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09.15.03 11:05 p.m.

They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth.


Previously in Xenology: Bryan left for college.

Home Sweet Home
I have been a remiss narrator to you, leaving you to wonder if student loan sharks stole both of my hands, but my reasons are good. All my free time in the past weeks has gone to scourging my younger brother's room to make it fit for human habitation. Specifically, for the habitation of the humans known as Xen and M. Much as I would have liked to sit and let the story solidify, having a place to sleep became more important. Blame Maslow for his pyramid building.
In Bed With M  
M partaking of the "upper floor" of the room
Bryan's room was not messy in the conventional sense of the term. In truth, it took intense effort on my part to cause the room to be just messy. This was something else entirely that is best discussed by the EPA. The inhabiting rodents (and there were many judging from the communities they had made) were in Elysian Fields of broken CDs, moldering Halloween candy from three years past, and uncomfortably moist hills of towels. I am quite serious and, if anything, under-representing the Herculean task (he did have to clean the Aegean stables) when I tell you that I removed one hundred pounds of garbage from his bedroom floor. This is not including the fifty-pound boxes of pogs and beanie babies long past their collectable prime, various doodads (filler from holidays immemorial), swag from a dozen computer shows, papers and notebooks that "might be important" and childhood toys that were not broken enough to deserve a place in the trash bin. One never knows when the toy will become a real rabbit or boy, so I had to be careful in what I cast into the Land of Misfit Toys.
Midway through the attempt to make the room just messy, Zack selflessly volunteered to help me move things from the room. I was shocked and abashed, to say the least. M informs me that helping others move is standard practice in a friendship. While I don't disagree and would do the same for Zack, this is not taking into account the extenuating factors of completely altering a disease-filled marsh into useable dry land. We nearly got the sleeping sickness. When we pulled up the carpet (never was carpet intended to be so abused), we were stunned to find decades of amassed dust that instantly gave Zack a new allergy. He needed to stand outside for quite a spell while he waited for his lungs to forgive him and return to normal functionality. I offered that he should be grateful he didn't currently smoke but was informed that smoking would at least provide an excuse for feeling as he did.
We can altar the spicy  
Our communal altar
Given that the floor has been covered by this sticky mass of brown polyester fiber for as long as I can remember and has been moist in the most cringe-worthy fashion possible since I moved out two years ago, this simple shouldn't have been. It could have been mud. That would follow the laws of cause and effect. But dust? Ridiculous. It defied common logic, yet given the unkempt state of the rest of the room, I am frightened to admit that it make a sort of revolting sense.
Emily was unable to assist in the much of the moving but she was rightly excused. She was practicing lethal looking kicks at the dojo and landing one particularly stunning one. Rather, the bottom of her leg landed the kick. The rest of her body twisted in the opposite direction, rendering her immobile for days. Initially the doctors believed it to be a hairline fracture of her patella, which would prevent her from going to team trials in Las Vegas. This would, of course, destroy her utterly, as it would be another year before she could again attempt this feat. Fortunately, though a strange sort of fortune indeed when this is considered good, she only dislocated, thus accounting for her pain and relatively quick healing. She is walking in a largely normal, if gimpy, fashion.
Not wishing to draw attention to her condition and also make her feel useful as Zack and I hauled garbage, I had her go through my clothes. Somehow she was able to weed out three bags worth. Wishing to incur some good karma, we drove to donate it to Salvation Army. We nearly fled when the homeless man sleeping on the couch behind the store woke up and looked at us. True, we were in a car with a black belt and several blunt objects and he was half conscious and malnourished on a moldy couch. But he was homeless. This clearly makes him a homicidal deviant who will do anything for the proposition of a warm meal of eyeballs. Hobos love eyeballs.
The room was largely ours, tapestries obscuring ugly spots on the walls and an area rug hiding most of the unfinished floor. The Bryan energy was oozing out of the pores in every surface and escaping out of open windows. Emily had serendipitously found a dresser being given away a few hundred feet from our house. Everything was coming together nicely, save that we lacked a real bed. A loft frame had been ordered from the internet, as all commerce must now be digital, but it was slow to arrive. Even then, we would be without a mattress. This is where Fate stepped in because we are on the right path. Fate always helps you along when you are doing as She wishes.
Our bed scares evil spirits
The library has, against my wishes, hired two new people to replace my inept coworker. Initially, I had some hope, as they informed me that they had hired a girl of my years who had spent quite a bit of time working in libraries, specifically the Mothership of our library. Thus, not only was she completely trained, but she knew the computer system better than any one here because she had helped create it. They quickly fired her (before I met her) because she was unable to devote enough time owing to her school schedule (she is to get her Masters in library science, you see). Instead, they hired this vitriolic shrew who is unfailingly rude to our patrons and bores me to tears telling me of her car and its many problems. She is also in the disconcerting habit of anthropomorphizing her cats in conversation that one is fairly certain she is referring to her genetic progeny, not something that shits in a litter box. For example, and this is a direct quote, she says statement such as, "Daphnia looked out from under the bed, which I took to mean 'How dare that ill-bred kitten you just got have the utter gall to presume she is the first to have ever walked on the new floor when everyone in the house knows that I was the first. Really, she is so ridiculous and I will never be friends with her until she shapes up.'" If this wasn't clear, she has the overly talkative demeanor of a girl who was raised on a mountain far from people her age and thus socialized to pine trees that could not roll their eyes at her rambling.
Perhaps worse, though it could prove an interesting friction to the story at large, this woman has an obsession with "the black arts," as she put it. Not the good sort of obsession wherein she tries to contact her hobgoblin ancestors. No, she suspects patrons of being possessed of evil powers. This all began when she informed me, and I quote, "my niece got into the Black Arts. Then something happened. We don't talk about it." Of course we don't. Worse of all, she chooses the wrong patrons (as some come in asking for help finding Satanic alphabets) to suspect. A family of unfortunates that likely stays out of the group home only because they pool their welfare came in a week ago. They come in often and are trouble only in that they lack proper hygiene and monopolize the computers. The matriarch of this brood asked for a book of hauntings in the Hudson Valley. I politely sent her back to her brood, as she had read all of these books. As soon as she headed back, my coworker asked if I thought they were planning on holding a sťance. I glanced over this crew in mismatched sweat suits from the Salvation Army, smiling and drooling on themselves. I told her I thought it was unlikely. "But," she replied, "they came in so serious and all sat at that table. I think they are planning something."
Myles: the cat not allowed in our room
To return to my point, she was going on about cats and cars and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, when she digressed from a digression to ask if I knew anyone who would be in need of a full sized mattress. A Cheshire grin slid over my lips as I assured her I knew someone who could put it to proper use. In fact, I was able to pick it up the very day I had built the loft bed frame. Aside from the odor of cat urine (easily Febrezed away), the mattress was nearly new because it had been in her guest room for the better part of five years, during which she never had a single guest.
Emily is now as moved into my home as she is likely to get. She is still nearly only ever here after the sun sets and leaves before it can peek over the mountains. Still, I am surprised at how utterly comfortable this arrangement makes me. It is surpassingly pleasant to know I am returning home to one of my best friends at least four nights a week (and, very likely, in her pajamas). Undoubtedly, it is obvious this would have been my reaction, but I am clever at hiding such things from myself until I am actually thrust into the situation.

Kei 2.0
I have been seeing a lot of Keilaina recently. It has been a few years - three, to be exact - since last she played any real part in this story. Actually, to be frank, she has never really played as much of a part in this story as she should, as it had not officially begun when she had her greatest effect. There is retroactive continuity, but somehow she is missing from much of that. So, let's start again.
Keilaina, returned
Hi, I'm Xen and I am your friendly neighborhood fr... no, that's a bit too far. Keilaina is a friend. She once told me that she doesn't want me to go to hell. I assured her that her God found me far too entertaining to let that happen. She gives excellent hugs. This is not some pat, dismissive compliment. She provides a rare sort of kinesthetic comfort. Conor uses his words, she uses her arms. Appendages are harder to transcribe. She finds Christian boys distractingly arousing. I once helped her wax her legs. She smiles with her whole mouth when most only make use of their lips or teeth. She works in a pet store and has for as long as I have known her.
She came to my home one evening while the room was still quite disgusting. She brought her sister's child with her, a small infant that was in the oral curiosity stage. That is rather a dangerous stage for a child in that room as it would easily result in diphtheria. Or the sleeping sickness. I didn't mind the child save that he made it hard to have a real conversation with Kei, as constant attention had to be given to the child's well being. Also, it meant our time together would be again cut short because of a clingy male.
I wanted to have more significant interaction with her because I feel she lacks connections with the world. For the past several years, she has been with her ex-boyfriend Ian to the exclusion of most of society. He was - and I would venture a guess still is - very jealous and disincline to share Kei, even with her female friends. In fact, Kei informs me that he quite dislikes me because of this site and my friendship with her (obviously neglecting that I hadn't seen the girl in years and pose absolutely no threat given my live-in ninja girlfriend). This sort of isolation seems to be the core of their temporary parting. It is a conditional parting. Evidently, Kei and Ian are to begin romantic negotiations on October second. It is possible Kei will disappear off the radar on the third. We are prepared but hopeful.

Soon in Xenology: More Keilaina-y fun. Viva Las Vegas.

last watched: Underworld
reading: Ender's Shadow
listening: The Laramie Project soundtrack
wanting: You people to post a damned message in the forums.
interesting thought: Some day, I'll be a cyborg. Or teacher. Maybe a writer. Possibly a firetruck.
moment of zen: My first night in my and Emily's room.
someday I must: Get a pet that doesn't have chlorophyll.

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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