The tiles behind the stove were falling off. And she’d left the burner on again.
“Oh mom,” he complains. “What are we going to do with you?” He turns the knob to the off position and starts clearing the air.
“We have to fix TILE,” Man About Time urges, making his pitch. “Carrcassonnee has become Sepisexton, the 7 and the 6 at once, and is roaming the metaverse unchecked, freeing demons right and left that she can use at her disposal. We’ve already clocked 4 with the same name of Jenny.”
“Jenny is *not* a demon,” countered Mabel, present for the debate. “She’s just… very orange.”
“Aldebaronian,” clarified likewise alien Roger Pine Ridge, who also made a window in his busy schedule for this important forum.
“No, like I said, there are *4*.” Man About Time remained fixed about the unfixed nature of the town’s chief religion, the one it is known for through the temple and some other stuff.
“Boat,” Baker Bloch piped in. “I recall a boat. Didn’t that crash over in Wallytown, though?”
“*Wallytown*,” stepped in Wheeler, “is something we’re *not* suppose to talk about. Not after the shower.”
“Counter that,” uttered Carrcassonnee propped up in a corner, unable to walk still or talk very much. She was basically limited to things that belong in a kitchen. “Spachula,” she offered further. “Scrape up eggs off counter. Will stick if not scraped. Spachula.”
The rest tried to figure out what that translated to in the latest Carrcassonnee limited language issuances. Probably something to do with eyes again. Or “I”s. Despite the split, MAT had gotten her this far, which was something, they agreed.
“Danny. What say you?” Danny was, once more, Man About Time’s right hand man, just like in the past. Pickleland in the sideways world, his trusty plunger turned back in time. Tiger.
“Radar.” Another simplistic issuance but followed up by 176 more sentences that I won’t write out but explained very well what the lack of radar meant to the Schuman without the N. Because there was Sector R to deal with now. “… mustard,” came the end of his last sentence of the 176, describing the color of the entity most responsible for the confusion. Earlier words in this sentence and the 175 preceding it elucidated a robot from a sideways world, probably Oz, who wormed their way into susceptible people’s lives disguised as a “best friend”, as he had called it. This was the case with Barry.
“Very good, thank you Danny. I will close then, for now, by saying that every state of the US is also a state of mind. Think about that.” MAT stares them down from his position in front, on top. For the moment and, hopefully, for the future.
Of the 10 people in the meeting, only 2 thought about bordering states with this, and that is only because they shared some of the same static, been out in the same snowstorm and not made it back in time for supper and a movie that one instance. And suffered the consequences.
(to be continued)
We began again the next day…
“It’s Plan 2, Stumpy,” spoke Man About Time within Moe’s Bar over at NWES City. He’s decided to leave this footprint in the town; keep paying rent on it. “Black Ice is kaput.”
“Yeah, I know,” replies Stumpy the formerly headless bartender, hired only after he promised to get one. “We’ll have to think of ‘what ifs’ on that one.”
“What if…” MAT starts, “… I was recognized for being a world renowned artist.”
“What if…” Stumpy chips in, getting into the game himself, “… I remained headless and could still balance red wine and blue pot correctly.”
“What if…” MAT’s turn again. “All of this is a dream.”
“What if… I were actually dead instead of alive.”
“What if… Charlene were actually my girl instead of Jeffrey Phillips’.” MAT pauses here; Stumpy takes a good gander at him. “Because, you know, he’s dead and all.”
“Maybe *we’re* dead,” Stumpy doubles down. Were they still playing the game? “Do you, er, fancy her, Man About Time? You can tell me. I’m your no. 1 bartender after all. Remember, you hired me after I promised to get a head.”
“Ahead in life, yes. Which the job would give you. So: case closed; loop completed. You are here. You have a head.”
“Back to Charlene…”
He sits for a while on the subway before he remembers it was never finished. He’ll have to walk. Another “what if,” then. What if… the subway system of town was finished and residents could more easily move from one sim to another. But to Black Ice and continue his pitches which are All Pitch. Maybe he should buy Barry DeBoy’s red baseball cap. Put it on backwards so he can tell the two apart. “I’m here,” he imagines saying to forward cap wearing Barry across from him on the train. “And you’re there.” But he was facing (transposed) the other way and couldn’t even see him. Reminds me of a certain Tiger we’ve viewed recently. Barry, I mean, MAT sits alone again. Then gets up. Because of the whole nonfunctioning part of the subway. He’ll have to walk to Black Ice. Surely he remembers how to walk — yes, one foot then another then another. Feets get moving!
(to be continued)
“I like your gray hair.” It changes. “Oh, I mean, *black* hair.”
“Never mind that,” she waves off, still weeping a bit. She lays her head in her folded arms on the table. “I can’t (*sniff*) *believe* he’s *gone*.”
MAT pats her hand. “There there.” It’s something she did a lot for Jeffrey, especially when he woke up after one of his weird dreams. The memory makes her cry even more. We better postpone the post about her chat with MAT for another day.
Oh wait, she’s finished. She looks up, stares into MAT’s eyes. “I’m better (*sniff*). Yes,” she nods. “Better.” More nodding, like a bobble-head winding down. MAT withdraws his hand from hers, sensing he needs to do that. It starts wheels turning in Charlene’s head, though — the subtle pause. Was MAT interested in her? So soon after Jeffrey’s demise? How dare he! But maybe she’s just imagining it. She stares into his eyes. Very intelligent, yes, but very unformed. What would be a better word? Unfocused. *Fuzzy*. Blurred even, but perhaps that’s because of the remaining water in her eyes. She wipes them, looks again. Still a bit blurred, still a bit fuzzy. This was on MAT. How is he going to run a whole 1/8th sim town like that? she asks herself.
“How’s… (*small sniff*) Collagesity managing? I (*smaller sniff*) imagine the paperwork is piling up even higher than before, foot by foot.”
“One foot after another,” MAT recites, thinking back to leaving the subway and heading here. Spunky’s coffee bar, bought by Charlene the Punk from Rochelle the Spy in the Summer of ’98, which would be just last year, NWES Time Zone. She’d done a great job with it. “Money’s not great,” she admitted to Jeffrey Phillips just the week before last Wednesday’s Tuesday or thereabouts. So soon was he taken from us! “Come with me,” he then beckoned. “Come to Collagesity.” Oh, she was there some nights, and it always seemed the ones where he had those weird dreams. About this place called Pickleland, for example. Danny as a time traveling super scientist, ha! He can barely plunge a commode. Okay, he’s actually a pretty good janitor, Charlene admitted in her mind.
Man About Time had nodded off while Charlene thought about other stuff. He too was dreaming about Pickleland, and being in control again, fuzzy no more. Grandma loves him best of all, he knows, up there on the 7th level or whatever. Maybe 8th. But way up high, so no one could reach her. But him.
(to be continued)
zircon encrusted tweezers
Perhaps the Kidd Tower never should have been eradicated from this cozy corner of NWES City, Man About Time thinks while flying above it all again. It’s another “what if…”, but the Kidd Tower remains in Collagesity, on the *Nautilus* continent. Not here, though, in its more natural position on the Jeogeot continent which NWES City acts as a crown jewel of — was *suppose* to act that way. Now its Black Ice is being depopulated, victim of urban overbuild. But I still have Moe’s in Apple’s Orchard, he thinks. And Charlene still has her coffee bar down in Black Ice, and Stumpy still lives with fellow head Gotham above the record store there. Gotham, he realizes. A black person in Black Ice: exactly what I need. He knows where he must head next, ha.
“You’re not suppose to smoke it in your *nose*, you silly person,” he exclaimed as they lounged around in his and Stumpy’s apartment and partaking a bit before heading out to… where? Not much left in Black Ice except Charlene’s coffee bar. Gotham tells Man About Time this.
“Then let’s (*cough*), go to Collagesity. Mabel will be singing (*cough cough*) at the Montana Bar tonight.”
“Really?” said Gotham, use to strange pot talk and the lies it can surface. Blue over red, as Stumpy might explain it. Or something — he can’t remember the exact phrase he uses right this moment. Also something about octaves. And doctors.
“Yeah (*cough*).” Man About Time can hardly breathe now. He had to get out of here. It was foolish for him to toke, even if only through the nose. He was still high enough to fly. He could go back over to Apple’s Orchard right now and probably see the Kidd Tower there in that cozy corner, like it never left. He remembers that Mabel wasn’t singing tonight, and that the Montana Bar hadn’t been built yet. But it will. If other things line up as planned — dominoes. “Let’s, er (*cough cough cough*), go to my place over there instead.”
“What place? You don’t live *here*?”
Man About Time didn’t have breath to explain. He could only manage: “I’ll (*wheeze*) send-you-a-link,” which meant a teleport invite. He knew his apartment was home base — easy reach — and that he hadn’t changed it to the Blue Feather yet. Why would he?; he wasn’t ruler of Collagesity *yet*. Mabel’s dad wasn’t Billy Ray Cyrus — *yet*. Charlene the Punk wasn’t Fern the super-witch…”
“Link to where?” Gotham interjected, making Man About Time remember to teleport himself. But he ended up just falling asleep on the couch afterwards, forgetting about Gotham until the morning. He phoned him up.
“I was waiting here — *all* *night*,” Gotham protested about the disappearance and the missing invite.
“I’ll make it up to you,” came the mild reply. “Montana, I mean, Mabel is singing next week as it turns out. Everything lined up.”
That night at Moe’s Bar:
“Stumpy. Where’d you get that poster?”
“Gee, I don’t know. Why?”
“Was Dinah, Moe’s…*wife*?”
They’d both find out at Mabel’s Montana gig.
(to be continued)
state of mind and body
The penultimate song of Mabel Montana’s set had just ended. Time now for her theme song. But first…
“Well, *that* was interesting,” Stumpy spoke over to Gotham, both high on something tonight of course. “I guess we know what Dinah and Moe hum together.”
“Shhh,” spoke Gotham over to his head friend. “Montana’s starting.”
“Yeah, errr, I know. She’s started singing again.” Even though it was just a hum in the beginning, a purposeful carryover by the alien Martian girl clad to the hilt in lime green garb.
“*No*. Just listen. I *know* this song.” She starts in earnest.
I might be movin’ to Montana soon
Just to raise me up a crop of
Raisin’ it up
Waxen it down
In a little white box
I can sell uptown
Baker Bloch spoke over the music. “She’s really quite good, you know. In a karaoke kind of way.”
“You’re lucky I’m even talking to you again, lover boy,” Hucka Doobie said back.
“Another… drink guys?” Wheeler now, tending the bar.
“Make it a double,” the other woman at the bar said, scooting an empty glass toward her. “No, a *triple*.” She glanced at Baker again, a smirk still on his face. She wished she could just wipe that expression off his dead mug like a state from a map. Montana’s second verse began…
I’m pluckin’ the ol’ dennil floss
That’s growin’ on the prairie
Pluckin’ the floss!
I plucked all day an’ all nite an’ all afternoon
I’m ridin’ a small tiny hoss
His name is…
Mabel stopped singing, lowered the microphone. The music continued on without her.
“Mighty Little!” offered Gotham from the back, thinking she had forgotten the lines. “The horse’s name is…”
“I can’t do this,” she interrupted Gotham, who was just trying to help. Okay, helping but also a little pissed off that his buzz was being killed. He was grooving! “I’m going home.”
Baker turned to Hucka Doobie and also Wheeler. “What just happened here?”
“Duh,” spoke Wheeler. “It’s her brother. Big Little. The song reminded her of…”
“It’s Little Big,” said Hucka Doobie in yet another interruption. “Or Big comma Little; but we get the point.”
“See ya, guys. Sorry. Thanks for coming.” She walked across the tiger head one more time as Montana before it all went away.
(to be continued)
end of Sector
“This ditch will make the town, Danny with an extra N. Some, in the future, will just call it Ditch City, some Old Ditch City, because another will be built on top of it, another Collagesity.”
“Yes sir,” replied Danny, loyal to his new ruler for sure, past present future. “I’m ready.” The shovel in hand was now just another tool of the trade, like the plunger, mop, and bucket. He could handle it.
“I know you are, Danny.” He shuffles his feet again, points in a random direction, sometimes down the ditch but most often not. The fuzziness is still showing. “1948 where we stand now.”
“And we need to reach all the way back to 1898 to change the first Oz movie, make it the first talkie.”
“I estimate — hmm — about where the ditch passes underneath, well, your *new house*.” It was about as excited as mild mannered Man About Time could talk. Danny looked at him google eyed. Tears formed in them, even. Ones of joy. For Danny with the extra N had never had a real and proper home before. He would leave the trailer. He would… finally have a say in town meetings. How marvelous! “That’s right, Danny. You now take care of the Blue Feather itself and become my right hand man. You have a voice; 1898 has a voice. That’s what I figured out. Through the plunger.”
“Tiger,” responded Danny Rada, already practicing losing the R.
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2021 EARLY”!