Page 53 - WTP VOl. VIII #7
P. 53

 kind of way. Not ugly, but painful. Maybe that’s it. Like beauty and pain combined, and still oddly soothing.”
“It doesn’t sound soothing at all. Sounds horrible.”
“The fireman who saved me? He came to visit me in the hospital. He was just a voice, and to this day I have no idea what he looked like.”
“You never saw him?”
“Nope. But I imagine him like Sir Galahad on his mighty steed.”
“Mike’s the one who turned me on to
Single Simplicity. He goes by Michel now that we’ve opened the restaurant. Says it sounds more sophisticated. “
“People describe me that way, too.”
“I’m sure. But while I was in the hospital I told him about the color, and he didn’t seem to think it was so strange. He thought it was connected to my coming through the fire. He told me that firemen often devel- op complicated relationships with fire. They respect it and are drawn to it, almost love it. They have this attachment to it, but at the same time they’re also dedicated to killing it.”
Mindi’s voice is soft and far away.
“He told me that, even though fire destroys people’s lives, it’s still beautiful. And that’s how I feel about my new color. Beautiful and awful, both. Which is also how I think about love.”
The punch of that final word is a push off the deep end. I don’t know what to say, so I just sit silent for a while, listening to the silence on the other end.
Finally Mindi speaks. “Sorry, Dale. I’ve been running my mouth and you’re probably wondering what the heck you got yourself into.”
“That color you saw? Do you still see it?”
“I wish. I guess like everything, it eventually faded
and was gone.”
“Do you have a name for it?”
“It sounds silly, but I call it ‘surge.’”
“Like the fabric serge? Or like an energy surge?”
“Neither. Like the color surge.”
“Okay, like, ‘I think I’ll paint my living room surge’? Or ‘I’m heading off to buy some surge pants’?”
“Now you got it. But take my word for it, you don’t want surge pants. The fireman who saved me? He’s also the one who told me to take up firearms. Told me sharp-shooting would strengthen my eyesight. I said, ‘I can’t shoot a gun! I have no experience whatsoever.’ And he said, ‘Doesn’t matter. You’ve seen the color surge. You can do anything.’”
It’s past midnight the next night when I finally leave the restaurant. I tell Mike I’m taking a couple days off. We’ve been super slow, so he doesn’t flinch at filling in for me. Saves him some money.
I call Mindi as soon as I get home. I have a plan in mind. Maybe I’m jumping the gun, but what the heck. She answers on the third ring, her voice soft and sleepy.
“Dale?” A long yawn follows.
“Did I wake you?”
“Good guess, Sherlock. How was work?” “Work was work. Mostly thought about you.” “Bad news for your diners. What time is it?”
“Nearly one. Look, I wanted to ask you something. I have tomorrow off. And I wondered if there’s a chance you’d like to... well, get together? In the real world?”
“Mmmm. Tomorrow? Don’t think so. Not sure I’m ready yet.”
“We’ve been talking for days.”
“Yeah. I’ve been kind of liking how things are going right now. Things change once you actually meet someone.”
“Exactly. Isn’t that the point? I was thinking, here’s
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