He lamented the Smuggler’s Bay portal being cut off on the other side of the Soap sim from Paper and then realized for the first time that the tunnel looks like a slice of bread. He’d *thought* that before, hmm. Anyway, Phyllis could not be reached. *Pills* could not be reached. Shit happens, but he doesn’t know where now. He must return to his lonely cabin to do his needed chores…
… like cleaning the outhouse today; had to be done; neighbor’s complaining about the smell which wasn’t bothering him as much but must have been that bout with the virus affecting his nose. He can’t tell when Rusty’s fixing breakfast over at the Tombstone Diner any more — could always smell that early in the morning before.
“Tamatoa,” he joked to his tamed wolf hound. “Go fetch me the cleaning suds over on the washing machine over there.” Tamatoa, of course, didn’t respond the way he requested. Or did he?
(to be continued)
Paper-Soap National Park
Biff Carter looked up from the red book he was always reading, wondering where they were. Keith B. was to his right, talking to Cubby the bear cub about his lost mother. “She’ll show up soon,” he tried to reassure, but Cubby had seen her wander off into the Hunting Zone, confused in the twilight’s last gleaming. Many of her kind don’t come out of there, she said earlier to the young bear, her third in a litter of two, although she didn’t know that fact at the time. A magical bear he was; able to talk and converse with the humans — like Keith B. here. “In the meantime, you just stay put here with… sorry, what was your name stranger?” he asked over to Biff, sucking on a piece of lettuce between his teeth left over from supper at Rusty’s. He couldn’t handle the beef stew what with the state of that kitchen in back — he’d seen the health inspector’s
rating writing on the wall. Better stick with salad, he decided. No meat.
You know my name, Biff wanted to say back, but instead just said it for him. He looked over. Did it ring a bell? Dirty diner? Always redding the read book? He could tell by Keith’s expression that it didn’t. He felt abandoned by the older guy from his childhood ever since the death of his grandmama, who was practically like his mother, raising him up after the death of his dad Dirk, who had already lost his wife, his mother, to another kind of virus long ago, not long after he was born actually. Dirk thought that the birth may have done her in, or at least weakened her to the effects of the virus, but this wasn’t really true. Or was it? Anyway, Dirk kind of blamed the boy for her death. Her name was… right on the tip of my tongue….
Elizabeth, he decided, thinking back to the book. He raised it to his eyes again and continued. Paper now. Rock earlier. Scissors coming up soon. His mother had some and she contemplated doing his father in once more. Because of the boy.
(to be continued)
He decided to test this reality. He pulled out some wadded up and hardened little pieces of paper from his pocket and dropped it into Keith B.’s hand, saying they were for the virus. “Thanks!” the older man from his childhood said, saving them for later that night when the headaches started. Oh the power of suggestion, Biff marveled, and returned to his book. He was at the end of Paper. He turned the page…
He read well into the evening with Cubby still by his side, still waiting for his mother to return. Although he didn’t speak any longer — the magic had worn off for the time being — it’s as if the cub’s thoughts were transferred to the pages. Magic was not good here at night, thus the return of the virus symptoms for poor, confused Keith B. over at his cabin just beyond the woods, across the road. He had taken the paper pills but they didn’t seem to do him no good. He sniffed the air. No odor from the outhouse, although he wasn’t able to clean it due to lack of suds. Tamatoa the tamed wolf hound had spilled the product trying to put it into his mouth to obey his master’s command to retrieve it for him from the washing machine just over there. Oh to have an actual human servant around for such chores (!). But he wasn’t suppose to think such thoughts. Not after Alvin [delete name], and the beanstalk they found that went all the way to heaven, some say the Moon, some say Uranus. But it ended up being a compromise: Mars. Halfway between the fuzzy warmth of the full white Moon and the bitter cold of Uranus, only perceptible to the sharpest of eyes if they know exactly where to look in a blackened sky. So one could say the Moon and Uranus were opposites, like Keith B. here. He doesn’t even remember how the preservation started. END
I’m right over here, son. Just out of sight. I haven’t eaten in several days, but I’m certainly stuffed to the gills. I’d laugh if I wasn’t crying. I’ll be with you, though. Cubby. Dennis. Warren — we never decided on a name, just kept calling you Cubby. My bad. Maybe that new guy you’re with, Biffy or something, can give you a proper name. But stay away from Keith. Keith did bad (as well).
(to be continued)
“I’m as high as you (*wheeze*) now. Let’s trade.” He hands him the chips, he passes him the bong. The cycle begins again.
Having finished chopping the wood for tonight, Greg Ogden plays on his roundabout, also going in circles but in a different way. He’s getting in the mood to paint.
In a darker perspective, rogue clown Sepisexton sits down by the small beach of the same rental unit and ponders a cry, thinking back to when she was just Sepi and Sexton all separated out. She wonders if she should split, depressing party over except for the really serious heads like Even and Steven smushed together over there on the bench behind that painted Martin rock. She decides it should be between sections 6 and 7 of this here photo-novel, 30 in a series of, dare I say it, 31? Because there will be a 7 born from 6 the way things are progressing, fer sure. Just like the last one (but unlike 28, 27, 26 before it).
Let’s see, what else here? There’s Ted, another head, on the swings that won’t swing. He doesn’t care at this point, tripping the light fantastic.
And then of course the Monolith itself towering above it all, which Greg will paint a bit later for the umpteenth time. Call it his new Treasure Hill. He plans to make bookoos of money from the art soon. Very soon, he contemplates. As soon as Agents 23 and 47 phone him back with some figures. But in truth they were just investigating his drug ring, being police and not business agents. They’d have enough evidence for a bust soon. Let’s call them Crack and Whack.
Oh, I forgot about Marilyn back at one of the teepees beside Keith B.’s cabin on the other side of the Monolith from Greg’s rental unit, just across the long and dusty road. ‘Nother one, pheh: currently plucking feathers from a hen for a new batch of arrows while Sylvester the Stallion looks on…
… make that chipping an arrowhead with a chisel and ballhammer. Um…
She turns her back on peeing Keith B. while carving an arrow shaft with a chore knife, the final tableau, wondering why he doesn’t do his business in the woods like all the other animals. The place still stinks but she doesn’t mind — she’s not the neighbor who complained (Suzzy Q, the teepee dweller across the way who up and moved day before yesterday’s tomorrow). Probably infected with the virus as well, wouldn’t you think, perhaps catching it from him. Because they were an item, maybe still are. She reminds him so much of his sister, which is probably not a good thing. She feels safe around him — her Safe Zone here — because she knows he would kill to protect her. He blacks out and another stuffed animal is set up in the woods just over there next to a cave, or perhaps just over here beside a camping tent. Like Mother.
Done (both of them). “Head’s up!” she calls. An arrow whizzes by, just missing his now forward facing abdomen and landing at his feet.
(to be continued?)
He visited an art gallery to see how much he could sell his works for in Our Second Lyfe. He was encouraged(!).
… sensing another pattern.
The owner requested, “no photos,” on a sign at the entrance but I figured that was of individual pieces. A mere boy tries to “fish” paintings illegally through the upstairs ceiling, probably being short on cash or perhaps for black market purposes. Greg Ogden makes a note that things like this can happen but doesn’t report the young fellow. He’s potentially doing something illegal as well snapping these photos. Let hot water stand.
He looked and looked but couldn’t find the art work that a fiend of a friend indicated was here: a copy of Ansel Adams’ famous black and white photograph from the 20’s called “Monolith…”. He knew that people — some people — stupid ones — would think that he was piggybacking on the fame of an established artist, despite the fact that Adams worked in a different discipline. Plus this was another Whippe sim, like the one he’d just left in Section 04 back there with its Black Lake, etc. How’d *that* occur? Must be yet another indicator that he was on the right track to come here, check out prices, capture (on film) the red dressed lady and the fox, see the boy fishing for valuable paintings through the ceiling, and lastly, lastly, Adams. Where was he? The photograph could hold the answers to everything.
(to be continued)
making shit happen
He was getting sucked down into the 3 sim region. Typical; can’t help himself.
Something about ghosts and busting them. Busts! He recalls now. He’s about to get busted for the drug ring he supposedly runs. But it’s really just wrestling on the side, until the money starts rolling in with the art and all. Sepisexton awaits atop the Monolith of Paper-Soap with more pills for thrills. Let’s go there now.
She stares at the crying lady again, another lone, dark figure in the distance. She begins.
birthplace of TILE (‘nother one)
“Listen to these words,” Preacher Zoidboro commands from his pulpit of power, shuffling the first page back to the top. He’d been reading it all afternoon and then one evening and then another afternoon after a morning break for contemplation. It had been slipped under the door to his parsonage out back at 7:15 on Tuesday by the blackest of hands, as dark as licorice candy. “‘Four’s Company, parentheses, Three’s a Crowd, close parentheses,'” he starts, reading the title first of course. “‘Let’s make this,’ ahem, ‘shit happen.'”
Gasps from the audience, but not from the pronouncement of the word shit, deemed a cuss word in this here neck of the woods. They couldn’t hear that part the preacher said it so low. Instead: the inferred defamation of the Holy Trinity. It was in the name of the church! What in Hell’s Bells was the Preacher thinking, doing this? they thought as one.
“‘Let’s begin with a,’ uherm, ‘joke, quote unquote,'” he continues to read from Sepisexton’s text on the mount. Sweat beads on his forehead. Dare he go through with it? Alvin would be please, though. He always liked Alvin. “‘A Spade walks into a bar with a Heart,'” he ventures forward into a brave new world. “‘The audience says nothing.'”
The audience says nothing.
Safe Zone — where had Keith B. heard that expression? Of course: *Marilyn*. He asked about it to Jim B., currently playing the role of Alvin Jr., son of Alvin Sr. who climbed that beanstalk in Wales all the way to… some say The Moon, others: Uranus. But, as stated, we happen to know it was Mars, an in-between compromise.
Alvin Jr. listened to the query, wishing that darn phone would ring for a change and interrupt this conversation, hopefully distract Keith B. to a different topic. And why did he come down here to the ranger station anyway this morning? Must be looking for more spots to hunt, Alvin mused. “Safe Zone?” he answered Keith B. “Oh, that’s just a map that came with the station. Has nothing to do with the actual park here. Just a generic map. I… haven’t even looked at it that closely.” He peers at the map he knows all too well, pretending to see it as with new eyes. “Echo, eh?” he says, pronouncing the map name below Safe Zone. “Overrun,” he continues in that vein. He thinks of the zombies here, the Germans, but also the Italians. Came in through the portal from the Great War. “Sounds like, eh, something from a game or something, dunno.” He shakes his head, convincingly he hopes. He’s surprised Keith B. hadn’t seen the map before but that was just part of the magic of the place, good and bad. You often see things when you’re suppose to, not when common sense tells you you should. Keith B. should have spotted this anomaly of a map long ago, inquired about the Safe Zone shortly after he arrived in Paper-Soap, say. But it was the same with Alvin. *Jr.*. People kept mixing him up with his dear old papa and it irritated the *hell* out of him. He’d stopped going to church because of it. But he’d heard there was new trouble brewing over there. He decides to ask Keith — a presented tangent after all.
“Heard Preacher Zoidboro knocked the congregation for a loop yesterday,” he frames it. He knew the power of the 4 would come in eventually and attempt to topple the totalitarianism of the 3. And he knew the Monolith would have something to do with it — just didn’t know the details. Until now.
“Ah, yes,” Keith B. said back, prying his eyes from the map to Alvin Jr.’s relief. He’s going to subtly alter that thing as soon as the man from Nautilus leaves. Take out mention of the Safe Zone first. There *is* no Safe Zone. Thanks to Keith, pheh.
Turns out the congregation of the Trinity Church is split down the middle on the subject of 3 vs. 4. It’s the beanstalk all over again, thinks Alvin.
5 years ago:
“You alright up there Pops!!”
pulling a Rundgren
She listened to Keith B.’s drumming, trying to determine whether it was ultimately soothing or just irritating. Somewhere in the middle, as a lot of stuff is, she thought. He hadn’t answered her earlier question about what he found out at the ranger’s station this morning; dodged the question in fact, it seemed to her. Just started drumming after lunch. Drumming and drumming. Her right hand wanted to clap, but her left hand wanted to slap.
“I — feel — so — *young*!” he called over.
Pheh, she thought, not noticing the difference while looking away. Might as well still be peeing in his outhouse.
“We’re here today, dear friends, to choose,” Preacher Zoidboro urged, soon to be Non-Preacher Zoidboro to about half of ’em, friends turned to fiends (or foes). “We have, evidence #1, the ‘Text on the Mount’ shoved under my parsonage door by a mysterious black hand, the color of dark licorice. Evidence #2: the Mount itself, better known as the Monolith. It is the One to complete the Four, in my…”
“Blasphemy!” shouted Bill Bright from the back. Count him in the foe camp.
“Let him speak his say,” urged Martha Bennington in front of him, fresh from a shower and thus more relaxed. She didn’t even have time to dry her hair before the special Tuesday’s Wednesday’s meeting, but that was because she was up most of the night reading this blog. No, make that writing in her blog. Something about drumming… a man possessed by a circle within a circle design. Let’s make that a dream, which kept her awake thinking about it afterwards. She also woke up her husband John, sitting beside her, but never going back to sleep. He couldn’t choose between the 3 and the 4, he determined. Glancing at the Monolith while walking into the church this day in April’s May, he decided to remain neutral, let others do the choosing for him. He feared Martha fell on the side of 4, and the chiding of Bill Bright in back added to this theory of his. Plus the fact that the drumming dream was in 4/4 time instead of 3/4. She specifically said she remembered it that way, and mentioned the 2 times in particular. 4/4 instead of 3/4. “3/4 would turn it into some kind of, um, *waltz*… a joke almost,” he recalled her saying. Well, the Trinity in his book is *not* a joke, but we’ll see… let’s see what the others say. Bill Bright has voiced his opinion. Martha too by counterweight, it seems. Zoidboro is obviously on the side of 4. Old Preacher Benfield has shown up to stand, er, up for the power of 3. The battle lines have been drawn. But what of the church structure itself, built and kept up by the hard earned money of the parishioners who seem to be dividing into two now? Will we just, I don’t know, build a *wall* down the middle of it? John continued to speculate while the others had a pause to contemplate as well. Actually, it was more a pray, requested by Zoidboro and also Benfield. *Pray* on this division. Feel in your *Heart* what is true, they urged, which made about half of them think of the joke about a Spade walking into a bar with a Heart, at the top of the “Text on the Mount” just under the title. These were the ones who would choose 4. The ones that didn’t get the joke: 3. We have our camps.
An expert at 4 was called in to help with the transition from whole to half: Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer, last seen wheeling this dark baby around NWES City over on the Jeogeot continent one last time before putting it in storage. Stored no more; out and about again. Thanks to Zoidboro and the magically pronounced words.
Mr. Yellow glances in at the *plant* sitting beside him in the yellow chair, the cheese being also known as Marilyn but seldom seen in that guise except for the gifted of sight. She’d even given him back his attached rats to make him pure rabbit again, although he didn’t know it in the moment. He talks to his supervisor via phone. Dr. Mouse. Dr Mouse? Yes. Dr. Mouse.
“Good, good,” he says about the setup over at the new rental beside the old parsonage Zoidboro was kicked out of just yesterday’s today’s tomorrow. He knew now he was (also) fully back to life. He imagined he could throw a stone from his asylum and it would hit the roof, perhaps rolling down to knock his agent on the head. In fact, I think he went up to his own roof to gauge if this were actually possible. Let’s take a pic of it.
No: a bit too far still; trees kind of in the way. He can’t help but point with his cane at what irritates him presently, old habits dying hard.
“Why aren’t you guys sitting across from each other still? *Anyway*, we know the Anomaly is the same as this beanstalk being mentioned around this here town, Paper-Soap still, despite the attempts at division. It doesn’t jam our systems any longer — a situation we should toast to sometime (come to think of it) — but its presence is still around.” Goober gobble. “Reports now. Whatcha got Agent 47?” he speaks to the closest one. “Er, 23,” he adjusts, seeing a hair on the upper lip. Male this one is. The other: female, despite the baldness and otherwise seeming identicalness. More experiments of The Mouse.
“We’re monitoring situations of a bust,” he metered out crisply, almost like a robot but without the needed, metallic squeaking of the inner mechanics. Like with the Claudes. “A painter. Paper.” He glances over at Agent 47, noting the hairless lip and the current desire to kiss it. When did these feelings start for 23?? He guessed that birthday party. Where they summoned The Devil again, pheh.
“A ring,” continued 47 on the same case. “Within…” he looked back.
“… a ring,” completed 23 for him, contemplating whether to blow him (*a kiss*!).
“So you’re saying to me, people, that this bust involves a ring (*brinnng*). And not only that, another ring within that ring? (*brinnngg*). How deep are we?”
The phone rings for the third time at the far end of the table. It’s one of the Claudes, which is always bad news.
Jim walks in (*brinnng*). “I’ll get it.”
“I’m just saying you haven’t been the same, since… since…”
“Cincinnati. Just say it.”
“I know,” he interrupted again, knowing the story all too well.
“It was a lot of lumber!”
“He deserved it.” Silence for a bit, then: “I guess we’re going to talk about Rose next. The *ul-timate* Red.”
She shook her head. “No. No, I’m just saying…”
“It was the frigg’n Metz!” he exclaimed, finally raising his voice on the subject, as he almost always does. “How would I know, a MIRACLE would occur?”
“It,” she tried to calm him down, “was… a long time ago.”
“Not in my nogg’n.” He knocked on his head. It made a hollow sound. Lumber again. Bench would get his revenge. “The whole *team*, was jinxed. Just look at their names. Rose, pheh. Bench, *huff*. Perez… well that one was kind of normal. But *Morgan*.”
“Now dearest, why don’t we wrap up some more presents,” she distracted again. “Then afterwards, afterwards…” She dangled her leg seductively. No need to think about 69 any longer. *That* 69. It was often the only way to get him to shut up about it once he started. Now the other leg joined the first: two danglers. Would he take the bait?
“Tom… SEEVER!” he said to end. Always the same.
“*Cult* of the 3 Suns brought ME here.” Zzzzz’s from the “listener”. “You still with me?” Clearly he wasn’t, but Dr. Herbert Thomas Brown only needed a sounding board this late at night, when the bitterness fully kicked in. “My Three Suns, the wife called them, before her own mysterious disappearance.” A snort this time, then rolling over and more snores. Tom was a good guy, Dr. Brown could have thought here. But he sleeps a lot. Oh well… not a lot else to do in this alley separated from reality. He tried to think of a joke combining the words reality and alley to more accurately describe their situation but it didn’t quite come together. Fitting. “Then I went to *Falmouth*… don’t get me started about *Falmouth*, pheh.” He looked over at Tom: still rolled over but quieter now. Had he awaken? Brown thought. Was he, I don’t know, actually listening to him this late at night for a change? Something about Falmouth?
Knock knock knock. “Honey?! I decided to join you on your vacation after all. Darling?! Are you in there?!”
“Can I help you with anything, inspector!?” the acne faced clerk called over. He’d neglected the chef part in the title — must be a town newcomer. But that’s the hat he’s currently wearing: private cook not public dick (he’ll switch over at dusk). And he needs some special ingredients for his surprise pie. He’s almost got it. Something about recently deceased Bob Dole in a Franco-American afterlife. And butterflies — he can’t help mixing business with pleasure. He always seems to have eyes in the back of his head as well as front; part of his two faced, interior/exterior personality.
But nature calls right now and he can’t wait until he gets back to the apartment. Public will have to do again. He pivots, he sliides. He opens the unlocked door.
“Oh. Excuse me,” he calls into the man in the dark also studying butterflies. Is no place sacred any more?? The apartment it will have to be.
“Red green blue, man. Red green blue.” Bob tripping the white stick fantastic.
“But where’s yellow?” added Dole, and then looks around as if it would materialize in the air as well as on his jacket. He spots the concrete parking divider right in front of his face and realizes what it is. “Whoa, dude,” he exclaims, trying not to look directly into its “eye”. “Check it out.”
“Radical,” Bob said more low, exhaling pungent smoke into the air. He looked even further away. He knew it was there all along. Alll along.
“Straightened and everything!” Dole exclaimed, and started shuffling his feet a bit in the excitement. “Like a… huh, banana or something. Frozen banana, wow.” Still averting the eye. Peeling away from it, even.
“Exactly, man. Exactly.” Bob bogarted the last drag off the white stick. “You got it, man. You’re so (*exhale*) right on.” Stick fragment to the ground, then…