Monday, August 20, 2007

Episode 16: A Virtual Stranger

What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, a massive ash tree mysteriously grows overnight inside the shop. Following a miraculous weekend which saves the coffee shop, Andrew suddenly and inexplicably leaves work in the company of a mysterious and fatally attractive woman...

Her sign in name would have been some warning, if Andrew had only known that the arrival of the Tree meant an arrival of many magical things. He'd been on the dating site, chatting with people in one of the many rooms, when Suck-u-bi had signed in. Nothing really all that shocking there. Sign in names at the singles sites were rife with all sorts of lewd innuendos, some subtle, others not. What was rare in Andrew's experience was to have one of the overt types send him a private message.

Suck-u-bi (18 f): Hey, I see you're in Edmonton. Me too.

Coffee-in-Edmonton (26 m): Hi. What brings you by the chat tonight?

Suck-u-bi (18f): Bored, I guess.

The most common reason anyone gave for being at an online chat. Which was bullshit for most people. They could as easily and more honestly have written horny, desperate, or lonely, but they almost always wrote bored. But that would have been disclosure, and caution was wise, even in the digital world. It never ceased to amaze Andrew how much it stung being shut down by someone who was in every way the word could mean, a virtual stranger. He'd had a few online romances, but they never seemed to go anywhere; he was always hooking up with girls from the UK or Australia, or halfway across Canada or the United States, but never from just down the street.

But since he'd started the shop there really hadn't been time for nightlife, for the dating scene. There were lots of girls who passed through the shop, some who might even have been interested, but Andrew couldn't cold-call a date. He just didn't have the testicular fortitude.

The chat was a safe way to meet people. Keep them at a very safe distance. Sometimes too distant, but that was still safe. And there was connection without commitment, which Andrew had never been any good at. The shop had been one of the first commitments he could recall that he'd really stuck with, and now that he pondered it (he'd had a lot of time to ponder since She had left him alone to regain his long had he been lying here? The room smelled awful...), he realized that his poor management of the shop hadn't just been outside influences--he'd wanted it to fail, one more commitment he was self-sabotaging, until the Tree had grown up and he'd hired Lara.

Lara--he thought he'd heard her voice calling to him through the sleepy, dreamy haze that enveloped him.

Coffee-in-Edmonton: I guess I'm sort of in a celebratory mood. Had a great weekend at work. Looking for someone to celebrate with I suppose.

Suck-u-bi: What sort of celebration did you have in mind?

Coffee-in-Edmonton: Nothing particular in mind. Maybe just going to a show?

Which lead into a discussion of movies; Suck-u-bi (18 f) liked the same movies Andrew did. Like she could read his mind (or his online profile - he had listed some of those movies on the site profile). And that lead into discussions of favorite books. And literature. And music. And she and Andrew clicked. He'd chatted with her long into the night, until she finally typed,

I want to meet you.

He'd agreed right away; suggested the coffee shop, because it was a sort of neutral ground. A place to meet that was familiar enough for him. And because they hadn't exchanged photos, it gave him the option to excuse himself from further dating based on being busy. Of course, there was always the complication that if she was the stalker type he'd never be able to get rid of her...but he didn't get that feeling from their interaction. Inasmuch as anyone can get a feel for someone reading their typed words on a computer screen at four in the morning.

When she'd arrived at the shop he'd been blown away. It was simply too good to be true. She was a dead ringer for Justine Juliette...and dressed like her too. And when he'd come over to say hello, she'd leaned in and whispered into his ear: "I'm not wearing any there somewhere else you'd like to go?"

It seemed odd to him as he stepped out of the shop. He never acted impulsively like this. First the beans, now this girl. He didn't even know her name. But when they got outside and she kissed him deeply and passionately, he felt even more of his reason melt away. He thought it odd the way she wouldn't enter his apartment first when he'd chivalrously offered, ladies first. She told him she wanted him to invite her in...beg her if that's what turned him on.

And he had. It seemed like a long time ago now, though he knew it couldn't have been more than a day...or maybe two?

A day or two of furious, animal sex. He'd never left the room to his knowledge. Not once. Which bothered him. Why hadn't he had to go to the washroom? He remembered eating...and the sex. And that was all. And it was all a blur of flesh and sweat and sleep. Not enough sleep though.

He could hear Her through the milky haze, like he was hearing her from underwater. She was singing? Or was it chanting - there were rhythmic cadences, and lyrical qualities to whatever it was. And other noises too. Wet noises, like she was working in mud or clay. And then sleep would take him again.

And he thought that just once, he dreamed he awoke to see a hazy reflection of himself, a soulless reflection of himself, staring down at him impassively, before striding out of the bedroom. He heard the front door slam, and all was silent. And in the silence, he gave in once again to a sleep like the dead.


Gotthammer said...

The first of my two "owed" episodes to get me caught back up, written in my room while at a summer camp speaking. Expect the other one next week, as I'll have the time to get caught up while I'm here.

A short episode, but it told all I needed to of this aspect of the story thread. See ya Thursday.

Jim Baerg said...

This episode makes sense of Andrews behavior. I was wondering why he left with her with no previous acquaintance. Good looks are a plus, but some other sort of compatibility would be necessary for the sort of guy Andrew seemed to be.

Gotthammer said...

Yeah, I left that a mystery pretty deliberately. I hope I implied that he was also under a sort of magical compulsion cast by the succubus.

Gotthammer said...

I should add that I wanted the reader to feel as confused about what was going on as Lara was.