“Suit yourself. But at least we know,” Bill called to his receding figure.
He decided to confront Eraserhead Man when the latter seemed almost passed out from his 4th 4 shot latte of the evening. EM had been wrangling, wrangling, wrangling with the roles of both Smithy and Doris Drone, going back and forth on each one with the different, involved actors. At this very moment, the famed director was even casting about in his mind recasting someone else as Hebert Dune besides Sandy Beech to better fit the mood. Not the best timing for an approach by his antsy production star, then.
“Is that the latest version?” the towering Sandy questioned about the rust colored book on the table. He had a weird notion just to snatch it and run off right here and now. The director didn’t answer immediately, didn’t even look up to acknowledge his presence. *Meditation*, Sandy then realized. EM was in really deep with this one. To startle him might even induce some kind of heart malfunction, he further contemplated. Best to walk away, his better senses commanded. Confront EM another time. But: no. His worse senses shoved their way to the fore again, fortified by insecurity, greed, envy. He slammed his hand down *hard* on the book he knew was the production script.
Eraserhead Man came out of it by shouting “ice cream anyone!!” at the top of his lungs, then slowly, gradually managed to free himself from the self induced trance. He looked around, blinked his eyes. He looked up at Sandy. “Sandy! I was just thinking about you! What a surreptitious interruption of my nirvana state. *You’re* *fired*!!”
Eraserhead Man stared at him blankly, watching Sandy Beech squirm like a fish in front of him. “I’m just kidding!” he then uttered after a pretty long interval. “Sit down!” Eraserhead Man then realized there was not another seat at this table. “Oh, let’s just move to the porch. Give me a bit to further compose myself! You go ahead! Any seat will do! Just give me a moment please!”
A shaken, humbled Sandy Beech dutifully took a seat on the porch behind EM and waited on him, but after about 15 minutes the director simply got up out of his chair and walked in the direction of his bungalow down the street, not turning around. The next day he acted like the event never happened; work relationship back to normal. And maybe, Sandy pondered then, it never did. He was a little high on those wacko pills Laverne Glam had sold him, after all. He remembered Eraserhead Man even glowing a bit in hindsight. *Never* do drugs around EM again, he told himself. Ever.
But: Lavern Glam? How did *she* get here?
Wait. I think it was Franklin Bowers who sold him the pills. Yes. Lives in the zircon encrusted RV out on self named Bowers Beach just outside Urbane Blue. We might visit him next. Not for pills, but just for another shoot.
“Frank Bowers!!” Eraserhead Man shouts upon waking up in the middle of the night.
“Now you can all relax tonight and not jump out of your seats every time I call out your name. Because I FOUND my HEARING AID! And that’s the last time I’m going to yell, end of story! I mean, end of story. Let’s begin.”
Eraserhead Man at the head of the table pauses to collect his thoughts on the as yet unnamed production. “First, I’m so so glad we were able to gather here today without *much* ado. As you can see from the person sitting directly opposite you on the table, I haven’t got rid of *anyone*. Truth is, you *all* won your parts. And I’d like to introduce to you Desert Knobb across from our beloved Sandy Beech and to my left. Sandy is, of course, seated to my right.” Eraserhead Man indicates these directions with his stubby yellow hands. “Desert will not only play Sandy’s *understudy*, but also his *doppleganger*. Because, you see, I’ve decided this production should be about doubles through and through. It came to me in a dream last night. The dreamer lives inside the dream, but who is the dreamer?”
Mindless mumbo jumbo, Sandy Beech was thinking by his side while glaring at newly arrived Desert Knobb across the table. “And where’s *your* double, EM?” he piped up. Yeah, he had popped a few pills before the meeting — just to steel his nerves.
“Good question, Sandy. Can you hear me in the back there you waskly wabbits!” Eraserhead smiles as Rabbit 01, Rabbit 02, Rabbit 03 all nod their heads. I’ll get to you wackos in a minute. But next we must talk about the *ladies*, Chloe and Jill.” At that moment Chloe Price was playing with her short, blue hair, seeming not to pay attention. But that was just part of her shtick. Jill MacGill, like Sandy for his own counterpart, was just glaring at her, loathing her every petty move. *I* should have won this role through and through. I *nailed* that phone call. ‘Ohh, ahem, eheh,’ she mimicked, to her, Chloe’s frivolous attempts at playing coy in her mind. If you asked her, Eraserhead Man needed to make a new plan, find a new key to this whole production business. She decided to speak up as well (sidenote: wouldn’t Sandy and Jill make a *fabulous* couple. But I jump ahead of myself…): “And *what* is the production’s name, EM? *And*… you haven’t answered Sandy’s question about *your* doppleganger, I’ll tack on.”
Eraserhead Man laughs out loud. “That’s what I love about you, Jill MacGill from Farmington West. *Spunk*. You got it in spades, you and Sandy both.” That’s when it occurred to EM as well that the two would make a swell couple. He decides then and there to work that potential love interest into the script somewhere. Maybe the other two of the doppleganger pairing — Desert and Chloe — *hate* each other in contrast, hmm. EM had trouble shutting his mind off of possibilites. “But we must move on. I assume everyone knows Frank, now. Franklin Bowers.” He indicates the nearest and also darkest and tallest rabbit of the 3 at the meeting. “He’s going to play a man– er, a bunny man with that exact same name, although he’s always just addressed by his first name. Do you have any questions about what’s going on Franklin? OH, and beside him obviously is the lovely Rabbit 02, whom we’ll call Patsy in the production.” EM stops here. “Nah, let’s go with Peggy instead. Peggy,” he repeats. “Change that in all the scripts, Mary. Mary?” He looks around but Mary was nowhere to be found.
Poor soul, Franklin Bowers thinks sympathetically. Never can remember his wife is actually dead. Going on 5 years now. All we have left are her portraits. Her many many portraits.
(to be continued)
production meeting 02
“Now about *Yip Yip* here, I haven’t decide. Could be mayor of this fine burg, could be a school principal or a teacher or a fireman. I haven’t decided,” he reinforced. “But doesn’t he *look* the part — whatever that is.” Eraserhead Man takes a good gander at the table’s voluminous blue being. “Beautiful,” he ends. “Just so beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Yip Yip returns in a gruff tone.
“And I’d also like to thank Monster Cookie for trying out for the role too. Right now, well, right now he’s crying his eyes out in the other room, because I just made that decision prior to the meeting. When he collects himself, he’ll come in and make his introductions, I’m sure. Before he departs. Any other questions?”
“Just the ones we’ve already asked,” sardonically reiterates Sandy Beech to his right.
“Right.” EM sidetracks again. “So we’re ready for everyone to take Dr. Baumbeer’s psychological test. This is just to prepare you for the new relationships, the doubles and all, as well as the *cross* relationships between doubled pairs. So everyone just line up behind the good doctor and take a stab at *his* questions.”
EM takes his leave while everyone gets up and shuffles toward the smaller, white rabbit at the back of the room — our Rabbit 03 or Rabbid or, now, Dr. Baumbeer of course. Still toying with people’s minds. The men let the ladies go first. “After you, Chloe,” spoke Sandy politely. “You go first, Jill,” offered Desert. Jill and Chloe then just stare at each other, a Mexican showdown and one of many to come.
“Alphabetical,” inserts a compromising Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer. “Chloe before Jill, then Desert before Sandy. Then the parent rabbits, 01 and 02. Then… whatever you are.” He points to Yip Yip. “Let us commence. Fair Chloe, please take a seat.”
“Just tell me what you see in the black and white pattern. Do you see yourself in there yet? Because you are. Everyone is.”
“I’m, ohh ahem eheh… *trying*.”
(to be continued)
production meeting 03
“I’m just feeling so — *blue*.”
“I know, Monster. I know…”
“I’m telling you Baker Bloch. It’s a battle between black and white. Lodges. I *need* a gun.” Heidi pointed her loaded weapon at Baker’s brimmed hat, oh so tempted to shoot it off just to reinforce her message. Instead: “Change over into the other director. I want to speak with my doppleganger on this.”
“You’ve changed, Penn Mann, er, Heidi. You know you have.” His voice was strong and nasal.
“I’ll admit it. I’m still here to bargain.”
“I’ve seen this version of you before. You’re a magician… *musician*. That’s it. I’ve heard about you. You use to hang out with that scallywag…”
“Okay, getting down to the brass tacks it is. I want the inn for starters. Horne. I’m going to bring back the Ice Cream Boys.”
Heidi/Musician turned around in his seat and looked at the large structure representing the inn, then turned back to Eraserhead Man. “Done.”
“And the blue coffee shop behind me. The one with the golden hands that serves such excellent expresso. I need coffee to make my brain function well for the shoots. *Tangents* we must go on… explore. Plus,” — and here Eraserhead Man turned in turn, then turned back — “it’s a portal.”
Heidi/Musician looked straight ahead at the blue structure framing Eraserhead Man’s eraser topped head at the time. “I think that’s a given. Anything else?”
“The Orangerie,” Eraserhead spoke plainly and without hesitation. He knew this could be the sticking point, but had already made up his mind about the terms. This was make or break.”
Heidi/Musician expelled some air. “I have my people pushing me in a different direction, Pencil. Expand beyond Wallytown and the spaceship, they’re saying in my ear. Give Heidi a larger role… expose her to the limelight more. Feature Dr. Ice Cream more.”
“That’s what *I’m* trying to do. Feature Ice Cream more. Icy, delicious ice cream, mmmmm.” Eraserhead Man rubs his lead painted belly here for emphasis. He licks his wooden lips. He keeps licking his lips, staring at the doppleganger director opposite him. Slower and slower…
“Alright, okay, just stop doing that. I’ll give you your Ice Cream Boys. I’ll give you the Orangerie.” Heidi/Musician held steady the weapon he had pointed at his doppleganger beneath the table. “But I still keep the orange. *The* orange.” His finger was poised on the trigger. “I need both the apples and the orange.”
“Deal,” Eraserhead Man quickly agreed, then spit in his hand and extended it across the table. The gun was lowered. Both got all that they expected and desired today.
Dive In Theater
Franklin “Frank” Bowers sits and stares at the river while contemplating his sorry state of affairs.
Across the river, Herbert “The Brow” Dune plans out dollhouses for the rich and privileged. He’s a professional doll peddler. We’ll see where that goes…
Patsy Peggy Jennifer remains lukewarm about being on her on. She’s been separated from Frank for 2 years now, but still lives next door. Why is this so?
Cookie, a big blue yip yip, commands a small steampunk airship currently moored at the Treestone Tower House towering above them.
Blue haired Doris “Diver” Drane goes snorkeling in the river at the center of it all.
Mornings here are the best, Doris. Funny how your name is Doris too. And almost the same last name as well. Drone instead of Drane, though. Thank God. Else it’d be spooky!”
“Spooky enough,” claims the red haired, anime style Doris sitting opposite her. “But call me Gwin. That was my given name over at the Ruby Democratic Empire set.”
“So glad you got disengaged from that Tin Tin. He sounds terrible. Eating with his mouth open and all. And that nose!”
“Awful indeed,” reinforced
Doris Gwin. But now I’m here. With you. I decided I like women more than men. Reality goes where desire leads it.” They touched hands across the table, with no spitting involved this time.
“Haven’t you guys finished that chess game yet?” clanks Sally the Sparkonaut after washing the breakfast pots and pans inside their cozy riverside cottage. “Why don’t you take a break and play checkers upstairs instead?” She winks at her niece Gwin with a bulbous blue eye. “If you know what I mean. Check her… checkhers. Get it?”
“Creepy, Aunt Sally. Why are you so… open and free about our burgeoning lesbian relationship? I mean, I thought you were a rampaging whore over at Wallytown before your mechanical transmutation.”
“Indeed I liked men in more ways than I can count. And I am a powerful caculating machine. But love is love to me. Be free and open with it. Last reincarnational existence I was a nun in 19th Century France and hated every minute of the experience. Lesbian relationships at the nunnery were common, and even encouraged if you were sly about it. The monks turned their back on us — they were having their own fun with their own fair sex. That’s how things went but it wasn’t open to the outside. To them we were married to God and God alone. But God works in mysterious ways, as they say. And in my opinion God loves men and women to have sex. Any type of sex: concave on concave, convex on convex, concave/convex… you name it. And domination… there’s a percentage of people that like it… be open to that too. But in the right way.”
“You are wise, Aunt Sally. The people that built the dam over there on the river we can see from our breakfast table also did a super job on your transmutation.”
“It was too rampant,” repeated Sally. “Something had to be done about desire for certain.” Her antennas sparked again. “I suppose.”
“Gwin, maybe we can get some ideas of where to go from here through this public domain movie. What do you think so far?”
“I identify with the heroine, this Carolyn woman. Her relationship with Martin reminds me of my time with Tin Tin. All the irritating habits the Alexis psychic dude from the beach somehow knows about him, but still advises her to settle down with him and get married. What was the quote?”
Doris gave this: “‘Even a free spirit eventually has to come inside, put on her shoes, and start going to dinner parties.'” Embarrassed about her eidetic memory again, she then added: “I think.” But Doris knew it was the correct quote. It always was.
“That’s not me, though,” offered Gwin. “Now — I’ve got you babe.” She starts singing the appropriate Sonny and Cher song while getting up and improvising a dance, beckoning Doris Drane to join her. Why not, she thought.
Benny Horne continues to watch the pair from behind a nearby truck.
for an orange
“We should get back to the hotel, Benny. I need some ice cream. I checked. That truck behind me back there at the drive-in theater…”
“*Dive*-in theater,” Jer’s brother corrected.
“Yeah. Like I said. Dive-in theater — anyways, the truck is completely empty. And the fridge in our apartment here is empty. And the fridge over at Audrey’s next door. And the…”
“Yes, yes, I know,” spoke Jer’s brother. “We have no ice cream. We have no bananas. Those girls *took* it all.”
“I’m not sure I get all the fruit references, EM. Apples, oranges, bananas.”
“Orange,” amended Eraserhead Man, sitting in the opposite golden hand from the actor playing Jer Horne (Ted Sprinkles). “Important to leave out a letter.”
“Right. Like I said.”
“My time in the hot seat, um, hand, eh?” He adjusted his weight in the awkward sitting spot. “Kind of hard don’t you think?”
“Listen, Jed — ‘Benny’. You and Jer are the Ice Cream brothers through and through. You’re not just a nice guy, for example. You’re a *sweet* guy. And your brother has an *icy* stare. And your hotel has pillows as soft as whipped cream. And so on.”
“Great. That’s great — I get it. Back to the fruit.”
“We’re going to have to let someone show a little skin, Jill. Nothing higher than the navel, nothing lower. Just the midriff.”
“Check my contract, EM. *No* nudity.”
“It’s not nudity,” implored the lauded director. “It’s just… never mind. Send in Chloe. I know she’ll do it. For a price.”
“50,000 lindens. Take it or leave it.”
“Thank you Yip Yip! We’ll be speaking later on these matters!”
“You’re welcome!” gruffed the large, blue creature while shuffling his way out of the same colored coffee shop.
“So… that leaves just you and me, Sandy. ” Eraserhead Man counts the characters off on his yellow hand. “Jer Horne, Benny Horne, Gwin, Doris Drane, Blue Yip Yip… oh, the *rabbits* (!). He shakes his eraser topped head, breathes out heavily. “Oh well, I’ll talk to them individually later. Frank Bowers and Jenny have some large issues going down, Sandy. And Commander Yip Yip — Cookie — is right smack in the middle of it all.”
Suavely dressed Sandy Beech just stared at his director, letting him unwind his ideas as he’s wont to do. He’s *trying* to be patient. It *is* an important role in his career, perhaps a defining one. He decides to simply nod instead of speak at EM’s implied prompt for a response. Auteurs needs affirmation. Over and over. He’ll give him this right now and nothing more. After nodding, he settles back in his golden seat.
EM leans forward at the same time, reaches over and pats Sandy’s nearest foot to further get his attention. “But *you*. I wanted to keep this just to ourselves, Sandy, so that’s why we’re here. Inside. “I consider *your* role in this production the most important. Sure, sure, Chloe’s has elevated as well, and she’s certainly the principle female protagonist what with this new payoff I’m giving her. Which means she’s the love interest you’ve been wondering about, Sandy. Chloe’s the one.”
Sandy sits back up, interested now. “You mean All Blue?”
“No Sandy, I want to stop you right there. That’s a mythological term borrowed from your source character. Hmm…” EM snaps his stubby yellow fingers, trying to get the name. “Sanji,” he comes up with. “Yeah. But your character is different. Just like Frank *borrows* from both Frank of ‘Donnie Darko’ — love that film, by the way — and also Frank Bowers of the ‘Life is Strange’ production. Another great work, especially using certain edits. That series gave me the idea for multiple plot lines diverging off from each other.” EM here raises his hands in front of him and spreads his fingers out.
“What, then?” Sandy Beech was both excited and irritated at once.
“Get this, Sandy. Not All Blue. All *Orange*. It’s something you saw as a child. Now pay attention here. It wasn’t your mother — that would be too inappropriate — not your aunt, *maybe* a cousin or maybe just someone who lives on your street. But you saw a person, a *woman*, turn into a doll while a kid. And then you saw the container where they put her after the transmutation — like we had Sally transmuted from an ordinary woman in the shoot several days back.
“I remember,” offered Sandy, trying to resist the impulse to tap his fingers impatiently against the arm of his golden chair. He stared as graciously as possible once more.
“But the container,” continued EM, “had only one opening, a round one. And through that opening you saw a navel, a belly button, framed as perfectly as possible within it. Like an orange with a navel. And that started your life long search for All Orange, the whole shebang. And along with that, the obsession with cooking with oranges — souffles, cakes, pies, you name it. And, of course, the, er, doll peddling.” He paused — another response was needed, Sandy sensed.
“And this — doll — is Chloe. Doris Drane I mean.”
“Right you are. And I’m $50,000 lindens poorer because of it. We just have to think of the setting, the lighting and so on. But that’s the pivotal vision I had. A navel in a round opening. An orange.”
I wonder what Chloe thinks about all this, Sandy then ponders. I’ll have to ask her the first chance I get. Maybe an, ahem, accidental rendezvous is needed tonight, hehe.
“Ah yes, I see them now. Fish. Hence Fish Dam.”
“Salmon, to be more specific. Heading 15 meters up to Fish Lake — also known as Lake Three — to reproduce at or near the very place they themselves were spawned. Says here this is due to olfactory memory. I think that means they can smell their way back to their original home.”
Doris Drane looked down at Gwin. “You shouldn’t have stolen that book about the island from that library.”
“The About Land description read: Feel free to roam about the grounds and explore,” countered her red haired companion sprawled out on the green ground beside her. “Didn’t say anything about not taking anything or leaving everything as is. It just said to go wherever you want, do what you want. I could have exposed my midriff to the world if I’d chosen. But I didn’t.”
“Yeah. Your choice.” The actresses playing Doris Drane and Gwin were improvising beyond the shooting script now. Behind the cameras, Eraserhead Man couldn’t help but smile.
“We have to take it back,” implored Doris Drane, back on script. “We have to go back to the library.”
“Good,” states the defiant Gwin. Maybe I’ll steal a couple *more* books while we’re there. There’s a big blue one about this place called Wallytown I’d like to have in my possession. Maybe I’ll take that one. That might be enough.”
“Just stop it, Gwin. And stop bending back the spine on that red one. It could be rare — we may have to pay!”
“50,000 lindens do you think?” EM smiles again. Keep going you Jill MacGill, he thinks. Just keep on keeping on.
“What does it say in your little red book about me? About us?”
“Let’s see,” improvised Jill MacGill through Gwin again. “‘The Story of Doris and Gwin’. Sorry: ‘Gwin and Doris.’ Says here we’ll be married in 2 years. Will stay with Aunt Sally until the crops are harvested. Then we’ll be free to live out our days wherever we choose. But, again, says here: Wallytown. That’s why I need the book. To learn all about our future home.”
“All right, all right,” cedes Doris Drane across from her. “We’ll go back to the library and get the other book. The big blue one.”
Gwin rushes over and kisses Doris full on the lips, then sits beside her, holding her hand. Yeah, this is some *real* acting, both actresses think (hint: they despise each other).
“Smells weird in here. Old book smell, I suppose.”
“Shhh. I’m trying to read.”
“I thought you were just going to steal that book. Not read the entire thing while we’re here.”
“I’m reading up on the part about the wall. The Green Monster. So… shhh.”
Doris Drane kept quiet for a bit, then started again.
“Never heard of a tree eating wall,” Doris rehashed some of what Gwin was saying before. “Glin or Glinda, Gliph or Glyph — with an i and a y. Why do these cypress trees always come as, um, twinned pairs of the opposite sex that don’t, er, don’t know anything about the other half?”
“It’s only one tree,” corrected Gwin. “It can appear at different times in different places and think it is the same. Like I could sit over here and talk, and then we could switch chairs and I could talk over there. But to the tree, it’s as if the switch never happened. They’re always where they are.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Doris noisily scooted back her uncomfortable wooden chair and stood up. “I’ll be freely roaming the grounds if you need me. I’ll check back in about, say, 30 minutes?”
Gwin is absorbed in what she’s currently reading (trees have 2 souls!) and doesn’t respond. But then improvises: “Watch your navel!”
God I hate that woman, Chloe Price thinks. And EM is letting her get away with all this!
I wonder who’s actually sacrificed here? Doris ponders, laying in the center of an elevated stone circle. Trees? Fish? Fish people? Her mind is running wild.
Huh (mysterious floating pylon).
“Hello. Anyone home?” But Doris needn’t had worried because no one lives here.
After waiting the appropriate time, she goes inside and sits at the dining room table. I hope those are candy bunnies on that platter over there, she thinks.
Hmm. 2960. Probably another empty building. I’m not even going to knock this time. Feeling free to roam indeed.
Lemons and lime; that reminds me of something.
This is a little different.
Don’t mind if I do.
What’s this? My foot must have accidentally activated the screen. Doris studied the graphic.
“Gunn Mobile Trailer Park,” she spoke aloud, then saw the byline at the bottom. “Your Darkness.” She settled back in the executive chair. “A game. I love computer games.” So she just decides to start a two person round with herself.
“No, there’s no plans for a prison in these schematics, Mr. Man.”
“EM! Call me EM! Everybody does!”
“How ’bout Smithy’s place?! Is it finished?!”
Rob Reeder and Ted Totter just stared at each other, unable to decipher what Eraserhead Man was on about now.
“Yeah. And Ghostwood! Ghostwood Estates Mental Hospital! Audrey’s there!”
Rob Reeder and Ted Totter exchanged looks. “Do you want us… to *add* these things, Mr. Man… EM?”
EM paused dramatically, then: “YES!”
“Where *is* he?” groused Chloe Price, sitting in the blue chair . “Where’s our famous director?”
“He said 3 o’clock,” returned Jill MacGill from the red one. “Be patient.”
Chloe checked her watch, then nodded. “All right, all right.”
“Only 3:05 now.”
“I’m tired of looking at this poster and water fountain. I’m going to roam about the place. Freely.”
“NO,” commanded Jill. “EM said to *stay put* this time. He’ll be here shortly. Sometimes he goes on… tangents. As you well know. He said 3 so it will probably be 3:30. Just give him time. Don’t leave me in this spooky place *alone*.”
“Spooky?” questioned Chloe to Jill.
“I meant just: place. I suppose it’s not that spooky.” But Jill was shaking within. She’d seen a ghost here and another one could come.
Jill relented out of boredom and strategy. “All right, tell me about this game you found near the Horne Inn. The one EM left you.”
Suddenly alert, Chloe’s head bounced up off her raised knee. “I’ll do better than that.”
Young Ruby had somehow made it all the way to EM’s Urbane Blue set in the heart of Meat City without compromising her integrity.
But all she found inside was a floating, slightly glowing Eraserhead Man, deep deep deep within. No Herbert Dune, no Jill MacGill/Gwin or Chloe Price or Benny and Jer Horne or Franklin Bowers and his former wife Jenny — lets go with Patsy — or Rabbit 03 or the Blue Yip Yip. Only the director of it all.
He was the dreamer dreaming the dream all along. The blue structure acting as a coffee shop within was a portal indeed.
With no role found to be played — Gwin’s vacant part was a red herring — Ruby had no choice but to return to her empire. What a long journey in vain!
No Timmy when she returns (dead), no Tin Tin (married, or so she thought). Just her and Madame Silver, battling out the final days. Should she wake the dreamer? Maybe that would be a better solution, she realized. But *gradually*.
She kept tap tap tapping at his wooden yellow shoulder, each tap a little stronger. But even after a hundred of these, we would still consider the gesture quite light of touch. Ruby was subtle like that. Quality over quantity indeed for this one.
The dreamer awoke like a fresh spring morning; turned to faced his rouser. “Ahh, Young Ruby,” he cooed. “A sight for sore ears.” Now maybe he can toss aside those hearing aids for good.
Jeez I haven’t felt this good since Mary left, Eraserhead Man thinks by Ruby’s side. I could *marry* this girl. Yes: marry.
So he remembers the disappearance of his wife now too.
“So is this her?” Ruby asked without a hint of jealousy. The Green (Eyed) Monster.
“Yes. Beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Yes.” I wish I were a 100th that beautiful, Ruby then thinks. Eraserhead Man was thinking at the same time: But not as beautiful as you are right now, Young Ruby. EM is certainly smitten (!).
“This is Smithy’s House,” EM then declares. “Not finished. We also don’t know who’s going to play Smithy. Maybe the man in the bright green coat who came on the set earlier. But maybe not.”
“Where are all the others, Pencil? (for that was what Ruby always called EM since their days back on New Island — Pencil)
EM points to his eraser topped noggin with a stubby arm. “In here.” He waits an appropriate beat. “Nah, just kidding. They’re in the southeast corner of Fishers Island. Doing my bidding.”
“Gwin included?” Ruby tried to word her thoughts properly. “She… returned to the set?”
“Yes. Sorry you can’t play the part, Ruby. But we have something special cooked up for you. Did I ever tell you I have a doppleganger too? Some call him Penn Mann. Some just penhead, because he’s quite irksome. But lately he’s been sporting a pink mohawk and disguising himself as a she. Under this guise (he’s known as) Chuck Cheese. Sometimes Heidi, which I suppose indicates his ability to hide well. But we’ve struck a deal. Man to man-as-woman. I get the southeast corner of Fishers Island, he gets Wallytown of Fishers Island.”
Ruby pondered on this new information. “Then who gets Fisher?”
“Ahh, so logical, so precise you are. Yes, our Orange Boy. Orange itself. That is the conundrum. To answer that we must first go back to when Herbert Dune was just a boy on the threshold of adolescence. Or just beyond, I guess. Rounding a corner. Seeing something earlier on that day that he didn’t understand. A flesh and blood woman turned into a doll. Heidi — or whatever she or he’s called — insisted that he — or she — direct the shoot.”
“Do you have the orange makeup on all over the appropriate spot, Chloe?”
“Yeees.” Chloe Price was being paid quite handsomely for this scene, but still her voice had an edge. She was nervous. She never had done anything close to a nude scene for a film, never exposed her midriff for anything. Oh, there was that pool scene in “Life is Strange”. But that was all innocent fun and games. This is different. She could back out… but she was already inside.
“Alright. Young Herbert Dune — George — you come around the corner just there and then spot Chloe. You slink back around the corner. Chloe doesn’t see you. The case is opaque, not transparent. Here… let me set the mood better.”
“So the case is darkened. All except that circular opening. And then, Young Herbert can’t help himself, takes another look. The legend of All Orange is born.”
“I’m giving you back your 50,000 lindens, EM. I couldn’t do it. Director Heidi took my place. She was a better height for it anyway.” Chloe Price huffed. “You don’t know *what* I went through in ‘Life is Strange’. Creepy stuff. I couldn’t do it,” she reinforced.
EM pats her hand. He’s finally breaking through that tough exterior. “There there, friend. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to here on *my* set.”
That day, Chloe may have fallen a little bit for Eraserhead Man as well.
“Man I can’t stop playing this *game*.”
“All right Jill MacGill. Where’s the sacred orange? Is it behind trailer number 01, 02, or 03? Choose or lose.”
“Wait. Let me take a picture of that pathetic expression.”
“I don’t like that scene, Rabbit 02.”
“I’m going to change the game.”
“Do what you have to do, Rabbit 01.”
“So here we are on the hands again, EM. Waiting for someone to cross that bridge.”
“Could be a man with a million dollars, could be some dude with a gun.” He paused. “Both… neither.”
“But probably neither,” opined Sandy Beech, anxious to get this scene over since Chloe Price was waiting for him over at Bay City. Both of them!
Sandy then heard something, a rumbling, getting louder. EM pointed. “Look Sandy, a hog. Bikers again. Spocari Nemoy is going to be *soo* upset.”
Sandy looked as well, but all he could see crossing the bridge was a man not on a motorcycle as he expected, but just an ordinary bicycle. Burning — the actual source of the noise. A Burning Man.
“Wait Sandy!” EM reassessed over the growing roar. The burning man had just come upon the center of the bridge. “Not a hog, a *dog*!”
It was this sight of a “burning dog” (actually a dog fronting a camp fire from his perspective) a little over a sim inside Fishers Island which changed him back, as it should be.
Burning Man became just a Man again. Kevin.
But his feet remained ignited.
He wandered up to the bar located in a neighboring parcel and ordered a beer, extra hops. He showed the tough looking bartender Cyclops Ted his hot foot to indicate he too meant business.
“‘Take me drunk I’m home.’ Haven’t heard that one before.”
“Um huh.” Ted was wondering how comfortably long he could wait before calling his wife Ethel about this one. Long time since he’s seen one of those burny people pass through these here parts. Last dude took out a whole palace!
He glanced over to make sure the fire extinguisher was still hanging on the wall in the corner.
After his 5 beers, he sauntered over to Hellmouth Service Station next door and sprawled out on an old red car seat in front, staring blankly across the road.
The owner Fred Heater (brother-in-law to Ted) came out, followed his stare. “That’s Jonesboro Heights over there. Not much to look at, I know, but still it’s the highest point on the island.” He took a ganger at Kevin, quickly determined he was a biker — but those burning feet! I’ve got to get this guy out of here before he ignites something! “You can actually rezz your bike or whatever over there on that property. Not running you off or anything…”
“Sure you are,” said Kevin icily. “You think I’m a menace to society.” He stared at the owner, fire also in his eyes. “Just like my parents.”
Great, thought Fred. A burny guy with *parent issues*. Just what this island needs. “No, no, you just sit here. Stay calm. Leave when you want to.” Fred looked through the dingy window of his station to make sure the fire extinguisher was hanging in its proper spot — just like Ted before him. Hope the nozzle remains unblocked and the pin isn’t broken, he thought, relieved at its sight. But he dare not check right this minute. Gotta keep an eye on this dude!
“No, no, you stay right here,” he reinforced, hands out. “Don’t get any more excited than you are. Just *relax*.” Fred pondered how to safely get to the phone inside to call Luther. Luther would know what to do. He’d seen this stuff before. The Great Fires of ’72.
He stared down at Kevin’s feet again. And I thought the General inside was bad with the smoking!
Amazing. He’d found it.
Kevin thinks the following: This structure where I grew up as a child reminds me of the cool compassion of my father compared to the fierce competition with my mother. On the one hand, I was asked about renewing my rent not once but several times before snatching a legally deeded property away from under my feet. On the other hand: destruction/removal of a piece of art representing *all* my art without warning. I could go with the kindness and empathy of the former. But my fiery rage identifies more with the latter. I will burn this structure *down to the ground*. It will not exist just like my childhood art doesn’t any longer. Monkey City *this* dear mother.
“So you see, Chloe. It’s all about the interior to that game. This game within a game you are on about. The Basin. We must get beyond Dead Lake — both of them — and enter the place of the burning dog.”
“I don’t like that idea,” returned a worried, slumped over, hand crossed Chloe. “I just want to stay in the trailer park, shoot up some people, and then *leave*. I don’t want to find this door into a hidden place. Just leave me out of it.”
Sandy breathes out. “Okay, okay. I’ll try the other Chloe, then.”
“It won’t be any different.”
“Soo Chloe. Whadda you knoow?”
“Get away. Playing on phone.”
“Just a couple…”
“GO AWAY, JEEZ.”
“I suppose I owe you an apology.”
“Just leave me in the trailer park,” she reinforced.
So he returned to EM at the blue painted coffee shop of Fishers Island, mission seemingly a failure. But EM thought otherwise.
“You got them thinking! They’ll come around. A seed has been *planted*.”
The next time Chloe Price approached the end of the pavement representing the limit of the Gunn Mobile Trailer Park game…
… she suddenly recalled that thing about a glitch which allowed one to go further down this road — into the dirt part — all the way to a place called Dead Man’s Lake. No: just Dead Lake. Dead Sea, something. But it had to be done a certain way. Today, unlike yesterday or the day before or the day before that, etc., she decided it might be worth the risk. Checking back into the heart of the trailer park to make sure none of her enemies were following her (or were left alive, period)…
… she walks over and shoots her oh-so-familiar weapon at what looks like a weirdly shaped grey rock in front of her (the “glitch”). Not once, not twice, but three times.
She then sticks her gun into a suddenly opening black vortex, never to be held or used again.
The dirt road opens up before her. “Dead Sea — whatever — here we come!”
“It’s going to be *beautiful* Cloe, a beautiful scene.
Let’s go take a look again.”
“Dead Lakes and The Basin in one. Fate, my blue haired friend. Beginning of a stream.”