Icarus Transfigured by m. l. teague (page 56)

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Chapter Twenty-three

Dear Grasshopper,

Life for the observant is a talking cure with no true disease to treat. When we say words have therapeutic if not always actionable value, we own a part of our understanding that language grazes but never grasps. Yet between our rocks and hard places, between our pitched encampments and the spine of night, we divine our way through life without ever being able to account for our compass, or our faith in compasses, and resultantly share more than know the world in words. ~Omar

         The Bug Collector

Omar was camped-out by Aloysius’ backdoor when his friend rounded the corner. He grinned to see the wrinkled clothes, and with a special radar. “Looks like someone got lucky last night.”

The resident rolled his eyes.

The broad swath-of-a-man followed the resident inside, not noticing the state of disarray in the house from the previous day’s upheaval. He sat in a chair at the kitchen table while Aloysius, rattling off his laundry list of latest horrors, brushed his teeth at the sink. The lawyer’s expression throughout the recitation was low-key, although, on hearing the part about the sleeping pills being tampered with, ventured a half-solution. “Throw them away. I can get you new pills.”

The paltry nature of his counsel surprised the client. “You said this was all part of a TV show? Right?”

“I’m working the problem.”

Working the problem? What is the problem?

The friend stood in a piece of redirection. “I hope we’re safe to drink coffee in this town.”

“Why aren’t you telling me what you know, Ommie?”

Omar had that look. A look that told his friend he was on a need-to-know basis.

“If nothing else, I can introduce you to Emma while you’re here.”

The lawyer chafed. “I’m never eager to meet any woman who will be your undoing.”

Aloysius frowned. “You will be nice to her?”

Omar thought to balk, but looked to the door. “Let’s meet this wretched woman.”

The resident, gladdened by the prospect of spending the day with his friend, gamboled upstairs for a change of clothes.

Scene: Despite their differences in temperament, Omar and Aloysius were natural allies. Their instinct and swagger as outsiders made them ill suited for academia, ill groomed for culture, but praiseworthy of each other. Their friendship was as steadfast as it was agreeably asymmetrical: Omar was the Sun; and Aloysius, the lesser planet. While the Philosopher King was in his heaven, all was right with the world.

Both men were obstinately idealistic, and compelled to act on principles that handicapped them. This compunction to truth made them indifferent to de rigueur mores. They did not glad-hand or suffer fools kindly, and it was as much out of shared alienation as out of a shared mountaintop that Aloysius clung to Omar as his beacon.

Scene: The car ride to the coffee shop was also eventful. The lawyer picked up Aloysius’ journal from the dashboard and thumbed through some of his old letters. He was about to replace it when he spotted a scrap of paper. “What’s this?”

“Amber’s phone number. Your prostitute friend.”

“Who are you talking about?”

“Amber Monet. The call girl you sent to my room the other night when I came to visit.”

Omar laughed. “Why would I send a hooker to your room?”

The friend scrambled. “She was in your apartment. You said you sent her by to help me fall asleep.”

“You saw the building maid. I sent her to your room with a sleeping pill. You flipped out, remember?”

“A woman in a maid outfit came by my room and talked to me!” exclaimed the driver. “We even talked about you!”

“Did you have sex with her?”

“She implied we had.”

“Then you dreamt it. You can’t even get laid in your dreams.”

Aloysius was chalk.

“And she said her name was Amber Monet?”

“Yes.”

“Like the porno actress?”

“What porno actress?”

“Amber Monet was a porn star in LA back in the Seventies,” Omar explained, shaking his head. “My maid friend told me you had a copy of Invasion of the Bodily Snatch in your room.”

“So?”

“That’s an Amber Monet film. Sort of a Bride of Frankenstein flick about a dead woman brought back to life by a college professor.”

“That sounds like Daedalus Monet!” gasped the friend.

The lawyer spun it. “Daedalus Monet, Amber Monet—it’s more evidence you’re being dicked with by these TV people, Ally. You and your wee willie are going to be a mid-season replacement for some crappy sitcom on Fox.”

Aloysius quibbled. “But how do you know your ‘maid friend’ isn’t in on it, too? You said you barely knew this woman when you first spoke of her. How do you know this isn’t the same woman who came by my room after she left you?”

“Because,” grumbled Omar, “after she finished polishing my bedpost, she polished my bedpost. She was with me all night.”

The friend slumped. “Is this Amber Monet still alive?”

“She was killed in a plane crash in the late Seventies.”

The friend slumped further.

The attorney did his big brother number. “I said I was taking care of this, asshole—and I am.”

Scene: The anti-dairy protesters from the previous day were still out in force when the pair pulled up at the coffeehouse; the sight of them suggested another topic of discussion.

With chest distended, the misanthrope huffed, “Adolph Hitler killed six million Jews and made lampshades out of them. Was he a better person because he was a vegetarian?”

The bon mot required no reply. Omar’s temerity might give offense, although his hubris was as much for theatrical flourish as a display of conviction.

Having set the stage, the two stepped around the protesters to enter the premises.

Chapter Twenty-three, Section Two/ Back/ Contents Page