Chapter 11, "Story Time With Mr. Haberdash"
I'd been to the Haberdash house a whole buttload of times. But I don't think I'd ever seen them sit down as a family to dinner before. And that was the thing that I was about to do right now, and mostly all I wanted was to eat and get back to the arms of my slimy love monster, but I didn't want to make Christopher feel bad (or Hector, with his weird robot emotions), so I didn't tell her that.
Mr. Haberdash had indeed made meatloaf for dinner. He placed the carefully created meal in equally divided portions in front of each of us, wearing his traditional lack of anything but a brightly colored loincloth. Have you ever been served meatloaf by a man wearing naught but a brightly colored loincloth? It's quite the experience.
Christopher appeared somewhat disgruntled by these events. "I told dad to put on clothes for you," she explained darkly. "But he's a stubborn moron."
After placing her plate in front of her, Mr. Haberdash knocked a small vial of what looked like poison onto Christopher's meatloaf. "Oops," he grinned devilishly.
Hector 2.0 beeped a few times. "Christopher, my sensors recommend you do not consume that meatloaf, it has been poisoned."
"I know that, Hector," Christopher spat, pushing herself upright and grabbing the plate. She headed in the direction of the kitchen.
"Sometimes father and Christopher fail to maintain familial niceties," Hector 2.0 explained to me.
"Oh," I said, even though I totally already knew that. I didn't know quite how I felt about Hector 2.0's increased vocabulary. In some ways it proved convenient, but in other ways, it was just creepy.
"So, Frig!" Mr. Haberdash exclaimed as he sat down at the head of the table, rubbing his hands together in preparation for a totally awesome meal. Or maybe because his hands were cold. "How have things been going, you know, avoiding death at the hands of aliens?"
"She doesn't want to talk about that, daddy," Christopher's voice wafted from the kitchen. I heard the clanking of plates. I inferred this to mean that she was fetching herself something else for dinner.
Mr. Haberdash chose, from the many options available to him, to ignore his daughter. "Aliens sure can be deadly foes, eh?" He waggled his eyebrow suggestively at me. "EH??"
I'd never had someone "eh" so emphatically at me before. I decided I hated it.
Christopher emerged from the kitchen, plate piled high with a nice and healthy looking salad. She slapped her father forcefully across the back of his head. "I said to stop asking her about aliens." She slid back into her seat. "She's supposed to be taking a break from all that."
Mr. Haberdash's face contorted strangely, and he pulled the poison vial out of his pocket. However, his features drooped when he opened it to discover he'd emptied it five minutes ago. "Shoot," he muttered wistfully.
Christopher grinned triumphantly, shoveling large bites of salad into her maw and masticating viciously.
"Well, I bet Frig would like to hear the story of how I came to Spatulas," Mr. Haberdash said.
"Frig has already acquired that information," Hector 2.0 stated. It was weird, having a robot sitting at the table who wasn't actually partaking in the eating ritual.
"Ah," Mr. Haberdash supplied. "What about the story of how I came to be an alien hunter?"
"Dad, NO ALIENS," Christopher seethed fumingly.
"Or stories," I interjected. "I'm getting pretty sick of stories."
Mr. Haberdash lifted his fork and jabbed angstily at his meatloaf. "The tale of my first encounter with outer space!"
"No stories!" I moaned.
"It's not a story!" he shot back. "It's a tale."
"No aliens!" Christopher bitched.
"It's not about aliens! It's about outer space!"
Hector 2.0's hard drive whirred a little bit. "Father is semantically correct," he supplied.
Christopher produced a sound somewhere between a snort and a harrumph. "FINE." She threw her fork down and crossed her arms.
The lights dimmed. Mr. Haberdash lifted himself onto the table and stood up, donning a top hat he produced from nowhere. Hector 2.0 pressed a button somewhere on his abdomen, and soothing music began to play.
"It all began many, many years ago, when I was but a young boy." He swayed casually back and forth. "My father made a paltry existence as a lonely logger, my mother had died when I was but a baby."
I felt something rising in my stomach. Something familiar, yet unused. Something sitting in the back of my heart, finally emerging after months of getting quashed.
I just. Didn't. Care.
My muscles forced my body into a standing position, hands planted firmly on the table. "Mr. Haberdash," I eloquently enunciated, "Please shut up."
Hector 2.0 tapped on his robot belly and the music stopped.
"I'm sorry?" the loincloth clad man asked, brandishing a freshly produced cane.
"I have been listening to weird story after weird story after weird and pointless story, and the last thing I want to do on my night off is listen to another freaking story. I don't care about your first time in outer space. I don't care about your alien encounters. I don't even care about your stupid log father. I don't want to hear your obnoxious, oddly choreographed story. Or tale. Or fable. Or anecdote. Or legend or whatever the crap you may come up with to call it."
"Yeah!" Christopher cheered as the lights came back up, but slowly, as if even they found the turn of events totally confusing.
Mr. Haberdash removed his top hat and rolled the brim between his thumb and forefinger. "Um, well, then what do you want to do?"
I thought about that for a good long while. I considered the wealth of information at my fingertips, the veritable tome of knowledge contained within these walls. The vast array of weaponry just a few floors below us. The robot army assembled in a barn outside. I contemplated all of it, dwelling on each idea before letting it go in lieu of an even better one. And finally, finally, I had an answer for the man.
"After we finish eating," I asserted, "I want to play Mouse Trap."
And that's what we did. Hector 2.0 set it up with alarming speed and perfection. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally knocked the diving dude into the bucket before his time when I'd set the game up on my own, but Hector 2.0's pieces did not so much as wiggle.
"That's pretty impressive," I mentioned to him. His mouth clanked into a smile shape, and even though you'd think it impossible, I noticed a faint pink blush in his metal cheeks.
We played thirty-six games before I got bored and decided I wanted to go back home. Hector 2.0 won all but one game, and that's only because Mr. Haberdash cheated and threw the game board across the room.
Hector 2.0 operated the car-shaped vehicle that maneuvered me back to Lou's. As the night air whipped past my face, I replayed everything that had transpired during the evening. While Hector 2.0 did his best to provide entertaining small talk, I let my mind wander to a forceful conclusion.
I concluded that Mr. Haberdash was an asshat.
Old Chapters That Still Contain Words
FUN FACT: The corresponding chapter to this one is my least favorite chapter in the ENTIRE Twilight saga. Period. Ever at all. And now you know.