Rick’s still alive, though posting has been sparse. It’s National Novel Writing Month!
This year’s NaNo project is called A Dragon Problem.
Rex is a bartender at a popular pub in Hartford. One night, one of his regular customers mentions running into a crazy lady asking for help with “a dragon problem.”
After closing time, Rex meets the lady for himself. Against his better judgment, he invites her in.
“I don’t need help slaying a dragon, I need help recruiting one.”
Let the fun begin.
It’s the 20th of October on Sol III, which means that there are only 11 days until Halloween, at least in the parts that celebrate that sort of thing. It’s quite like the Aldebaran Metamorphosis Festival, in that people like to celebrate in costume and go door to door taking candy from strangers. Since there are no barkmoths on Sol III, rather than wearing the cast-off cocoons of the giant caterpillars, they dress as ghosts, goblins, or their favorite Disney princesses or Marvel super heroes. A fun time is had by all.
Even though the winter holiday known as Christmas is still two months away, stores have begun putting out their holiday decor, hoping to frighten customers into spending large quantities of currency in their establishments. It’s a joyous time of year, filled with singing and drinking and eating and other forms of merriment.
It is this strange juxtaposition of holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the other seasonal holidays, as well as the latest “Caption This!” photo posted in The Dragon’s Rocketship, that inspired me to write this song parody of the Wassail Song. It goes like this:
Here we go, a-harvesting,
To make more Soylent Green;
Feeding all the peasants,
And keeping our streets clean.
They all want to be fed,
So who cares if it’s our dead?
So chow down, ask no questions,
‘Cause it’s best if you don’t know,
That we just might be eating Uncle Joe.
Try slipping those lyrics in the next time you go caroling!
If you have ever parodied traditional Christmas carols, feel free to share your lyrics in the comments section below!
It’s that time of year again.
This will be the third year I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month. The first year resulted in A Time To Build, the first book in The Umea Bakearen. That led to A Time To Mourn, and at least two more books in that series.
The second year, I wrote Freed’s Man, a story that described the events of A Time To Build through Tony Diego’s eyes. That book is still being revised, and will be released at some point.
This year, I’m going to be writing a fantasy tale that begins with the question, “What would you do if a stranger asked you to help her with a dragon problem?” The working title is (wait for it…) A Dragon Problem. Here’s one idea for a cover:
Since misery (and creativity) loves company, what about you? Are you taking the NaNoWriMo challenge? Comment about it below!
We’re excited to announce the release of The Dragon’s Rocketship Presents: The Ship’s Log and The Scribe’s Journal at Amazon.com! Both will release on November 1, but you can pre-order them now.
The anthologies contain short stories by several of the Dragon’s Rocketship’s most talented authors, as well as our very own Rick Rossing. The Ship’s Log is the Group’s Sci-fi anthology, and The Scribe’s Journal is Fantasy. Both are extraordinary!
Rick’s short story, Asylum, appears in The Ship’s Log.
There are several life lessons one can learn from the classic video game Tetris:
- You don’t get to choose what life throws at you.
- How you react to it makes all the difference. You might not be able to choose what comes at you, but you do get to decide what to do with it. You can turn things around.
- You have to plan ahead. You never know when you’re going to be presented with that one thing you need to complete a project, or meet a goal, but you need to be sure you leave room for it when it comes.
- Once you get things into place, they clear the way for more things.
- Careless management of resources quickly leads to disaster.
It’s been awhile since we’ve last added a character profile, and so we’ve chosen one who has not yet appeared in the Umea Bakearen series, but is the main character in a short story soon to be published.
Dab is a Bhetangu, formerly of the Pyron Caste. She was part of an advance party sent by the Bhetangu to destabilize the Union government prior to invasion. She was a communications officer aboard a massive Super-Destroyer, a ship capable of incinerating an entire planet. She was on duty when the Commander of the ship attacked and destroyed an independent planet without warning.
Dab was horrified, not so much by the destruction of the planet but by the callousness with which her superior ordered the attack. To destroy without giving a chance to submit, or even allowing non-combatants to flee, was a direct violation of a code of honor Dab had been trained from birth to uphold.
When the super-destroyer entered another system, Dab secretly sent a warning to the inhabitants, who immediately launched every ship they had to defend themselves. In the battle, Dab, her Commander, and a score of Bhetangu militants escaped the doomed super-destroyer in a small lifeboat, which avoided detection and returned them to a hidden base.
When the base was captured by the Union, Dab’s actions eventually came to the attention of Wayne Freed, who offered her asylum. Dab renounced her rank and her Caste, and accepted Wayne’s offer.
Dab appears in Asylum, a short story by Rick Rossing, which appears in The Dragon’s Rocketship Presents: The Ship’s Log, available on Amazon.
If you’re a fan of Fantasy or Sci-fi (and if you’re not, why are you here, exactly?) There’s a group on Facebook I’m proud to be a part of. It’s called The Dragon’s Rocketship, and it’s one of the most awesome genre fiction fan groups out there.
The group started out with a small group of friends who ran afoul of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. One by one, they found themselves victims of his nefarious schemes to do what most evil wizards do: try to control the lives of others. Cast out, they banded together and formed their own group, welcoming in other victims of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The group continues to grow, and it’s become an inclusive community guided by one unifying principle: Don’t be a dick. Or, to use the words of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other.”
The group is full of fans of both Fantasy and Sci-fi. Many of them are talented writers and artists. All of them are fun to interact with. It’s also a closed group, safe from the prying eyes of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Some of us have collaborated on a few upcoming projects. There are three anthologies that will be out soon (keep checking the Links Page for when they release). There is a YouTube channel with fun videos (Scripts were written by M. A. Ray and yours truly). There’s an offshoot group for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo. There’s a Writers’ Critique group, and more.
If this all sounds intriguing, come see us on Facebook. Anyone can join.
See you there!
For the Office of the Mediator, Sol III Div.
Warning: The following story may not be suitable for young people. Contains nudity. Not that there are any pictures or anything, but still…
Greetings, people of Sol III,
Today, we’re pleased to share a short story that sheds a bit of light on Wayne’s relationship with Janet. Though they have never been lovers, they once came pretty close. This story is about that event…
Hit or Miss
Most UnionCon events were about promoting cooperation and goodwill between the hundreds of star systems that made up the Galactic Union. There were conferences, treaty ceremonies, and cultural programs that made me proud to be Earth’s representative.
Then there was the meet-and-greet, which made me feel more like some B-movie star than an ambassador. Ben and I sat at the Sol-Deneb table, signing autographs for groupies. Yes, we had groupies.
Scores of young ladies—at least, I was pretty sure they were mostly all ladies, though with some races it wasn’t that obvious—stood in lines waiting to meet us.
Ben put down his pen and cracked his knuckles. “So, how’s your girlfriend?”
“You mean Janet? She’s not exactly my girlfriend.”
“C’mon, Wayne. The girl followed you from Oklahoma to Georgetown. That sounds like devotion to me. She seems pretty enough. If I weren’t already almost spoken for, I’d take her on.”
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, like you’d have a shot.”
“Hey, I’m Ben Elan, Umea Bakearen of Deneb!”
“That might mean something to the UnionCon crowd, but on Earth, you’d be as much a nobody as I am.”
“You’re not a nobody. You’re Wayne Freed, Umea Bakearen of Sol III!”
“You don’t get it, do you? Two booths at the food court could probably fit all of the people of Earth who know about it. Janet’s not one of them.”
Ben looked wide-eyed at me. “Why does she even like you, then?”
“Oh, thanks for the vote of confidence. For your information, she’s my sister’s best friend. I’ve known her for years.”
“Well, think about this, then. If you and I had not been exchanged at birth, I might have been the one carrying her picture around.”
I sighed. “You keep thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the galaxy, don’t you? It’s not as simple as all that. If it weren’t for Sol-Deneb, my family wouldn’t have moved to Oklahoma in the first place. I never would have met Janet.”
Ben smiled. “You mean, I never would have met Janet.”
“Neither of us would have. Look, just because I’m not sleeping with Janet doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I just don’t want to complicate our relationship until I’m done with school.”
“You really think she’ll wait for you that long?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It might simplify things if she did give up and move on. But you’re going to leave her alone. You wouldn’t want me hitting on Sandra, would you?”
“Her name is Sonja, and she wouldn’t go out with you, anyway. I’m the one she’s got a crush on, according to her sister.”
“Yeah, well, if she’s got a crush on you, how come her sister is the only one you’ve talked to?”
Ben crossed his arms. “She’s shy. I’m still working out how to break the ice. I think the sister likes you. Her name is Lisa, or Lana, or something like that. I know it starts with an L. I could introduce you. We could double-date, if you want.”
“Like I would trust you to set me up on another blind date.”
Ben put up his hands defensively. “Hey, that wasn’t my fault! The girl never told me her friend was an Ursan. What do you have against furry women, anyway?”
“It wasn’t the fur, Ben. She was fourteen!”
“So? That’s like ninety eight in dog years.”
“That’s not funny, Ben. In Ursan years, that’s still statutory rape!”
“Only if you had slept with her.” Ben’s face suddenly went white. “Please tell me you didn’t sleep with her!”
“No, of course not!”
“Whew! That’s a relief! Her father would have torn you to shreds. Then he’d probably come after me, too.” Ben looked at me sideways. “You’ve never had sex, have you?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Ha! I knew it!”
I scowled at him before I signed a photo and handed it to the next girl in line, an attractive Aldebaran in a Slave Leia costume. “That’s a nice costume, miss.”
“Thank you for noticing, Ambassador.” The girl winked. “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I wouldn’t mind being your first.”
I felt my face grow hot. “Thanks for the offer, but I just finished telling my friend here that I’d prefer to know the girl, first.”
“No problem. I’m Na Hi.” She handed me a card with her name, contact information, blood type, body measurements, and other data I wouldn’t have thought to ask. “Give me a call. I promise you won’t be sorry.”
Ben watched her saunter away, then nudged me. “Are you going to use that?”
I tossed the card onto his photo stack. “Knock yourself out.”
“You know, you really should be enjoying yourself. I wouldn’t mind a gaggle of scantily-clad females fawning over me.”
“Aha! So this is one of those grass-is-greener things! You’re just annoyed that all the women lining up for your autograph are dressed up as zombies and slime devils, aren’t you?”
Ben scowled. “I really hate Denebian cinema.”
I smiled at Ben’s discomfort and signed another photograph. Instead of another Leia costume, I saw a pretty X-wing pilot. She wore a form-fitting satiny flight suit, high-heel boots, and a helmet. With the visor down, all I could see of her face were her lips, red and full.
I gradually became aware that they were moving. She had been talking to me. “Ambassador Freed? I said that I’m a big fan of yours.”
“What? Oh, yes. Yes, of course.” I handed her the photo, smiling absently.
She seemed slightly disappointed in my reaction. “Thanks for the photo.”
“Uh, I really like your costume, miss.” I wanted to ask her something, if I could only remember what it was.
The girl smiled. “Thank you. My sister and I worked on our costumes together.”
As she walked away, I suddenly remembered what question I wanted to ask her. I jumped up.
“What’s your hurry?” said Ben. “We’ve only got another ten minutes before closing, can’t it wait?”
“I’ll be right back. I just need to know that girl’s name!”
Turning my head to answer Ben, I had misjudged the precise location of the step leading down off the platform. I felt my left ankle pop as it hit the ground and rolled.
I caught one last glimpse of the lovely pilot as she strode out of the hall as a small team of medics and security personnel descended upon the scene.
The infirmary doctor scanned my ankle. “Well, nothing’s broken, Ambassador. It’s just a bad sprain.”
“It still hurts, Doc.”
“I’ll give you a prescription for the pain. Stay off of it for at least six weeks, and refrain from any strenuous activity for twelve to sixteen weeks. Nurse, please bring a wrap and a pair of crutches.”
“That’s it? I kind of expected you’d have a healing beam.”
He gasped. “Does Sol III have such a technology? That would be a boon to medicine throughout the Union!”
I frowned and shook my head. “No, sorry. I just assumed with all the other advanced tech around here…it’s not important. Thanks, Doc.”
“My pleasure, Ambassador.” He shook my hand and left.
The nurse showed me how to adjust the crutches. “Is this your first time?”
“I’ve been pretty lucky up until now. And loads more graceful.”
She smiled. “Even the most graceful dancer can fall down stairs.”
I chuckled. “That makes me feel a little better. Thanks.”
“You are very welcome.” She helped me stand up and balance on my crutches, then walked with me back out to the waiting area. “I hope the rest of your UnionCon experience is more pleasant.”
Ben stared at the nurse as she walked away. “Please tell me you got that nurse’s number, Wayne. She’s even hotter than that Nadia girl.”
“Na Hi, Ben. Her name was Na Hi. And no, it wasn’t a priority.”
“What a waste.”
“You’re incorrigible.” I sighed. “It looks like I’ll have to back out of the camping trip this year.”
“What was your hurry, anyway? I didn’t catch what you said while falling.”
“That girl in the flight suit. I wanted to get her name.”
“She didn’t give you a card? Nadia gave you a card.”
I shook my head. “Forget it. Doesn’t matter. I’ll probably never see the girl again, anyway.”
“Aw, don’t be so glum, chum. You still have Janet. I bet she’d look pretty hot in a body suit like that, or one of those slave dresses.”
“Is that all you ever think about? Girls in tight costumes?” I sighed. “Dammit. I wish I had gotten her name.”
Ben suddenly perked up. “Lynne!”
“Sonja’s sister. Her name is Lynne.”
“That’s great, Ben, but it doesn’t help me with the X-Wing girl. Damn, I wish I had gotten her name before she left the table.”
“Wish I could help you, but I didn’t see enough of her face to able to pick her out of a crowd if I saw her again.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I leaned on my crutches and managed a smile. “Well, have fun camping, anyway. Sorry for bailing.”
“Don’t sweat it. We’ll go camping again, one of these years.” Ben grinned. “Are you sure you don’t want me to set up a double date with Sonja and her sister?”
I nodded. “I know you mean well, but I’d rather make my own mistakes, if you don’t mind.”
Ben laughed. “Suit yourself. Hope you make some memorable ones.”
Janet was sitting in the library when I came in. She gasped and ran over to me. “Oh, you poor thing! What happened to you? Does it hurt?”
“I wasn’t watching where I was going.” I kissed her, noting that her hair smelled like cotton candy. Dyed pink as it was, it looked like it, too. I smiled and brushed her hair with my hand. “Ben’s right. You are beautiful.”
Janet beamed. “Why, thank you, Wayne. You’ve never said that to me before. Who’s Ben?”
“No one you’re likely to meet, if I have anything to say about it. He’s a nice enough guy, but kind of a womanizer. You deserve better, that’s for sure.”
“All I want is you, Wayne.” Janet pulled up an extra seat for me to prop up my ankle. “I collected your missed assignments for you while you were gone, just like you asked.”
“Thanks, Janet. I knew I could count on you.”
“Where did you go, anyway? It wasn’t somewhere dangerous, was it? Is that how you got hurt, running microfilm through Checkpoint Charlie?”
I laughed. “No, nothing nearly as interesting as that. Besides, Checkpoint Charlie hasn’t existed in years.”
“Where were you, then?”
“I wish I could tell you, but I’m not allowed.”
“Ooh, a mystery man.” Janet gently lifted my foot and unwrapped the bandage. “Nice bruising, there.” She kissed my foot and wrapped it up again. “Can you at least tell me how you hurt yourself?”
“I missed a stair, chasing after a girl.”
Janet crossed her arms and pouted. “You were chasing a girl, and it wasn’t me? Sounds like your friend Ben isn’t the only womanizer around here. Serves you right!”
I put an arm around her and pulled her close. “No, it wasn’t like that at all. I just wanted to know her name, I wasn’t trying to take her to bed or anything. I was just…I’m not really sure what I wanted from her.”
“Was she pretty?”
“I guess. It doesn’t matter, anyway. She’s gone, and I’m a cripple.”
“I guess that means you’re completely at my mercy, then,” said Janet. “You don’t need to go girl-chasing, you know. I’m here, and I’m willing.”
“I know, and if I had my way, I just might take you up on it.”
“Why can’t you have your way with me?”
“I really wish I could tell you. But you wouldn’t believe me.”
“We live in DC, one of the strangest cities on Earth.” She got up and began massaging my shoulders. “Are you a spy? Some kind of agent?”
“If I say yes, will you stop asking me?” I tried to be grumpy, but I could feel my sour mood slipping away with every stroke of her fingers. “Are you sure you want to go into Law? With fingers like yours, you’d make a great masseuse.”
“Yeah, but I would only want to touch handsome men, like you. They probably only give the cute ones to the senior masseuses.”
I laughed. “Thanks, Janet. You always know how to cheer me up. I should probably get to work, now. I’ve got a bunch of catching up to do.”
She bowed exaggeratedly. “I’m here to serve. You rest your foot and tell me what you need, and I’ll get it for you.”
“What did I ever do to deserve such a pretty maidservant?”
“Oh, don’t get used to it. Once your ankle’s better, it’s back to getting your own stuff. I’m no one’s errand girl. Got it?”
“Got it. I’ll probably do the same for you, some time.”
“I’m not as clumsy as you, dearest.”
For the next several hours, I wrote my reports, while Janet retrieved and shelved books for me. She stayed quietly out of the way, but was always there when I needed her.
After a half-dozen reports, I was beginning to get irritable again. My ankle hurt, and so did my head.
“I think it’s time to quit for the night, Wayne. You’re starting to make mistakes.”
I yawned and shook my head. “No, I’m almost caught up.”
“Almost burned up, you mean. Your eyes are red. You haven’t left that chair in over two hours. Don’t you ever have to pee?”
“Only if I eat and drink.”
“When’s the last time you ate, then?”
“It was a couple of hours before I came in here, I think.”
“Wayne! That’s no good! That’s it, then. I’m not helping you anymore.”
“I’m almost done,” I said. “Just two more papers, then we can get some supper.”
“I have to finish!”
Janet got a determined look in her eye, one I’ve long since learned to fear. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, I’ll…I’ll get us thrown out of here, I swear!”
“Yeah, right,” I said, and went back to writing.
Something landed on my book. It was a bra. “What the…?” I looked at Janet. She was still fully clothed, though obviously braless. “How did you do that?”
“I’ll show you later, if you do what I tell you. Are we leaving, or do I have to take something else off?”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh, no?” She slowly began unbuttoning her blouse.
“Janet! You’re going to get us into trouble!”
“That’s the idea,” she said, undoing the last button. She slowly began to slide the blouse off her shoulder…
I had to stop her. “You win, Janet. Where do you want to go?”
“Nothing fancy, just anywhere but here.”
About a half hour later, we arrived at Janet’s apartment. She handed me the bag of food so she could open the door. “It’s locked. Aimee must have gone out.”
“I should go if your roommate’s not here,” I said.
“Not before you eat something, Wayne.” Janet took the bag and held open the door. “Don’t argue with me, or I’ll hide your crutches.”
My stomach growled. “I’m not going to argue with you. You’re right. I need food.”
“Have a seat on the couch. You can toss your coat on the chair over there. I’ll get you a cushion for your ankle.”
I took off my coat and hopped to the couch. Janet came back with a pillow and set my foot on it. “Aimee’s gone for the weekend. She left a note on the counter. So it’s just you and me.” She began massaging my toes. “How does that feel? Does your ankle hurt?”
“It’s not that bad, really. It’s been almost two weeks since I fell. But it still hurts like hell if I try to put any weight on it.”
“Then don’t.” Janet opened up the bag and handed me my container. She sat down beside me and opened her box. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this, Wayne. I missed you while you were gone, you know.”
“I missed you, too.”
“You could take me with you, next time.”
“No, I couldn’t.” In my best Bogart, which still wasn’t very good, I added, “Where I have to go, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of.”
Janet laughed. “Is that where you go? Casablanca?”
“No, not exactly.”
“You won’t tell me?”
“I can’t tell you. Someday, maybe.”
Janet kicked off her heels. “You are so frustrating, sometimes.”
“I don’t mean to be, Janet. Ask me something I can answer truthfully.”
“Alright, how did you sprain your ankle?”
I smiled. “I already told you that. I missed a stair while chasing after a girl who probably isn’t half as wonderful as you, anyway.”
“That’s a good answer. Your turn. Ask me a question.”
“I don’t know what to ask.”
Janet stood up. “Okay, then, I’ll just answer the question you asked me earlier. Watch closely.” She made a series of deft movements, and her bra was suddenly in her hand.
“How does one learn how to do that?”
She laughed. “Well, first, you need a bra.”
“I guess I’m disqualified, then. You know we could have been arrested, don’t you? That could have led to expulsion for both of us.”
“Then it’s good that you stopped me.” Janet sighed. “I knew you would. I know how important your schoolwork is to you. It’s even more important to you than I am.”
I took Janet’s hand. “Not true. You’re important to me. I’ve known you almost all my life. You’re like family to me.”
Janet rolled her eyes. “I know, I’m just like your little sister. You still see a little girl when you look at me, don’t you?”
“Well, I’m not a little girl anymore! I’m almost nineteen years old! I can vote! I can love. And so can you.” She slowly began to unbutton her blouse.
“What are you doing, Janet?”
“Just watch and see.” She slowly slipped her skirt down around her ankles and stepped out of it. She kicked with her foot and the skirt landed on the sofa beside me.
“You do that very well,” I said.
“I’ve rehearsed this in my mind many times.” She now wore nothing but her blouse and underpants. She turned her back to me and removed them both.
“You are most definitely a woman, Janet.”
She turned around. “Do you like what you see?”
Her figure was, in a word, perfect. But then, up to that point, her body was the only one I had ever seen up close. I nodded. “You’re beautiful, Janet.”
“I’m all yours, Wayne. I love you. I always have.”
“I know. I love you, too, Janet.”
She sat across my good leg and began to unbutton my shirt. “I’ve waited a long time for this, Wayne.”
I closed my eyes as she began to undo my belt. I watched Janet quickly grow from a cute little pest to the gorgeous naked beauty undressing me. It felt almost right.
Almost. In my mind, I began to see images of a figure wearing an orange bodysuit and high-heeled boots. The figure reached up to remove her helmet…
My eyes snapped open. “Stop, Janet.”
Janet frowned. “What’s the matter, lover? Did I hurt your ankle? I’ll be more careful.”
“No, we have to stop this. I love you, Janet. I’m flattered that a woman with a body as astonishingly beautiful as yours would offer yourself to me. But I can’t cross this line. Not right now.
Janet began to cry. “I want you, Wayne! I can see that you want me. I’m giving myself to you! Why won’t you have me?”
“I can’t have you, not now. I wish I could explain why, but I can’t.”
“You don’t love me.”
I stroked her hair. “I’ve already said that I do. There’s no one on Earth I love more than you. I just can’t go through with this right now. Can I have my crutches back, please? I should go.”
“I could hold them hostage, you know. I could keep them until you give me what I want.”
“Would that make you happy?”
“No.” Janet got up, put her blouse back on, and retrieved my crutches. “You would hate me.”
I stood up, balancing on my good leg as I tucked my shirt back in. “I could never hate you.”
She frowned. “Well, I would hate me.”
I put my coat on and kissed her. “I do love you, Janet. Don’t forget that. I just can’t do this right now.”
I tried to call Janet the next morning, but all I got was her machine. I left several messages, but she didn’t call me back. I stopped by her apartment, but she was either not home or pretending not to be.
On Monday, I crossed paths with Janet’s roommate. She gasped and pointed at my crutches. “What happened to you?”
I smiled. “It’s a long story. The short version is that I missed a stair and sprained my ankle. Can I talk to you about Janet?”
“What happened between you and her? She won’t say anything.”
“I don’t know if I should say if she won’t. I don’t want to embarrass her.”
Aimee rolled her eyes. “She did the striptease, didn’t she? I told her it was a bad idea.”
I smiled. “Oh no, it was a great idea. I won’t forget it, that’s for sure.”
“What happened, then?”
“I can’t say. Like I said…”
“I know, you don’t want to embarrass her.”
I nodded. “I do want to talk to her, though. She won’t return my calls, and she won’t buzz the door.”
Aimee nodded. “Alright, I’ll get you past the front door and up into the apartment, but the rest is up to you.”
“Thanks, Aimee. I’ll owe you one.”
“If she does break up with you, call me. I promise you, nothing embarrasses me.”
I laughed. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t have time for a serious relationship, or I’d already be in one with Janet.”
“Who said anything about serious? I’m just looking for sex. I’ve never done it with a guy on crutches. You could help me cross the nurse fantasy off my bucket list.”
“Aren’t you a little young for a bucket list? You’re not terminally ill, are you?”
“If I said yes, would you go to bed with me?”
She sighed. “Well, it was worth a try, anyway. I guess Janet’s lucky to have a guy like you in love with her. I kind of wish I’d found you first.”
Janet frowned when she saw me. “What are you doing here?”
“I invited him,” said Aimee. “Look, Janet, you don’t just let a guy like this get away. You need to talk it out.”
“I guess as long as you’re here, you might as well come in.” Janet turned and walked back into the apartment.
“That’s the spirit! I’m outta here. Don’t forget to leave a hanger on the door if you’re going to have sex! I’ll check in on you guys later.” Aimee winked and left.
“You wouldn’t return my calls,” I said.
“I didn’t know what to say to you. I felt dirty. You must think I’m some kind of slut.”
“How would you know what I think, if you won’t talk to me?”
Janet shrugged. “I guess you got me, there. What do you think of me, then?”
I took Janet’s hand. “I love you. Make no mistake about that. I could never forgive myself if I had taken you to bed the other night.”
“Would sleeping with me be that bad?”
“I’m sure it would have been spectacular. It’s just that I have a lot on my plate right now. I told you once before that my school work is vitally important. It’s not more important than you, but you’re too important for only half my attention.”
“I don’t understand.”
“When I do make love to you, I want to give you everything: heart, mind, and body. Maybe someday I’ll be allowed to tell you everything, and then you’ll understand why we couldn’t be lovers right now. I promise you that you have right of first refusal on my body.”
Janet laughed. “Spoken like a true lawyer. So what happens now?”
“I don’t have time for a girlfriend right now. You’re the one I would choose if I did.”
“What about Miss What’s-Her-Name?”
I shrugged. “You’re never going to have to compete with her. Like I said, I’ll probably never see her again anyway. Even if I did, it wouldn’t change anything. If I won’t sleep with you, I certainly won’t sleep with a girl I don’t even know. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Aimee. She offered.”
“She didn’t!” Janet looked surprised and shocked at first, then she started to laugh. “Of course she did. She probably mentioned her nurse fantasy, didn’t she?”
“What, is there anything you won’t talk to each other about?”
“No, not really. It’s a girl thing.” She hugged me tightly. “I believe you, Wayne.”
“It’s the truth. If you’ll wait for me, I promise to be your lover after I graduate. I might ask you to marry me one day. But no matter what, I will always be your friend. I will always hold you in my heart, and I’ll be there for you. I promise to always love you.”
Janet smiled and nodded. “I’ll wait for you. Whenever the time is right, I’ll be your lover. If you ask me to, I’ll be your wife. But even if not, I’ll always be there for you. I promise I will always love you, too. I always have, you know.”
“That sounds like some kind of oath,” said Aimee. “You just became soul-friends, or something like that. That’s like totally new-age stuff!”
“I thought you were going to leave us alone,” said Janet.
“I was, but I got nosy. Forgive me.”
I laughed. “We will, Aimee.”
“You two are crazy, you know. I’m not sure I could wait that long. It’s going to be three years, at least.”
Janet smiled. “I think he’s worth waiting for.”
“He may be, but if you aren’t going to be lovers right now, I don’t think you ever will be. You’re probably going to end up being soul-friends or whatever, but you’re never going to sleep together. You’re either aliens, or you’re both insane!”
“You may be right,” said Janet.
I smiled. “I may be crazy.”
We both laughed and started to sing, “But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for!”
Aimee stomped on the ground. “I’m serious! But you know what else? I think you’re going to be okay with that.” She looked me over. “I guess I won’t ever get to sleep with you, either. Too bad.”
“Not unless you want to be on crutches yourself, sister,” said Janet. “You heard him, he’s mine, or nobody’s!”
I hugged Aimee. “Don’t be discouraged. You’ll find someone.”
“Yeah, maybe. Not on this planet, anyway.”
“Then you’ll just have to look on another one.”
Aimee laughed. “As if that were possible. I’m going out. For real, this time. I need to find my Mr. Right! And when I do, I’m taking him to bed right away, you hear me?”
“I think the whole building can hear you,” said Janet.
“You would have made hot lovers, too.” Aimee sounded disappointed. “I would have enjoyed hearing about it afterward! So, how did the two of you meet, anyway?”
“We grew up next door to each other,” I said.
“I’m his sister’s best friend,” said Janet. “We pretty much grew up together.”
“It’s too late for me to take that path, then. My best friend’s brother is gay, damn him. Ah, well. I’ll see you guys later.” She strolled off, looking rather predatory.
I hugged Janet. “For what it’s worth, you’re my best friend, too.”
Janet looked at the ground. “I’m sorry I threw myself at you like that. I won’t do that again.” She looked up at me and smiled. “At least, not until you graduate. Until then, I’ll give you right of first refusal on my body, too.”
“Sounds good,” I said. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to refuse it again.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
I squeezed Janet’s hand. “There is one more thing I want to say before I go home. You were right to distract me from my work. I’m constantly in danger of burning out. Feel free to get in my face if you catch me working too hard, or neglecting our friendship, or just being an ass. Next time, I promise to stop working before you lose any clothing.”
Janet winked. “You’re loss, lover. It’s a deal.”
We kissed, and I drove home. I was certain then that we would always be a part of each other’s lives. There really was no one on Earth I loved more than Janet.
But my universe was larger than a single planet. I suspected that Aimee was right, too. If Janet and I were not lovers by now, we probably never would be. My thoughts kept wandering back to the faceless X-wing pilot who still haunted my dreams. I wondered if I might someday see her again, and at least learn her name.
I wasn’t sure why, but I had an odd feeling that she was going to become someone very special to me. I just knew we’d meet again.
And when we did, things were going to get interesting.
There have been a lot of notable people recording themselves pouring ice over their heads to raise awareness and donations to ALS research. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen them.
I fully support this effort, having known people who have died from it.
There is a greater threat out there, though if you don’t live in a third world country (and if you can read this, you probably don’t), you probably aren’t really affected by it. Not yet, anyway. Here’s the thing: you probably live in a country where healthcare is readily available.
Doctors Without Borders sends doctors into places where they treat terrible diseases like Ebola. Places where the governments would more likely cordon off and abandon a diseased village than attempt to make things better.
Here’s a new challenge, that I hope you can help me make go viral. I’m calling it #DyeForEbola if you want to help trend up the hashtag.
First, either donate any amount of money to Doctors Without Borders or film yourself dyeing your hair. (Or do both, if you prefer!)
Second, challenge your friends to do the same.
Post video or photos with the hashtag #DyeForEbola on the social media of your choice.
Let’s try to heal the world together!