“”What’s wrong, honey? (no answer) Oh dear, are you channeling again? (no answer) Is it… the triangles?”
She sat there all glassy eyed for a while like 2 marbles were planted in her head in place of eyes. Then…
“What you cooking today Eddy?!” shouted the runny man, passing by.
“Hot dogs!” he called back. “But made with veggie stew!”
“Cool! Catch you later, then!” Tom shouted, his voice receding in the distance as he headed toward the far corner of the strange, rectangular green pool that centered the apartment complex they both lived in, this Paradise Town as it liked to call itself. The pool begs to differ, because it also has a name, usually unspoken. Tried to be forgotten.
Common denominator: umbrellas.
In a place run by cats, there were always a lot of naptimes to get the information he needed. Like the actual scoop on the Poop Pool, as it was called locally, at least behind closed doors, often in the middle of the night when a faint whiff of the former stench could be caught by those who’re perceptive. Deputy here had been out since about 8 now, hugging her little froggie toy until the wee hours of the morning. Eddy Daigle, cousin to our Edward Daigle already met in part one and originally sharing the same name, sniffed the air. Faint but perceptible. He hit delete on the sheriff’s computer and the file about it was permanently gone, as if the problem never existed. Much like Edward from his name, revised and revamped to the more colloquial Eddy after 5th grade when he also switched first and last names to hide the connection even more. “Daigle, Eddy” he liked to be called after that, 2 steps or functions away. And he was from Montana, not Louisiana or Maine or, especially, Illinois. Unlike that John L. Brown we’ve yet to come across in the current novel but who played a part in the last one, small but effective, like a rat silently and stealthily tearing away at the insulation in your walls, leaving you eventually laid bare to the elements. John L. Brown was a bad one, and deserved to be behind the bars of this here law enforcement establishment.
Uh oh. Deputy’s rolled over and lost her grip on her little, favorite toy. Sheriff’s snores on the couch over there are getting a little shallower and further apart, REMs decreased. Soon dreaming will be over for the fellows, Eddy knew. But he still couldn’t find the second file he wanted. Best to pack it up, come back tomorrow. Or after, actually, the next town animal banquet when the ferocious gazelles would bring more fresh kill from the beaches and the water. Snorklers this week. Could even be some deep sea divers mixed in next. That would put them even more under for his clandestine night operations; would allow him to get more work done, dig deeper.
“Daigle, Eddy” knew he wasn’t kosher and that saved him many times from being on the wrong side of one of these feasts. 9 times he had been saved in fact, making him part cat himself. Thank you great great grandma on my father’s side! He licked his hand softly as he does instinctively every now and then and shuts the laptop off and heads home.
No one in the cell right now except a member of the Bad Katz Gang, who was turning her back to the illegal nature of his visit. He hoped to change that soon.
They had to talk in code because of the presence of the (righteous) nun to their right, obviously some kind of spy and listening in. “Daigle, Eddy” felt he had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other: Fisher Rig to his left, fresh from helping the beasts with another killing spree. “Beasts must have their feasts,” he says, rationalizing his actions with rhyme. “Besides, I’m not part cat like you,” he might add to D’Eddy here (as he also likes to be called sometimes). “I don’t have protection.”
“You don’t have to *stay*,” D’Eddy could reply here. “I *do*. I’m married to this place,” he might continue.
“Because of the pool?” Fisher Rig would say here if so. “I thought you deleted that file, those (particular) actions. Like Schitt’s Creek, nobody needs to know the proper name. Like, well, your *own* name. Edward.”
“Don’t call me that,” he would certainly command at this point, perhaps pulling a small gun out of his pocket and pointing it for emphasis. “Don’t *ever* call me that.” For Fisher Rig, he preferred D’Eddy, simply because the simple fisherman had trouble grasping the comma centered moniker he chose in the 5th grade, after his cousin had humiliated him in a… well, better save part of the story for later.
(to be continued)
Oh what the heck. It was a game of TILE, then just called Alphabet Soup. Edward traversed the alphabet three times before his cousin finished one. Full alphabets were especially important for Daigles of whatever first name, including Pierre, including Bradbury. The Oracle demanded. And since Edward was *also* named Edward, the humiliation was increased at least 3-fold. Probably more. He had to get rid of it as best he could according to the laws of the land.
another police department (Indian and Cowboy)
“So close to public nudity, this Publius Enigma she called herself,” explained deputy Andy Trailer to sheriff R.V. Fife about the lock-up. “Couldn’t take any chances on her accidentally or purposely removing the rest, see.”
Just arrived R.V. looked over at the cell containing the new prisoner, wondering how he could untangle himself and the department from this latest arrest by his oft bungling and misguided sidekick. “I see,” he spoke as neutrally as possible, checking her out. “Looks like some kind of Indian costume,” he bemusedly said of the rest.
“Mayan, she said. The Mayan Marauder, she also called herself. Said she was on the way to Helicon to perform at a private pool party. Sounds like a convenient cover-up, aherm, to me (sniff).”
“Dancer?” R.V. envisioned the rest coming off, like Andy before him, like Opie the town drunk, happily sharing a cell with the costumed woman and giving her the up and down from his bunk at every opportunity.
R.V. looked again. “The pipe came with the, uhem, costume? I’m mean, you surely didn’t let her into my private stash without asking?”
Andy turned a bit red here. “Sorry — it’s just that she said she needed a smoke to calm her nerves, especially before your arrival. We, aherm, didn’t have any cigarettes.” His voice trailed off. He realized he probably did a bad thing in bringing her here. Should have just let her go with a warning. But the name Publius — so close. No, he had to do what he had to do, he justified again in his head.
“And the Red Dragon?” R.V. further interrogated his deputy and not the prisoner. He’d smelled it at the door before he opened it. He figured a new prisoner was awaiting him inside and most likely a woman. Andy only gives favors to the fairer sex.
“Out of Blue Pennant, sorry (again).”
“This is a *mistake*,” R.V. had to say here, but couldn’t help smiling underneath it all. “A *cardinal* mistake — one for the books, my my (shakes head; looks over again). Can you at least put her in the other cell so that Opie can calm down?”
Andy dare not admit he’d given the second jail mattress to his cousin Goofy to sleep on while he’s on leave from Fort Braggard for the weekend. “Um, sure R.V.”
“Opie!” Andy barked, walking over. “Give me the mattress. Give it to me now. And stop bobbing your head up and down like that! Leave the woman in peace.”
“Oh *Andy*,” the drunk said, but got up and helped the deputy tote it to the only other cell in the building. Both R.V. and M.M. smiled at the scene, and then caught each other smiling. R.V. rambled over in his unassuming fashion after the cell had been cleared of the others.
“Helen, actually,” she said, eyes twinkling as if she knew what would happen, could see into the future.
“Helen, yes. Now I’m sorry about this. If I let you go, uhem, then you have to promise either to put some more clothes on or get out of town as soon as possible. Now you’re not breaking the law as far as I can tell,” and he gave her the up and down again, but without lust in his case — not much, or he tried to put a damper on his beastly side. “But you’re close. Andy was bad to bring you in. He should have let you off with a warning.”
“I see.” The twinkle again. She knew he was caught in her lasso.
(to be continued)
Some say he looked like Jimmy Stewart, sitting behind his desk with the guns in back as they entered. But they were just for show: R.V. never toted a pistol himself. He believed in the basic decency of man, and that issues, however dire on the surface, can be reasoned through and ended without mayhem or bloodshed. Perhaps his reward for this positive viewpoint was the finding of Helen, our Mayan Marauder, our Publius Enigma, close to public nudity but not quite there, not quite breaking the law either, then, despite the continuing opinion of deputy Andy. “We agree to disagree about the matter,” he settled the matter with his sidekick, his buffoonish underling who *always* carried a gun albeit one without bullets. Sheriff R.V. saw to that.
Skeleton outside and perched vulture — just another show, mainly for the tourists to this here retro town of One Pink, also known as Lips, or that’s what the post office wants to retain as the official name. But the dispute, some say, is just part of the antique feel of the village, as things often happened like that in the Wild West of olden days, often settled — again — with mayhem and bloodshed before a single name could be selected. If a settlement wanted to call itself Bradshaw and others disputed it, just kill off all the ones who want Bradshaw. Sheriff R.V. is versed in the olden ways; he’s a student of law enforcement in the past. He studies to *escape* it, though, unlike some who want a return to the wildness, the wilderness.
Aunt Beatrice is about to get out of church, and R.V. needs to pick her up since she doesn’t like walking home in the sun. Ruins her complexion, she says about our nearest star; a flaming ball of poop, she sometimes calls it, especially when a new wrinkle develops on her 60-ish skin. No one really knows her age, and all that use to are dead, some say: killed — by Beatrice herself in her extreme vanity. Sheriff R.V., an actual nephew and not just a namesake one, knows differently. “That’s just her rough exterior,” he defends to others. “She fights the elements all around her, people, place, things. *Circumstances.* But inside, deep inside — somewhere — there’s a decent, wholesome person that loves the world, that loves her relatives — the few that remain — and, above all — and I think this is very important even though we don’t share the same faith — loves God.”
The police department’s steam carriage stalls out on the railroad tracks. Looks like R.V. is in a heap of trouble again, especially since Beatrice will have to walk about 100 feet from the front door of the church in the searing sun to get here. R.V. figures he might actually need a loaded gun this afternoon to fend her off.
(to be continued?)
“It was the black nun again,” relayed Fisher Rig about his dream. “Or… black… something else.”
“Lady in mourning?” D’Eddy (Daigle, Eddy) guessed correctly.
“Maybe,” Fisher said back. “Could have been evening.” D’Eddy had to chuckle. Poor, dim Fisher Rig. But he knew he was right.
“She bowed,” Fisher then said. “I was in my prison outfit. I was chained to the couch or bed or whatever I was laying on. I felt… exposed.”
“Go into that more,” requested D’Eddy. They had nothing else to talk about, since both were incarcerated because of the break-in. But that Poop Pool file was gone, much to D’Eddy’s relief. Probably worth it, then. 5 more days and they’re out. Ever-running neighbor Tommy Abbott promised to stop long enough to feed his cat Smiley and his goldfish Mister Mischief.
“She had that cross over her head from my angel.”
“Angle,” D’Eddy corrected again. “Go on.”
“I didn’t see the (backing) Abbot until later.”
Abbot, D’Eddy ponders here. Like my neighbor. “Spell ‘Abbot’,” he requested, and Fisher Rig did… with the two “t”s. Could have been Fisher’s dimwittedness showing up again but maybe not. He was trying to put the pieces of the dream together to make a whole, just like I’m doing with Nautilus in the overall world I live in, real or virtual. Enzor (sim) here represents the latest part of the puzzle, somewhere between Lips or One Pink and Helicon. In fact…
“I’m going in there Fisher. Do you see me?”
Turning, the lady answers instead. Just as I suspected. Helen (in disguise). On her way between the two still. But what is she mourning? Maybe it just means morning after all. Dawn breaks outside. The monkeys behind me, male and female, start to chatter in excitement. Sun is coming, they seem to indicate with their whooping and screeching. Darkness over!
“Darkness overrr,” the voodoo skeleton creature hissed beside me, light coming into his eyes.
controller (one nautilus is all nautilus)
“As you can see, young man, my black piece — the bishop I believe, unless it’s the rook — is turning into a white piece. This is how I propose to win the game.”
“Forfeit?” I guessed, knowing the overwhelming odds against him.
“Hardly. Look at your hands.”
“Your — move.”
fish head (YES MAYBE NO)
“Who is she?” he asked, heart still thumping from all the excitement.
“Goes by Helen.”
Helen, Guy pondered. Like Troy. Destroyer of Men.
Time to reset to Zero.
“Miss Graham, Miss Graham,” Barry DeBoy interjected, raising his hand.
The teacher points to him with her chalk instead of circling the all important modifier on the blackboard, the center of it all.
D’Eddy, sleeping in a nearby cardboard box and overhearing some of it at the end of his dream, wakes up. What started with his hands now extends over his whole body. He is fully black now. He looks at his hands, his arms. He even takes off his shoes to check his feet. It’s all tinged with red a bit too. He ponders what that could imply. Indian as well? “Well well well,” he found himself muttering, shaking his head at it all. “Well well well.”
He prepares breakfast by standing on the sink and touching it. Rosebud tea with butter and muffins. Perfect.
He realizes he can’t get rid of the cap attached to his belt because it exposes the red around his waist. He can’t exchange it for red because red is already in place. I.e., he is not the Barry DeBoy of his remembered dream. He has that much.
He waves hi to his neighbor Hutchison (or was it Hutchinson?) out the window, tending to his garden next door. Not seen.
He goes downstairs to play the piano, since there’s not a lot more to do in the house where he lives. The cardboard box was a dream, but he knows where it is still. Enigma. He’ll go there later when he gets bored. A player’s place is at the piano, he thinks, and begins to tickle the ivories. He decides he needs to study the ebony keys more and incorporate them into his compositions. Ivory *and* Ebony — could be the title for a song, even. Could he compose a piece with only black keys, sharps and flats in other words? It would make for a challenging exercise; cut into the boredom that always comes when he lifts his hands from the Bechstein upright.
His other neighbor Victor also plays the piano. He’s a more proper player, although not a composer: teaches the subject at a local university in fact, a community college I believe, which is all the education most middle class people can afford these days. He doesn’t want to be an elitist, or at least act like one. Because he knows he’s an elitist — 1/2 and 1/2 (here we go).
Barry DeBoy can faintly hear the other piano play on top of his own. Why does he always start about the same time as me? he wonders, momentarily stopping to listen in. Gershwin?
“Put the cap back on,” he hears in another dream. “You are an artist; you are *not* a piano player.” And so it goes.
He stands back from the piano, realizing he can’t even play. One of his paintings appears on the wall beside him: “Capsule in Ocean”.
Can you see it?
Baker Bloch wonders where he lost his cowboy hat. He remembers visiting the antique village of Lips or One Pink with it — heard both while there. Then: here. Without.
Oh well. I’m sure he’ll track it down. He’s here for a reason on this stand alone peak, unusual for a continent dominated by long ridges. Not to ponder more about his supposed missing hat (in truth it just hasn’t rezzed in yet), but about Nautilus in general. He deems this place Point Zero, a new beginning for him and his family of core avatars. He figures they have to start over somewhere. Why not here?
Now to invite others to tell them the good news.
“Wheeler,” he texts. “I’m here on Cedar Mtn. I wasn’t banned this time (unlike you before). I think if you just stay on the property with the mountaintop and don’t fly over other parcels in the area you’ll be fine. I’ve been here for, I don’t know, 10 minutes now. I’m just missing my… oh wait, *there* it is.”
He feels the hat now around the crown of his head. He sees the brim in front of him, senses the air cool a little around his ears. Wheeler shows up.
And then immediately disappears. She texts afterwards: “No, no good Baker B. I’m still banned. 2 hours. But it might as well be forever. Someone doesn’t want me there, pheh.”
Pheh, he thinks. Typical. They’ll have to look elsewhere for Zero. Maybe Enzor still. It’s in the name after all. Enzor it is.
“Meet me at 128 128 Enzor,” he texts back. Poor Wheeler, he thinks.
Such a promising place too.
“I wonder what it’s like to be without a heart, Wheeler. To… try to figure out what heart even means.”
“I don’t know. And I don’t think I want to find out.” Good answer.
Enzor it isn’t.
“Just hanging around til you got here.”
“Well, I’m here.”
“Pretty, huh?” Baker Bloch offered to just arrived Wheeler about the fairy garden he’d discovered tonight in his roamings.
Sigh. “Sure. Point Zero?” she couldn’t help but ask.
“Maybe.” Baker indicates with a tilt of his head. “Blue fairy over there. Just like in ‘Pinocchio’.”
“Um hm, I remember. Blue screen of death. Oracle… dead.”
“But not now.”
“No,” she agreed. She looked around, studied each of the fairies she could see and their tableaus. She decided not to walk around. She wasn’t sure how long she wanted to stay. She has a seat in front of the fire; waits for Baker to stop swinging and come over to join her.
She quickly became impatient. “Are you going to join a swingers club or are you going to stay loyal to me?”
Baker hopped down from the rope and walked over. “We’re not married, you know. That was just a joke from the last photo-novel. The last of the last,” he said.
“I know. I thought it was fitting to say anyway. Have a seat.”
He does, and then a colorful person appears from behind some rocks and comes over and starts to serenade them with queer violin playing while bobbing up and down.
“Aw jeez,” says Baker to this.
“What… what is it?” Wheeler looks him over; decides he is harmless.”
“Aw it’s just his guy I met. Bouncer. He must think…”
“We’re a couple? I did too. And then you drop this bombshell on me. We’re not married.”
“You know we’re not married, Wheeler. Just drop it.”
“Like a ball. Like the ball I deserve? My wedding gown. Had to pack grandmama’s away again, perhaps for good. She’s rolling over in her grave for certain, tsk tsk tsk.”
“Stop,” Baker requests, loud enough for Bouncer to hear. He lifts his bow. He bows. He waits.
“I think he wants a tip,” Wheeler said, not offering any herself. Baker traditionally has more of the money, she thinks. But currently he’s got that high rent payment each week. 750 dollars due *now*. Wheeler knew Baker was fishing again.
“5 okay?” Bouncer just stands there unbouncing. He touches the purple musician to deliver the money. No bowing this time. Disappointment. He takes his leave behind the rocks again.
“100 would have been more appropriate,” Wheeler opines, trying to figure out how he disappeared so quickly from her angle. “200 maybe. It was a good tune. Messiaen I believe, one of his bird twitterings. I’m surprised it didn’t attract some pigeons.”
“You could be right,” he says, moving his hot feet away from the fire by sitting sideways.”
“I *am* right. I can always tell a Messiaen. He must be a real pro to play that fine. 300, I say. You should have tipped 300… no 400.”
“I assume you’re going to raise it to 750. I know what game is being played.”
“Yeah. You know why you’re here.”
“Yeah. I’m strapped for cash as you know.”
(to be continued)
hollowed out volcano
Baker Bloch trying to love his new, temporary home and forget that his Collagesity rent is now 1 day overdue, pheh. PHEH.
He hasn’t quite got the lighting in here, he thinks. Trying out “Fairy dark blue (Paulina)” currently.
View of the place from the west. Complicated. Potentially many stories to tell within with the many dummies present. Just like Towerboro before it. Wonder how Towerboro is progressing — still a work in progress after all, according to the land description. But Baker shouldn’t be focused on the past. Instead: current. *Dairochia* — yes, that’s the name I concocted several novels ago now. Because we’ve been here before. Library. Looking for a particular book about monsters. Then: stolen.
And it has a secret core, Baker also remembers. Where the letter “l” was exchanged for an “i’.
Time to bring in Wheeler.
“Morgan, eh? Just like Alysha.”
“Yeah,” Baker answered Wheeler. “I’m positive she’s still here.”
“She stole the book, she stole the letter. She won’t be welcomed in this here kingdom of several powers that be.”
“No,” agreed Baker.
Dairocha again (missing)
“I don’t understand, Wheeler. The library simply… *disappeared*.” Mainly. A couple of books left, but –”
“Quiet,” Wheeler demanded, who had turned into Alysha in anticipation of the event. Crestfallen! Yet she was determined to try. She thought the air felt a little different just over… there.
“Am I holding anything, Baker B.?” she queried expectantly, palms getting sweaty even.
“Not a thing.”
“Wait. Lemme try a little brighter light just to be sure.
“It’s a beautiful land, this Dairocha. But ultimately it does us no good if the library still isn’t there. Central! Right Wheeler?”
Wheeler, having determined this some hours back, had already left the scene. She was ready to complete this here photo-novel section about the Nautilus North elsewhere. She was Alysha now, aka Helen aka a lot of other names. But especially Helen, she felt. The antique village of Lips or One Pink called.
Under the big cross at the top of it all, he too changed. Sheriff R.V. Trailer it is to end. Wait!…
Just below. Sweeping. Lots of it; multiple brooms obviously involved. It reminded him of another place he needed to go first.
Multiple sweepers don’t remain any longer at this southeast corner bar of Odie just off Route 12, to his disappointment. Then he met grown-up Tessa and things changed even once again. He was immediately attracted to her waist high tattoo of 2 six shooters. How clever, he thought. Pointer. She leaned over and said her new name in a low voice, obscuring the ink.
He automatically leaned in too (*kiss*), One Pink or Lips transformed.
He was back again. He looked down at his hands: fully white now. Return to his old self.
“How about you?” she said.
“W-what?” He looked around, remembered the sweepers. Witches. Witches did this to him. Now he’s returned. Fisher Rig, the dimwitted bottom half to his top, was gone. He was out of his cell, 7 day sentence over; free at last. That Poop file was deleted, if not the other. He still had work to do.
“You’re name, silly,” she said, grinning and shifting her feet around, suddenly shy, as if embarrassed about what she’d revealed. An act, I say.
“Oh. Edward. Edward Daigle.”
And he was. He looked up and recognized his cousin, the third person that was playing the fated Alphabet Soup game with him back in the 5th grade.