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Mad Lad. Eh, Doc?

May 13, 2018

“And so that’s why. I mean, I’m sorry about keeping you here. Really. But these are extraordinary circumstances. World hanging in the balance and all…”

They laid staring up at the ceiling, which had that ‘popcorn’ stuff sprayed on it to hide the imperfections. One could see almost anything in those random dots if they stared at them long enough.

He had actually pulled him into the motel room by the sleeve. Gently, but with such an important seeming intention that the younger man didn’t resist.

He did get bored, and then amused, and then bored again as the man paced back and forth and spoke about so many different things. Some of them conflicted with each other. Sometimes he seemed angry but then he’d just laugh. He also seemed sad.

He had gone on about so many things, it was largely a blur. He went down a string of names starting with Cynthia, Phoebe and Diana, ending with ‘Natasha, Inscomona and her Japanese sister Oni.’ Then there were a lot of people mentioned.

For example, he was wandering and talking about who ‘Cold War Grandma’ could possibly be. Then launched into asking, “What? Am I five? Am I six? May as well blame Canada.”

“I know, I know. It’s enough to make you want to start rootin’ for Putin. But that’s just a different flavor of the same thing. I think we’re all Russian spies. Because we also aren’t. That makes no sense, I know. That’s because life doesn’t make sense. Only we can make sense of it.”

He talked about how he’d never forgive what happened to Cleo. And he wondered how that could be legal. This was not the Old West where bullies could roll into town and shoot your dog and not expect some kind of payback.

All of that had been before sex. He’d been especially surprised when he kissed him, reached down, and found his prize.

“I had really thought maybe you’d be…you know…disfigured a little. What do they call it? ‘Vitriolage’? Maybe a bomb went off. Or shrapnel or something. I mean, we don’t just wear masks to hide our identities.

“But that’s the thing. I saw your true face. I don’t know what you’ve been through since…but that day I saw it. My birthday! What were you thinking? I know, you can’t talk about it. The NATSEC agreement.

“Any idiot could have seen that I’m not a killer. You saw it. I know you did. And thereby helped me to see it. Not that you’re an idiot. I think you’re smarter than you know. You’re wise. Somewhere back there,” he pointed to the back of his head. The younger man felt back there as if checking to see if it was out of place or to check to see if there was something in it.

“I never would have guessed you actually do resemble Julien. I mean ‘Adrienne.’ Whatever. What’s the point? They know who I mean.

“Anyway. You think about it. Look I know there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of me ever getting any kind of security clearance. Even to…you know…get married. So, think about it. You want me, either figure a way to make that work…or quit. I know it’s a big thing to give up a career.

“Though I have to tell you that I don’t really miss mine that much. That’s one of the many reasons I’m not angry with you anymore. You did me a favor.

“And that wasn’t the only one. There were lots and lots of them.”

He turned and they looked at each other.

“So, I know these aren’t my words. I’m just borrowing them. But then isn’t that what we’re all doing, all the time?

“Remember. And ‘believe in who you are. You are a shining star.’ ‘Adventures are all very well in their place, but there’s a lot to be said for regular meals and freedom from pain.’

“I could go on forever. I don’t want to. At least not like this. I’d rather we talked about something boring. Curtains. Curtains are boring, yeah?”

He turned half to him and kissed him on the cheek.

“Whatever you decide. As you wish. You have my phone number now. Probably text me first. Lots of clowns call all the time and I tend not to answer if I don’t know who it is.”

The younger man realized this was his cue to leave and did so. Outside, he saw his friend frantically pacing and texting him.

“Marcel! Ou etais-tu?”

“Je m’envoyais un Americain fou.”

“C’etait comment?”

“Pas mal.”

“Qu’est-ce qui s’est passe?”

“Il arpententait la chambre en parlant.”

“Qu’est-ce qu’il racontait?”

“J’en sais rien. Tu sais que je suis nul en Anglais.”

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