At which precise moment, albeit on the other side of the world, in the offices of The Melrose Monday Meshuggener, Editor-in-Chief Hyman Z Kaplan sat with an unlit cigar clamped between his teeth and stared at his monitor and the article he was supposed to be writing but of which only the single word 'At' sat black and lonely on the screen, then, feeling slightly truculent, he noodged Hannah Manyanah, the newspaper's Friday: "hey, Han, hun, gonna pop down to the Pound Bakery, get me a rare Sirloin on thinly buttered Seeded, with Khreyn and dressed with luteous Capsicum, Escarole and Scallions, and err, a Cinnamon Cap and put it on my tab," and the gruff voice from behind the screen came back: "no speaka de pretentiousity, boss, whissat in plain talk?" at which Kaplan grumpily hissed: "roast beef, brown bread, horseradish, yellow pepper, lettuce, and spring onions, and, oh, hell, coffee, to go," and a hand came round the door, indicating a wish for cash to be placed in it and before she left, Hannah sang out, "and if they ain't got any of that left, Scotch Pie and Beans as per usual?" at which Kaplan hurled his mouse out of the window, and snarled, "Heathens!"
"Huv ye noticed the wey this plaice wurks?" asked Doubleday, "what do you mean," grumbled MacFarlane, thinking that very little in Hanna Barbera actually seemed to work in any meaningful way, and Doubleday said, "weel, the vaporous signage, fer a stert, a sign sez sumthin's aff tae the richt or left, burrit never is, maist o the side streets is deid ens an ye'd rue the day ye stertit tae believe onythin's whaur it's supposed tae be, and see aw they shiny nameplates? afore ah'd a proper luik, a thocht there must be a big brichtsmith factory producin aw them, but luik close an ye'll see therr jist cerdboard, wi a glossy side oot, it's like the pepper hooses, an the weird pavements," and MacFarlane emptied his glass. "what about the pavements?" and Doubleday leaned forward, "huv ye no wurked it oot Boss? when ye walk, or drive oan the road, ye dinna actually move, it's like thae joggin machines that fowk run oan, in their livin room, watchin tv, when ye walk oan the pavement, the buildins slide past, but you dinna actually move, the pavement's jist a kind o conveyor belt, so's the road, an that's why ye nevva actually see ony traffic, it's aw a kind o illusion, ye walk until the place ye'r gaun tae arrives aside ye, an ye step aff the pavement an gaun in, is thon weird or no?" and MacFarlane closed his eyes, "yes Dom, it's certainly weird, but I daresay the citizens of this 'Burg probably find us rather weird too."
"Right," said MacFarlane, feeling that he would have to cut through all the double-talk and take control before Dominic's anxiogenic Cassandra-like predictions began to mount, "so it's the townland, yes?" and Doubleday nodded, eagerly, "yepp, first right, first left, second right, third right, two blocks, then a right again and. . . . ." he looked uncertainly at MacFarlane who stubbed out a cigarette and lit another, then said, "and we're right back here, fool, haven't you got a map?"
"But if I can get a word in edgewise," said Sir Parlane, "that was a pretty dexterous summation of my—our—present predicament, but it doesn't seem capacious enough for any wriggle-room, feels like a strait-jacket in fact, and can I just ask, do you know where all those indigenous artefacts came from?" and Dominic Doubleday grinned—wolfishly? no, more foxily, MacFarlane was ever the wolf and leader of the pack—and said, "just so happens, Boss, ah dae, an so div ye," which brought a narrowing of MacFarlane's eyes, "do I?" he asked, and "och aye," came back Doubleday, "mind thon glade whaur we cam through the portal?" his Boss nodded, "of course. . . . .is that. . . . .?" and "aye, mon, the verra place, they cry it Wudhenge, it's a circle o holes whaur wuddin posts used tae staun, an in the middle is a muckle hole, which gauns stracht doon, no tae Hell, bit a cave, an thon's whaur aw thae things wis fund aboot a hunner year ago by some chiel ca'd Colonel Mungo Jerry, accidental-like, it's a lang story an pretty borin, upshot is, he fund'em, donated thum tae the toon, the toon built a Museum, cried Hanna Barbera Museum of Antiquities an in ane room, the Colonel Mungo Gerry Bequest, wis aw thae things, whit's noo in therr," indicating the nearness of Apartment 6.
Then, suddenly, Doubleday slapped his thigh like a Principal Boy and laughed, "ah gettit, ah dae, ye fancy thon Ruby Murray, the ginge—aye she kin ca' it coquelicot, but it's ginge—an ye've got the hots fer the crooked lawyer's wife, Jessie Muddler, wha ah bet could tie ye in a sheepshank afore ye kennit, an onywey, Ruby an Jessie are self-confessed lezzies—no tae mention, a Item—an, ye've no brocht yer kilt neeva, though ah dinnae suppose they'll want tae pley wi yer sporran sumhoo, but ye'r also determined tae find whit happened tae Geneviève d'Eon—AKA Lollobello Montecello—an mebbe rescue her if she's in a stramash, while at the same time decidin whether tae blaw the whustle on slobberhannes Roger the Dodger's Grand Theft Cultural Heritage, or alternatively trouser the artefacts yersel, tak them tae a different T&P an sell'um tae the highest bidder, an aw thae things may be incompatible and that is hoo ye've goat thon lang forlorn repine look av come tae ken sae weel, am ah gettin warm, Boss?" and MacFarlane looked up from contemplating his whisky and said, "toast, Dom, warm as toast!"
"I'm torn, Dominic, torn, torn, ripped into seven sheets and scattered to the four winds, it's a position I've never been in before and I find it utterly, dreadfully, painfully, agonisingly, excruciatingly, deplorably, unquestionably, without a doubt in the world to be a fuckin rotten position to be in," and Doubleday stared disbelievingly at Sir Parlane MacFarlane, his Master, Boon Companion, Half-Brother, Role Model and Rock, for never had he heard such words come from so resolute, so determined, so courageous—well maybe not quite that—so cunning, so duplicitous, so light-fingered, so free with the lassies and casual with any pocketable, transportable, purloinable, transferable, usable, and especially, valuable, commodity that came within his vision, Man of Destiny, of Past Tense and Future Perfect, of Variable Dimensions, of This, That and especially, The Other, but all he could say was, "fit fer?" chiefly because he had no earthly idea what his Chieftain was blabbering on about, introspection, self-analysis, philosophising, being in harmony with the rhythm of nature, of the elements, of, of, 'Jesus, sumdy, help me!' and then he saw it: "ye'r undecided, Boss, is that it? ye cannae mak up yer mind, eh? should ye be a Born Again Righteous Do-Gooder, or yer ain self, whit did it say in yon Melrose Monday Meshuggener aboot ye? oh, aye, 'Evil Incarnate' noo thon's goat a ring aboot it, 'Evil Incarnate' thon wud mak a guid filum title, eh? so um a richt? ur ye switherin?" but MacFarlane merely yawned and said, laconically, if not quite as comically as he may have intended, but then, such are the unintended consequences of the tangled webs we weave when all our lives we practice to deceive, "aye an no, big man, it's no a binary choice, there's implications, benefits an losses, pluses an minuses, mair than twa sides tae the coin," and Doubleday beamed, "gotcha, Boss, ur we gaun back intae the Snake-Oil Racket wi Soapy Smith? thon wis guid times in Skagway, oh, Touch-the-Button Nell, Diamond Lil, Frenchy, or wis they in Dawson? ma memry's a bit pickled aboot thae deys, but is that the plan?" but Macfarlane shook his head, then said: "ye mind Joe Croft? the Reverend Joseph Gingerbread Croft, of the Parish of Mauchline in Ayrshire, no? weel ye should, cause his is a perfect illustration o whit am tryin tae say, back in the day, when Rabbie Burns wis a youngster, gatherin forget-me-nots wi the lasses, the Reverend Croft gave a blood-curdlin sermon aw aboot the Seven Deadly Sins, ye'll mind them? aye that's richt, Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Sloth and Wrath, now as it happens, the Reverend Croft wis an emissary for The Lord's Day Observance Society, ane o they high an michty cabals o spoilsports an miseryguts, an they were aw fer promotin strict observance o the Hush Law, whit in America wis the Blue Law, and in certain parishes in Scotland ultra-extreme zealots like Croft could punish ony infringement o the Hush Law even mair severely than the Ten Commandments, an they wis regulated wi aw the force o The Criminal Law, but oneywey, in his sermon, Joe Croft went on an on aboot how every ane o the Seven Sins wis connected wi disrespectin, abusin an contradictin the rules an regulations aboot the Sabbath, even sayin he'd heard laddies whustlin on the Sabbath, fowk runnin on the Sabbath, bein late fer the Kirk—maybe they didna run—lasses playin wi hoops an spinnin-tops on the Sabbath, men kissin their wives—or no their wives—wimmin haen wrinkly stockins, fowk singin, dancin, which probably led tae copulation on the Sabbath, auld fowk fa'in asleep durin services—he slammed doon the Bible wi sic a crash that he woke up maist o the snoozers, bit ane ancient chiel died o fricht—an that should gie ye an idea o ma dilemma!"
"So whit in the name o the Wee Man did ye fund oot aboot the wummin in nummer 5 an the auld guy in nummer 6?" said MacFarlane, lapsing into his native dialect with the stress and strain he had been carrying, and Doubleday looked right and left, as if checking there was still no-one else in the room, which there wasn't, then said, "they're a' sum kinna Opra Cumpny, six o thum, claim tae be the best therr is, in the hale wurld, cry theirsels a Supergroup, name o Crème de la Crème," and "thon's intrestin," mused MacFarlane, "soons awfy familiar, am sure ah've heerd it afore, tho ah canny think whaur," and Doubleday nodded, "wisnae therr a geezer cried Ginger innit?" but MacFarlane waved the thought aside, "ye've goat ginger on the brain, though a wudnae mind a wee sup o Irn Bru masel sumtime, but tellus, who ur the six fowk?" and Doubleday counted on his fingers: wan, the leader, a Dutchman, sum kinda Pilot, divnae ken whit kind o plane but, he's whit they cry Bosso Profundo, the Big Boss ah reckon; twa, the Barber, he's Spanish, fae Seville, whaur the marmalade cums fae," and MacFarlane asked, "Figaro," but Doubleday shook his head, "nah, ah think it's oranges, no figs," so MacFarlane slapped him, "his name, comprende? is it Figaro?" but Doubleday shook his head again, "soonded like Fred tae me, an he's a Barry Tony, which ah think means an Italian fae Wales, ye ken, Barry Island, mind we wis there aince? okay, threi, The Merry Widdy Wummin, an ah kin tell ye, she's richt merry, boy, can she gaun? kept me herd at it aw nicht, reed raw ah wis," but he stopped when MacFarlane raised his hand again, then continued, "weel, she's a Contralto, whitevva thon is; okey dokey, fower, a young lassie, she wis merrit but her auld fellah did a runner oan the waddin nicht, took aw their coin o the realm, left them skint, an the Opra he wis writin, aye, see this guy Joe, he wis the author, an noo they're searchin fur him, cos wi'oot the Opra therrs no much they kin dae, onywey, she's the Buttured Bride," which Macfarlane interrupted, "don't you mean Bartered Bride? that's a Opra," and Doubleday grinned, "maybe, boss, bit ah cried her buttured cos ah got the idea fae thon filum, Lost Tingle in Paris, mind yon Merlin Bando took the buttur an'. . . . ." then shut up when he saw MacFarlane's face darken, "onywey, she's the Messy Soprano, which soons like a Mafioso kinda name, but they telt me it's cos she's a soubrette, which is like sophomoric, or sophomoronic, or whitevva it's like, ah'm gettin therr, so, nummer five, an six, they're cried Tristan an Isolde, an ah think she's anuvva Soprano, bit no sae messy this time, an he's sposed tae be a Tenner, which must be like twa Fivers, so a guess he kin sing twa tunes fer the price o ane, an that's them, three wummin in apertment 5 and three geezers in nummer 6 which, by the wey, is mair like a museum, fu o aw sorts an kinds o prehistoric arts and crafts, like, wee bit things a body cood cairy aboot in the aulden days an nane o them seem tae ken much aboot it, but ah fund a letter in a drawer, tae their Landlord, seems he'd bin askin sumdy fer a valuation, ah guess he didnae ken much aboot it eether an they wrote back seyin the best offer wud be $5 million, no near as much as the insurance wud be peyin oot tae the Museum o Aunty Quitties, but in the circumstances, a fair cash in haun deal, tak it or leeve it," and he pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to MacFarlane who read it with interest, "the fuckin crook!" he almost shouted with glee, "it's only Roger Fuckin Meddler, he's obviously knocked this stuff off fae the Town or County or State Museum an the fence is offerin five million, Jesus it must be worth a fortune, sez here it's 'a Unique Collection of Indigenous Art Mobilier' an it's in thon room," pointing in the direction of apartment 6, an nane o them realizes, talk aboot hidden in plain sight, maks me wunder aboot the missing author though, could he be the ane went aff wi Lolly?" and Doubleday laughed, "weel, he certenly took the Opra Cumpny's lolly a richt! cood thon hae bin tae finance a disappearance, boss?"
"Manageable?" asked Dominic Doubleday, a half hour later, when Sir Parlane had reached him in the apartment block where he was posing as Sigismund Humperdinck, a travelling salesman of Nordic furniture, "oh, yes," confirmed MacFarlane, there isn't a guttersnipe in this town, nor any joes hustling the corners, nor even society ladies—and I use the term in it's loosest corsets—heading home from discreetly pravileged assignations, who saw anything of the mysterious car and driver who supposedly picked up Miss Lollobello Montecello from her trailer that night, from which I draw the conclusion that the whole story is hokum, it's a smokescreen, a red herring, bait trailed so that whoever would be investigating the so-called disappearance/abduction would go way, way down the wrong road until it was too late, they passed the point of no return and just kept on going until; the whole thing fizzled out and became one of those tales told in empty bars at two-thirty in the morning and who did get put in charge of the case? only Mr Roger Meddler-Muddler-Fiddler-Faddler, the fattest head in the whole Tri-County area, the man's a nincompoop, in fact he's a pile of poop and the pity is his wife's the likely accessory," at which Dominic interjected, "if there's nae crime, whit's she an accessory tae?" and MacFarlane poured two large tumblers of Laphraoigh, gave one to his associate and indicated they should both sit down, then said: "a disappearance—but not a crime—an escape," "whit fur? or wha' fae?" and Parlane gave a rueful grin, and pointed at himself, "me!"
Some may offer up that sudden departure of Sir Parlane MacFarlane from Ruby Murray's apartment as proof of his genuine volte-face, his change of heart, indeed his innocence, while others there are who will scoff at such naivete, and indeed there have been theses written arguing those opposing positions, doctorates awarded on the strength of them and not just one marriage has floundered because the partisan positions held by the two parties have proven to be too deeply embedded—pun unintentional, but quite appropriate—to be kissed and made up, and the scene he had left, still vibrating with the passions which had flooded into the void following his grand coup, was now that of a pas-de-deux, with no witnesses, so who can possible swear to the veracity of this, or any of the other several dozens of accounts? but suffice it to be said that, if Ruby was a Devi—and who can doubt that statement as simple, adducible fact—and Jessica her lady-in-waiting, then the Ghost of Hamlet's Father might equally well play the part of the absent Scottish baronet, and none can prove otherwise since there were no witnesses, no hidden microphones producing recordings and subsequent transcripts, no other creature was stirring—not even a mouse—when Ruby whispered into Jessica's delicate pink shell-like.
And MacFarlane said: "d'you want to know what I did last night?" which caused Jessica's face to pale and Ruby to look curiously at her, but without waiting for a reply from either woman, he went on, "I watched Citizen Kane on one of the cable channels in my room at Four Corners, and I enjoyed it more last night than ever before, have you seen it?" and both women nodded, "but you haven't recognised me?" which startled them, "don't you see?" he persisted, "look again," turning his face from side to side, then, "in the movie, Moe Bernstein, can't you see it?" and then recognition slowly dawned on them both, "that was you?" exclaimed Jessica, "oh my God!" cried Ruby, "but how?" and then stopped, because she knew exactly how and she became pensive, running possibilities through her mind like a deck of cards, but then became aware of him getting ready to leave, "no, I really should," he said, "Jessica came to speak with you, Ruby," and nodded towards Roger's wife, "but I hope I can smell you both later, maybe morning coffee?" and then, a parting shot towards Jessica, "those dorsal bruises, between your shoulder-blades, you should have your doctor take a look at them, I'd say prima facie evidence of domestic abuse, but I'm no lawyer," and he was gone, clattering down the stairs and they listened till the front door shut behind him, when Ruby turned to her friend, "dorsal bruises?" she asked, and Jessica nodded, "you know what happened with Roger and me before?" and Ruby asked, "before?" and Jessica said, "before I met Lolly, or at least, spoke to her that first time?" but Ruby hadn't, so Jessica cleared her throat and ploughed on, "there's a concept called participation mystique, which holds that couples, families, groups, societies bond together, without anything having to be articulated, spelt out, but it's believed to have developed in pre-historic times and is still around today, although modern societies—which have different cultures intermingling, each with it's own distinct history and heritage—have to deal with different dynamic tensions than those in the past, say in our grandparents, or great grandparents times, ever did, although I guess, in the USA, those tensions have been here since the first Europeans landed at Plymouth Rock," and Ruby laughed, "and they're still fuckin' it up!" and Jessica nodded, "well, what went on between Roger and me, happened slowly, evolved, probably, from intimate play into something darker, and that look MacFarlane described as seeing on Roger's face, well, I've seen it too, and it's frightening," and she threw herself into Ruby's arms and they embraced with a resolved passion.
"Far be it from me to criticise any man—especially in the presence of two people who know him far better then I, and one of them his wife—but as a collection of first impressions, I would suggest that despite his protestations—if that isn't an improper description—of pious Catholicism, his whole demeanour smacks of trumpery, trumpery and frumpery, when he squirted the chilli sauce into the eyes of the presumed—by him if no-one else—abductor of Miss Montecello, his visage was that of a cold-blooded killer—and I have seen plenty of those in my many times—indeed his eyes seemed to move closer together, his ears higher on his head, his skin tightened, darkened, became mottled, and his tongue darted out almost like that of a rattlesnake, it was momentary, far shorter than the time it took me to describe it, because it all happened at once, yet it was markedly noticeable for I was watching him, the others, the police officers, were concentrating on the 'alleged suspect' so probably didn't see it, but if pushed, I would say it may have been a nyctinastic movement, indicative of him being very different from what you all suppose him to be," a heartbeat and Jessica's voice, hoarse and strained: "no shit!" a statement, not a question.
"Expecting company?" asked MacFarlane, but Ruby shook her head, "not me, how about you?" but MacFarlane didn't think Dominic would know where he was and he would surely call before searching the town, so Ruby pressed the intercom and there, on the screen, was Jessica Muddler, and another button released the street door and they could hear her coming up the stairs, but when she entered the room she froze, staring at Macfarlane, then Ruby and back again: "what's he doing here?" she asked, so Ruby told her about the botched raid on her friend's apartment-block under the incompetent supervision of County Prosecutor Roger Muddler which culminated in spraying Ruby's eyes with chilli sauce and then a bunch of cops jumping her and wrastlin her to the ground, "oh my God," said Jessica, shocked, "you could have been blinded, seriously injured, this whole search for Lolly and her abductor stinks to high heaven, why haven't they called in the FBI or at least the State Police, no-one in Hanna Barbera has the experience to handle something like this," and as she spoke, she emphasised certain words with a little tuning-fork she had picked up, waving and stabbing with it like a bident, a pitch-fork, "they need professional investigators, detectives who deal with cases like this on a quotidian basis, part of their every-day job, putting it in the hands of someone like Roger is truly pathetic, or criminally negligent, he's such a coddy-moddy!" and MacFarlane looked up in surprise at the seeming nursery language being used by Jessica to describe her husband, and then he remembered it was a nickname for the young black-headed gull and he recalled a summer in childhood, spent on St Kilda and learning how to scramble up sheer rock-faces to snatch gannet and fulmar eggs from tiny ledge-nests, which he put in a drawstring bag sling over his head and worn diagonally across his back, to protect the eggs from accidental breakage, and he smiled at the appropriateness of such a name for the screeching and blustering, pompous, fluttering and flighty Law Officer.
Pouring them each another drink, Ruby, who didn't quite understand how she felt about this strange creature from another world, the obverse—or reverse?—of her own, asked what she normally would: "so if you lived in such a remote part of the country, did you say the 12th, or 13th Century?" he nodded without giving any clarification, where were you schooled? you've obviously had a good education," and MacFarlane nodded again, then said: "at seven I was sent ower the brae to Dornoch Cathedral, for my general education, in the hands of the monks, that was always normal among the aspirational Clans, and we were relatives of the Duke of Sutherland after all, and at 16 I was sent to Bologna University to study Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences, but I spent a lot of my time lolling around," and Ruby looked surprised, "I find it hard to believe that you would lie about all day," and MacFarlane thought for a moment, then said: "no, I didn't, I think we're getting caught in the heterophemy of ancient and modern usage, I was thinking in terms of that text-speak LOL, because, believe me, I did a lot of laughing in Bologna, the weather, the colours, the people, the food, the wine, the sheer exuberance and joy which extended to my studies, and made this feel like a holiday after the harsh rigours of monastic life in Dornoch, not the lying around sort of lolling," and they both had a fit of the giggles which released some of the tension and soon they were helpless with laughter, tears streaming down their faces, when suddenly there was a loud knocking at the street door, which brought them both back to the present.
"My point exactly," said MacFarlane, with a wink, "which is why and how she is so good at passing as women—she is one, don't you see?—there's nothing better and more effective than hiding in plain sight, her birth was registered by her father as a boy—and it wasn't a heterophemy, he didn't write the wrong sex by mistake, and, believe me, mistakes over a baby's gender and the attribution of what becomes the child's permanent status, are not particularly uncommon—because that brought him an inheritance which was dependant on producing a male child, and the Parish Register homologated that as a Legal Fact, and so she was brought up as a boy, in a period and class where nothing was thought unusual about her looks, and that boy learned all the male skills, swordsmanship, horsemanship, reading—French, English, Latin, Greek, Italian, Russian and Swahili—writing and arithmetic, the natural sciences—Chemistry, Astronomy, Earth Science, Physics and Biology—and had a bent for Ethnobotany, even wrote a paper on the peasants' use of particular plants in treating specific maladies, and this at a time when peasants were regarded as being little better than dumb animals, worse in fact, because they complained and could thwart their Master's orders by insolence, which no horses, oxen, other beasts of the field, would ever do, and I do believe that Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont, probably believed himself to be a boy, after all, and even in Biology there was little done in the way of Sex Education in those days, there was none at all in my boyhood, you just got the general idea if you happened to catch sight of dogs, cats, horses or cattle—sometimes, if you were particularly quiet, and lucky, a loon and a quine, or even two loons—doing IT and that certainly had no connection with what might happen to one of them in the future, and never did with two loons," and Ruby said, "sorry, but what's all this about loons, did you live in a Lunatic Asylum or something?" and MacFarlane laughed, "nah, lassie, in the Highlands and Islands, a loon is a boy and a quine is a girl, and anyway, there was no such thing as an Asylum, though I'm sure there were plenty of Lunatics around!"
"What should I see?" asked Ruby, clearly puzzled by MacFarlane's sudden changes of tack and thinking that he steers a water thief's course, sudden twists and turns to throw a follower off course, and he laughed, said: "it depends on whether you are looking at the liquid, in which case nothing, but through the liquid, you will see whatever is beyond the boundary of the glass, but to get back, I was an evil character then and had been for most of my life, and I'm not going to try to persuade you that I have changed, the reasons for my change being personal and private, but I'll jump to five years ago, here, because I had been considering what to do with Geneviève d'Eon, she had managed to get close to several friends of mine—well, friends isn't quite right, but they were useful in various ways—and I suspected she might speak rashly of me, and then I discovered that an occasional portal just a short distance away was faulty, it only opened once every fifty years, for about an hour or two, no more, and came here, strictly one way, some sort of short chicory," and Ruby queried, "circle?" and MacFarlane muttered, "heterophemy, I meant circuit, a short circuit, a tricky connection in the electronics of the Worm Hole, and as the opening was due soon, I devised a plan, put it into effect, set off as if to make an assignation with someone and she followed—oh, she was always very good, indeed sometimes I could only sense what I assumed was her distant presence, and I may have been wrong—and on this occasion I made sure that she could keep me in view, until I reached a corner, ducked, disappeared and after a few heartbeats, she followed, well, I had hidden just inside and she passed me, barely inches away, was caught in the flow of the Passage and vanished, and I ducked back out onto the pavement, and waited, forty-five minutes, and it was gone, closed up for another five years, and I knew she could never return, any attempt would be futile, she had no knowledge of America, no experience, no Map of the Worm Holes that I alone possess, so I was rid of her, forever! it was a time to celebrate and celebrate I did, but I won't say any more of that," but Ruby was leaning forward, staring at him, "you mean Lolly is this Geneviève d'Eon person, I don't believe it, she can't be, if d'Eon is a man, no matter how pretty-faced he is, I have seen Lolly naked. . . . ." she stopped, then continued, "although I told you I had seen her a few times in the restaurant, the truth is we were lovers, are lovers, oh, I know she and Jessica Muddler too, we don't have any secrets, for all it's progressive ways, it's acceptance of individuals, regardless of Species, Race, Religion, Age, Disability, Hanna Barbera isn't quite so liberal when it comes to sexual orientation, it may allow the Truck Stop to service the truckers carnal needs, and The Rec to satisfy the lusts and passions of a goodly number of it's citizenry, but those places are never mentioned, never spoken of or written about, you could read the Hanna Barbera Intelligencer every day forever and never find a mention of either the Truck Stop or The Rec, so far as the Intelligencer and it's readers are concerned, they simply don't exist—in point of fact, they are outside the Town Limits, literally, on the other side of the Freeway—so are never referred to in polite HB society, and nor are Gays, Lesbians, Bi-sexuals, etcetera, so we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves, heck, Jessica's Women's Group that Roger so graciously allows and encourages her to attend is actually a Lesbian Club, strictly Members Only, and Lolly herself only joined a couple of months ago, I'd been trying to get her into it for a long time, but she had held back, but I can assure you of this, Lolly is a woman, 100%"
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