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[personal profile] wonder_city
Even Those With Only One Head

I tuned in late because I had a difficult patient session run long, and I wanted to swim and take my meds before I sat down to watch the inevitable drama.

When the picture came on, I saw Lizzie and Simon in their khaki trousers, polo shirts, and aprons, serving up lattes with a smile to customers at the Great Scot. I confess I was more intrigued by the coffee shop than what they were doing, and spent a lot of attention -- part of this was my meds at work, making it hard for me to pay attention to just one thing -- looking at the details of the background: the machines and their muffled screeches, the rows of Great Scot merchandise on shelves, the patter of the complicated orders, the bad art on the walls, even the notes they were making on the paper cups were enthralling. I'll never see the inside of one of these shops live, and for some reason, the busy-ness of them is fascinating and appalling in equal doses.

Then they switched to following Jeshri at her job. She was wearing a plain gray coverall with the power company's patch on the left shoulder, and she was rapidly scaling a telephone pole -- with all safety gear in place -- to examine a blown transformer at the top. A few men -- one white, two black or Hispanic -- down below, wearing similar coveralls, were watching her and talking among themselves.

The narrator was making bad puns, but the worst was cut to a moment later, with Brandon saying, "That's what she does for a living? Man, she could climb my pole any day." He started his Beavis-and-Butthead laugh, and high-fived his cameraman.

Then Tom was weightlifting, wearing a ripped muscle shirt and shorts. He was sweating, though I suspected that he'd been oiled to enhance the effect of his gleaming muscles flexing heavily. He was making the faces the weightlifters always seem to make. Brandon poked his head into the room and said, "Man, you work too hard."

Tom grunted without even looking.

"Do you do kung fu too?" Brandon asked, doing a faux Bruce Lee pose.

Tom rolled his eyes and didn't answer.

"Aw, c'mon, man," Brandon said. "You haven't talked to me for days now."

"That's because," Tom said, punctuating his words with bicep curls, "bitching at me for 'what your people did to my uncle over there' without knowing that my parents lost everything in the evacuation of Saigon is one of the stupidest racist-ass things to come out of your mouth yet."

"Well, sorry," Brandon said, without sounding at all contrite. "What was the evacuation of Saigon?"

Tom's hands on the barbell visibly tightened. He clenched his jaws together and turned his back completely on Brandon.

The image changed to Jeshri in the kitchen, presumably after work. She looked into the refrigerator and scowled, then checked the freezer. She strode out to the living room where Lizzie and Simon were playing videogames. "Did either of you eat any of my food?" Jeshri said.

Simon looked up and frowned. "Not to my knowledge. I thought that Hot Pocket was mine..."

Jeshri waved that away and looked inquiringly at Lizzie. "Nope," Lizzie said.

"Then that leaves," Jeshri said, a little too dramatically, "Tom or you-know-who."

"Tom would only eat it if it was mind-bogglingly healthy," Simon said, looking back at the screen. "You know who my bet's on."

"I wish like hell we could vote him off the island," Jeshri said, massaging her temples.

Jeshri stomped upstairs and pounded on Brandon's door. He opened it, still wearing his trademark khakis and Oxford buttondown with the collar turned up. "Hey, Jesh," he said.

"Eat your own food, asshole," Jeshri snarled, spun on her heel and started for the stairs.

"Oh, Jesh, don't be like that!" Brandon said, stepping into the hall after her. "I'll make it up to you!"

She turned back around and put out her hand, palm up. "All right," she said, pursing her lips against the anger that I could tell wanted to rip him up one side and down the other. When he stared at her blankly, she pointed into the palm of her hand. "It's called mun-nee," she enunciated. "Green stuff. Bread. Which brings to mind the question of how you managed to eat an entire loaf in an afternoon, but I'm not asking it."

"Naw," he said, with his "aw shucks" grin and back-of-head rub. "Let me take you out to dinner!"

She stared at him disbelievingly. "You think that I would want to go out with you? And that would somehow make up for you eating my food?"

I knew it was going to happen, but it was still shocking. The good ol' boy vanished in an instant. "What the hell, *****?" he shouted, taking a menacing step toward her. "You're such a f***ing ****tease, you were playing 'hard to get' --" he sang the words through his nose -- "so I came after you, and you turn your nose up at dinner with me? You ****ing *****! You're not going to get better **** in this house!"

"Who says I want any **** in this house?" Jeshri shouted back, still standing her ground in the face of the much larger, angry man. "And I wouldn't touch your diseased toothpick with someone else's ten foot pole, you ****ing asshole!"

Tom burst out of his room at this point, but hesitated, staring at the small Indian woman, fists balled, feet planted, glaring up at the red-faced white man.

"You go, girl," I said, tensely leaning toward the television.

Jeshri sighed and looked at her camera. She gave a small, close-lipped smile, and went down the stairs.

I realized that the commercial break we were having was the last one in the show. How the hell were they going to top that one for drama?

More glimpses of life in the house, time passing. In the second floor bathroom, we could see Jeshri's collection of things -- makeup, hair products, skin products -- and a small clutch of soap and shampoo that was apparently Tom's. Simon has a few hair products, a hair pick, and a variety of dental cleaning items -- mouthwashes, different types of floss, an electric toothbrush. The camera shows him brushing his teeth in the morning, shirtless in his loose cotton pajama bottoms, the curved symmetrical scars on his chest showing up brightly against his brown skin.

"Why do I have so many dental products?" he says, apparently repeating a question, appearing baffled. "Because who ever would be intimidated by my flashing fangs if I had fillings in them?"

We see the third floor bathroom, in an astonishing state of disarray -- towels on the floor, shampoo and other bottles heaped on the small counter and in the corners of the shower. Lizzie is staring in at the door, lip curled. We see her a few minutes later, downstairs, saying to Simon and Jeshri, "Guys? Would it be all right if I used this bathroom from now on?"

The other two looked at her in surprise. "You're willing to let him have his own bathroom?" Jeshri said, eyebrows lifted.

Lizzie looked away. "I don't want to have to clean up after him," she said. "I've done enough of that... I mean, it's not like he even seems to try to aim."

"EW!" Simon and Jeshri said in stereo, both of them waving their arms and making faces. "That's fine!" Simon added. "Just don't take forever in the shower in the morning!"

Later, evidently, Lizzie was cooking herself macaroni and cheese from a box. She stood at the stove in her jeans and t-shirt and sneakers, stirring the pasta to make sure it didn't stick to the pan. Brandon strolled into the room behind her.

"I love to see a woman in the kitchen!" he exclaimed with a grin.

She didn't turn, twitch, or in any way acknowledge him.

"I mean, isn't that the way life is supposed to be?" he said, getting another high-five from his cameraman. "The little lady in the kitchen, making dinner, the man coming home from a hard day at work..." He sashayed closer to Lizzie. "Hi, honey, I'm hoooome....!"

I think he put his hand on her lower back, leaning close to her making that kissy fishface some boys think is cute. What I know happened was that she spun like lightning and hit him full in the face with the pot of boiling water.

He reeled back with a shout, then kept shouting, "Ow! ****! ****! ****! Help!" as his skin turned a lovely shade of lobster. I didn't forget he was "modestly" invulnerable.

Lizzie stared at him, jaw slack, and the pot dropped from her hand. The camera didn't linger on her, but I think she dropped it because her hands were shaking too hard to hold it.

The door to the living room burst open, and Simon, Jeshri, and Tom stood there, gawping, as steam rose off Brandon.

Lizzie gave out a little sound like a moan and ran from the room, out the other kitchen door.

The three in the door immediately went after her, Simon bolting ahead, Tom on his heels, and Jeshri at the door when Brandon shouted, "What about me?"

Jeshri paused, looked over her shoulder, and said, "Your buddy, the cameraman, can help you. Once he's finished getting a good shot of your face."

The credits rolled as the door shut behind her.

"Oh, my," I said. "Oh, my, my, my. That girl's got something eating her inside-out."

---

From the Author:
I'm sure that all of them, at this point, are wondering if $25,000 is enough.

Tip o' the photons to my wife, who came up with the idea of the line from The Hobbit for the title.

Wonder City Stories has been nominated for the Rose & Bay Award! Check out all the nominees in all the categories here. I'd love for you to vote for WCS. And please do consider voting for Dave or Lucid (I mean aerynvale or badfaun!) in the patron category.

I'm posting twice weekly during February. Thank you for all your comments! I love them! They are my precious! Yessss, my preccciousss.


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Date: 2011-02-23 11:07 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
BWAHAHAHA, Lizzie and Jeshry, go you!

Date: 2011-02-24 05:59 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
God, did he ever deserve that. XD

Date: 2011-02-26 02:42 pm (UTC)
settecorvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] settecorvi
"Oh, my," I said. "Oh, my, my, my. That girl's got something eating her inside-out."

Yikes yes. I found it really interesting that she wanted to appear on the show without using her real name so that her family wouldn't "be embarrassed," which suggests that they don't watch enough TV - or at least enough para-focused TV - to notice her appearing under a pseudonym (or that the show isn't being distributed much outside of Wonder City?) Considering the deal she brokered with the original Lizzie, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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