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GIRL_face

Bobby Sox, graphite on paper (1995)

It's the first that Juniper's been this far north. Normally she watches stations that are much closer to home. Not that it’s any different back there. If it’s standing at all it's crooked and it's crooked from age, incompetence, and extreme deselection. As Juniper has come to find recently, things are just stoopid dumb. 
There’s glass all around her here. It's like fairies teeth were ground into the cracked concrete. Collage is brutal like this, a simple weapon that's terrible and misunderstood. There's a nearby cornice that's broken and it's parts are strewn in front of the old store. There's a stump from a steel jacketed concrete barrier with a rolled bus behind it. A brown metal bar probably from the exploded apartment across the street went straight through the side of rusted bus like a shot. Weapons framed by the everywhere that's surrounding them, every frame it's own burden of anger and intolerance. Wash and wash and wash some more, it's a bag of hammers.
Juniper's crusty pants and boots are clingy with dust and burr fuss. She kneels down inside the ring of the old camp and pokes through its shallow fire pit. There's some bones cracked and white against the ash and soot. The slumptinkers here before didn't leave much for their next visitors. But that's not bad. There's still an old metal box chained to the pole with some dry goods sealed inside. A small block of salt, some dry tinder set aside against any rainy weather, and a dusty metal bowl.
There's nothing magical but it could be useful. She closes the box, binding it tight against any curious smarty-birds. It's surprisingly bare here, she says to no one. She stretches out, feeling her stiff muscles twinge. I'd think the buildings and the circle would be more overgrown by now. Juniper digs into the satchel at her hip, pulling out her quick knife that she then straps to her leg. She also pulls out, LUMLii. LUMLii's a lonely cracker box. A gift given to her when she was just a little girl-face.
He's not that big but LUMLii's very smart. Juniper cinches his wrist strap tight so he'll have a better view of things, where she can more easily talk to him. The first thing LUMLii goes and says is, Juniper, oh Juniper first in the dish, bent like a spoon, smells like a fish. That’s how it goes right? 
Yes LUMLii, it's just like that. Har, Har, Har...
It was. That's how Tuma recorded it in the highest room back at home. When the tables get scootched together in there and the Proper Works got rolled out long and flat, that's what Juniper's would say. The rolls also record that her pittsgeld was paid in the beads and second thoughts that Tuma had tendered for her. That as Tuma's first she too would be, Namer of Things when the time comes.
LUMLii bumbled through a short trapskil's idle until he wound up with a thimble full of crunched numbers to share. Juniper taught him to sing a song while he was thinking like this,
south by the south by the
old north fork
he wobbled and he trued
by the road and the moon
like an old old cork
in a bottle in a storm
in the water by the door
south by the south by the
old north fork
While he sings there's a slip of blue flung over her naked shoulder as Juniper chops at the world. Her lean smile and green eyes are cast out on the old fountain in the square as she heaves her Juniper judo into the dark plaza beside its slippery water. When she stops Juniper holds her form for the span of a breath and then relaxes.
Juniper's hungry and there's still her naming exercises to get through. But before she unrolls the rest of her camp she fills her Juniper pockets with the loose warm stones beside the old fountain. In the distance she can hear a withering sound. It's like a high thin warble but very keen. The nondiatonic pitch, it's an F sharp that coalesces with the minor triad a-c-e. Its like a singular jack finch nesting inside a wooden harp. Again and again, over and over until finally overcome Juniper swoons.
Eventually she shifts, jostled from her vacancy by the timid dripping of an aimless and old fountain. She shivers and sits up, her knees bent under her like a couple of tangled limbs. She stretches her arms above her head and yawns like a stiff little kitten.Scarlet Livingston Bloom looks up and archly corrects her apprentice, These are illusions, they're only masks. The Angles of Three, they're composed of living time. The essence of a broken neck runs through them but only I can tell you where their hands are leading us right now. Scarlet Livingston Bloom stands up and gathers the gauzy red train of her frock into the crook of an elbow.
I'm only joking with you Juniper. It's just an old trick of mechanics for opening loud tinned foods and that's a stuffed cat there beside it. So you can close your mouth. Lets have some fun now, follow me.
Scarlet leads me into a small anteroom with twisted and spiky things jutting from its short stone walls. On a long table in back is pile bits and bauble. In the middle of it all on a black mesh strap is LUMLii. The AI is humming quietly, he seems to have a happy disposition right from the start. Although sometimes he's a bit broadeyed, a little like he's fake drunk. LUMLIIN or more precisely LVMLIIN that's what's on his shell, Scarlet explains. He's an old cracker box that we're gifting to you Juniper. Remember, LVMLIIN's not a name as much as it's his designation. You see it means 55.1052n but it's only part of what it should be. You can call him LUMLii, it should be easier for a Juniper like you to remember.
She'll never forget his first words, We have some secrets because everybody lies, They burden my insides and they keep me on top, Our machine's out of gas but it's crying won't stop, Swallowed by pride and drowned in my pillow, The way of it's gross it's bruised and bleeding, It's strangled with soot and it's crying and needy, The function of form is to like it, The truth of these words lies like a blanket. Quite a mouthful for such a small box, right LUMLii.

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