“A blind date?” I stared at Cassie like she had antlers growing out of her nostrils. “You set me up for a blind date?”
“Yep! Your blind date will occur in twenty-five minutes.”
“Oh my gosh! Are you insane? Are you setting me up for disaster on purpose? You know as well as I do that I take a whole hour to get respectable looking.”
She giggled. “Then, you better hop to it.”
I ran to my bedroom, cursing and swearing in German. Why did I have to share my apartment with a manic pixie girl? My next roommate will be someone sensible. Someone not given to whims of—“Where are my nylons?”
“They looked sad. So, I set them free.”
I froze. “You did what?”
“I opened the door and told them to go join their wild cousins. They didn’t move. So, I threw them out the door.”
I stuck my head out of my room. “You ditz! Those were my only nylons!”
I pulled out my purple leggings. They would look horrible with my only cute dress, but—“Where’s my sundress?”
“You know! The yellow one with—Oh. Good.” I put it on. Sure enough, it looked awful with my leggings. Absolutely awful. I pulled my hair into a quick ponytail, slipped into my high heels, and returned to the living room.
Cassie squealed with delight. “Oh, what an adorkable look.”
I ignored her upside down insult. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Yay! This will be the best night of your life and you will thank me for it forever.”
She drove me to McWheatiekins. Fast vegan food. Yay.
“Be sure you order a side of the sweet wheatgrass with extra avocado slivers. You will LOVE it!”
“Uhh, thanks for the suggestion.” I turned in my seat. “Cassie, I need you to do something for me.”
“This is my first date ever. I want you to call me at 9:30 on the dot. If everything’s going well, I’ll tell you, ‘Don’t worry I already took care of it.’ If things go as badly as I expect them to, I’ll tell you, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll be right there to help you out.’ and please, PLEASE come rescue me.”
Cassie puckered out her lips as she thought it over. “That sounds complicated. Why don’t you just say what you mean and skip all the evil spy stuff?”
“Well. I don’t want to insult my date by discussing my date in front of him.”
“Hmm. That’s true. Okie-doikie! I’ll do it!”
“Nine-thirty sharp and poinky.”
I entered the restaurant. It smelled green in there. Like Brussels sprouts and broccoli and some unidentified green leafy thing. I hoped it wasn’t marijuana.
I walked up to the counter and looked at the menu posted above the registers. There were no descriptions of the different menu items. Just titles like Big Leafy Fun! and Chew This Like You Mean It and Mean Green Blues.
Maybe they didn’t sell food here. Maybe it was a barely underground drug dealership.
A man cleared his throat behind me. “Excuse me.”
I turned around. He was dressed in the fussiest pink angora sweater I’d ever seen. His lower half didn’t fare any better. It was stuck in the bell-bottom slacks that the 1970’s had thrown away. Glitter. Rhinestones. Sequined stripes.
“Are you Marissa Kelley?”
Oh, no. “Yes?”
He smiled. He had a great smile. “I’m Alexander Deshane. I’m your blind date.”
He laughed. Such a great laugh. “I know. It’s a shock. I blame my roommate, Jo’Vann. He meant well. I’ll give him that much credit. I didn’t have any date type clothes. So, he let me borrow one of his outfits.”
My relief must have been obvious, because he laughed again. It wasn’t a mean-spirited laugh and I joined in.
The time flew by with stories and laughter and Quick! Quit It soup and a side order of sweet wheatgrass with avocado slivers. I tried some of the soup and almost liked it. I had no idea what was in it, though.
“So, Jo’Vann swaggers up to Costume Lass and he tells her—”
My phone sang out the opening bars of ‘La Ci Darem La Mano’ over and over until I remembered my 9:30 deal with Cassie. “I’m sorry. I need to get this.” I answered my phone. “Hello, Cassie. Don’t worry. I got—”
“Emergency here! Emergency there! Left! Right! Emergencies everywhere!”
“Cassie? What’s going on?”
“Something in the wall exploded and water splooshed everywhere. The water ignited a fire somehow and the fire wouldn’t die down and the apartment went up in flames and the flames attracted the attention of a nearby UFO and—”
My head reeled with this bad news download. “Wait.” I grabbed onto the last item. “What? UFO?”
“What happened?” asked Alexander.
I made a shut up gesture with my free hand.
“Yeah. It was the real deal. All silver and colorful lights and it scared me silly.”
“What’s this about a UFO?”
I glared at him and gave him a more emphatic shut up gesture. “Where are you right now?”
“I’m in my car. I’m coming back to you. I sure hope the aliens don’t catch me first.”
“I’ll be here waiting for you.”
“Stay inside. I don’t want them to get you.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll be safe. Drive carefully.” I ended the call. “I’m sorry, Alexander. I have to be going now.” That’s when it hit me. If Cassie was right, I no longer had a home to go back to. Where would I go? Where would I live? What would I wear? I burst into tears as I realized that I had nothing but the outfit on my body. A yellow sundress and purple leggings.
“It’s all right, Marissa. Don’t cry.”
“You don’t understand.” I said in between sobs. “My apartment. My clothes. My whole life.” I buried my face in my hands and sobbed a horrible mess of myself.
“Hey, man.” said one of the other customers. “You makin’ that pretty lady cry? That ain’t cool, man.”
I rubbed away my tears and looked up at Alexander. “I’m sorry. This is a disaster. I didn’t mean to—”
“It’s all right. Have your cry out. And then tell me. What were you saying about a UFO?”
“Oh, Cassie said that—” I pulled a couple of paper napkins out of the napkin dispenser and blew my nose. “—my apartment got drowned and caught on fire and aliens came and oh! I don’t know what!” I blew my nose again.
A thoughtful look came across his face. “Yes. The fire would attract their attention. But maybe they’ve collected what they needed. Maybe they’ve moved on.”
My voice sounded drenched and clotted up as I said, “What?”
“These aliens are old friends of mine. Weird friends. They have a passion for collecting burnt objects and turning them into works of art. I wonder where they are now.”
Benedict Cumberbatch sang in a leering baritone, “You traded my Pontiac for a Man in Black and I don’t like that.” over and over until Alexander answered his phone. “Yes? Yes. Yes. No. Here. No. Yes. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Yes.” He ended his call. “The aliens repaired your apartment as best as they could.”
“That’s nice of them.” I grabbed another five paper napkins and blew my nose a couple more times. “So, let me get this straight. Aliens from outer space have your phone number?”
“Could I have it too?”
He smiled. “I would love to give it to you. I want to talk to you again. I love the sound of your voice.”
“Even when it’s clotted up with snots and tears?”
“Yes. But I can’t give it to you. I live too far away. Your calls would never reach me in time.” He rose to his feet. “I’m sorry, Marissa. I wish I could stay, but I can’t.” He smiled. “Maybe I’ll see you again.”
“Farewell.” He pressed a button on his cell phone and disappeared in streaks of light and colored sparkles.
I sat there, gaping in disbelief.
Cassie ran up to me. “Are you okay?”
I shook my head. “Oh my gosh! I’ve just been first date dumped by an alien!”