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Friday, November 6, 2009

Jenz Fourth Nano Post

8702 words. Not easy to write on vacation (I'm in Phoenix). Here's the latest.

Dallas traffic was unbelievably light that evening. Maybe the story of live metallic psuedo-robotic cows painted to look like real cows had shaken everybody up enough to call in sick. In any case, I made it to the Black Eyed Pea in Uptown in a little under fifteen minutes, a new record. Which meant, by my calculation as I jumped out of my green Toyota Prius and sprinted across the parking lot to the restaurant, I was only about a half-hour late for our anniversary dinner.
Spike, our usual waiter, flagged me down in the lobby. “Your ex-wife is waiting for you at your usual table,” he told me. “And she’s been flirting with this pretty redhead for most of the
last half hour.”
“I’m sorry. I hope she ordered a nice appetizer.” I careened into the restaurant, swept over to the table and fell into the empty chair. “Hi,” I added lamely to Pandora. “Sorry I’m late.”
Pandora gave me a frosty look from across the table. I didn’t see any redhead in
evidence, but then I really didn’t expect to. Like any good husb–er, spou–er, significant sweetie,I live in terror of upsetting my wife. Not because she might beat me up, mind you, but because she might give me that look. Still, Pandora adored me. I wasn’t sure entirely why, having been basically not there for most of the first few years of our relationship and including our wedding, but I’d tried to make up for it by being thoughtful as hell in the years since. Like taking her on nice vacations on my city-accountant salary. Like buying her little gifts, because she liked little gifts. Like always remembering our anniversary. I did remember it, I told myself indignantly. I just also kind of forgot it, is all.
“No worries.” Pandora picked up a menu and peered at me over the top of it. Pandora has the most adorable blue eyes, and they look fantastic behind the Pierre Cardin glasses,magnified to about twice their actual size. The whole package was framed by delicate shoulder-length brunette hair. Okay, I adored her right back. It was the least I could do, considering. “I’ll just order the New York strip steak with the side of lobster and a glass of Chardonnay.”
I smiled at that, because the Black Eyed Pea offers neither lobster nor strip steak (though to my understanding, it does stock a pretty good repertoire of Chardonnay.) Neither of us drink,for that matter; she’s diabetic and I’m–well, let’s just say the last thing I need is alcohol churning around in my system and making things even weirder than they are. “Okay, go for it,” I told her as Spike came up to our table. “I’ll have a Southwestern buffalo chicken wrap and a glass of diet Coke.”
“You always order the same thing,” Spike complained, tugging on his earring. “I buy these neat little gel pens in these neat sparkly colors and I don’t even get to use them.”
“I’ll have the deep-fried sweet and sour chicken livers and the side salad,” Pandora
announced, handing him her menu.
“Ew.” I made a face. “Do you actually know what livers do in the body?”
“Yes.” She smiled sweetly. “They make you threaten me not to kiss me ever again.”
I sagged. “Did I threaten that?”
“Let’s see.” She touched her chin with her index finger in that way that so inspires terror in six-year-old first graders and errant library patrons. “2004. In December, in New Orleans. We were walking by the riverfront and I suggested we go down to Harrah’s because they had liver cuts on their buffet, and you said–”
“Okay, okay,” I said, letting her win this round. I let her win a lot of rounds. Mainly
because I hadn’t been physically present to defend myself. Or mentally present, anyway. “Really, I’m sorry I was late. You probably heard something about cows coming to life and roaming around City Hall?”
“Coming to life?” Pandora raised an eyebrow. “I heard somebody stole the metal cows and replaced them with fake cows meant to look like metal cows.”
“Well, they’re also saying that they’re robots created by the kids at UNT Robotics, but they’re metal cows come to life,” I told her. “Honest. I was right next to one.”
Pandora frowned. Her frown isn’t nearly as cute as her smile. “That’s odd,” she
understated. Quite brilliantly, I might add.
“What’s really odd,” I said, “is that the whole herd of them seemed to want to stand right under my window and stare up at me. Like I was the prime attraction in whatever brought them
to life or something. Kind of like the sacred tablet in Night At The Museum.”
Pandora was still frowning. “Do you think,” she asked very carefully, “that it might have anything to do with The Time Before?”
I blinked, a little stunned. Pandora hardly ever mentioned The Time Before – the time, that is, before I start having actual memories of being married to her. As far as everybody we know is concerned, I got a high fever or something a few years ago and sort of went into a fugue state and forgot all about Pandora and how we met at the TCU Library as young naive freshmen and ran into each other a few years after graduation at a band reunion and fell head over heels in love and flew to California and got married and spent most of the next decade wondering if we were actually married or not while various entities fought about it in court. Then Kinky Friedman was elected governor of Texas and signed us into existence as an Official Married
Couple (TM), proclaiming that as far as he was concerned, lesbians had as much right to be miserable as anybody else. And so there we were, the only legally married lesbian couple in Texas–for about five minutes until he finished signing the proclamation. Man, was it a busyweek at City Hall.
I sort of knew better, kind of, but I rarely mentioned it because it upset Pandora and, as I believe I said earlier, I live in mortal terror of–yeah. Besides, my side of it is a lot less believable. Kidnapped by Loki, thrust into the dark sewer of the collective unconscious, taking up arms in the immortal battle of good and evil, rescuing the Tree of Life from the deep freeze in downtown Rejyavik as a new ice age closed its terrible fist over all of Western civilization and a black hole threatened to swallow the planet, being dead, not being dead – well, you get the idea. It was a lot easier to just go along with the whole fugue state thing. Besides, it made me more charming in polite company. “Oh, she doesn’t remember President Schwartzenegger. That’s when she was a little bit out of it,” Pandora would say, and I’d grin stupidly. I’m good at
grinning stupidly. Years of practice.
“I don’t know,” I said when I realized the question was still hanging there in midair. “I guess it could.”
“Because you did that weird thing with reality,” she said.
“Re-ordered all reality. Yeah. Like the Genesis Device blowing up at the end of the second Star Trek movie.”
“You don’t watch Star Trek,” Pandora reminded me.
“I do now. Case in point.” I rubbed my forehead. “But what would that have to do with statues of cows coming to life?”
“Well, nothing,” Pandora said. “Unless it’s not just statues of cows.”
“Tell you what,” I said, wanting to get this subject off the table before our food got here and made everything all awkward. “If anything else weird happens, I’ll just assume you’re right and start to plan accordingly. If not, I’ll just write it off to one more surreal day in citygovernment. Okay?”
“Plan accordingly how?” Pandora asked.
And then Spike was back with our food, saving me the embarrassment of having to admit I hadn’t the foggiest idea. I mean, I didn’t exactly get any warning the last time. Loki just kidnapped me, office chair and all. So she had a point. Plan accordingly how? I dove into my southwestern Buffalo chicken wrap and just didn’t answer.
Which worked fine until the next morning, when I got to City Hall and was greeted by fourteen cows, one electric neon Pegasus, two stallions and two big Chinese warhorses.

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