00370201 (and 1 other)
And so they traveled from Mountainair down to Lordsburg, Hucka Doobie’s old stomping grounds. Before she died and was reborn again anew in her old bee form. Now she’s progressed far enough back to human to also more closely examine her human past, pre-bee. She retracts her antennae for good and dives in. Would they make it? Would Duck prevent the success of the journey? The point is that they made it. And Antony at the bottom again or at least its modern form of Anthony, two of ’em in fact; double the fun. Border towns both. It was not all about Anthony — unlike that other claim — but at least the first 7th was (approximation). I don’t have many friends. Let’s call him up.
“I have to take this,” he said to visiting Hucka Doobie and Barry DeBoy. The Devil, he knew, because of the timing.
“Whoa there. Slow down Speedy Gonzales. We’ve past it — there’s Fraggle Rock.”
“*Past* it?” spoke driving Barry DeBoy, just getting really comfortable with the F-150 after 300 miles on the road. “But…”
“… there was nothing much there, I know. I didn’t even recognize the place. I was here during the glory days. It was the main stop on the highway between Arizona and Texas, or so it was billed. The lights, the activity. Like a teeny tiny Las Vegas it was then. But *this*…”
“I saw a shortcut back there,” said Barry, looking for a place on the I-10 to turn around. “We can get to Lordsburg the back way. Maybe you’ll remember stuff better coming at it from a different angle.” But Hucka Doobie doubted it. And the worst was yet to come.
“Well *great*, Barry *DeBoy*.” You *dunce*, she thought, but of course didn’t say out loud because of his past problems with grades. “We’re totally…”
“… lost,” completed Barry this time. “And, let’s see, we have about 2 hours to get the truck back to the rental agency, since you said this town was so walkable.”
But Hucka Doobie was checking her smart phone just earlier. No rental agencies listed in Lordsburg — she hadn’t really thought about this possibility. Nowhere to turn the truck *in* to. Not round these here parts.
“Hold on, Hucka D. I see some kind of rusty machinery sticking up over there from the brush and desert. Let’s go check it out.”
“30 minutes in the sun *tops*,” warned Hucka Doobie, knowing their water supply was limited. Also: sunscreen. They could shrivel up like a sponge and a starfish in no time, with no spacesuit wearing squirrel around to rescue them unlike in the cartoon she was thinking of.
“I know this place, this wagon. We’re going to be all right, Barry.” She points to the formerly hidden buildings. “Shakespeare.”
“Awesome!” Barry already wanted to paint soo badly. Or do collages — something.
“I’ve *been* here for 2 weeks,” complained Johnny Cage, tiring of the assignment in Slaashsides. He was ready to get back home to his wife Elvira and kids Lester, Luke and Leonard Jay (Leno). But the problem was: Barry DeBoy was a quick healer, a *real* quick healer — like he stood outside of time or something (as his supervisor exasperatedly explained over the phone to him) — and that he may be needed for another one of those “accidents” again.
“We need you to stay close to that New Mexico portal,” he said. “That’s the only way we know how still to reach him. Work on your biking, work on your *bike*,” he suggested. “Slaashsides is fairly big — about a 1/2 sim as I recall. Just ride around and around, check your tires, check your gears, handle, seat — *everything*. Just don’t go groundside yet. And that’s an order, John, from the guys and gals upstairs that pay *both* our salaries and bonuses. You got a big bump recently. Don’t screw all this up. You need to start thinking about your pension — the future. Think of little Leno.”
The stinky green pocketbook displayed on the side of the news stand was starting to get overwhelming. “Listen, I have to go,” spoke Johnny Cage. “I’ll do what you said. I’ll keep them happy. But either get me back to New Mexico or get me back home pretty quickly. I can’t stand these halfway places, neither here nor there.” And with this he hung up the receiver, rather slammed it back in the carriage really, and walked up the sidewalk and turned left again. Back to Burro Alley, pheh.
10 days, he determined while treading carefully on its slicker surface — not daring to hurt himself as he would hurt others. That’s all I’m going to put up with it.
A strange place to bee, even.
“It was big in its day, Barry DeBoy. But now it’s all a mirage, a ghost of what it was. We have to put The Void back in the middle for it all to work again. Are you ready?”
“Um… sure,” he answered, not understanding what the smart bee-girl was up to now. Then he did as he walked up to the saloon.
“Make it a wet one, Hal,” said Hucka D. to the proprietor.
“So you see, the railroad came through *here* instead of Lordsburg. The village thrived — in the ways it could. You have saloons, you have hotels, a mercantile store, a brothel of course. And actual *residences*, not just tents thrown up on a hillside. A living, breathing town, like it should be. All powered by The Void over there, tucked safely away in a barn with a big sign warning everyone away like a nuclear accident. Better outside than inside — right Barry?” She laughed, remembered his dream of her arrival before it actually happened. The bed was a bathroom.
“Yeah, right,” he said, somewhat irritated that was brought up but also still in awe of what Hucka D. had achieved. Bringing a whole ghost town back to life. She was indeed a spiritual warrior.
“And here, my dear friend, my dear *lover*, is *our* residence. I hope it’s to your liking.
Calm before the storm we have here, because bikers would arrive soon. And amongst them, disguised as one of their kind but definitely not: Johnny Cage again. He’d tracked them down, thanks to the voidometer he knew would come in handy one day despite the prohibitive cost, bankrupting him at the time, even. He decided he wouldn’t eat for the next year, and, voila, in the black again by March April’s May. And then he’d been bought out by a bigger and crookeder outfit because of its presence upon him, implanted in his neck as it were so no one could get at it without death. He’d booby trapped his whole body to make sure that didn’t happen. If he went, so did the surgeon trying to slice it out of him, so did the *device*, more importantly, which was growing in value by the weeks, days, months. Enough of that… back to the story.
(to be continued)
Barry DeBoy with his latest work: “Does This Look Square To You Too? (Cancan Girls)”.
“No mirroring involved,” he adds.
“Do your worst,” he says to observing Hucka D. on the bed. She dutifully begins.
“Irma was in mother Isadora’s shadow at the time, joined with her at the hip as it were.”
“As it is,” Barry DeBoy automatically inserts, but then remembers the year is 1923. 1923 1923, he ruminates. Where have I heard that before?
“Irma wanted out from the shadow but that would come later. For now, for *then*, they were the Cancan girls, twinned dancers in this provocative production.”
“You are soo good at this.”
“Let’s go back to the lounge and talk to Hal about all this.”
Violet Hope (1923)
“Thanks for letting us borrow the poster, Hal.” They dare not tell him they folded the flip side up to make a primitive collage and took pictures for posterity. Tough town this was; not a lot of art lovers here, much less collage lovers. May get them thrown in jail. Or worse. But at least it *was* a town now. Thanks to the railroad and its trains.
All fell silent as one passed again, timely enough. A ritual to thank the LORD for the gift of the rails (ha).
Then from Hal: “How’d the bar mitzvah go?”
“Bar mitzvah?” Barry DeBoy uttered, and turned to Hucka D.
“Yes, for Wee Willy. The reason we borrowed the poster, remember? Period piece,” she further explained. “And he loooves dancers.”
“Too much so,” Barry decided to add which made Hucka wince. Don’t go too far, she thought. Let’s ease out of here while the going’s good.
“But it wasn’t a bar mitzvah party,” Hucka D. dared to correct Hal. “Birthday party. 100 years old this week. The ‘Wee’ nickname came about because of his stature, not his age. So irony mixed in there as well, I suppose. It’s an easy mistake.” Easy, she thought, staring at Barry. Eassy.
“Well, anyway, I’m glad he enjoyed it.” From his angle and lighting while leaning against the wall, the butch blonde saloon proprietor studies the recently rehung poster, notices for the first time the fold lines that Hucka D. and Barry tried to smooth out as much as possible. “Fainter,” Hucka D. urged, as they kept pressing and smoothing. 20 minutes. Might have been a *wee* bit too much, turning the now truly flattened lines a tad white, just enough to show in the right light at the right angle.
“What did you say this *Wee* Willy’s real name was?” questioned Hal, prying his eyes away from the poster and to the potential culprits. He was going to check the town registers for recent birthdays. If this didn’t check out then he was going to call the law — no, he decided on the spot. No law needed. He would be the law in this case. And maybe bring in Busting Lester in too. And Billy Goat Burt: a vigilante group he was thinking about here. They didn’t need much to set them off.
Luckily for artist/collagist Barry DeBoy and accomplice Hucka Doobie, the town soon had more worries than fold lines in an antique poster. Because bikers would be arriving thick and fast, jamming the town’s two hotels and turning drinking establishments like Hal’s into mayhem and perhaps even murder. Old fashion style.
(to be continued)
weekly message from the Spiritually Okay League (SOL)…
They say in order to properly enter the Void, you have to leave the old self outside, crushed by its dense, massive weight. Another trick is that you have to come in aerially through the hayloft instead of the front door, else you just find yourself entering yourself entering yourself in a kind of mirror world funhouse that never ends.
Once safely inside, you can do a massive amount of good and evil to the world you then control, depending on where the Void is placed, in this case the central lawn of a New Mexico ghost town, turning it from dead to living, if at a price. Thank you Aztec warrior! For being so valiant and brave. For carrying things through to their logical conclusion despite the rather overwhelming odds against you, materially emotionally mentally. Tintown, the true and real one as opposed to those fake, reflective others, will not be forgotten. It lives on, if only in a type of graft form. Good enough! Better than evil enough.
On with the show…
He pulled up to the station even though he didn’t need gas, just to look like the rest of the crowd. Despite being unmotorized, he’d outraced half of the choppers here he blended into around Los Lunas. Rowdy crowd — didn’t take to his showoffiness. Tried to shoot his tires out a couple of times but he just weaved and bobbed his way to safety. At one point he had to ride through the desert for a couple of miles to avoid bullets. Finally around Silver City enough of the real troublemakers had dropped out so that he could feel at ease with the rest — attached to one bar or brothel or another along the way — siren calls. He’d actually made a friend, he felt. More on that later: an escape hatch from a lifetime of crime and corruption otherwise. Penny might be her name. Wanda?
*Meanwhile*, on Nautilus…
Shelley Struthers got her wish. We, the Baker family as a whole, have returned to the Nautilus continent, which she’s decided should remain an Our Second Lyfe focus. Now the big Nautilus map in my skybox becomes very relevant again. I bought waterfront property quite cheaply, so I can, in all likelihood, recoup my money and then some from the purchase. Not far from the old Collagesity location in Fordham. More details soon!
They’d prepared 2 nooses for “folding f-cks” Barry and Hucka down at the dining hall of the Grant Hotel, named after the president and not visa versa. But that’s when the choppers arrived from the north, disrupting everything as stated. Johnny Cage was hiding amongst them, blending in as best he could, speed included. Around Silver City, Nikki (that’s it: Nikki; not Penny, not Wanda) slowed down enough to ride alongside him for a while, enough to strike up a friendship, enough to open doors for the potential of more. By Lordsburg, Johnny had made up quite a number of scenarios in his head, all involving Nikki and marriage, some with babies, some not. In some they just ride and ride off into the proverbial sunset, the wind in their hair and the moon at their backs. Others they use to the top 5 gears of their 15 speed mountain bikes (which Nikki had bought in the meantime, ditching her motorized version) to climb the highest peaks of each of the 50 states, Florida and its puny 345 foot high Britton Hill included. “Well start with that,” he said in one version. “Just to get you acclimatized to mountain air, ha ha.” And then he laughed a bit in reality at his imagined joke. Nikki motoring to his side noticed. “What’s so funny, Johnny?” she asked, but before he could answer they were upon the sign. Shakespeare thata way, ghost town no more. The Void saw to that. He could feel it deep in his bones now, starting at his modified neck and working down. If he could just figure out a way to steal it outta here he’d be a rich rich man, set for life in whatever form it decides to take in his future. Babies? Sunsets? Mountains? One way to find out. They followed the choppers that managed to beat them down the now dusty road, beside the water tank with the town name emblazoned on its front.
As they passed, the LORD on it sank below the horizon with the rest, history come back to life.
When he shot out of the 1st to 2nd life portal known as Burro Alley, Santa Fe, New Mexico at 9:34 Mountain Time on Sunday, March 5th, 2023, he had a good idea this would be his last trip to reality reality. He’d prepared for this moment, said goodbye, in effect, to the virtual wife and kids — if it came to that. Because he didn’t intend to go back to playing second fiddle in a second life devoid of 3 of the 5 major senses, subtract psychic, which was in fact stronger over there. He cherished feeling the bumps in the brick pavement of the alley, loved the smell of fresh bread coming from the Burro Alley Cafe beside the stick laden burro statue at the entrance, reveled in the taste of their fish tacos for breakfast, dinner and sometimes lunch, if fish burritos, which he didn’t like as much, weren’t substituted on the menu.
“The plot deepens.”
“Or thickens,” Hucka D. responds, taking another gander at the photo Barry’d produced from a facebook page on the ghost town. Can-can girls in Shakespeare, the past come to life. Both knew this was an important clue. They’d just produced the word “cancan” in a collage created by folding up the back of a 1923 German dance recital poster found in Hal’s saloon near the center of the resurrected village. Or altered village is perhaps a better way to put it, since both dead and alive versions are just as real as the other. Featured famed Isadora (or Isadore) Duncan and her daughter Irma, joined at the hip now through the collage fresh as a wet drink produced for a condemned bully whose throat was bone dry from defending himself and saying other locals had perpetrated much more heinous crimes. Didn’t work: hanged in the Grant Hotel Dining Room alongside a cattle rustler. Could have been Barry and Hucka’s fate as well except it wasn’t.
“And the Hills buried on a hill (above the town formerly known as Grant in a county formerly part of Grant). Don’t forget that — fits in with Grant Hill, who drinks sprite, both lemon and lime together to produce something not quite as good as either separately.”
“Another one to wet the whistle.”
The dog burrows deeper.
“I’ve been betrayed? By a *triangle*??”
“I can explain.”
He often thought of that day he found Elvira with a shape. Three corners and the truth, he knew after that. So far did he run to square and the extra corner that he didn’t have time to stop. Until today. Decision. The portal would be open again to New Mexico: 7:15 this morning. He could take his bike and just ride ride ride, never looking back. Stupid second world, he thought and almost spat on the ground, at least imagined it. The powers that be had a plan. He would blend in with a pack of choppers heading south from Los Lunas, become part of the pack itself. “Do whatever you have to to accomplish this important important mission,” spoke his most immediate boss. And so he found Nikki at Silver City when the rowdies that had been hounding him since almost the beginning finally and completely dropped away (siren calls just here there and there), rode alongside her until the Shakespearean end. He didn’t plan to fall in love on the other side but love happens, as they say. Yeah, he also thought of the triangle as he made his plans for the future with her, used that negative energy to propel himself away away away from Burro Alley and the possibility of return.
He sat here like a lifeguard on that fated day, actually imagining blonde Nikki from the future before (and below) him. Across the namesake cove, not quite in the corner but getting there: the 4th, the future — without Elvira, Our Second Lyfe, his triangle of bratty kids, pheh. “Elvira can take care of them,” he said aloud, still staring down at the form that had taken shape. “They all take after her anyway; best that like stays with like.” He refused to see his own brattiness, the bully that he’d become in his negative thinking about this that and that. So if Nikki likewise betrayed him… well, it won’t end pretty.
“How pretty,” he said, oblivious to this possibility.
death at the saloon
He stands in the 4th and stares out at a Hill fronting another hill in the distance. He knows the mystery of the Silver Nuggets is buried along with her blurred given name — he can’t make it out on the queerly angled monolith before him. “Jnlo,” he tries aloud, a mere slur of the truth. Sirens, then, in the distance; dust trails along the road below him from this vantage point, the one belonging to Shakespeare and not Lordsburg, but not for much longer. The present is about the breach the past in order to find him, the perpetrator. The bully of the town and then some. True murderer we have here, two times over. Nikki and Hal. Who could have seen it coming, except everyone who had ever read the Bard.
“Blurred”, speaks Barry DeBoy about the pale face in the center. “I’m afraid we’ll never know.”
“Truth,” says Hucka D. to this.
Turns out Lordsburg didn’t kill Shakespeare after all, despite the present presence of the train still.
Turns out they died together, just separated out by a bit o’ time from our perspective.
“There’s only one thing to do,” observing Hucka D. opined to mate Barry DeBoy, trying to decide where to stay for the night after Shakespeare vanished again with the death of Nikki and Hal down at the (former) saloon. They’d come upon it: Room 102, where Hucka use to exist as New Mexican surrealist/pop artist Charles Nelson Blinkerton back in the day. Before she died and was reborn as a bee. Way back, now, in 2008. Good times.
small European counties
Barry Deboy made simple collage-photos about it later:
“No luck, chief,” Officer Blair spoke over the police radio. “We’re sitting right outside 102 — been here for about (checks his watch), 17 hundred hours.”
“Since 7 this morning,” chipped in Officer Doublebush riding shotgun, simplifying Blair’s language as usual. Blair continued. “If that old scoundrel Charles Nelson Blinkerton is here, then it’s like he disappeared into thin air. Over.”
“Roger that,” replied the chief. “Keep… your position. Over.” Lt. Tank Bazooka had made a decision. The military needs to be called in. Hesitating only slightly, he punches the big red button on his intercom to start the process.
“Wonder what kind of conspiracy theory Tank roped us into this time, ha ha.”
“UFO’s?” also laughed Officer Gore, riding shotgun. “Portals out the desert?”
“Shakespeare, pheh,” said Officer Chamberlain to this. “And now a surrealist painter come back to life.”
“Pop,” said Gore. “Pop artist. Like Luxemborg.” He meant Lichtenstein of course. Or did he?
(to be continued)