9.19 – The CrossRoads

Suddenly my head snapped up and my eyes opened and me and Wings were driving on The Road again.  There was a big bright sunrise behind us, and somehow we’d gotten all the way to The Plains of Colorado.

 “Am I in the clear?” I asked Wings.  “Did the Perception finally wear off?”

Wings didn’t answer back, and I took it to mean things were going back to normal.  Then I stopped to get more gas, and when I went in the station it was just a regular Reality in there, who wasn’t a psychic or a monster or a God, and he did the pre-pay for me easily.

I was almost to the Road that led to Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains, and it seemed like I was pretty much home-free.  Except when I got back in the car The Crow was there in the front seat.

“You’re just a Perception!” I yelled at it.  “You can’t last forever.”

“I’m not just a Perception,” The Crow said in a strangely familiar voice.

“Yeah you are, but I guess since you’re here and can finally talk I am curious who you imaginarily are and why you were imaginarily helping me when I believed in imaginary Reality Travel.”

“Alright,” he said.

Then suddenly it wasn’t The Crow anymore but The Professor.  He was almost too big for the car and hadta adjust the seat all the way back so he’d fit.  He also had his arm in a sling.

“Yes,” he said, “The Crow has been me this whole time.  When you become advanced enough at Reality Travel you can Shapeshift into your True Animal Spirit.”

I knew that humans turning into animals was another thing on The Great List of Things That Aren’t Real, but I decided to play along anyway.

“What about all that stuff about how I couldn’t call and hadta Travel on my own and get my ass kicked?” I asked him.

“As part of The Training, each Traveler is entitled to get secret help for their first Great Trip,” he said.  “You’ve seen how hard the Travels are now.  You still needed The Training Wheels but also to feel like you were doing it all on your own.”

“Well, you imaginarily failed cuz I broke the imaginary Vow and gave up.”

“You’re not the first Traveler to go to War or to have Big Doubt.”

“Big Doubt’s not real.”

“It is, and it’s time for you to Dig Deep and Cure yourself or else you’ll be Eliminated.”

“Even if it was real, I’d have no idea how to Cure it.”

“Yes, you do… Remember your Thesis?”

“Please, if a Guardian Angel can’t even save you, why would a stupid song?”

“Because stupid songs are your True Passion.  They may not work for every Traveler, but it can work for you and many others.”

“Even if it could, I don’t have The Great Trip Mix anymore.”

“But I do.”

Then I looked over, and it was right there in his hand.

“I knew you’d be in trouble last night after I found out your Guardian Angel had been detained, so I came in to wake you up and inspire you to avoid War with The Eleventh Hour MeToo, but it was too late, and the Big Doubt was already beginning to set in.  I predicted what would happen from there and knew to rescue your most precious item, The Great Trip Mix, before it was lost or destroyed.”

Then he put it on and started playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  As soon as I heard the piano intro I could feel something changing inside my chest.  I tried to fight back tho and keep thinking about The Great List of What’s Not Real and the vision for My New Adult Life, but Steve Perry’s high and powerful voice came in and the feeling in my chest grew.  It was my Bluebird essence that had been pushed down into some deep corner of myself, and the song kept digging it out whether I wanted it to or not.  Then Steve Perry got to the line “looking just to find emotion hiding somewhere in the niiiiiiiiight,” and it was so high and powerful that some Bluebird got dug so far up it started coming out of my eyes as tears.  Soon the song got to its unconventional at-the-end-of-the-song chorus, and when I finally heard the words “Don’t stop believin’” I knew with total certainty that Reality Travel was real again.

“Oh my Gods!” I said when the song was over.  “I can’t believe I let that happen to me.”

“It’s Alright,” The Professor said.  “Now you’ll know how to deal with Big Doubt if it arises again.”

“But now what? This means The CrossRoads is totally real, and I hafta make the right choice or else!  What should I do, Professor?”

“I can’t make the choice for you, but I think you know in your heart the right thing to do.”

“Heart?  Does that mean choosing The Goddess of Faith because True Love is the most important thing even if we get Eliminated for it?”

“That would be a noble choice.”

“Or should I pick Reality Travel cuz that’s like the Love for all Realities in The World no matter what, and then neither of us will get Eliminated?”

“Also a noble choice.”

“But either way I’d be sacrificing too much.  I’m not sure if I can even handle Reality Travel without The Goddess of Faith.  I would just feel too Lonely, not Alright, and I’d get my ass kicked all the time. I’m not a very good Traveler, am I?”

“You have a lot of room for improvement.”

“What if I’m never that good?”

“Reality Travel isn’t about being good.  It’s about MeTooing in any way you can.  Maybe you’ll never be able to introduce yourself in person to New Realities very well, but you are good at singing, so sing to them.  Sing to them about getting your ass kicked and having the courage to keep going anyway, and believe me, Realities will MeToo.  Sing to them in every way you know how.  Sing to them with The Great List of Songs, with your own songs, and if that isn’t enough, sing a novel to them.  You have to trust me, if you just sing to them everything will be Alright.”

Suddenly I realized we were coming up on the point where Road-70 met Road-25, and where I’d hafta decide if I was going back to Where-ThePlains-Meets-TheMountains or not.

“This is The CrossRoads, isn’t it?” I said.

“Yes,” The Professor said, “and only you can make the decision about where to go from here.”

“But which Road means what?” I said.

But The Professor suddenly disappeared, and I hadta think about it all Alone.

“Alright,” I said to myself, “if I were still in Big Doubt I would’ve just gone North back to Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains, so that would probably get me Eliminated.  Going West will take me straight to the hard and treacherous Mountains where I’m terrified to Travel, and going South will take me to the Desert, which is also hard but at least it’s flat and the sun is always shining.  But I’m not sure which Fate is which.”

I was quickly approaching the exit when suddenly I saw The Goddess of Faith fly out of the sun from The South.  She seemed to be escaping from Guard Gods who were right on her tail, and I really wanted to try and save her.  As she got closer I could see her It’s Alright Baby glow and I realized how you only get one SoulMate and I would never Love or be Loved again like I am with her.  And even if we are both Eliminated at least it would be together and neither of us would have to feel the pains of Lonely existence ever again.

“Bluebird,” The Goddess of Faith yelled out, “I True Love you.”

“I True Love you, too,” I yelled back.

But at the moment it came time to change Roads I couldn’t do it.  I could only think about all The Realities of The World who might be destroyed by War and needed MeToos, and if I or The Goddess of Faith wasn’t there it would just make things a little worse for everyone.  It seemed too selfish to choose a Love that only we could feel for just one last second.  Even tho it would be hard, I knew I had to Love everyone in The World no matter what.

I kept driving down Road-70 right past Road-25 South and The Goddess of Faith and headed straight towards The Mountains. I didn’t know where it would lead, but as the Road started to go higher up, I started to feel so high and powerful.  I hit the gas down hard and pointed Wings to the sky, and soon we started flying above The Road, and over The Mountain peaks, and over the clouds, until soon we were so high we were in the OtherWorld, without even taking an outside Perception, and then there were just the feelings of high! and powerful! and I couldn’t help laughing and crying at the same time.

Just then I felt a surge of energy inside me start to collect and suddenly shoot out.  I let all my outer layers fall away, and I was pure Bluebird!  And The Crow and all The Gods were watching me, and The God of Judgment nodded his head, and The God of The Road was pumping his fist, and The Goddess of Music was leading the Other World RockNRoll Choir to sing for me.  And then I saw The Goddess of Faith in the rearview mirror, and she was smiling and happy for me even tho we wouldn’t get to be together again.  But suddenly all my Bluebird! gathered together and aimed towards her, and her It’s Alright, Baby! gathered together and aimed towards me, and in one swift moment they couldn’t help shooting at each other, and when they crashed together they exploded and formed Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!! and every one who witnessed it went,“Whoah we were all so wrong.”

And when The Professor Crow saw it he said, “Yes!”

And when The Goddess of Love saw it, she said, “True Love!”

And when The Goddess of Angels saw it, she said, “She must be his Angel forever!”

And when The God of Judgment saw it, he said, “Let The Record show that this is something beyond any of us, and we cannot stand in its way.”

And when The Goddess of Music saw it, she told her RockNRoll Choir to sing,“Here Comes the Sun,” and everyone in The Other World sang along, too.

And when we descended back to The World the Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!! finally broke apart, and we were The Bluebird and The Goddess of Faith again, and we were together in Wings driving thru The Mountains, and we were not afraid.  We were ready for the next Reality and everything was going to be Alright, Baby!

9.13 – (Witness) The Goddess of Love

Then The Goddess of Love came out of the crowd and took The Stand.  She looked like a little kid who shouldn’t be an expert on anything yet.  She also was carrying a bow and had a quiver of arrows on her back, and I wondered how safe it was for her to play with toys like that.

“Goddess of Love,” The God of Judgment said, “how does Love work?”

“Um, there’s like different kindsa Love,” she said.  “Like there’s the kind where you Love everybody no matter what.  Like when a Reality Traveler Loves the whole World, and even tho it’s really hard they try to MeToo everyone so no Reality gets Destroyed.”

“No, not that kind. Tell us about the kind that’s just between two Realities.”

“Sometimes I shoot my arrows at Realities, and when it hits them it makes them fall in Love, and then they wanna be around each other all the time, and show each other what Love is, and then maybe get married and maybe even have babies.  It can kinda wear off tho.”

“Do you ever shoot Gods?”

“Sometimes, hehehe.”

“Did you shoot The Goddess of Faith to make her fall in Love with a human?”

“Nope, never.”

“Is there another kind of Love that doesn’t require you shooting anyone?”

“Yeah, True Love.  That’s when you’re made of the same Universe stuff as someone else, and you can’t help being in Love with them, and it lasts forever.”

“Is it possible The Goddess of Faith is in True Love with The Bluebird as she insists?”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “It’s only ever happened between Gods and Gods or humans and humans, cuz we’re not made of the same Universe stuff.  I mean we were here first and made them, ya know?”

“If it was True Love would there be a physical reaction in The Other World like the Goddess described?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen it before.  A whole lotta energy-stuff builds up inside them and shoots out, and then they explode,and then they’re one thing instead of two.  It’s really cool.”

“Do you have to be in The Pure Other World for it to happen?”

“I think it happens automatically there, but if you’re really SoulMates you should be able to do it anywhere if you really wanna.”

Then The God of Judgment looked over at us.

“I order you to form one thing instead of two before all of us right here in The UnderWorld,” he said.

“It’s Alright, Baby,” The Goddess of Faith put her hand on my shoulder.

But it only felt about as Alright as an invisible imaginary hand on me.  Faith could sense it and started to panic.

“C’mon, Bluebird,” she said.  “I think we can form BAB!!, but we probably just hafta take off our outer layers of protection.”

But I looked down at my outer layer, and I liked it cuz it was the only thing making me comfortable in this crazy Perception.

“No,” I told her.

And then she started to cry again, and I hadta look away.

“Let The Record show,” The God of Judgment said, “that The Defendents were unable to prove their True Love on command.”

“Liar, liar, liar!” the crowd chanted.

“Goddess of Love,” The God of Judgment said, “if the Defendants are not in True Love, and you didn’t shoot them into Love, then why would they show each other what Love is together in Valley Forge?”

“Um, I dunno,” The Goddess of Love said. “Maybe The Goddess of Faith just wanted to know what lust is.”

“And what is lust?”

“It’s when you don’t actually Love someone you just Love their body.”

“Pervert, pervert, pervert!” the crowd chanted.

“Hold on.  We can’t judge her as a guilty pervert quite yet,” The God of Judgment said.  “I still want to understand her better.  Therefore, I call as my next Witness, The Goddess of Angels, Head of the Guardian Angel Corps and The Goddess of Faith’s supervisor.”

6.3 – New Day

I got up first thing in the morning, and El Puma was already gone cuz Adult jobs make you get up before first thing. He left a goodbye note saying I could stay as long as I needed, but he didn’t know I had the most important Travels of the whole Great Trip ahead. It was also the Travels that made me the most nervous cuz of all the New Realities. I took my time and showered and put on my Wedding Uniform — dress shoes, dress socks, khaki pants, belt, white dress shirt, blue tweed jacket. If I was several feet taller I would’ve looked just like The Professor.

When I got outside, NewYorkCity looked much different. The sky was Bluebird blue, and there were suddenly little sparkles in the concrete. There were relatively few other Realities around. The nocturnal CityRats had crawled back underground, and Wings was still parked right where I left it and unharmed with the sun bouncing off its windows.

“Hmm,” I thought, “Maybe this is a new day and everything will be alright.”

Then I thought about The Goddess of Faith and kinduv expected her to be in the car already, but she wasn’t.

“Where are you, Faith?” I said to the skies as I drove out of The World’s hugest buildings.

Still she wasn’t there, and I figured I’d just hafta summon her the regular way. I looked down at my Wedding Uniform and tried to figure out what parts were most and least necessary. The tweed jacket was number one, and I figured I probably wouldn’t have to go that far to summon the Angel. The pants and shirt also seemed pretty important, and the belt had to be there to hold the pants up. My dad’s shoes tho, they were nice and completed the Uniform well, but I could also see how no one might notice shoes at all, and, besides, my tennis shoes would be way more comfortable. So at the next stop I took the shoes off and threw them out into the fast moving traffic of the most challenging Roads in America.

“Gods,” I said, “This is Traveler Bluebird and I need my Angel Baby.”

Just then a giant flock of city pigeons came flying at the car. Hundreds of wings were hitting Wings, and their bird goo got on us. After a furious moment of wiping the windshield I looked over, and The Goddess of Faith was getting in and wearing a fancy gold dress from modern human times.

“Thank Goddess, you’re here,” I said. “I could really use some IAB! I was not good at Reality Travel last night. I had too much Traveler Pride and then the MeNotzies got me and El Puma in the end. And today is going to be even harder cuz of all the New Realities.”

“It’s Alright, Bluebird,” she said. “It’s all just learning, and you had a really great MeToo with the Moth.”

She was lacking her usual Goddess umph tho, and when she reached over she only gave me a little It’s Alright, Baby pat on the back. It was only about the same Alrightness as an aspirin. Her eyes were looking down, and her mouth was pretty frowny.

“Oh no,” I said, “you’re sad.”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t know Goddesses could get sad.”

“They can.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Kissing you.”

“That was a bad thing?”

“No, it’s the opposite of that. I want to kiss you too much now. I want to make you feel Alright too much. I like your fears and doubts too much, and I like your MeToo victories too much. What if kissing you is way more than just kissing you. What if it’s Love?”

“Oh my Goddess! That would be amazing.”

“I know, but remember I told you there’re Rules? Well, they’re really serious.”

“You mean like not intervening?”

“Exactly. I’m only supposta be there to encourage you during moments of Little Doubt and other Boobytraps, and I could get kicked out of The Angel Corps for helping you as much as I have. But even more important than that, it’s forbidden for any God to be in Love with any human.”

“I don’t understand. Wouldn’t the Gods want to help Reality Travelers as much as possible? If we had Angel-Traveler Kissing SuperTeams, we could MeToo the entire World, and all The MeNotzies would just shrivel up and turn to dust.”

“Reality Travel is like a movie to The Gods. It’s supposta be hard for the human or else it’s not entertaining when they succeed. And they think if a God is in Love with a human, then there’s no way the God isn’t going to get involved and make it too easy.”

“What would happen if we got caught?”

“We could both be Eliminated from Existence.”

“Oh.”

“Now, you see why I’m so sad. I think I might not be able to be your Guardian Angel at all anymore.”

Then some instinct took over me, and I reached over to her, put my arms around her, and held her.

“It’s Alright, Angel,” I said.

And then I looked at her face, and she was smiling.

“Oh Bluebird,” she said. “I just got the most wonderful feeling. Like everything is going to be Alright, and I don’t even care if I do get Eliminated.”

“You just got an It’s Alright, Baby?!” I said.

“I think so!”

“I thought you just felt like that all the time since it’s what you’re made out of.”

“No, I only really felt it now when you gave it to me!”

“Wow, and it actually felt just as good to give it to you as it feels to receive!”

“Now, you know how I feel!”

Then we looked into each other’s eyes, and we just couldn’t help it. Our bodies got closer and our faces and lips just moved on their own and kissed.

“Oh no,” I said. “We’re breaking The Rules again.”

“I know,” she said.

But we kept kissing and couldn’t stop.

“What if there are Gods watching?” I kissed.

“They may be,” she kissed. “We should find a safe place where they can’t find us.”

“But where?”

“We could go to my AngelNest. It’s private, and they’d never suspect we’d go there, but we’d still have to be very careful.”

“Is that in the Other World?”

“Yes.”

5.17 – El Puma’s NewYorkCity Apartment

El Puma’s NewYorkCity Apartment was in a really tall building in a neighborhood of only really tall buildings. There wasn’t an elevator, so you hadta take a lot of stairs to get to his floor. His room seemed too small of a habitat for a wildcat like him. The refrigerator was right next to the bookshelf, and the toilet was right next to the bed. When you looked out the window, the window of the next building was very close, but the ground was very far below.

“I don’t think I could live in a place like this,” I said.

“I know,” El Puma said, “but it is a very good price for this city.”

“I mean I don’t think I could live in this city. There are too many MeNotzies here.”

“Sometimes I agree. It is truly The Capital of The MeNotzies. But for me it can also be the most far off and exciting city in The World.”

Then I sat down on his one chair next to the stove, and he lay down on his bed next to the toilet.

“Do you think Wings will be alright?” I asked.

“Yes, those Rats were harmless cowards. They won’t have the courage to touch your car.”

“You’re probably right. I don’t think I want to go back out there tho.”

“This idea is easy for me to MeToo.”

A few seconds later he stopped talking and his eyes were closed.

“El Puma,” I said.

“Yes, Traveler Jonathan,” he said.

“Are you asleep?”

“It is possible. I had to wake up very early for work today.”

“Oh.”

“I am sorry I have become so Adult now.”

“It’s alright. I’m sorry I took you away from Love with Mi Amor.”

“It is alright. Our Love is beyond space and time, our Love cannot be defeated, our Love is perfect.”

“Hey, El Puma?”

“Yes, Traveler Jonathan.”

“Did we Reality Travel enough tonight?”

“You have MeToo’d a NewYorkCity Reality tonight. I know this city. You have accomplished a near miracle.”

“I guess so.”

Then El Puma stopped talking and closed his eyes again.

“Hey El Puma?”

“Yes, Traveler Jonathan.”

“I should’ve let The Duckling Love me.”

He was quiet for a while before suddenly saying something in Spanish.

El que signe su camino de viajes realidad hace el Amor con los angeles.”

“What does that mean?” I said.

He didn’t answer tho.

“El Puma?”

He didn’t answer again and I realized he was completely asleep. Something was soothing about what he said tho, and soon I was fast asleep, too.

5.4 – Track #15 of The Great Trip Mix – Ace of Base’s “The Sign”

After Kat I had to move back into the ALC Dorms, and they were still having the same kinda parties there. Everyone but me was Adventuring in Alcohol Perception and gathering in circles and MeTooing about things I didn’t know about. Like NewYorkCity. I hadn’t been there yet, cuz Kat never wanted to, and I was kinda scared to after how it went in the last huge city I went to. But I guess they’d never had anything like that happen to them.

“I partied so hard in NewYorkCity last night,” or “Realities are so much more Real in NewYorkCity,” or “My boyfriend lives in NewYorkCity,” they’d say.

And they would also always play NewYorkCity music. It would mostly be some La Renarde-like local band that wasn’t supposta be on The Radio, or it would be New Downtown Radio Hits.

Downtown Hits are songs made for Realities from Downtowns instead of Suburbs.

New Downtown Hits were on a different Radio Station than Mom listened to, and I hadn’t really heard any of them. Most of them seemed to have no singing and went too fast to even know what they were about.

At one party I couldn’t believe an old Suburban Hit called “The Sign,” actually came on…

“The Sign” is a song about getting lost. Sometimes when you’re trying to get somewhere and don’t know the directions, you end up in a dark place you don’t want to be. Then you hafta hope you see a sign that leads you back in the right direction to some light place where you belong.

I’d always liked the song and was seeing new ways it could be about my life after Kat and how I’d got the Calling Card sign and was getting back into the light of Reality Travel. I looked around the party for anyone to MeToo about it, but they were only making faces like something smelled bad.

“Oh my god,” a Reality held their nose, “Is this Ace of Base?”

Ace of Base is a band, from the far off and exciting Realities of Scandinavia, about trying really hard to sound like American Downtown Hits. Their songs all accidentally ended up on American Suburban Hits Radio tho.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” someone came running, “That was a mistake! I’m changing it.”

Everyone laughed and took a deep breath, and then the song was off and soon replaced by more pure Downtown Hits made by actual American Downtown Realities. It all made me want to escape to Alone Reality in the trees outside again.

But before I could, a girl from Group Voice Training came up and stopped me. She’d had a terrible offkey singing voice that sounded like a quacking duck. She’d also always wear a heavy down coat and snow hat no matter what, as if she’d just been in a cold pond at all times and needed them to prevent hypothermia.

“Hey,” she said. “How come you don’t come to Voice class anymore?”

“Because I’ve advanced to Private Training,” I said.

“That’s awesome! You are like a really, really good singer.”

“I know.”

“So don’t you think The Voice Professor is kinda weird? What’s with all the baby noises and ‘uh huhs’?”

“I like the ‘uh huhs.’”

“I know, MeToo!”

I didn’t really want to be talking to her anymore. I couldn’t stop remembering the sound of her duckily bad ‘wa-was.’ Also her down coat looked way too stuffy, and it was making me sweat.

“Can I get you a drink?” The Duckling said.

“I don’t drink.”

“What do you mean? Doesn’t everyone drink?”

“I don’t. It makes me throw up.”

“Ha, are you some kinda Lightweight?”

Then she poked me in the chest with her finger and it kinduv hurt.

“I think I’m going to go now,” I said.

“Oh, but I’m just teasing you,” she said.

But I didn’t want to be teased by such a bad singer, so I kept going toward the door. On the way I was stopped by yet another Reality. He leapt in and put his arm around me even tho I didn’t know who he was.

“Pardon me,” he said in a foreign accent. “I could not help overhearing your conversation. May I say you did the right thing by walking away. I also do not drink at these parties. I feel I must keep my eyes focused and alert for Love.”

As he spoke his vision scanned the room like a jungle cat.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he said. “I am El Puma, the Reality Traveler from South America.”

It was the first time I’d met someone from such a far off and exciting location. I introduced myself and told him I was a Reality Traveler too and had just gotten a Calling Card.

“Wow!” he said. “This comes as a great relief to meet such an expert as yourself, Traveler Jonathan. This party is full of MeNotzies. All night I have been hunting for a chick to Love, but so far have had little success. Tell me, does a chick Love you?”

“I don’t think so, not anymore.”

“Ah, then you are now ready for a new chick to Love?”

“I guess so.”

“And you are also hunting for one here?”

“I don’t really hunt. I just kinda wait for someone to come to me.”

“Come to you?! But you may have to wait an eternity for this. If you hunt well enough you can fall in Love again right at this very moment.”

“I don’t know how to hunt tho.”

“Do not worry Traveler Jonathan. I have some expertise in this and can show you.”

“Alright,” I said.

And then me and El Puma became a Traveler Team.

4.17 – The Black Dragon

“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?!”

“It’s al…”

“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.”

“Kinduv.”

“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 shrugged.

“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.”

“Seriously?”
“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.”

“It’s alright…”

“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.”

“MeToo.”

“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.

4.13 – El Puma Calls

I was in the middle of another Full House episode when El Puma called. El Puma is a LoverMan Traveler from the far off and exciting Realities of South America, who I knew from my last year at Artsy Lawless. He was living in NewYorkCity now, and I’d told him I was gonna Travel to his Reality that day.

“I am at the NewYorkCity Department of Driving and The MeNotzies have taken over,” El Puma said. “If you are near you must come at once.”

“I’m still in Kat Reality,” I said.

“How soon can you be here?”

“I dunno. What are The MeNotzies doing?”

“I was taking my written Driver Test when my pen ran out of ink. I then very politely asked the man next to me if I could borrow one from him, but he said ‘Are you crazy? That’s against the rules. We’ll both fail the test.’ I said ‘My deepest and most sincere regrets for bothering you, sir.’ Upon which he then did hand me a pen and said, ‘Just fuckin’ with you. Here ya go.’ I asked him why he had not been honest from the beginning, and in response he told me to ‘Lighten up.’ Needless to say I did not accept his pen. Traveler Jonathan, have you ever heard of such a MeNotzie?”

“Sure, he’s one of those I’m-Just-Fuckin-With-You MeNotzies. They could easily MeToo you but choose not to for a cheap laugh.”

“Yes, that is exactly what he was! Tell me, how do I respond to him?

“I dunno.”

“But I assume you have learned tactics in your Reality Travel Training for such a situation.”

“I guess so.”

“What is the matter? You do not sound well.”

“I’m just tired.”

“Ah yes, I can imagine one who Travels to so many Realities must become quite fatigued.”

“Sortuv.”

“Perhaps tho you can summon enough strength to Travel to NewYorkCity?”

“Maybe. It’s pretty hard to get there tho.”

“I believe it is really not too difficult. You take the train from Just-Outside County Station and then transfer to the subway at…”

“Eh.”

“Eh? What is ‘eh?’”

“You hafta remember the subway is very hard for a non-NewYorkCity Reality to figure out.”

“Ah yes, I did not think of this. Perhaps you can drive here in your car then?”

“Yeah, but then I’d have to parallel park somewhere, and that is also very hard.”

“Ah yes, I did not think of this either.”

“I think I’m just going to stay in this Reality for awhile. Kat’s being the LoveKat so far.”

“Ohh, why did you not say so earlier? Love with a chick is the most important thing, and you must not leave if there is a chance of having it.”

“Yeah, and I usta show LoveKat what Love is like all the time, so we might do that again.”

“Then stay. But if you want to Travel after the Love, you may find me tonight at Artsy Lawless, where I will be having my own Love with Mi Amor who is still a student there.”

“Alright, maybe.”

“Do not worry, Traveler Jonathan. If you do not make it, I will understand and feel joy for you.”

“Thanks.”

After the call I started watching Full House again.

“Hey, wait,” I said to the TV. “How come Uncle Jesse’s not getting The Malaise at all?”