Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 56 of 64

“Lovely. Let’s eat now.”

Art meant to log in and see if Colonelonic had dredged up any intel on Linda’s ex, but he found himself trapped on the sunporch with Gran and the Father and a small stack of linen tablecloths hairy with embroidered wishes. He traced their braille with his fingertips, recognizing the names of his childhood. Gran and the Father talked late into the night, and the next thing Art knew, Gran was shaking him awake. He was draped in a tablecloth that he’d pulled over himself like a blanket, and she folded it and put it away while he ungummed his eyes and staggered off to bed.

Audie called him early the next morning, waking him up.

“Hey, Art! It’s your cousin!”


“You don’t have any other female cousins, so yes, that’s a good guess. Your Gran told me you were in Canada for a change.”

“Yup, I am. Just for a little holiday.”

“Well, it’s been long enough. What do you do in London again?”

“I’m a consultant for Virgin/Deutsche Telekom.” He has this part of the conversation every time he speaks with Audie. Somehow, the particulars of his job just couldn’t seem to stick in her mind.

“What kind of consultant?”

“User experience. I help design their interactive stuff. How’s Ottawa?”

“They pay you for that, huh? Well, nice work if you can get it.”

Art believed that Audie was being sincere in her amazement at his niche in the working world, and not sneering at all. Still, he had to keep himself from saying something snide about the lack of tangible good resulting from keeping MPs up to date on the poleconomy of semiconductor production in PacRim sweatshops.

“They sure do. How’s Ottawa?”

“Amazing. And why London? Can’t you find work at home?”

“Yeah, I suppose I could. This just seemed like a good job at the time. How’s Ottawa?

“Seemed, huh? You going to be moving back, then? Quitting?”

“Not anytime soon. How’s Ottawa?”

“Ottawa? It’s beautiful this time of year. Alphie and Enoch and I were going to go to the trailer for the weekend, in Calabogie. You could drive up and meet us. Swim, hike. We’ve built a sweatlodge near the dock; you and Alphie could bake up together.”

“Wow,” Art said, wishing he had Audie’s gift for changing the subject. “Sounds great. But. Well, you know. Gotta catch up with friends here in Toronto. It’s been a while, you know. Well.” The image of sharing a smoke-filled dome with Alphie’s naked, cross-legged, sweat-slimed paunch had seared itself across his waking mind.

“No? Geez. Too bad. I’d really hoped that we could reconnect, you and me and Alphie. We really should spend some more time together, keep connected, you know?”

“Well,” Art said. “Sure. Yes.” Relations or no, Audie and Alphie were basically strangers to him, and it was beyond him why Audie thought they should be spending time together, but there it was. Reconnect, keep connected. Hippies. “We should. Next time I’m in Canada, for sure, we’ll get together, I’ll come to Ottawa. Maybe Christmas. Skating on the canal, OK?”

“Very good,” Audie said. “I’ll pencil you in for Christmas week. Here, I’ll send you the wish lists for Alphie and Enoch and me, so you’ll know what to get.”

Xmas wishlists in July. Organized hippies! What planet did his cousins grow up on, anyway?

“Thanks, Audie. I’ll put together a wishlist and pass it along to you soon, OK?” His bladder nagged at him. “I gotta run now, all right?”

“Great. Listen, Art, it’s been, well, great to talk to you again. It really makes me feel whole to connect with you. Don’t be a stranger, all right?”

“Yeah, OK! Nice to talk to you, too. Bye!”

“Safe travels and wishes fulfilled,” Audie said.

“You too!”

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