(A Love Story)
At the Santa Ria
As Brad turned the corner onto MLK heading for the freeway in Austin that night his mind was alive with thought. He was a realtor and with three good closings in the bag, and this month seemed secure. At twenty-six he had a firm hold on who he was, and where he was going. His condo in the Great Hills south of Austin was a fantastic home. He had money, a car, friends, and a few girls both professional. and some not so professional who thought the world of him. He couldn’t wait to get to work each day and was reluctant to put each day to rest.
This particular night he had had beer on Sixth Street with a couple of friends, and was very mellow as he stopped at a light before getting onto the freeway. As he sat there waiting for the light he noticed a girl sitting on a bench by the old Santa Rita oil rig that was on the University of Texas campus. He thought she might be a coed, but something was off. She was short. She was unbelievably short, wearing jeans, with shoulder length hair. It was night, and she was wearing large sunglasses. She didn’t have a backpack, or a purse, bag, nothing! Normally he’d look away, but something made him roll the window down.
“Waiting for a ride?” Why did he ask? Stupid! If she was a hooker he’d be soliciting, and if she was a coed he’d just look like some pervert trying to pick up a college student. Still, he felt compelled to ask. He felt compelled to ask.
“I’ve been waiting here for you. You come this way every day.” Her answer was unique and he pushed on. This was decision point. She was cute, but appeared young. Run away perhaps.
“Ok, that’s different. Look I can drop you off if it’s on my way, ok?” She calmly got up, and came to the car. She removed her sunglasses. She was wearing them at night, but Brad took that as believing she was on drugs, which was yet another reason he should have never rolled that window down. She had unusual eyes. Large. Not bug eyed, but large. She looked like one of those cartoon girls with the large button eyes, yet they were real. Usually these street urchins would have an agenda, or a deal, not this one. She looked him up and down and then just opened the door.
“Street kid. RUN!” Still, as if in a trance he watched as she sat down in his car. What makes a man crazy enough to leap into a situation like this? “You have someplace to be dropped off?”
“No. I need to go home with you.”
“How old are you?”
His first instinct was to stop the car and put her out, but he didn’t. “Ok, I’ll buy that. But you are eighteen, aren’t you? Hey, you can spend the night on my couch, but in the morning we have to figure something out, ok?”
“Agreed. And yes, I’m greater than eighteen.”
Agreed? AGREED? His mind was still racing. Five minutes ago he’d never seen this girl, now he had agreed? How many coeds had he seen driving down MLK, but he picked this one up. He was wondering what was burning in his crazy mind. He drove to Ben White, cutting across to the Great Hills, eventually arriving at his condo. She had no possessions, only the clothes on her back. Leading her into his home he pointed to a couch, “You can sleep there.” She removed her shoes and sat on the couch.
He brought in some blankets. She took them and curled up on the couch. As she covered herself he caught a whiff of her body odor. She smelled musky, and he thought he had her figured right. Street girl, no shower for a week or so, but the odor was not a foul one, more like an incense. No problem, a shower in the morning before he dropped her off. He went to his bedroom with tons of misgivings. He could just imagine waking in the morning and finding his wallet gone. Not much sleep that night because every little noise woke him, but in the morning she was still there. Time to talk!
“So, where are you from?” Brad was scrambling eggs as she sat at the breakfast table in his kitchen.
“From here. I am from these coordinates.”
“But, you seem to have no place to go. Sitting near the UT campus with no money, no clothes, not anything.”
“Can I be honest with you?”
“That would be refreshing. Please do,” Brad said as he sat her plate of eggs in front of her. She eyed the eggs.
“What is this?”
“Scrambled eggs. What are you, some kind of a vegetarian?”
She picked up a bit of the scrambled eggs with a fork and tasted it, “Disgusting! Give me that piece of fruit,” she pointed to an apple in a display bowl. “No, I’m an anthropologist. I specialize in linguistic study. I’m the head of my department, actually.”
“Well that makes a weird kind of sense, but you’re, like a doctor, a professor at UT, and you hanging out at the Santa Rita without bus fare? Too much party?”
“I didn’t say that I teach at that university, at least not as you know it. I am from another campus.”
“Ok, you just weirded me out. Look, baby, you’re tweeking from a long meth party, ok. Just come clean with me.”
“Ok, I am Doctor Kie-lieē Zun Lihua, University of Light . . .approximately twenty thousand years from now. I was sent here through a time vortex to study an issue in linguistics that we uncovered.”
“Ooooooo K,” Brad said, as he sat across from her.
“You don’t believe me.”
“Oh, sure, sure I believe you. Why I meet people from the future every day. Hey, now tell me straight. Too much party, just like I said. What you need to do is finish your breakfast, clean up, and I’ll drop you off anywhere you need on my way to work.”
“I am where I am supposed to be. I had to make an extensive study of you before I came here expressly for this eventuality. I positioned myself so you would see me. You are a creature of habit. You have three business deals consummating, am I correct?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t prove anything. Public record.”
“Now hear me out,” she continued, “one of the deals, a Mr. Henderson, is one of them, am I right?”
“Baby, you’re still fishing, and that information is available at the closing company.”
“Well, this information isn’t available. Before the day is over you’re going to receive information that Mr. Henderson is canceling his purchase! And I’m not a baby, I really am eighty-eight years old.”
“Why?” Brad’s interest was peaked.
“Because his wife died this morning of a sudden heart attack, while you were sitting here eating these disgusting things,” she pushed the plate of eggs back at him. “Now, I have to wash. The vortex leaves a fine ash that smells. Please take me to your wash area.”
She slipped out of her jeans, removing her blouse and went to the shower. He waited in the living room, making phone calls to his office while he waited. He was convinced that she was a druggie or someone messing with his head. A few moments later she called out, “I need your assistance.”
He went to the bedroom asking, “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t just stand out there, come here.”
He eased into the restroom, seeing her form behind the frosted glass. She was standing there, nude, with no water running. She opened the door and looked at him. “I don’t know how to acquire the water.”
He stood there staring at her. Perfection! No needle marks, no scars. All but the eyes, large and round. Not a strand of hair anywhere except her head. She looked at him for a moment, “Don’t just stand there like an idiot, I can’t find water!”
As if snapping out of a trance he leaned forward turning the valve, “Tell me when it’s comfortable.”
“You’ll need this,” he gave her a bar of soap.
Taking the bar, she sniffed at it, “Animal by-products. Chemicals too, but it will have to do.” She tasted the water, “Everything has chemicals. That is why you have a short life span.”
“But you’re eighty-eight? Why do you look like a teen age girl?”
As she scrubbed she told him, “My life force age is less than my chronological age. I’m healthier than you are. I don’t eat dead animals, nor do I normally wash in toilette water. I really am the age I told you.”
“Then what is your ‘life force age?”
“In your understanding I am sixteen at life force.”
Brad smiled. “I feel like a pervert standing here watching a sixteen year old take a shower.”
“I really am eighty-eight. Oh, you’re talking about sex. I don’t do that. I never have. We have other more reliable methods of procreation.”
He nodded, backing slowly away. She continued to wash, “Are you Ill?” she asked.
“Your face. It’s all flushed. You need to have your blood pressure examined. And quit staring like that. You disturb me!”
When she finished she came back into the living room. As she dried her hair, Brad sat on the love seat across from her. “Look, I don’t know your game, it’s been fun, but I really have to drop you off. I mean, I’m certainly not leaving you here alone . . ,” at that moment his cell phone rang.
“Yes, what, oh I’m so sorry. Of course, don’t think about that now. I’ll take care of it.”
Brad ended the call. “That was Henderson. His wife passed away about an hour ago. Poor old guy wanted to tell me he could not go forward with the closing.” Kie-lieē looked at Brad, “You forgot to tell him that you were sorry for his loss.”
“Tell me how you got here,” Brad asked.
“There is something called the vortex. All that you call time occurs simultaneously, and we move through the array experiencing it as we travel. Right now all that you were, are, will be, already is, and you are actually a time traveler traveling at a normal pace through the array. What you perceive as time is actually a series of slices of existence. You experience it from your position, and I from mine.”
“Then I could theoretically go forward in time and see future events?”
“No. When you go back, you do not regress. You cannot undo what is, however, whenever you go forward you progress, and whatever age affects that the normal vortex, or array would have on you still occurs, only at an accelerated rate.”
“Oh. Do you like, step into a machine?”
“No, The time/space vortex already exists. You are in it right now, only you are traveling at a normal rate. Experiencing your view from your position. When focused, which is what we do, you advance the rate, and can travel to different parts of the time/space array, and when you slow down to the normal rate, well, there you are, or rather, here I am.”
“But I can’t go to your time?”
“No, you’d arrive as an artifact. If you die, and are buried, and I dig you up in my time you will look like a fossil, if you get that lucky. If you vortex forward that same fossil will arrive on the other end.”
“Why doesn’t it work in reverse?”
“Because I can’t be changed going back beyond the time where I actually existed. Going back to my birth I’m experiencing the vortex that I’ve already traveled through, however, if I try to go forward from my existence then the vortex exerts the changes that it was programmed to change, and I, too, will age rapidly, though not as rapidly as you because your health is a chemically wasted wreck.”
“When did we develop this?”
“Actually, it was developed in your era. A boy was sent in reverse back one hundred and ten years from your time, and he was actually photographed at an event one hundred years before his birth. It was in one of your museums, but no one noticed. Then the scientists made an error and the project was discontinued, however the research remained and it was developed later.”
“What kind of error.”
“They tried to send him forward to my time. That’s what got our interest and that’s why I’m here.”
“What are you studying?”
“I’m an linguist. I study language. There are discrepancies in our cultures. I’m trying to figure out why.”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Because if I give you too much information you may try to change the future.”
“But you told me about Henderson’s wife.”
“I told you that because you did not have time to change the future. I used that to prove to you who I was. If you remember, you didn’t believe me in the first place. I had to convince you. That was the method I used to do it.”
“So, when you find what you’re looking for you just step into his ‘vortex’ and zip back to your time.”
“Yes, that’s about it.”
“But won’t you be changing time?”
“I will be understanding the past, not trying to change the future. What you need to understand is in addition to our time/space vortex there are others. There are many vortexes running right along side of each other. What you do not want to do is disturb the natural progression of any individual vortex. That’s why I can’t GIVE you information but I can TAKE information from you.”
At the Board of Realtors
“I’m going to take you somewhere tonight. I have to go to a Board of Realtors meeting and I think you might need some air,” Brad announced to Kie-lieē.
“My eyes. They will see my eyes.”
He handed her some large sunglasses, “Just wear these. Your eyes aren’t that weird, but these should do it.”
She put on the sunglasses. Indeed they covered her eyes, and she looked good in them. “Also, I brought you this,” he opened a box and handed her a dress, shoes, under garments and a blouse.
Staring at the items she looked up at him, “You’ll have to show me.”
“How did I know that was coming? Ok, take your clothes off.” She stripped very quickly and he handed her the undergarments. The panties she figured out but the bra had her perplexed. He pointed to her chest, “For those.”
Looking down at her breasts, “Why?”
“Because women here wear that. It helps hold them up.”
Looking down again she said, “Mine hold up all by themselves.”
“Look, I don’t know, I just know that we will be in a very sophisticated group and if those,” he pointed to her breasts, “go sticking out it won’t be a good thing.”
“Help me,” she said, “I don’t know how to wear it.
He helped her put on the bra and the other garments. She did appear stunning, though a bit small. Still, she was beautiful in a childish way, although he was well aware of her age.
“There, you look very good!”
She felt around at all the new garments, “Does it usually take so long to put that thing on my chest?”
“Why no, why?”
“Well, everything else went on easily, but you seemed to have some issue with positioning that. I was just asking.”
Driving along the Heart of Texas loop he instructed her. “Just be nice, blend in, it’s no big deal. Have you been watching TV like I told you, picking up on the language?”
“Oh, yes! I’ve been watching a good amount of it and learning the ethnicity of this era, and I think I have the terms down, shall I show you?”
“No, just talk normal, like you see on TV and don’t mix it up too much. Just answer questions when asked, but keep it general, ok? You tend to sound like ‘Bones.”
“Yeah, she’s an anthropologist like you, but she’s very dry and talks over people’s heads. Mix it up, be friendly but keep it very plain, ok?”
“Rodger, Wilco!” He smiled at her sudden slang, convinced that she was indeed learning a lot about language.
They arrived at the dinner and she ate vegetables, which only made her seem more “Austin” so Brad didn’t say anything. After dinner a group formed on the balcony. This particular building was a clubhouse for a large condominium complex with outdoor waterfalls and walks. Offered a wine, she accepted, and although making a small face she finished it, and then another, and then another. Soon she was sitting on a stool with her hair slightly messed up talking with the woman who was the current president of the Austin Board of Realtors.
“So, my dear,” the socialite said, “You’re staying with Brad?”
“Not really staying there, just kind of hanging on.”
Brad quickly interjected, “Out. . . she’s hanging out.”
“Yeah,” Kie-lieē returned, “I’m hanging out.”
As Kie-lieē gulped down another wine, making four by now, she felt she had mastered this new experience, and, the older lady asked, “So what brought you to Austin?”
Kie-lie searched her mind for a response wanting to appear to be in sync with the questions this woman was asking. She certainly couldn’t tell her the truth. Remembering a line from a movie she calmly responded, “I’m just in town to fuck around.”
Brad couldn’t fix this one so he tried to appear to apologize, “I’m terribly sorry. The wine, she’s not used to the wine.”
The older lady was slightly amused, actually, at Kie-lie’s obvious inebriation, but before any more could be said, Kie-lie picked up on her amusement, and recalling another scene from yet another movie asked, “What’s up with you, bitch?”
“Brad hastily said, “Ok, that’s enough, we need to cool it, hon.”
By this time the little scientist with the big eyes was on a roll, totally convinced that she was the life of the party because the older lady was now laughing out loud. Making a two fingered gangsta sign with both hands she said, “You got a problem wid dat?”
“We have to go,” and Brad took her glass and led his short guest staggering out of the building and to the car.
“What the hell was that?”
She looked at him confused. “What’s up with you, my nigga? I thought you was my home run?”
“That’s homeBOY, homeboy!” Brad started laughing and looked at her. She really thought she was blending in. “No big deal. I’ll teach you the difference. She just thought you were drunk.”
“What comes right before ‘hangover.”
“Hangover?” At this she gently laid her head against the window and passed out. By the time they got back to his condo Brad had to carry her in, for the wine had won the battle with the little anthropologist from the future. Removing her clothes he laid her in her bed. After he drew the blanket over her he stared for the longest time. With eyes closed she appeared totally normal. He knew she would be hung over in the morning. Her face was that of a child. He put his lips to his forefinger and gently touched her lips with it. Her lips fastened around his finger and she began a sucking motion like a baby with a bottle.
“Well, maybe there’s hope for you yet, he whispered, and turned the light off as he left.
At the Pot Party
Brad made some chili and dipped up a bowl for them.
“What is it?” She eyed the brown substance.
“It’s called chili. Oh, my bad, you’re obviously a vegetarian, right?”
Picking up the spoon Kie-Lieē stirred the chili, “I have never eaten this, but I need to learn all things about your culture. It is animal parts, correct?”
“Yeah, beef, but it’s got spices in it, too.”
She readied herself and took a spoon of the food. Putting it into her mouth she made a face, but to his surprise she swallowed. She gingerly ate about ten more bites, finally saying, “There! I’ve done it!”
“The flavor is interesting, but I can’t help but remember where it comes from.”
“I understand. Actually, that’s not as far out in left field as it seems. Here in Austin we have many like you that will not eat meat.”
“Eating the food that I eat,” she said, “we tend to live longer.”
As Brad mixed more crackers into his food he asked her, “Why do you think we have wisdom teeth?”
She looked confused, “What are those?”
“Huge molars in the back of your mouth, meant to tear meat.”
She grinned, “In YOUR mouth, not mine. Those went away long ago for me.” She then opened her mouth and showed him her teeth. Noticeably smaller than his, and indeed, no large molars! “You see, small teeth for a gentle meal.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but did you like the chili?”
“It was . . . different.”
He got up and went to the refrigerator; bringing back some ice cream he dipped two bowls. “Ok, this is an ‘animal’ product, as you call it, but it’s just milk and sugar and cold. See if you like this.”
She took a bite and her face lit up. “Good! I do, I do like this. So cool, so sweet. Yes, this is good. Milk?”
“From cows. They don’t die to get it. Helps you keep your figure too ‘cause it’s two percent.” She finished her ice cream.
After dinner they went to the deck in the rear of the house. From his condo Brad had a view of downtown Austin. He was well situated in the Great Hills area and his particular spot afforded a beautiful view of the city with all the glimmering lights, the Capitol, and the University of Texas. He and Kie-lieē sat in lawn chairs at a large glass table. Brad pulled a Baggie from his coat and unwrapped it in the table.
“What’s that,” she asked, reaching over to pick it up.
“Easy, let me do this,” he said.
“What is it?”
She stirred the herb with her finger, retrieving a bit and tasting it. “I don’t understand. A pot, as you call it, is for cooking.”
He smiled and rolled a joint, “No, ‘pot’ is just a term. This is, uh, like medicine. It makes you relax. It is called marijuana.”
She spit the tiny bit out, “It’s bitter. Not very succulent.”
He lit the joint, “Like this.” He drew in a bit, held it and let it out.
She studied him for a moment. He handed the cigarette to her, “Now you try it.” She took the joint and looked at it. “Do like I did. Take some into your mouth and ease it into your lungs. You do have lungs, right?”
“Well of course I do. I’m as human as you are, maybe a little bit more.”
“I didn’t know. You seemed to have done away with everything else. I figured you just absorbed oxygen through your skin or something. By the way, how’s your head? She gave him a first class “go to hell” look and she slowly drew a bit of smoke into her mouth, but blew it right out. “No, you have to inhale it.” Again she drew in some, and tried to take it in, which only resulted in a coughing fit. “Ain’t choking you ain’t smoking.”
When she finally regained her composure she said, “Why would you want to do such a thing?”
“Well, it has its moments.” He took the joint and drew a bit into his mouth. Leaning over to her he pulled her to him and pressed his lips to hers. She kept her mouth tightly closed, so he drew back, inhaled the puff and said, “You have to open your mouth. You said you wanted to learn everything, didn’t you?”
Slowly she nodded her head. “What do you intend to do to me tonight?”
“One step at a time. Let’s get this down first. I’m not going to hurt you, ok?” She nodded her head. Again, he drew in a bit of smoke. pulling her close and he put his lips to hers, only this time she opened her mouth, and to his surprise, took all the smoke in, inhaling it. “Now, just hold it there.” She did as instructed, finally exhaling.
“What now?” she asked.
“Just wait. How do you feel?”
She looked around a bit and then back at him, “Nothing.” After a minute she settled into her chair and became very quiet. Again he drew her close and let her have another puff. He had a little twinge of guilt, polluting this pure little person, but then a glow came over her, “Let me see that,” and she took the joint from him. Expertly, she took a puff all the way down. When he tried to retrieve it she greedily pulled it back, causing him to laugh.
“How do you feel now?”
“My perception has been enhanced.” Her large eyes began to change with the effects of the drug. It was just then that he noticed she had not one but two ways of blinking. One, just like him, was with eyelids, but about every third blink a membrane would come from the corner of her eyes and quickly wipe them and retreat back to the corner. He became strangely excited with the realization that she was, after all, just a woman, and was reacting just as any UT coed would given the same set of circumstances. He moved closer to her, and putting his arms around her, he drew her close and pressed his lips to hers only to have her push him away, “I don’t have any smoke for you,” she said.
“Not necessary for this part,” and again he kissed her. Dutifully she opened her mouth and he kissed her for a long time, her tongue responding to his in a very knowledgeable manner. She put the joint down and put her arms around him.
“How do you feel now?”
She sat back in her chair. He looked into her eyes. The transparent eyelids flicked several times. There was a nonverbal communication between them, and she had shifted from anthropologist to total submission in one easy step. She slowly looked down at her feet, and like a little girl she said very quietly, “I think I know what ‘fuck around’ means now. Do you want to explore me?”
“Yea, very much.”
She straightaway began to remove her clothes, but he stopped her. “No, inside.” He took her gently by the hands, and she followed him into the condo like an obedient puppy.
At the Kitchen
Kie-leē moved freely around the house during the day while Brad was at work. The previous night had been interesting, introducing her to chili and topping off the night with ice cream, and a personal experience. As the day wore on she found the TV some diversion, and used the shows to sharpen her linguistic abilities a bit. Brad had now instructed her on which shows to watch. She had no social contacts so her day was within the condo with very little interaction outside. Indeed, she had to keep her sunglasses on lest someone see her eyes, which while not being so large that she appeared alien, might draw attention to her in some way and due to her assignment her secrecy had to be maintained.
Still, she was becoming domesticated in some ways. Deep within her DNA was a woman and that woman Brad had awakened felt a need to please him in some way. After the joint he had led her into a world of experiences that had taxed her intellect, and awakened something inside of her that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but he had put a finger on it just fine, and that both disturbed, and excited her. She remembered the previous night and found the left over chili in the refrigerator. After much effort she got it into a sauce pan and got the range to ignite. Stirring it, without tasting, she warmed it. Then, fetching the ice cream she continued with the dinner. Brad came home about five thirty. “I made food!” she announced with some pride. As he walked through his living area he noticed his mail sitting on the coffee table.
“You went for the mail?” he asked.
“Of course. I’ve seen you go there, and you keep the keys on that little box on the kitchen wall.”
“You figured that out?”
“Look,” she said, with a stern look, “my intellect far surpasses yours. In fact, there is not a way to even measure it in your time. I have a superior understanding of your culture. There is nothing in your culture that I can’t understand, or find a solution for. That’s what I do. That’s why I’m here. I am a DOCTOR! Opening a primitive box, and retrieving some letters is child’s play for me. I could have probably gotten into that box without your silly, primitive key.”
As he looked at the mail he said, “Oh, my bad. I forget those things.”
“Oh,” she continued, “that man, you know, the one who rides the motor thing, the man with the beard?
Yeah, what about him?”
“Well, he talked to me when I picked up your mail. I think he’s looking for work.”
“What makes you think that?
“Well, he asked me if I could give him a ‘blow job” and I told him I was from out of town and didn’t have one, but that you were very influential, and you could probably give him one. Now, where were we?”
“We were talking about your superior understanding of my culture.”
She led him onto the porch and true to her word two plates were set up, each with a light brown substance on them.
“What is it?” he asked.
“What you like.”
He tasted it. It was chili, but had a different slant to it. “How did you make this?” Being very aware that she was very different from anyone he’d ever known he had no idea of how she’d made the dinner.
“Well, you liked the meat last night, am I correct in that?”
“And you like the mild frozen product?”
“I put them together. Your two favorite things in one serving.”
Brad actually saw this a a kind of breakthrough and didn’t want to dissuade her, but he wanted to explain, “We generally eat the chili first, then the ice cream.”
“Well, it tastes better that way.”
“Actually, I thought the cream took the edge off of the animal ingredient, myself.” At this point she had mostly finished her dish. Brad watched in amazement as she licked her fingers, and finally her tongue came out, sufficiently long enough to clean most of her face.
“Wow! Miley Cyrus would die for that tongue!”
“Now what’s wrong with my tongue?”
“Why, nothing, nothing at all, except, like your eyes it’s a little large.”
“I dodge exposing myself to that chemical waste you call a shower. Whenever I can I clean myself.”
“Whenever possible, yes.”
Brad gave a sheepish grin, “With those little teeth, and that tongue, you could be very, well, entertaining.” He traced her lips with his forefinger. “I’ll explain what the man with the beard was asking you later.”
“You really are a very simple, ape-like creature, but you know that, right?”
He looked into the big eyes and said, “Well, in that case, I suppose you have a point, but while we’re on the subject, what did you think about last night?”
“The part where we went into the house after we smoked?”
She stirred what was left of her chili/ice cream pie, “I allowed you to explore me.”
“That’s it? That’s all you thought?”
“What more is there? I gave you permission.”
“Did you like it, did I hurt you?”
“You did hurt me some when you explored me.”
“Are you upset?”
“No, I’m here to learn. Your customs are not my customs.”
“Did you like it?”
She looked down and whispered “I liked it very much.” He reached out to hold her hand, but she pulled it back and continued to eat.
“Oh, little professor has a case of the guilties?”
“I call them reflections, conclusions, yes, I do. That is my assignment. If you’re asking me if I had pleasure, yes, I did. It was. . . intriguing. If you’re asking me if I understand that right now, no, I do not. You did something to me in which I have no training. Not only that, no one I know has any experience with it. I can’t tell you why my body responded such as it did, but that’s what I’m here for. Apparently I have some neurotransmitters that I have not accounted for, but these are the answers I was sent to identify, but I was in control last night, not you. You are nothing more than a lab rat. You had to do that to me, and I had to experience it. Now, may I feed myself without you trying to feed your ego?” She licked her eyes.
She stared straight into his eyes and he said, “You do have tear ducts, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You know it was unusual that you didn’t say, ‘Oh, God,’ or something,” he said
“Yeah. Hey, you got into it, ok? For all your neurotransmitters you picked up the pace pretty good. But all I heard was a bunch of pops and clicks”
“That’s my native language. Ok, I’ll admit it. I lost myself for a moment and what I was doing was speaking in my native tongue. What is God?”
“God is the creator of the universe. You know,” he pointed up, “GOD.”
“Oh. What do you think about people dressed in animal skins dancing around a fire screaming up into the air?”
“I’d think they were primitive, ignorant, things like that.”
“Well, that’s what I think about you when you talk about invisible people in the air creating universes.”
“You weren’t thinking about me like that last night. I didn’t think those eyes could get any bigger. And as far as ego, what’s driving your anger right now? Little anthropologist from 22,013 can’t admit she’s a woman?”
She was at a loss for words. Her face was turning red. She looked down at her food and he heard a series of pops and clicks. She was, for the first time in her life, facing emotions, and her own femininity. He took a bite and said, “English please, and I know what you’re thinking but you don’t have a word for it for all those pops and clicks. Just say, ‘MEN!”
“Men,” she said quietly.
“No, MEN! Shout it.”
“MEN!” she said it louder.
At this point she grasped the concept and shouted, “MEEEEEEN!” She clenched her fists and glared at him. “You TOUCHED me! Here!” She pointed to her head. Her eyes were red, lips quivering, “You touched me! I’ve never been touched.”
“Feel better now?”
Suddenly speaking in a very civilized tone she said, “Yes, thank you. You don’t really wear animal skins do you?”
At Sixth Street
After a bit Brad decided to take a chance and take Kie-lieē out again. It would be a dinner on Sixth Street, and he figured no one would even notice her there. The evening went well. She had decided that if she must eat meat seafood was a good choice. She had her lobster and Brad had a steak. She was actually a good date. They had absolutely nothing in common but got along quite well. Her sterile attitude was beginning to abate and she lightened up.
On the way back to the car they had to circle behind the cafes and bars and at one point were in a very dark area. A man stepped out from the shadows. “Just give me the money and we ain’t got no problem.” Brad noticed the man had a gun and pulled his wallet right away.
“We don’t want any trouble buddy, here.”
The criminal took the wallet and looking at Kie-lieē he asked, “Where’s your shit, bitch?”
“She doesn’t carry any money,” Brad said, “she’s from out of town.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Walking closer he told Brad, “You just run along college boy. She has one thing I want. How old are you, baby, bout, fifteen?”
Before Kie-lieē could answer Brad interrupted again, “Yes, she’s sixteen. . .” but the man hit him with the gun, sending him sprawling on the pavement. “How that work out for you, bitch,” the hoodlum said, as Brad fought for consciousness. Then he turned to Kie-lieē again. “You boy friend’s a perv little girl but I don’t care, you look real, sweet.”
Kie-lieē motioned to him,” Come closer.”
The man eased closer, “Oh, you gonna give it up? Lot easier than getting hurt, huh? I’ll do you more good then him.”
“Closer,” and as the man neared her she put, her arms around him, pushing her body right up against him.
Looking down at Brad he said, “Hey pervert, watch how a real man pops this puppy’s can!”
She put her mouth to his ear, gently licking it, and softly said, “You cannot breathe.”
The man backed away, gave a slight chuckle, but the reaction quickly turned on him and reaching for his throat, he dropped his gun he lost strength rapidly. As he fell to his knees he looked at her with horror. Kie-lieē calmly watched him collapse onto the pavement thrashing and kicking, and then she helped Brad to his feet and led him toward a well-lighted area. As she walked past the robber she looked down and said, “How’d that work out for YOU, bitch?” From there she led Brad around the corner.
“What about him?” Brad asked her as the man thrashed on the ground.
“Oh, yes,” and peering back around the corner she said, “Hey bitch! You can breathe again now.”
Back in the condo with Kie-lieē cleaning his wound Brad asked,” How’d you do that?”
“The power of suggestion is great. My mind is greatly evolved. I simply told him not to breathe and he did as he was told.”
“That was it?”
“As easy as you getting a dog to fetch a stick.”
“Then you were in control that first night?”
“Some dogs fetch some sticks, some fetch others,” and she continued to dress his wound. “I have been in control from the first moment you saw me.”
She looked at him almost in fear, and, looking down, said, “Yes, everything.” Then, looking at the lights of the city shimmering in the distance her mood became dark. “I have concluded my assignment.”
“Wanna tell me about it?”
“No. It’s something I have to report to my department. Between us, not you.” She licked a tear from her eye.
At Lake Travis
The evening was cool and clear. They sat on the balcony for a long time.
“You have to go back?”
“Yes,” Kia-Leē said. “My research is finished. I have found the answers I came here for.”
“What are those answers?”
She grinned, “Those questions are for me to know. They are not pertinent to this conversation.”
“Ever so cool. You come into my life and now just leave.”
She leaned forward and touched his hand, “I found my answer. You helped. You’ve helped a lot of people. I didn’t ‘come’ into your life. I chose you for the project, nothing more, nothing less.”
“What about us?”
She genuinely looked perplexed, “Us?”
Brad knew he was up against a wall. Try as he might he could not peer behind those huge eyes. “I suppose there is no ‘us.’’
“You don’t want me to go, do you?”
“No, I don’t. I’ve gotten kinda used to you.”
“Well, I must go back. I have specific research information that is important to my group.”
“Any chance of me going with you?”
“That’s not the way the vortex works. You can go into the past from your position in the time-space continuum, but not forward. I am frozen at my age when I go back, but if you were to go forward with me the twenty thousand years to my home, by the time we got there you would be an artifact on a museum table, and not a very good one at that, mainly dust and bone.” She looked into his eyes, “I have some of my understanding now, but more questions than I came here with, and frankly, those questions have disturbed me.”
“Tomorrow morning. The vortex will open, I will step in, and only my flesh may go. It would kill you.” Looking at his eyes she said, “You have tear ducts, too, don’t you?”
“Yes, I supposed I do.”
The next day Brad drove Kia-Leē to a secluded place near Lake Travis. “It’s so beautiful here,” she said.
“One more memory.”
Completely out of character, she took his hand and led him into a field. “It’ll be over there. You must stand here. Please don’t come any closer. If you get into the vortex it will transport you. You don’t want to see what waits on the other side, indeed you will not see it for you’ll be dead long before you get there.”
They stood there for the longest time. Then, impulsively she leaned forward and kissed him, “I found my answer.”
“What was the question?”
After much consideration she told him, “We lost something. We came upon an equation that we could not complete, what you call a ‘wild card.’ I was sent to find an explanation for this, and we didn’t even have a word for it. I found it, and I think I understand it now. I have to try to explain it to my group.” She began to back away from him. “It is a form of wonderful madness. You drove me mad, Brad, but when I came through, the answer was there, and I have to explain it to my department.”
The air behind her seemed to ripple and she hesitated before she got to the ripple. “We had to find the explanation for that one thing.”
She pursed her lips, “Love. We didn’t understand what the emotion ‘love’ was. I had to see it first hand to explain it. I began to perceive changes in my mind, and body, my entire chemical makeup.” Then, touching her belly she said, “And, I guess, in one way, you are returning with me.” For a moment their eyes met, and she mouthed, “Love.”
At that Kia-Leē stepped back into the shimmering light, and faded from view.
Brad stood there with the emptiest feeling he’d ever had in his life. As he watched, the shimmer dissipated, and he was alone. So very alone. “And I guess, in one way, you left a bit of you with me, also. He turned and walked back to his car.
Back at the Santa Ria
Several days later Brad was driving home through downtown Austin. Making his usual turn onto MLK, he headed for the freeway. Memories flooded back as he stopped at the light near the he old oil rig monument. He tried to avoid looking at the bench beside the rig, but try as he might he could not look away.
To his amazement, a girl was sitting right there, wearing sunglasses, even though it was night. She sat motionless, looking right at him. As in a whirl of déjà vu, he rolled the window down. “I suppose you need a ride?”
The girl calmly got up, walked over, got into his car. Taking her sunglasses off, she looked at him with large, lovely, blue eyes and said, “I’m Pari-Tari. I teach linguistics. Doctor Kie-lieē sent me to this assignment. She said you would help. She said to tell you I’m in town to . . . “
Sent from my iPad