“Man I can’t even look in your eyes today, you’re so small man. What’ll it be today Mickey Rooney? Duck?”
“You better return that cap to the St. Louie Cardinals, bro. Bro man. They’re need’n it for their shortstop, you know what I’m saying, yo?”
Gibson reaches into his pocket, pulls a bill out. The special kind belonging to Duck.
“Alright here you go Peewee,” he says while exchanging his own with Barry’s, knowing he always gets a head in a deal.
He moves on. He has no real fear of the larger man-boy similarly wearing a red cap, in his case dipped in the blood of a particularly hated and wounded-if-not-killed rival. He’s been here every day since Munday, that special new day of the week where you simultaneously go to work and go to church at once. Work-church. (S)pray. Barry was a kind of professional graffiti artist, the ones who have an unpronounceable name. Like Spock. He’d head to a particular wall-surface as soon as he made the purchase. 300, he thinks this morning. 300 Triangle. A number anyway. Maybe 112. He’s going to meet up with [delete name] afterwards, a mathematician, to decide. Slice.
“What’ll it be today, Mrs. Gold? Duck?”
“Chicken, I think.” STOP
She stared and stared but she couldn’t wish a day gone to return. Munday it is, Munday it remains. Like hamster. Her’s should be coming soon.
She overhears some of the conversation from a couple of tables over; her purpose for being here. Something about channeling. Something about triangles.
He walked into Slice, waiting for the mathematician. “Duck, please,” he tried at the counter. “No Duck, chicken,” said the Slice employee, a Mrs. Wiggins I believe. She didn’t even mention the hamster special. She knew he wasn’t here for food and had to repel him that way. For emphasis she made the number 5 appear in one of her hands, a sign of non-acceptance or non-compliance. Stop, in other words. We don’t dispense that crap here.
“Barry?” Marsha “Pink” Krakow called over from Eyela’s former seat. She was finished with her hamster and sucking her teeth as inconspicuously as possible. The channeling/triangle couple had gone. She had absorbed again.
“… Mom? What… are you… doing here?”
Well you ordered a mathematician, she thought but didn’t say aloud. She should be at church and he should be at work. But they weren’t.
“I’m just going to check that calculation with my phone, Mom. Hold on…
“Damn.” She’s good! he realized. This could work.
tiger 05 (The Whites look down disapprovingly on their colored neighbors and their doings.)
She halted at the corner of 33rd and Masonic, a stop sign beside her, a stop sign beside it.
“Marsha *Pink* Krakow,” she managed to utter, recognizing her portrait. And then she wasn’t.
Armed with much more knowledge than he had before, Barry De Boy enters the mysterious, run down house.
Deal made. McLain, rival to Gibson, now owns the rights to the 112 (as well?). STOP
“Guys, a little help here? Some kind of… force field… blocking my…..
Newspaper reading Mr. Yo White next door heard the screams of course but did nothing in response, not notify the authorities, not go over himself and see what went wrong, nada. He tried that before and just got in massive massive trouble, him and his whole family by association. Let the Cards lie where they fall, he said to his wife Tammy, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye as well, scars of the turf battles.
“Should have been Gibson,” opined Mrs. White bitingly.
Another proxy, Mr. White understood, looking over at his damaged wife.
The Gods took pity on poor, naive Barry, took him over to what in my reality is a local biking park, perched him on a trail-side rock way up its 4038 foot high namesake summit for all to see when passing, to judge, to test their own meddle.
One succumbed. The Gods knew this would happen. His damaged eye was cleaned up and he was put behind a tree, more out of sight. The Tigers could not get to him here.
Barry was safe, but we are also finished with his story for now, along with his Mom’s. 112 and out.
256/256 = 0/0.
We had to go through Gold City and Barry and Stinkerfoot to get back to Zapppa and the Big Woods cemetery. He dug up the truth about Franklin. It wasn’t pretty.
There was no body; there was nobody.
“Black Jack,” psychic Donald said in a related scene from Towerboro.
The TV went to snow.
… on with the show
“Thanks for coming over, Baker Bloch.”
“Zapppa, please. With an extra p please.”
“Sure, sure,” Wheeler responded, a common reply for the generally agreeable gal these days. She’s mellowed over time. She’s comfortable with her power as chief female of the blog and the photo-novels. She can morph into others and still be secure in her identity. Like Eyela. “Anyways, Franklin, eh? What’s that all about??”
“I thought you said there was a picture involved.”
“Keep up, darling. We’ve already talked about that.”
He rubs his bald head some more, eyes the referenced picture again through his blue and red lenses. Spaced Ghost when he was young. The chief male of the blog’s father. Now he’s old. Old old. With a cane. Might have to shift into a wheelchair even soon. Yes, they talked about the picture, Baker Bloch’s father, already. Before the start of this post. On to other subjects. “Franklin, yeah,” he relents, firmly in the present now. “A mystery. Ouroboros.”
“Cradle to grave — in the same place. Accident, some say. Meaningful, others would determine. Like us. Especially…”
“Especially,” he finished for her, “since we didn’t plan it that way. I was just digging up the most relevant grave to our story in that cemetery. The one you directed me to be in. At 32/32.”
“Correct, but Baker Blinker was actually directing that scene, since she’d recovered from her mysterious illness already. Hmmm… mystery again.”
“Donald *predicted* this.” Zapppa points in the direction he thinks Towerboro lies from this central Jeogeot location. “Just up the road here. We could visit him together; ask him some more questions.”
“I was heading back to Big Woods,” Wheeler replied, “but what the heck. Let’s go.” She gets up to leave. “Goodbye Spaced Ghost,” she says while waving at the picture on the wall behind the counter. Zapppa waves weakly as well. They head north not south tonight, then. Unexpected once more. But the unexpected has firmly become the expected, so…
Where *are* they, Baker Blinker thinks from her position across the stream from the cemetery. Oh well. Guess I can use this opportunity to go to Sugar’s Shack, perhaps meet with others there and gather their stories for future posts. Let’s see, Lucy is gone and Zapppa is gone — *that’s* why he isn’t at the cemetery. He’s already dug up Franklin, he’s already found no body or nobody in the grave. Keep up, Baker Blinker! But there’s others around still. Vanessa and Tatiana or Tiana as she likes to shorten it. But that’s just more ouroboros again. Sugar’s at the center with Donald still (different from the Donald up in Towerboro). Venus, Mistress and Bluebird remain around, I’m sure. Ben and Benny: *yes*. That’s probably who I should be talking to, either or both together as one. Sugar’s Shack? Why not.
But Baker Blinker soon discovered that Sugar’s Shack was no longer at its former location in the center of Big Woods. Just like that, everything has shifted and thought-to-be established characters whisked away back into nothingness. Wheeler and Zapppa chose the right direction tonight, leaving the female Baker in an inferior position again. Dangit, she thinks, standing in the dewy wet grass before the new ruins. *Just* getting use to being the director again. *Wheeler*. She actually spat here, but only sitting Lincoln over there underneath the similarly new windmill acted as witness to this. He promises not to tell.
It was a pretty town for what it was. Perhaps was called Greentown at one time because of those nicely hued hills over there. Fake but fitting. Wheeler, donned in purple now as is her style in the current photo-novel, 34 in a series of infinity apparently, had to come back to see what chaos was wrought with the return of Arthur Kill, who hadn’t remained long in his long wooden coffin in the grave of the paltry cemetery on the south side of town, just behind Roberts and Franklin Investigators down there, immediately beside Johnson’s Junk Yard and Repair Shop to be more specific. Where he first showed up after he rose from the dead, I might suppose.
If he could have opened this darn, stuck gate first. “How do I get out of here?” he barked at Wheeler behind him, dressed as a witch in this earlier purple phase and oddly holding a mop instead of a broom while swinging on her swing after doing the deed.
“Have to go through the basement, silly,” she said. “Not that easy to raise the dead, you know. Can’t just walk through the front door and return to life. Just be glad you’re not down in that hot hot grave any longer.”
He turns. She points with the mop, the thing that did the deed in the first place. Sometimes silliness works best for more powerful magic, which was needed here. Basement it is, opening for opening.
Junk car enthusiast Ken and his repairman Bobby remain safe. For now.
“Jesus you scared the bejebers out of me, Arthur! I thought you were dead!” Kill had already killed repairman Bobby under the Cordova sedan while Ken had his head turned. Just that quickly, thanks to his new, improved powers of death found in the basement. Now he had his aim on the owner. After getting the ’57 Chevrolet up to snuff.
“I need a car,” he hounded. “I need a car now.” He kept staring at the one on the lift, the vehicle that would transport him back to the past, he knew (basement knowledge again).
Ken saw blood oozing from Bobby’s stiff body, realized what had happened. “Sure, sure, Arthur,” he said shakily. “W-when do you need it?” Ken knew he probably couldn’t escape the situation alive but wanted to delay the inevitable as long as possible. “I mean — look at it.” He pointed to the beat up, rusted Chevy while keeping his eye on Kill.
“How long?” Kill issued.
“I… I don’t know.” Ken dared to wipe some sweat from his forehead. “Weeks?” he stated weakly.
“How about tomorrow. *No*, how about 11 o’clock tonight. Red paint. New tires, the *only* thing I want new. Oil change — yes, new oil as well. Two new things, then. And gas — fill her up. New as well. 3 new things. And…”
“I—.” Ken started to explain that he couldn’t possibly do all these things in the requested time then changed his mind as Kill pointed a gun at his head, the same one he took to the grave. Repaired as well, like his body if not his soul. “I’ll… try,” he modified.
“You’ll *do*,” commanded Arthur back. Say it with me, Kenny. “You’ll *do*.”
The front door to the investigators office had slammed hours ago, it seemed. Tessa had basically given up, when:
“Yes, here it is, Ms. Daigle. Thomas Mantell. Born Franklin Kentucky 06/30/22, died Franklin Kentucky 01/07/48. The famous UFO case of course, hidden amongst these more ordinary court cases and in a darker shade, which is why I overlooked it before. My missing partner.”
Tessa Daigle, divorced from her first husband for 3 years, looked up. “Your missing *what*?”
Psychic-detective Laura Roberts turned. “My missing partner,” she repeated evenly. “Robert Franklin, the beginning, the end, and everything between.” She sat down at the table with the confused Tessa. “*And* I think also *your* missing partner. Black Bart wasn’t it? Donald is never wrong. He predicted the going, he predicted the coming back to Earth in the cursed ship. Black Bart… Black Jack. The plane crashed in Black Jack.”
Tessa knew the case as it turns out. And for a specific reason. “But… you said he died in Franklin. Born in Franklin, died in Franklin. Hence: Franklin through and through it seems.”
Tessa scratches her head. “Black Bart has risen from the grave, the one just out there, beside the Junk Yard and…”
“Auto re-pair, yes.”
“Both are dead now, the junk purveyor and the, um, jalopy mechanic. Done in by Black Bart, whom others know as Arthur Kill.”
“Soon he will acquire a new name, ” spoke the prescient Roberts, jotting down something. “Here — here’s an address he may go to next. Or this person will eventually be involved — probably already has been.”
Tessa looked down at the almost illegible scribble Psychic-detective Roberts handed back to her on the sticky note. She finally made it out. Wheeler… Wilson, yes. Wheeler, Wilson. Who’s that?
“You cannot return here, although we may see each other again. Goodbye.”
“Drop it!” Tessa commanded, then realized she was in the wrong post when she shouted this. Wrong post wrong place. Although they may meet again, she said.
“This orange ain’t right,” Maggie McFarland pondered in the correct time and location, thinking it too yellow to be true. Halfway between an orange and a banana we could add from our perspective. Not here not there. She puts it back… in the bananas?
Maggie had left the remainder of her groceries at the check out counter, including a green apple and a red pepper. Check that: a red apple and a green pepper. Checkout lady and part-time Twin Pines Market owner Mabel (Mabel!) was in the bathroom, waiting for Maggie to finish. She always goes back two or three times for other stuff. “Oh, I forgot the oregano sauce for Den Den’s supper, oh dear,” she might utter after Mabel (Mabel!) had already rung her up. So she just lets the food collect now on the counter and
bides her time patiently uses her time wisely. “Oh never mind me,” Maggie said at another point, “I’m just an old lady looking for a slice of fun pie,” and went off and retrieved Den Den’s spagettios, perusing the shelves for the right kind first, the one made with veggie broth instead of meat. Mabel (Mabel!) had learned she could comfortably fit in a bathroom break after the first layout of groceries, like here (see above photo). She actually saves it up just for this occassion. 2 o’clock. Every day at 2 o’clock Maggie McFarland comes in to shop for her groceries. Unless its Munday. No one shops on Munday. No one does anything on Munday. Noone.
Maggie comes to the counter a second time, lays the too yellow orange on the counter between the red and the green. She put it back with the bananas and then changed her mind. That would be nuts to keep it there, she thought, and then actually slipped it in her pocket for a second, glancing around first. Mabel’s always gone this time of day, about 2:20. She could get away with it, she knew. Deep deep deep in her pocket.
But then thought better of it, temporary insanity over. “Done!” she shouted in the direction of the bathrooms and everywhere else, all the fruits and vegetables properly in a row now, starting with red and ending with green. Yellow in the middle, yellow in the middle… she picks it up again, makes a face. One last chance to steal.
“Me too!” Sound of water ends. Mabel has come back into the light. Is the banana colored orange still between the red and the green? An important question to be answered right after we come back from our sponsors. “Fun pie, it’s there when you need it, it’s there when you’re not.”
Nata Lee Cornfield is next for a visit to the food market. A relieved and refreshed Mabel cheerfully says hello to her at the door. “How’s Natha Neil?” she adds, and then waits for the zinger. Always the zingers from Nata Lee. Tangy if not refreshing! But twins have to keep up with each other like that. Two sets of twins in this case.
A yellow colored orange drops from a hole deep deep deep in Maggie’s pocket onto the surface of the parking lot as she attempts to load everything in her car. A man picks it up, thinking he’s helping. “Here, Miss, you dropped something,” he said. Snake.
“I could put a lot of things in this purse. I’ve got a banana in there, I’ve got a phone. I’ve got a banana shaped like a phone.”
Jem kept silent, her attention focused on the beer bottle before her. She was moving it back and forth across the table a bit with her mind. Digging through her purse as she was, Dafney didn’t notice the odd occurrence.
“So Jem, catch me up. How, ahem, are you still alive I mean? I didn’t expect to see you again.” She kept looking in her purse for that banana shaped phone. Never found. Maybe Peter took it from her. He loves novelties after all. She glances over at the still silent Jem, sees the t-shirt but not the queer movement of the bottle.
“Got some new clothes I see,” she started again. Silence. Dafney finally notices the bottle. “And some new powers (!).”
The bottle disappears. “I’m sorry Dafney. I’ll pay attention to you now.”
But Dafney just starts digging in her purse again, looking for that phone to call Peter to ask him who has the phone.
row of red
“Hold on slow down,” commanded Arthur Kill from the passenger seat, loaded down with weapons of not so mass destruction and thus unable to drive. Instead Ken of Cable Isle’s Junk Yard and Mechanic Shop acted as his chauffeur, having been spared for a bit more to do this job after he successfully fixed the old ’57 Chevy just minutes before the 11 PM deadline, dead being the operative word here. Afterwards, however, we anticipate his story will end the same as his former partner Bobby’s: planted in the same paltry town cemetery as Arthur Kill rose from just day before yesterday’s tomorrow thanks to Wheeler Wilson and her wicked witchy ways. They may even just reuse the wooden coffin Harry or Harold the Gnome made specifically for Kill, which long Ken could fill out pretty nicely as well, they might determine. There’s also admittedly a racist angle to this possible reuse since both were black men. We need not go into the town’s sordid history here and the gnomes’ strong involvement with it. Arthur Kill’s corrupted morals have nothing to do with ethnicity. White Wheeler Wilson, for instance, is just as bad in many ways, perhaps even worse in some. And Ken is as innocent as the driven snow in all this.
“Wait here,” he further ordered to Ken, and got out of the car to inspect shoes laid out on the stairs of the small house, flip flops more specifically, 8 in number, a suspicious number indeed given what he was looking for.
I’ll go in and try to get information from these stick hicks one by one, he thinks, killing them as I count them off. Could be 4 regular human beings, but, dare he dream it, could be *one* thing. “Keep the engine going,” he barked at Ken, not caring if the people inside (if they were people) heard him or not.
Turns out it was 4 humans to his disappointment. He popped them off 1 2 3 4. The 2nd and 3rd were too scared even to talk. The 1st just screamed — Kill put an end to that quickly. The 4th was interesting. “Dog gonnit, I know that name,” he said in a weary old voice to Arthur’s question, his mind obviously too gone to realize what was happening, and that 3 of his relatives or whatever (Kill assumed everyone was related to everyone else in this stick hick house) had perished and that he was in all likelihood next. “Dog…” he said, pausing before finishing with “gonnit.” “Dog,” he said again, and let it stand alone this time. “Dog!” he said, remembering. *POP*
“Thanks,” Arthur said, blowing smoke from the barrel of the just fired pistol as was his custom. Dog it is.
(to be continued)
row of red 02
“Okay Kenny, slow and easy. We know what animal we’re looking for now.”
“Dog,” Kenny said, repeating the last word of the old, confused man.
And then, just like that — so suddenly — there it was. “There!” Ken screamed almost as loudly as the killed lady in the house did before. Arthur squelched the desire to shoot him on the spot as well. Because he saw something too.
“Back up. I want to make sure.” Ken backed up one click.
“Okay, sloow and eassy — and no screaming this time.” He held one of his weapons to Ken’s head just to make sure. He could drive himself if push came to shove. And it might after this. One click later: still there.
“The bird is *attacking* the dog?” Ken said in as calm a voice as he could muster given the circumstances.
“One click more forward,” Arthur Kill demanded, not yet ready to answer any questions.
Arthur Kill looked at the spectacle that had moved more toward the back. The bird is far separate from the dog now.
“Indicating,” concluded Kill. “The bird was indicating the dog. We can go home now. But first…” *POP*
The dog replaced the man.
“Looks like a Dove. Highlighted by white, even. Shadow against light.”
“Could be could be,” he relented. Spider. They’d found him! Carrcassonnee was overjoyed.
“Can I… see him again now? Now again him see… I can?”
“Well I’ll just wait upstairs while you finish speaking with each other,” said Jamie, walking away and highlighting Sign.
The footsteps on the stairs ended and the footsteps on the top floor began. Roberts was more free to talk about what Tessa needed to know. She’d already apologized about before. She said it was the town and the lag there, made her appear… less clever than she was. Roberts actually meant Tessa here but Tessa thought she meant herself (Roberts). There was just that difference between the two. Now at least the difference is clear, because we weren’t in Cable Isle any longer but back in Towerboro. Which office was the branch of the other didn’t really matter. That would be revealed soon enough. I would assume (the branch is) here without knowing more, but I’m about as clueless as Tessa in the moment. We better get to their dialog.
“I’m sorry about before, Tessa. It was the lag and the town.”
“Yes, you said that before.”
“I was just checking to see if you were listening. Sometimes people don’t when I speak, but maybe I’m just use to Cable Isle and its issues. Maybe here will be different.”
So just listening in, it appears that there is only one Roberts and Franklin investigating firm and it has moved from there to here. Back to the interaction.
“I’m listening,” said Tessa, trying to do this simple action. All I need, she thought, is to wake up, not sleepwalk all the time. That’s what Roberts desires.
“Let’s just enjoy the here and now for a moment, shall we?” Roberts kept silent. Tessa kept silent. Roberts reengaged eye contact. “*Now*.”
A blue Martian appeared. “Who’s that, Roberts?”
“Laura, please,” requested the psychic-detective. “And that, my friend, is an Observer.”
“Hmmm. What is she observing?”
“You,” came the quick reply. Silence again. Tessa was trying to think of a next step — what Roberts wanted from her again. She was trying to be mindful. Roberts — Laura — was patient, she knew. There was something here to be revealed, she picked up, and not just the Observer. There was another *thing* involved, a (she gleaned) thing that is not what it seems. An animal! She said this aloud.
“Good. What kind of animal?”
“She immediately thought, dog, but discarded it as too easy, not trusting her gut reaction. Her thoughts drifted to horse. She could just guess aloud. “Horse,” she said.
“Mmmm, not quite,” spoke Roberts, face remaining neutral.
Alligator? she thought. “Alligator.”
“Again: not quite.”
Spider came to mind but she broadened it as insect. “Insect.”
Tessa was pleased, thinking that was the end of the game. But then Roberts continued. “And?”
“Something else besides an insect?” Tessa tried to clarify.
Roberts gave up the game, opened the secret door with her mind.
“A… dog?” It was the first thing that came to mind and then it was the last thing that came to mind. Funny how things work that way.
“Interesting place you brought me to, Wheeler. All I asked for is to give me back the mop.”
“Brrr,” she fake shivered. “Getting cold in here. You’ll have to put on at least a shirt soon.”
“You know I don’t do that, Wheeler,” spoke John L. Brown honestly. For a change. He *was* getting cold. A paradox was coming up. “It’s right there,” he continued. “Just… hand it over.”
“No,” she replied bluntly. “I… I’m not ready.”
“You like the *power*.” His smile turned into a smirk. Change x 2.
Wheeler thought back to using it on Arthur Kill. Indeed made him rise from the dead, just like Duck said it would when they met last. She desired to meet him again. John L. Brown said that he would meet in his stead and that he was away from Our Second Lyfe for the moment. Something in Real Life, he said. Uncopyrighted and untrademarked business. Herbert Domain.
“Herbert Domain?” Wheeler uttered at the time, obviously thinking of Tennessee. And she was right. They weren’t ready for that kind of business here. The dog named Spider is enough for now.
“You’ve done your business here,” spoke John L. Brown, the smirky smile not quite off his lips. “You know you can’t get out of this.”
“Chop me some wood first,” she said, fake shivering again. Because Wheeler had her own internal heating system. Unlike John.
But there was no wood to find in this desolate place high in the Foxtrot Backcountry. Only snow, static to others. Tennessee remains untraceable. The plane remains crashed in Kentucky and not Black Jack. That was the whole point of this.
Wheeler relented, gave over the mop. John L. Brown would hand it over to Paul in the next post.
There. He has it, shrunk back down to its original size. In the hands of the original owner. John L. Brown can stop grovelling now and move on to something else. Like selling cars.