"You want me to co-host your blog entry for tonight? Why?" Black Rose Kate asked.
"Well, I promised to tell my readers how you did at impersonating me last night. If you disagree with my assessment, you can say so."
Kate looked at me with that steely smile she uses to unnerve people. "Aye, but that's not your real reason, I'll wager. You want me there as your token fictional character of the night, so you don't have to work on your novels, or the story about the theatre troupe, or the shadow kingdom story."
"Okay, yes. That, too. You know how tired I am tonight."
"Having cooled my heels while you failed to do more than doze for two hours this evening, I am well aware of your state of mind. But what is that to me? An you do not keep your promises, I'll not be your apologist."
"See? This is why I want you around. I don't need you to make excuses for me. I need you to criticize me, so that people know that I know my deficiencies. And you do it so well!"
"Have you insufficient criticism in your life? Truly?" She nodded pointedly in the direction of John's office.
"Not usually, no. But yours is more amusing."
My pirate friend glared at me for a moment. Then she laughed. "Oh, aye, I suppose I do amuse you, else you would not receive me in your home so gladly. But what of last night? How did you like donning real pirate apparel for once?"
"They were harder to put on than modern clothes, but at least they fit."
"Aye, I increase in girth as fast as you do, it seems," Kate said ruefully.
"They were worn but in good repair," I continued, "and cleaner than I expected. I thought there would be salt stains."
"In my world, clothing is made to last," Kate said, "if one takes proper care of it. I noticed that you failed to don my attitude along with my clothing, however."
"I didn't have much opportunity," I said. "Unlike you."
"I think I did rather well as you."
"But you scared that one little boy!"
"He deserved it. As you instructed, I distinctly told him to take a handful. He used both hands, and his forearm as well. Moreover, he spilled toys and candy onto the ground beneath your toy cauldron."
"He was only four or five years old. You have to make allowances."
"All I did was tell him to put back what he dropped."
"You made him cry. There's no call for that. I'm having trouble retaining trick or treaters as it is."
"Aye, I noticed that. You had more children than last year, but still there were more than a few parties that did not approach your house at all. I'm not to blame for that."
"I know, and I've been trying to figure it out. Part of it is that church again, with their loud and oh-so-safe Fall Festival, siphoning off kids. But I don't know what to think about the ones who are on the street but don't come up the driveway. Is the house too dark and unwelcoming? Is my Disneyland music on the boombox too scary? Do four cars in the driveway make people think we're having a party? Or did I scare kids too much with the werewolf and ghoul masks in past years, and they remember to stay away?"
"Why do you care what the reasons are, or how many children you get at your door? You fret all night about it, waiting for the next children. Do you think that you're a better person if you serve a hundred children than if only fifty? Are you so weak that you depend on the high regard of infants?"
"No, that's not it. Yes, I like to amuse and gratify them, but mostly I want to make sure I'm not driving some of them away. I don't want to feel I'm doing something wrong."
"If it's your conscience that bothers you, then 'tis useless to ask a pirate's advice. I've done more than a few things in my time that would utterly horrify you. And I've done them without a qualm."
"I know that, and I have no intention of asking for details," I said hurriedly.
Kate laughed again. "We'll stick to your safe and cozy world then. I see, for example, that your friend Scalzi is in France, and consequently has not given you a Weekend Assignment. What will you do, I wonder, with your precious routine thus disrupted?"
I smiled. "Oh, I have a plan for that. I'll do a little bit of satire instead:
Top Ten Things John Scalzi Is Not Doing in France
10. Handing out a Weekend Assignment
9. Watching the roads for John Deere equipment
8. Photographing his pets
7. Checking his spam filters
6. Looking for an In-N-Out franchise
5. Planning a 20-minute trip to the Louvre
4. Sleeping in
3. Discussing the finer points of The Simpsons, in French, especially terms like "cromulent" and "embiggen"
2. Wishing he were in Spain
1. Finishing his latest novel, last page, done!
"There! Will that do?"
"How should I know? These are your obsessions, not mine, nor do I understand half of the references. If you're satisfied, then I suppose it will do. Was there something else you wanted to cover in this entry?"
"Well there's that photo I took today."
"What is that?"
"it's an inflatable motorcycle."
"That tells me very little."
"It is a balloon, in the shape of a two-wheeled vehicle, about five times the size of the real thing."
"What is its purpose?"
"So that people will buy motorcycles?"
"No, so people will buy something to carry their motorcycle in."
"But it has wheels. Why would it need to be carried?"
"You wouldn't ask if you rode a motorcycle for hundreds of miles on bad road. People like to drive and sleep in comfort, and then ride the motorcycle when they arrive at their destination."
Kate looked at me shrewdly. "You don't fully understand it either, do you?"
"No, not really," I admitted.
"Then you should say so. Are we finished?"
"Yes, I think so. Thanks for your help."
"Aye, 'tis no hardship, talking to you and your readers. Good night! Mayhap I'll be gone by morning."
"Where is Ariel? Did she say when she was coming to return you to your own time?"
"She did not, but I assumed she would be here ere now."
"Should we worry?"
Kate chuckled. "About Ariel? Nay, I think that young lady can take care of herself."
"We'll see. Good night!"
And good night to you, patient reader!