My fries arrive. No frills.
My sorbet arrives in a luminescent frog dish – flavor something like anise and butterscotch.
I eat and drink the eatables and drinkables, then pat my tummy and burp. The waiter brings me a mint toothpick and a folding cot, setting up the latter in a spot of sun. I stretch, i wriggle, i nap.
I dream. Row after row of drab utilitarian military buildings in the desert sun. They feel like the death of all creativity to me. There's an anthill with big red ants by my feet.
Something wet and sticky splashes on my face and i wake. Compound polyhedral soap bubbles drift by above my face. A left-handed person with hair and clothes is creating them. I often prefer to not be woken by soap bubbles splashing wetly on my face.
The world grows dim and flat, a gray lifeless scrawl of matter – and then it passes. Most of the streetgoers look a bit unnerved, but decide to let it pass without comment, leaving just one disheveled person cracking up while sitting down on the cube. I decide on the former course.
I wonder about the etymology of 'cracking up', and picture the top of a popcorn seed opening to reveal a green and white shoot that climbs up through the rich brown soil.
Two hours, two blocks, two people meet. I've had lunch, and lunch is an hour, so that leaves one hour for one and 4/5ths block. I window shop:
A mini gourd megastore – fresh, dried, painted plain, albino, serene, horrible, tiny, huge, squishy, rattly, psychic, mobile, potted. Gourd-cooking classes Monday, gourd music Tuesday, gourd history Wednesday, gourdomancy Thursday, gourd appreciation Friday, Saturdays off, gourd grief Sunday. Too crowded – next:
A general store. Unpackaged stuff piled up here and there, most of it looking simultaneously very useful and vaguely disturbing, or vaguely useful and very disturbing.
All Things Poodle!, featuring poodle brains, poodle livers, poodle furs, poodle pets, poodle piddle, ...
A dirty little corner grocery, featuring carbohydrates and paper products and a shop owner on guard against shoplifters.
Now there's a street to cross. I could mention the bumper-to-bumper slow-moving cars, creeping along away from the sun, and the equally crowded other lane full of naked freshly bathed people creeping along toward the sun, and i did. I don't see any easy way to cross so i cross anyway, getting snorfled by cars and moistened by people in the process. Bath oil – for when you're feeling squeaky clean.
Someday i'll have to slide down a column of all the fish i've ever eaten.
On this block, most everything is boarded up, so the window shopping consists of glimpses of different flavors of darkness behind cracked and dirty windows. Most of them taste dangerous, tho not sinister. I reach the museum.
The Dyslandia Gelatin Museum. I fill out a marketing survey and get my free ticket. A colorful, slightly-springy walkway with fruit floating in it leads to a jiggling hallway, but i sit on a bouncy bench and wait for the 2 hour mark. There's no sunlight inside, so i have to use an artificial light for my sundial. That's probably not nearly as accurate, but there's only so much effort you want to put into meeting a voice from a toy telephone.
At about the right time, a small nervous bald red-bearded man in drab green clothes and matching red sneakers and two arms and two legs and one hand and two feet walks in.
He flashes a badge or pass at the booth and enters without filling out a marketing survey. Maybe he has a season pass.
My bench jiggles slightly as he walks toward it; he stops and quickly glances away from me. I decide to wait until the tour starts to introduce myself.
The tour guide rolls up to us, motions for us to follow. We do so, holding on to the rubbery handrails and stepping carefully. The guide stops, silently contemplating a single motionless lime cube on a small dull dish. There's no label or explanation. After a bit, we move on: A simple bowl of some red flavor; A multifaceted mold arranged with the raw materials of a pitcher of water and a pile of powder. There's still no word from the guide, which normally i would appreciate but which is inconvenient when you want to have noise to mask a private conversation. I wait until we finish with some photographs of whipped-cream and start to move again, then introduce myself to the drab-green bearded person.
He looks at me nervously, then looks away.
“I'm, ah... you can call me 'Span'.”
He starts looking like he wants to run away, but doesn't want to risk it on the bouncy surface and without the ok of the tour guide.
“It's about the 'O' word.”
He sighs with relief, then mutters “'Span'... funny name.”
I say nothing.
“Spaniard... spanakopita... spank...”
I say nothing.
“The 'O' word, eh?”
“And what exactly is the 'O' word?”
“Um. I don't know. It's just what the other you told me i should tell you.”
We both stop abruptly behind the tour guide, captivated by a huge gleaming silent swirl of motion – a fantastically complicated device which is taking raw materials in on one side via ducts and belts and scoopers and hoses and grabbers, and sending out the other end a steady stream of of unique decorated gelatin creations – sculptures, figures, towers, igloos, airplanes, equations, feet...
The guide moves on. We blink, and follow.
“'O' word,” he says, rubbing his chin. “Omicron... Osiris... ought...”
The guide stops us at a wax figurine of a 50's housewife, smiling in a yellow apron and holding up a box of gelatin mix, but kneeling on a bearskin rug. The guide looks at us and speaks:
“My glums is swollen.”
I ponder whether this might be an explanation for the silent nature of the tour, or if maybe it's part of the current exhibit. The guide stares at us both briefly, then rolls through a door marked “Employees Only”, leaving us with the smiling housewife. She smiles.
“Odd that the other me knew I'd be here today – I try to pick things at random. I don't know what you have to do with anything but I guess he knows what he's about.”
“He said it was imperative that we meet and talk. Didn't say what about – sounded like someone was after him or something and he had to hang up.”
“Oh dear. Oh dear.”