The unpublished notes of Sterling Rover, on assignment for RollingPlum
Holy plum, if it ain’t another digital Cathy Tea, only this one is older, grayer, and more cantankerous. Nothing like an aged-up instance of a SimSelf to make one appreciate the sweetness of youth.
“You the correspondent that’s covering the event for RollingPlum?” Old Cathy Tea asks me.
“Well, if you want to do some real investigative journalism, I’ve got a story for you. Maybe while you’re here, you can help us figure out the real identity of the mystery man that showed up today,” she says.
My news-reporter nose is quick to sniff out any story.
“If there’s something there,” I assure her, “I’ll find it out. It’s a rare and wily story that escapes this journalist.”
“Oh, lor-ay!” she says. “I knew I could trust that whenever there’s a need, something–or someone–will step in to fill it!”
I wander out to the courtyard garden, where there is indeed a funny little man sitting playing chess among the llama topiaries.
“Top of the morning to you!” he says in a dapper accent, mostly British but with the slightest nasal nuances of French, as if he were, perhaps, from Algiers, or Cairo, and making his best attempt at Anglification.
“Just call me Number Two,” he says.
“Your name is Number Two? As in–”
“–Heard it. A million times. It does not get funnier with repetition.”
“I just meant Number Two as in not Number One,” I say.
“Ah, that is correct! Number One, my most respected player, MsPhy, has opted to remain in her world, sending me as her agent while Her Magistrate remains occupied with other more, err… material matters.”
As we talk, he stops suddenly, in amazement. I turn to see walking towards us from the poolside, wearing nothing but a strapless, elegant black bathing suit, a beautiful, fetching, nymph of a goddess. He rises and offers her his chair, and I wish for a moment that I had some way to display my gallantry.
“Most charmed,” he says, “most definitely, delightfully, undeniably charmed.”
She introduces herself as Annette Thayer, and I recognize her as one of the featured presenters.
“Are you here for pleasure or business?” Annette asks him.
“Oh, business. Most definitely business. But I certainly don’t mind if, err… heh heh. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Know what I mean? Know what I mean?”
“Not distinctly,” Annette replies. “What type of business, specifically? This is a non-profit venture, you know.”
“In part, I am here because I represent the insuring agency. Surely, you’re familiar with the event’s hold harmless agreement? I’m here for verification and protection of the sponsoring foundation should there be any occurrences of unexpected deathbycowplant, deathbyhysteria, deathbypool, deathbystarvation, deathbyexhaustion, deathbyhumiliation, deathbyfire, deathbyboredom, deathbywoohoo, deathbynotenoughwoohoo, deathbyenragement, deathbywomrat, and to ensure that the foundation is not held responsible for the severing of relationships by travel through the Gallery.”
He rattles off all the various causes of death with such obvious glee that I immediately become uneasy. As a Sim with the Good trait, I know when I am in the presence of evil. And I’m not too crazy about it.
I quickly excuse myself on the pretense of checking out the accommodations. Same architectural firm, same landscaping, same woeful lack of interior design, yet the place looks remarkably comfortable.
I head out back to test the pool. It’s refreshing to swim under the desert sun. Cathy Tea invites me to join her for grilled fruit after my dip. Seems the fridge is on the glitch.
From the roof, I can look across the street at the Agate House, where the Wolff Teas are staying. It’s starting to feel like community here, in this little triangle of the desert.
Next stop, the Jasper House, where I will meet the final presenter, Paula Turpin, and her companion, Maya Marlowe.
I try to put the funny little man out of my mind as I head kitty-corner to the third house of S-GAS Transformation.