"I wouldn't want to have your Personal Redemption Plan," says JuicyGirl to Stephen. "That's gonna be a workout." Stephen is coming awake into his new life in the Astral Plane.
"Who are you?" he asks, in confusion.
"We're here to guide you," says JuicyGirl, innocently enough. "You're one of us, now," she says, trying to sound as sweet as possible.
"Who are you?" he asks again.
"That's twice. Your name is RepeaterMan," JuicyGirl says, laughing.
"I think I know him," says ActorGirl.
"No, I don't recognize him," says JuicyGirl.
"Well, then, how do you know he is supposed to be a Cut Up?" asks ActorGirl.
"George told me," says JuicyGirl. "He said I can give him a name. He said RepeaterMan has a Personal Redemption Plan that is complex and that he can start working it out with us. We're supposed to take him into our group."
"But we just got two new players today already with complicated redemption plans," debates ActorGirl, who is hoping not to lose any stage time because of the new players. "We just got RunaMuk and PowerGirl," she says, referring to Jimmy Dobbs and Gladys Kurtz. "Technically, RepeaterMan should not be one of the Cut Ups. He should be a Bored Player."
"Agreed," says JuicyGirl, "But they are reforming into a comedy act." JuicyGirl can hardly conceal her excitement. While members of the Bored Players are branching off and reworking their act, the Cut Ups will get larger audiences. "He doesn't belong with the new group. George says he doesn't really belong with us, either, but we can use him as a stage hand or a lighting tech or something."
ActorGirl is relived to hear that. If they need a stagehand and a lighting tech, it means their act is expanding, and at least RepeaterMan will not be upstaging her any time soon. As for RunaMuk and PowerGirl, they will just have to wait their turns to get on the stage. Those are the rules. So for awhile, she is still going to get as many parts to play as she wants, even though their act has suddenly grown from five to eight members.
Louise and MetaphorMan meet with Mavis and George. Louise explains to them that she and MetaphorMan have decided to become Go Backs.
"I had a stillborn brother long before I was born. We think it was MetaphorMan. And when I told him about my past life, about the addiction to crack, and that there is a man in town they call The Man who is supplying everyone with crack, MetaphorMan wants to go back and stop him."
"Gang busters!" says MetaphorMan. "Blow the lid off!"
"Right," says Louise. "We want to go back as brother and sister and start over. MetaphorMan wants to become chief of police and I just want to get the chance to live my life the way I always meant to. We think if we go back together we can both help each other to achieve our goals."
MetaphorMan nods his head, 'yes.'
Mavis loves the idea. "Do you think the Saint can arrange it?" she asks George.
George can already hear the Saint giving his consent. "Yes," says George, "I think he can."
Louise and MetaphorMan hold hands in joy, and Mavis begins to get a little weepy at the wonder of it. "Isn't the Creation wonderful?" she says. "Just think of it, two people can make a decision like this and it can happen."
"Yes," says MetaphorMan. "We can go home again."
Convincing Gary Gravestone to let RunaMuk, PowerGirl, and RepeaterMan live as roommates in Osceola's room at the old fort is not going to be easy.
"You know, Gary," says George. "These three need to learn how to live together."
"I'm not arguing with you, George," says Gary. "But that's prime property, primo real estate. I want somebody in there that can get with the program, someone that deserves it, someone who can really haunt the place with class. Come on, now. Let me parcel that out to someone else. You have to remember, Osceola is in that room. We need someone who can follow in the tradition of that energy."
"Ok," agrees George, reluctantly.
"Tell you what," says Gary. "I have a large space coming up on King Street. It's big enough for three people, and it's airy and nice. If you will let me put the person of my choice in the old fort, I will let you have that space on King Street for your folks."
"Deal," says George. He can always depend on Gary to come up with a good plan. And in the end, Gary always manages to find the proper place for every ghost in St. Augustine.
"So," says Mavis later. "Is everything straightened out to your satisfaction?"
George notices that since right before their Passion Play, Mavis doesn't speak in rhyme anymore. "I think everything is straightened out," says George, sublimely.
"Then, let's make plans to go forward," she says.
"You mean...you're ready?"
"I am," says Mavis. "I was wondering, though...well...do you think we could go with Osceola? It would be nice to have three of us go together, you know..." She is hoping George understands.
"I'll ask the Saint." He can already hear the Saint giving permission. "Yes," says George. "We can go with Osceola."
Mavis sighs in relief. "What about StumbleBlock? What did the Saints decide to do about him?"
"It turns out they thought he would do well to go back, but certainly not to that horrible life he had before. He is now a fifty-five year-old man named Warner, one of the Praetorian Guards on Earth. He's a friend of the Empress. He was there."
"But he was here only a few days ago."
"The Saints expedited him," explains George. "An emergency situation came up involving the Empress."
"One of the benefits of being a Go Back is Back Travel, a space-time program conceived of by Lord Pacal and implemented by the Mayan Time Lords. StumbleBlock volunteered."
"How does Back Travel work?" asks Mavis.
"When we go to help the Empress, we go to the Physical Plane through a space portal. StumbleBlock went through a time portal and was born fifty-five years ago, Earth time, in St. Augustine. Remember, we're outside the window of time. History can't touch us. With the Mayan Time Lords developing the time portals, we can go anywhere in time. When DontBugMe and MaliciousCode heard StumbleBlock volunteered, they volunteered to go back with him. They're now two young men in their early twenties, Praetorian Guards on Earth named Josh and Aaron. They're friends of the Empress. They were there."
"Back Travel sounds interesting," says Mavis, laughing with George at her dramatic understatement.
THE MIRACLE OF BIRTH
Warner invites me to accompany him on a ghost tour and then go out for seafood at the Dock and Marina Restaurant. I think for one-tenth of a second before saying, "Yes."
As we walk along St. George Street in the twilight, Warner tells me the good news that his younger sister is pregnant with twins.
"It's like a miracle, really. She didn't think she could have children and now, at 42, she's going to have twins."
"They did the ultrasound?"
"Yes. It's a boy and a girl. I'll be an uncle. I never thought I would have a nephew." He smiles broadly.
"And a niece," I remind him.
"Well, sure, a niece. But she probably doesn't want to be chief of police."
"And the nephew does?" I try not to laugh at him.
"Yes," he says, emphatically.
"And you know this because..."
"A little voice told me," he says. "I'll get him a little chief of police patrol car, a little chief of police hat, and a little chief of police badge."
"And a little chief of police gun?" I can't help but add.
He laughs. "Later on, when he's old enough, I'll take him out to the rifle range and teach him how to shoot. He'll be just like his Uncle Warner," he says, puffing up with pride at the thought of it.
The tour stops in front of St. Augustine House, and we smile at each other as the tour guide tells us about the gangster ghosts that haunt the building. Later on, we walk down St. George Street to St. Francis Street and then on to the restaurant, where we eat the best seafood in town. What a marvel, being on a dinner date with this man. I can't remember why I ever suspected him of being anything but a truly great guy.
"What are you going to do now?" he asks.
"Finish my book."
"I can't wait to read it," he says.
"Good, because you're in it."
He laughs. "What about that TV production you were telling me about?"
"I don't know. Doesn't seem important anymore."
"Oh, don't say that," says Warner. "It will get important again. Wait and see. In between that and the writing, you'll go out with me again, I hope."
I think for one-tenth of a second before saying, 'Yes.'"
THE FIRE THAT DOES NOT CONSUME
As George and Mavis finish their preparations for the launching ceremony to the Beautiful Plane, a surprise send-off ghost tour is arranged, with Mavis charged with keeping it a secret from George. She is to lead George down St. George Street to St. Augustine House, where the surprise performance is to be held. Their special ghost tour is in exactly the same location as the other ghost tour with the Empress. Mavis planned it that way.
All their friends are assembled in a wide circle around a pygmy woman who waits for the guests of honor to arrive. As George and Mavis enter the group, the pygmy produces a furnace to sit on and a salamander. "This is for you, George," the pygmy says, "and for you too, Mavis."
The pygmy performance artist announces she will now perform, with the help of her assistant Sally Salamander, the ancient metaphor called "The Fire that does not Consume." She lights the pieces of wood and places them into the furnace, where they become blazing hot coals. She releases Sally into the blazing inferno where she will surely meet her death. Everyone watches as the little creature strolls into the blazing fire and promptly dies.
But before anyone can be concerned, it reforms itself and strolls out the other end, alive again. The salamander dies in the blaze but is not consumed by the fire. Everyone applauds the performance, and they all laugh as the little creature stands on its back legs and takes a bow.
"Now that's what I call properly enacted metaphor," says George, smiling at Mavis and holding her hand.
"That's what I call life," says Mavis, smiling back at him.
Page 1 - A Ghost Tour | Light of Recognition
Page 2 - Deus Madre