A Conversation for 30 Hours in Hooverville: A Novel Experiment

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

It is 2 am. Do what you like, but do it quietly. People are trying to sleep.

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Wlad's music history professor used to laugh at him for his lifestyle. 'You're like a toddler,' he said. 'You run and run until you're exhausted, and then you just fall down where you are and sleep.' This is still true: as soon as he puts the birdseed in the chipmunk-proof canister, and stows the mums where Ignatz can't love them to death, Wlad sits down in the big armchair in the living room and falls into a deep sleep.

He dreams.

His dream is unsettling. Like a lot of his dreams, this one involves a gig. He's at a school somewhere. He's supposed to be playing for the kids to perform their show: they're all running around in costumes. It's a Hoovermas show, so the tallest girl is the Roomba Fairy. She's going around, touching everything backstage with her magic wand, reciting, 'Fear not! For lo, I bring you good tidings of innovations in floor sweeping!'

Wlad's problem is that he needs to organise the music, and somebody has messed it up. It's stacked on top of the piano haphazardly. He frantically sorts through the stacks, putting them into order. But he can't find the carol book he needs to start the introduction with…he has a mental image of that specific carol book, but he can't find it on the piano. And it's 10 minutes to showtime….

Then the scene shifts, as scenes tend to in dreams. The children run off down the hall to their classrooms. The curtain opens, but instead of kids, a quartet of extremely pompous adults take the stage. They're wearing formal attire that looks like it's been exhumed from an archaeological dig. The men are wearing tail coats with a cut that must have been stylish in 1912. The coats are shiny with age. The women are wearing elaborate gowns of billowy chiffon. They have peacock feathers sticking out of their enormous hairdos.

'What zoo did this menagerie escape from?' mutters Wlad in his dream. He tosses in his chair, causing Ignatz to knead his lap before curling up again.

The music begins, and the strange singers start to sing. They hold their hands in that time-honoured but affected way of madrigal singers: one hand down, the other up, in front of their bodies, with the fingers curled into each other.

'That's to show they Mean Business,' thinks Wlad. He is extremely glad they brought their own musicians (who are dressed like fugitives from a Renaissance Fayre). He wants nothing to do with this.

'Lady that hand of plenty,
That gave unto the needefull,
Dyd steale my heart unheedefull,
Sweet theefe of love so dainty,
Sweet theefe of love so dainty,
That rob when you are giving, are getting,
But you doe give so surely,
That you may robbe and steale, the more securely,
That my poore hart bee eased,
You doe it not to ioy mee,
But still by frefh affaults
Quite to destroy mee, quite to destroy mee,
But still by frefh affaults quite to destroy mee.'

Somehow, Wlad can hear the awful spelling, which makes this worse. 'Please stop, I'm bored now,' he thinks in echo of the Ignobel Prize's Miss Sweetie Poo. But still the music continues. There's some sort of disconnect in his mind, though: the lyrics he's hearing are in English, but the singers appear to be singing in Italian.

'Dreams are weird,' he thinks, as the highbrow torture continues.


The singers quit, and Wlad is hopeful of relief. Alas, the next number is announced: Florence Foster Jenkins…


Wlad fights awake. 'What fresh hell is this?' he mutters, and goes off to make sure Ignatz has food and water before climbing the stairs and crawling into bed.

smiley - dragon

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 3

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?

The jury returns...

Judge Schmidt prepares to declare the final verdict.

Considering that the disasters and brave saves seem to cancel out, we unanimously place the remaining blame at 2Legs.

BANG! goes the hammer...

That went well.

I would like to thank the judge and jury for their everlasting wisdom. I would especially like to thank Wlad for supplying the lyrics of my madrigal, and 2Legs and other members of the scapegoat service for uncomplainingly taking the blame for the rest of the multiverse for the last twenty-ish years.

And now for an altogether more weird dream...

This looks like a motorbike computergame to me. Steering is a bit whacky. It doesn't go in the direction I want it to.
It makes a full turn, ride two blocks and full turn again. Now go right, left, full turn, 2 blocks, go left, go left, 2 blocks, right turn, full turn, left turn, WATCH OUT CAT!!!, left turn,was that a cat?, full turn, left turn, full turn, left turn, left turn... getting dizzy.
Can I get off now? I don't see the point of this...

Hey, what is that button with "2D" hovering over there? If I reach out I can hit it.


Ah, map mode. Now it makes sense to me..

But why would anyone try to spell "HELP" on a map in a biker game?
And why is that cat following me?

Apparently I am in the next level of the game.

What do I have to do with that baseball bat? There's no ball.

Where did all those cats come from, and why are they all staring at me?

Ah, a hint appears.

[Protect the jack-fish-o-lantern at all cost]

What jack-fish-o-lantern? Oh, I'm sitting on it...

I think I know where this is going.

Come kittykittykitty... Come to uncle Fred...

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 4

FWR (under new management)

*For H's sake, slow down Cuddles!* Cal pleaded as she gripped onto the dashboard. The pickup fishtailing wildly around yet another bend.

Cuddles yawned behind wheel, bleary eyes glued to the mirrors, which probably wasn't a good idea on a narrow, twisty, unlit mountain road in the middle of the night!

Cal craned around, trying to see what or who it was they were trying to outrun. Unfortunately her enormous suitcase blocked her view of the road behind.

She was getting scared now. Not because of some horrid threat chasing them, but the very real threat of Cuddles driving them off the road and down the mountain.

*If you don't pull over right now…* she punched his arm (hurting her knuckles in the process) to grab his attention, then purposefully gripped the door handle,*....and I mean now….I'll bloody jump Cuddles! This is getting stupid!*

Anguish and indecision tortured his face. Another look in the mirror, then…

*Ok, Cal, round the next bend there's a hikers' trail, I'll stop….but only if you get out, get to the woods and hide. I'll lose this dude and circle back. Deal?*

Cuddles slowed for the hairpin bend, letting the pickup get as near to the edge of the road as he dared. Behind him, the bike had braked hard too, momentarily losing sight of their truck.

He reached across and flung the door open as the truck skidded almost to a halt. *Out, now! Hide, stay hidden, I'll be back!*

Cal crouched in the bushes as the Ford roared away, moments later another roar, as a Harley rounded the bend, back wheel sliding, then it was gone.

The chase continued, lights and noise fading away into the mountain night.

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 5

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?

[Oh no, not again! Suspense is killing me!]

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 6

Elektragheorgheni -Please read 'The Post'

Sandy gets back to bed and enjoys a dreamless sleep thanks to the horrid green cough medicine. He is totally unaware of big and little cats with rescued floral matter, and strange adventures with motorcycles, not to mention strange singing court cases

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 7

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

Nove,ber 27

As the next dream began taking shape, Arsenio could tell it would be the one he dreaded. It was late March in Punxsutawney. Arsenio had just arrived at the Grateful Groom night club for Elias Holtzinger's stag party. Arsenio writhed in his sleep, begging the fates not to make him see this one through to the end. Change some part of it, any part, he begged. Make it a June wedding. Why was Elias in such
a hurry to get married? Well, Arsenio's more practical side told him, it wasn't *Elias* who was racing to the altar, but the bride. Don't let this guy get away.

A few snowflakes were falling as Arsenio came in the front door. He was twenty minutes early. Flyers for Easter events were on the board next to the reception desk, which was unmanned. There must be a coat room, mustn't there? Arsenio tried opening doors at random, and this was his undoing. The third door he tried said "No Admittance," but who knew which rooms could be repurposed by coats? Arsenio opened the
door anyway, and saw that sheets had been piled in a makeshift bed, where Elias and his best man were in bed together, and they were....smiley - yikes

Arsenio closed the door in a hurry and began shaking silently. Now he knew why Elias had begun pulling away from him in the last week. Elias had known his best man for years, but distance had limited their ability to connect. Now the guy was here, and it was clear what their relationship was. Arsenio felt that he should be disgusted by the scene he had witnessed, but if he was honest with himself, he had to admit
that he wished he could be doing that with Elias. And this was the worst part of it. Arsenio had run into people who assumed he was gay, but he rarely thought much about it. True, he rarely felt attracted to women, but he also wasn't attracted to men -- until now.
(Or had he been all along, but didn't want to face it?) He felt like skipping the stag party and pretend nothing had happened. Now he saw Elias's family coldness toward him in another light. They knew their son was gay, and insisted
on marrying him to this woman anyway, because they wanted grandchildren. Elias was too easygoing to put up much of a fight. Maybe his future wife would really be running the business anyway. And any children that came along would be brought up to assume they would inherit it some day.

"They think Elias spends too much time with ,me," he told himself softly, tears streaming down his face. "They think he's carrying on with me like he's doing in there. I would never do that. He's just a friend."

Arsenio couldn't take any more. If he went to the party he would be sobbing, and people would want to know why. He put on his coat and went home.

There were no memories of the wedding. Arsenio had blocked it out of his consciousness. Later, he read in the paper that the best man selected another man for his partner. The wedding was at a chapel next to the Rocky Brook gay bar in Butterfly Falls in the next county. Arsenio had never been there, but he heard it had a beautiful view of the Nighthoover River.

Now Arsenio was wide awake. This dream had haunted him for months after the fateful event, but he hadn't had it since early this year. Now he realized that Elias's reappearance had triggered it. And he had to admit that he really wanted to see Elias again. What if Elias wanted an erotic relationship with him now? Well, it was best to take it a day at a time. The Philpotts family would not shun Arsenio, in any event. Arsenio
had told everyone he would spend time in Florida with a much-loved cousin who happened to be gay. Ironic, wasn't it? Even more ironic was the son that his cousin had produced jointly with a lesbian friend. The son had at least one child in high school now.

Maybe this situation wasn't really all that bad? If you've reached your early fifties without having these feelings come out (at least not consciously), maybe your life is not so bad. People adjust most of the time. Anyway, no one cared about the sex life of a middle aged man, unless he was a celebrity. Arsenio was no celebrity.

Since El;ias was back in his life (and he hoped this would continue!) Arsenio made a resolution to talk to Doctor Phil Gouda, a local psychiatrist. This needed to get sorted out.

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

[This is beautiful!]

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 9

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

[smiley - wow I was afraid you would be offended. smiley - hug It's not safe for work, though I avoided as many hot button words as possible. Writing is hard work. Thank you.]

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 10

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

[beautiful indeed - well done smiley - hug]

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 11


Well done, Paulh. smiley - applause

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 12


The plant is enjoying its temporary home. When it is done inspecting the shop, it looks out into the street.
The big kitty hasn't come back. Good. It was scary. The rescuer was very brave indeed, and had a very effective fighting broom. Not quite as formidable as a waffle iron, but impressive nonetheless.
A racoon runs past. Looking for a bin to search, probably. Dinner time.

Suddenly, the plant is startled by a terrible, horrible, sap-curdling noise.
A loud grunting noise, followed by a long ppfffffffff.
It reminds the plant of a human breathing, but it is louder, and
a lot less human-sounding.
Its neighbour told it once of a practice some humans have, at night, of breathing loudly...
What was it? Sorting? No. Snorting? Doesn't sound right.
SNORING! That must be what the human is doing!
It is truly horrid. How can anything be that noisy?

The plant curls up its leaves around itself, trying to block out the sound. It doesn't work very well, but it's better than nothing.

The racoon is back from the end of the street. It seems to have found half a sandwich.
It proceeds to rinse it in the rainwater-filled pot. Then it settles under a pickle yew tree to enjoy its meal.

The tree looks strange. It is bearing fruit, but not the normal kind. These have unusual shapes and colours.
It has heard of another human tradition: "decorating" trees. Humans hang things in their trees to make them pretty. Presumably, trees are not deemed beautiful by humans. Silly beings.

Fortunately, Wilhelmina has never done that to them. That might have earned her a rebellion.
Imagine that, plants overunning the Waffelhaus! They wouldn't know how to run it, for one thing.
But that has never been necessary, and with any luck, it never will.
The plant uncurls one leaf, and hits the top of the table with it a couple of times. Knocking on wood.
At the sound, the racoon shoots a look at the window, ready to defend its quarter-sandwich. When it realises it is quite safe, it goes back to munching happily.

The plant recurls its leaf and goes to sleep.

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 13

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Wilhelmina is fast asleep. She dreams of a jungle of potted plants and a sabretooth lurking somewhere inside of it. Fortunately Wilhelmina has a very powerful pink umbrella. On her way through the jungle she finds various inhabitants of Hooverville hiding between the plants and she takes them all with her, protecting them with her mighty umbrella...

Cassy meanwhile fell asleep under the wooden patio, too. She dreams about being a sabretooth, prancing through town. She likes this. She can hunt cows in the fields and huge fish in the river. But maybe she would just find a good place to sit and let people pay tributes to her. Like 100 of these ridiculously tiny cans of cat food Wilhelmina only buys at Hoovermas. Or maybe turkey. She likes turkey. Sometimes she would maybe reward a particularly obedient subject by lying on their lap and letting them pet her...

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 14

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

Sheriff Rowdybush snores and wakes himself up. He realises he fell asleep on the sofa fully dressed, and he suddenly feels wide awake. He decides to make some hot chocolate A14042143 and go to see how Sergeant Irwin is getting on.

He takes a flask of hot chocolate round to the reception of the Police Station and lets himself into the secure room where the Sergeant is sitting checking e-mails and social media. He serves her a plastic cupful of hot chocolate and pours himself one, then looks at the #Hooverville Twitter feed:

@NosyNayburr has made several tweets complaining about the traffic noise from the River Pirates Inn, and the ‘volleyball playin’’ Nite Pirates.

The Sheriff makes a note to visit the River Pirates Inn later in the day, to see if there is anything he can help with.

The Sheriff also reads the tweets worrying about the wildlife in the Misty Mountains. He remembers the message from Wynken about the large cat, and makes a note to visit the Ranger within the next couple of days to check where he is up to.

@daysweeper tweets “When is next service @ 1st Church of Nighthoover? #Hooverville” and that reminds the Sheriff that he hasn’t seen the new Pastor yet. He makes a note to make enquiries, as he would like to attend the next service as well. He ‘likes’ @daysweeper’s tweet.

After finishing the milky drink, he feels more sleepy, so he leaves Sergeant Irwin on duty and goes back to his apartment. He gets changed quickly and climbs into bed.

27 November: 2 am – 3 am (Second Day)

Post 15

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Caiman Raptor Elk gets the Namecheck Award for putting the blame on 2legs, where it belongs.

FWR wins the Longest Sustained Suspense Award. It's killing us.

Paulh wins the Best Surprise Award. (And for some lovely writing!)

Superfrenchie wins the Eugene Ionesco Empathy Award for the interior life of a plant.

Tavaron gets Ionesco Special Mention for Cassy's vision of herself as a cat god.

SashaQ wins Most Internet Aware.

smiley - dragon

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