It’s just as I suspected. Dopplegangers everywhere, *twins* if you will.
We must follow Tessa to this Castle Town in the South or else: be lost forever. There’s the green ship remaining, a basic duplicate of the one Tessa took to reach her destination. Now is the time…
Devil Dave was waiting. “They have arrived, sir.”
“Thank you, er, Bendy. Bendy is it?”
“Yessir.” Devil Dave thought he was blacker — because of the poster.
“But I *saw* you there,” Tessa later insisted at the terminal cafe with the great view of Grandpa Cliffs. Devil Dave waves at Grandpa sitting at the far table and Grandpa waves back, realizing he was exposing too much while locking his knees.
Devil Dave returns his attention to the just arrived girl. “No, Tessa. That was a doppleganger. I have experienced much the same thing here. Our Second Lyfe is breaking down… *has* broken down. The only thing holding us together right now is Collagesity. So we must *choose*, young lady. The waffle house could have manifested in Collagesity but it didn’t because you were led back to Fryburg and the missing junk ship which you had already taken to Castle Town: here. Someone is following in the green one left behind.”
“*That* old piece of crap?” she exclaimed while shaking her head. “They’ll never get it off the ground and in the air. I *tried*.”
“Nevertheless, that is another doppleganger, a ship in this case.”
Fern arrived with their food. Yet another one.
On a break, Fern rolled the prophecy cubes and then wondered who Tessa was.
She better get back to her shift at the cafe…
“I wish I had better news about the twins,” Fern Stalin later exclaimed to Lichen Roosevelt at the Yalta Bar and Grill down more in the innards of Castle Town. Actually, where we saw Barry De Boy last, taking up pen and paper for the first time and setting down his palette and paintbrush. Actually: both; he’s both an artist and a writer. Just like me. We return to the present conversation…
“All in this spell book?” Lichen exclaims back, surprised at the results of the equation. Q, she thinks. Barry knew all along.
One of the twins walks in. I wish I could say it was the right one but I’m not sure.
Actually I am.
“I’m tired of being a Menace, Grandpa.”
“Grumpy, please,” insisted the octogenarian soaking beside him.
“Right. You’re sure they didn’t see me.”
“No one can see you. Now.”
“No one takes heed of me any more. I’m *ever-present* you could say. And I never do no talking. Being naked all the time has its advantages. No one takes you really seriously.”
Mick looked over, noted the substantial package Grumpy was obviously protecting from harm. Star in his days, he thought. Still thinks he can make a comeback in that industry; still able to keep it up for 20 or so minutes at a time. With aid from the red and blue pills. “I’ve chosen a disguise,” he says over to his one and only true, non-goofy friend in the world, now that the wife has passed away. But he doesn’t like to think about the farming accident with the tiger and the grenade down in Bellisaria. “The doctor has arranged it. He will be known later on as… the Doctor of Mouse, and then, maybe, perhaps, simply become Dr. Mouse. He will do it. He has assured me it will work.”
Grumpy Grandpa thinks back to the days when they were trying to talk him into an operation to change a body part. Too big, they exclaimed to him, catching him in the shower with it one day. Perhaps his mother, perhaps a brother — but word got around. Drew has a big package, everyone found out. The girls at the school started taking more notice of him, a lot more notice. The boys respectfully bowed their heads now when he was around, instead of taunting him with jeers about his weight and such. He had found his niche, even though he didn’t know it at the time. No more residing between a rock and a hard place.
Mick brought him out of the past. “They’ll start with the head; get rid of all the black. Just like Bendy: you know Bendy, the attendant up at the gate house.”
“No.” But Drew “Grumpy” Cleveland, aka Grandpa Cliffs, knew all about Bendy and what went right and also what went wrong with *that* operation. Disguises all around in this here Castle Town of Southern Omega.
similar if not the same
“So tell me more about this David Bowie character.”
“Oh… not like the knife?”
“Think ‘Eenie Menie Miney Moey’. Bowie,” she finalized for Jeffrey Phillips, studying up hard to take over leadership of newly re-established Collagesity. From Baker Bloch. But also from Wheeler. Who was sitting opposite him, telling him about Bowie not like the knife.
“Okay… got the pronunciation down. Now the tie. Why is he wearing the same tie I am? Obviously, I think, this is Pansy. Pansy Mouse.”
“Don’t say that name out loud,” she demanded, voice lowered out of fear. “*He* can hear us,” and she pointed up into the video with this. Jeffrey Phillips didn’t understand; let it pass. He continued.
“Tell me about Twin Peaks.”
7 minutes and 6 seconds later he had the whole story. His name was backwards from the one Bowie assumed in the Twin Peaks movie… in order to hide. Wheeler Wilson was herself hiding from Wilson Wheeler from the Oz franchise. Bowie was slated to reprise his role in the Twin Peaks (series) remake when he passed on to the other side. “This was over 5 years ago,” she explained. “Then he came to Collagesity, an *aspect* did. “He almost stole Baker Blinker from Karoz Blogger, so it was a, um, *substantial* visit. We had to trap him in the forest and remove the town for a bit in order to send him away. He was obsessive like that. Just like…”
“Me.” It wasn’t a question.
From the library window I looked up into the heart of reborn Collagesity, pansies in front of me, reminding me of, well… the truth. That Mick wasn’t real any longer; given up the Menace part. I was safe. For now.
I turned back to Bean the Librarian and asked if he had any Lafferty in the building. Funny thing, though: the pansies were still in front of me. I was on both sides of the window because I wasn’t there atall. I believe he was even laughing at me a bit.
I turned the other way and asked again and then started laughing myself, but not in a good way I gathered. My head starting spinning round.
about town 01
“Danny,” MAT invited. “This is the new boss: Jeffrey Phillips. I don’t know if you’ve met…”
“We did,” spoke Danny, freshly emerged from his trailer after the knocking at the door. Mop and plunger in hand, he was about ready to go clean the bathrooms on the floor below anyway. He was fully dressed. For a change.
Jeffrey Phillips couldn’t remember meeting Danny before but let it, once more, pass. He began to worry about his memory. And the incident at the library that didn’t take place. His head spun round and round. He woke up. MAT was at the door, ready to take him to another door: that of Danny’s trailer attached to the back side of Fal Mouth Moon, the largest gallery in town and perhaps the largest building, if that wasn’t the Blue Feather, Jeffrey’s new home. Will he stay alone there? He snickers internally at the thought. Of course he won’t be alone. He wasn’t alone before and he certainly won’t be now, what with his new position of power. He’ll think about that later: back to the issue at hand. He shakes Danny’s hand but Danny doesn’t shake as hard back. Danny has reservations about the new leader. He thought it should be Man About Time himself. He decides to ask. Best to have it out in the open.
Both look at him when he states his preference. “I’ve known MAT for quite some time now,” he continues. “He’s always been fair to me; got me this great gig at the Fal Mouth Moon, and then got me returned real quick when I goofed up over…” Danny stopped. He didn’t want to tell Jeffrey about the art theft right now. He looked at MAT for clues how to proceed. MAT arched his eyebrows back, indicating he was going too far. The new ruler is *right here*, he could hear him think. *Behave* yourself.
So he didn’t mention that MAT had more blog posts to his credit than Jeffrey Phillips, he didn’t mention the womanizing (he’d seen Jeffrey Phillips twice, once with Charlene the Punk and the other with Lois who replaced Charlene, who then replaced Lois… and on it goes… who is he with now?).
“Next up is Roger Pine Ridge,” spoke MAT after they had moved past Danny. But MAT forgot that they didn’t have enough prims presently to rezz Roger’s house and allow him to become a citizen of the reborn town again. He was thinking about another time. *This* would be his problem if he were leader, and Baker Bloch and the rest knew it. Danny was just too naive to see.
about town 02
“And that’s about it, sir,” he spoke mildly, as usual, to the new town ruler. “Tour: complete.”
Jeffrey Philips stares at the entrance to the new collage series, called simply Picturetown and breaking the pattern of former series, all of which are named for towns and villages in and around Jasper County, Illinois — a map of which they stand upon here, in fact. Like Falmouth housed in the Fal Mouth Moon gallery that Danny cleans up, for example. He ponders whether to go through the door representing the beginning of the series. Instead he focuses on the surface aspects; he’s learning to ride or jump situations in order to remain objective, like a good ruler should.
“These… Rosehaven people… from this Picturetown. Are they aware we are using their store front here?”
Man About Time looked at Jeffrey Philips, trying to gauge what direction he was heading. “Does it matter?” he decides to say, and let it rest on that.
“I don’t know, I’m just wondering…”
“They will not care… they are artists as well.”
“Maybe we should talk to them.”
“Why, sir, don’t we enter the (new) exhibit and see what they would see if they knew about it.” His voice was gaining confidence. He realized Jeffrey Philips helped temper his mildness with his rugged individuality. This is a man fixed in time, unlike himself. He lets time move all around him rather than inside. MAT wondered who the latest girl is… he’d heard rumors of a woman alternately named Zado and Bad Kitten. He’s been meaning to look that up on the interwebs… maybe when he returns to his lower penthouse apartment at Kidd Tower. And he needs to finish decorating (!). So lazy; but I’ve had to help Jeffrey Philips so much lately. He knows so little about what we do here. And then there’s Carrcassonnee. He resists looking over at the top of the Temple of TILE from this vantage point; needs to keep focused on Jeffrey. This was a pivot point of some sort. Will he go inside? Is he afraid of losing… perspective?
“Not today, Man About Time.”
“MAT, please,” Man About Time insists about his name. Confidence. He is ever so slightly — baby steps — moving away from Time into something else. Town, perhaps. He then has the urge to look left at Roger Pine Ridge’s new house which isn’t there. A sudden backslide, pheh.
She’s quite pretty with the long eyelashes and I can see how Jeffrey might be attracted to her, he says to himself while studying. He’s trying not to stare over at the temple and its green tree still; trying to be distracted. TILE will have to wait. There’s Jeffrey Phillips to help first.
“So next up on the agenda, Wheeler, is the ditch. How’s progress going (on that)?”
“The Ditch is fine, the Ditch is good. But it’s just that: a Ditch.”
“We’ll call it ‘The Ditch’ for now, then.”
“Good, fine.” (pause)
“I guess you’re wondering about Wanda,” he said in the awkward silence.
“Er, Wildthing… to you.”
“Oh: her. Well *we* can handle that.”
“Meaning you and your avatars. The witches.”
“Doesn’t have to be a witch. But we can certainly defeat such an adversary: we’ve done it time and time again now. The only thing they have up on us is veracity, but even that tends to be… photoshopped up.”
“I know what you mean.”
“So… are you back on the team? Are you sold on Our Second Lyfe again?”
“Listen… Wheeler.” He doesn’t directly answer but he knows he is. Wildthing is just a temporary fling. He will return to Charlene, he will return to Lois. Anything Wheeler throws up he can handle. As they can handle him.
After the meeting with Wheeler at the Blue Feather, he decides to go visit Danny and talk about the issues of his leadership.
“Man About Time is too flighty. He isn’t fixed enough, Danny. He wouldn’t make an effective leader. But yet, he seems to be my second in charge now — naturally slotted into that role. So if anything happens to me…”
“Yes.” Danny understood what needed to be done. And Jeffrie Phillips knew he would attempt to do the dastardly deed. He was ready. Danny was about to be exiled from Collagesity once more. But who would take *his* place? Baker Bloch? Wouldn’t that be weird.
Since Danny’s was the 3rd attempted homicide in town, along with 2 successful ones, leader Jeffrey Phillips decides he better open up a police station underneath the Power Tower Gallery, right beside the town pool which may later become the town dump — undecided.
Which happens to be the location they found the 3rd body in the evening of that same day.
Looks like someone’s ready for their close up.
in the shadows we are all monkeys
Nighttime, Collagesity, on a full moon. Well, it’s always a full moon every night. No total darkness here. But that allows the criminals more light to accomplish their dastardly deeds, while still providing deep shadow for hiding. Will the pattern of homicides and attempted homicides continue, not to mention the 18 burglaries, 6 larcenies, and 2 Petty thefts (the new police squad assures Mr. Petty he will be reimbursed)?
April Mae Flowers, wife of the former Herbert Glenn Gold, has confessed to the latest and last of the 3 homicides. “He said he was a doctor,” she tried to defend herself. “He was no more doctor than that chimpanzee hiding in the shadows up in the corner of this room.” She points. There was no monkey clinging there in an upper corner, but Officer Raymond Boxboom didn’t tell her this, obviously gauging her as a fruity loop ready for not a paddy wagon this time but a padded room. Since this one hadn’t been painted yet, maybe they could just pad it over and leave her in the middle, outfitted with a straight jacket but still sitting in the same chair, with the desk and lamp removed. Okay, we’ll leave the desk and lamp there and the jacket off so she can keep writing the pathetic semi-autobiographical play that got her in deep doo doo in the first place. “Doctor it up, he said he could,” she said, starting to talk somewhat backwards already, like someone getting unglued from time. “He more no doctor than, say, that passing giraffe at the front of the station. Officer Boxboom turned to surprisingly see the head of a giraffe bob by: Ricardo Petty, here to pick up the money for his lost microwave and Sony boombox. Maybe they can get a conviction on this one after all. He then checks deep into the last corner of the room, beyond the light and into the shadows. Indeed.
square and round
“Maybe it just means Monkey City, Jeffrey.”
“Means,” he replies.
“I will withdraw the monkey in me,” she said while standing on the edge. “Crime rates *will* go down in this here Collagesity, 25 in a series of 1.” Who is she to be so small yet so wise?
I still have a definite presence in NWES City over on the Jeogeot continent, just diminished. We’ll see how that develops.
“Dear, can we go to the temple… now?”
“Not yet. I’m still trying on shoes.”
Ray’s well deserved pizza should be arriving any minute. He’s forgotten who he is again.
And static. Glorious static.
Jimbo, formerly O’Jimbo, was a Pan-Z or at least Pot-D contact in town but he ran away from me when I started quizzing him about Seven. Interesting — maybe he’s just scared of the still rampant virus going on around Our First and Second Lyves, even though I turned my head while talking and made sure I sneezed into my elbow that one time.
Last I saw of him he was riding a pegasus. I stopped following…
Later on, I remembered that he had been dead for at least a year, no fear of virus needed.
I stopped again when I saw static being displayed in a store front. I got so excited my head started vibrating a bit. A change was happening.
It was all quite red and V-shaped over here in this corner of the parcel. I decided to sit for a spell on a small turf of Linden terrain poking up through the pavement to regain my bearings. The static had thrown me off. Must be a Kentucky model.
Across the way, a drunk was stumbling while a raccoon closed his or her eyes. Neither had post to mail.
Ahh, the virus itself. I could kick it like a football clean outta here, all the way to the coast, the ocean. But I decided to save my strength for something else I spied in the distance.
Ahh, Elsie. Where have you been my whole life?
But then I got slapped when I used too much Tennessee.
She told me to shut the door if I was going to make those kind of rude noises. I hadn’t realized anyone else was here; concluded all of these so-called people were actually bots — unreal avatars. Filler. But she spoke to me while I smoked on the toilet. I was trying to purge myself of Tennessee so I could get back to Elsie outside but here was something different, a real “flesh and blood” type who I might talk to and get actual information from about what was going on in town. Like the old days; pre-bots. The bots, true, saw everything, but they were programmed to move certain places, complete certain gestures. Unless this was a really advanced model from, say, Ohio, there was no way she could speak to me like that. She could hear my noises, she could tell I hadn’t shut the door. I had to go find out who this lady of the darkness was. Maybe my head could override my hips for a change.
I suddenly recognized her while she continued to eat. “Oh. You’re that Oz lady, the one with the puppets. I saw one of your shows.” I saw the *beginning* of one of your shows, he thinks, until distracted by baubles as usual. Not Elsie in that case but another. I think her name was Gertrude.
“What do you know… of Oz? What does *anybody* know of Oz?” She slurped her noodles again, another type of rude noise. Tit for tat. Definitely not a bot.
Then the drunk outside joined us and things got really interesting.
Soon we had quite the crowd and I lit another fag, taking it all in. Chatting! Actual chatting. About Seven. Turns out Bimbo, formerly O’Bimbo, and Jimbo, formerly O’Jimbo were brother and sister, some say twins. Some say: one and the same.
I crouch down like a monkey and wait for the rabbit.
Suddenly I was back at war, like in childhood. “Hold your fire!” she called over.
“Well it certainly sounds like a dangerous place. I’m not sure I want to move there now, despite the advantages.”
“I mean, look at your wine. It’s still gray,” Jeffrie Phillips pointed out. “Sooo laggy.” He looks around, as if he can see the whole, huge city from his vantage point. NWES City, which once, not very long ago, almost decided to become a town and let its several suburbs handle all the city problems. Not any longer. But… what if.
Charlene takes a sip of gray wine, which tastes perfectly fine despite the color. She looks again: red now. But it took a while. And it also took a while, albeit a shorter time, for her shirt to rezz in. She thinks of, for example, omelettes. It would probably take half the time to cook them in Collagesity if she decides to move there. But what is the night life? As Jeffrie Phillips is describing it to her: none. Except for crime — maybe the criminals are just *bored*. She says this aloud to Phillips.
“We think it was just one person committing the actual homicides if that helps, one April Mae Flowers, a widow. She has a history of crime in the town — notice I use town there, not village, but not city.” He was trying to paint a contrast between Collagesity and NWES City for Charlene to help lure her back.
“How big again?” she queries about the size of the town.
“8192, with room to grow. Approximately 500 prims worth of room. That’s a lot of omelettes.”
Charlene was wondering how Jeffrie Phillips knew she was thinking about omelettes earlier but then dismissed the mind reading possibility. But was he? She knew they were separate cores, so no symbiosis there for psychic sharing. He was, at the core, Baker Bloch. She: Wheeler Wilson. Baker Blinker, Karoz Blogger, Hucka Doobie, and most of the others seemed to have faded away in the distance. It was only us two left, she thought. She says this out loud to Jeffrie Phillips.
“Then we should be king and queen of Collagesity. I know you are Fern Stalin in the future.”
“In the *past*,” Charlene the Punk counters about the time relativity.
“See there? We’re a great balance. You look at something one way, I another. We are Janus headed, looking in both the past and future directions. Can’t you see?” He manifests a glass of gray wine in his own hand and adjusts his position appropriately. “Fate.” He takes a sip, the sip of victory. He reaches the wine glass out to clink with her own. Dare she?
She could have asked about veracity advantaged Bad Kitten/Zado, she could have asked about Elsie at the kissing booth and nimble Darlene down at the bay and “Hot Shot” Cloris over in the Rat Village bar and grill. Had she known about them.
Later (or was it earlier?) he was looking at a portrait in one of the city galleries and recognized what he thought were the models. “Wheeler,” he muttered aloud, seeing the Triune that would always rule him. If he didn’t have Collagesity. He *must* hold onto Collagesity. He’ll get the crime spree under control. April Mae Flowers, yes, accomplished the actual homicides, he tried to assure himself. Didn’t work. He knew there were at least 5 active criminals in town (because of the fingerprince), despite only 3 registered residents so far. Danny, who tried to kill *him*, was, true, cleaning out his trailer, getting ready for banishment to… somewhere, Jeffrie Phillips hadn’t decided. Some place that has a lot of broken bathrooms, he he he. Or maybe where they all *worked*, ha ha ha, so he won’t have anything to do. Yes, Hell can be a place of complete, utter boredom too, he realized in the moment. So can Heaven — Heaven and Hell both… which means probably neither exists.
He must think of religion more. There are currently at least 3 active churches in town, or will be — they’re *built* is what I mean. Rezzed. There’s, obviously, the Temple of TILE, and Man About Town — MAT — certainly hasn’t given up on reactivating the old Collagesity ruling deity Carrcassonnee still up on the 3rd floor there, especially since (her replacement) Wheeler seems to be out of the picture. But all he can get out of her still is, “Iiiiiiiiii,” which may mean an uncompleted sentence about herself or maybe the “eye” that dominates her appearance. The eye is broke, he remembers — MAT told him that. That’s the 7th beyond the “unconscious” 6 prims of the body. That is the paradox of the 7 and the 6, the Sepisexton Enigma he termed it at another time. Wacky ol’ MAT, Jeffrie thinks. He’ll always be between one thing or another because of his non-fixed, variable nature. And he’ll probably never get Carrcassonnee to utter anything again except that one word, that one letter perhaps.
He looks again at the picture in the gallery and out of his thoughts. He decides (this must be later, then) that he’ll talk Charlene the Punk out of coming to Collagesity, if she hasn’t already decided herself. She has her business here, and can serve omelettes and other breakfast items in an untimely fashion. No doubt the local residents are use to such lags — heck, they may not even think about them much anymore. Like a fish living in water.
What he could even do is drop mention of Bad Kitten/Zado, Elsa, Darlene, and probably another one or two or three he isn’t thinking about. That’ll keep her here, he assumes. But he can always visit. Often. As often as all the others will allow.