Nov. 23, 2009

Continued from Chapter 18: Frog

Gully is on the phone. He coughs. He says, "Yeah, no, I wish I could. But, I don't want to make anyone else sick." He laughs half-heartedly. He says, "Yeah, we can't have that." He nods (who the Hell nods at a phone?), and he says, "All right. Good luck out there." He nods again. He says, "Bye." And, he hangs up.

Sen looks at me again. She says, "You wanna go next, Rose?"

I... no. No, I would not. I say, "Sure."

I get my phone out of my purse. It's heavy and uninviting. I speed-dial work. "Hello?" It's Nancy, our secretary.

I say, "Hey, Nanc."

I cough, Gully glances over at me and shakes his head and does the "I'm going to chop your head of with my hand" look.

Nancy says, "Hey, Rose. How sweet of you to call!"

I say, "Uhh... yeah." I look over at Gully, who's looking back at me, with his brow furrowed. I look up at Sen; she's opening up her computer.

Nancy says, "Anyway, it's only 47. No big deal." She laughs.

I laugh too. I am starting to regret being born.

Nancy says, "I'll be another prime number in six years!" She laughs again. "But who's counting, right?"

I say, "I... yeah. Great, Nancy. Happy... uhh... birthday?"

Nancy says, "How 'bout you come over here and say that, par'ner!" She laughs.

I'm... you know how sometimes you want to take a conversation and, like, strangle it, and maybe throw it in a furnace, or feed it to a hungry, angry rhino, or just jump up and down on it really hard until it's all dusty and dirty and needs to take like five showers before it feels like it can enter back into civilized society again (and it's got this crush too, see, and--)

I say, "Uhh... Nancy. Listen."

She says, "Oh no!"

I say, "What?"

Stan says, "Hey, Rose?"

I say, "What?"

Nancy says, "John stole my stuffed rhino!"

She has a stuffed rhino? That's a weird coi-

Stan says, "Hey, Rose?"

I say, "I... See..."

Nancy says, "Give it back, John! Give me back my Rhino!"

I say, "What?"

Nancy says, "I want my Rhino, John!"

Stan says, "Rose, what's your pass phrase?"

Nancy says, "Rose, what's your favorite stuffed animal?"

I say, "I don't know... giraffe?"

I say, "beeblebrox42."

Stan says, "That's the lamest... didn't work."

Nancy says, "Beetle box?! EWWWW!!"

I say, "No, it's..."

Nancy says, "You're gross, Rose! You're gross Rose!" She laughs.

I say, "giraffe."

Stan says, "Why would your passphrase be 'giraffe.' Is it your long neck?"

I don't have a long neck! ... do I...?

Nancy says, "Hey, John! Give me back my Rhino, or gross Rose is gonna spit on you!"

There's some kind of scuffling noise.

I say, "No, listen, Nancy..."

Stan says, "You're not really that spotty..."

Sen says, "Leave her alone, Stan."

Nancy says, "No, give it here! Rose! You gotta get here soon. John's being a brat!"

I say, "I am not spotty!"

Stan says, "Either your passphrase is not 'giraffe,' or your network is not 'ThisIsRosesNetwork'..."

My... network isn't ThisIsRosesNetwork...

I say, "Listen, Nancy, I'm not feeling all that well."

Gully gives me a thumbs up.

Stan says, "Ah! I feel like a fool. This network isn't even secured. I've just got WPA on by default."

Nancy says, "Well, you better give John a real spitting! Get him sick!"

Stan says, "What are you, Rose, some kind of idiot?"

Sen says, "Leave her alone, Stan."

Nancy says, "Oh, John, would you just love to have Rose's sicky germs all over you! Sicko!" She laughs.

Stan says, "Who the Hell has an open network these days? That's like wearing a 'phish me, I'm stupid' sticker on your face."

Nancy says, "I bet you want her sicky spit all over your shrively, old Johnson!" She shrieks with laughter.

I say, "My network's not..."

Stan says, "I mean, WEP, fine. It's outdated and about as useful as a t-shirt in Antarctica, but nothing? Come on!"

Sen says, "Which network was it?"

Nancy says, "Oh, hi, uhh, Joe. No, we're just having some fun..."

I say, "My network..."

Sen says, "Never mind, I found it."

Stan says, "Hey, Gully, are you going naked to Antarctica?"

Nancy says, "No, I wasn't-"

Gully's looks suddenly away from me and up at Stan. He says, "What?"

Stan says, "Exactly!"

Sen says, "Well, thank God my work e-mail's still intact."

Nancy says, "I was just joking ar-"

Stan says, "Are you a penguin, Rose? Is that it?"

I say, "Nancy, is everything..."

Nancy says, "No, sir. I am not drunk! I had one bottle of-"

Stan says, "Maybe some kind of ice monster?"

Sen says, "God, this connection is so slow!"

I say, "I am not a..."

Nancy says, "Please sir, it's my birthday..."

Gully says, "What are you talking about Stan?"

Stan says, "Rose is telling us she's an ice monster."

Sen says, "Stan, calm down. Rose, what the Hell is wrong with your Internet connection?"

Nancy says, "Well, fine, it'll be my birthday next week..."

Stan says, "I'm not even angry."

I say, "Listen, everyone..."

Stan says, "I'm being so sincere right now."

Sen says, "Yeah, sincere as a swindler."

Nancy says, "Please, sir, before I go... at least taste the cake. It's so delicious and moist."

Stan says, "Sincere as a soothsayer."

Sen says, "Sincere as a scoundrel!"

I say, "Hey! I'm on..." just as Gully says, "Guys, Rose is on..." and basically we cancel each other out.

Stan says, "Sincere as simplicity."

Sen says, "Sincere as stupidity!"

Nancy says, "Oh, no, it's just Rose, it-"

Gully says, "Sorry, Rose."

Joe says, "Who is this?"

Stan says, "This is ridiculous."

I say, "This is Rose."

Sen says, "You're not ridiculous, Rose!"

Joe says, "Hi, Rose. Listen, we're gonna have to call-- no, Nancy! Put down the cake! Put. Down. The. Cake!"

Sen says, "Don't let Sterny over here tell you otherwise."

Stan says, "Ah, I see we've returned to name-calling."

I say, "Listen, Joe..."

Joe says, "No. Oh, God. Nancy, there are people here! You're in public! Oh, God. Oh, God!"

I cough. I say, "I'm just not feeling..."

Sen says, "Sincere as a stern-face. Sincere as a sterninator."

Joe says, "Nancy, no! No! NOOOOO-"

The phone goes dead.

Stan says, "Whatever." He shuts his laptop. "I've got the day off."

Sen says, "Yeah, me too."

Everyone looks at me. I close my phone. I say, "Uhh, yeah, I do too."


We're still in front of my building.

Sen says, "So..." She looks over at Stan. "You said you know a guy?"

Stan says, "Yeah, a guy, that's what I said." He shakes his head. He says, "What I said was that I happen to know the best lawyer in the county."

Sen says, "And, where might this amazing county lawyer work?"

Stan says, "Here," he pulls out his phone, and then he looks down at it. He says, "Blast. I had it in Google Local."

Sen says, "Fantastic."

Stan says, "I remember the way. Just," he looks around, "Rose, where the Hell do you live?"

I say, "Where are we going?"

Stan says, "Downtown west, near Broadway."

I direct us downtown.


The lawyer's lobby is chrome and leather and windows. Stan walks up to the receptionist and says, "Hi there, I'm going to be seeing Carrie Rhymerson." His voice is bright and cheerful, which is somehow even creepier than when he's being his normal level of creep.

Sen raises an eyebrow. She says, "A girl?"

Stan's response ahead of us is to turn his head slightly and emit a low hiss.

The receptionist says, "Yes, and do you have an appointment, sir?" He's one of those Greek gods, the receptionist, big, blond, muscular, like a guy who takes steroids to make it seem like he wrestles or footballs or dead cow carcass punches, but really sits in front a computer all day playing tetris.

Stan says, "I'm afraid not." He smiles.

The receptionist says, "Ms. Rhymerson is very busy today. If you'd like to make an appointment..."

Get a clue, buddy; at least play something respectable like WoW. (Shit, I bet that WoW account I haven't used in two years is gone now too. Shit shit shit.) Or, download FF MMMMCMXCIX, and play through the unique story of a blond-haired rebel with a dark past, who finds himself leading a ragtag bunch of heroes through a world with Japanese store signs and graffiti in order to save the world. But, come on, man, wasting your time with tetris? That's like trying to do multivariate calculus using an abacus.

Stan says, "No, thanks. We'll just wait for her to get in."

The receptionist says, "I'm afraid, Sir, that-"

And then, someone else walks in. She's a tall, middle aged-ish lady in a pant suit with long, curly brown hair. She stops at the door and looks at everyone, her mouth terse. Then, her eyes land on Stan, and she breaks into a smile.

She says, "Stan, you old peacock!"

Stan says, "Carrie! Aren't you a sight for rotting eyes!"

She giggles.

She says, "Hey, Alfred. I'm free for the next hour, right?"

Alfred says, "I... let me check..." He sighs. "Yes, yes you are, and also-"

Carrie says, "Perfect! Let's go catch up. Are these..." she looks around, "... people also with you?"

Stan says, "I'm afraid so. I can't get rid of them!"

She giggles again.

Stan winks at Gully.

Carrie says, "All right. Let's all go chat in my office."

And, we walk across the room to a door that reads, "Rhymerson: Legal Council Done Right!"

As we walk into the room, I hear Alfred mutter under his breath, "My name is not Alfred..."


Nov. 24, 2009 →



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