Blastoff(!)

“What’s that thing in the sky?”

“A cloud?”

“No, that white line. Did it come from a jet?”

“That there is a chemtrail, and they use it to spread biological agents all over the world. Very sinister­-like.”

“Who’s they?”

“The government. They do a lot of stuff. Killed Bruce Willis, too.”

“Bruce Willis is still alive.”

“Not since 1992, son. Long before your time.”

“So when did chemtrails start happening?”

“Oh, I’d say around 1956 or so, but nobody was really talking about it ’til the mid­-90s.”

“So what’s being done about it?”

“There are some people on it, rest assured.”

“So what are they made of? And what are they spreading?”

“Silicon carbide, aluminum salts. Some say it’s the same stuff that keeps Debra Messing alive and kickin’. Though it’s anyone’s guess, really.”

“But you forgot the second part of my question.”

“That wasn’t the second part of your question, that was a second question. You ever go into journalism, don’t ask no ‘two-­part’ questions, that don’t really exist. You ask one question, then you wait for the response, then you ask another. If that second question falls in line with the response to the first, then it will all work out. I mean, there are ways to just ask your questions and not listen for responses, but that’s not very fluid. Neither of you are gonna have a good time.”

“Is that like sitting and waiting for your turn to speak?”

“Pretty much, yup.”

“Where’d you learn about all this? About everything in the world?”

“I learned it mostly from the radio, we used to listen to the radio a lot. Sit around the radio, stare at it. Sometimes I’d lay on my belly and kick my feet in the air behind me, but then your great grandpa, he’d grab my feet and pick me up, swing me around the room. Boy, he’d get me going into a dizzy­like state, laughin’ until I was fixin’ to puke. Then sometimes I would. Puke, that is. Though we called it ralphing back then.”

“Why did you call it ralphing?”

“No one’s really sure, but some would say it comes from the Greeks.”

“Do you know any Greek people?”

“One, one or two, yup. They’re long dead, though. So I suppose I don’t know ’em no more. But I did. They ran a restaurant just past the perimeter highway. Never ate there, not much need to, but there it was, all year long, waiting for me.”

“Why didn’t you eat there?”

“Had a lot to do with the location, but mostly, and this is between you and me, mostly I just didn’t much care for curly­-haired women. Creeped me out. Still do.”

“But Grandma has curly hair.”

“Not that kind of curls, your grandma’s curls are big and poofy. Those little ringlets, freak me out. Remind me of…”

“Of what, Grandpa?”

“Something un­appetizing.”

“So is that restaurant still there?”

“I think it is, yup. I think it is.”

“I think that maybe I’d like to go.”

“You would?”

“I’ve never had Greek food.”

“Well, I ain’t gonna take you, that’s for certain.”

“I know other people who take me to restaurants.”

“You do, do you?”

“Yup. My dad, my mom, Uncle Jerry, my teacher, Lauren’s boyfriend, the mystery guest. Lots of people.”

“Who’s the mystery guest?”

“This guest who comes by sometimes, usually at night. We go to the drive thru and I get whatever I want.”

“What do you normally get?”

“Usually it’s Burger King, but I like McDonald’s because of the playzone, but the mystery guest says that at night the playzone isn’t open, so it doesn’t matter if that’s a deciding factor or not.”

“And you and the mystery guest, you just eat fast food?”

“And we talk.”

“What do you talk about?”

“The weather. School. About how the mystery guest keeps meaning to get a fishing license but never does.”

“This guest plan on taking you out fishing?”

“Fishing at night, yeah. Someday. Fish are easy to get when they’re tired. They don’t fight as much.”

“I see. You like going fishing?”

“Never been. Not yet, anyway.”

“So what’s this mystery guest look like?”

“Tall. I think. We’re always sitting in the car, but taller than me.”

“Does this mystery guest wear a disguise of some sort?”

“No, just regular clothes. Jeans and a t­-shirt. A jacket when it’s cold. The mystery guest doesn’t like sweaters. When I’m wearing one I have to take it off.”

“Right.”

“You’ve never seen the mystery guest?”

“No, I can’t say that I have. You ever tell your parents about this guest?”

“It’s a secret. A mystery. I’m not allowed to tell my parents.”

“But you’re telling me.”

“Yeah, I guess I can tell you. Never said I couldn’t tell you.”

“I think that it’s good that we’re talking about this, that you’re sharing this with an adult.”

“An adult?”

“A grown­up. Someone who isn’t your friend at school.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re a grown­up.”

“Have been for a while now.”

“What’s it like being a grown­up? Like, how old are you?”

“How old do you think I am?”

“50.”

“I’m older than 50. Your dad’s almost 50.”

“Woah. A hundred?”

“Not that old.”

“72?”

“Yeah. 72.”

“That’s old.”

“How old is the mystery guest?”

“Not as old as you, but pretty old. Older than me and my dad combined, maybe.”

“So when did this mystery guest start coming around?”

“I think when I was pretty little. When I was just small.”

“And how often they come by?”

“Not every night. Sometimes not for a long time, then almost every night. Never on weekends, which is ironic, because I’m always allowed to stay up later on weekends.”

“What do you know about irony?”

“I hear about it on the radio.”

“You listen to the radio with your dad?”

“No, in the car, with the mystery guest.”

“You think this mystery guest would ever hurt you?”

“No, we just learn and eat, then we go home.”

“What do you learn about?”

“The world. How it’s all goin’ to hell.”

“It is? How’s that?”

“Well, there’s a problem with the way women are treated. Apparently they don’t make as much as men, and that doesn’t make any sense. And there’s lots of yelling. And content is killing conversation. And the way we look at ourselves, it’s never going to be the same because we’re all taking selfies. Nobody can ever look at that many selfies. You’ll go blind! Oh, and there’s no nutrition in iceberg lettuce, so Caesar salads are pointless if not delicious.”

“Selfies. Yup.”

“Do you like clouds, though? Even though you hate chemtrails.”

“I do like clouds.”

“That one looks like a horse.”

“You think so? I think it looks like a Chevy Nova.”

“We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

“Mmhm.”

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