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06.22.07 8:00 p.m.

Without inwardness there can be no external world, and without imagination there can be no reality.  

-Franz Werfel


Exclusive Recluse

I meet Flynn for dinner mostly as impetus to get out of the house. (I know most people would kill for the time off that I have, but I do not idle well.) The last time I had seen Flynn had been at NonCon months ago. I doubt we actually spoke ten decent sentences to one another then if just because other things occurred that occupied our attention.

I do not bring up the topic of Conor. I do not wish for Flynn to feel he is merely my conduit to Conor. Truth be told, the only access I have to my reclusive compatriot (who staunchly refuses to respond to any sort of message left for him on a machine) is either obscure Flynn or his lovely sister Margaret, both of whom I like too well to use as Conor's secretary. However, when Flynn naturally brings up the topic - Conor is his hetero life mate and finds him significantly less reclusive than the rest of humanity - I seize upon it.

"So, what is he doing these days?"

"Working at Astor. Pretty much full time. He's their senior something of child care. He actually has underlings. So now he has that as an excuse to never be around."

I agree that this is a great excuse, much better than perpetually cleaning his room with the devotion of Penelope or simply inexplicably eschewing all contact with the world. This introduces one of my prejudices. If I haven't seen someone for a while, I don't actually care to mentally age them. While I may have been fighting off aliens in Pine Bush or dealing with the children of the rich at Hogwarts, Anemia Extension, my estranged friends sit silent and unmoving. They do not get new jobs, enter or leave relationships, grow in any appreciable way. Even their hair must stay more or less the same. They are ineffably forbidden to even consider it without the toll of regular updates, of some kind of time lapse narrative so that I can feel gradually caught up. I want some way to feel connected when they enter impenetrable hermitages.

Blogs help. I am the target audience for personal blogs. The MySpaces, Facebooks, LiveJournal of several of my friends download daily to my Palm Pilot so that I can keep their lives in my pocket for convenient perusal at my leisure. If they can't have the courtesy to spend hours a week informing me as to the contents of their hearts and stomachs, I simply cannot be bothered to allow them to unfreeze and lead their own lives. Really, I'm going to have to insist upon monthly phone calls of at least half an hour if I am going to allow them into the pantheon of my esteem ostensibly without their permission. They owe me.

Kate returned my birthday call to her weeks ago. It is something of a yearly tradition between us, but only because we have managed to more or less remember to do it. It is almost the only time all year that I hear her voice, though we still exchange the odd emails. She, a born writer, cannot help but occasionally burst forth with an update as to her life on one of those public blogs. She has even written for Xenex in the past. She is allowed whatever growth she wishes, so long as she persists in conveying it amusingly. I could belabor her path, but it would not do her justice.

I still want to hear from Conor that he has taken a giant step toward integrating with the rest of the world, such information doesn't have the right flavor second hand, even from Flynn. The irony of the Fates is that he procured this job owing largely to his work at Wayfinder Experience, a summer live action role-playing camp he has practically run in the past. His building and maintenance of fictive realms for imaginative elfin children has earned him due credit in this world of taxes and health benefits for the first time.

Now I just have to figure out how to manage decoherence between our two edges of the real world. I don't mind if he shuns the rest of the world so long as he doesn't consider me a part of it.

Soon in Xenology: Emotional immaturity.

last watched: Dead Like Me
reading: The Age of Spiritual Machines
listening: Avenue Q



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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