Janice's quick exit left the three men standing there in a daze. Well at least Manny and Fred were a bit dazed, John really didn't seem to notice, in fact he was apparently still talking to her, "virus represents ... the struggle of man ... computers are after all machines ..."
Manny and Fred glanced at each other in some puzzlement, Fred shrugged and turned back to his office, suddenly wanting some privacy to consider recent events, and especially to ponder the things Janice had said and see what use he could make of it.
Manny watching Fred retreat to his office was also happy for a bit of privacy, John it seemed was in a world of his own and unlikely to notice much, so Manny set himself to retrieving all of the ill fated papers he had been working on and made a small ceremony of destroying them.
First he got a small trash can from the kitchen and placed it in easy reach then he crumpled the first sheet of the flow chart and tossed it in, reaching for the next sheet he looked down and realized that leaving crumpled sheets in the trash was not the way to put an end to this silly incident, and besides, what if somebody was curious and pulled them out to read?
Manny leaned over and retrieved the crumpled paper and carefully smoothed it out again and placed it back on top of the stack. Now what?
Again he picked up the first sheet, this time he tore it in half, stacked the halves and tore again. This was better!
Each paper in turn was torn, and with each tear Manny felt a curious sense of satisfaction, something about the finality of things ... and something about new beginnings too, but the exact meaning of it all eluded him and he mostly just enjoyed the ripping, stacking, ripping ...
"Hi there. You in town?"
"Well in that case kind sir, mind if a pair of nice girls come over for a swim?"
"Who's that, you and Frankie?"
"Sure, come over, I just had the pool cleaned."
"Oh, did you let the boy go?"
"Terribly sorry, I didn't know you would be calling. Besides, it's a girl."
"You have a girl that's cleaning your pool? You are a very sick man, you know?"
"What am I to do, she's a coed, needs a job desperately."
"Not like I make her wear very short cutoffs or anything."
"I'm sure you aren't. It's the weather, right?"
"So what time?"
"Say after eight? Give me a chance to get there."
"Say, want me to send the car?"
"Now that would be nice. Pick us up at my place."
"Talk to you later then."
Ralph had awakened that morning to an empty bed, not unusual for Ralph but somehow this morning he had rather expected to find Peggy there beside him. He lay there a long time thinking carefully over the events of the previous day, trying to understand, why had she left? Apparently sometime in the night, after he had fallen asleep she had left, why?
No answers came to him, as usual Ralph found the actions of women were a complete mystery. Finally he stirred, time to get his day started, it was after all Saturday and there was shopping to be done.
In the kitchen getting his usual bowl of cereal with whole milk and lots of sugar Ralph was reminded of his determination to sort out his life, that project had started so well with all the cleaning. The kitchen even still showed some evidence of his efforts, for the first time in years there was actually space to sit and eat at his kitchen table. Looking about at the progress he had made Ralph was moved to continue the effort. But of course this was shopping day, Saturdays spent clipping coupons, making lists and shopping had for years been the main point of order in his life, surely that should not be changed?
By the time Ralph had finished consuming the bowl of cereal he was no longer sure just what it meant to have some order in his life. Instead of starting his Saturday shopping day in the usual way, looking through the week's papers for coupons and noting what was on sale where, he began by actually checking his fridge and cupboards to see what was needed.
In the fridge he noted that only 2 sodas remained and was about to write "soda" on his list when he recalled finding at least a case in the garage. He probably bought that case sometime in the past, on sale somewhere, and put it there when he didn't have room in the house, but he had no idea when that might have been.
In fact most of the checking for needed items went like that, he recalled at every turn that he had found bags of chips in the living room and cans of tuna on the back porch and...
In the end his list included only milk and bread, things he could easily get at the corner store, there really was no need for the usual shopping expedition.
Today he would instead continue with his plan to clean up and order his life a bit, and perhaps call Peggy later to see if she was interested in another movie or something.
"I told you so."
"Well yes, but you couldn't have told me the how."
"So you had to go find out?"
"Wait until you hear the story."
"So let's hear."
"I thought we were going for a swim."
"Well then if you don't mind I'll tell the story there, it gets on my nerves to tell the same story twice in half an hour."
"Ah, ok then. Got your bathing suit?"
"Your bathing suit." Janice was glaring, speaking with pauses, long pauses between each word. "Do you have a bathing suit?"
"Don't you come with one built in?"
"Oh stop being impossible. You have five minutes to pick something or else I'll make you wear a pink one."
"You have a pink bathing suit?"
"How the hell did you get that?"
"It was a present."
"Excellent. Bring it over then."
"Bring it over."
Janice started shuffling the bathing suit drawer (she had a bathing suit drawer) and eventually produced a one piece baby pink swimsuit.
"Wonderful" said Frankie in a very pretentious tone, "it even has pleats. This shall do perfectly, my dear." Janice was laughing so hard her eyes were teary.
"Oh look, the car is here." Indeed a white limousine was making the curve, slowly, carefully, the way a whale going up a river would maneuver.
"Alright, let's go."
"Listen, to swim in a swimsuit you must put the thing on first! Holding it in your hand does not count."
"Eh, we'll change in the car." Frankie was already in the hallway dangling her new pink purse.
"You know, it is so obvious you have never ever used underwear in your entire life... nobody holds that thing from the crotch."
"So I have an innovative grip."
"Good evening ladies." The driver was opening the door so the ladies could get in.
"If it isn't Freddie." Janice smiled. "Where have you been hiding you old dog?"
"Well you know ma'am... little of this, little of that..."
"A lot of that?" Frankie held out her pink charms bag.
"Eh, shuddup." Janice pushed her in the car and got in herself, and Freddie closed the door delicately.
Frankie touched the button and while she was unbuttoning Freddie's neck and head were slowly eaten away, until there was only a thin line, even that quickly consumed.
"What, you turned shy all of a sudden?" Janice touched the button and began unbuttoning herself. As Freddie was being regurgitated slowly, at first just a line, then wider and wider to normal size she winked at him in the mirror and poor Freddie was all smiles.
"How do you even put this thing on?"
"Please tell me I don't have to potty train you, too."
"You don't have to potty train me, I'll happily go in the ashtray."
"If the happy proprietor of a white town car lights a cigar and finds Frankie poo in the ashtray you will probably end up having your rear end surgically welded shut."
"That'd cut out a lot of fun though."
The girls were comfortably sitting and casually chatting completely naked by a small pile of clothes.
"I think that guy's mirror is going to crack any minute now."
"Ya, his eyes are pressing it kinda hard, huh?"
"Alright, so wanna get dressed now?"
"What, get back dressed? How many times you think I can be bothered in the same day?"
"I meant in your pink swimsuit."
Janice was squinting.
"Alright, alright, here goes." Frankie put one leg in, then the other, stood backwards in the car with her ass practically resting on the thin wall meant to protect the poor driver and pulled her swimsuit up.
"Hmmm.... interesting cut. Is this a new topless concept?"
"You have it backwards for Christs' sake."
"What, they have sides?"
"Yes they have sides. Everything has sides. And you are getting on mine."
"Fine, be that way." Frankie got in the swimsuit with no further difficulty, and just in time. Not because the driver couldn't have taken anymore... well maybe because of that too, but mostly because they were there. Freddie stepped out and opened the door for them.
"Didn't come yet."
"Ya Freddie, see when she was a little girl her parents took a trip to central Africa, and lived in some rural settlement for a year or so. The village elder took good care of her, you could say. So she doesn't even know what it means."
"Eh shuddup, I'm sure he saw better."
"I'm sure he didn't look."
"Heh, it's not like you can cover a whole rear mirror you know? Not just yet anyway."
The girls went bickering and backbiting across the lawn and entered a living room, while Freddie quietly, slowly dissolved in the distance.
"Where oh where is the bar?"
"It must be down south, by the docks and all."
"Eh shuddup and find me the bar will you?"
"Maybe we should chant and it will magically appear."
"What would we chant?"
"Um... what would you like to drink?"
"Actually I would like a bottle... maybe vodka."
"In that case I want orange juice."
A few moments later a maid pushing a sort of cart, the like of those they use inside airplanes came in, there was a bottle of vodka, a bottle of yellowish stuff, glasses, ice, ice tongs, small paper umbrellas made somewhere in China, napkins...
"O, looky, a magic wand." Frankie quickly took solid grip of the ice tongs.
"Put that down!"
"Ha! I gots the magic wand, now you have to carry my supplies." Frankie started through the glass doors towards the pool, Janice sighed and picked up both bottles. "Fine. You get the glasses."
"No way, I don't need glasses, and even if I did I'd get contacts instead."
"You don't imagine I'll palm feed you?"
"Oh I'd never... Well now that you mention it..."
Frankie jumped in the water and made a couple of twirlies, the maid carried the ice bucket and rested it on the pool side.
"Oh it's nice and warm. Give here." Frankie put the ice thongs next to the bucket and got both bottles from Janice. "Let's see you jump."
"Ah come on, jump."
"Mmm..." Janice was acting like a kid that never saw a river in her life, during her first day of swim class.
"Jump! Jump! Jump!"
"But it's wet!"
"Which means it's ready. Now don't dally."
Janice took a few steps back and ran towards the pool, then when she was at the brink took a leap and flew a few feet in the air before collapsing sort of backwards in the water.
"Ooooouch" the bubbles coming to the surface carried the message of her sore butt.
In the meanwhile Frankie emptied the vodka bottle enough so it would now float in the pool.
"You need more practice."
"You need to be sent to a nunnery."
"That may well be so, but since they have not yet invented the nunnery that would need me sent there, I am relatively safe."
"Good Lord, what did you do with all the vodka?"
"I poured it in the orange juice."
"So what did you do with the orange juice then?"
"Both bottles were full."
"Ah well... age shrinks all..."
"Alright, I need to blink now, save me a spoonful please?"
"I am sure he has some more stashed away somewhere."
"And you are determined to find out?"
The girls carried on with their chatter and took turns at the bottles, which got more and more seaworthy as time went by.
Peggy woke to the sound of the phone, she was momentarily disoriented, not at all sure what time of day or night it was, or even exactly what day it was, a very odd feeling for her indeed. She fumbled for the phone on the table next to her bed, anything to quiet the annoying sound which was making an incredible echo in her aching head. Realizing that her head ached, she recalled the events of the previous day, or was it still today? Ouch, that phone call might be Ralph and she certainly was not ready to talk to him, she drew her hand back under the covers, reconsidering the instinctive response to answer the phone.
She lay there counting the rings, surely whoever it was would give up soon, all she wanted was some quiet so that she could retreat back into peaceful slumber.
By the time it finally stopped she was unfortunately wide awake and in need of both a trip to the bathroom and a large drink of water, some aspirin to go with that water might also be a good idea. Peggy reluctantly tossed the covers aside and rose, finding it necessary to stop and steady herself against the walls at least twice on her way to the bathroom. Ridiculous, one bottle of wine and she was practically a basket case, she would either need to get better at it or drop the idea of drinking altogether.
Much later, when the aspirin had dulled the pain in her head and some food had settled her stomach she sat down to consider the Ralph problem. It was not so much that she regretted the previous night with him, but that she certainly didn't care for a repeat performance. A man in her life occasionally would in general not be a bad thing, but Ralph was really way too much like her ex-husband for comfort. Were all men like that? Her rather limited experience provided no clues to this question, and come to think of it, many others too. She would need to find a way to make Ralph understand that she did value his friendship, but was simply not interested in any more of a relationship with him. The ringing phone uninterrupted her train of thought and she reached to answer it.
"Hi, Peggy, it's Ralph. I was wondering if you were busy tonight? There is a new movie opening that sounds interesting and maybe we could catch that after dinner at the steakhouse?" Ralph was speaking very quickly, not even taking time to breathe, it was clear he had been planning this little speech for some time and just wanted to hurry and get it all out.
Peggy considered for a moment before she answered, Ralph really was a bit thick, it would probably take more than a simple refusal to discourage him, but if she went too far then it would hurt his feelings and there was no need to be mean. Ralph had not really done anything wrong.
"Thank you for the invitation, Ralph but I am really rather busy. I expect we will be seeing each other at the club again soon enough." There, she hoped that would give him the idea, she wanted to restrict the relationship to friends at the club.
"Oh, ok, well then, hope to see you there soon." His voice fell at first, the disappointment obvious, but then rose on a note of hopefulness when he thought of seeing her at the club.
"Alright then, see you there. Bye."
"Oh, I can't believe this, sirens in my pool!"
"Hi mister, you happen to know the way to the Pacific?"
"I am not very sure, but if you don't mind I could help search for it."
"Aren't you a bit too dressy to go looking for the Pacific?"
"'Tis so, sadly. Give me a few minutes, I'll be right back then."
"Bring a bottle of vodka on your way."
The man nodded and left, and was soon back in a robe.
"Jesus that's a pink robe. How very gay!"
"It's not pink, it's beige."
"What?! Who taught you colors?"
"What am I to do, it came as a set with the bathroom towels. I got roses on the tiles in the bathroom, I need rosy towels. I'm stuck."
"You look really funny in it."
"Which is why I can't really wear it except with people I know well enough."
"You might get yourself another robe."
"Yes, but I'd have to actually kill a day to get a decent robe in a decent color. When I have a surplus day I might try it. But as it is... these people selling stuff are real idiots, there is no way they will sell you a green robe with rosy towels. I was on the phone for half an hour with some operator, she kept explaining how it's a set. What absurdity to only make same color sets. What if I want yellow pants and blue vests? Do I need to get sets and wear yellow vests and blue pants too? Bleah."
Janice looked at Frankie and an understanding emerged between the two. The man dumped his pinkish robe and slid in the water.
"What is this?" he was holding the strap of Frankie's swimsuit.
"I donno... she made me wear it! I didn't want to, but she made me!" She was looking at him like a kid forced to eat ricin oil.
"I meant the color."
"Good girl. You learn fast, you know?" the man was patting Frankie's head while Frankie was doing a sort of purr like noise.
"What did you do to the driver anyway, when I went in he was supporting a pole looking in the sun... when I came out he was unmoved."
"She made me do it! I didn't want to, but she made me!"
"Well... you know..." Frankie was blushy and looking down.
"Did you stain my car?" The man had a sudden falcony expression.
"No, no, she's just making things up." Janice had a very appeasing voice.
"No I ain't... you made me!"
"Awww, there there, now tell, what did she make you do?"
"Well we were in the car..."Frankie was almost crying "and then..."
"And then... she made me take off my clothes!"
"No!" the man had a shocked expression.
"And the underwear!"
"You had underwear?"
"And then..." Frankie managed in betwixt sobs "and then she made me sit there and ...and..."
"Awww there there."
"Yeah!" Frankie had the face of a long misunderstood kid the day he is finally done justice.
"So the guy is debating whether to go jack off?"
"Probably..." Frankie was laughing "he should, too, I have come to discover that all ills in this world arise from the fact men are not able to sit quietly in a room and masturbate."
"Hey, wanna jump?"
"No, I got my butt slapping for today, thank you."
"Ah come on, we'll hold you. You have to learn to jump eventually."
"No, but it might be fun."
"I don't know..."
The man and Frankie were holding hands, not the way you would normally, but closer, each holding the wrist of the other, and keeping both hands close together.
"Now come step here. Then we will lift you and then you jump and when in the air put your palms together and turn so you go in head first."
"But I might fall!"
"Well falling is the whole point of jumping, you know."
"What if I hurt myself?"
"You won't, just take care to jump sideways so you don't land on us."
Janice stepped on their arms and was sent flying into the air... then she remembered she is supposed to turn and go in head first... a bit too late, and she fell sorta sideways.
"Did that really hurt?"
"No, but unless I start early, you will ignore me when it starts to really hurt, and what will I do then?"
"Hehe... this time try to remember to go in head first, and put your hands before that, palms together."
She stepped on their arms and went flying again, higher this time, but she yanked her butt and was perfectly aligned head first and all, about a foot above water. As she reached the surface things weren't all that aligned anymore, and she splashed water all the way over the pool side.
"Well, one more, you almost got it that time."
"You will have me drowned!"
"Yup, it's our secret plan."
Third try sent Janice flying a good five feet, and the distance obviously helped, for she reached the water like an arrow and did a flip underwater to come out couple yards away, no splashing.
"See? You too learn fast."
"My turn now" Frankie was getting excited "and no feet tickling!"
"Mind reader, aren't you?" Janice was smiling with the calm, contagious smile of someone who just accomplished something and is proud and happy.
Fred sat there at the desk listening to the ripping noises. He briefly considered if he should go see what the exact cause of the sound was, but finally thought better of it. It seemed every time he ventured out of the office something was going on that made his head hurt.
He could also still hear John talking, no doubt going on about flow charts and viruses and programs. Fred shook his head, why oh why must it always be computers.
Fred hated computers, or more properly he hated the way people acted about them.
Last week, when he opened his electric bill he had nearly fainted. Electric bills came on those stupid cards, the ones with holes punched out all over, usually in just the spots where you needed to read. Fred was pretty sure that there local electric company was the last place on Earth still using that old method of printing bills, and it was more than annoying. The bill in question said 1012.00, or so it appeared between the holes. That was of course ridiculous, it surely should have said 101.20.
After catching his breath he had realized what must have happened and determined that he would make a trip down to the local electric company office and straighten it out. He looked at the enclosed return envelope for the office address and discovered it was only a post office box, next he looked in the phone book but instead of a regular listing all he could find were some entries in the front for important numbers, like police, ambulance, fire, gas company, etc. All those numbers listed in nice bold print, but no addresses, like no one would ever want to go there, only call. Finally he surrendered and, locating the number for billing problems, sat down to give them a call. He should have prepared better for that call, maybe a soda and sandwich, maybe even a newspaper and a change of underwear. First he had listened to telephone trees that never seemed to end, and also never seemed to have the options he was looking for. After not finding any selection for reporting problems with your bill he decided to try getting a report that told how much he owed, maybe it was after all only a problem with the printing and the punch holes.
To do that, the voice told him, he must indicate his customer number by using the buttons on his phone and then verify that he was really himself by inputting the last four digits of his social security number. His customer number was 14 digits long, it took Fred 3 tries to get it right, each time the annoying computer generated voice said:
"That is not a valid number, please try again."
In the end his account there matched what he had thought was on the bill and he was back to trying to find the means to report a billing problem. Apparently nobody ever had to report billing problems because there were no options on the menus that allowed for that and he took the final one that claimed it would put you through to a real human operator for further assistance.
The flat computer voice then reported that the operators were currently busy serving other customers that presumably didn't have any problems with their bills, either, and that his call would be taken when one of them was available, and thanked him for his patience, then started playing some old music, stuff he never liked the first time around. At this point Fred had leaned back in his chair, expecting to wait a few minutes, and composed exactly what he would say when he finally got to talk to a human being. After a few minutes the music stopped and Fred was ready to start talking, but it was not the operator, just a repeat of the original message, then an ad thing talking about how great the electric company service was, then back to the music.
It went on like that for more than an hour, music, message, ad, music, message, ad, music ....
Fred's mind had wandered away completely, day dreaming about tropical islands without telephones or electric companies by the time a real human voice came on the line and asked for his customer number. Startled it took him a few moments to recall what he was doing and why, then a few more moments to locate and repeat the number, then of course he must prove he was he with the last four digits of his oh so secret social security number.
At last the human voice said "How may we help you, Sir?"
By now Fred had recovered himself a bit and launched into his planned explanation of how impossible the current bill he was holding was, that he had never in all his years of living at the same place doing the same things ever had a bill of more than 110 dollars and how over a thousand was simply impossible and must be an error.
When he was done the voice on the other end began what was clearly a prepared speech, in fact Fred was pretty sure the operator was actually reading it from something, the pauses were all wrong. What he basically said was that all the billing was computer generated, and since computers don't make mistakes, there couldn't possibly be any error in the bill.
The conversation, such as it was, went on like that for a while, Fred carefully explaining and the operator reading things that were not really answers. Finally Fred asked to speak to the man's supervisor, and the man replied,
"Certainly Sir, I will have to put you on hold while I call him." With that the music resumed.
Another hour or so went by, Fred had drifted comfortably back to his tropical island, the one with no phones, no electric companies, and no ads. Again he was startled back to reality by a real human voice interrupting the seemingly endless stream of music, message, ad, music, message ....
"How may we help you, Sir?"
Once again Fred had to provide the long customer number and prove who he was before the problem could be discussed. The supervisor did not appear to be reading from a script and Fred was finally able to get his point across, the man agreed that there might indeed be a problem and assured him that it would be looked into, in the meantime Fred should pay the amount he thought it should be and a corrected bill, if this one was wrong, would be arriving in his mail in a few days. Fred really didn't believe it, but what was he to do? He thanked the man, hung up and made a mad dash for the bathroom.
Darkness chased the threesome out of the pool, not because they minded the dark, but because they didn't appreciate the cool that comes with it, especially not on naked, wet skin. They took residence in the living room that was separated from the pool by a sliding glass door, Janice and Frankie were sitting on a sofa, each wrapped in a large fluffy pinkish towel. Right across from their couch there was a chimney hosting a fire burning happily, as if it were made of cute flame puppies hopping and jumping and leaping every which way. The man was sitting in an armchair on the side, wearing his robe. In between them there was a small Louis XVIIth table with the remnants of the second bottle of vodka, the first bottle of orange juice, an oddly shaped bottle holding cognac in its XIIth year and a small wooden case of cigars.
"Aren't those illegal?"
"I'm sure they are."
"What if you get in trouble?"
"What, the pool girl might be a Customs agent undercover?"
"I suppose I shall have to peep under covers next time then."
"So you should."
"At any rate I am sure you will bail me out."
"Fail that, she can always crash a car in the jailhouse and you could be like Bonnie and Clyde."
"Who'd be Bonnie?"
"Obviously. So how's the club thing going?"
"You should ask the senseless bitch here." Frankie was in a very chuckly mood, and considering the vodka damages, that's completely understandable.
"You two been at it again?"
"No, I just met this very amusing fellow from drawl land... but he's a bit of a pinhead so I had to ask her to baby sit for me, as it were."
"Let me guess, he was crowding you."
"I was starting to worry his hand might imprint on a skirt or something. And then she asked him to take her out to lunch and went out wearing my short mink on top of a quarter ounce of lace and heels."
"Hehe, yea, red." Frankie was very much amused "And then we went out, guy wanted to take me to the steakhouse something! I suppose I should be thankful it wasn't Joe's diner."
"You should be thankful it wasn't Joe's all you can eat shrimp buffet."
"That too. So we sat down and I ordered the bisk."
"At the steakhouse?!"
"We didn't go there eventually" Frankie had a suave smile, "we went to Victor's instead. And people kept looking at my bisk as if it wasn't printed on the menu and they couldn't easily get their own... And Paulie was babbling most of the time so it didn't amount to much conversation really..."
"Was my mink fastened?"
"Ya, second clasp."
"They weren't staring at your bisk, dear."
"Course not, it's not brisk, it's voluptuous. Moving right along, I was getting bored and across from us there were two guys eating, a very strange pair, it was an odd time to think it a business meeting and they weren't exactly right for each other to think it anything else... sitting face to face, the one facing me started smiling and I think he winked a couple of times too. Naturally I was shyly surveying my bowl, after all it just wont be fittin' for a lady to behave thusly, or worse, to encourage such freshness, especially when escorted by such handsome a chevalier as Mr. Paulie what's his name."
"Ya, good point. What's his name?"
"Umm... Driscoll. So I was sitting there minding my own soup but the other guy just kept at it, and eventually his friend noticed, and this is where it gets interesting. He turned once, and as it happens Paulie had his head turned right then, he was calling the waiter for more wine, and then this fellow started shouting "You bitch!" but very interestingly he was talking to poor Paulie! And then he grabbed his salad bowl and dumped it on Paulie's head!
Janice was laughing, the man was laughing, Frankie was laughing, the fire was obviously having fun too, even the passing maid was smiling... a well spent evening.
"Imagine the poor fellow. He was mumbly and babbly all day, now some guy calls him a bitch in a restaurant and dumps salad on him. He was so red I thought I was getting more bisk. He was just sitting there red as a tomato, and apparently turned to glass, didn't move or anything, flakes of zucchini slowly sliding on the back of his neck and cheeks and so on. Eventually the other guys got thrown out, and a couple waiters kept shining him, cause by now he was not only very red, but shiny too from the salad oil..."
"So what did you do?"
"Well I wanted to get a cab and send him home... but he kept not wanting to... eventually I remembered we need to buy some liquor on the way back anyway, so we stopped at a store and while we were waiting in line to pay for the stuff there was a guy in the other line who kept fussing about wanting all his bottles arranged I don't know how in the bags, to which the clerk said something like "Oh, stop being so bitchy." Unfortunately this was 10 inches behind Paulie, so I suppose the poor fellow snapped."
"He grabbed a bottle and bashed the clerk's head in, luckily it was a nice solid bottle or else I think he would have killed the poor guy, but anyway I think he cracked his skull... and then there was blood everywhere of course, and everybody was screaming and Paulie had this devilish look on his face and was yelling "Who's the bitch now?" every half minute or so, and overturned half the shelves and threw bottles and whatever he got his hands on at people... Then the police showed up and of course they got showered with bottles and whatnot too, they had to taze the idiot."
"How did this get you arrested?"
"She got arrested?"
"Yea, what you think she'd miss an opportunity?"
"Well I wasn't going to let the guy fight the mob by himself was I? After all he was so far having all the fun."
"What, you hit people with bottles?"
"Na, I just abused the officers."
"You really have a fetish, you know?"
"So we rode in the van and Paulie was still going "who's the bitch now" every so often, I think he might be slightly affected."
"Great, you inseminated my hillbilly."
"I did what?"
"He's insane now, and it's all your fault."
"How is it my fault?"
"What made you get the bisk?"
"Anyway, how did you get out?"
"Well it's not like I had done anything wrong really... besides the police officers were fresh out of school I think... really young... so I made nice and nobody ever pressed charges."
"I'm surprised they didn't keep you overnight though."
"Yea, as I said, they were fresh out of school or something."
"So I suppose I shall have to visit the poor darling in jail now."
"You know, you should bow to my greatness, this way you shot about five rabbits at once. He's not out to pester you when you're busy, you get to prove your eternal everlasting friendship and good qualities, and I'm pretty sure he will need an ambassador to the old man."
Janice dropped her towel and bowed a few times to Frankie's greatness, touching the sofa with her forehead and all.
"Ya I suppose it works out great... did you manage to salvage the drinks?"
"Ya, in the commotion they never noticed we didn't pay, so I just carried the bags to the car while the police were dragging Paulie to theirs."
"All in all not a bad trade."
"Well since you were such a darling, I will share a bit I discovered earlier that I was going to keep for myself."
"Ya, whatever were you doing at the club? And why did you tell me you were busy?"
"Well I was, but I managed to finish everything, you know how it is, you count this is half hour and that an hour and this is another half so three hours at least and in the end it all takes twenty minutes. So then I went to the club, thinking if you come back with Paulie it'd be best if I'm not there and you send him off."
"But guess oh guess what was transpiring at the club?"
"You remember Manny? Well Manny was busy writing wish charts. You know what wish charts are? They are these large pieces of paper on which one can find explained how to get "a favorable impression" and "appear in a favorable light" and generally speaking get Frankie to notice him."
"Little old me?"
"I don't know about little."
"You're just jealous."
"Course I am. So there I read on the countless pieces of paper Manny's plans to conquer the fortress of you."
"Hehe poor fellow, getting in is not that difficult. Getting out..."
"Well how is he to know that?"
"You know, this is always getting on my nerves. On one hand nobody is ever to be supposed to know anything or be able to do anything. On the other, everybody is to be treated equally, and with respect and we have to think everybody has a right to this and to that. Doesn't make sense, does it?"
"Don't start. One thing didn't make much sense though, he kept noting and underscoring and decorating the concept of Frankie's childhood traumas."
"What are those?" Frankie was mildly curious.
"Did he mention anything other than this generic expression?"
"No, that's the interesting part."
"Well, I paid them a visit a while back, and I mentioned you had a bad childhood."
"Someone should have told me at some point."
"Well I was stuck to give them something to chew on, I figured that bit of psychobabble was least likely to be accidentally proven a lie."
"Can it ever be proven a lie?"
"I seriously doubt it."
"So is it?" Janice was looking at Frankie, half serious half joking.
"I don't know, hon. What's a bad childhood?"
"Well, did your father force you to have sex with the next door neighbor's dog when you were eleven?"
"That's the criteria?"
"I figured if you said 'no, but...', it would have been one thing, and if you just say no it's another."
"Some of us did go to college."
"But none of us went to the library."