Good Friday[1]




Matthew looked up from the emerald green characters on his computer screen to see Blade enter his den.  She smiled at him, scratched the top of his head affectionately with the pointy nails of her free hand, and went over to his desk.  He swiveled his head to see what she was up to.

Blade put two cassette cases down, and looked over the contents of his desk.  After a moment, she selected a fountain pen from a black plastic structure, and uncapping it, tried it out on one of the many scrap papers littering the glass top.  A thick royal blue arc in it’s wake; she smiled, pleased with the ink aesthetics.  Clearing a small work space, she pulled out the cassette cover, and set to work filling it out.  In elegant calligraphy, she filled in the DATE with Good Friday, 1993ad

“What’s N.R. ?” she asked over the psychedelic strains of The Beatles[2] floating in from the living room.

Matt’s eyes floated from the white rectangle paper to her white oval face.  “Noise Reduction.”  Seeing her gray eyes acquire the light of understanding, he continued, “Put down yes.”

Blade’s eyes floated from his parabular face to the parallelogram paper.  Delicately, she filled in the  O YES

A glance at the original in the other case to confirm what she would write below, and then, skipping a line, she scrolled







Matt returned his attention to his story.  Blade ornately filled out the other side with the caption The Evil Matt Mini-MixThen, centred between the two at the bottom, she copied the message,



Lick Here


(You may be One

of the Lucky 25)





Pleased with the results, she set it aside under the lamp to let the ink dry.  Matt felt hands go over his shoulders, and a pointy chin rest on his scalp.  She read the line in progress:


With an awkward fidget, Art answered “we don’t, but the oth

Matt felt the pressure on his head increase as Blade smiled.  “So am I on my way back up?” she asked, curious.  Below her, Matt frowned.

“You’re not supposed to be reading this,” he said, and typed in Blade’s dubious response to Art’s dubious explanation.  “But no,” he continued, “you’re still on the planet.  You don’t leave for probably half a page.”

She scanned up to the top of the screen, began reading.

“Who broke into the purser’s office?”

Matt stopped typing, tilted his head to look up at her.  “You’ll find out.”

She looked down into his face, smiled wryly.  “No, I’m curious;” she said sweetly.  “Tell me now.

Matt shrugged.  It was a red herring anyway, so it didn’t really matter.  “James,” he said simply.

White eyebrows cocked a notch in surprise.  “Is he also the one who broke into my room?”

That wasn’t a red herring.  Adopting a Terry Jones crone, he barked “Go away!

Blade darted her tongue out, grazed the tip of his nose, and walked back into the living room with style.  Music swum around her, and she swayed herself in rhythm as she looked around for her drink.  Just as she saw the nearly empty glass, dialogue broke in, jarring her.  She was just starting to buzz, and the gear shift in the tape was a little hard to follow.  Getting her glass, she finished it off in two healthy swallows.

The chocolaty addendum in her beverage made its presence felt in her bladder, so she deposited her glass on the kitchen table and went into the little girl’s room.

Blade liked Matt’s bathroom: antiseptic white walls broken only by colourful towels, a yellow rubber ducky in the tub, and the aluminum medicine cabinet mirror.  Sitting comfortably, she contemplated the poster on the wall facing her.  Ensconced on a toilet of his own, Frank Zappa looked back at her.  From the other side of the door, strains of one of his compositions drifted through.  ‘Dancing Fool’; an appropriate song for me.

Returning to the kitchen, she set about concocting a second drink.  To her embarrassment, she found she had left the gallon milk bottle out on the table.  A quick glance to the den to see if Matt had seen this.  Fortunately, he was still being creative at his computer.  She poured herself a tall glass, and this time made sure to replace the plastic jug back in his humming fridge.  From a classy glass bottle, she poured in a thick brown aperitif.  It was the only booze she could find in the whole damned house, and the bottle had been not only full, but slightly dusty—proof that her host was a tea-totaler.

Blade, of course, wasn’t, and the whiteness in her glass turned brown as the Kalhua created a bastardized chocolate milk.  Stirring it, she sampled and smiled.

Distracted by the intoxicant, she forgot again to put the milk away.

Back into the living room to look for her smokes.  They were on top of a small wooden bookcase filled with geodes and wooden sculptures.  The pack was next to Matt’s Alice in Wonderland cup, quarter-full of coffee from that morning.  Next to it was a shot-sized aperitif glass she had used to complement the drink.  The residue Kahlua had turned to mucky slush from three cigarette’s worth of ashes.  Crushed filters and charred matches filled it up half way.

She picked up the ornate red box, upended it onto an empty candle-holder.  Two came out.  Needle-thin, with an elegant Old-English A right above the filter.  Sampoerna cloves.  She stuck one behind her ear, graced the other on the tip of her curved lips, and began looking around for the garbage.  She saw a small wicker basket under the glass table on the other side of the room.  She tossed the empty box, missed.  She began scanning the bookcase for matches.  An empty white book lay discarded on top of the dream machine, next to a glow-in-the-dark skull Beth had given him.  With nimble fingers, Blade plucked up the used book and tossed it at the waste basket.  It spun poorly, and landed on the papasan.  Following its path, however, she spied a closed matchbook on the brass Chinese table.  She sat down on the footstool, took a sip of her drink, and pulled out a match.  Blade snapped it out with an impressive pop, and put squarely on the tip of the thin white tube.  Soft pull, and sweet, minty smoke.  She shook the match out, tossed it at the garbage.  0 for 3 on the attempt, she bounced her head in time with the music, exhaled, took a slightly deeper hit, and turned to see what Matt was up to.

She found him leaning back in his chair, considering her in a pose that reminded her of an Earthly sculpture she liked, The Thinker.  He had a curious smile on him.

“That’s a habit I never understood.”

She looked at the cigarette between her fingers, took a thoughtful puff.  “It’s something you acquire.”

“I don’t see how,” he replied.  “I thought they tasted like shit, made me slightly sick to my stomach, and completely demolished my taste buds.”

“That’s why you smoke after you eat,” she replied, getting up.  She went to the bookcase for the ash tray, and leaned against the entrance to the den.  “I can tell you don’t smoke,” she said.

He adjusted his posture to shrug.  “I don’t like the taste, and I don’t like the buzz.  Made my hands go numb, and that makes it real hard to play guitar or type.”

She tapped ashes into the glass, returned to the footstool.

“I don’t even like smoking joints,” he continued.  “They’re so wasteful.”

She nodded.  “In your writing you describe the habit like joint-smoking.”  She darted her tongue out to moisten her lips.  The tip tasted the sweet clove residue.

Matt returned the chair to the floor, swiveled around to face her.  Leaning forward, he smiled “that’s because that’s all I’ve ever smoked.”

The natural smile of her angels mouth entered her eyes.  With her free hand, she pulled the cigarette from behind her ear.

“Would you like me to teach you how?”

He looked at her with that curious smile again, held her eyes unblinkingly for several heartbeats.


He got out of the chair, and sat on the floor against the white dresser.  Without taking her soft eyes off him, she reached behind her ear and retrieved her last cig.  With nimble dexterity, she flipped it and handed it to him filter first.  He leaned forward, mouth open slightly, and she guided the filter in.  Closing his lips around it, she twisted it back and forth playfully, and let go.  Looking around for the matches, she detached a stick, whipped it at the strip, and held it out for him.  He power-inhaled, and the tip turned glowing red for half a centimeter.  As she extinguished the match, he frowned.

“Clove?” he asked in a slightly strangled voice.  She nodded.  She joined him with a puff, then got up for the ashtray.  She dropped the match and a thin tube of ash inside, joined Matt on the floor.  He exhaled a small cloud, took another pull.  After a moment, thick hot smoke drifted up into his eyes, causing him to wince.  He removed the cigarette, and slowly the watery image of Blade returned to normal.  “How long do I hold it in?” he inquired in a slightly strained voice.

She giggled.  “Up to you.”

He exhaled, looked at the cigarette.

“You know, it never occurred to me why smokers take the cigarette out of their mouths between inhales.  Its so the smoke won’t blind you.”

Blade chuckled politely and nodded.  “You didn’t know that?”

“I don’t smoke,” he replied, and took a small puff.  He looked at the ashtray on the floor, leaned over, and tapped the end on the glass rim.  He did this with exactly three times the force needed, and promptly bent the cigarette.  This made Blade laugh.

“My hands are starting to tingle,” he admitted sheepishly.  She tilted her head and smiled.  Matt looked at the bent cylinder, inhaled.  The glowing coal worked its way unevenly around the fracture.

“I feel like Robert DeNiro,” he said.


“Oh, he’s an actor.  He really gets into his rolls.  He did a film called Raging Bull, about a boxer[3].  At the end of the movie, the boxer is old and fat, and DeNiro put on something like one hundred pounds just for the five minutes-worth of film.”  Matt waved the cigarette to draw attention to it.  “I feel like that: I’m learning how to smoke simply so I can write about it.”

Blade nodded appreciatively.  “It shows that you love writing.”  Puff.  “But it is hard to write about something you don’t know about.”

Matt, in turn, nodded enthusiastically.  “I know!  Writing your stories is a perfect example of that.  It’s hard to think like a woman.”

Blade smiled her pretty smile at him.  “Well, I think you’re doing a good job of describing me.”

He smiled his thanks.  Baby-sized puff, immediate exhale. “Now that you’ve explained smoking to me, can you help me with another point-of-view problem?”

She nodded playfully, and white locks fell carressingly about her high cheeks.

“What’s sex like for women?”

She thought about this for a second, smiling.  “I’m not sure if I can explain it in a way that a man would understand.  For me, and you have to remember that I grew up on a very cold mountain, sex is this most wonderful, comforting warmth right inside of me.”  Matt tried to picture that, and a dreamy look entered each of their eyes as they both thought of it.  They looked at each other for several long moments, moments which would have been awkward if they didn’t realize that they were sharing the same thought.

Wow,” Matt said.  Blade’s eyes softened and widened, and the arch of her upper lip cocked slightly to flash a little more of her bright white dentistry.

The music made one of its many abrupt changes, and the selection fit her stream of consciousness.  She shifted her attention from his face to the speaker over his shoulder.

“Is this The Doors?”

Matt nodded, surprised the Caandelenian recognized the Earthly band.

“You’ve heard this?”

Happy nod, causing more hair to drape her.

“Anjelikka loved these guys.  She had a couple, um...” she fumbled for words, used the cigarette as a pointer toward a cardboard square on the floor by the stereo.  Matt looked, saw her indicating a copy of The Yes Album.

“Records?” he inquired.  She snapped her finger, remembering the term.

“Right.  They were horribly beat up, but she loved to play them.”  She listened to strains of the music, nodded.  “I remember this.  Yeah,” she said, with the tone of pleasant reminiscence, “this was one of her favourite albums to...” she paused, looked at Matt with a guilty smile, “, uh, fool around to.”

If his grin was any indication, Matt clearly enjoyed this revelation.  “Can I ask, what’s that like?”

Blade considered the question over a lungfull of clove.  She arched her thin eyebrows and nodded secretively.  “Fun.  It’s mostly foreplay, of course, but there’s a unique sensuousness to it.  It also makes you appreciate actual intercourse a lot more.”  Puff.  “Why do you ask?”

Guilty shrug.  “Just curious.”

“Oh,” she said, and ground out her cigarette in the glass.  Gray pupils followed gray smoke up to Matt’s face.  She stuck the tip of her tongue between her teeth and smiled ever so slightly.  “I thought you were going to shack me up in the story, and needed to know how to write about it.”

Matt shook his head.  “No, you’re flying white in that one,” and he pointed toward the computer in the den.  “But in the other, you’re monogamously with Corcey.”

She smiled at the latter thought.  “I like how you did our courtship at The Party.”

Matt nodded.  “Thanks.  I didn’t start out with that intention, but over the course of writing it, things just happened spontaneously.”  Slightly defensive shrug.  “It was in character for both of you, and after it happened, I’ve decided to actually make it a plot point.”

Eager for news of her other story, she inquired “Oh?”

Matt realized she was nibbling for information, so rather than reply Yes, because now I know how you die, he merely smiled cryptically and took a puff of his cigarette.

Blade listened to the swirling music, the obscene chants of Jim Morrison, and remembered Anjelikka.  It conjured warm memories.  Once, while resting between bouts, Anjel had cuddled up close and hummed along with the record.  Blade asked her who this band was, and Anjel told her what she now knows to be a bizarre revisionist-history of Jim Morrison.  But she also made one assertion about the group that Blade did believe: “they were the best concert I’ve ever seen.”

The song faded, as did the remembrance.  Blade’s attention went from the past to the present.  She watched Matt take a prolonged hit off his cigarette, and consider it.  The smoulder and ash had reached the elegant red A.  “You know, I now realize I’ve been smoking joints wrong the whole time.”  He exhaled a swirling cloud, breathed in fresh air, and on that continued “I didn’t know until now that smoking is just like drinking through a straw.”  He reached  over, and ground the butt into the cup.  Thick gray steam promptly billowed up around his fingers, looking like a medieval cauldron.  Within ten seconds he had managed to demolish the filter but leave the remaining tobacco unscathed.  Indeed, it was causing whatever it came in contact with to smoulder as well.  When Blade began to giggle, Matt decided to cut his losses: he put it aside to let it burn itself out.  Thin wispy trails issued from behind him for a full two minutes.

In the meantime, Blade reached over to Matt’s white-on-black guitar, Nevermore.  In the tuning stock was wedged a fat joint, rolled in Crowe’s Papers.  She pincered it with two sculpted nails, pulled it out.

“Well, now that you know how to smoke a joint,,,,” she said, and flashed her eyebrows thrice.  Matt reached over, and his fingertips folded gently over hers as he relieved her of the new cigarette.  Slowly he slid it behind his ear, and then waved a finger at her.  Naughty naughty!

“We can’t smoke this.  Beth explicitly told me that the papers were to look at, not to use.

Blade leaned forward and went from lotus to all fours, and crawled a step toward him, so that she was almost—but not quite—leaning into his face.  Gray eyes embraced hazel, smile met smile, and she said “but we both know that the reason you keep that joint up there is to save it for a special occasion.”  She shifted her weight forward and leaned into the side of his head, her lips right up against his ear ring.  The warmth of her soft breath was almost ticklish.  The music had softened in a fade, allowing her to whisper “aren’t I a special occasion?”  And with that, her tongue poured out and she slowly licked the side of his face, arcing in to the top of the ear and picking free the joint into her mouth.  She retracted her balance, fell back onto her haunches, and smoothly rolled back into lotus.

Matt looked at her with stern love.  “You are very special, and any time you’re here with me is an occasion.  But this jay has mystical, talismanic significance to me that I doubt you would understand or Beth would approve.  And smoking it would destroy that.”

Blade accepted that.  Besides, her crawl to and from Matt may have seemed slightly seductive, but it was in fact slightly drunken.  The Kahlua was making itself felt, and she knew that smoking pot after you were drunk was a lost cause.  She and Sean had once found that out the hard way: they did one-fifty-one shots at Courtney’s, came upstairs and started chain-smoking joints.  “I’m not feeling it.”  “Neither am I.  You roll another one while I go take a piss.”   They ended up going through an entire Q, to no effect.  She suspected that would probably be the case here as well.  So she picked up his guitar, delicately placed the cig back in the head, and offered it to him.

“Play me something.”

Matt considered the instrument.  “Aw, I haven’t played in a while, and the strings are ancient...”

“Play my song!!!” she playfully demanded, and leaned over to turn the volume all the way down on the receiver.  The twin tapes continued dubbing mutely.

Your song?!?” Matt cried, standing up and sliding into the strap.

“Yeah,” Blade said, stalking over to the papasan.  Bending over in a manner that put Laura’s technique to shame, she adjusted the axis of the dish.  Climbing in, she curled up into a feline ball and purred, “the rocking one in b minor.”

“Oh,” he chortled, and turned on his amp.  “That’s Beth’s Song.”

“Well,” she said, cocking her head, “my name starts with a B, too, and you’re going to have to put lyrics to it sometime, so why not make the song about me.”  She said this more as a statement than as a question.

Testingly, Matt sounded two harmonics that were slightly off kilter.  Fine-tuning them to match, he said “The only way the song could be about you would be if Beth wrote lyrics about you to fit the music.  When I wrote her the song, I told her to make up any words she wanted when listening to it.”

“Okay then, when I listen to it,” Blade responded with a cute smugness, “I’ll make up whatever lyrics I want.  And they’ll be about me, so it will be my song.”

Matt had tuned the first three strings, and was finishing up the fourth.  “How about I play you something new that you haven’t heard.”


He re-tuned the first string down a step, so the guitar was now d a d g b e.[4]

“This is called Necron Ninety-Nine (Peace), and you win a prize if you can tell me what that’s from.”

Blade made a cute frown, shook her head.  White locks bounced playfully.  Little did she know that the answer was literally right over her head, on a movie poster with two visual clues.

Matt kicked into a balls-out guitar attack in 9/4,[5] which sent Blade into a spontaneous fit of headbanging.  With a smile, Matt realized that she was more into the song than he was.  Seeing her reaction, he began to play it a lot more violently than he normally did, and Blade ate it up.

It was thus a major gear change when he stopped playing altogether, and complete silence filled the void.  She looked up at him, runners of white hair draping her face.

“And that’s all I’ve written.” Matt said simply.

Blade promptly began to laugh that wonderful laugh again.

“That’s how you should do it on the tape—exactly like that.”

Matt stood there, listening to her laugh.  Blade looked up, saw his smile, and returned it.

“What?” she asked.

Matt looked at her for several moments, and Blade saw the look in his eyes was the look of happiness she always saw when he was writing—involved with something he was passionate about.

“Whenever I wrote about you, I described you as having a Caandelenian accent, which is only natural.  But I never actually thought about what that accent would sound like.  And now that I’m actually hearing it...”  he smiled sheepishly, “I like it.”

Tilting her head, hair fell in just the right way to highlight her smile.  She began a slow soliloquy in Old High Caandelenian.  For seemingly complete nonsense, it was amazingly articulate and flowing—and damn sultry.  Matt wondered what she was saying, hoped it was connected to the expression in those wide white eyes.

“Wow,” he said after a moment.  “it sounds just like lilting French...

More of that exotically-toned laughter, and Matt began playing a fast-paced shuffle.

“What’s this?” she asked after ninety seconds.

“Part of a musical trilogy I’m writing in c phrygian, which I think is the nastiest of all keys.  That piece was called Frederick’s Star Perimeter.”  Over a 9/8 acoustic line, “this is called essene (chapter 11).  Sudden distortion and barre chords, but still in 9/8.

And again, just as Blade was getting into the awkward groove, Matt threw her a curve and stopped.  This time, she was greeted by a high-pitched tapping on the kitchen window.

“Oh,” said Matt, looking to see what the sound was.  “Laura’s back.”

Blade unwound and crawled over the edge of the papasan in a way that would have made Matt very happy, had he not been taking off his guitar en route to the door.  Blade peered around the water closet[6] to see Matt go to the back door to admit Laura.  In the darkness outside, she saw her looking in, and make eye contact.  She waved enthusiastically, and the words “Hi, Blade!” floated mutely through the glass pain.

Matt opened the door to find Laura resplendent in a dark purple sun dress and wide-brimmed velvet hat.  Light from the street lamp glinted off her nose pierce.  Her entire face was a preposterously large smile.

“Hi, Matt!”  Hug.

Matt beckoned her inside.  Blade was already padding into the kitchen, and at least one cat was padding into the bedroom to cower under the bed.

“How was Canada?” Matt asked.  Laura responded by hugging Blade, ending it with a light scratching in the small of her back.

“Oh, my god,” she says in exaggerated despair, “I am so exhausted!  I was great, though.  I’ll have to tell you about it later.  Right now I’ve got so much to do.  We’re going grocery shopping.  Do you need to go?”

Matt responded by casting a stern glare at his companion.  Blade was making a point of examining her toes with immense interest.  While Matt was at work, she’d scraped his pipe and did butane resin hits.  The subsequent Attack of the Munchies devastated his larder.  Matt came home and found his refrigerator barren.

“Yeah,” he said to Laura, “I could pick up a thing or two.”

Blade coughed apologetically.

“Cool,” said Laura.  “I gotta go upstairs and get my laundry...”

“You’re doing laundry?” asked Matt, eager.  “Cool!  We gotta do ours, too.”

Blade looked into Matt’s bedroom, in the corner where the brown woodweave laundry basket was.  It was almost—but not quite— overflowing.  Not surprisingly, over half the items were dirty white.

“Okay!” said Laura.  “I’ll be a couple minutes.  Just come up when you’re ready.”

She spun with a ballooning of her dress, and exited in grand style.

Matt shut the doors to make sure the cats wouldn’t get out, then joined Blade in the bedroom.  She was on the far side of the queen bed, rooting around on all fours.  Over her shoulder she tossed a thick, rolled up tube sock, which rebounded on the wall, bounced off the laundry pile, and rolled back under the bed.  Matt bent down, swept it up, and snapped it to its full length.  He tossed it onto the basket, and picked up his rumpled nightshirt from his side of the floor.  Blade was already compacting the clothes into the woodweave, and a moment later she picked it up by the handles.  Matt draped the shirt over the top, a cotton lid with an oversized Maggie Simpson staring out.  She put the basket on the kitchen floor, picked up her jacket from the seat of the chair.  Small amounts of long white hair pressed into it: one of the damned cats must have been sitting on it.  Slipping into it, she picked up Matt’s B.Ö.C. jacket and held it in folded arms.

Leaning against the kitchen table, Blade watched the headless chicken in action.

First Matt flew to the corner where the box of detergent was.  Bouncing off the wall, he rebounded to the laundry basket, dropped the container of Ultra Tide on Maggie, and ricocheted off the basket into his bedroom.  He went into his dresser, bounced back into the room with a two stacks of quarters.  Putting these into his Levi’s change pocket, he careened into the kitchen table, looked it over quickly, and not finding what he was looking for, bounced over to the stove.  On one of the shelves over it he pulled a plastic discount card for the local supermarket.  He hit the stove at an awkward angle, which sent him askew into the living room.  By sheer chance he made contact with the brass Chinese table.  A glance showed it barren of what he sought, so he bounced off that at a weird tangent, into the front hall.  By this time, Blade felt as if she were watching a hyperactive pinball game.  She heard the click of the front door locking, and a moment later, Matt came back in with his keys.  He was still looking around sporadically for something.  He went up to the kitchen table (right next to Blade) and surveyed its surface.

“Whatcha need?”

“Money,” he grunted.


Blade did not understand this concept of paper money.  In her world, almost all finances were electronic: money existed as computerized data, not these ridiculous pieces of currency.  “Real” money did exist, in strictly limited quantities (governments naturally saw the danger of finances they couldn’t monitor).  But of course, it was solid coinage, not this ridiculous paper stuff. Her money was almost impossible to counterfeit—unless you had a home smelting kit, forge, and press.  But with this paper stuff, Blade had a lazer printer in her studio which she was sure could run off perfect copies of the stuff.

The last time Matt surveyed the table, the centre lazy-susan[7] held eight chopsticks and an ornate bas-relief glass sugar bowl.  And when he had inventoried the dish’s contents twenty seconds ago, it had held six phillips-head screws and three gold ear rings (two were his, the other’s hers—it’s mate was missing.)  Arguably, there was also a thin layer of dust in the bowl as well, but that clearly was the extent of the bowl’s contents.

Now, several folded green-on-dirty-cream bills complemented the contents.

Matt studied them for several moments.  There was no question in his mind that they had not been there a moment ago.  His attention drifted from the table to the female next to him.  He arched an eyebrow in suspicion, and asked “Did you put those there?”

“Nooooo,” she said slowly.

Matt began to look down at the bowl again, did a quick double take at her.  She was tilting her head, wide eyes and innocent smile.

He took the money with the hand unencumbered by keys, and began looking around again.

“Can I see those?” Blade asked, indicating the money with a look.  Absently, Matt handed it to her, and continued to spin around with confusion.  Blade unwound an arm from Matt’s jacket, and reached for the money.  Her fingertips landed on his cuticles, and she pressed lightly and long enough to make him stop looking around and start looking at her.  She smiled with her eyes, first a him and then at the papers she now held in her hand.  She unfolded them, and was greeted by the secret smile of Adam Weisshaupt, known to the world as George Washington.

“Do you know,” came a voice from above, “that not only can you make a mushroom out of his head, but that he is clearly exposing his willie as well.”

Blade looked up at him, and challenged the Caandelenian equivalent of bullshit.

Matt relieved her of the single, folded it back along the equator, and handed it to her upside-down.  Again her fingers glossed over his, but to his disappointment she didn’t repeat the squeeze.  As she surveyed the inverted illustration, Matt resumed his search.  He went over to the old water closet, opened it up, and surveyed the clothes now hanging inside.  On the door, his brown leather jacket and an oversized green hanger, unadorned.  He closed the door, failing to note the jacket’s sleeve caught and prevented a proper seal.

As he went into the living room, he smiled as Blade suddenly cried “Oh my god!” and burst forth with an absolute symphony of her exotic laughter.  “It’s there!”[8]

He came back in, sharing her good humour.  She looked up at him, still laughing, and the grin he saw endeared him forever.  She looked at the phallic illustration a little more, then folded it to its proper size.  Flipping it over, she studied the back.

To her surprise, she found the universal symbol of the Illuminati staring right back at her.  She shook her head sadly as she contemplated the hated Eye-in-Pyramid symbol.   Boys had balls if they were advertising so openly.  They must run this planet.

That was another thing about this money she didn’t like.  It identified it as THE UNTIED STATUS OF AMNESIA, but absolutely ignored what planet this was from.  Try using this shit on Cassidine.  Yeah, right—they’d laugh you right out of the credit exchange with cries of “make that yourself?”

She checked to see what the other bill was, and just before looking away realized that it was an entirely different denomination.  Oh, that was smart...  Make all the money the same size and colour.  The specie of her world was purposefully different metals or alloys.  Not only for easy recognition, but also to ensure its value.  Metals like gold, silver, platinum, and iridium would always have a face value.  What the hell backed this paper stuff?

And that was another thing that bugged Blade.  What a horrible waste of trees.  Especially since it could be so easily destroyed.

Bored (and slightly offended) by the currency she held, she reverted her attention to Matt.

“What are you looking for?”

Coming back into the kitchen, Matt replied “my jacket.”  He got down on his knees, and checked the chairs pushed into the table.  Cat hair, but no jacket.

“Have you seen it?” he inquired, getting up and looking at her.

“No,” she said with a straight face.

Nodding, he took three steps back into the living room, stopped suddenly, thought a moment, turned around, and took three steps back to her.  Relieving her of his garment, he leaned forward and snapped his teeth millimeters from her angel’s lips.

Slipping into his jacket, he daintily plucked the money from her (making sure to perform the soft nail squeeze), and folding the bills, slipped them into his right vest pocket.  The keys he placed in his left pocket, and both hands freed, he picked up the laundry basket.


Not quite.  Blade’s creamy ear lobes were unadorned; she decided she needed an ear ring.  Reaching into the sugar bowl, she pulled out the single one that was hers: a delicate double heart of white gold strands.  Glancing at Matt, she mimicked her host and put it in her left ear.

“Yes,” she replied, “I am.”

Opening the back door for him, she allowed him to pass with a soft smile.  Locking the handle, she shut it behind her and followed Matt upstairs.  He placed the basket on the switchback landing, and seeing that Blade was right behind, headed up to the Second Floor Rear House.

In the kitchen, Cher was assembling a collection of oversized tote bags.  She smiled at Matt, passed the greetings on to Blade, who shut the door behind them.  Matt was already in the living room and looking in on Laura.  Blade stayed in to talk to Cher.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Not much.  Are you coming with us?”

Blade nodded playfully, shaking loose some bangs in the process.

“Cool.  We’re watching a movie later.”


“Yeah, it’s about the kid who divorced his parents.”

“I’m sorry,” said Blade, “you used the word divorce in a way I’m not familiar with.”

“This kid didn’t like his folks,” Cher explained, “so he got a divorce from them.”

This made Blade smile.  What a great concept!  This planet wasn’t as backward as she’d first thought.  Ahhhh, if only they had similar laws on Caandelen.  That certainly would have spared her much angst and pain in her youth.  When her parents asked her what she wanted for her eighteenth birthday, she said “luggage.”  They didn’t like her any more than she liked them, and for once were happy to oblige.  By mutual unspoken agreement they severed all ties, and she had herself a neat apartment within twenty-four hours.  Unfortunately, she also had a roommate, Sarah, who she had the misfortune of falling in love with.  The next year proved to be the archetype for “love/hate relationship.”

“Thing is,” Cher continued, jarring her back to the present, “it starts at eight, so we gotta go now.”  She placed the last tote bag on the table, and walked into Laura’s room.

Matt saw Cher scoot past him, and a moment later felt the ticklish sensation of Blade’s hand sliding around his waste.  She shifted her weight to lean against him, smiled slightly as she felt his arm drape her hips.

“Are you ready?” Cher asked, slightly anxious.

Laura was nowhere near the state.  She was taking rumpled clothes from a suitcase open on her mattress and stuffing them into a drawstring laundry bag.  Seeing it would be several minutes, Cher exited with her equivalent of a huff and went to the phone.

From out of her luggage, Laura pulled a pair of day-glow yellow panties and a compact disk.

“Oh, I have got to play you this!” she cried, and abandoned her sorting to go into the living room.  Blade leaned into Matt a little more to allow her to pass, did not relax the posture when she was clear.  With delicate grace, Blade applied the perfect amount of pressure with her ungodly long nails right under Matt’s rib cage, delighted as always to rediscover how ticklish he was.  Matt jumped slightly, looked at the figure pressed against him.  He saw something pink flash behind her white teeth, then jumped again as alien music surged forth.  It could have been alien, too: the singing was in thick French Canadian.

Cher cast Laura a stern glance, and after the volume altered, resumed a conversation on the phone.  Nosy as always, Blade tried to eavesdrop, but the voice were too muted.  She reverted her attention back to the other flatmate, who had resumed transplanting clothes.

Just as she finished, Cher came back in.

“Drake’s coming over to watch the movie, so we need to get going.”

“What time’s your movie?”  Laura asked, oblivious as always to the world around her.

“In forty-five minutes,” Cher answered, and began to assist Laura to hasten their exodus.  “He’s on his way over now, and’ll probably get here just when it starts.”

Laura hefted her bag, and again scooted past Matt and Blade.  Cher quickly followed, taking time to smile at the sight of her two neighbors.  She obviously thought they looked cute.  In fact, she took a moment to study them as she got her keys.

“Hey Matt,” she asked as everyone filed into the kitchen, “what’s that medal of yours mean?”

He looked down at his jacket, at the Iron Cross.

“Oh, it’s a medal of honour from Germany.”  Unsure what she wanted to know, he gave a twenty second summary of it, including its history.  Blade had not been there when Matt had made a futile attempt a year ago to explain World Wars[9] One and Two to Cher, but she wasn’t surprised to see that Cher obviously didn’t grok all of Matt’s explanation.

“Why do you ask,” he inquired, heading down the stairs.  As he picked up his basket, Cher replied “Oh, Drake’s got a tattoo of it, and I was just wondering what it meant.”

Going outside, Blade whispered into Matt’s ear, “I like mine better.”  His eyes floated from her face to her breasts, where she had the Braddendouriff decoration displayed.  In fact, their jackets were identical, except for the colour, back illustration, and the absence of the red splotch on her collar smiley face button.

Walking toward the front house, Matt called out “shotgun relinquished!”  Blade quickly seconded the motion, so she could join him.

Parked in the prime spot in front of the front house sat Cher’s dilapidated red Hyundai.  Its driver opened the trunk, and Matt and Laura deposited their bundles inside.  The passenger door was unlocked, and Blade hunched over and lavishly crawled in (a display Matt clearly got off on, judging by his eagerness to join her.)

Very quickly Cher had the vehicle in motion: she drove two blocks to Southport and Diversey, where a small Laundromat perched on the corner.  Parking illegally, she opened the trunk so Matt and Laura could get their clothes.

Inside, Matt and Blade quickly chose two washers, and as Matt pulled out his collection of quarters, Blade poured in scoops of detergent.  He had to remind her (as always) that it was necessary to sort clothes by colour.  She snorted in derision at the primitive laundry machine, and quarantined the mass of white clothes to one machine.  It was a fairly equal divide.

Matt looked into the washer holding all whites.

“Can you explain something to me?”


“Why do women have a pair of panties but only one bra?”

“Because men were responsible for the vocabulary,” she replied, and wandered to the back of the store.  Laura was pulling out each garment individually, unrumpling it, and adding it to her washer.  Cher was obviously irritated at the enormous volumes of time this was taking.

Blade felt a presence by her side, and then five fingers glided into her hand, interlocked snugly.

“We should have gone over to my place to do this,” Blade said.  “Would have taken thirty seconds to do all this.”

“Must be nice,” said Cher.  Both she and her flatmate were aware of Blade’s origins.

Blade felt the intermeshed fingers squeeze twice.  A hint of a smile, and she replied with a like number of tweaking.

At last, Laura finished, and started her cycle.  Cher eagerly led the way back to the car.  Hand in hand, Matt and Blade brought up the rear.

“Is it safe to leave that?” Blade asked, nodding at Matt’s basket.  Matt nodded that it was.

“Shotgun relinquished,” the announced in off-time.

Laura opened the passenger door, pulled the seat forward to allow the two entrance.  Matt squeezed the Caandelenian’s hand again (three times, now), then let go when she returned the pulses.

As he climbed in, Blade looked around.  Across the street was an Amoco station.  She nodded.  After cleaning out Matt’s refrigerator, she got bored and went into his den.  She’d been around computers almost all of her life (especially since leaving Caandelen), so she had no trouble accessing Matt’s WordPerfect files.  The storage file was readily discernible: her novel was in installments of BLADE.I to BLADE.IV; and of course, the last one had the most recent date.  After learning what Matt had in stall for her (he was being a tease, and not letting her read a segment until he after he finished and proofread it), she surveyed what else he had on hard drive.  The ones of most interest were the ones right above hers, a long batch of BETH.001 to BETH.037 (6-20-91 to 4-3-93).  Those were great fun to read.  Her favourites were those written in prose—especially the five-parter where Beth was visiting and had run-ins with Michelle’s motorcycle.  Blade certainly wished Matt would write her something like that.  But in Encounter with Satan, there had been a brief sojourn to an Amoco station to get change and matches; Blade noted its presence across the street, realized that—if nothing else—Matt’s stories had given her a fairly good feel of Lincoln Park.

She was therefore as surprised as Matt when Cher started driving away from the nearest grocery store.

Matt asked the question.  “Where are we going?”

“Cub Foods,” Cher says, driving over the Chicago River.  Blade giggled at the name: only the day before, Matt had explained that the surest way to get something to sell in Chicago was to name or associate it with one of the many sporting teams there.

Indeed, if the fullness of the parking lot was any indication, business was booming.  The four got out and walked toward the entrance.  Bringing up the rear, Blade noticed that sitting by the door was a type of zone tripper that Matt called a Leper.  It was an appropriate image: the man sat on a small blanket with a plate before him that had a few small coins on it.  One leg of his U.S. Army fatigues was rolled up: there was nothing in it below the knee.

They kept the Biblical directive of shunning the unclean veteran and went inside.  Cher found a cart and began pushing its wobbly wheels down the mammoth aisles.

“Tell you what,” said Matt; “I only need one thing.  I’ll catch up with you.”

Hand in hand with his pet Caandelenian (and her pet Earthling), they navigated their way through the store to the back, where the frozen foods were.

It took Matt a while to locate the pizza.

“Ah, here we go,” he said, and selected a Tombstone Special Order.  Onions, green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and extra cheese.  He made sure it was large enough for the two of them.

Satisfied with his selection, he turned around, smiled at her, and took her hand in his free one.

Suddenly that hand went rigid as she tensed.  She was looking at the linoleum in abject terror.

“Quick, Matt: there’s something on the floor!”

Matt looked down, trying to see what the problem was.  Blade was all but climbing up him.

“You lucky dog!” he exclaimed.

“What is it, man?!?” she was shrieking.

“Hush, hush,” he said, soothing her verbally and physically.  “Hold still now...”  Bending down, he tweezered the offending object between thumb and forefinger.

“Get it out,” she pleaded.

“I got it!”  Righting himself, he patted her cheek reassuringly, and showed her the item.  It was a small circle of tarnished silver.  A sinister face, turned in profile but still glaring menacingly, looked out of the corner of its eye at the Caandelenian.  There was an identical one underneath.

“It’s okay,” he said soothingly.  “It’s just a couple of dimes.”

Dimes?!?” she cried.  “What does it mean?”

“You’ve just been visited by the Bloody Head Faerie!”

She looked at him, and suddenly a smile popped onto her face.  She began nodding with silly enthusiasm.

He handed her the two coins, and as they walked, she considered her new-found wealth.

So, they do have real money after all...

“What’s this worth?” she asked, slipping them into her pocket.

“Two tenths of a dollar,” he said, still amused by her reaction.

Nod, but not one of full understanding.

“What’s its buying power?”

He thought about this for a second.

“Oh, about four pieces of bubble gum.”

Bubble gum!”  She sounded surprised, in a most pleasant way.  “You have bubble gum here?”

He nodded, and began looking around for Cher and Laura.  No sign of the pair.

“Where?” she eagerly inquired.

Matt shifted his search from the people in the aisles to the stock on the shelves.

“You like bubble gum?” he asked, amusedly surprised.

Direct eye contact, and the tension on his hand increased, as did the grip.

“I love bubble gum,” she purred.  “Great taste,” she said, and then the most subtle hint of something pink between perfect white dentistry, “and, it strengthens all the major mouth muscles.”

Her smile increased the perfect amount.  Matt decided he wasn’t going to touch a line like that with a ten foot tongue.  Instead, he located the aisle with all the candy and snacks on it.

Blade took over from there: she spotted a red, white and blue box of Bazooka Joe.

She also spotted the price: .99

Pouty look of helplessness that no one could have refused.

“Will you get it for me?”

Smile, and he added the box to the circular disk of frozen dough.

“Man,” she said with obvious enthusiasm, “that stuff is impossible to find!”

But aside from discovering her favourite snack, he had also found Cher and Laura.  They were playing in the produce aisle.

“Get what you wanted?” the miniature brunette asked, apparently not accepting the evidence he carried as prima facia.

He nodded, then felt loss as Blade detached herself and discovered something new on the floor.  It was a plastic, oversized bat that had a small whiffle ball held to the handle by a cardboard container.  Cher also seemed to find amusement in this.  As Laura moved into the next aisle to pick and choose among small cans, Blade detached the sphere from the blunt instrument.

Eager to play, Matt took the bat and walked several paces away.  Blade flipped the ball to Cher, and then skipped out past her (flashing her a secret smile normally reserved only for Matt) and placed herself in the outfield amid industrial bags of sugar and flour.

Smiling, Cher pitched underhanded at Matt, and he swung at it.  Foul ball: it tipped over the shelves and into the next aisle.

Man...” came a protest from the other side.

Matt looked at the two compatriots.

“I think we should leave,” he suggested.

Cher glanced at her swatch, readily agreed.

Blade walked over to Laura, who was stocking up on some horrid concoction of which black lentils were the prime ingredient.  Placing her arms around the red-head’s waste, she picked Laura up and began carrying her to the check-out aisle.

Matt and Blade queued up for the express line; their neighbors were forced to take one not reserved for people with limited inventory.

With a polite cough, Blade noticed that the sign indicated that this register was for people with ten items or less.  In her world, the express lanes were for people buying ten bytes or less.

The cashier was a cute girl in her teens; dark hair the colour of her spandex, pulled into a loopy pony tail.

Matt and Blade were not the only ones to think she was cute.  Ahead of them, a beefy bull in sweats openly flirted with her.

The cashier returned the smiles and pleasantries, then announced the total.

Suavely, the jock pulled out a coupon book full of blue and brown food stamps.[10]

The smile faded from the clerk; the spell had not only been broken, but smashed.

Blade glanced at Matt with the quivering of a suppressed grin, found he was glancing sidelong at her at precisely the same moment.  The results were almost disastrous.

They whisked right through, turned to see that Cher and Laura had not even reached their cashier yet.  Blade relieved Matt of the small plastic bag, held it up as a mocking prize, and stuck her tongue out at the two.

At least she helped them bag their groceries into the assortment of tote bags they had brought.  It was a bag-your-own-booty operation.

Cher led the way back out to the car, obviously the most eager to make the return trip.  As they piled their bags into the trunk, a thought hit Laura.

“Hey, Matt?” she asked as he and his companion snuggled into the back seat.  “How do you buy groceries?”

Frown.  “Well, I generally pay cash.”

Cher was already maneuvering her little red Hyundai through the four-wheeled obstacle course.  From shotgun, Laura asked, “no, how do you get them?”

Uncertain pause.  “I go to the grocery store?”

Cher and Blade giggled.  Exasperated, Laura pursued “No, how do you go to get them?”

“Oh.  I walk.”

“You walk?” she cried.

Matt shrugged.  “Jewel’s not that far.”  A brisk walk could do it in ten minutes; a leisurely stroll with a Caandelenian of his choice at his side turned it into twenty.

Crossing the Chicago River, Cher decided to star asking inquiries.

“Hey Matt.  What do you know about...  The Devil?”

{pause for thunderclap on soundtrack}

Without missing a beat, Matt gave his stock answer.

“Which one?”

Uncertainly, their driver pursued, “The one in the Bible.”

Matt shrugged.  “A lot.”  This only made sense to him: it was always good tactics to know as much as possible about your enemies.

“What do you need to know?” he asked.

“Where does his name come from?”

“Oh, he has been given many names.  Satan, for instance, is not a proper name; it’s just the Hebrew word for adversary.”

“Adversary?” she asked.  “What’s that?”  Amazingly, it was clear that she did not know what the word meant.

As always, Matt was stunned by her underdeveloped vocabulary.  Recovering quickly, he gave the first synonym to come to his mind: “Uh, opponent.”

“Good word,” Laura acknowledge.

Continuing, Matt said “the devil has many names, which are often contradictory.  For instance, he is often called The Prince of Darkness.  However, Lucifer is actually Latin for “Bringer of Light.”

“What’s the name in the Bible given to him where it says Six Six Six?”

Matt scanned his recollection of Revelations Thirteen Eighteen.

“The Beast...?”

“No,” Cher pursued.  “Wasn’t there a name?”

Matt remembered the Beast, of course, plus references to a Dragon, but not of a proper name.

“I don’t think so.  Then again, I don’t think that’s about the devil, anyway.”


“Yeah.  There was a Roman emperor named Nero, whose musicianship was as bad as his governing.  He wanted to expand his palace, so he set fire to part of the city next to it, and promptly blamed a small upstart group called The Christians for the blaze.  So he outlawed the group, and sentenced all Christians to death.  The persecution was so great that many Christian thinkers believed that Nero was the devil.  666 is the numerological value of his name.  So if you think that passage is about The Devil, then the answer to your question is Neron Caesar.”[11]

Although Matt was used to Cher asking unusual questions of this nature, Laura seemed a little more interested.

“Why the sudden interest?” she asked, concerned.

Cher responded by pulling up to the corner of the laundromat.

“I’ll just drop you two off.  I gotta get back.”

Three passengers deboarded, and Blade commented, “she must have a really hot date.”

Entering, Laura said “Yeah.  Have you two met Drake?”

Matt was already taking damp clothes out of the washers and shoving them into a dryer.

“No; is that his name?”[12]

“Yeah.  He’s eighteen, nice looking...”

Starting his drying cycle, Matt joined her.  “Is he in her dance troupe?”

“No; they met two days ago.  Did either of you two hear them last night?”

Matt had been introducing Blade to the wonders of Chinese food.  “No.  Why: were they going at it?”

“More than once.”

“Well,” said Matt, sitting on a cracked plastic chair, “I would certainly hope so.”  He cast a secret glance at Gretta, was pleased to see her matching it.


“Having sex only once is just so unfulfilling.  I always thought of the first time through as a warm-up.”

Blade nodded.  The two of them shared this view.  In fact, it was the principle reason that the two of them were not lovers.  Not that they hadn’t talked about it—in fact, they averaged discussions on the subject about eight times a day, and both had come to the conclusions that expanding their relationship beyond its platonic status would be a serious problem.


Here’s how Matt pictured it:


They would turn the lights off, curl up in bed, and kiss each other good night.  The passion of that kiss would increase with the length, and within fifteen minutes that curious moment would occur when fooling around evolved into foreplay.  That would be another fifteen minutes minimum.  The actual act would be an eternal half an hour, after which they would curl up again, whispering praises, complements, and Caandelenian terms of affection.  If Blade played her cards right, she’d get a slow, tender back rub (Matt’s back would be too grooved for her to return the favour.)  Over the next fifteen minutes, despite their best efforts, the whispering would become more erotic, as would Matt’s massage.  A soft laugh, a quiet giggle, and then another forty-five minutes to an hour that would unquestionably put the first time to shame.  Exhausted, they would curl up like spoons, Matt quietly listening to her fading purrs and decelerating heartbeat.  After fifteen minutes of calm silence, Blade would murmur “What are you thinking about?”  “Oral sex,” he would whisper, then roll over to demonstrate.  If his demonstration was good, she would return the favour.  If his demonstration was fantastic, she would roll over and attack him.  By the time they were wondering if they had the energy for a third union, they would be five minutes into it.  Another hour, with the desperate passion that only the truly initiated can understand.  Then they’d uncouple and almost immediately slip into exhausted dreams of each other, where the fun was sure to continue in surrealist, subconscious fashion.  And Matt would wake up in that lovable half-haze of semi-consciousness and realize he was in her arms (or, even better, simply in her.)  To his delight, he would find her already awake, looking at him with a smile on her lips and in her eyes.  The night’s sleep would have rebuilt their affections and stamina.  Forty-five minutes later, they would unwind, and as Matt pondered the lengthwise scratch that had mysteriously appeared on his chest, Blade would (despite his offer of a tongue bath) pad into the shower to cleanse herself of sticky sweet sweat and any other remnants of their love.  Matt would find the separation intolerable, and within five minutes would join her under the spigot, then join with her in whatever exotic position(s) the shower allowed.  An hour later they’d emerge, drained, smiling prunes.  While getting dressed, Blade would ask “why is it that whenever I see you putting on your clothes, all I can think of is ripping them off?”  Matt would undoubtedly accept this challenge and oblige her.  Ad infinitum.



These were Blade’s thoughts on the subject:


Basically the same as Matt’s, but with less dialogue and more orgasms.


The problem of sex was obvious to both: they would do nothing else.


Laura brought them back to reality.  “Cher said she’s amazed that the house is still standing.”

“Glad we missed it then.” Blade and Matt said in union.  Blade promptly turned to Matt, delightedly held up an accusing finger.

“You owe me a cooler!”

Smug smile:  “I’m with the band.”

She snapped her fingers reluctantly.  “Aw, shit.”

Clueless to the enigmatic ritual, Laura asked “Got any new Ren & Stimpy’s?”

Matt nodded vigorously.

“Two, as a matter of fact.  One’s got Frank Zappa as The Pope, and the other’s got a visit from Ren’s cousin, Sven.”

That sold her then and their.

“When I’m done with laundry, I’ll come down.”

“Cool,” Matt said, and on cue his clothes stopped spinning.  Blade helped him dump the toasty warm garments into the woodweave basket.  Just as they finished, Laura’s also finished cycle.

They walked back to the Rear House, and on the back steps, Laura said “I’ll either come down, or come up and get me when you’re done.”

Matt nodded as Blade unlocked the house with her set of keys.  She took the clothes into the living room, dumped them on the papasan, and Matt threw his za into the oven.  Happily, they folded clothes, and finished just as his dinner did.

“Gimme, gimme!” she squealed, walking past Matt with an armful of white underwear and socks.  Matt had just put the sizzling circle on a black plate, and was carving it up into four pieces.  When she came out of his bedroom empty handed, she looked over the pie.  Obligingly, Matt held out a slice.

“Too bad you don’t have spinach pizza on Earth,” she said around a mouthful.

“We do,” he replied, his mouth also full.

Wide eyes, and another bite.  “Really?  I love spinach pizza.  Best type there is.”

Matt had finally found something to disagree with, but he kept his silence.  Actually, the jury was still out on whether he liked it.  He’d had it only twice.  Definitely a unique flavour, but each time he didn’t want more than one slice.

Blade, of course, was notorious for polishing off entire spinach pies by herself.

They ate in silence, enjoying the company.

As Matt put the plate in the coffee-stained sink, Blade asked if they should go up and get Laura.  Matt responded by opening the back door.

He rang the doorbell in his signature style (seven buzzes to the tune of shave and a hair-cut—two bits), then opened the unlocked door and headed upstairs.

Laura sat at the kitchen table, chatting amiably on the phone.  She waved at her downstairs neighbors, then answered a question into the receiver.

After only ten seconds, it was obvious that she would be a while.  The two decided to let her talk in private.

Matthew walked into the living room, and surveyed the scene with a professional eye.

In one corner was a large screen tv, on which a very aged Richard Crenna conspired with an actress who suspiciously resembled Rhea Pearlman.  Watching this with interest from the papasan was Cher.  Watching her with interest from the red velvet chair was Drake.

Drake was a gaunt, wiry sinew of dark skin, dark pony-tailed hair, and dark clothes.  The dirty palour extended to an extended growth of dirt on his chin: the closest to a goatee his semi-pubescent hormones could muster.

Blade appeared at Matt’s side, and also disapproved on first sight.

“Hey, what’s up?” Matt called out.

Cher made introductions.  “Matt, Blade, this is Drake.

Drake waved slightly.  Blade nodded.  Matt made a fist, pinkie and index extended.  It was the traditional way of warding off a hex.

Matt sat down lotus-style on the red Persian rug, facing the tv, his back to Drake.  Blade folded up next to him, also positioning herself away from the weasel-faced teen-ager.

The show was typical cheese melodrama, and it thoroughly captivated Cher’s attention.

Fortunately, in dictation with the network’s greed, it was not long before a commercial intervened.  The advertisement was as bad as the program, but this time Cher recognized this and changed the channel.  An ad (thinly disguised as a music video) was replaced by a touching, inspirational documentary about a craftsman with no hands.  This, too, captivated Cher, though Matt was obviously uncomfortable with the disfigurement.  After a minute, he asks,

“Can we watch something other than Amputee Hour?”

What?” asks Cher, her attention jarred.  She clearly didn’t understand what he meant.

“In case you haven’t noticed, the guy’s got no hands.”

Almost instantly, Blade piped in (inaccurately) “Hey Frankie  Wanna go dancing?  Can’t Annette!  Ain’t got no arms!!!!!!!

This shocked Cher.  “God, Matt, you are so harsh!”

“And proud of it, too, baby.  Mind changing the channel?”

She did, and found a suitably bland commercial.

“Hey, Drake,” Cher asked, “is that the same thing as your tattoo?”

“Is what?” inquired Drake, confused.

Matt turned around, and indicated the German medallion on his jacket.

“Oh,” he said, relieved.  “Yeah.”

“What does it mean?” Cher inquired

“Well, its meaning depends on the wearer...”

“I tried to explain about Germany and all that,” Matt told him, “but I don’t know how much she got.”

“I got most of it,” she said defensively.

“Well, of course, there’s the original meaning,” Drake said authoritatively.

“I assume you mean the Crucifixion,” Matt said.  Blade suppresses a smile.

Sad to say, but Jesus Christ was a complete unknown on Caandelen’s Star.  But oddly enough, the shape of the cross did have religious significance associated with triumph over death.  The Bronchus were a small, fanatical movement on Caandelen, and like Christians, had adopted the sign of the Cross to represent them.  The reason the Bronchu’s used a cross stemmed from their unique burial practices.  Most Caandelen tribes at that time burned their dead (largely for warmth), but Bronchus buried their dead, and marked the grave with the corpse’s sword stuck into the ground (hence the symbol.)  The reasons they did this were complex, but the short version was for the ice to preserve the body until the Great Holy War, in which all Bronchus (living and dead) would rise to fight.

Blade was familiar with Bronchu culture (which was how she knew the sign of the cross), though she knew nothing of Earthly religions, save from vague references in the media or from Matt.  However, she suspected—correctly—that many Earthly religions had already employed the cross in various unrelated motifs before 33AD.

“The reasons the Germans adopted it,” continued Drake, “was the same reason they adopted the swastika.  It’s a secret Kwabalistic rune.  The Nazis wanted mastery over the Runes, which is why they tried to kill off the Jews.  Only the Jews had knowledge of the Kwaballa, and the Nazis considered that their greatest threat.”

Matt listened to this explanation, smiled inwardly.  He was aware that the swastika was a Nordic rune, which was a contributing factor to its choice as emblem by a group heavily steeped in that culture.  Same reason they chose the double-S lightning bolts for the Secret State Police, universally known as the SS.  But if the swastika was also a rune from Hebrew usage, he was not aware of it (the distinctly uncharacteristic shape compared to true Jewish runes made him suspect it wasn’t.)  Matt had at least passing familiarity with the runes used in Hebrew theology—usually characters from their alphabet.  That alphabet was called the Cabala.

Matt had seen various spellings for Cabala, had even heard a couple deviant pronunciations of it.  These pronunciations primarily differed with syllable accents.  Of the various spelling permutations, however, he had only once seen it spelled “Qaballa”.  That unique spelling was employed by only one person—plus subsequent disciples of his teachings.

Matt decided to test a hypothesis.

“Well, wait a second,” he said to Drake.  “Others besides Jews had knowledge of the Cabala.”  He made sure to pronounce it in accordance with the way he was familiar with—a pronunciation supported by Webster’s Ninth Collegiate.  Continuing, he said, “For instance, Aleister Crowley had one of the most extensive knowledge’s of the Cabala outside of Jewish orthodoxy, and his writings predate World War Two by forty years.”

He considered adding to Irish classicist James Joyce to the list.  Ulysses, for instance, was loaded with Cabala.  However, he stuck solely to Aleister, and sat back to see if Drake took the bait.

Drake not only nibbled at it, but swallowed so far that the hook lodged in his belly.

“Oh, he did,” Drake said.  “For instance, in his book Magick in Theory and Practice, he clearly says...” and he spews off of lengthy paragraph from memory.

Matt nodded, his theory confirmed.

“Crowley was one of the greatest magicians of our time,” Drake said reverently, and Matt succeeded in masking his cough by shifting his position.  To his surprised delight, he shifted into a warm, snuggly backdrop, and felt Blade contort to comfortably accept him.  “However,” Drake went on, “He broke one of his own laws by making himself public.”

Matt shook his head sadly, masked this by returning his attention to the television, which had resumed the drama of the boy who divorced his parents.  Silently, though, he wondered at Drake’s reading list.  If he were truly a student of Cabala, he would have unquestionably seen some of the different spellings, and eventually have realized he was pronouncing the word wrong.

Laura saved the day by coming in.

“Ready?” she asked the two semi-twined figures.  Eager to be out of there, Matt got up, offered Blade a helping hand.  She accepted it, did not release it when she was erect.  Indeed, she squeezed his hand twice, smiled when he reciprocated with a like number.

“Bye,” Matt called to the two remainders, and led the way downstairs.

“So,” asked Laura when they entered his house, “what do you think of Drake?”

Matt answered with a straight face: “His haphazard grasp of apocryphal knowledge is well-suited to his ostentatiousness.”

Blade knew nothing about the details of the conversation, but none-the-less had picked up that Matt’s assessment seemed to be accurate.  She smiled at the wording of the response.  Fortunately, Laura’s vocabulary was only slightly better than Cher’s, so the description only had meaning to Blade.

Laura folded up onto Matt’s sofa, Blade folded up onto Matt’s papasan (making sure their was enough room for him to join her.)  After turning on the tv and turning off the lights, he did.

Their laughter at the twisted mind of John Krisfalussi was doubtless heard upstairs.  After two episodes, however, Laura sighed.

“Man, I have got so much to do,” she complained.  Silently, Matt wondered that if this was true, why had she blown off an hour watching Ren & Stimpy.  Instead, he looked at the clock on his vcr.  Two minutes to midnight.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I think I’m going to bed.”

The shape clinging to him shifted amorphously.

“Cool,” said Laura, getting up.  “I’ll probably see you tomorrow.”

Matt let her out, and locked the door behind her.

He looked over at Blade, who obligingly was turning off the tv and vcr.

“I’m going to crash,” he told her.

The back of her white head nodded.  “Me too.  I’ll be in in a minute.”

Like Matt, Blade almost always read before she went to bed; unfortunately she didn’t have any of her reading material here.  She went into Matt’s den, felt along the wall for the light switch.  It was right above the airline motion sickness bag full of trinkets from his visit to Toronto three years ago.  She flipped the toggle, and considered Matt’s library.

Staring back at her were the vacant eyes of an animal skull.  From the angle she viewed it at, it looked avian, though in fact it was porcine.  Blade’s trained eye detected signs of an amateur cleaning; she wondered if Matt had played taxidermist.  Directly over it was a maroon sign:


New York Times

Best Sellers




Behind, Matt’s library.  Polite cough when she saw they were indexed alphabetically.  Blade had a much better filing system: chronologically in the order she read them.  Right now, one title was as good as another; she scanned the unfamiliar names.  Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov, Clive Barker, Bhagivad Ghita, Bible,,,


That was the book she’d heard so much about.  She had to admit, she was curious to know what all the fuss was about.  But also, the encounter with Drake had left her wondering.  He had mentioned the Bronchu symbol, and hinted that it had cryptic meaning found in this book.  A fanatic for inside jokes, Blade absolutely loved deciphering other’s cryptography to learn their secrets.  So aside from expanding her mind, she would also keep an eye out for a cross, and any symbolism attached.

Pulling the book down, she killed the light and went into Matt’s room, intent on reading The Holy Scriptures.


Blade on the Bible

Day One


Matt was taking his contacts out.  Blade smiled at the sight.  She’d worn glasses for twenty-two years, until she could afford permanent corrective surgery.  She was glad to get rid of them, though she had to admit, the big round frames did look cute on her.

She tossed the book onto the mattress, then pulled her arms into her oversized t-shirt.  The fabric sprouted lumps and bumps as she did some bizarre contortionist routine, and a moment later thrust her arm through the sleeve, a mangled brassiere clenched in her fist.  Absently, she dropped it on the floor where the laundry basket would have been if Matt had brought it in from the living room.  Her jeans she was a little more careful with.  She actually folded those, because she’d be wearing them in the morning, and nothing felt more yucky than used, rumpled clothes.  Her ankle socks joined the growing pile in the corner.

She cracked her knuckles, stretched her arms and shoulders, and then bent at the waste and wrapped her arms around her knees.  Matt screwed shut the lid on his green contact case and put on his glasses.  It was certainly pleasant to go from the blurry pandemonium of distortion to the crystal-clear vision of Gretta.  He studied her form while she loosened up.  Her shirt had slid down to her neck, exposing a creamy back with a mountain range of defined vertebrae leading up to the slightly askew border of her panties.

Aware that she was being studied, she righted herself, and Matt peripherally saw a hint of a delectable fleshy whiteness shifting under the shirt.  Hair fell in loose folds around her face, partially concealing her eyes but not her tepid smile.

“You have a nice body,” he said simply, truly conveying the complement.  This made her smile on the inside as well as out.  Walking up to him, she put her hand lightly on his chest.

“Thank you,” she said, walking past him.  “I try.”  She pulled the hand away, dragging nails lightly across him, and went into the darkness of the living room to do thirty-three push-ups and one hundred sit-ups.

She came back slightly sticky but not breaking a sweat.  Matt was almost disappointed.  Caandelenian glands had evolved slightly, because sweat-loss meant heat loss.  They didn’t perspire nearly as much; a by-product of this was what sweat there was had an odd, sweet smell to it.  Not perfume, of course, but when compared to other aromas of perspiration (especially Hamaddi)...

Matt liked the smell anyway.

He watched her walk around to the far side of the bed, and scooting in between the frame and the wall, turn on a lanky lamp. It had two bulbs; she activated both for optimum reading.  She pulled the blanket back, and smiled at the sheets.  Cartoon sheep were grazing on a green pasture.  Cute.  She climbed in, snuggled into place, and picked up the Bible.

“Some light reading, eh?,” Matt commented jokingly, having already noted her choice.  He himself was reading Oscar Wilde.

She turned to look at him.  “I assume I should start at the beginning?”

Shrug.  “Only if you want to.  It’s divided into two parts, the Old Testament and the New.”

“What’s the difference?”

“The Old Testament is mostly background.  It gives the history of a group of people who were egotistical enough to think that only they were the chosen ones of God.  This egotism obviously led to a lot of problems, and ultimately their nation was conquered by enlightened heathens because of it.  But since they still clung to the belief that they were chosen, they also thought that a special person would come along and lead them from the darkness.  The New Testament is about that person, his life, and his teachings.”

“I assume this person was Jesus,” Blade said, opening the book to the table of contents.

“Actually, his real name was Yeshua Ben Yoseph, or Joshua Joseph’s Son, but I doubt that he minds that none of his followers call him by his correct name.”

“So Christians are merely the chosen people after Jesus came.”

Matt laughed, took her hand and squeezed it affectionately.

“Do you know that several centuries ago, you would have been burned at the stake for saying that?”  She frowned at this, and without realizing it, began absently running her thumbnail along the contours of his hand.

“You see,” Matt explained, taking secret delight at the attention his hand was getting, “not all of the Jews, which is what that group called themselves, acknowledged that Jesus was this special person spoken of in the Old Testament.  You see, Jesus did not fulfill all of the prophecies associated with the coming of this person.  For instance, in a book called Isaiah, which I am particularly fond of, it says that all creatures—both man and animals—would stop killing each other and live in peace and harmony when the messiah comes.  This clearly did not happen.  In fact,” he said, and his thumb joined hers in its playful motion, “when Jesus was alive and active, a group of terrorists called the Zealots were actively trying to rid the Jews of their conquerors.  Shortly after his death, they rose in a bloody open revolt.”

Blade cocked an eyebrow.  “How’d they do?”

“A small collective of farmers and fishermen took on an empire that not only ruled the world but was at the height of its power.  How do you think they did?”

Blade nodded.  “Got their butt’s wiped, eh?”

“Beaten like an ugly stepchild.  In fact, it was probably the single biggest disaster to ever befall the Jews.  But while the Jews were being exterminated, Christians actually started to thrive, thanks to the writings of a hunchback midget named Paul.  Remember, Jesus was a Jew, and came as their messiah.  However, his teachings attracted a lot of ‘pagan’ attention, and someone asked Paul if a non-Jew could become a Christian.  Paul thought about it and said ‘yes’.  This one word changed the history of the planet.”

“Because now anyone could become a Christian?”

Matt nodded, felt the warmth of her hand rise a degree.

“Even an alien from another planet?” she asked, sounding almost hopeful.

“Even an alien from another planet,” he confirmed.

“So what exactly constitutes being a Christian?”

Matt laughed long and hard—which she found odd—and squeezed her hand tenderly—which she found nice.

“That, my dear, is he sixty-four thousand dollar question.  If you ask ten different Christians what makes somebody a Christian, you’ll get ten different answers and probably five fist fights.”

Seeing Blade laugh at this, he continued, “hey, that’s no joke.  There have been a number of brutal wars that lasted for decades, fought between Christian groups who believed that their way—and only their way—was the correct way to be a Christian.”

This made Blade frown.  “I thought Jesus’s message was one of love.”

Matt shrugged.  “Well, what Jesus’ message was depends on which follower you ask.  Unfortunately, the people who took over the various leadership mantles after his death have been consistently inept, incompetent, and eminently corrupt.  Worse, in the past two thousand years, Jesus’s message has often been perverted to suit specific needs, or just simply poorly interpreted.  That’s one of the main reasons there are so many different types of Christians.”

“So what type of Christian are you?”

She didn’t understand why Matt was chuckling, but since she enjoyed seeing him in a good mood, she waited until he was done to ask her next question.

“You are a Christian, aren’t you?”

Matt smiled at her in a way that endeared him to her forever.

“Do you know, you are the first person to ask me that question point blank?  Everybody has always assumed one thing or another, but no one has ever bothered to ask.”

“So,” she said, pleased to have asked him something new, “are you a Christian, or aren’t you?”

Matt took a deep breath, was silent for several long moments as he worded his answer.

“All the different forms of Christianity ultimately fall into two camps, and even then it’s just a matter of emphasis.  However, every Christian, or at least, every true Christian, must ultimately choose sides by asking themselves a fundamental question.”

“What’s that?”

“Which is more important: The Man or The Message?”

He let her think about that for a second.

“It’s a no-win situation, of course,” he said after a bit.  “If you choose The Man, then almost all of this,” and he indicated the table of contents after the gospels, “is meaningless.  If you choose The Message, then things like the resurrection become irrelevant.”

“Which do you choose?”

“I choose to interpret a third option,” was all he said.

Blade was now more curious than ever to read the book and find out for herself what The Man and The Message was.

“I approve of Christ’s message,” Matt continued, “and I do my best to follow it.  Or at least the parts I agree with, which happens to be most of it.  If living your life in the manner of Christ’s Message makes one a Christian, then I guess I am a Christian.  In fact, I think too much emphasis has been placed on him and not enough on his message.  There’s a very famous passage, in which Jesus says ‘I am the way.’  Personally, I don’t think he was referring to Himself, as those who emphasize The Man believe, but rather he meant his teachings.  More emphasis has been placed on the meaning and significance of his birth his birth and death than on his words.”

“So what do you think about The Man?” Blade asked.

This prompted a smile, and a renewed flourish of thumb tracing.

“Misconceptions about my thoughts concerning Him are what usually prompt people to categorize me as un-Christian, and again this is because no one has bothered to actually ask me what those thoughts are.  And even with these thoughts, I would be considered a Christian, except for a minor semantical problem.”  Reluctant to let go of Blade’s hand, he reached over with his free one to his night table, picked up a tiny brandy snifter, and drained it of the skim milk inside.  Putting it back, he continued, “Jesus was the messiah.  I honestly think that he was.  Not only because he was a blood descendant from both King David and Aaron the High Priest, but more importantly, because everybody made him into the messiah.  My semantical problem has to do with his origins.  I believe that Jesus was divinely inspired, but I have trouble believing that he was of divine origin.  Then again, we run into the semantical problems with a definition of divine.  To me, this is only a minor difference, but to others, it is all the difference in the world.  Believe it or not, my thoughts are in line with Old Testament and first-century Christian thinking.  Messiahship was something bestowed upon someone by God; the divine origin concept actually didn’t appear until 325ad, at the Council of Nicaea.  Even then they had to vote on it, and it wasn’t unanimous.”

“Maybe it took them three hundred years to realize the truth,” pointed out Blade with a smile.

Matt shrugged.  “I have no problem with the thought of him physically being The Son of God; it’s just that as of now I don’t think that he was, or at least not as Catholic doctrine teaches.  But to me it doesn’t even matter: his origins are not as important as his message, and to me the semantical nature of his origins in no way diminishes the importance of his message.  So by first century standards, I would be considered a Christian, but by twentieth century I am...”

“...a heretic.” Blade finished for him with a smile.

...and a very lonely one, Matt thought, because Beth does not understand or acknowledge my point of view...  To Blade, he continued,

“Then again, heresy is Greek for choice, and I think Choice is one of the most important gifts God gave us.  And I find strength and faith through my interpretations and choices.  No two people are alike.  Even the twelve apostles saw Jesus differently.  And if Jesus truly came for all of us, then it only stands to reason that there would be a way for everyone to find Him.  I can’t find Him using the Orthodox[13] methods, but using alternate ways, He is clear to me.  Or at least clearer.  And this is where I think fundamentalist groups have erred: they are more concerned with the means one finds Jesus, not with the end result of actually having found Him.”

“It does seem to be important, though,” Blade said, “because so far in this conversation I haven’t heard you use the word ‘saviour’.”

“I haven’t used the word ‘meatloaf’, either.  Does that mean I’m a vegetarian?”

Seeing her camped-up growl, he said “Fine.  Saviour breath and just read the book.”

Blade had already found the New Testament index, and was amused to see that the first thing listed was The Gospel of Matthew.

“The first book is Matthew,” she said with a smile.  “Seems like an excellent place to start.”

She frowned when her bed-mate coughed politely.

“What?” she asked.

“Oh, while I am as always tempted to defend my name-sake, the truth is, Matthew is probably the Gospel I am least happy with.”


“Matthew occasionally goes out of his way to make Jesus fulfill some of the prophecies in the Old Testament.  Worse, he is obsessed with an important Old Testament character named Moses, and often goes to great pains to parallel Jesus with Moses.  Personally, I think it becomes distracting from the over-all picture, but that’s me.”

“Oh.  So if I want to read about Jesus, where should I start?”

“There are four Gospels that tell his story, in this Anthology, at least.  Three of them are very similar, and to an extent, if you’ve read one, you’ve read all three.  The fourth one is pretty different.”

Blade scanned the list, studied the names.

“Who were these people?”

“Well, Matthew was a tax collector, which is another reason to treat him with suspicion.  I think Luke was a doctor; I’m not sure what Mark was.  And there’re different theories about who John  was.”


“I’ve heard everything from a simple fisherman, to a disgruntled Pharisee, to a pseudonym for a guy named Lazarus, who Jesus brought back from the dead.”

“Oh, that was nice of Him,” said Blade.

“Not really.  Lazarus was dying, but rather than go heal him, Jesus said “oh, he’ll be fine” and hung out in the desert for a couple of days.  When he finally shows up, ol’ Laz had already been entombed.”


“But then again, I wasn’t there, so I’m in no position to judge.  Anyway, if you want my opinion, I suspect that in many ways, that Gospel is probably the most accurate of the four.  Or at least, the most unique.”

Blade nodded, and turned her attention to the Gospel of John.  Matt watched her a moment, and then returned to The Importance of Being Ernest.  He was almost done anyway, and in ten minutes had it finished.

Dropping the coverless novel on the floor, he turned on his side and studied the albino next to him.  Her eyes kept darting from the text to the annotations at the bottom.

“I don’t understand the footnoting system[14],” she said.

Matt laughed.  “Those aren’t footnotes; there verse markers.  Where are you?” he asked.

“I just finished His wedding.”

Matt nodded.  “The wedding at Canna, where He performed His first miracle.”

She looked from the columns of script to him.  “I may have missed something, but who’d He get married to?”

Matt frowned.  “I’m sorry?”

“That was His wedding, obviously.  Who’d He marry?”

Matt was stunned for several moments.

“Uh, I don’t think that was His...”

Blade laughed at him.  “Oh come on!   Of course it was!  Look, His mother’s there, clearly acting as chaperon.  They run out of wine, and she tells the servants ”do what He tells you to.“  That’s something only the hostess would do.  Then Jesus takes it upon Himself to supply the booze for the party—and again, only the host (or the groom) would do that—and one of the partygoers addresses the groom ‘I see you’ve been saving the best for last.’ ”

“But I don’t think Jesus was married.  He was a rabbi; maybe he was there performing the ceremony.”

Of course, Matthew was unaware that by Hebraic law it was mandatory for a rabbi to be married.  And in Jesus’ own words, Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, ...he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.[15]  Through His own logic, He as a rabbi would have had to have at least one wife to fulfill the Law.

Blade shrugged.  “Actually, I think it would have been neat if he were married.”


“What better endorsement for the institution?  Especially if He only took one, because couldn’t they have as many as they wanted?”  Matt was now laughing uncontrollably.  “No,” she continued, “I think it would be sweet!”

Matt shook his head sadly, amazed at what a completely unbiased—indeed, alien—perspective had brought.  As if on cue, she dropped another bombshell on him.

“I used to be married.”

“I didn’t know that!”

Playful nod.  “Long time ago.  Not spiritually, not even legally, really.  But I lived with Jack for over a year, and on White Light, that constitutes a common law marriage.”

“Jack,” Matt repeated.  “He was the,” and he tapped his right collar bone, analogous to the location of where the captain’s bars were on her jacket.  She nodded.

“Actually, I guess that makes me a widow.  Well, actually, they never did recover his body.  I’d just heard third hand.”  The words trailed off as she slipped into memory mode.

“What’s it like being married?” he asked, shifting her back to the present.

Playful, approving nod and a secret smile.  “Orgasm every night and there’s someone else to do the dishes.”  Blade dog-eared the page and carefully put the book on the floor.  “Can’t beat that,” she said with a smile.

Matt had to admit that he couldn’t.  Reaching over, he snapped off the light.



rustle rustle squeak rustle

soft impact of white lacy silk landing in the corner

whisper: “Good night, Gretta

whisper: “Good night, Matthew

soft, moist interaction, ending in a series of tender smackings


rustle rustle squeak rustle


unintelligible Caandelenian murmur


loud thump


muffled patter

double-time thunk

feminine moan

heavy, muffled interaction

masculine grunt with feminine chorus over a bedspring backbeat


Gretta: “Cher and Drake are going to be at it for a while, aren’t they.”

Matt: (sigh of despair) “Yep.”

On cue from upstairs: “oh my god!”

Matt’s queen bed began vibrating in off time: Cher’s bed was directly above him, and both beds were against the same supporting wall.

“He’s not very good, is he?”

Tremendously loud thump only thinly muted by the floorboard.


“Wanna head over to my place?”

choppy groan, increasing with the mattress tectonics.



Matt squinted at the light: his eyes had just adjusted to the night.  He reached over to put on his glasses, missed the sight of Blade pulling back the blanket.  Her night shirt had adopted a posture that Hugh Hefner only dreamed of capturing on film, though it fell back into place as she climbed out.  She had already slipped back into her jeans when Matt reverted his attention to her.  Her attention was on the ceiling, and her left hand was tapping out a rhythm synchronous to the one overhead.  She looked like someone marking time during one of Zappa’s more bizarre creations.

Man,” she said, shaking her head sadly.

Matt was in his jeans by then, and heading into the kitchen.  He smiled when he noticed that she carried his Bible in one hand; apparently, she intended to continue her readings.  Good for her.  He handed her jacket as she joined him, and then slipped into his.  Collecting his keys, he locked the back door behind her, and they headed out into the night.

“The busses don’t run this late, do they?” she asked, heading north up the alley.

“No, but we can hike it.”

She shivered at the temperature, and Matt obligingly put an arm around her.  She pressed close for the warmth, and slipped an arm around him, depositing her free hand in his jacket pocket.  Matt’s other hand joined hers inside, and fingers interlocked.  A moment later, four squeezes: two from her, two from him in response.  She looked at him, smiled, and syncopated her pace to match his.

They walked east along Diversey, not needing to talk to enjoy each other’s company.  The closest to conversation came when they passed the Bel Air: she squeezed his hand, glanced at the transient lodge, and flashed her eyebrows at him.  He kissed her lightly on the lips, ending it with an affectionate nip.

Two blocks later, they reached the northern tip of Lincoln Park.  They both took note of the black monolith homage to Alexander Hamilton, and began making 2001 wailing noises.[16]

Just as the lake shore became visible, they hung a left and entered the lobby of a very large apartment tower.

“Evening, Miss Asmodeus,” the doorman said to her, unlocking the vestibule with an ornate key attached to his vest by a gold chain.  She nodded her greetings to the man in the red velvet monkey suit, and freeing herself from her companion, went over to the mail grid.  Her slot, to her disappointment, was empty.

“I’m being ignored,” she complained as she joined him by the elevator.  Matt promptly began to pay attention to her as the lift light devalued itself.


They stepped into the lift, relieved that the taped music was turned off at that hour.  She keyed the twenty-third floor, and they rode up smiling.  Looseness in the knees as the vehicle slowed, and then the doors whisked apart.  Matt stepped out of the elevator and into another world.

At the end of the moodily lit hallway, a Saladrin was labourously qeying entry into an airloq.  Blade called out “Hey, Chocolate!” and the creature turned around, waived an appendage.

"Hey, Blade," floated out the synthetic voice.  ”How's it going?”

She put an arm back around her male comrade to show that things were going all right.

The suit dipped slightly as Ch'Kk'Litt nodded.  ”God, today sucked.  I need a long, hot pressure bath.”  The airloq broke suction and parted.  As Blade called out “enjoy!”, he again waved and disappeared inside.

As the airlock closed, Matt said “huh.”

“What?” inquired Blade, stopping outside her door.

“For some reason, I’d pictured them differently.”

“Well,” said Blade, her attention on the numeric key pad, “welcome to reality.”

She stepped into her studio, and from the hallway Matt saw her white form enveloped by darkness.

“Lights, please” she announced, and a moment later soft white light illuminated soft white walls.

Matt joined her inside, and the door shut itself behind.  He looked around the studio, liked what he saw.

Blade pulled off her jacket, tossed it at a thoroughly comfey white chair, missed.  It landed on a white Persian rug, and was joined a moment later by his blue jacket.  He walked down the split-level, looking out the far wall.  That wall was, in fact, a full-length window offering a nice view of the Blackmoore II skyline.  One of the moons, a chalky blue crescent, was peeking over the horizon, casting murky illumination on the ocean through the misty clouds.  The whole view was blurred by a hazy attempt at rain.

“Want a drink?” came a voice from his right.

He turned to look, saw no Caandelenians but only a well-stocked white-wood bar.  Resting on top of it was a blender with two plume-tailed goldfish swimming around inside.  He smiled at the sight, increased the expression when Blade stood up with a glass jug of milk.  Red smears of lipstick were visible on the lid when she uncapped it.

“No thanks,” he replied, and walked to the centre of the room, where a huge drop-cloth was spread out.  On it was an impressively-sized chunk of malachite, and several smaller pieces of jasper.  By a work kit full of a variety of chisels was a perfect cube of synthetic ivory.  The real stuff was illegal, of course—not that she would have used it if it wasn’t.  The synth was a lot cheaper, and only analysis at the atomic level could tell it from the real stuff.

Furthermore, Blade considered ivory to be not only proof of God’s existence, but of how lazy He was.  It was improbable at best that the same substance would appear in such distinctly unrelated creatures like elephants and walruses.  She supposed that when God was making one, He said “Hmmmm—I need something for a tusk, but what?  Hey, I’ve got tons of the stuff left over from when I did the whales...  who’ll ever know?”

Matt studied the jasper, saw that she was sculpting it into a tree trunk.

“Nice,” he said as she joined him.  She smiled her thanks, an expression that quickly turned into a yawn.  He followed her over to the far wall, where she climbed a wooden ladder up to a home-made loft reminiscent of those from his FSU dorm days.

There was enough room to stand on the structure, but just barely.  Even though Matt’s head cleared the ceiling, he still felt like he should hunch over.

Blade placed the Bible on a small night table, right next to a humongous brandy snifter.  Inside happily swum five small fish—black, white, yellow, blue, and red.

“You really like fish, don’t you?” asked Matt, taking off his high tops.

“Fish are great,” she said, and untucked her oversized white shirt.  “They’re calming, they don’t make any noise, and you don’t have to clean up after them.”  The shirt fell to its full length, around her thighs.  Reaching under, he heard a snap and a prolonged zip, and then she erotically slipped out of her pants.

She’s doing this on purpose, Matt swore as he watched the display.  I know she is.

She climbed under the sheets, and then her knees formed the backbone of a mountain as she adjusted her gown to a more demure position.  Smile, and she patted the mattress next to her.  Matt climbed in next to her.

“Lights off,” she announced, and the overhead globes extinguished.

Darkness, but not silence: against the window, it began to rain.  It sounded soothing, pleasant.

A moment later, Matt felt a warm shape glide up to him and match his contours perfectly.  Callused finger pads with claws traced over his chest, took on weight as she rested her arm around him.

Soft purr: “Yatnah rahw, Mahhthee’uah.”

Faint glimmer of white as he smiled.  “Yatnah rahw, Bah’layudd.”

The glimmer of white was matched next to him, then both snuffed out as they came together.

Soft moistness entered his mouth, probed his tongue, and then she climbed inside and performed fellatio on his tonsils.  Matt’s tongue gave chase back into her mouth, and suddenly she brought her teeth together, pulled them lightly along his tongue, applied light pressure on the tip, and a moment later her lips closed around the surface as she drew it back into her mouth.  Lips pressed as she continued to suck on his pink appendage.  Muffled mewing; this was new.  Tongues danced in complex choreography, only reluctantly withdrew.  As they pressed lips together in parting signature, both were forced to admit that that was probably the best good-night kiss they had ever gotten.

“Good night, Blade,” Matt murmured.

“Yatnah rahw, Matt,” she huskily repeated, ran her fingers up his spine, returned to scratch the small of his back, and then rolled over onto her other side.

Matt brought his hand up to her neck, swept her luxurious albinic mane out of his face, and placed his head next to hers on the downy pillow.  She lay there for several minutes, listening to the soft rain, enjoying the warm sensation of his breath on the long contours of her neck.  A soft purr escaped the back of her throat as he lightly ran the tip of his tongue over the circumference of his lips.  Seeing the reaction (and feeling it: her body began to vibrate as the purr rippled her frame) he pressed his lips to the delicate white flesh and graced her with a soft kiss.

Barely audible: “You’re wicked, Mahhthee’uah.”

Both purring and breathing became choppy as the tip of his tongue reappeared, tracing soft circles of saliva.  Her hand found his and squeezed lightly as his lips encompassed the graceful curves of her neck and began to lightly suck.  She shivered as his breath chilled the trails of wetness, sending shudders down her spine and into him.  His mouth moved around gently, making sure the suction was never too great or too consistent: he had learned the hard way how delicate Caandelenian skin was.  After their very first night together, she awoke with her whole neck blackened with a giant hickey.  Blade closed her eyes, enjoying the delicate care she was receiving.  Matthew’s sensuous technique rivaled Anjel’s.  Anjel had been superb at this, but considering her nature, that was only understandable.  The only problem had been her continuous temptation to bite (hard enough to break skin.)  And despite continuous assurances at the lack of danger, Blade was still too frightened to allow that.

As if on cue, she felt Matt’s incisors gently rake their way down her jugular to the soft nape.

Blade couldn’t stand it any more: she promptly rolled over, straddled his chest, and retaliated on his neck with trick’s straight out of her old lover’s elaborate inventory.

Slowly, she painted his neck with sweet saliva, then ran the fleshy brush up the side of his face, delighted by the faint, coarse stubble that dotted the surface.  Dipping deeply into his mouth, she squeezed her legs around him as they interlocked in another passionate kiss.  Her hands found his, and both interlocked tightly as she withdrew and sucked on his chin.  Teeth ran lightly over it, worked their way to his adams apple.  Her lips felt it quiver as a soft sound issued forth.  Slowly she moved, causing her shirt to ride up on her.  Matt felt something hard and fleshy brush over his tummy, and he loosed a long, deep breath.  After a delightful eternity, the tip of her tongue found his belly button, and flicked in to tease nerve clusters.  Matt wasn’t sure if he should giggle or moan.  Delighted as always with the rediscovery of his total ticklishness, she matted the growth of curly hair under his navel, and felt him grip her hand a final time before moving his hand to the back of her neck, where he gently massaged her and ran fingers through the thick milky strands.  Feeding off his emotion, she playfully bit at his belly button, which produced that strange strangled sound of tormented delight before going d[...]






At this point the text is heavily damaged, making translation difficult at best and ambiguous at worst.  Indeed, the remaining parts have proved to be a point of scholarly debate.  There is, of course, little doubt that Marjorie balances her trademark erotique with the specifically-stated platonic nature of this story’s relationship.  However, Dr. John. E. Khumlaytlee asserts that the number of times the word “mouth” appears during the remaining text (twenty-three times over the five paragraphs) is—to say the least—suspicious.  But given Marjorie’s past history of sensuousness rather than pornography, this can be, if not dismissed, then easily explained.  However, references in the beginning of the next chapter, Holy Saturday, add to the debate.   The sudden deviation from standard style these references display have prompted many Farrellogists to wonder if the end of Good Friday and beginning of Holy Saturday were deliberately altered-and/or expurgated spuriously by later revisionists.

These questions may never be answered, though most consider it to be a minor point, anyway.  Ultimately it is up to the reader to judge, and readers will be given that chance with the forthcoming publications of parts two and three of Lady Gretta’s Discovery.

[on to Holy Saturday]

[1]  Not three words into the story, and already Marjorie has dropped a cryptic bombshell on us.  Debate rages to the meaning of the enigmatic epitaph.  Dr. Andrew Lloyd Alucard, pointing to the Easter theme, says that the term is a corruption of “Good Fried Egg.”  Prof. Octave Sqwatz offers a twist on this, claiming that in Earthly tradition, Good Friday was the day that Jesus (see below) was crucified.  Not surprisingly, Dr. Jg'st'Tek objects, saying “What's so good about that?”  Instead, he points to the overall events transcribed as occurring during this specific day, and says “if I were this 'Matthew,' it would be a good day indeed.”


[2] Beatles were curious Earth insects, now extinct, though probably similar in shape if not size to an Arctangian MegaRoach.  Many Earthly insects were known to produce rhythmic noises, such as crickets and cicadas; we assume beatles also fall into this category.


[3] Boxing, according to Dr. Alucard, was a form of Earthly punishment where two criminals would get into a round arena called a “ring” and pummel each other until only one was left standing.  Very similar to the New RaMathian children’s game, “I Got You Last.”


[4] The meaning of these letters are not clear.  Dr. James “Daffy” Dills suggests an acronym for “Death And Dismemberment Gone Beyond Extreme.”  Dr. Muriel Volestrangler offers “Does Anybody Dig Garbage Belched Erroneously(?).”  Dr. Jg'st'Tek authoritatively hypothesised "Don't Anger Devils God Bless Everyone."  When Prof. Zewbinn Maytahh suggested they were nothing more mundane than open notes on the then-used twelve-note chromatic scale, 'Tek drowned him out with an atonal symphony of Saladrin white noise.


[5] Nine divided by four is 2.25, which Dr. Connie Ba’al asserts was how many seconds this song lasted.  Again, Prof. Maytahh offers that it refers to nine quarter notes in a measure.  Dr. Jg'st'Tek flatly denounces this, with a cry of "measure this, farm boy!" and an accompanying display of pseudopodia.  'Tek later wrote "…that since it is established that Blade likes to dance, she would not show such enthusiasm for something with such an odd meter." (why you are wrong, p.88)


[6] Why anyone would keep water in a closet is unclear.


[7] Susan’s identity remains a mystery, though Dr. Allucard found a reference to a lazy-susan “being the creation of Thomas Jefferson.”


[8] It really is, for this trick has been repeatedly demonstrated with proxies of the dollar bill denominations still extant in museums and private collections.  Allcuard, using a $5, noted that, properly folded, Lincoln’s beard made it look like he had venereal disease.


[9] This reference to an interplanetary, or “world” war, confuses most, because the story is clearly set some 300 years before Earth’s first real interplanetary war with the Mean Blue Methane Bursts from Uranus.  It could be an allusion to the Sirian B Grays’ secret machinations against Earth (and the scattered resistance) following the contemporary Roswell Massacre.


[10] According to Dr. Alucard, many perishable food items on Earth were stamped with water-soluble dies to indicate quality and expiration date.  The cashier is apparently put off by the fact that he had such a stamping set.


[11] This has proven to be another line of contention between Farrelogists familiar with primitive pagan cryptography.  Dr. Eddie “Phlo” Leach insists that this line is a dead giveaway that Marjorie didn’t write this.  In Old American English (the language of Marjorie’s prose) there are twenty-six letters, so assuming A=1, B=2, etc; Neron Caesar would equal 110 — hardly 666.  However, Dr. Jg'st'Tek points out that if the name were written in Hebrew (a dialect Marjorie was unfamiliar with) as nrvn qsr, with n=50, r=200, v=6, q=100, s=60, it would add up quite nicely.  This numerical system is known as gematria (which he assures us is delicious with lemon and a room-temperature white wine.)  However, Dr. Cornelius Mousebender, who also knows gematria (though in a fondu format with a chilled burgandy) says that in Hebrew, the final n of nrvn would, according to proper Hebrew grammer, actually be n (=700), and that he is ommiting y (=10) from both spellings.  Dr. Leach had planned to do an exhaustive lecture on this subject, but unfortunately was killed by a letter bomb that exploded him into One thousand three hundred and forty-six pieces.  Evidence points that the letter bomb was post-marked from the Daegstrom Institute, and police are currently conducting an investigation.


[12] According to Linguist-at-large John E. Khumlaytlea, a Drake is another word for a dragon, and since later fragments of the story reveal that the character’s real name was Raymond, suggests that Raymond chose the name as a dark pseudonym.  However, Dr. Phong Tzu Xec Berklowitz offers evidence that a drake was also a duck, and suggests a Marjorie pun, “because the character of (Raymond) is such a quack.”


[13] According to the Ling-O-Matic 3000 qompuserver at  Rance Mohanitz University, Orthodox translates to ‘Straight Thinking.’  The LOM3000 also provided commentary that the Orthodox rationalle worshiping Jesus on Earth was: Jesus was their King, their King was killed, so that Death must be a Divine Plan.  The LOM began to point out this was not “Straight Thinking,” but “Sour Grapes Rationalization” when the machine suddenly suffered mechanical problems.  Dr. Jg'st'Tek, who happened to be on hand, quickly offered his services to fix the machine (despite publicly disagreeing with it,) but after he began on-the-spot maintenance, the problems became fatal and the machine crashed.


[14] Neither do we; annoying, aren’t they?


[15] The source of this quote is unknown.


[16] A recent Saladrin exploration (as of 23/6/95) by Drs. Ma'Thom'Fa and Ja'Wa'see in the area revealed a heavily tarnished statue of the colonial figure, but no accompanying monolith.  Granted, the two were cruising for parking and could not survey the site properly, but it does cast doubts upon the story’s authenticity.  Dr. Jg'st'Tek is but one of the many Farrellogists who claim that while the obelisk may not exist now, it certainly could have existed then.  'Tek is also heading the “Rebuild the Marjorie Obelisk” foundation, and is currently accepting donations for the project.