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01.03.03 3:30 p.m.

You're not friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love 'til it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Real love isn't brains, children. It's blood. It's blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.


Previously in Xenology: Kate left for New Zealand.

And She Speaks and She Breathes
I finally saw Kate.
As can be expected, it was a long road. Sometimes we seemed to be close friends, others sparring partners.
Kate and me
However, there was a distinct strain of hope to all of this, that we really could have a strong friendship with a little work. Frankly, this seemed like enough to help me not take the rough times and scathing conversations to heart.
Melissa wished to hang out with Kate, Matt, and me. She drove to pick up Matt, whom I had not seen in months. He was not waiting outside for her, nor was he available by phone. I was not permitted to knock on his door to summon him forth because, and I quote, "his grandmother is crazy!" Instead, Melissa drove away and, five minutes away from his home, turned back to pick him up again.
However, he was again not at his home, nor could he be reached by phone. I was allowed, as we drove away, to call his home again anyway. I was warned that I was doing this despite Melissa's explicit wishes and I would have to deal with his crazy grandmother. I imagined she was just old, not as bad as Melissa stated. His grandmother answered.
"Hi, is Matt there?" I inquired of the creaking voice.
She demand, "Who is this?"

The infamous Matt  
That handsome devil!
I gave my name and she told me that Matt was out. One would think this is where the conversation would end.
Again she demanded I provide my identity and again I did. "Jeff?" she asked.
No, I insisted, I was not Jeff. I don't even really know any Jeffs.
"Is this about the car?"
No, I assured her, I was a friend of her grandson and was looking for him.
"Jeff? Do you want the car?"
"Who is this?"
Right about here, I lost it laughing. However, we found Matt walking on the side of the road and picked him up, so all turned out well.
When we arrived at Melissa's house, I called Kate and told her to come over. In the mean time, I developed a fondness for Melissa's toy potter's wheel with which one could make real (if tiny) pottery. This seemed like a great deal of fun to me, but Matt had fun of his own in mind. The pottery wheel reminded him far too much of the creepy love scene in Ghost. With the ever-watchful eye of Melissa's video camera, Matt sought to immortalize the moment with Melissa's digital camera.
When Kate walked in, I was trying to keep the clay wet and Matt was in a state of undress making mock sexual gestures at me behind my back. Melissa quickly explained the situation to Kate and hired her as a non-union sound technician (Kate clicked the song on). I tried to restrain my giggling, but it is not easy when one has that handsome devil Matt all over oneself.
After one take, the water was knocked to the ground, rather ruining the possibility of future takes. Also, the clay has assumed the shape of a sloppy tower rather than a bowl and was thus useless for my purposes. I washed my hand and then gave Kate a strong hug. Her dark chocolate hair was far longer than I remembered, just below her ears. The look suited her. She looked not so emaciated as when she left, indeed her cheeks spoke of happy meals on distant shores where the flora are the thoughtforms of Dr. Seuss. She was wearing a soft brown wool coat that reached to her knees and obscured her shape so she appeared as an ageless elf or young girl playing dress up.
Kate is a shy one.
Kate showed me her photos from New Zealand. I affected a grating tone and asked if each scenic vista was a setting for Lord of the Rings. She replied to each inquiry with, "Maybe, I don't know. Could be." She also pointed out the geeky guy with whom she hung out and who Melissa wished to befriend for being "eighties cool" and the boy who felt himself a failure because Kate refused to go to bed with him. He really should develop a different method of self-evaluation.
Aside from this and Liz's addition later in the night, little actually occurred. We largely sat around and spoke on a variety of subjects, computer porn, politics, what have you. It was good to see Kate in a fairly neutral social situation and have a chance to speak. She did seem a little uneasy, but Kate always does in my presence. I think she feels it is hard to relax in my company, as though I am constantly judging her. That takes far too much time, which is why I appoint a jury of her peers to do the work for me.
Before we all parted ways, Matt, Melissa, Kate, and Liz smoked the peace pipe (both literally and metaphorically) as I watched. Matt remarked to me, "You are really good to smoke with because you don't smoke any of our stuff." Truer words were never spoken.
One other thing that, perhaps, should be noted (though perhaps not). When I was sitting on Melissa's couch next to Kate, I looked over into the corner of Melissa family room. There really was not anything to see there, a wood stove and some wood paneling. Nonetheless, looking there for no reason, I had a flash of a long, lean creature with knees that bent backward. It had a Cheshire grin of spikes, but nothing else about its face struck me. Then the image was gone, though I don't think I had ever seen anything like this that I was recalling. Emily assured me later that I was likely not crazy, though.

Soon in Xenology: Time without M.

last watched: The Devil's Advocate
reading: The Truth
listening: Leonard Cohen
wanting: Either less snow or more, I have yet to decide.
interesting thought: stranger pay attention to me.
moment of zen: hearing the voicemail of my boss giving me the day off.
someday I must: see Disneyworld.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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