An "Un-Remarkable Girl"

        by dj otterson

Part Five -- Roads?

     "Oh bull-"
     She blinked.
     "You weren't crazy, a little naive maybe.."
     She shook her head and looked at me, stunned, "But-"
     "But nothing, the only crazy thing you did was believe them when they said there was anything wrong with you-"
      She leaned back and laughed, "Well, where the hell were you when I needed somebody to tell me that-"
     I shrugged, "Questioning my own sanity..." I laughed, shook my head, "I was born knowing 'they' were nuts."
      She sighed, "Testosterone poisoning- Don't you think I wish it was that easy?"
     I shrugged, "One friend who went through a melt down told me she read something by some famous shrink that said, 'It isn't our quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us crazy, it's the fear that everybody believes there's something wrong with us-" I nodded, "Sounds good, doesn't it?"

     She looked like she might start crying, or worse. Looked down, whispered, "Tell me you love me even if I am crazy?"
     "Are you kidding?"
     She looked up and gasped, she was terrified.
     "I don't believe you're crazy, but I love you no matter what."
     She closed her eyes and inhaled. Relief like you wouldn't believe radiated all around her.
     I leaned over and kissed her forehead.
     She locked her arms behind my neck and almost pulled me onto her in the front seat in 'broad daylight'. We had a good long and very deep and juicy kiss and the mechanic knocked on my window.
     "Ooops-" she laughed.
     I sat up and tried to open the window, discovered that it was electric and had to start the engine to make the window open, "Sorry, we got carried away-"
     He grinned, "No problem, I was just checking to make sure it started all right, ya know what? Pop the hood-"
     I reached down like I knew what I was doing and found the right lever and pulled it.
     He nodded, walked around to the front and pulled the hood open after spending half a second finding and releasing the other hood release- Then he stepped to the open window and grinned, "Let it run, I'll be right back."
     Angela was giggling, had a fist full of dollar bills and my check book & register clutched to her chest, "You really need to be more careful with your money, dear.." (she made dear sound like a dirty word.)
     I patted my pocket, laughed with her, took the money and the check book and arranged them almost neatly, "Hungry? What do you think? Chinese? Mexican? Do you need to pick up anything back at the ranch before we blast off?"
     She looked worried, "Ya know? I have a serious problem with going places? I'm like terrified to go most places and eat in front of people?"
     "Including me?"
      She looked like she realized she might have insulted me or something and became a caricature of shocked remorse, "Oh, no- no not at all- and strangely enough- I feel really safe in Chinese and Japanese places, like they're so polite and nice to people that they'd never consider that I was like, undesirable or something."
      "Okay, maybe it's my hick town upbringing. Everybody there thought I was the weirdest thing they'd ever seen. It was awful, I couldn't go anywhere- College was almost okay- I got to feel like nobody cared. I hung around with artists and assorted weirdoes and they even pretended to like me once in a while-"
      "Angela-" I probably whined, "If you don't walk up to somebody and introduce yourself like, 'Hi- I'm Angela- There's really something basically wrong with me.' Everybody else is going to be so busy thinking, "Wow I wish I was as good looking as she is."
     She looked playful, "Even if I take the brown wig off and show them the green and blue?"
     "Oh, behave yourself-" I wrinkled my nose.
     The mechanic was back, with a portable drill, "Just take a second-"
    I could see around the raised hood that he was driving screws between the battery cable clamps and the posts of the battery. He closed the hood (one handedly) sort of saluted with the drill hand- "My Subaru tends to get weird if I don't do that-"
     I reached for my pocket. 
     He figured out that I was about to hand him a tip, waved his hand, "Nah- thanks for the thought-just being neighborly-" 
     I heard just enough enough of a southern drawl in his voice, "You're from down south?"
     He smiled, nodded.
     I pointed, "She's from Virginia."  I turned toward her with a question on my face.
     Angela looked nervous, nodded.
     "I'm from North Carolina, myself." he tipped his baseball cap.
     "Are you like all alone up here with no family and friends?"
     He blushed, "I was at first- Married a woman from Baltimore and she's in computers, we came up here where her job sent her, pretty much have so many friends lately we don't know what to do with them all."
     Angela leaned across my lap and grinned, "Jack's in computers too-"
     The mechanic smiled, "Small world, sure enough- Well he must be a real nice guy or he sure wouldn't have won your heart, Miss-" he tipped his hat again, then glanced back, like he was afraid his boss would yell at him for wasting time.
     "Name's Angela-" she grinned.
      "Okay, Miss Angela-"
     "Stop that- it's just 'Angela'."
     He laughed, "Sorry, I'm teasing you- don't get much chance to practice manners around here- And there is a good chance my wife could be transferred down to Atlanta soon." then he blushed, "Oh, my name's Ryan?"
      I offered my hand, "My name's Jack-"
      He looked at the grease on his hand and held it up, like 'see?'
      I shrugged. 
     He shrugged and did shake my hand, "Guess bein' nice to people is more important than dirt, even up here-"
     I nodded, shrugged again, "We're going to go get something to eat and I have to wash my hands anyway-'
     He nodded, "Did I hear ya say you thought Chinese might be good? There's this Polynesian-Chinese place a couple blocks over- food's so good it oughtta be illegal- And they have a special today- Y'oughtta come around on a Friday or Saturday night- They have girls in grass skirts and guys in like these things wrapped around their waists? and they have this powerful drum music and you'd think you were on some Island somewhere- I love it myself-"
     Angela smiled so easily up at him, nodded, "Why thank you-"
     He nodded, "Pleasure's all mine-" he swiveled, "Right at the light, two blocks, left and look for the signs- don't look like much outside, but it's a whole different world inside-"
     "Thanks again, Ryan-" I said.
     He bowed, "Glad to help-" then looked guilty, "But I gotta get back to work-"
he waved and turned and almost jogged back inside.
      Angela raised her head, gave me a playful kiss on the elbow and sat herself back in her seat, "Now, if everybody was like him- I'd have an easy life-"
     "What do you think? Chinese Polynesian?"
     She looked a little timid, "I'm curious, but if like, I don't like the place when we see it would you hate me if I like faked a migraine or something and had to leave?"
     I shook my head.
     She nodded, "Okay- let's try that."
     We almost missed the place. Outside it was a big old Tudor with beige stucco between light colored (Oak?) wooden beams. There was a large parking lot beside it (On a street that looked like it was 90% residential?) and a palm tree in the neon sign.
      We saw an oriental gentleman in a business suit come out of the restaurant as we parked and she said, "I don't know- we might be under dressed?"
     But then a couple rather large guys in Hawaiian shirts came out and she grinned, "Cool-"
     We entered, there was a fake palm tree in a room painted dark red and I think we both shuddered, but a Polynesian woman dressed in blue and yellow and brown silk smiled at us like we saved her from an afternoon of boredom and asked "Two? are you here for the special?" and we shrugged and nodded.
     "How did you hear of this place?" I couldn't figure out whether her native language was French or Chinese or Japanese or some combination of one of those and something native to Polynesia?
     "Oh- A man named Ryan in a garage a couple blocks from here-"
     Our hostess turned around, "Ryan the mechanic? He is my brother in law, You are his friends?"
      I blushed, "We just met him and we were talking about being hungry..."
      "He is such an interesting story, my sister? She has all the brains in the family? But she has no idea what to do when her automobile won't start? She had trouble on her way to a conference down south and had to call triple A? Ryan came out with a ... I think you call it a Wrecker? She never particularly cared for white guys, but he took one look at her, took his hat off and like crushed it in his hands and said, "Excuse me ma'am, but you've got to be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen-" and she lost her heart on the spot- he got her going and she got to her conference and on the way back she found the business card he gave her and called him and said she owed him dinner for getting her there? And she got a bonus for a very good presentation? He tried very hard to pay for his own dinner, but then she said, 'okay, you can pay, but if you do, you'll insult me and I'll never be able to tell you I'm falling in love with you.' Poor man, his family thinks he lost his soul for marrying someone not his race."
     I think both Angela and I felt the pain when she said that.
     "But he has gained a big happy Polynesian family and he is teaching my brothers how to be mechanics and now it costs us almost nothing to fix our own cars and everybody loves him-"
     I don't know, must have been something like Angela shaking my emotions clean or something, I had tears in my eyes imagining the poor guy, who lost his family for love finding himself in a big happy family where everybody loved him-
     The hostess looked at me and, "Oh dear, you are not a typical American, are you?" she snatched a napkin from a nearby table and wiped my tears, strained on her toes and kissed my cheeks, noticed tears in Angela's eyes and wiped her eyes and kissed her cheeks, "Oh my, I think our American family has just gotten bigger."
      I pulled the chair out for Angela and the hostess hurried away, like she was about to cry.
     "If she's into emotional blackmail, we've been suckered, you couldn't drag me out of this place now-" Angela looked around, "We have a thing for jungle dining, don't we?"
     I looked around, we were in a sun room, a large addition on the side or back of the restaurant, made of glass or plastic- with rounded edges and a fairly steep roof meeting the side of the building, way up. Up there large sections of the wall had been opened and balconies added. But the most striking thing about this section were the trees and shrubs, all of them looked exotic- all of them looked real- lots of them.
     We weren't finished gawking when the hostess was back with half a dozen family members, couple large heavy older brothers, a thin, big eyed younger brother, two thin, dark haired, dark eyed younger sisters and a mother or grandmother who looked at us and her mouth fell open. Mom or grandmother, bowed and backed away and ran. The rest of them looked at her retreating shadow like something very strange had happened and then they looked at me like maybe they couldn't trust me-
     Mom, or Grandma, came back with two fruit dishes, bowed and said something I can't even come close to trying to remember or reproduce phonetically. The hostess listened carefully, blinked, raised her eyebrows, looked at me, "You prayed for the soul of a lost child in a Viet Namese restaurant? Maybe two years ago?"
     I felt like a marionette who's strings had been cut, fell back into the chair, nodded, "I had an intense headache all of a sudden and felt awful, when I got home I closed my eyes and tried to get rid of the head ache and I saw myself back in the restaurant and there was a lost and scared - spirit of a child there? I did some yoga and meditated and asked for someone to help the child- and later dreamed that I was somewhere, in a garden behind a building in a city and I saw a light in the sky and realized it was a helicopter and then white light flashed, and then I saw a lot of children who were trying to get me to go into something that I thought was a flying saucer and I was afraid?"
     The hostess translated, Mom nodded, mega tears in her eyes, nodded and said something. 
      The hostess grinned and frowned like some of the words were difficult to translate, "The child spirit gave you that dream after your spirit friends saved her and brought her to the better place. Many times spirits had tried to rescue her and you succeeded. My Grandmother thinks you are a blessing from the great ones and the fruit is an offering to you and to them, she would like to give it a blessing if you don't mind?"
     More tears, I nodded, couldn't speak. Grandmother loved the sight of my tears. Her blessing was obviously heart felt. She hugged me, she hugged Angela. She wouldn't hear of allowing us to pay for anything we ate there.
     And Ryan wasn't kidding. The food was so good it might have been illegal in some states.
     We didn't get out of there without hugging everybody at least five times each and it was getting dark-
      "Oh, no- We're going to have to just blast out of here, fly to Connecticut, grab as much gunk as we can and fly back, damn-"
      Angela shut me up when she walked up to me, threw her arms around me and hugged me like she was offering her love to some kind of god or something, "I knew you were wonderful, but I didn't know you were a messenger from the gods..." she giggled.
     While I hugged her back I looked up and saw half a dozen beaming Polynesian faces smiling at us.
     We waved. They waved, we waved some more.

     It felt like I blinked and we were flying down the highway, Angela had taken off her shoes and socks and had her feet in front of her against the dashboard. She was leaning forward with her head sideways against her knees, smiling at me, "Are you like, an angel here to save me or something?"
      Somehow, I managed not to lose control of the car, but I did gasp, "Me? Nobody's accused me of being an angel- ever."
     She smiled, "Just a knight in shining armour then?"
     I shrugged, blushed.
     "That restaurant was magical, wasn't it?"
     I glanced sideways, "Everything that has happened since I got to this silly city has been magical."
     She made a kind of sour face, "Even me?"
     "Especially you!" 
     She looked like she doubted that, "Even if I am a basket case?"
     "You are not a basket case."
     "I'm afraid of everything. I have horrific nightmares. I see myself killing people, chopping them up into pieces and eating them raw- it's awful."
     I shuddered, "You mean you used to have nightmares?"
     She shrugged, "I don't know. I haven't slept at night in months, just in the day time. I'm afraid to sleep nights."
     I shuddered. "Are you taking pills to stay awake?"
     "No- fear is enough to do it."
     "That's awful."
     "I know- I told you I was nuts."
     "You are not."
     She shrugged, "I'm surprised I feel so good now, we're outside, it's dark- you must have a protective aura or something."
     I shrugged.

     It was ten o'clock P.M. when  I pulled into the driveway of my 'old home', drove around back and up to the door of the afterthought apartment we'd built onto the house when my father was still alive. I turned the engine off and turned to smile at her.
     She looked scared.
     I found the remote thing I'd made sure I brought with me and aimed it, clicked, turned on the lights behind the house.
     She looked around, I could see her shaking.
     "You okay?"
     She shook her head.
     "What is it?"
     She shrugged, "I had to start thinking- I think I'm bringing something back on myself." frightened tears were streaming down her face.
     "Is it bad?"
      She swallowed and nodded.
     I nodded, started the engine up, "I've got an idea-"
      "What?" she looked suddenly terrified, "Where are you taking me?"
     "To a very psychic friend of mine. The guy's Swedish. His name is Yorgen, and he probably knows we're on our way-"
     I nodded, "Weird, huh? Who'd ever think of a Swedish Yogi."
     "I thought you said he was a psychic-"
     I nodded.
     "But then you said he was a Yogi, didn't you? Am I losing my mind?"
     "You are not losing your mind. He's both. and he only lives about five minutes from here."
     "What's he going to do to me?"
     "Nothing- He's going to look at you and smile and tell you there's absolutely nothing wrong with you and you don't have to work yourself into an anxiety attack over nothing, ever again."
      "Did he do that for you?"
     "More or less- he made me work at it. Made me learn to meditate. Now I love it."
     She nodded, "I'm afraid of that."
     "Afraid to meditate?"
     She nodded, "I'm afraid something's going to take me over."
     I almost laughed, "Just the opposite- It makes it much much harder for anything to take you over."
    "You're sure?"
     I nodded.
     I nodded, "Yes."
     "How can you be so sure?"
     "Because Yorgen told me so and he knows what he's talking about?" I turned onto his street.
     "If I take one look at Yorgen and I'm afraid of him, can we leave?"
     "Of course."
     "But if I am afraid of him? Does that mean I'm possessed or anything?"
     "I doubt it."  We reached the wide circle at the dead end and I turned into the log drive way that squeezed itself between two thick hedges. 
     I always felt waves of relaxation at this point, I turned to her and she sighed and sat back, "Wow- There's something here, I can feel it- it's good."
     I nodded.
     We emerged from between the hedges and turned onto the little loop that ran in a circle in front of his door. The bluish porch light was on and his front door opened as we approached.
     Yorgen was about five foot ten, about as medium a medium build as you can imagine and had very short greying hair. He almost had a fog of subtle blue light in front of his eyes. He waved, nodded. I turned off the car's engine.
     He squatted beside Angela on that side of the car as I turned the key back on far enough to open the electric window beside her.
     "Ahh" he said, with his accent, "You have gotten rid of that car with the dangerous wiring and you have met your future wife."
     Angela looked like she wanted to kiss him for that.
     "Yorgen, this is Angela."
     "Pleased to meet you- Won't you come in, I have just bought some orange and licorice tea, just for you, come in."
     She looked at me with a child like, "Can we?" in her eyes.
     I nodded, she grinned. She opened her door,(Yorgen took a step back to avoid being clobbered) and then she tried to climb out before she undid her seat belt.
    "It helps if you first undo your seat belt."
     She giggled and undid the seat belt, then she stepped out and threw her arms around him. He looked a little uncomfortable but hugged her back.
    She stepped back and gave him an almost guilty look, "You're not a hugger?"
    He grinned from ear to ear, "I would be if you lived closer-" come on in, I told my wife to get dressed, we are having Jack and his girl friend for company.
     "Oh god, your poor wife- it's after ten p.m. isn't it?"
     "Believe me- she understands. She had a problem worse than yours several years ago and wanted to marry me the moment she laid eyes on me. It took her five years to wear me down. I do not regret it one bit."
    Yorgen reached behind Angela's back (kind of over her shoulder) and shook my hand after I walked around to where the both of them were still sort of embracing.
     "You do not have much time, do you my friend?" Yorgen asked me as Angela realized I was there and let go of him, reached around behind me and we started up the front steps with her between us two guys.
     I swallowed, "I have a new job- and thought we could blast down here, gather up a few things and blast back- we stopped at a Polynesian restaurant and they made a big fuss over us-"
     "They did- the grandmother will some day ask you for help with another lost one. You will probably not need my help by that time. She has made it her business to find lost children and pray for them. She doubts her own goodness and therefore doubts her abilities to convince the lost ones that they should do what she tells them they can do to find their way- She is thanking God right now that He sent you to her."
      I was feeling the strangely beautiful feeling I usually get when I'm near Yorgen. like a warm sugar water coating dripping around me (sometimes with a cool, fresh air tingle added) even if the thought of the Polynesian Grandmother being obsessed with finding lost souls felt kind of heavy for a second.
     Yorgen continued his thought, "When she was younger, she was heavier, as is the custom where she comes from, she fell asleep with a baby in her arms, rolled over and the baby suffocated. She feels she has made a pact with God to make up for this by finding lost souls and helping them along. Especially children. She does not keep her mind on this every day, she does have plenty of happy distractions in her life-"
     Angela whispered, "And you can feel this? from here?"
     He smiled at her, "I can see it, all around you- you carry this with you and I can see it."
     "Wow, are you a professional psychic, I mean do you do this for a living?"
     "No I don't, actually, it is against my religious beliefs to charge money for any of this. Jack sometimes makes donations to my mother church when he feels he can afford it and is not busy rescuing beautiful young artists from anxiety attacks."
     The door opened as he reached for the door knob and Angela started shaking.
     Yorgen ran his hand down her back and the shaking stopped. His wife, Colleen, stood there (in flannel pajamas and a thick white cotton robe).
     Angela sighed, "Wooo- I thought he opened the door using psychic powers and it almost scared me."
     Colleen took a kind of quick, deep look at Angela and smiled, "I thought you were supposed to have blue green hair or something..."
     "Colleen, this is Angela."
     "It's a wig- my real hair is blue on one side and green on the other."
     Colleen stifled a laugh into her hand, "Pardon me for asking, but why?"
     Angela giggled, "I don't know." she squeaked and felt like she was about to collapse into tears.
     "Oh dear-" Colleen threw her arms around Angela and plucked her away from us, "You come with me-"
     I looked at Yorgen.
     Yorgen shrugged, nodded. 
     Angela smiled at us over Colleen's arm and waved happily.  A pair of happy looking kids in pajamas popped around the corner and joined the two women as a moving group hug that turned a corner and disappeared.
     Yorgen closed the door (we were still outside- it was kind of chilly- early spring-) "We have been expecting this one for a couple weeks now."
     I felt like he was about to tell me something I didn't want to hear, "If Angela agrees, I'd like for her to stay here with us for a week or two."
     "Is it that bad?"
     He shrugged. "Not real bad. And it is none of her doing. Because she is Jewish, someone has put a curse on her. Someone who wants all Jews to suffer because an Israeli soldier shot her nephew in a west bank settlement."
     "Can I go reason with this woman?"
     "No- I have already tried."
     I started shaking, "The woman lives in Boston?"
     I was shaking out of control.
     Yorgen touched my shoulder, most of the shaking went away as one quick warm feeling washed through me. 
     I started shaking again, "Am I in any danger?"
     "Not at the moment."
     Major shaking, trembling, I could hardly stand there.
     "If I was you, I would be doing at least half an hour of those exercises I showed you and half an hour of the meditation you learned, every day- Never drive anywhere without doing those exercises and meditation first. Tonight, if she stays here, you go to your home and get those things that you feel you can't live without and get back to Boston. Exercise and meditate in your apartment, not hers. Your apartment has a very good feel to it."
     "I felt like somebody blessed it."
     "You are right-"
     I trembled anyway. 
     "Come inside,  the water is surely hot by now-"
     I nodded.
     We found Colleen and Angela drinking tea and laughing in the kitchen. Colleen's feet were up on the wooden chair next to her- Angela had her wig in her hands and a cup of steaming tea in front of her, "She likes it-" Angela laughed apologetically, blushed at Yorgen, "I'm sorry- I didn't mean to start anything?"
     Yorgen smiled. 
     Colleen blushed. 
     Angela suddenly looked very serious, "Oh, honey, they want me to stay with them for a week or two, I said yes."
     I probably blushed, nodded.
     "He told you?"
     I nodded.
      "Did he tell you why?"
      I hoped the color did not drain from my face.
      "We used to be sisters- in the same family and stuff, wow- I love your friends-"
     Colleen looked at me with an expression that was very much like, 'If you tell her the truth it will kill her and then I'll kill you.' then she winked.
     I had some raspberry, cranberry, -something tea and their kids popped in a couple more times and had to be carried back to bed and tucked in twice. Then we all went into their little meditation chapel and we had a ceremony where we were chanting something for a few minutes, did some breathing exercises, did a couple tension and relaxation things and then meditated for quite a while. I zipped over to my house, grabbed a fraction of the things I thought I'd be bringing back with me, stopped back at Yorgen's to give Angela a kiss on the forehead (she was wearing one of Colleen's older (larger) flannel night gowns, looking like a kid at a sleep over) I handed her a pile of money and she blushed and stuffed in into a pocket in the night gown and kissed me on the cheek and Yorgen walked me back to my car and I was halfway to Boston before I even thought about what I was doing.
     I was shaking again as I carried an armload of stuff into the apartment I hadn't seen much of since I decided to 'rent' it and I went upstairs long enough to feed the cats, and kidnap Nutcase and a bowl and some cat food and turned her loose in my apartment, spread a blanket on the floor and guessed East was that way and dove into my exercises. No phone, no alarm clock? I sat down to meditate and when I opened my eyes it was light out. I stood up and said a prayer, looked at the recliner, shook the blankets out, made myself a cocoon and sat down, I drifted into peace and comfort and kind of ran leaping and hopping into some happy dreams that I can remember nothing of.
     Nutcase jumped up on me. I jumped, looked at my watch and jumped again. 
     First things first, I fed the cat and gave her some clean water, panicked when I realized I hadn't brought down a cat box- Yawned, went out to the car, got the clothes basket full of clean fluffy towels, clean underwear and stuff, and went up to Angela's, got the cat box from the studio (the one the cats never used) and brought it down.
     Nutcase looked at the cat box like, "Why did you ever bring me that one?" then followed it and me to the  closet beside the back door, I opened the closet door, there was already newspaper on the floor. I set the cat box down and Nutcase sniffed it, climbed in and gave me a 'what are you lookin at?' look while she used it for the first time, "Meow?" she asked.
     I got the impression she was asking me if it was my turn to make some kind of deposit in the cat box.
     "Meow-" I answered.
     She looked like, "I understand" and buried her deposit and ran back to the food. I made sure I left the closet door open.
     I felt pretty good. I did some yoga (isometrics kind of stuff with some extra internal concentration and visualization added), did some breathing exercises (thinking it might be weird to do breathing exercises in the middle of the room with no windows open, but it felt good anyway.) and I sat down on the blanket and did some meditation.  Then I took a long warm shower, dressed for 'work' and went down into the restaurant.
     Randy was there, also in uniform, "Angela's awful quiet today."
     "She's in Connecticut, visiting with somebody she thinks was her sister in a previous life."
     Randy grinned, "You're going to have to teach me that trick some day."
     "The one where you introduce your girl friend to a new friend and get rid of the old girlfriend for a weekend." he laughed, "Hows the car running?"
     "Great- Ryan, the mechanic there? popped a couple screws between the clamps and the battery posts and thinks I should get an extra million miles out of it."
     Randy frowned, "Ryan?"
     "Has a Southern accent?"
     "Oh, that Ryan, I only knew him as the guy with the cute Polynesian wife-"
     I nodded, "Marrying her cost him his family."
     "Previous wife and kids?"
      I shook my head, then shrugged, "Don't think so- I think his mother, father, and maybe sisters or brothers wrote him off as a traitor to the white race."
     Randy almost snorted, scowled, "Wait till you see her- she's worth it."
     "Met her sister- maybe half a dozen sisters and brothers and a grandmother."
     He looked like it couldn't be possible that I knew something that he didn't- "Oh- the gang at the restaurant? They're his in laws- wow- I never put that together. Old lady's a strange one."
     "Old lady's on a campaign to round up lost souls and help them find their way to the other side."
    He raised his eyebrows, "I knew that- how did you find out?"
    "She thinks I'm part of her team."
    He looked perplexed.
     "She took one look at me and knew that I'd flipped out in a Viet Namese Restaurant, went home, realized there was a ghost there, prayed for the kid and somebody heard the prayer and the kid's fine."
     He looked at me with his best skeptical grin, "And-"
     "Wouldn't let me pay for anything we ate, and they tried to feed us until we exploded."
     He grinned, "So Angela exploded and she's recouperating in Connecticut with your friends?"
     I laughed, "Close enough-"
     Our food arrived, the nervous waitress trembled, "Was one of you guys a vegetarian?"
     Randy pointed at me, "If he wasn't he will be, He's the guy who's falling in love with Angela."
     She looked at me like she hoped it wasn't contagious, "Okay- this is the vegetarian chili- and this is the high test-" she grinned at Randy, lingered just a bit too long and then recovered, blushed and ran away.
     He watched her scoot.
     "Uht oh-"
     "Uht-oh is right- she's new. She's looking for a place to stay. Cheryl was showing her the vacant apartment up on my floor. She doesn't have any furniture. I gave her a couch. That's all she has in the world right now. A couch and a couple blankets and the clothes she walked in with."
     "And the heart she walked off with?"
     Randy sighed and scowled at me, "Just how psychic are you?"
     I shrugged, "It comes and goes."
     He nodded, "Cycles- everything happens in cycles. Okay, you follow me to work tonight. I'll stick around for a couple hours... Boss' son in law is so happy he doesn't have to work tonight- he left town before showing you anything- I'm elected."
     "So then you sneak home early and ask whatsername if she wouldn't rather spend the night in a real bed?"
     "With a real guy?" he sighed again, "think that might actually work?"
      I shrugged.
      A couple minutes later, the new waitress came back, fumbled for the check, trembled as she wrote on it, "Anything else?"
      "Um," I blurted, "I think my friend here wants a waitress to go?"
      She gasped, looked at me, blinked, looked at him, "You're kidding?"
      "I am, but I think he's been pretty deeply smitten-" I struggled not to laugh.
      Her mouth fell open, she almost dropped the book with the receipts- "Really?" she ran a self conscious hand toward her hair.
      "Have you been introduced?"
     "Oh- uhm, Cheryl told me his name was-"
     "Randy-" he smiled at her.
     She nodded, swallowed, "Randy-" she nodded, swallowed again, "My name is Kristin-"
     "Spelled like you have it on your little badge?" I asked.
      She lost all the color in her face, looked down, nodded, "You must think I'm a real idiot, don't you?"
     Both of us chorused, "No-"
     She didn't even hear me- beamed at him, "You really, um, interested?"
     Randy looked guilty, nodded.
     "I suggested he ask you if you wanted to sleep in a real bed tonight, with him-"
      "On our first date?" she swallowed, shrugged, "Sure-"
     "Oh now that was uncalled for, 'Sure'? you mean you like the idea?" Randy's eyes started sparkling, "Really?"
     She nodded, "I'm well, I'm probably stupid to jump into something so soon- but, like, I'm fresh out of an abusive relationship and I swore never to go anywhere near another man- but- well, did you ever look at someone and know- 'Wow, this is it?'"
     Randy winced, closed his eyes, nodded, "The last time was a total disaster-"
     She looked scared, "Really-?" Fear or sadness began creeping around the brightly smiling edges of her face.
     I looked at him, looked at her, looked at him, "Yeah, but I bet that one didn't hit you half as hard as Kristin."
      He looked at me, blinked, "Ya got that right-"
     "Um," I put ten bucks on the table, "I'll wait for you out back-"
     Randy picked up the ten and stuffed it in my shirt pocket, "This one's on me-"
     I paused at the door to turn back and they were still staring at each other like neither one had ever seen another human being before and didn't know what to make of it.

     It actually took Randy less time than I thought it would before he came bounding out the back door and bouncing up into his truck. I started up and backed up, gave him the extra room he needed to back up and turn toward the gate. 
     He paused, signalled to me. Come here.
     I climbed out of my car and walked over to him. 
     "Turn around-" he seemed serious.
     I did, "What'd I do, sit in something?"
     He laughed, "I just wanted to see if those cupids wings of yours showed up in normal light. Hey- I wanted to kill you in there. Did you like, see it in her eyes or something?"
     "I was so busy feeling nervous I didn't even notice-"
     "She's as nervous as you are, and you don't show it half as visibly as she does."
     "Heh- So yeah- I'll get you set up and come back and pick her up- we've got a freakin date, I don't believe it."
      "Believe it."
      "What are you, the 'misery likes company' poster boy?"
     I shrugged. 
     "Get in your car and try to keep up. I might forget myself, damn, haven't felt like this since high school. Gad, I'm in love again?" he made a face and shook his head, then shrugged and grinned from ear to ear, "Thank you, buddy-"
     I nodded, grinned and ran back to my car. 
     He was hard to keep up with. He could roll right over pot holes I had to drive around.

End Of Part Five -- Part Six Coming Soon

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