The next morning, Bill couldn’t stop playing a role.
“I mean I get the whore part but why did she have to add ‘trash’?” she complained to the hammerhead shark circling above. “Trash is just, well, trashy.”
“Whisk me away from this New Island to another land, Blow Boy. I command it.”
But Mid Hazel soon tracked down her former pupil and locked her in an underwater cage near the manor house for a tough love lesson. Wasn’t hard: she could literally smell the treason. “If you like the sea so much, you can stay down here for a while,” she cackled before leaving. And of course Mid Hazel couldn’t resist mixing the phrase “whore trash” into the conversation a couple of times.
Seven days she stayed down there. And when Mid Hazel released her on Saturday, Bill was indeed ready to hammer out a deal. Blow Boy was walking on another continent by now.
(too) red (spot)
“Face it Ruby. Your aunt’s gone. I stopped DJ-ing about 5 hours ago and she’s still dancing up a storm. She’s lost. Lost to the beat of the island.”
“C. The tone is C.”
“C? Like in a musical C? Middle C?”
Middle-of-15 Ruby didn’t answer. “Take me back home, Fisher. I’m tired of hearing and seeing this.”
“We FAILED in this one, Baker…!” Eraserhead Man turned in his rocking chair and squinted over at my avatar, trying to make out the sex, but his eyes weren’t adjusted yet. “Baker B.!” he just finished to cover both possibilities while resuming his coffee drinking.
“Why don’t you turn your hearing aid up, Eraserhead Man! But there’s Ruby left!”
“Ahh, Young RUBY. Elephant’s ears and eyes both.” By just mentioning (shouting) her name, Eraserhead Man could suddenly hear and see better; didn’t even need the hearing aid now. He pivoted again and saw he was talking to the male Baker. “The Corsica continent is still in play Baker *Bloch*. I didn’t try to nuke Bumpy’s Ice Cream Village for nothing!”
“I hear they have land sharks now!” my avatar offered about the continent.
“No need to shout, Male Baker. Hearing’s up.” Sipping EM gave him a thumbs up from behind.
“Oh. Didn’t even see you turn it up. But it’s different times, Eraserhead Man.”
“Pencil, please,” the rocking male requests, still staring ahead. “We’re *friends* now, I’m suddenly remembering.”
Baker B.’s memories started kicking in as well. Yes. *Friends*.
Dismally pained Ruby suddenly found herself in a totally different place, observing and wondering who Max was through focusing eyes while simultaneously being overwhelmed by the pungent odor of cheese.
She was back in Collagesity. Drying her tears, she realized she had to find Turch and catch up.
2 days after Sister Martha Lamb hired Jack Richardson, son of Jack Richards, as a clerk at her Fries with Cheese branch church in Collagesity, he had to be let go. Constant sneezing, sniffing, and general unhealthy noises coming from his neighboring desk was the problem. Turns out he’s allergic to cheese, of all things. Looks like the Cult of Oo’d might have just picked up another devotee by default, unless the Maxites can steal him away. Whenever their status becomes official. For the moment, it’s just Ruby in Collagesity, but all that’s about to change. 3 times was the charm all along.
In the meantime, Martha Lamb remains covered up in paperwork.
Turchin McGurchin was tidying up Mabel’s original Scarlet Creative Sylvia House when Ruby silently entered. “Don’t let me scare you old man,” she said to him from behind.” Turchin laid his broom aside and they hugged. 2 weeks was long enough to make a good friend.
“It’s so beautiful here,” Ruby spoke while staring out across the expanse of the Rubi Woods from her higher perspective on the tire swing.
Turchin nodded from his chair while trying to fight nodding off at the same time. “Yup. Sure ’nuff is.”
Ruby just sat for a while, taking in the calmness and serenity. “Shame Mabel can’t live here… in this one.” She glances toward the SCS house just to her left now.
“Mabel will be back soon enough,” Turchin offered in his countrified manner of speaking. Slow and easy. “Best she’s not here for a spell — till she fully gets over Buurb. Yup, I saw it coming, all along.”
Rubi looked down at Turchin, then, after a smaller pause: “Do you think they still love each other?”
“Hard to tell. Since Buurb’s a girl again…” He lets it go at that.
Ruby stares down at her crossed feet. “Of course.”
Turchin caught Ruby up with town news since her two week stay about a month back, a visit no one currently around remembered except for him. Maxism was on the rise again, thanks to the crafty graffiti he painted last Tuesday in the vacant Stairs gallery — and has added onto in the meantime.
Keep directing your stares toward Max, was the overall message he wanted to plant. Turn it up to the Max, was a related catch phrase he was tinkering with. “You can see Max anywhere from town if you turn up your draw distance to the max — 512 meters,” he explained to the 15 year old. “Fate,” he tacked on. Ruby asked about the other two religions in town and what would happen to them. “They’ll implode,” Turch said in uncharacteristic sharpness. “It’s just suppose to be Ruby — you — and Max.” But he was wrong about that.
In his reinstated apartment, smoking and observing Roger Pine Ridge waited for someone to reenter Collagesity from the woods.
“Looks like no one’s coming to our little soiree, Osborne.” Pitch appears to listen to a nonexistent voice across the table from him, white hand to white ear. “What’s that? You forgot to send out the invitations to your 478th birthday?” Pitch settles back into his black widow chair. “Well, yeah I did, Osborne. Because I want to be alone with my thoughts tonight. And you my friend, with your batty, flying books, don’t count.
Main problem: His wife Mary had gone with Martha Lamb to the *main* Fries with Cheese Church over in the Pond District to meet the higher ups, she said, seemingly so excited about the visit that Pitch’s birthday was forgotten. Oh well, he tried to rationalize. It wasn’t the 475th or the 480th or any of the important ones. Pitch himself forgot his 321st, 351st, 378th, 421st, and 457th. But having a wife is different; in his mind, he was thinking she was suppose to remind *him* of such occasions.
Did he do something to offend her? he wondered. Let’s see, her birthday is February 25th. Checks to that — he got her a nice bouquet of roses, red and blue both. 1st Date Anniversary — also a check. White lilies this time. At least a half dozen, he speculated. “Osborne,” he pipes up again, “you’re good with counting. How many lilies did I give Mary for our date anniversary?” He listens to the nonexistent voice again. “12, hmm. Twice as many as I remembered. See, there’s no reason for her to be pissed off at me. It *had* to be an oversight.”
But his thoughts turn again to Sister Martha Lamb, a person he did not trust one iota. Mary has had private counseling sessions with her up in that stinky church of hers and always came home acting a little weird to him, like a distance had formed between them. She was quite happy and content to accompany Pitch to the services at the Cult of Oo’d Church before the coming of Lamb and her Fries with Cheese intrusion next door. Sure she was disgusted and angry that time some of the sacrificial blood squirted her way and ruined one of her Sunday Best dresses. They don’t sit in the front pews any more; problem solved.
A knock at the front door downstairs. Pitch looks hopefully over at Osborne. Mary! he thought. Rushed home to apologize.
But it was “only” his good friend Woody Woodmanson from up the road, large present in hands. “I’m surprised you didn’t have a party,” his wooden comrade relayed to him after the handoff. You know how many friends you have in town. But I guess you and Mary probably just wanted to be alone, hehe.” He tried to nudge his friend in the ribs, but just swiped air. Woody was not the most coordinated of avatars.
“This is not what I expected Osborne. He’s always given me keys before.”
“A clown?” Mary exclaimed upon meeting the Good Rev. Amos T. Sandman yesterday at the Main Church of Cheese over in the Pond District. “No *wonder* you hate the Cult of Oo’d so much!”
“Indeed!” the Reverend exclaimed back. “*Now*. Which of the gateway gods do you choose to worship today?” He shields his mouth with his hand and says in a considerably lower voice: “Say fries, say fries.”
“Um. Fries I suppose.”
“Good choice!” the Reverend said, returned to shouting mode. “Please join Sister Deni Stew Moore at the appropriate side altar.” He waves to his right. “You have 8 minutes, then must yield to another. As you can see, for a Wednesday we have quite the crowd here, and more are filing in — everyone needs a turn. And the fries are a very popular warmup before the main course here at the Main. Enjoy!”
When Mary goes to the side altar to join a woman who’s apparently been totally cheesed (Mary had been warned about such staunch devotees), she found she couldn’t bend her knees in the proper, reverential fashion and merely had to sit upon the provided pose ball.
“Psst. Mary,” the cheese being next to her whispered out of the side of her curdled mouth. “It’s me. Bill.”
She whispered again, more urgently. “Keep it down, keep it down. And address me as Bill from now on. I’m the queen after all.”
“Sure you are, Wheeler… Bill. But what’s this all about?”
heart to heart
“I don’t understand why you want to do this, daddy.”
“The Diagonal seems to indicate it. And… I get lonely, Zero. You and Indigo are the best daughters a Nuffin man like me could possibly wish for, but….” Angus Nuffin trails off, trying to figure out the best way to articulate what was in his heart.
“You’re saying, Fatherhood isn’t the be all end all,” Ragdoll helps, her blue button eyes watering up a bit. “After all, *we*, Indigo and I, wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for mother.”
And now you might have a new mother, Angus thinks but doesn’t speak aloud. He shields his black dot peepers from the rising sun, now over the eastern palms.
“It’s like this island, pumpkin,” Angus says, using the metaphor of the moment. “Right in front of you but not there atall — off the sim border in the Nothing Ocean. You can’t reach it now; out of bounds. But someday, sometime, we all have to experience this island, admit its reality. We have to cross a line.” He flips over and changes.
“We’re going to throw you the best birthday party you’ve ever seen when I get back, Zero. Just day after tomorrow.”
Yippy, she thinks sardonically, still heartbroken. She’s not losing a daddy, just, maybe, gaining a mommy? But it didn’t sound right, and perhaps never would. She stares over at the island; Martha Lamb of all people! But I guess there simply weren’t that many eligible women in Collagesity. And, like daddy says or implies, he has needs. She might just have to get use to the idea. Surely she can. Can’t she?
Later that night…
“Say what’s in your heart, Sid. Speak to me. Here: take my hand.”
Lisa the Vegetarian was very disappointed to learn that rumors of her brother Bartholomew living on New Island turned out to be false. All witnesses seemed to have seen was this flattie replica sold for L$30 in a popular northern island store. After manifesting the demo, she and Fisher stayed inside a yellow caution ribbon to avoid getting run over by the fast skating figure. “Soooo, does this mean you’ll be leaving the island soon?” Fisher had to ask, prompting Lisa to reply, “We’ll see.”
While there, Fisher pretends to become the victim of a crime scene. Bernard the Bear, shopping for 4th of July gifts for his relatives — flattie Tasmanian Devil for Uncle Lester, a Roadrunner for Aunt Samantha, etc. — gets in on the fun as well.
But it was Snoupy as the Red Baron, along with accompanying doghouse, that Fisher decides to purchase today.
Lisa settles for a Yellow Submarine demo. She needs to save her money for traveling expenses. Already she’s planning to call cousin Eleanor in Corsica’s Fisher Rigg to see if she can moor her houseboat there for at least a couple of days. “Bad news about Bart,” she imagines telling Eleanor in her head. “Still on the lam.”
Fisher Rigg, hmm, she then considers. Any possible relation to *this* Fisher? *And*: should she take him with her?? Could it already be time for him to leave New Island?
“I looked good in my pink phase, didn’t I Rabbit 02?”
“Sure did Rabbit 01.”
“But that was before my pregnancy with Rabbid.”
Tired of all the blood rushing to his head, Rabbit 02 declared: “My turn now…”
“Definitely stronger over here at 176/176. You try, Martha.”
“Can I take my lemonade?”
“Ooo, yeah. I feel it a little more, I think.”
“2 meters makes a tangible difference. I’m at 174/176 now.”
“And The Diagonal then continues northeast right through that frog sitting beside us apparent…
… then through the 2 air mattresses over there, and to the tailgate of the old truck on the other side of this pool of water. Then it continues, of course, through the rock, the arch, down to Wash Town and beside the octagonal Joe’s Garage on that queer diagonal line placed directly upon it.”
“Oolala. I feel tingly!”
“Let’s switch to the mattresses.”
“170, 172 for me,” Sid speaks. “How about you?”
“172/172,” Martha Lamb returns, checking her coordinates. “Even the fish seem attracted by it.”
Martha points to the tailgate of the truck. “Let’s go over there.”
“Ooo, it’s so hot in here.”
“Yeah, I’m at 162/164. And you should be at 164/164 as I tested earlier with that pose.”
Martha Lamb couldn’t wait any longer. She planted a big wet one right on Sid’s lips. Keeping close to his face — uncomfortably close, perhaps — she then seductively asked: “How’d I test on that?”
After kissing a long time and doing some other stuff, they found popcorn in the cab and enjoyed the view.
back to New I.
Bendy was showing off again for the Tronesisia statue at Artist Point Interactive in the middle of the night when he thought to check Adelaide’s “Fractured Violin” painting to see if it was whole yet.
“Nuts and bolts!” he cussed upon seeing the picture totally missing from the wall instead. “Either Fisher completely succeeded with Lisa’s request,” he rationalized out loud, “Or completely failed!” Either one could be bad news for him.
Bendy quickly returned to the top floor of Mabel’s Scarlet Creative Sylvia House where Fisher and he lived together…
… or formerly lived together, it seemed. Fisher’s stuff, including his rocking horse, his kitchen appliances, were gone!
Corsica, Bendy then thought, remembering Lisa and Fisher had been talking about it recently. Laverne Glam over at Bumpy’s Ice Cream Village might know what’s going on. She knows everything there is to know about that continent — between her and her father. At least the phone is mine; I’ll give her a ring.
“Hello, Lavern?” Twittering from the receiver. “No, I don’t want the usual triple dip — right now anyway. I have something to ask you: Have you seen Fisher?” More twittering. “Yeah, the orange guy… who’s dating the yellow girl.” While Lavern gabs more on the other end, Bendy happens to look to his left.
“Um, never mind Lavern. I’ll see you in a little bit for that ice cream, okay?” He hangs up, stares at the completed “Fractured Violin” hidden by a wall jut from the teleporter. Fisher enters the room.
Fisher then explains to Bendy over an early morning spliff that Lisa gave him the other half of the “Fractured Violin” picture just before leaving for Corsica in her house boat, saying he had done “good enough.” He explained that the kitchen appliances were missing because he had ordered all new stuff for their apartment with the money they’ll be making now, including an upgrade on the rocking horse. “No manual adjustments on the position any more,” he said. “Everything will be auto!”
It certainly was an interesting illusion, this blue image against Fishers Isle in the exact same place the blue mini had been before.
(Ruby turned) But it was certainly an illusion.
little over big
“Why don’t you just take your clothes off right now and go hop in the tub, Big Red. Because you’re going *down again.*”
Blue Jay Wade pretended not to see Ruby’s victory dance on the table…
… but certainly noticed Big Red’s big, hairy heiney as he waddled back to his house for his loser bath.
“Don’t say *anything* Trashy,” Big Red warned while passing.
“Like *you’re* going to do anything about it,” taunted the drug dealing clown.
big over trashy
Blue Jay Wade was still kinda noticing (and imagining/remembering) the thing before the thing while Big Red washed his hands prior to serving their evening meal. Carrot and cucumber enchiladas it was tonight, yum. Big Red could cook with the best of ’em. Something to reassure himself after this afternoon’s humiliation, Wade speculated. But I guess he got his revenge at least on Trashy. Certainly did. Thinking it best not to re-imagine *that* right now, the blue bird-man turned his attention instead to the left.
“We gotta pay to get these windows unfrosted sometime, Big Red… Mr. Butler.”
“*Why*?” Big Red was still in quite the pissy mood.
“Because, you know… of The Monster. Sneaking up on us all the time. We don’t even have time to react most times.”
“I *like* The Monster visiting us,” Big Red measured out acidly while putting their enchiladas on plates and lumbered toward the table. “I *like* being abducted. It’s like a mini-holiday. Away from *you*.”
“I’m just saying…” Blue Jay Wade tried to defend himself.
Big Red hovered to the side. “If you’d spend more time at your *boathouse* then you wouldn’t notice these windows so much.”
Blue Jay Wade tested the frosted panel with his finger to see if dirt or grime could be adding to its translucent quality, so little could be actually seen.
“Stand up,” Big Red barked while roughly plopping down their plates on the wooden table and sliding one over to Blue Jay Wade. “You know I don’t like eating with my back to the wall. Get up; you can have this plate.” That image of the thing after the thing flashing in his head, Blue Jay Wade quickly complied and slunk over to the center seat while Big Red glowered above and behind him a minute — breathing rather heavily and menacingly, a suddenly sweating Wade felt — before moving to the vacated chair.
Ruby found Trashy’s red, white and blue severed head the next day bobbing around Yd Bay on the other side of the island. “What have I done??” she cried, worrying more about what suddenly pill denied Aunt Annie was going to do to *her* than anything.
“We should tell Tessa the truth, Monsieur Gold,” she spoke after finishing her meal.
“You mean that we are actually brother and sister as well as husband and wife, Madame Silver?”
“No — although that may be handy later on.”
“That the killer sharks she is so fond of are actually whales?” he guessed again.
“No, not quite yet on that one either. She’s having so much fun with them, and she detests whales as you know. Considers them noisy.”
“They should have never bought her that Engelbert Humpbackdinck record at such a tender age.”
“Right.” She picked up her sterling silver fork nervously and then set it down again. “No, I think it’s time to talk to her about the experiment, Monsieur.”
“The one that went right, or the one that went wrong, Madame?” he asked.
“Ahhh,” he uttered, thinking back…
“Let’s go visit that small town over there.”
“What do you think Baker Bloch?”
“It’s really interesting. Really is. Soooo… Bart Smipson is invisible now? Is, er, that the alchemical experiment gone wrong?”
Baker Blinker put her hands behind her head. “I suppose. We don’t really have to explain it. Things are implied.”
“I suppose,” echoed the male Baker, irking the female Baker with the implied language.
“We can write it over.” She was thinking: I’m *definitely* not writing that over. Took me 4 hours as is!
“Nah, it’s fine Baker Blinker. It really is. I get it. Bart Smipson is invisible on New Island and that’s why his sister Lisa couldn’t find him. He’s probably a fugitive of the law, and that’s why these Silver and Gold people decided they had the leeway to experiment on him — not registered, perhaps.
“Baker Bloch, I’m not sure if you get the basic gist. Bart was suppose to be a companion for Tessa, to get her mind off the killer sharks, ahem, whales and such. Like earlier in these Collagesity novels, Toyna Two Egg created robot Arale from a kid her parents gave her when she was just a kit.”
“Kit… kid. I recall. But why invisible?”
“That’s the ‘wrong’ part about it.”
Baker Bloch rolled up the paper in the typewriter a little more. “And this part below the line…” He turned to Baker Blinker in her hanging chair. “Ready to read yet?” he queried.
She blew out air. “Go ahead,” she relented, steeling herself for more veiled criticism.
Future times. July 11, 2022. Yd Bay again. Much, much more has washed ashore.
Through the peculiar odor from what was cooking (stench, to her), East Bennington refuge Tessa Fish issued a declaration. “I don’t like this place, Grandpa Gold. I don’t like this place *one bite*.”
He looks down at the Orion’s Vale sinkhole and dreams of a Corsica continent that could have been.
But perhaps the dream contains pathways of possibilities yet.
Back to future Yd Bay:
Yes it got worse for Grandpa Gold and Tessa Fish. Especially Tessa. North Yd: a post-apocalyptic town not to be played around with.
Grandpa Gold knew that if they didn’t get out of there by sunset there may be no escape from the darkness.
“Grandpa. Get *down* from there. No playing around!”
“Tilers, Tessa. It marks this place as safe after all, despite the surface malignancy.
But we can’t take a chance anyway this time — fog rolling in; darkness too. We better ascent that tall ladder over there to higher ground for the night.”
“I’m *more* than ready to get out of these lowlands,” Tessa offered, staring back at the pirate ship from whence they came. Shark references everywhere. And not in a good and beneficial way. *Those* signs are there too, and in much more profusion. Tessa thinks that her Grandpa Gold puts way too much stock in these Tilers he goes on about at times. Left their signets here, dropped their talismans there. Sanctified grounds, he states and walks forward. Nothing malicious has happened… *yet*. And this is just the kind of place to break the lucky streak.
“We’ll come back in the morning if possible,” he says. “If Tilers were here then there is surely more to look at and study.”
The next morning, on the same spot:
“Oh the weather is *much* better now,” Tessa voiced sarcastically. “I can barely see 20 feet in front of me.”
“The tile here indicates safety, however,” her grandpa reinforced. “Safe to split up, then. You examine the buildings that way,” — Grandpa Gold points behind Tessa — “and I’ll work my way around from this end — counterclockwise — until we meet up somewhere in the middle. Is that okay?”
“If you say it’s safe, then I suppose it’s safe,” says Tessa, doubting the words coming out of her mouth but also putting her trust in who she assumes is a wiser and older being.
“Saves time that way,” he adds without verification from the child. “See you in the middle.” He turns away from her and walks toward the first structure in his direction. Tessa begins on her side.
“Freak show eh?” Tessa speaks aloud at one of the westernmost structures of the compound, thinking back to something called the Elephant Man, she believes. Nothing to make fun of! But is this an octopus who has the features of a man or visa versa? Anyway — not alive. Taking a picture and moving on…
“Nothing in there either.”
“Oh, there you are already, Grandpa. We meet in the middle, I suppose. Anything on your side?”
“A church,” he states.
“I think so. The right colors. They were indeed here. But first: let’s look in the last house of all. Together.”