Chapter 5: CafeNostrumCon

The morning after Carrie tended to Our Hero in his gloriously high state, she was feeling good.  Damn good. She’d gone home that morning (after leaving a fresh pot of coffee for Our Hero), taken a shower (in slow-motion, just like in the movies), and went to work at noon. Upon her arrival, George started in on some sort of bullshit that Carrie…well, she just didn’t fucking know why he did it other than he did because he was George.

“So, you’d do Darwin but you wouldn’t do Douchebag?” George asked, with as much courage and vigor as his perpetually adolescent voice would allow.

Carrie stopped cleaning the steamer and stared, blankly, at the seldom-updated chalkboard with the day’s special from three weeks ago. “What the fuck did you just ask me?”

“You did Darwin, didn’t you? I saw you walking to his apartment last night!” George squeaked; he was trying to sound tough and confrontational, but came off as whiny.

“George, you’re not usually this creepy, and I know you live right there, but for fuck’s sake… He no-showed on me and I was worried.”

“So why’d you stay overnight?”

Carrie rolled her eyes. “‘Cause we’ve been friends for years?”

At this, George (who was already sweating profusely) chuckled. “I was just trying to start something.  Geez.”

Carrie rolled her eyes. “You’re an idiot.”

“Actually—“

“Shut it, George. Go home. Get the fuck out.”

“I was just trying to be funny.”

“You fail at humor. Go home.” She pointed to the door.

After George skulked away, Carrie sighed in relief. The kid was socially inept—she’d accepted this long ago. “Too much goddamn internet and porno,” she remarked to herself after determining The Owner was not present. The store was empty. It was quiet. Carrie felt calm. [G-d’s note: stop the Hemingway already.] Carrie realized that her day had not, in fact, been ruined. In fact, she’d had quite a good morning. She’d decided to do her work while listening to some experimental German band. After cleaning up the end-result of George’s poor upbringing, a failing school system, and a society that does not instill good work ethics, she ate a croissant, and had one of those rare feelings that everything would go right and be smooth sailing that day. She even had time to read afterward. She lounged, reading her book–today it was Dostoevsky–drinking espresso, when Our Hero walked in the door, carrying with him his aluminum briefcase.

He still looked stoned. “What’s up, Carrie?” He asked, as if a thousand miles away.

Carrie laughed. “Feeling good?”

“Yes. Thank you for the pillow. I dreamed I was a clown, and that the entire world looked like Burt Huguenot and–what’s her name–that philosopher who believed in Rationalarianism.” Our Hero said.

“Oh, you mean Brande. I just call her She Who Must Not Be Named. Were they laughing?” Carrie asked.

“No, it wasn’t that everyone looked like them, it was that the entire world actually looked like them.  It was pretty wild. I need my head to be less foggy. Give me an M240.”

“Shit, son,” Carrie said and whistled the low, cautionary whistle of bartenders and cops. “An M240 has never been tested on someone who still has vast quantities of THC in his system. Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

Carrie giggled and set about making a beverage consisting of the following ingredients:

6 shots espresso

2 spoons sugar

[redacted]

[redacted]

dash of heavy cream

twist of lemon peel

vanilla extract

[redacted]

The drink itself was named for the M240 Squad Automatic Weapon, a belt-fed light-machine-gun, chambered for the mighty 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. The physical effects of drinking an M240 are said to be similar to the effects of both firing and being fired upon by said weapon at the same time.

Our Hero awaited his hypercaffeinated beverage, opened his briefcase, and pulled out his laptop. He hardly used his laptop. He didn’t care much for computers; a misspent youth in front of one had successfully inoculated him from its abuse in later life.

“How’s the novel?” Carrie asked as she opened the cabinet discretely labeled ‘cleaning supplies’ in which The Boss stored his raw caffeine. “I read about half of what you told me to and then crashed.”

“I haven’t touched it since last night. I was about to ask you the same thing. I saw that you’d found and read it. I loved your coffee stain on page 19. I’m gonna ask the editor if they can include that.”

Carrie laughed and said, “you were toasted. You asked me to read it in your drug-addled state. And so far, I love it. It’s beautiful, Darwin. My favorite line was the first piece of advice the Professor gave: ‘if the world disagrees with you, be ye disagreeable unto the world.’”  

Darwin chuckled. “I came up with that while my stomach was displeased from the Chinese the other night.”

“It was awfully greasy. And that Awful Waffle chaser…ugh. But so tasty at the time! I also liked it when he said ‘most lives are little more than poorly written run-on sentences punctuated by daggers–hopefully literally.’ That was pure gold. Gah, I love ya bro.”

“Hah, thanks.” Darwin replied. He opened his word processor and began typing. “I’ve decided to steal from Huguenot’s Inchon: The Musical. For the rest of the book, I’m going to use the same phrase over and over to drive the point home. He used ‘c’est la vie.’ I’m going to write ‘because it seemed like a good idea at the time.’ I mean, that does capture our zeitgeist, doesn’t it?”

“You make me all hot and bothered when you throw foreign words into the mix, baby. I’m all ears. Give me context.” Carrie delivered the M240 and grabbed a mug of Midway Sunset Heavy for herself.  The unflavored coffees were named for petroleum products, at the insistence of The Owner. Midway Sunset Heavy was a deep black, bitter brew with a sour note. Not popular with customers. Carrie’s favorite.

“Right now, in the novel, you and I are finishing up a retelling of our Chinatown: Revisited incident, and we run into the insane Professor, who proceeds to deliver an 87 page speech outlining his life philosophy. Yeah, I totally have an 87 page speech in the works, totally ripping on She Who Must Not Be Named, only more certifiable and even less coherent. I haven’t written the speech yet, but here’s where I’m going.” Our Hero proceeded to read aloud from the last page he’d finished the previous day:

Jim and Cassandra found themselves, once more, on the outskirts of Chinatown. They realized at the same time that they were being watched by none other than Professor Thaddeus Aldridge, the insane homeless man who had saved them from the horde of small hobos with knives, and who taught them the basic principle to which he subscribed: if the world disagrees with you, be ye disagreeable unto the world.  

He began to scream at them. His screeching Avian greeting made him seem as if he’d been possessed by some sort of chthonic owl-daemon: his shaggy hair and unkempt beard, and disturbing coke-bottle glasses all lent him the appearance of a Great Horned beast ready to strike at some unsuspecting rodent or small child. As it turned out, he was just excited to see them, and asked if they were interested in learning more of his philosophy. They agreed. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

“That will be the recurring theme. Everything they do will seem like a good idea at the time, and they’ll live these marvelous but meaningless lives. It’s better than Huxley and Soma.”

Carrie sat and smiled. She enjoyed Our Hero’s company. It was at that moment that they both realized, simultaneously, that they’d spent the past few days completely monopolizing each others’ spare time.  They used to do that, years before, but ever since Life came in with bullshit like her college, their girlfriends, and other nonsense, they’d hardly spent much time together, and suddenly once more they were inseparable, just like the good old days. Order, and thus distance, would soon have to be restored to the Universe, lest the Cosmos implode under the gravitational pull of their friendship.

“Darwin?” She asked with one of her wistfully meaningless sighs–he already knew what she was going to ask, and he already had the answer:  “Why weren’t you born a girl?”

Our Hero pretended to ponder the question and gave his ritualistic response: “I was cobbled together from spare parts. All God had left was a penis, the emotional stability of a lemming, the mediocre writing talent of a generations-removed Scot, a heart, and a very fucked up outlook on the world. He stuck them together with J.B. Weld and voila! John Madison Darwin.”

Carrie cackled with glee, especially at J.B. Weld (which she swore by). Much to her dismay, she happened to catch a glimpse of something out the window which brought her cackling to an end. She stopped and said in a low, grave voice: “Darwin. Here they come. Behold! The evil hordes approach…eth.” She added the -eth with a giggle.

“What the fuck is that on his head?” he asked, most perplexed.

“It’s a hat. It’s like the head to one of their little cutsie-poo creatures or something. Come, sir Darwin–like your namesake–and behold the fabled weeaboo! These are the males of the species, but the females generally aren’t far off. You are about to witness their mating ritual. How they mate after the ritual is a mystery of mysteries, for no weeaboo has ever truly gotten laid. They spawn–Science says it’s parthenogenesis.”

At that, the door-buzzer rang and in walked three college kids, all male. The first sported this hideous purple beanie-cap with an embroidered grin rivaling that of the Cheshire cat and three red eyes suspended on antennae. The second had coke-bottle glasses, but was dressed surprisingly well—he’d have passed for a scene-kid if not for the satchel with a Japanese cartoon character printed on the side. The third was rather large, about three hundred pounds at five-foot-seven, and carried a Goddamn!-sized beverage in one hand and a plastic bag full of god-knows-what in the other.

It was not difficult to overhear their conversation, as it reverberated throughout Café Nostrum.

“So how was class this morning?” the first one asked of the second.

“It was retarded. The teacher made us write and then read papers in class. I mean, I was OK, but everyone else’s papers were lame. Epic fail.”

“Guys,” the rather large one said in a voice that sounded like it had been lubricated with the lipids of a thousand fatted calves. “Did you see what XrogerX posted on Yuki’s profile?”

“He’s such a douchebag troll,” the one in the beanie cap responded. “Yuki told me it was OK, but still, fucking weak, man.”

“Is Yuki coming today?” the relatively-normal-looking albeit-coke-bottled one asked.

“Yeah, she’ll be around after a while,” the large one replied, followed by a long noisy slurp from his red-and-blue half-frozen cup of diabetes.

Our Hero and Carrie stopped listening at that point. The two got up—Our Hero hastily put everything in his briefcase while doing so—and got far enough away that they could whisper in peace.

“You know what I noticed, besides the obvious?” Our Hero asked.

“No, what?”

“Not one of them had the courtesy to greet you in any way, or even acknowledge your existence, much less order something before sitting down. The man with his own gravity-well also took a moment to stare at the sign that says ‘no outside food or drink,’ and proceeded to drink from his cup of diabetes while doing so. My God, I’d go insane Carrie. I feel bad that I’m going to abandon you to this hell.” Our Hero said. He received a reply in the form of a well-deserved punch in the arm.

“Manners, respect, and pretty much anything resembling civilized behavior has been selectively bred out of these specimens. What says your theory of evolution about this, Mr. Darwin?” Carrie asked.

Our Hero rolled his eyes. “I’ll become a Creationist–there is a God, and this is our hell. Anyhow, let me observe. I believe something deep within me—yes—my faux past life, is trying to relive Galapagos, right here…” Our Hero’s voice trailed off.

Carrie decided to add more data for his interpretation: “These kids are rude and obnoxious, but you touch any issue about Social Justice and this elitist, holier-than-thou mentality comes into play. God, I hate rabbit-people, makes me want to molotov the lot of them.” 

“Better make it a frag grenade. Some things you can’t destroy with fire,” Our Hero offered.

“Oh god, don’t say that,” Carrie warned.

“Say what?”

“Kill it with fire. Or destroy it. Or anything resembling it. That’s one of their internet catchphrases.”  Carrie whispered.

Apparently one of them heard the phrase, through some superhuman miracle (or rather, subconscious neurolinguistic programming) and shouted out of nowhere “KILL IT WITH FIRE! BOOYA!”  It was reflexive to the point that no one in the group noticed.

The three weeaboos then discussed a number of issues. Some of them mundane—anyone can talk about shitty college professors. In fact, everyone does. But the way they spoke about them–it was like watching an old-school internet chat-room in real life. They didn’t so much speak to each other as they spoke at each other, until the conversation shifted to a particular cartoon, and how deep, intricate, and profound the story was (except the large one, who complained that it did not have enough exposed breasts or upskirt panty shots–fanservice, as the kids say.) Carrie listened intently, and realized she knew exactly the series the misguided youths were discussing.

Carrie cringed, and whispered: “I saw that one,” she trembled in anger and continued: “Donna watched that shit. It was the fucking Brothers Karamazov in cartoon form, and not nearly as good. The weeaboos think it was original, and from Japan, and that the story is so great because it’s from Japan and Western thinkers are incapable of producing stories that are worth a shit. Oh dear God. They think it was original. The entire story, down to the characters’ names is The Brothers Karamazov! Only it was set on some magical world. I think there were robots. Goddamnit, Darwin, they’re blaspheming Dostoevsky!”

They continued their blasphemies: “Dude, do you remember the episode where that poor kid bites Yoshi’s finger, and then the kid’s dad throws the money back at Yoshi when Yoshi offered it as an apology for his brother’s misdeeds? I’m serious, bro, I almost fucking cried.” The one in the hat said. “Only the Japanese tell stories like that. Their society is full of honor and pride.”

Carrie moved as if she were about to interject, but Our Hero, in a rare act of heroism, put his hand on her shoulder and stayed her wrath.

“They are blaspheming Dostoevsky! They’re raping Dostoevsky!” Carrie snapped at him.  

“If you go into the event horizon, Carrie, you will never escape. The large one is at least twice the Chandrasekhar Limit.”

“Dammit.”  Carrie was more angry than a rational human being would normally be at that point, but it was a huge injustice to Dostoevsky to have his ingenious plot transformed into an awful cartoon. “Goddammit Darwin, I can’t resist.”

“…and the episode where Zoushima-san tells the story about how he became a Shinto priest after being challenged to fight for his honor, and how all of our actions are interconnected—man, such a deep philosophy…”

She continued in a hushed, angered whisper. “Darwin, you don’t understand. You don’t understand at all. It’s Dostoevsky. It’s fucking Zosima! He found God in the middle of a duel. It’s not this circle of life bullshit they’re talking about either, Zosima’s philosophy was that we’re responsible for our neighbor’s sins, which is pretty goddamn grim. Some hack turned it into a fucking cartoon!”

Our Hero spoke calmly: “I love Dostoevsky as much as you, Carrie, but it’s suicide to go in there. Arguing with fanboys about their favorite cartoon-erm-anime” he corrected himself, “is like going up-river in a PBR in ‘Nam, or soloing the Tet Offensive—I’m sure The Boss told you all about doing that. The fanboys will Kurtz your mind, Carrie! They will Kurtz your mind.” Our Hero warned. “Now, pour us both a mug of Brent Light Sweet and let’s talk about adult things. Honestly, bad writers imitate, good writers steal–I think that was Eliot. Most of the Western canon is lifted from somewhere else, right? Let the Japanese do it. At least these kids are being exposed to something resembling culture, right?” Our Hero was shocked that he was trying to defend them. He rationalized this a moment, and told himself that he was really just trying to keep Carrie from ruining her own day.

“But they’re raping Dostoevsky,” she groaned.

It was at that moment the weeaboo girls walked in. One was moderately attractive, if mousy—she had a lanky frame and wore birth-control-glasses, but in some of the circles Our Hero had run in, that was a plus. She walked right up to the counter. She, too, sported a silly hat, but for her, it seemed a natural extension of her otherwise subdued personality. The next was almost an exact mirror of the obese male as mentioned above, only with hideously green hair–her body almost spherical, but that may have just been an optical illusion caused by the size-too-small horizontally striped shirt she was unsuccessfully wearing. The third girl was somewhat there. She had nothing remarkable about her except a scar on her right cheek, an oversized backpack, and the slightest hint of a chick-moustache.

“Excuse me,” the mousy girl said sweetly as she stepped up to the counter. “May I please have a latte?”

Carrie’s heart softened, yea, to steal from a greater author, her heart grew just a fraction of a size larger (just enough that nothing fit anymore,) and she responded with an equally sweet “Yes dearie.  Anything for your friends?”

“Mmm,” the mousy girl hesitated.  “Hey guys, you want anything?” she called.  

“Huge mocha latte with whipped cream,” said the large girl.  

“Hot chocolate,” said the nondescript girl.

The guys continued talking as if nothing were going on, but still she waited a moment before confirming Our Hero’s suspicions: they were all idiots, and mousy-girl was the tiny pin which held the entire group together. Remove her, and all cohesion would vanish. There was nothing remarkable about her; she just seemed like a genuinely sweet girl, but Our Hero knew she was verily the gorilla snot–the duct tape–the superglue which held that group together.

“Excuse me,” Our Hero said, without thinking about what precisely it was he was going to ask. He forgot that he was probably twelve years her senior, and his skin was starting to show it.

Before she could respond, one of the male weeaboos shouted, “hey, sorry, didn’t hear you. Get us all straight espressos. We’re drinking man-coffee today!” This was followed by a ejaculation of “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” two octaves too high to be considered anything close to “manly.” While Carrie’s espresso ranked an 11 on the Chest-Hair-Placement Scale of Coffee Potency, espresso is generally the coffee of Italians and Frenchmen, not the stars of Westerns.

The girl produced an oversized wallet from her oversized purse and fumbled around looking for her debit card.

Our Hero and Carrie exchanged a glance. “Excuse me,” Our Hero said again, to the girl.

“I’m sorry, yes sir?” she asked.  Carrie was making drinks, but eavesdropping, as was her wont.  

“I’m no sir, ma’am!” Our Hero said with a smile. The girl smiled back, nervous, clearly uncomfortable. “Sorry, I’m old so I have to ask, what’s your hat from?”

“He’s not that old, but he’s cool,” Carrie interjected. The girl seemed comforted by this vote of confidence.

“It’s from this series Watashi Wa Densetsu! The character my hat is from is this penguin who turns into a bear and—”

“Tara, don’t forget the moose-demon!” one of the guys shouted—the one in the hat. Our Hero wondered how they didn’t hear Carrie’s angry ranting, but the moment something was said in Japanese or relating to—nevermind. Again, neurolinguistic programming or some other psychological technojargon bullshit. Either way, Our Hero was displeased with the interruption, and called out:

“Kiddo, we’re talking here. You’re talking there. Be polite, for God’s sake.” Our Hero’s voice dropped low as he said this. It sounded much like the voice of God Himself within the café. [G-d’s note: no it didn’t.  My voice is much better.  I could do v/o like a pro if I wanted to.]

Carrie’s jaw dropped–she’d never seen Our Hero do anything like that. The mousy-girl did not quite know what to make of any of this. The weeaboos were incensed, as incensed as feckless fanpeople can be, anyway.

The young man in the hat walked over. “I was just trying to have her explain part of the story. She always leaves important details out.”

Our Hero adjusted his rather expensive u.c. Munich glasses and (unintentionally) smirked the exact same smirk Captain Kirk always donned before throwing himself into a bar-room brawl on Star Trek.  “Kiddo, what’s your name?”

“I go by Hadouken.”

“Hadouken, my young friend, I asked the young lady, you know, this very genteel young woman who is very generously about to pay for your coffee, what her hat was from. I did not ask you for details. In the grown up world, which you are now in whether you realize it yet or not, you don’t interrupt.  It’s–”

“INTERRUPTIONPANDA!” the other weeaboos shouted in unison. Except Tara. Carrie had, at this point, stopped making coffee, and was staring at Our Hero. One, she’d never seen him assert himself like that—he used a Dad voice. Two, she’d never imagined that he’d use internet terminology in daily speech.

Our Hero already had a retort in mind. He returned to his normal tone and said, “when I was your age, me and my buddies were watching your moms give blowjobs for crack on 56kbps cam-sites. We couldn’t get it up for ‘em they were so ugly, but we all lawl’d.”  

They had no response, except the obese male who said, somewhat disturbed  “My mom really did AV shit…”

“I’m sure you found it while you were fourteen and looking for food-fetish porn, right?  Pop goes the twinkie!” Our Hero could not believe he had so quickly stooped to their level, but it got the point across.  The large one sulked at his cup of diabetes and performed the onomatopoeic action from which the frozen treat got its name. The collective silence was heaven.

Hadouken extended his hand. “You sir, are a god. You have collectively pwn’d all of us. You must teach me these ancient and powerful ways.”

Our Hero slapped the hand aside. “Young Hadouken, I use my powers only for the sake of Awesome in my search for the Grail. They are too sacred and powerful for a mind as young as yours. Now, as I was saying, show a little etiquette. We’re in private-chat over here. GTFO.”

“Hai,” the young man responded with the worst imitation of a Japanese bow Our Hero had ever seen, and returned to his table. The group seemed confused. Our Hero himself was confused—nothing he said was particularly clever.  

The mousy girl, Tara, gawked.

Our Hero got back to business. “Anyway, the hat. It’s cute. Let me ask you a question–what do you do?  Student?”

“Working dropout,” she said.

Our Hero wasn’t surprised. “There’s nothing wrong with that. And as for me, for being rude in front of such a nice young lady, I must do penance to Pan, the horned goat-god, so I’m buying your coffee.  Carrie, hers is on me. Tab it.”

Carrie was mildly horrified by the events she’d just witnessed. She’d never seen Our Hero like this before. She’d never heard him talk like that before, either. It was a sudden change. She immediately realized why Liz must have left him, too. She could imagine her reaction to a sudden shift from Our Hero to Mr. Darwin. On the one hand, she admired that he had it in him to be assertive–on the other, she did not like it very much at all in this instance.

“I thought it was silly of you,” Tara said. She was scrutinizing Our Hero. “But I don’t always leave out important details. You don’t have to pay for my coffee.”

“I’m going to anyway. Tell me one other thing, Tara,” Our Hero said. Carrie imagined him talking to a daughter or something. “What’s your dream job?”

“I’m not a very good artist like Hadouken, Ryu, or Yuki, but I like to draw. I think I’ll become a chef though—I know I’m not good enough for professional art. My sister is into that…” she trailed off.

Our Hero smiled. “Cooking is an ancient and noble profession. Good luck. Now, as for me, I need nicotine.”

Tara smiled sweetly—her whole face smiled when she smiled, and it was cute. She went back to the register to pay for her friends.

Carrie finally spoke up. “Kiddo, this whole round is on me. Sorry that old sourpuss here was so rude.  Darwin…” she carried the drinks over to the table and set down the entire tray (a definite no-no for her high standards of workplace performance, but she was in a rush.)

“Join me for a smoke.” Our Hero said as he approached the door.

“I can’t.” She nodded towards the table of late-teenage-early-twenty-somethings.

Darwin looked at them. “What’s the worst they’ll do–steal Chaucer?  Like the Dostoevsky-rapists care about stealing Chaucer.”

Carrie scowled a moment, then joined Our Hero for a smoke right outside.

“Darwin, I didn’t know that about you. After all these years, I finally learned why you can’t keep a girlfriend.”

“Why?”

“Because you oscillate between this really awesome dude, a neurotic wreck, and now I’ve learned, dad. In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen that. Not like my dad either, but the stereotypical 1950s TV dad, only who knows how to use the words ‘blowjob’ and ‘crack’ and ‘modem’ in a sentence.”

Our Hero shrugged. “Yeah, your point?”

“This is the 21st century. I mean, you were born what, 1983? You remember the Real World, they don’t.”

“You’re defending that little nit?” Our Hero asked.

You just did! Well, before attacking him.”

Our Hero didn’t know why they were about to have the argument they were about to have. Neither knew, but it was inevitable, like God-Burt’s rampage in Des Moines. It was also a pivotal moment in the development of Our Hero’s novel, but he did not yet realize it.  

“Look, they’re annoying as fuck,” Our Hero said, “and they need to learn manners. I just felt bad for that girl.”

“Of course you felt bad for her, because you’re in some goddamn century where men are men and women are always in distress. But not all the time, only when your neurosis or depression aren’t too overwhelming. Why don’t you feel bad about Liz?” Carrie asked. “I mean, I know I called her a skank, but she was really fucking upset and you blew it all off. I’ve known her a long time, too, and yeah–I do make fun of her and call her Barbie, but really, you haven’t acted like yourself at all. In some ways you’ve been better than normal, but…I didn’t expect you to act like an old man.”

Darwin sighed. “What do you want from me—tears? I loved her. But I decided I was going to try to just say ‘fuck it’ and let it be. Last time, I didn’t do that, and you remember where that took me. Either way I fuck everything up. But if you makes you feel any better, I have felt like shit over it. Now, back to the—”

“This has nothing to do with the goddamn weeaboos. We’ll rip them apart later. Right now, though, you promise me, you swear to God, you never take that tone with me like you did those kids. I’ll cut your larynx out.”

Our Hero had no real response. He said, “we’ve known each other all this time and I’ve never had to.  We get along. They’re all just making that poor girl pay for their goddamn coffee, and then poking at her because she answered a question. Shit, I know how she feels.”

“Darwin, I know you know. The problem is that you’re so full of shit. I mean, not like most people, but you took this high and mighty tone but you really didn’t say anything at all.”

Our Hero paused. He hadn’t really said anything of value to the perpetrators. He’d just mocked them.  Sure, telling them not to interrupt was a good thing to do, but, really, he’d just done what they did, only better. She was right, she usually was. Still, he thought that it was his diving from the moral high-ground into the shitfest that really bothered Carrie (it wasn’t.)

“Yeah, I contradict myself a lot, don’t I?  It’s one of my most endearing features.” Our Hero said, his sarcasm not lost.  Carrie was still not satisfied, though.

“I’m not defending them. I hate them. Even the nice girl. You’re just…you’re a mess, Darwin.”

He shrugged. “Tell me something I don’t know. I’m going to go write.”

“You’re three people, Darwin, and they’re all fucking confused. Can’t you pick one and be fine with it?” She asked, and her softened tone reminded Our Hero of a past experience they’d had, where he’d told her pretty much the same thing.

“I don’t know how. Now, Carrie, balance is restored to the universe–we’ve monopolized each other’s time for a few days and now we’ve had our blow-up. So it goes. I’ll see you soon.” Our Hero went back inside long enough to grab his briefcase, wave at the weeaboos, and leave. Carrie said nothing.