Chapter 6, "Tensions Rise Like Spaceships in the Atmosphere"
I ran all the way back home, which was not as fun as running to the Haberdashes, because I knew that Xlormp would be waiting for me when I got back. The funny thing is, he wasn't. Lou was waiting, though. He sat in his lawn chair in the front yard, where I realized he spent most of his time even though he had this huge friggen' cardboard and plywood palace at his disposal. It crossed my mind that maybe this was strange, and I got over it when I felt Lamp running up my pant leg to escape from Limbo, the monkey, who chased after him. Limbo didn't make it up my pant leg, though, because I kicked and screeched a little, and maybe I did my uncomfortable dance, and soon the ferret, too, became dislodged from my pants.
Limbo and Lamp were having an awfully tough time getting along with each other. Lou feared (though he would never admit it directly) that their creative differences might break up the band. I felt bad for Lou and the in-fighting going on in the Heavy Sporks, but I felt less bad about it while nursing ferret bites on my inner thigh. I can honestly say I wouldn't be heart broken if Lamp left the band. (Which, and you didn't hear this from me, hadn't produced a palatable song since last month's "The Cleaning Lady Ran Away With My Father".)
"Oh, Elizabeth Newton," Lou called to me, waving me over. I'd noticed recently that Lou experienced less and less lucid periods the longer time went on. It was quite depressing, really, if you thought about it, so I suggest you don't bother thinking about it. "Would you like to listen to my splinter?" He asked.
I nodded. "Sure," I said surely, anything to take my mind off of the complete creep-fest that was visiting the Haberdashes.
Lou strummed an air guitar and poked Larry the parrot, who squawked an indiscernible tune.
"The sandwich never asks for your money," Lou crooned. "And the pickle wears a bowling beret. If you bake him a cake on a Monday, he will gladly share his duvet." His eyes beseeched me to tell him it was good, nay, brilliant. But to be honest, it kind of sucked. So I just patted him on the shoulder and said, "Apple fritters," hoping that meant something to the lovable yet lyrically challenged hobo.
It did seem to brighten his spirits, so I figured I could take that as a cue to escape to my room. Hector 2.0's valentine was burning a hole in my pocket, and I wanted to read what a robot could possibly have to say about love.
It turns out not much. The valentine read:
Which wasn't really romantic but still sort of sweet, considering he'd written it by himself. I'm not really sure why there were three of me, though. I thought wistfully of the days when Hector 2.0 had been a human, just Hector, the guy who showered me with a little too much attention, the guy who could clean up puke better than any other dude I knew.
Thinking about all these things reminded me that I'd promised Tabitha I'd help her with her algebra. "Crap," I sputtered, really not wanting to do that right now. The more I thought about it, the lamer the idea seemed, until I finally just decided to ditch her and hope that maybe she wouldn't notice. It seemed a respectable plan, and I, for one, was glad to have thought of it.
I was less glad when five minutes later, a furious space alien known as Xlormp beamed down into my bedroom, eyes goggling in such a goggly fashion they threatened to goggle right out of his face.
"Hi, Xlormp," I whispered morosely, in no mood to hear what he had to goggle about.
"I can't believe you ran off to the Haberdashes when I specifically told you not to do anything stupid," Xlormp screeched.
"How do you know that's where I went?" I protested snappily.
"Because, Frig, you have a note from Hector 2.0. A love note, which, might I add, is rather appalling considering you are supposed to be enslaved to me."
My heart leaped. "You are enslaving me, then?"
Xlormp wiggled his tentacles. "Whoops, slip of the tongue. I meant 'dating' me. Yes. That is certainly the word I intended to utter."
I sighed with exasperation.
"Anyway, the point is, you are never to see them again, like I told you before, because they are only going to fill your brain with horrible ways to kill me." Xlormp waved a flipper emphatically.
"That's not true!" I volumized. "Christopher just wants to keep me safe from the Tallybonkers!"
"And I suppose she went and told you the Tallybonkers have some sort of mysterious weapon that we don't know what it is that could possibly be really dangerous?" Xlormp demanded.
"Yeah, actually, that's exactly what she told me. She just did it via interpretive dance."
"How unusual," Xlormp mused. I noted with interest that "unusual" has an awful lot of U's in it for a word so short. "Well, anyway, in order to keep you from running away like a sneaky sneak again, I am taking you to stay with Klaxie for the weekend while I go out of town on a business trip."
I looked around, trying to figure out when, exactly, we'd beamed from my room to the spaceship. I hated when it happened without my knowledge.
"What sort of business trip?" I pried nosily.
"One with implications that your quaint humanity is ill-equipped to deal with."
I didn't even feel like arguing with Xlormp right now. That's how freaking pissed I was at this whole "staying with Klaxie" thing. It made me want to run right back to the Haberdashes, just to prove a point, as long as I could convince Christopher not to do anymore performing.
On the other hand, Klaxie was the hottest alien I knew other than Xlormp, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I was still pissed at Xlormp on principle, though.
"I think it's lame that you don't trust me," I said.
Xlormp heaved heavily. "It's not that at all, my flesh bag," he cooed, running a slimy tentacle down the length of my arm. I quivered with joy. "I just don't trust those alien hunters."
"They're not hunting you, you know. You could be a little less of an ass about it."
Xlormp tittered. "Oh, Frigglesticks. Sometimes I forget how little you know about life."
You know, for someone who's actually pretty effing brilliant, I was getting awfully sick of everyone telling me how little I knew.
"That's it," I wheezed holleringly. "I'm not going to stop visiting the Haberdashes, whether you like it or not. And you can just deal with it."
The most alluring alien in the entire galaxy smiled subtly, probably very aware that I couldn't run to the Haberdashes if I were on another planet. Which was beside the point. I was being pissed off, here. He could at least show some remorse.
"Whatever you say, my gushy lumpkins," he whispered, kissing me sloppily on the cheek. "I'll see you in three days."
And then I was standing on a completely different surface, Klaxie and Monica seated at a table across from me, playing a card game. It looked like Old Maid.
"Hey, Frigalicious!" Klaxie chortled, waving enthusiastically at me. "Want me to deal you in?"
I sighed. "It's not like I have anything better to do," I admitted pathetically as I joined them at the table.
Man, I was so excited about Valentine's Day candy at work today, I almost forgot to post the chapter! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DISASTROUS.