Based on a True Story

(May 16, 2006; what?)
Comment on this story | View comments

She called me out of the blue in the middle of the evening, breathing hard into the phone like someone who'd been running. Her voice was pitched somewhere between frantic hope and beaten submission, and it only had to shape three words to tell me everything I needed to know:

"It happened again."

"I'm glad you called, then. I'll see what I can do."

I did my best to sound soothing and patient. It wasn't the first time this had happened over the years, and it surely wouldn't be the last. These are simply the sort of things we accept about the people we befriend: neuroses and crises are part of life, and in order to have our needs met, we must work to meet the needs of others. I curled up around the phone like a cat, willing my muscles to relax, and took a moment to prepare myself. Talking someone down is never easy, but with enough focus, it can be done with minimal suffering for all involved. I switched the TV on, careful to keep the volume low, and turned my attention to the task at hand.

"Okay, honey, you have to return to your happy place. You have to visualize that room where everything is just as it ought to be, where the spark lives and where everything is comfortably self-contained..." I spoke quietly but firmly; she rearranged herself with an audible sigh. "Do you see it?"

"Kind of. Please describe it again..." She tried to sound confident, but the desperation shone through. I settled into Dungeon Master mode, staring into the middle distance and doing my best to evoke the scene.

"Of course. There's a small room, about twelve feet by ten, and the walls are a sort of grimy off-white. The floor is covered in thick green shag that looks a lot like Astroturf, a quarter of it hidden by a big wooden bed. There are no blankets on the bed, only soft cotton sheets, and the only light comes from a naked, half-spent lightbulb overhead. Everything's a bit dodgy, but the overall sense is pretty much positive."

I heard some faint rustling and a whimper; she was obviously not pacified in the slightest. This was clearly more pressing than most previous situations had been, so I leaped into the fray much more quickly than usual. I could do nothing less for someone who was so dear to me.

"Okay. The two men on the bed are making kind of awkward small talk, and, oh, now one is biting the other's shoulder. I guess that's hot. They're getting out the lube - no, it's not Astroglide, but they've blurred out the label so I don't know what it actually is, but anyway - and the brunette is pouring it onto the blonde. He says something non-committal that's also a bad pun, and - oh, yeah - there they go. They don't really look happy, but at least they're making a lot of noise..."

I could just barely hear her, but the hope in her voice was renewed. "Go on..."

"Right. A fluffer just darted by - he thought he was out of the shot, but the director obviously wasn't paying attention - and, ack, someone just let one of the boom mikes slip a little. The blonde just looked up and swore, but I think the other guy thought it was just part of the fun, since he's slapping him around now. Yeah... yeah... okay. They're twitching around like caught fish, and - yeah, they're done now. The blonde says something inappropriate and physically unfeasible and kind of gives the brunette an awkward wink, and now they're getting back into their underwear. Part two will be on in about five minutes, after this commercial break."

"That's enough." This was the first thing she'd since I started my human subtitling routine, but I was quite certain that my mission was accomplished. "We're good?" "We're good." I couldn't keep myself from smiling, but had to admonish her anyway, the way I always did. Nagging is the cost of my services, after all.

"Jesus, lady, you really need to get cable if you're going to keep running out of batteries."

She was smiling, too; I could tell. "I know. Thanks, baby."

"No problem."