“It’s alright, Kat,” I said.
“RRROWWW!” HateKat said.
“It’s alright, Kat, It’s alright, It’s alright…”
“NO, IT’S NOT!”
“It’s alright, maybe there’s another Chinese place we can go to.”
“NONE OF THE OTHER ONES ARE ANY GOOD!”
“It’s alright, let’s just go anyway.”
“FINE, WE’VE ALREADY GONE TO THIS MUCH TROUBLE!”
Then we got back in the car and she hate-drove us to a place further down the street called The Black Dragon. It was in a dingy old stripmall, and their window had a picture of a horrible, mean-looking, flame-mouth, flyingbeast with chopsticks in his claws. I didn’t want to go in at all, but arguing with HateKat about it was out of the question.
When we got inside it smelled bad, and everything was stained, and there was no hostess.
“THIS PLACE IS SO BAD! HateKat said. “THEY JUST EXPECT US TO SEAT OURSELVES?!”
Only half of the tables were set, and the one we picked wobbled. Then HateKat made us move to another table, and that one wobbled, too.
“THEY PROBABLY ALL WOBBLE!”
And then we just stayed at that one.
“THE SILVERWARE IS SMUDGED! AND WHY IS IT TAKING THEM SO LONG?!”
“STOP SAYING IT’S ALRIGHT!”
Eventually a waitress appeared and we were able to order General Tso’s Chicken. When it got there, it was somehow just as good as Golden Lion’s, maybe even better and maybe even better than Wolf’s. It’s goopy brown batter was so sweet but also so spicy, and the chicken was piping hot, and the rice was pure, and the broccoli was crunchy, and it had lots of adorable baby corn.
“Yum” we both said.
It was so good it actually helped calm Kat down out of her HateKat state.
“Well, I did always like getting General Tso’s with you,” she said.
“MeToo,” I said.
“So we didn’t really get a chance to talk last night. Why are you out West again? For school or something.”
“Like grad school?”
“I don’t really wanna talk about it.”
“But I actually have no idea what you’ve been doing for the last couple years.”
“Oh, ya know, nothing really…”
“Why’s it got to be such a big mystery? Just tell me.”
“Maybe cuz it’s something you don’t like.”
“What is it? RockNRoll School? Are you trying to be a RockStar, cuz the odds of you making it are so…”
“No, you’ll hate it worse than that.”
“The only thing more impractical than that would be trying to be a Reality Traveler or something.”
I didn’t say anything.
“But you’re not a Reality Traveler,” she said.
“Actually…” I said.
I flinched back waiting for The HateKat to strike across the wobbly table with knifey claws that I’d have to Roll With. But it didn’t come. Instead she just let out a deep sigh.
“You?… but aren’t ‘reality travelers’ supposed to go out and meet lots of people. You never made any friends at ALC except for me. You never even left Our Own Place.”
“I mean, isn’t it just something insecure kids make up to feel important anyway?”
“No, it’s a real thing. There’s a whole Training School for it I just graduated from.”
“But what are you going to do for a career?”
“Deliver pizza very part time.”
“Maybe drive a cab very part time one day.”
“But those aren’t Adult jobs.”
“Reality Travelers aren’t supposta become Adults. It makes us sick.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all this before?”
“Sorry. I wanted to be in Love with you more than Reality Travel. But then I realized it was time for me to fly. Like the REO Speedwagon song.”
“Well, I do like Speedwagon.”
“But, I just feel bad for you.”
“It’s alright, Kat.”
Then we didn’t know what to say after that. The waitress came back with the check.
“I guess I’m getting this,” Kat said, and I let her.
“I’ve gotta go cat-sit now,” she said. “You’ve got a place to stay tonight, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “El Puma Reality.”
Then we left.