Sunklands 2022 Later 01


Roberts to start again…

I think I’ve found what I needed to this morning. An unregistered Nautilus (continent) gallery. Hypercubes.

My opposite Franklin doesn’t quite fit in here yet. Too large. We’re working on it.

(to be continued)


00350102

I decided to wed these 2 signs on opposite sides of a court house. Can you tell what they’re about?
filed under: Krazy Kooky Kentucky

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CASH CARTHE LINE Country music ic June Carter were and June Carter untry music stars on March 1, 1968te line to marry Cash proposed onucky. Kitty Wells Canada. The musician Johnnie Franklin because October 30, 1937. could purchase a emained married on the same da; by death many home state of Teohnny Cash and a longer waitire inducted into wedding becamesic Hall of Fame.


00350103

Darn stove. Won’t heat up again. Oh well, they can eat at the cottage now. Hope it’s well stocked.

“Hurry up and brush your teeth, dearest.”

“Arr arr arr Arr arr arr Arr.”

“Have you taken your shower?”

“Arr arr ar — *spit*. Not yet. Arr arr arr.”

“Well hurry. Landfall should be in any (*hard clunk*) minute.”

She looks around to see if anything has fallen off the walls or appliances in the kitchen. Collision with the island obviously. They’re here, automatic pilot accomplishing its mission.

“Looks like we’re here.”

“No joke. I spit all over my jacket this time. My nice green Columbia.”

“Yeah, why are you wearing that thing indoors anyway? Must be 70 in here.”

“Thin blood obviously.”

“*Green* blood you mean,” replied Roberts to this. “Like everything else about you. Except your cash oddly,” she wondered aloud.

“Yeah, gotta draw the line somewhere. I thought I’d make it the obvious.”

“Well no one else I know has got red money.”

“Coins,” Mabel (Mabel!) replied to this. “I almost always pay in coins, gold and silver, true moolah.”

“You put you on the scale at any random moment in the day and your 25 over, ha. Just go all the way. A girl of Purest Green.”

“You know I can’t do that.” She’d finished cleaning the white off her jacket. “Time for a shower still?” she called over hopefully.

“Only if I can join you, tee hee.” F-ck the stove.

—-

20 minutes later they were staring over at their new home for a week. Martha had left a big pot of beans cooking on the beach. Good ol’ Martha.

“It’s small,” complained Mabel — we’ll still call her Mabel. For the moment.

“It’s cheap,” shot back Roberts.

“And that *thing* at the door.”

“Yeah, ha. I guess you’ve never seen one of those — don’t know what it represents.”

She took the joke in stride. “Oh I’ve dated men.”

“We started dating when we were 14. *When*?”

“Before you, sister. Jim. Yeah, that’s his name.”

“Another made up lover. A man this time. Ridiculous. You’re about as straight as the coins filling your pockets.”

“I paid *cash* for him. The straight stuff. The *green* stuff. Why do you think I’m so loathed to carry it now?”

“Jim, huh.” Roberts was starting to be convinced.

“Yeah. Right before we started dating. I ran from men to women as fast as I could after that encounter. And wasted my money as well.”

“How much?”

“Cash?”

“Yeah. I just want to know. How much would you have paid for *me*?”

“Fifty.”

“Fifty. (pause) That’s all? A male hooker in upscale Wampumtown? What, did you go all the way down to the docks –”

Mabel turned and glared at Roberts with this. Enough was enough, line drawn (again). Docks it is.

(to be continued)


different

It was fun testing out boats before settling on the KittyKat one we eventually bought. Like this golden beauty found under an airport in Agrippa — on the Nautiulus continent ta boot. We’re kind of loyalists in that way: Mainland first, then Nautilus even in front of that. We want to stay close to Real Life through the Iowan hypercube, more Roberts’ thing but I get it. She’s explained it to me in layman’s terms.

But this one, whatever the other advantages, didn’t have a functional bathroom. What are you suppose to do, go off the side of the deck? You just dock a little more often, the seller tried to persuade. You’ll get use to it, she added. I don’t think so.

So afterwards we chose to look exclusively at the Bandit series, the ones with the cute little ducks on the shower curtains. All have a functional shower, a functional bathroom. And the KittyKat was well within our price range, being less expensive, for example, than the gold one pictured above, which was more near the top. Whatever disadvantages we have in bedroom animation we’ll make it up with imagination. And, anyway, you have to dock less for bedroom stuff than bathroom stuff. Everyone has to do their no. 1’s and no. 2’s with regularity, several times a day at least, right?

Truthfully, the first time I used their standard Flushmaster 2000 I was sold. Aim free peeing!

And I guess we were joking when we said Roberts hadn’t seen a man thing since she was 14. We’ll figure it out.

My name is *Franklin* and I approve this message.


Black

A new crop of potential recruits has shown up on what they call Umbrella Beach on the western edge of Nautilus’ Crisp Sea, chatting after the delicious, shrimp dominated buffet. Decision time coming up. Whether to step into the shade of the protecting umbrella or go back out into the glare of the harsh, unrelenting sun, all exposed and for everyone around to gawk at in their increasing redness. Red ironically protects against red, they said during the meal, standing up one by one, these past recruits, to give their testimonies of success and life fulfillment through the initiative, the collective. Already, one here was basically under the umbrella, decision made, shackles (of outside life) removed and legs to be retreated back in the shade with the rest, perhaps even before I write this sentence. The purple clad one in the background middle was also about to cave, being a bigger shrimp lover than Lois in white. Sitting down Darla was just ready to go home and be done with it, another one forced here by a prevert relative trying to seduce her to the dark side. “Okay, okay,” she said to her mother Tulipia in a call between meal and beach. “You win. We’ll move to Ohio.” Joy in the Conner household tonight. Uncle Albert would *not* be tagging along, thanks to a restraining order issued by Pinky, Darla’s father, just yesterday.

Speaking of which…

“Medium build, medium height, wearing a black bathing suit. Any idea?”

“Sir you just described about half the girls that walk on this beach.”

“Oh. Thought of something else. She wears a Venus cage necklace. Very distinctive. I don’t think (smile?) you’d be able to miss it.”

“Just a moment; hold on. I promise not to do anything stupid.” Beach cottage owner and secret “receiver” Claude briefly goes inside and retrieves a box, opens it for the stranger. “You mean like *these*?”

It was full of such. Claude gives them away to every girl lured in by the bosses. He doesn’t tell Albert they’re trackers as well. They know where you are.

“Whatever that picture you’re referring to, every one of those girls up there has sent back the same to their family.” He also doesn’t tell Albert they track even through photos. Powerful amulets indeed.

“Interesting information,” says Albert, the uncle of not one but several girls involved down through the years. He comes from a pretty big family. “Just for that, I’ve decided not to shoot you.”

Relieved look?

“Just kidding! POW POW… POW.”

No wounds. Albert wasn’t kidding. Just a water gun… this time.

“You *fell* for it [delete name],” he said while walking away, already plotting Plan B.

—–

Dripping Claude runs inside, calls the boss who would care the most and explains the hold up. “We have another situation,” he says, knowing the boss would understand. “Heading your way.”

“We’ll take care of it,” the boss says to him in a deep, level voice made for a crinimal. “We’ll send him to the Abyss. With the others.”

“Good deal.” [Delete name], *pheh*.


West to North

She said she was on a break from bartending to better pick up men but quickly adding he wasn’t her type. “Too black,” she said, then snickered. He wasn’t interested in this *Marilyn* (she said) anyway. Too white, or not enough black as in hair color, as in clothing. Darla provided that for him. And he was bound and determined to find her and bring her home. He’d follow her to the ends of the Earth, or at least Ohio. If it wasn’t for his own shackles, however electronic they were. But *here*…

“Having problems with your i-pad… *here*?” Marilyn said, looking over while nursing her tea I believe and also probably reading his mind as well.

“Yeah,” he admitted since he had to. She was only about 3 feet from him and could see everything. “Won’t move from sideways.”

“*We’re* sideways,” she offered, then giggled. “You don’t even know where you are.” Fact.

Albert thought back. He was walking down the beach toward the Umbrella Club or Resort or whatever after finishing up with Claude and then… here. Someone or something teleported him. But he wasn’t too worried about it. He figured it was a feature of Our Second Lyfe he wasn’t familiar with. He’d solve the issue soon — get back on track. He was trying to google the problem and then this.

“This is HOME,” she said, and finished her tea with a big gulp before resuming her position behind the bar. Should be a busy night. The Umbrella Operation is not the only one with a deal with the Abyss.

“This is home,” Albert mused, still sideways, still not seeing the correct direction. He never will… here.


link?

“Yeah, this place is definitely whacked,” he said, trying his own i-pad for size.

They were down on the beach now. North — South. The only directions Albert could successfully navigate. Although he could still look “out”. Claude was back with him. Albert knew more, knew he was stuck for some reason. And Claude or someone directly connected to him was responsible. And he now called himself a *receiver*. What the hell? “Like Paul Warfield?” he decided to say to this. Silence between them after that, then:

“That wasn’t very nice what you called me back there.”

“Back where?”

“West from here. This is North, we *were* in West. Thus all the sideways stuff. You’re *stuck*.”

“Hmm, so you’ve said.” He could look out but not go out — lateral. Like a chess piece that can only move file and not rank or diagonal.

“Is it because I’m a prevert? Is that why I’m here?”

“Could be could be.” He was still working with his i-pad despite the sideways disadvantage Albert could clearly see from his angle. Claude made sure of that.

“Tell you what,” he then said. “Look over there, in the distance. See that darker boat with the mast sticking up? Just over there behind the swing thing hanging from the palm.” Albert follows his point and sees.

“There’s two women over there on that island, just on vacation, a break from the rat race. They’re *gay* mind you, no two ways about it if you know what I’m saying. I know you don’t like gays.”

“I don’t like *anybody*,” Albert reinforced, indeed prejudice against the world at large. He’s hateful and hurtful when he sees an opening. The disrespected minorities like Claude, like those ladies apparently, just represent a more worldly acceptable target to him. He tells this in basically using the same words and phrasing to Claude.”

“I know, that’s why I’m giving you this chance. The boss — at least the one I deal with — has given you a break because — well, just like you said. You hate the world in general, etc., etc.”

“I *do*,” Albert reinforced. “Thus the black, thus the infatuation with black. I like black.”

“One thing,” Claude then said. “Apologize.”

“For what?”

“Apologize about what you said to me back there, on the beach.” He pointed West this time instead of North, or North by Northeast. Could Albert do it?

(to be continued)


familiar faces (mowing on)


00350109

Well. Reading *that* certainly made me hungry.

But we better bring in the potential groom to be. Blast from the past.

“You’ll have to get rid of the mohawk,” I say over.

“Done.”

“And the red and blue eyes.”

“Also: done.”

“Annd… the lipstick.”

“Oh. *Okay*. But I’m keeping the earring.”

“Fine.”

“Soo where’ve you been?” He looks kind of like me at that age, Newt thinks, finally somewhat satisfied with The Musician’s appearance. Needs to put on some pounds; seems a bit gaunt. Punk life must be rough on him that way.

“Off the grid,” he answers. “Touring,” he elaborates.

“In your… band.”

“Yeah.” He takes another sip of the wine he brought along, not chancing a strange brand from an unknown place. Although the overall location pretty near the Rubi Woods was familiar to him. Patagonia here. Like the brand of jacket that Franklin wasn’t wearing. Instead: Columbia, which she soiled with her toothpaste. It’s fine, though.

“Last time I checked you were in Sunklands.”

“That wasn’t me,” he shot back, not claiming responsibility for being in that club, The Cavern. “Someone else,” he stands firm.

“Despite the similar appearance? Despite the mohawk?”

“Yeah.” He’d been through this before. He had a female double. Jacob I. knows. If we can wake him up from where he slumbers.

“Alright, how about, let’s see, Paper-Soap?”

“Nope.”

Pause as I continue to read/study. “Then let’s try the Omega continent’s Straight. With Duncan Avocado.”

“Okay. Recall *something* about that.” He scratches his now bare head, trying to reveal memories.

“Duncan was mad at you because you were disguising yourself as grown up in an adult infohub. Something, hold on, about milk and cookies. You were looking over at milk and cookies. But was it *really* milk–”

“I remember,” The Musician cut him short. He’d grown up fast that day, if not nearly enough to match his body at the time. But he could change back very quickly in those days. Ahh, the energy of youth.

“And then… you said you aren’t the same as the woman version of you, right? The director as I’m recalling through this review of ours.”

“Correct.” There was an interesting mystery there to be solved, I log through Newt. Him but not him. A her. “And then — I guess we’re all the way back to when you were with Wheeler.”

“Why I’m here,” he replied simply and took another sip. He jumped at the chance to marry her this go around, in whatever form she has. He’d seen pictures and that was enough. “Sold,” he said to me. Thus the meeting at this cafe beneath the giraffe which he rode in on.


That’s a Moray

It was the last outing with her friends before the big event. “George,” she called over, “do you… do you think I’m doing the right thing?” Funny how her best friend Debbie also married a George. Were they happy? Let’s just say there was always room to slide between the two. Like here.

“I don’t know, Shelley, sounds like a Debbie question.”

Yeah, right, Debbie thinks.

“But you’re a man. You know The Musician pretty well by now.” George again wondered why they always called him that. He plays an okay guitar, specializing in Lennon and Lydon, but he’s not a professional by any means. Instead he’s a cookie cutter at the local bakery. Why not Baker, then? Odd thought, he realizes.

“He loves you and that’s all I know.” George Smithson rattles his paper, a sign that he was eager to get back to it. Debbie was absorbed in her phone, checking the latest bets on the local dogs. One named Red Spider is 10:1 odds to beat another called Arrow. She might place a bet on that one for a particular reason we can’t quite reveal yet — perhaps never will admittedly.

Only Shelley is left without distracting entertainment right now. So she looks around the Real World, sees a woman selling flowers down the way, sees a fisherman standing behind her who had just pulled his boat into the docks, perhaps contemplating buying a rose for his sweetie who he left behind when heading to sea, maybe hours ago but maybe weeks, years even.

She sees a woman taking a selfie with her dog while a fish flops wildly on the back of the tricycle in front of her.

And then, further down the docks, birds flocking to a man reading a newspaper for some reason. Perhaps he just fed them in a pause in his reading. She wonders if he’s reading the same paper as George here, and then why George never seems to go out of his way to feed birds or really care about anything in the world at large, including his wife of course foremost of all. Does George — her George — care about me? she wonders once again. Will our marriage quickly — *devolve* to this?

She decides to test this George. “Looks like that nice man down the docks just fed those pigeons.”

George glances over. “Doves,” he says. They’re doves, Shelley,” then back to the reading.

“Still, it’s a nice gesture.”

George doesn’t say anything to this. He’s checking the stock market. Maybe he’ll buy into this company called Red Arrow coming up fast, a crypto-currency organization specializing in tax evasion. Eew, a spider suddenly walks across the figures! He quickly swats it away in one motion.

Shelley looks from one to the other, having her answer. She needs to talk to her Dad, maybe her Mom and Dad together, about this whole *arrangement*. She plots how to get out from between them asap. “Guys, I think I’ll go back to the motel. My stomach’s feeling a little queazy.”

“It’s those grapes,” Debbie says to her, placing the bet.

“Yeah, the grapes for sure,” agrees George, hitting the buy button on the screen.

“Grapes,” mutters Shelley. Where have I heard this before? she thinks.


Moray effect

The next morning finds her twirling in place while flying, being repeatedly shot by Bob, the son of a fisherman also named Bob who was likewise raised by a fisher named Bob, if not his biological father. Bob Jr. Jr. hopes to break the pattern of slavery to the sea and its cresty, troughy ways by photographing it instead, putting distance between himself and the chaotic waves. “A little to the left,” he requests to the spinning what appears to be a mermaid or flying fish anyways in his eyes, beautiful and even glistening in the rays of the young sun. “That’s it.” Shelley had temporarily forgotten about George. Supposed bestie Debbie and and her own George had urged her to just let go here, be relaxed and free before getting tied down for the rest of her life, probably with kids of her own soon. She didn’t think so. She had other plans.

Just down the docks again:

“Will you look at him over there, snapping away like a turtle. He’ll never escape the sea.”

“Nope,” replied Ben, feeling a nibble. He hoped it wasn’t just another one of those shoes because he was tired of sole food. Heel let it go if so, bite his tongue of the catch to his hungry family. Think that’s it.


more, eh?

“Who ordered the early bird special of wavy worms?”

“I think that’s you, Jennifer.”

“Patsy… here.”

“Of course.”

“Over here,” she called to Debbie Angie from the dive down the way, if not the docks. There’s an alley in back there somewhere. Patsy and Melissa had found it earlier, just don’t ask them how or to recreate their steps. They requested: just bring it over to the fish stand by the sea where we’ll order the rest of our meals,” not liking the looks of the other stuff on their yellowed menus. Eels? Don’t think so. Eels cannot be fitted into meals. But the worms (fries) seemed enticing to light eating Patsy formerly known as Jennifer. Until she took a bite. Fishy as well!

Etherea was sweeping the stoop in front of her dockside apartment when she spotted more spiders, all red and in a row this time like military ranks or files. She warns the town of the invasion from afar, Ohio I believe, staying with her cousin Angie Apples (Apples?) until the fumigators from neighboring Triggerfish did their tricks, trying not to use too many guns in the process although it made them happy to do so. Etherea was all for that to speed the process up from her afar position — grenades, bazookas, bombs even, whatever they had, although the townspeople always complained of collateral damage if so, like butcher Jim, like dentist Arthur, like author Butch who had just written a book about the sea from the perspective of an old man with scaly skin. Dabbled in oil too, applying it to his body as well as canvas because he was a painter alongside being a writer, and he also had rigs set up just over there in the bay until his untimely death in the First Spider War, as they called it afterwards. The spiders regrouped, having turned from red to even more menacing black in the great oil spill of ’32, and then forged forward with the second invasion, bringing an end this time through collateral damage again to James, Jack, and Joe, a tennis player, a basketball weaver, and a furniture leg remover from Uptown, Downtown and Sidetown respectively. All tragic losses the remaining townspeople felt for hours afterwards, maybe weeks or, yes, years. Years I meant. Hours to the spiders perhaps with their much shorter life, but they weren’t grieving until the end. Triggerfish. Atomic now. Boomb!!

And yet here they are, back somehow. Rosy red again, just like at the beginning, like nothing had transpired in the meantime, like all that effort, that suffering was for naught. Etherea screamed and dropped her broom to the ground, seeing black magic when it appeared in a new guise.

Shelley spent the afternoon with Bob, oblivious to the spiders, then returned to the motel to find this note from Debbie and George, excusing their sudden disappearance. “Uncle Jiffy has crabs. See you at the wedding!” They were just that desperate for good food.


Machines take over?

Officer Brendin, not to be confused with officers Brenden, Brendan, and Brendon from other photo-novels (joke), reports a time burp to his superiors over at the Triggerfish station on his invisible phone, undercover at the time. Just about to rub my chin thoughtfully, he thinks, grinning a bit while talking and kind of hiding his mouth. “One woman’s ordered curry,” he spies while recording. “The other is nibbling on fries and then… *there*. Something fishy happened fer sure.”

—–

He finally gets around to interviewing Angie about the incident when he finds the correct alley. Queer as well, because there’s only one. Maybe he’ll get to that case next. “‘All Eel’, with a big sign outside reading ‘Ask about our Eel!'” she defends her dive. “What did the woman expect?”

“I see.” A spider crawled up his leg, followed by more. He was down for the count in 5 and not the normal 10. The reds had advanced just that far. Angie held out a bit more, armed with eels the size of seals. Blam blam blam, like teeny tiny atomic blasts to the wooden planks of the docks. Yet they swarmed in from uptown, downtown, sidetown, emboldened by the lack of residents in each place. The town was down to 4, all in the middle, all about to get “spidered”, likewise cornered fishermen Ben and Al joining in the fun. From above, it looked like a big red dot formed atop the center. Like a target. And drop away those technologically advanced Triggerfishians did just then, boomb!! (again) Trouble is, this time the town went away with the enemy. Everyone loses.

Etherea heard it in Ohio, a 4608 rental parcel 2 sims west named for a user from Cleveland or Columbus, take your pick, throw in Cincinnati as well. She made the call, learned the bad news about her house, her town. She talked to her cousin Apples (Apples?) about it, similarly tagged for the state fruit because of a past presence of Johnny Appleseed.

“Don’t you worry, cousin, you stay here as long as you need to rebuild your life, your way of living.”

She glances outside at troubled, black haired and black clad Darla by the swimming pool, back from camp just in time for the unfortunate event that would spread atomic dust this time as far as Pennsylvania, a neighboring parcel to the east. Just that close. “How’s she holding up?” Etherea decided to deflect her troubles, knowing she’d take it harder than anyone with her sensitivity to sounds and all. BOOOMB. Even though two sims over it must have been deafening to the child.

“She’s holding,” says her mother, indeed looking out at the girl with hands now clasped to both ears. “And she brought a friend with her, wearing white instead of black. I think they’ll help each other over time.

—–

“How’re *you* holding out darling?”

“Stunning. Didn’t hear a thing.”

“That’s my balance girl.”


00350114

“You better grab one of those dolls or you’ll be stuck with a flamingo over there. Thanks again for apologizing to me about that thing.”

“Did I?”

“Close enough. Yeah, that one coming in on the tide without any costume. Nab it while you can.”

—-

One week later, not far away atall:

“Those dykes better show up soon. Right Wanda?”

Wanda has no opinion on the matter. “What-ever,” she might say if she could actually talk. But she’s a good enough companion otherwise. For the time being. Until the others arrive. Albert is suppose to, how did Claude put it? Convert them, yeah. Knowing Roberts and Franklin like I do already, I’m sure this will go swimmingly.

Here they come!

“Get ready to pull out your surprise,” says smirking Roberts from the bow as they glide in.


00350115

Afterwards he was too despondent to even fish off the back porch, his favorite past-time here after Wanda and watching TV, which always seemed to feature reruns of that old 60’s sitcom “Green Acres”. “Since you’re so *interested*, would you like to see?” Franklin said, and he said, “*sure*. Why not.” He hadn’t seen one in a while, except Wanda’s. And she really didn’t count. “Sorry about that, Wanda,” he imagines himself saying into the shack to his companion in the moment, his companion for a while apparently, however rubber and fake she is. He didn’t realize it was a mixed up jumble of stuff down there for Franklin. How could he? And then to top it off, the yellow came. Right in the face! He didn’t think he’d ever get over it. They cackled like hyenas, they left, back on their boat to the hell in which they came. Just around the corner, they said. Come see us if you want more, sweetie. So now he was scared to move in any direction — even if he could right now, being without a boat himself as he was still — for fear of facing them again, fear of facing *it*. He felt them all around. “Aim free guidance,” she also said while the, er, *flow* was happening. “Right down the toilet, ha ha ha!” And then that song or whatever while they were gliding away, having done all the damage they wanted or needed — for the time being, they said. Eels. Just the word repeated over and over, in a certain pitch. He didn’t have the gift of perfect pitch, else he’d know it was D Flat, the most cursed key of all, directly resonant with The Abyss itself some say. A green woman — or *something* — a “song” or sea ditty about eels… what did it add up to?

Albert was never good at maths, so the next day, taking pity on him a bit, Claude came back to visit, finding him still in about the same position as that photo at the top of this post. Back porch. No fishing pole in hand.

“You knew something like this would happen?” he begin in earnest to the black man sitting beside him now, both staring out at the waterfall in the distance during the exchange.

“Yup.” Silence between them. Albert then realized that he never really, properly made an apology to the boy, because he called him [delete name] in the process, as in, “I apologize, [delete name].” Thus: here. The Abyss. He knew the term from his parents, devout Tilists both while he was growing up, having been drilled about the static filled hell ever since he was big enough to pick up a book as heavy as the TILE Bible, all 1036 pages of it (518 x 2). “You’re going to the *Abyss* if you don’t eat your cereal,” says Jasperia, the mother. “You’ll go to the *Abyss* if you don’t do your homework then say your prayers before bed,” she might start again after supper. Always the cereal at supper and not breakfast, all because a certain passage from the damn thing that said morning and evening are interchangeable (pgs. 518-519). What else did the cursed thing say? he tried to recall.

“Albert,” Claude said over, tired of my inner monologue apparently. “You don’t have to face them again, you don’t have to face *me* again. No dykes or [delete names]. All you have to do is go back to your family — Ohio is it?”

This [delete name] knows it’s Ohio, Albert thinks here.

“And apologize. Not to Darla directly, but to the parents, your sister and her husband. Tulipia and Pinky isn’t it?”

Albert turns toward Claude, tries to tone down the hate showing in his face. “She goes by *Apples*.”

“Apples, right right.” More silence. Albert realizes Claude is waiting for a response. Out of his control, he finds himself blowing a raspberry.

He’s going to be here a while longer.


00350116

From his shack embedded in rocks all around, he’d watch her — seems about mid-afternoon every day — walk up to the top of the waterfall and mix a thin but unbroken line of gold in with the roar of white. Then she’d walked back down and go the other direction, not to be seen until the next time. This was obviously for show. Don’t mess with us prevert, he imagines her saying. We’re always one step ahead of you, thinking as both man *and* woman.

There. He could always see it hit the bottom. He always *felt* it (again). Must be part of the place’s black voodoo.

Wish Claude would come back, he thinks after today’s particular show was over, starting even higher than usual. Might be in a better mood now to talk about Apples. Besides, Wanda has another one of those headaches she’s prone to lately. And the Green Acres channel has mysteriously turned to snow. Not much else going on, then. He’ll pencil in a meeting, let’s say, mid-afternoon tomorrow, ha. Because he wants to make sure it’s not all hallucination by this point — everything. He needs a tether back to reality. Maybe even write or at least start an apology letter to Apples, if he could find an actual pencil hidden around here, maybe under the couch cushions. He’ll check as soon as he finishes another nap on Wanda’s unyielding lap.


00350117

I’ve given up. Wanda: gone. Punctured and then dumped in the bay, along with the couch which *didn’t* harbor any secret writing devices. Worthless, signal free TV: gone; same place. Fishing pole: dumped in the water as well. Swimming with the fishes instead of catching them. All I have is the roar of the waterfall and the occasional, added tinkle; funny how I can hear that much smaller sound through it all. I don’t even look out any more. Claude: nowhere in sight. I still live but I don’t know how. I haven’t had food for days and days. Life force… draining.

—–

“Aren’t you going to the waterfall today to do your thing? 1/2 past 6 already.”

“Nah, I think he’s had enough. Either he’s fully capitulated or he’s dead in there, hard to tell. I don’t even really care. But he’s broken either way.”

“We should contact Claude, then,” suggests Roberts to her lover and perhaps wife Franklin with this. “He owes us the rest of the 5 grand we signed up for, task completed it seems, as much as we could do perhaps.”

“Money, pheh,” exudes Franklin, picturing Albert’s limp, maybe lifeless body on the floor of the small shack hemmed in by rocks. “Fully green now,” she laments about receiving the paper bills, all Claude had conveniently enough. No metal. Not even red bills, which Franklin made up anyway to embellish a story.

“*Purest* green,” states Roberts while looking over, also experiencing remorse. “Just like you always dreaded.”

“Yes, we made a choice, Albert made a choice. I’m not sure who’s worse in the moment.”

“Us, obviously. Because we have an actual conscience.”

“He *might* come around. He could just be lying there, pitiful and useless life flashing before his eyes.”

“Somehow… I think our own lives hang in the same balance.” Both stare at the fire, realizing their actions were pure and good in that Albert *deserved* to be pissed on, and then reminded of it on a daily basis — but money never should have been involved. They didn’t pass angelic “receiver” Claude’s litmus test. But, like with Albert, there’s still a chance for redemption.

Franklin sat up. “We have to save him.”

“I’ll get my coat.”


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