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03.01.07 10:29 p.m.

It is the first duty of friendship to preserve a friend's illusions.  

-Arthur Schnitzler


Previously in Xenology: Zack had bad luck with cars.

Manifest Well
My brain is fine, Blueberry Muffin

I enter Zack's house and pause to see the girl with long dreadlocks and a skittish smile trying to pet Berty. She stays near enough to Dan's personal space to assure the viewer why she is present, but far enough away to assert her autonomy. There is not physical contact between the couple, but it seems almost an irrelevant distinction. On some astral level, they are pawing at one another the way Berty does with her toys.

I say to Dan, keeping my voice to a stage whisper, "You manifest well." I had joked more than once and with evident good reason that Lora was nothing more than a pernicious Charles Bonnet Syndrome hallucination, the obligatory Canadian girlfriend no one ever sees that is conjured up to assuage friends and classmates that one is indeed popular, if only with fictional Canucks. We did not actually think that Lora was a figment of Dan's imagination, though I believe we wished it more than once given the violently sporadic nature of their relationship. Zack thinks that Dan adores her because of her prodigious musical skill - a trait I have not witnessed in any capacity and therefore cannot speak to - and is therefore willing to ignore that she is every bit the tortured teenager artist with all of the solipsism and narrow focus that implies. Just a few weeks before, Dan and Lora had a blow up where he called her on the fact that she had asked him to her show to hang out with him afterward and then acted as though this were not the case, to his aggravation.

I am willing to ignore the history that I knew and sway to the prevailing winds. Aside from a justifiable nervousness on her part given that she was meeting everyone for the first time and had somehow earned the ire of Zack's dog Berty, still terrified from the car accident, she seemed sweet. She found me entertaining and I am thus obliged to make some joke here about her having either exceedingly good taste or poor taste. As she was presently nuzzling up to Dan and he was happy, I will content myself with the former. Even were this not the case, I would regard her as flawed and young at the very worst. I do not demonize well or often, even if I have been audience to Dan's disappointment and anger from her before and will be in the future.

We were all at Zack's for a dinner party, though I had the added goal of ascertaining how Zack was progressing since the accident. He reports that he is still suffering from some memory loss and a vague lack of coordination, but he seemed very normal. When Dan and Lora left briefly to get something from the store, he was the first to point out that dogs are known to sense evil. Additionally, he made several seemingly complicated dishes that more than passed muster when it came to my plate. My hope is that any deleterious effects are temporary and waning, both because I love Zack very much and want his happiness and because no one else is going to make me food nearly this delicious without setting a bill before me. I need his brain whole, creative, and inclined towards curry and sage.

Soon in Xenology: Randy Milholland and Jeph Jacques being Positively Questionable.

last watched: Midnight Cowboy
reading: The Physics of the Buffyverse
listening: Reprieve

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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