a gold train pulls up to the station at Halx. by the Secret Pink lake of fire that's a volcanic pool of one of the small mounds encrusting the village.
Jill Wine-Banks: wait we don't have a station! how did you find this place it's not on any nonmagical map!?
Sally Quinn: we don't? i always thought we did.
Kim: i dunno my father showed me. this is a cool train, huh?
Jill: get outta here!
Kim: the trains back home don't run on time like this. that gives me an idea...
Jan Russ is still scolding her stage sprites, rapping their dancing knuckles with her measure stick with the scary-looking ugly bronze hook on the end. her students are petrified which is not conducive to acting, you must let your body go slack and limp and freeflow. a trail of Sprite cans with cigarette butts stuffed inside the various wide silver lips litter the grassy circle of the outdoor performance hall.
Jan: ack. what am i to do? what do you expect of me? how do you expect me to conduct business? i can only work the talent that's recruited for me.
Jill: tell me about it, sister. speaking of, hey Gladyce, what's shakin', bacon? you don't look good without your natural roots, mama.
Gladyce's hair was the same color as Doryce's hair, down to the tone. Gladyce takes off her wreath of branches from her head and tosses the Sword of Saad like a frisbee into the lava, turning the pink lava red again.
Jill: you look sexier as a blonde, love. you're a torrid towhead again!
Doryce: why, dear?
Gladyce: magic belongs in the ground. nature is magic. feeling is human. everything is back to normal. the colors have realigned. i never wanted to trick you, dear Doryce. i love you. yes at first it was another recruiting job, but i fell in love with you from your start. i am way way older than you but you've taught me so much. what is the word beyond friend? beyond best and care and value and soul-companion and identity? you are my link and love and light. i dropped the job long ago. i like my hair ruddy, i did it cos i identify with you now, not my ancient nascent sisters. you're my tribe, my tribe of two.
Jill: who you callin' ancient?
Jan: you realize what you're doing, Glad? it's not about betraying the group. it's about you. what you're giving up. by not working.
Gladyce: i know. it's worth it. hon let's go to the doctor. that's what old people do. they go to the doctor and wait in the waiting room and have scintillating conversations about porridge and preops and postops and prunes.
Doryce: and practitioners. okay, hon. we'll make it. i'll make it for you. despite my bum wheel.
Doryce rolls one foot over the other and drags Gladyce by the leg on one leg.
they make it to the clinic which is hidden by a rock. and a doctor's-office waiting room with two seats and no receptionist/nurse. one puke-green slat bolted to the wall by a war hawk with one magazine, AARP Magazine. they get to today's weather:
Gladyce: sit down, dear. have you heard of cashewgurt? Forager brand.
Doryce: when we get through this, we'll have a cruffin together. and then Pancake Palace after.
Gladyce: oh no, dear, that's too heavy for me i'll be in postop. you can have it, though, i'll watch you eat your pancakes and load up on your daily allowance of starch and we'll recline on our booth and talk about our day and appointments.
Gladyce: it's time, they called for me did you hear it?
Doryce drops her magazine.
Gladyce puts herself on the examination table, she lies back and spreads the roll of white paper under herself. she looks at Doryce longingly and the water that had been gushing out of her eyes nonstop turns to her own blood.
Doryce: dear goddess! what can i do, Gladyce?
Gladyce: you're the one bleeding. you're bleeding love.
Doryce falls down on her friend. she hugs her tighter than she has ever held onto anything in her life before. her toys, her mother's hand, the wheel of her first car, her diploma which unscrolled, her first paycheck which flew out of her two cigarette fingers, Bama's burnt finger, a tree. for she had her own living tree.
Gladyce's blood fills the room. Doryce remembered to close the door. the red smashes and splishes and enters into a funnel up the redbrick chimney. it spews out in dust red ash and columns into the clouds like a volcano angry for a thousand years at not being able to blow. this orgasm is cathartic and the land soons turns green and blue again. the crones barge into the room with their battering-ram wands.
Gladyce: and for heavens sake change the name of this one-broom town. Halx is so obscene. the profanity of "half" and the "x" as if that's any way to describe women! keep it pure and profaneless. i like Hecks.
and so the village was Hecks from then after. the actresses who built the stage built the welcoming sign. they also build on Jan's orders a huge sign over the park area where Doryce and Gladyce now sit on a park bench like the one they claimed in Washington. by a similar lake. the sign reads:
BROOM LAKE NOT GROOM LAKE
Gladyce: what a brisk morning! where do you want to go to lunch?
Doryce rests her head on Gladyce's shoulder. Gladyce strokes Doryce's hair.
Doryce: can we eat at the car wash again? i like sitting down by those potted plants and talking.
Gladyce: there's a car wash here, strangely. but we have no cars.
Doryce: i see all sort of funny transport around here. old men geezers by the geysers on their way out of town sillily pushing those ridiculous bikes with the wheeljack in front as they pedal with their arms. one even looked like Richard Painter.
Gladyce: SAWD, super all-wheel-drive it's called. that Richard Painter's a stud. i love how he talks out of the side of his mouth that's so sexy.
Sally: wait what about the Stones? the Runes of prophecy? where were they? we needed three. there was Wisdom or something and Beauty.
Gladyce: you had the Power one, Sally, which was really Beauty. i had the Wisdom one. they are located in our vaginas. you have yours and i have my Rune lodged into our respective pussies. for safekeeping.
Jill: it wasn't me. i didn't switch em or nothing in each other's gash. but it all worked out. that's what they're there for.
after a few drippings, the two take them out with a sucking sound.
Sally: blessed be! no wonder i've been having a hard time thinking straight for the years after my husband died.
Jan raps Sally's knuckles.
Jan: quit being so mealymouthed! there. it worked.
Jill: yeah quit being so mealymouthed!
Jill sneaks in a soft kiss on the side of Sally's mouth.
Jill: and That Which Will Not Be Named?
Gladyce smiles showing her rotting teeth and hugs Doryce towards her.
Jill: blessed be. we really need to be out more, girls. explore the world. meet new people.
Gladyce: now if you'll excuse me i'd like some time alone with my friend.
Doryce: you seem more clearheaded.
Gladyce: expelling all that blood leaves one lightheaded.
Doryce: what should we do today?
Gladyce: nothing. we're doing it right now.
Doryce: how old are you, Gladyce?
Gladyce: oh i dunno. old. i'm old you're old. we're old.
Doryce: young people are so hard to shop for. i got Bama that Kool-Aid Fruit Punch and he had ants all over his train cabin and he had to expel himself from that train carriage.
Gladyce: you sensed that?
Doryce: i have a connection with him. i can read his mind.
Gladyce: oh i see. i'm jealous. oh Bama. he's gonna make it. you really don't want to be on that train. this world is for the young people. it's their world now.
Doryce upskirts Gladyce and kisses her on the vagina.
Doryce: now that's something i can't do with Bama! that's something only good friends can do!
Doryce: Gladyce, dear love, i never want to move from this spot. on the bench on the beach wherever with you. is the lakewater yellow?
Gladyce: golden, dear, golden. think pond.
Doryce shivers up into her shawl and mittens.
Doryce: Gladyce, why can't we live forever? why can't we just stay here, right here, forever?
Gladyce turns to face Doryce.
Gladyce: Doryce, love dear, i will make you a promise right now that i have never promised anyone my entire life. not even to myself. my child, you and i will die together.