895 – Odd Quest of a Lounge Singer | Otter Things 4
You’ll find sweet sleep as a discovery is made at a transfer station and our sleep squad listens on a giant ear.
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Commission a song from the Mystery Bard or check out his podcast “As It Happens : A Song a Day” over at http://www.jonathanmann.net
EPISODE 895 – Otter Things E4
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, it’s time for the podcaster who’s trying to…I try to get…I’m trying to bring you the…trying to make…this is the only podcast, ideally, that comes at the perfect temperature. What’s your favorite sleeping temperature? Oh, that’s what I…great, ‘cause that’s what I’m trying to deliver the podcast in. Yeah, thanks patrons, for making that possible. The only variable temperature podcast where I invariably talk about temperature in a meandering way. Thanks, patrons. What do you say we get on with the show?
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake. It could be thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, changes in time or temperature, or other things going…whatever’s going on; things you’re thinking about, anything emotionally coming up for you, physically you’re experiencing. Or it could be something external or just variable, like I said in the intro. For me, it is variably…invariably baffling but variable what it is. Whatever it is, I’m here to keep you company and take your mind off of stuff and put you to sleep via trying to create a safe place that I have set aside here.
I forgot how the intro goes already, but trying to create a safe place where you could set aside…alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. Oh, what I’m gonna attempt to do…so, I already said this; create a safe place where you could set aside…yeah, get back to that safe place. I’m gonna smooth it, I’m gonna pat it, I’m gonna rub it down. I’m gonna say ‘safe place’ and then what I’m gonna do is send my voice across the deep, dark night. I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents. I’m gonna go off-topic; that’s what pointless meanders kind of are. I’m gonna misspeak, I’m gonna use word…fragment words, fragmented words, fragment words, Fraggle…if there was Fraggle words, I don’t know. How many people…? I don’t think I’ve talked about the Fraggles in a while. If I have, it hasn’t even been in an intro. Fraggle is a good word for a sleep podcast. But the people would say…listeners would say, but none of that Fraggle Rock.
Maybe put on some Fraggle…some smooth Fraggle or some easy Fraggle. I say, no problem; Fraggle easy or easy Fraggle? You say, maybe you should go…okay, so, I’m gonna send my voice…lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, all to take your mind off of stuff as you fall asleep. Now, if you’re new, a couple things to know off the top; if you’re unsure about this show initially, that’s perfectly normal. This podcast is very different, so I want to give you some information to try to help you. One is that if you’re waiting for this to start or make sense, it’s better to consume this podcast very loosely and very out-of-focus because it doesn’t ever start to make sense. You say, when are you gonna get to the point? I say well, that’s kind of the point, is I never…there’s no points in a sleep…in my sleep podcast. There’s just rounds and bends. I try not to…you know, I try to keep…the only thing…I try not to keep it pointy because…just in case you’re sleeping in a waterbed or in general.
You say, I prefer no…I mean, I’m sure you…maybe you have a partner that has pointy elbows or ankles or whatever. You say, I gotta deal with that at night, or my dog with the…I say okay, no points here. Kind of just…if you try to figure out this podcast, you could, but maybe do that during the day. If you’re new, just kind of wait and barely listen. This is the one podcast you barely need to listen to. You barely have to pay me any mind. If you can, see how it goes. Now, I know initially, that’s asking a lot and I understand ‘cause you say I’m skeptical, I’m doubtful, I’m not sure how to feel about this ‘cause it doesn’t sound like a regular podcast. I say yep, you’re right about all those things. Most listeners…literally, I just read a review where someone said, I loathed the podcast and then I listened a year later and now I’m a regular listener. That’s a pretty common review, so give the show a few tries. See how it goes. Very rarely does it work on the first listen. That’s one thing.
The next thing is that…okay, wait, so, barely listen…oh, this is really a podcast to keep you company while you fall asleep, not so much to put you to sleep. I’m here to take your mind off of stuff and be here as you fall asleep. Yeah, that’s one thing. Or, that’s the second thing. This is a podcast you don’t need to listen to, not really here to put you to sleep. I guess that’s ironic. Not ironic, but paradoxical. Yeah, I’m more of your bore-friend. Ooh, I’m more, if you’re new, plying to be your bore-friend or your bore-bae or your bore-sib or your bore-cuz or your bore-bestie. Yeah, so, that’s the next thing to know. If you’re a regular listener, I’m so glad you’re back and happy that you’re here, too. Holy cow, thank you so much for coming back and giving me your time. Okay, but if you’re…but for the new listeners, I do want to fill you on a few more things that can throw new listeners off, other than…oh, creaky, dulcet tones, that’s another thing, and pointless meanders. Like, creaky, dulcet like a door.
That’s kind of how my voice sounds which again, is something you kind of have to adjust to ‘cause a lot of people expect a sleep podcast to be a little bit more dreamy. That’s not how my nana describes me. She’d say, he’s not a dream-boat; he’s more like a scow. If I had to describe my Scooter…say nana, can you not call me my Scooter? ‘Cause that already…I guess that negates me being a dream-boat anyway. Yeah, he’s more of a scow than…and you know what they…you know what normally they carry in scows? I say okay, well, yeah, I guess I have a lot of utility. Thanks, nana. Anyway, I’m moving on. I don’t know what that had to do with the podcast, but so, okay, so if you’re a regular listener, oh, give it a few tries. Okay, structure of the show is the other thing that can throw new listeners off strongly and understandably, because we’re not structured like most podcasts. Again, your natural expectation when you start a sleep podcast or any podcast, is different than what this podcast is. Now, I guess that’s what makes it work for the people it works for.
It just doesn’t work for everybody. I really hope the show works for you. If it doesn’t work for you, you could always go to sleepwithmepodcast.com/nothankyou to check out other sleep podcasts. Okay, so those are two things. The next thing to know other than that…oh, structure of the show. The show starts off with a greeting; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary. That’s so everybody can feel seen and say hey, welcome, come on in, this is a safe place I’m trying to create. Settle in and get comfortable. Then there’s business. That’s how we bring you this podcast that takes a lot of work, believe it or not, to produce twice a week for free. That’s a pretty good deal, is the patrons and the people that support the sponsors. That helps us. That’s that part. So, that throws some people off, but then what happens is after the business, there’s twelve to twenty minutes of me just talking in an intro which is what we’re doing right now.
If you’re wondering when the podcast is gonna start, that can really throw you off, so I do kind of repeat this a lot of episodes; it’s kind of already started, but I’ll keep going explaining that. I mean, the intro serves one purpose. You know what you’re getting into for a new listener, but even though…’cause you say well, it took you twenty minutes to explain what your sleep podcast is. I’d say, exactly. You kind of get an idea of the tone and the sense of humor…sense of humor attempts of this podcast. But for a regular listener, the intro serves another purpose which is oh, it’s familiar. Scoots is here, he’s gonna keep me company, he’s gonna try to explain what the podcast is, but it’s gonna be different every time because I found personally that every other sleep solution I’ve tried has just had…hasn’t had the variability. I just adjust, or my brain starts to adjust [00:10:00] and starts thinking more. That’s why the intro’s different every time, otherwise you could just use one of the 800 intros I’ve already done or whatever, 900…I don’t even know how many it’s been.
Those are two things to know, but the other thing is for regular listeners, the intro is part of their wind-down routine. So, either they’re getting ready for bed or they’re in bed getting comfortable, and maybe they’re doing some sort of other wind-down activity, or they’re just in bed letting the day drift away and getting some distance. Because, again, like I said with other sleep solutions, one, I found I adjust to them. The other thing is, they’re not…I don’t know. It takes a while for us to get to sleep and get comfortable. It’s just a reality for us. I mean, for the person next to you that’s snoring, possibly, they just seem to hit…their head hits the pillow, but we’re a little bit different. That’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. That’s the other thing, is as you become a regular listener, you could say oh, I like to start the podcast as I brush my teeth or oh, I like to do it as I’m petting my pets, or whatever it is. Maybe you build a house of cards before bed. Not in your…maybe you do it in your bed, I don’t know.
Maybe you play…you also listen to the podcast and play something else like pink noise or Fraggle…maybe you don’t, maybe you do. Classical Fraggle. Oh, and so, that’s the…oh, I’ll try to get back to the Fraggles. That’s the intro of the show. Some listeners, about 2% of listeners, skip ahead to twenty minutes and listen there, or some people are patrons. They listen to story-only episodes or all-night episodes. Believe it or not, a lot of patrons and even…people listen to all-intros. Some listeners listen to the intros during the day to help them unwind and focus. If you’re new or you’re a regular listener, you could try something new out too, but just…and just see how it goes. After the intro is business. That’s part of podcast structure. Then there’s a story. Tonight, it’ll be our episodically modular, slightly serialized story Otter Things, O-T-T-E-R T-H-I-N-G-S, with our heroine Emma Otter, or our narrator…one of the heroines in the story, Emma Otter. That’ll be the story.
Then, there’s some thank yous at the end. That’s the structure of the show. A couple other things; the reason I make the show is because I’ve been there. I know how it feels in the deep, dark night or the wee hours of the morning. Or weeing in the hours of the night and the morning and saying, I gotta get up; drank too much before bedtime. Whatever it is, I’ve been there and I just want to make bedtime less of a rigamarole, take a little bit of the stress, drain that balloon, and if I can’t make bedtime something for you to look forward to, at least I can remove part of that dread that I experience a lot of times. Then, actually, my bedtime routine helps to counteract and soothe that part of me and say okay, well, at least I enjoy these things about bedtime. That’s one reason I make the show. The other reason I make the show is you deserve a good night’s sleep. I just believe that. I believe that if you get a good night’s sleep, your life will be a little bit better and you’ll be in a position, maybe, to do other things and be rested.
If I can help provide that, that’s my honor. That’s why I make the show. Also, I make the show if you can’t sleep, but this is another thing I…if you can’t sleep at all, the podcast goes from the beginning to the end. This story tonight, it’s a story you don’t need to listen to, but you could listen to it if you can’t sleep, if you just need some company in the deep, dark night. Yeah, I just want you to…I’m also here to keep you company if you can’t sleep. Those are the reasons I make the show. Yeah, some of you may be saying, what’s a Fraggle? I’d say, I don’t really know. It’s interesting ‘cause this is Otter Things, which one of the influences for this was Emmet Otter, Jim Henson, and Henson Studios, and everything. The Fraggles were also made by Henson Studios. The Fraggles were like, another set of Muppets. They lived underground with some Dozers. This is as far as it goes. There was…even though I watched the show a lot – it was on HBO in the 80s – I really don’t remember anything else about it. I’m not kidding.
I guess I remember kind of feeling ambivalent about it sometimes. I don’t know, I guess that doesn’t really help anybody but that’s just…but Fraggles were…Fraggle…I don’t know what Fraggle Rock was. I don’t know if that’s where they lived, ‘cause they lived in a rock, underground rock area. The Dozers were always building stuff. I think the Fraggles liked to eat it or somebody else liked to eat it. But they kind of went along with the podcast, ‘cause they said, can’t you get away? Worries for another day. Let the music play down at Fraggle Rock. So, down at Fraggle Rock. It was where they lived, but maybe one day someone said, can you turn that Fraggle Rock down? I’d say no problem, I’m putting on the…what do they call it now? There’s easy listening, there’s another one though, right? I don’t know, I’d prefer Fraggle smooth. Sure, I’m gonna put on some Fraggle smooth. That’s it, that’s why I’m…I don’t know, I think that’s all…I tried to explain what the…those are the Fraggles in a nutshell, from a nutshell where my brain lives.
Anyway, I’m glad you’re here. That’s the main message I want to get across. Give the show a few tries. You deserve a good night’s sleep. Give the podcast a couple tries. See how it goes. I hope it works for you. Like I said, it doesn’t work for everybody, but I work very hard on the show. I really yearn and strive, and I really want to help you fall asleep. Thank you again for coming by, and here’s a couple ways we’re able to bring you this podcast twice a week.
Alright, hey everybody, this is our new…well, not new anymore, but if you’re new to this series, it’s new to you, right? You could kind of start this wherever it is ‘cause our host, she’s gonna catch us up. This is our episodically modular…it has seriality but the great thing about seriality with Sleep With Me, is you can listen to it in any order ‘cause Emma will catch us up. I’m turning it over…turning things over to Emma Otter for our series Otter Things, O-T-T-E-R T-H-I-N-G-S. Hey everyone, this is Emma Otter here. Sorry, and I’m just recording things and wanted to…I say okay, if I’m gonna do this…I’ve been recording in sessions, trying to think if it from a radio mindset of saying okay, this might be your first time listening. So, I’m Emma Otter. I’m hosting this recorded radio program or whatever it’ll be called in the future. I’m telling you the story of my town and some odder things that happened there. I want you to know that all will be well. I’m here telling you this story and I’m in a nice, comfortable chair as I tell it to you.
But once upon a time, to say well, where’s…how do we get to where you’re about to tell us tonight, Emma? I say okay, once upon a time, I had a best friend and two other friends. Now, my best friend, of course, they know who they are. But I’m gonna list all my friends together and a new friend we had met. I had friends Willow, Vaughn, and Elijah, or V and LJ, sometimes those two went by. We lived in a town. I lived with my parents. Willow lived with her sister Dari and her mom Frances. I have a brother Teffe. We live in a town. Another important person in our town is Leon the bullfrog. He’s…of our resource…community resource team. We all live in a swamp together. On three sides of the swamp, it kind of goes off and goes into other swamps and other towns and things like that, into the great beyond. But on one side of our town is the place beyond the swamp where we don’t go. I don’t know if bisected is the right word, by a road where random moments of vehicles will go by.
There’s a tunnel to the other side of the swamp and there’s old buildings. But it’s the place we don’t go. I think that’s [00:20:00] it. We’re in middle school. Teffe’s in high school, my brother, with Dari, Willow’s sister. I’m probably forgetting something but one night after playing Bards and Big Bunnies which is a roleplaying game my friends and I play, my friends Willow, LJ, and Vaughn headed home. Willow took a path less-taken and no one knew. We didn’t hear from her for a while. Now, like I said, all will be well. But we didn’t know if Willow moved away, which can happen from time to time. We live in a very music…our community has a lot of musicians. Kids dream of being musicians. We play a game, Bards and Big Bunnies. We didn’t know if Willow moved away to the big city, went on a goose chase; there’s geese that were known to lead people on goose chases. Some people said we double-dared her to go to the place beyond the swamp, which isn’t true.
At the time, we started to wonder if there was a big bunny. We wondered that, me and my friends, like, from Bards and Big Bunnies. We went to look for my friend Willow. We didn’t find Willow; we found a strange otter-person named Billie, a being. Otter body…or, not an otter body. More of a beaver body with a duck’s bill, or a bill like a duck. A bit wider, though. We tried to help Billie and brought Billie back to my house. Then we slowly realized that Billie had these powers. Billie could sing songs and make people freeze or make things float or close things, stuff like that, through the power of this throat bill-singing music. Now meanwhile, Frances was looking for Willow as well and believed yeah, Willow probably didn’t move away. But no one really believed Frances. But Frances had made contact with Willow through windchimes and was hearing Willow. Or people said, you think you’re hearing Willow. Dari was trying to help her mother and at the same time, she went to her dad’s house out in River Bottom to see was Willow there?
Willow wasn’t there. She went with my brother Teffe and her friend Babs. Then she came out of my…her dad’s house and found Teffe and Babs K-I-S-S-I-N-G-ing and was a little bit not happy about that. Then they drove home. They stopped, and then Teffe and Dari were talking about it. Then they came back to the car and Babs wasn’t there. They wondered if Babs just walked home but since then, Dari’s been like, I think this…Babs is…Willow, Babs, something’s odd. Then Leon, Bull, the community resource, was saying okay, where’s Willow? I need to do my due diligence. So, looked around, said well, we didn’t double-dare Willow. I started to think there’s something going on in the place beyond the swamp, which was run by some larger community resource organization bigger than our town and the doctor named Max. Bull went there. They said well, that’s interesting. We don’t have anything to do with it. But Leon suspected that that was not the case, that they were not being honest there, that something else was afoot ‘cause clearly there was lower levels and all this stuff.
So, a lot going on, mysterious stuff, and all the mysteries of the road and vehicles without drivers, and occasionally…this was the adult stuff. We kids more fantasized about it, but this idea of humans. ‘Cause I’m a otter, Bull’s a bullfrog, I don’t know. You’ll get the gist of it. We’re people that live in a swamp. That’s kind of where we left off, is we were all looking in, still…oh no, sorry. So silly; the most important thing was…so, we said, Billie…after we met Billie and started to become friends, Billie said that maybe Billie knew where Willow was. We got a lot of hope that Billie knew where Willow was. Then Billie led us…eventually found that Leon found that…at the dumping area, the former dump which says No Dumping now, someone had dumped a bunch of albums and music made by Willow. Like, professional albums, records, CDs, and cassettes ready for sale but dumped there. A whole album, meaning Willow had moved away and recorded the album. I was very upset with Billie.
So were all of us, for leading us on a goose chase, in some sense, and giving us hope where really, our friend had moved away. Also, the album was mostly making fun…most of the songs were making fun of our town and us, and our friends. Now meanwhile, and this is, I guess, where we left off, had headed back to Frances and Dari’s house to tell Frances and Dari. Now meanwhile, Frances had already said well, I’ve heard from Willow, and that she had seen bunny ears and felt a bunny hopping and shaking the whole house. She had run out of her house and just happened to run into her daughter Dari, and they were holding one another. That’s kind of where we leave off, with our famous…most famous resident of our town, Mr. Antonio Banderas. Thank you. The ladies, the gentlemen, the boys, and the girls, the friends beyond the binary, it’s time for Otter Things. Splish splash.
Thank you, Antonio. Thanks so much. We were at Frances and Dari’s house, and Willow’s house. Leon had come with some of the resource team and they were looking around. They had listened to Frances say there was a big bunny, Willow’s been talking to me through the windchimes. So, not an easy situation to deal with. Bull was trying to be as conscientious as he could and saying okay, well, where’d you see the big bunny? Let’s look around for it. Outside the window, eh? Its ears tried to open the window. Okay, well, how clearly did you see it? How big was this bunny? But it was dark, and they had already found Willow’s albums which was the real reason that Bull had come to the house. Then Bull said listen, Frances; sit down. I want to have this…I have to write you a ticket for…we could deal with that tomorrow because you’re gonna have to come down to the transfer station and pay the ticket there because it’s technically through the transfer station.
We deal with non-biodegradable things because it seems like somehow, your daughter, she’s the only one whose name is on this album other…so, they’ve attributed it. It wasn’t my idea but it was the joint protocols of community resources as most-likely person with ownership. You know how it is. I need you to come by the transfer station where I’ll pay you this fine. It’s not that bad and I’m sorry, but you have to do it. You’ll just have to confirm that this was Willow even though we…Willow’s picture is on the album and her name, and the songs are all about us and the town, and even me. None of them are very nice, but that’s fine. Frances said no, no, no, those albums aren’t by Willow. She’s not in a town and she’s not in a studio. Leon said okay, Frances, I know this is difficult. When I moved to River Bottom to start my career there, I moved with a family. Then I made some choices and I put…invested too much of my career and I got too many grand ideas, and my ego got too big.
I came back by myself. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes I haven’t seen things clearly. [00:30:00] Frances said Leon, this is a different situation. I understand what you’re saying, but Willow is a kid. You moved to River Bottom as an adult, and while you may be an immature adult when you moved there, you made your own decisions and followed your own path. That is not what Willow did. Willow did not go to River Bottom to start a career or anywhere else, some other studio in one of the other towns known for music. She’s somewhere else, and this isn’t…that’s not her on the album. [Inaudible] said well, it is, so how do I help? He looked at Dari and he said okay, well, just come by tomorrow and we’ll figure it out tomorrow. Just get some rest. You also might be asking, what is it…what was if…in River Bottom? What’s that, Willow? I say well, let me tell you just a touch about it because it might be confusing. The chief was a resource officer but always dreamed of being a lounge singer, which you might not know what a lounge or a lounge singer is.
It was mostly based on a TV show about this lounge at the top of a hotel with a piano-lounge singer. It was a sitcom; it wasn’t a reality show. That’s kind of what Frances meant, is that was an immature decision, maybe. But the short version for right now is that a lounge singer…a lounge is a place; it’s a bit like a bar where grownups go. It’s different than a club where bands play because it’s somewhere in between just a place you go to talk and just a place you go to be entertained. It’s somewhere in the middle. A lounge singer can have a band, but usually it’s more of a performative thing. They sing songs…I don’t know how to explain it to people that…they sing these songs that are kind of fun to listen to, but it’s not quite background music. It’s more than that. The people that are really good at it, they transcend that and then it becomes a spectacle to see. But I think you’d know that…but there’s other people that it’s like, hard to tell if they’re serious or they’re performing.
But there’s always a performative aspect. I don’t know. I’m not good at…but they don’t sing ballads, but they sing stuff that would be ballad-esque. We’ll get back to it, but that was what they dreamed of. Back to the Willow, Dari, Frances, Leon situation. Frances started to not…to be…have strong feelings. She said you know what, Bull? Don’t tell me to go to sleep. I know Willow’s nearby. I know Willow needs us to help but I’m not sure anymore about that, so I’m gonna stay here. Then she said, so you’re saying Willow’s not on the album? She said, I’m not going to discuss it any further. Just come to the…looked at Dari and said, just come to the transfer station tomorrow and you could get a better idea what I’m…then Frances said good day, or good evening, like, I’m gonna be here waiting for Willow and I’m gonna have her favorite food, which is Choco-Vanilla Coco Puffs. Poofs, I’m sorry, Dino Poofs which is Choco-Vanilla Dino Poofs, and I’m gonna have her radio playing music.
I’m gonna be here. I know you might not think…you might think this is just all how I’m processing this…the idea of my daughter moving away to start a music career, but it’s just not the case. But I accept that that’s how you’re viewing it, and I need my space now. Good-bye. So, Frances sat down with a radio and the Coco Poofs. Dari was kind of in a tough situation because Dari was just a teenager. Said okay mom, let me get you a blanket. Why don’t you lie down and wait for Willow? In case you fall asleep, I’ll also be here in my room. I’ll keep my door open. But this is not easy. Dari had to do a lot of sitting and breathing. But also, Dari’s brain was saying huh, there is something odd about this. I’m not sure if it’s how my mom’s grappling with this, but Dari was also wondering about Babs. But none of it had come together in Dari’s mind, either. There was still doubt there about the authorities…authority figures saying this. But even as the authority Leon walked out to get in and drive away, something felt empty.
Maybe it was the connection to his choice to be a lounge singer and that it didn’t work out for his family. They said well, we’d prefer you be a lounge singer by yourself or whatever. We’re gonna go live a more structured life or if it was something else. Leon was frowning a little bit and drove off. Now meanwhile, back at my house, I had still allowed Billie to come along with me because at this point, I hadn’t involved my mom or my dad or any other adults. I knew Billie still needed a place to stay. But I was steaming out my ears and I was both M-A-D at Willow and Billie. But I was kind of directing everything at Billie as I was tearing up some pictures of Willow and I, and going through the gifts that Willow had given me like friendship bracelets and those things, and dismantling them. Because I was convinced my friend Willow had moved away to start a career without even telling any of her friends, and her first album was to make fun of us in the same way that the kids at school would make fun of us so that we were never really friends, that Willow maybe was just…I didn’t get it.
I thought I was friends with Willow. I was making…putting things on her face, like making swirls in her eyes and those kind of things, and frowns on her pictures. Meanwhile, Billie was working on a tape recorder so then that was…I said, can you stop with that? Billie was kind of ignoring me. I kept trying to start F-I-G-H-T-S but Billie just kept…I was trying to…I was being not nice. Billie kept working on the tape player and then started to play the tape player. Then it started to play backwards. First, it was a regular one of our tapes. It was George Michael playing forwards, like a solo album. Then all of a sudden, Billie kept working on it and then Billie looked at me. Then the tape started to slow down. George Michael’s voice got more slow and then it started to play…and I could even tell it was playing George Michael backwards. I said well, that’s weird. That’s very odd. It was odd even to listen to that but then suddenly, I started to hear Willow’s voice coming through the speaker in the tape player, singing the same song, Freedom.
Willow was singing Freedom. The time, the place, whatever, brand-new thing. Rock and Roll TV or something. But then Willow was making up her own lyrics about missing her friends and her mom and her sister, and how much she loved all of us. Not quite scatting but singing about it and almost…I think she even said Emma, can you hear me? Maybe she went into another song and then went back. I don’t know, ‘cause I was mesmerized and I was looking at…it was happening. I was watching the tape move. It was not my imagination. I said, is that Willow? She nodded her bill. So, I called up Vaughn and I said Vaughn, is LJ there? They were having a sleepover. I said LJ, Vaughn, I said, we’re not going to school tomorrow. We’re gonna meet up and find Willow. They said, what are you talking about? I said, don’t worry. Just come over here tomorrow. Don’t go to school. We’ll go to school later or something. At first, they were like, does it have to do with Billie?
‘Cause they were also…they were mad at me and Billie in some sense, and just frustrated. A little embarrassed, ‘cause we said at school, everybody’s gonna know about this album too, and that we were made fun of. That was the plan we had that I had made. Then, I was [00:40:00] reconvinced; I knew that something was odd. I had some hope that we would find our friend Willow. Now, the next day, chief went to the transfer station which is also part of a dump, but we’d use…again, we separate the compostables, the recyclables, and the…so, this was more of a compost. I think people in the past called it a dump, but also a transfer station. So, anything that wasn’t…anyway, so not super-important was in the break room with Texina who was…she ran the transfer station and said jeez, Texina, can I…what is up with these albums, anyway? Did you look at them? Texina said well, the representative of the record company said they didn’t want anybody trying to sneak out with any of them because…I don’t know. But she said yeah, I did look at it.
It said R&B Music on the back. She said yeah, we could look down ‘cause they could look down into the transfer station from where the office was up in a tree, and see the pile of albums. Got some binoculars and looked; R&B Music. Is that like, River…R&B, River Bottom something. I don’t know, R&B Music. She said well, how do I find out more about it? Texina said, go to the record store and ask at the record store? She said oh yeah, you’re probably right about that. That’s a great idea. Yeah, go ask Tasha at the record store. Okay, that’s a good idea. Not long after that, Dari and Frances showed up. They both looked pretty…like, they could use a nap. But Frances was also very vocal ‘cause she said, I cannot believe I have to pay a fine. I’m here to pay my fine for my daughter’s stuff, and then we’ll take it with us, her albums and stuff. They said well, actually, the records and stuff are property of the record company. They’re gonna pick them up and dispose of them.
Then she said well, why can’t they pay the fine? They said well, it’s just the way that regulations work in our area. I’m sorry. She said fine, I just want to get this over with. Can I at least look at them? They said, well, you could look at them at a distance because the record company doesn’t…they wanted it all accounted for. She said, this is unbelievable, but I’ll pay. How much is the fine? They said…Texina said, this amount. Then chief said, I’ll pay the fine. I just wanted to get…so you could see it. She said no, no, I’ll pay the fine. It’s my daughter, but I want the albums. They said, you can’t take it. The record company even has some representatives here keeping an eye on them. Frances wrote out a check and then stormed off to go look at it, and then give the two record company representatives…they were really just part of the street team, a piece of her mind. Then she came back and she said, I want to hear…she brought in one of the members of the record company street team. She said, I’m not…I want my check back unless I can listen to one of these records.
The person on the street team said sure, I’ll play it on my Walkaround Tape Player in front of everybody, ‘cause that’s what the record company told me to do. She said, play it. She started to play it over a speaker on the Walkaround Tape Player. It was a little bit distorted, if I’m honest with you, but that’s maybe me looking back. But Dari said huh, that sounds like Willow. Frances listened and Dari said didn’t…yeah, Willow knows this song. She sang it three or four years ago at a talent show. Bull nodded and said, huh. But Frances listened and said no, no, no, that is not what Willow sounds like. She sings when she’s taking a shower, she sings when she’s doing laundry. I hear her singing every day. That is not my current daughter singing. That’s some sort of nonsense. Leon and Dari looked at each other, and Frances stormed out. Leon said, do you think…to Dari; do you think your mom’s gonna be okay? Dari said, does it look like it? Leon said no, and he said so, Dari…Willow sang that at the talent show?
Dari said yeah, yeah, yeah, a couple…we might even have a tape of it at home. I’ll look. Maybe I could play that for my mom. The chief said well, leave it in your mailbox or something or make a copy, and maybe I can play it for your mom. That might be easier. You just take care of her, okay? Then Dari said, you know, I have another awkward thing. Then Dari went into a long, drawn-out and not accurate explanation of her, Babs’, and Teffe’s trip to River Bottom and then not being able to find Babs. But she made it look like…she tried to make everybody look good…kind of looked at her and said well, I talked to Babs’ parents earlier and they said Babs was so inspired by Willow that she had moved…I didn’t want to tell your mom this ‘cause I wanted to ease our way into it, but Babs sent her parents a letter, left them a note, send them a letter from River Bottom with the same stationary, R&B Music, that she was just signed, and Willow is her mentor even though Willow’s younger.
Dari said huh, doesn’t sound…Babs…that doesn’t sound like Babs. Babs doesn’t want…Babs is not a mentee. She’s a mentor. She wouldn’t take advice from anybody. She said, she wouldn’t join R&B Music. She wants to be a pop star, if she was gonna be…that doesn’t sound like a pop label. Then Dari went out of the transfer station, and Frances waiting in the car. They had a strong disagreement about things ‘cause Dari’s just a kid. She said mom, what are you…back and forth kind of thing. Please be reasonable; please help me deal with the situation, not with the windchimes and the stuff. Also, the news about Babs, even though it didn’t quite sit right with Dari, she said you know what, mom? I’m gonna walk home. I don’t know how Teffe knows these things, my brother, the handsomest otter this side of…other than Antonio Banderas. But he had borrowed my Uncle Emmett’s truck again and pulled up and saw Dari walking, and said hey, you need a ride? I’ll give you a ride.
Dari said, you can give me a ride but don’t talk to me. Just drive. Teffe said, sure. She said, don’t talk. Teffe said, I will not. She said, no talking; I don’t want to have to talk to tell you not to talk. Teffe said ah, and then nodded. They drove off. Now meanwhile, me and my friends were getting together and going over things. Again, they had a lot of doubt in Billie and my judgment, so we were going and I was saying…we were debating. Then I was saying, you gotta prove it to them, Billie. She started to…it wasn’t working as good as the night before but she did get it to kind of play backwards, Willow’s singing. But they said, that could be anyone. But Vaughn…LJ was like, the one who wanted…was first trying to find Willow, so he was the one that was most upset because he said, this was all a goose chase. But Vaughn was kind of like well, it could be Willow. If only we had a way to amplify or listen. How are you doing it? Billie said, I’m listening into the tape.
I was pulling it from the air and into the tape. Then we said oh, the big ear at school, the big listener. We said, let’s go to school. Then we said, we can’t bring a beaver with a duck’s bill to school. We said [00:50:00] well, let’s dress up in period…’cause that was one of the things we did when we played Bards and Bunnies and other roleplaying games, is we would actually roleplay. That wasn’t really out-of-character for us, especially since we were gonna be in for a lot of embarrassment at school. We all dressed up and we decided to…there was this one thing when we would go to the Bards and Bunnies fairs; there was this crew of washers, the laundry crew, and they did a comedy and singing show that we really liked. The Laundered Lasses and Lord, that was what they were called. We said okay, we could dress up as them. Then Billie, we can just pretend like Billie’s a duck and not a beaver. We got dressed up in those garbs and we headed off to school.
But when we got to school, there was a assembly going on about Willow. We said oh boy, ‘cause we saw the big sign, these banners out front, and posters. It was from Dbarc, which even Billie at the door said, Dbarc. I said, the D’s silent. She said, Dbarc? I said, it’s just Dbarc; D-B-A-R-C, but the D is silent. LJ said yeah, that’s for Don’t Be Around Records and Comic Books. They come to our school to give…to talk about how records and comic books are not good for kids to read unless they’re from the Dbarc Records and Dbarc Entertainment, Illustrated Entertainment. We went in and then of course, the whole assembly went quiet. Some people were laughing. Some people were laughing at our period garb, but most people were laughing ‘cause they knew it was us and they knew Willow had made an album that made fun of us. We sat through this tedious presentation about the new launch of Dbarc Illustrated History or something, which was not a full history of anything.
Then the assembly broke up, and then two of the kids that…never nice to us came up and they started laughing at us about how…and I said, Willow is our friend, ‘cause they were making fun of Willow. They were making fun of us. I got very…I strongly used I-statements to tell them how I felt which they couldn’t handle, so they started having steamy ears. One of them started to cause me…their hackles were up. What do I know about Billie’s…? I started to hear something in Billie’s throat. Then Vaughn was the first thing to say, is that that song When I Think About You? Then we said oh yeah, it is. We don’t even know what that song means. But then we saw…I Touch Myself was a song, and then everybody was laughing at the not-nice kids. Whatever, that was…maybe I should just stop there before I get too deep into it. Meanwhile, Leon was looking into this. He said, there’s something odd about all this. So, Leon headed down to the record store and said, have you heard about this?
They said weird, they were just by yesterday to give me some copies of Willow’s album. But they only showed it to me. Then they said okay, well, this is coming out soon. Would you buy any? I said, this is an album of insults of our town. They said well, here’s our catalogue. Here’s our upcoming releases. Just let us know if you want to buy this album ‘cause…I said well, how much is it? It was like, five times the rate of a normal one ‘cause they said well, it’s reflective of your town and they’ll be strong feelings about it. I told them I lived here my whole life, so I wasn’t interested. I mean, that you weren’t interested, but that’s good. I said well, have you heard of this R&B Records before? The record store owner said well, it’s strange; I’ve heard of R.N.B Records, but this is just R&B Records. It’s different. I’ve never heard of anybody in their catalogue. Most of it happens to be public domain, but that makes sense. Maybe it’s just a company…they’re trying to do public domain.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just give it to me straight. I said well, I think it’s a joke or it’s just…the company’s gonna be a joke, or their business model’s a joke. Okay, well, any idea where I’d find the…was it the same people? I said yeah, probably the same people watching, waiting for them to pick up the albums. I said, they’re staying at the motel. So, he drove over to the motel where the street team was staying, and he knocked on the door. He brought a pizza from our pizza place. He said hey, I know you’re all trying to wait for your records to get picked up at the transfer station. I brought you this pizza. They were like oh, wow, thanks, man. How’d you even know? I said well, I’m the resource officer; pizza’s a resource. Hardy-har-har. Said wow, okay, well, anyway, oh man. Then they made a lot of small talk which was really boring but then they kind of said, do you mind if I take my shoes off? They said, your shoes off? We’re eating pizza. Yeah, you’re right.
I was over on that bog walk and got a sliver on the bog walk ‘cause it’s so old. One of the two members of the street team said yeah, but I happened to meet you once with my tail. But I won’t take my shoes off here. Anyway, enjoy the pizza. I better go; I gotta take my shoes off in the privacy of my own truck or office. When he left, he noticed there was another vehicle sitting out that drove off, but only in the back of his mind did he notice. Drove back as fast as he could to the transfer station to wait for the record company people to come. On his way though, he stopped at the mailbox of Dari and Frances’ house which is way out on the road, so it’s convenient. The tape was in there. Dari at some point had put the tape in there, of Willow’s thing, and put it in. Then listened to it as he drove, and the rest of the talent show ‘cause he was driving…and his tape player and of his truck. Then they got to the transfer station and the record company was just pulling up with a big truck to load everything. Good; get the junk outta here. Thank goodness.
They said yeah, we got…no, no, no, let me help. I wanted this stuff out of town, back in…fines paid. I want to move forward right now. Don’t worry. It was a couple of people that he had given pizza to were there, and they still didn’t know that he lured them with a little tricky-poo when he said he had gotten a sliver. He was like oh, I’m not as young and spry as all of you. Don’t worry, I got this box, though. Then they tripped and spilled the whole box while they were loading the truck. Said oh boy, don’t worry, I’ll clean all this up. What a mess I made. They pocketed the cassette tape of Willow’s and then said okay, it’s all good. You take off. Sorry about slowing you down. I hope you enjoyed that pizza, but I gotta get back. I gotta take my shoes off now, oh boy. Got in the car, listened to the talent show again, and then put in the tape, the Willow tape. Which again, there’s just something that didn’t look right about it. Anyway, it was very highly-produced, the packaging and everything.
It had the shrink wrap. The chief opened it up, put the tape in, and the first thing it started to play was the same thing that played earlier, which was the talent show over and over again, and realized that it was the talent show run through some sort of audio processing to try to make Willow sound older. As Willow’s song came to a close, it just went into dead air. No more music after the one song from the talent show. The album was empty. There was no fast-forward, flip the tape, there was nothing else on there. Drove towards…off to the place beyond the swamp and sat there, and started to think about how am I gonna get in there and find out more? Meanwhile, Dari and Teffe had gone back to Dari’s to check on Frances and make sure Frances had lunch. Dari had to wait in the car…I mean, Teffe had to wait in the car. [01:00:00] Then Dari said, I want to go look where we last left off with Babs. Teffe said, why? Dari said, something’s odd.
I don’t think…they said Babs…’cause she’d already filled Teffe in on Babs’ thing. She said, but I don’t know anymore. Teffe said, are you sure it’s not ‘cause you’re having a strong reaction to your sister and your friend now? Then Dari said, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go. Then Teffe said well, it’s been a few days. He said, you saw a bunny track? Then they went back to where Dari had seen a big bunny track or maybe Dari had thought…Teffe said, that’s just where the mud sinks due to different densities in the water. It’s not a bunny track. Dari said well, it looked like it was yesterday. There’s really no way to find any tracks. She said well, there was like, goo with goose feathers and bunny fur or something. Teffe said well, sometimes, if there’s a stick, more than one animal are going to run into it as they go by, just like more than one person trips on a log. Then Dari said, when you were kissing Babs, what was it like? Teffe said well, you should ask Babs what it’s like kissing me.
Dari rolled her eyes. She said Teffe, I’m serious. How did she seem? He said well, bubblegum breath. She seemed focused and in-the-moment. Dari said, did she kiss you like she was gonna kiss you again? Teffe said yeah; she did say wow, this is pretty nice kissing you, Teffe. You’re not as bad a kisser as I thought. We’ll have to practice again but we should probably…we don’t want to get caught by Dari. Dari said to Teffe, don’t you think that’s odd? He said what, that she enjoyed kissing me? Dari said well, I’ll give you that point, but no, the fact that she wasn’t kissing you like it was her last time kissing you. It was like her first time kissing you, right? Teffe said well, technically, we had…sure, yeah, like it was our first time kissing. Then Dari, she started to walk around my Uncle Emmett’s car and said jeez, if we just had some other way to know what happened when we walked off and left Babs here. Like, if we could just ask someone, if someone was sitting here watching or listening, did she walk home or not? Doesn’t make any sense.
Teffe said, do you think…I’ve just been thinking about your sister; do you think she recorded that album in a studio? Dari said, Teffe. Teffe was like, in River Bottom in a studio? Dari’s like, Teffe, I’m trying to figure out Babs, not my sister right now. Are you paying attention? Teffe said well, I just started thinking about it. Like, the studio, and studio sound. She said, why? He said well, my Uncle Emmett was big on not studio sound, and trying to create sounds and record albums in places that had real resonance. Dari said well, what does it have to do with anything, Teffe? He was like, well, just when I’m with a truck, because Uncle Emmett had invented this thing. Uncle Emmett had this theory when he was on the road, sometimes he would think of songs. He had no way to record it, and sometimes when they’d be on a road trip with members in the band, they would even make music.
He invented this thing in the back that’s linked to the engine, but it’s a rolling recorder whenever the engine’s running, and the engine was running the whole time we were here that night, even when I went off to follow you. Dari said Teffe, you’re kidding me. How do we play it back? Teffe said oh, we just do this. Then, they started to play it back. He said yeah, this is…my mom used to call this a concraption, not a contraption. They started to play it back, and they rewound it. Luckily, they hadn’t been driving for thirty minutes total, so right at the beginning was a…Teffe’s saying Dari, wait, Dari, then closing the door. Then eventually, Babs getting out and closing her door. Then Babs saying what a cute little bunny. Come over. Whoa, you’re way bigger than…and then Babs is talking about goo, and then thunderous bump-bump-bump. Then a crunching of carrots and then almost like the singing of Go to Sleep, and then Babs saying, I’m so sleepy.
Also, while this was happening, at the place beyond the swamp while Leon was looking in, deep down below the bog walk and Visitor’s Center, they had found a strange, gooey, and shimmering entrance into…we didn’t…I mean, I’m just seeing this as a memory right now. But it was also like a bunny’s den. Someone was in there on the radio and they were all listening, and I said okay, I found it. It’s kind of like a gross playroom, but it’s just like…set up like our miniature version of our world. There’s different…you know, people put them up for the holidays. This is like that; it’s a playroom that looks the same as our town. They said okay, what else do you see? They said wait a second, there’s another door here. Oh, there’s all these cradles in here, and there’s two…and then all of a sudden, there was a shaking just like Dari and Teffe had just heard. Then the carrot-crunching, and then a clacking of beaks; gentle, gentle, clacking. They said oh boy, oh no, it’s…is that…hi, bunny. Oh, is that a goose…?
I’m getting so sleepy. Then the radio or whatever cut out. At the same time, we were at the school after we had left the assembly, and we had gone into where we could use the big ear, the big sound-collector. We were trying to start to listen in and get Billie acclimated with it. Now, Billie was having a…drifting into memory of back to when she lived with Dr. Max. Dr. Max had had a crush on someone and asked her to kind of listen into them through their radio. Unfortunately, when Billie was listening in, she started to play it at every radio in the Visitor’s Center on all levels. The person Dr. Max wanted to listen to was telling her friend that she just wanted to be friends with Dr. Max because he was a little bit…there’s something about him she just didn’t like. Dr. Max was pretty upset. Then Billie was upset because she wanted Dr. Max to be happy. She said yeah, then she started talking about Dr. Max’s wild theories about humans and stuff like that.
But then Billie drifted back to us and started to tune in, and then we started to hear Willow singing. At first, she was singing the song Unbelievable which we all knew. It was really popular and we liked…then she started singing the song Show Me the Way. Not the current version, not a remake of the older version of the song. Then all of a sudden, I started to feel all of us singing the song, or different songs. It was like my whole head was filled and the music was building. But I could also feel Willow singing it to us like hey, come and find me. This is unbelievable. Show me the way. It was almost like we were all together. I felt this unity, and I also felt this unity with Frances who was at her house and at first, she was listening to the radio, and then the radio and the windchimes all started to play these songs. She could hear Willow singing and us singing through the radio and the windchimes were playing underlying music. Then she got up and then she said, Willow, show me the way.
Show me the way to find you. Then the windchimes started…what she didn’t realize at the time was they were getting all…they were bouncing against each other and getting tangled. But then she started to feel hopping, hopping. Her house was shaking like thunder. Then [01:10:00] she started to hear the clicking beaks, the same ones from the lab, the same ones from the recording. Then the crunching of carrots, and then Willow saying…still singing, but then sounding like wait a second, oh, it’s time for us to go to bed. Time to stop singing. Then the bunny, not singing, but in everyone’s minds, all of our minds; Frances’ mind, and with Willow saying I want you to go to sleep, and singing this lullaby. Then we all found ourselves falling asleep. But not only that, everybody at school fell asleep because we were broadcasting it in…subconsciously to the whole school. We all drifted off to a deep sleep. That’s it for now. Goodnight.
[END OF RECORDING]