I almost couldn’t believe it. Real life couldn’t possibly this cliché. It was a dark and stormy night and I was reading a good book, sipping cognac and puffing Cuban cigars I had received from a friend. This is code for watching television while eating cold leftover pizza I got for free from a friend and trying to read my macro-economy book for my test on the day after.

I heard a knock. I waited. You can’t just get up and immediately answer the door; it makes it look as though you are a desperate loser with nothing to do who has watched The Girl Next Door once too often. But there she was.
She was beautiful.
She was wet.
She was crying.

Crap. So much for idle fantasy.
What could I do?
“Hey, you okay? Here, get inside out of the rain.”
“I’d rather stay out here, I haven’t got much time.”

Her voice was surprising clear. Their was none of that after/during crying stuttering that usually afflicted me and overly dramatic people in movies.
“Okay… Hi, I’m Anthony… do you need some help?”

“I know you don’t know me okay. It’s just that my friend always said you were a nice guy and I couldn’t think of anyone else to go to. My boyfriend’s dad’s cousin’s boss is going to blow up the world. I was like OMG and I freaked out and started crying and just needed someone to help me. Sorry for crying, I’m a mess. But you’re the only one I can think of.”
I wanted her.
I was listening but it took a while for it to sink in.
“Excuse me? Blow up the world? Your boyfriend’s sister’s friend’s dad is going to blow up the world?”
“It’s my boyfriend’s dad’s cousin’s boss and I’m not kidding. I know this just sounds so totally ridiculous but it’s the truth. Really, I’m serious.”

I looked her straight in the eyes. God she was beautiful. And what could I do? I hugged her, held her at arms length and said “I only save the world on Tuesdays.” And I let her go, walked inside, closed the door and turned off the porch light. I could see her standing on the porch, waiting. I made it all the way into the kitchen before she started walking away. Then I saw the clock, it was 12:15. Damn.
And I had a thought.
I walked back to the door, opened it and yelled “Hey!”
And she turned around, started walking back and shouted “What? Did you change your mind?”
“No. What’s your name?”
“Janine, why?”
“Now we’re on even footing.”
And I closed the door again.

Moral- I failed my Econ test. It was on a Thursday.
If you keep calling yourself stupid, it just might come true.

I was astounded. Experience had taught me that reality did not unfold this way.

To begin with, it was a stormy evening. Of course it was dark, because, as I said, it was stormy. Stormy = dark. N'est-ce pas? I was tracing lazy circles in my chinese silk kimono and watching the stock market (Read: Lazily rubbing myself and watching television, trying to study for my GED), when someone knocked at the door. I made the assumption that it was a person, because doors do not knock themselves. I continued to scratch myself, and did not get up at once. It would ruin my mystique.

When I finally opened the door, there she was: wet, desperate, and just my type. Wet and desperate.

I didn't say anything. I just opened the door a little wider and leaned against the doorframe to give her a shot of the goods. She was crying a lot, but not like people in the movies, hey, you know what was a great movie? In The Bedroom. I love that movie. Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek are just amazing. I hope you didn't get distracted by my referring to another art form in the middle of my story.

"I'm sorry I'm bothering you so late. My friend Pauline always said you were a nice guy. Some distant relation is going to do something bad, and I figured, hey, this guy's a loser with no job, I'll bug him." She began to lose control of her emotions, like a typical female. "Oh, my God I am such a typical female, no control over my emotions. Ya know?"

I had a big boner.

I wasn't listening, but despite all that, it finally sunk in. This girl was crazy and homeless.

"Whatever flimsy pretext you came on, you're here. Let's not waste this moment."

"Exactly! Like I said, something of tragic proportions is on its way, and I need your help."

I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, like I do when I want to seem mysterious, or when I'm striking my ninja pose. I grabbed her and pulled her to me. She was gorgeous. "I don't have any condoms." I whispered.

She won't return my calls.

Moral: I failed my GED.

The write-ups preceding mine contain valuable insight into the feminine mind. Please read them carefully before proceeding to the following. I would also like to thank two very special men for allowing me to add to this node. I truly could not have done this without them.

What started as a little fall of rain had become a brutal rushing torrent. Flash flood warnings were being transmitted over the radio. Drivers were urged to stay off the roads, a car can be swept away in as little as six inches of water, the broadcaster said. I’m one of those people who drives to escape. Some recent news had upset me, I was driving aimlessly that night. Trekking through the rain slick streets without purpose or goal. The car in front of me swerved. I jerked my steering wheel to the side and crashed into a fire hydrant.

I was still in shock when I got out of my car to inspect the damages. My car is my baby and it was going to take a damn good body man to put the pieces back together again. Another unpleasant surprise was waiting for me inside the car. My cell phone was gone. I looked everywhere, not caring that the rain was soaking through my clothes. Without a phone I couldn’t call for a ride. No one knew where I was. I wasn’t even sure myself. After minutes of fruitless searching I remembered that my cell phone had been in my hand when I had first gone outside to see what I had crashed into.

I wondered how far my cell phone had traveled after it slid off the hood of my car. Emotions assailed me. I was soaking wet and crying. Pain traveled down my arm. I rubbed my aching forehead in dismay. I needed to get back in the car where it was warm and dry. The handle of the door wouldn’t budge when I tried it. My keys were now locked safely inside my damaged vehicle. I started crying even harder. It was a couple blocks to the nearest sign of civilization which was a small apartment complex surrounding a swollen man-made pond. I walked up to the door and started pushing buttons at random. Hopefully someone would buzz me in.

Luck was with me that night. The buzzer rang. I let myself in and knocked on the first door I came to. From the length of time it took the guy inside to answer it you would have thought he had some enormous distance to travel but his apartment was on the small side. The tantalizing aroma of pizza swirled around me. An intimidating textbook sat out on the coffee table. There’s something about people who are intellectually drop dead gorgeous that I really go for and this guy was so hot I wanted to rip off his logic and make wild passionate sense with him. I knew he would never believe the truth, I didn't want to tell him I had just crashed my car so I made up some wild tale about my boyfriend’s dad’s cousin's boss wanting to destroy the world. What I wanted that night was a superhero. Someone who would pick me up and sweep me off my feet. I wanted someone who was eager to share late night pizza while discussing complex economic strategies with me.

Unfortunately this guy didn’t seem to get that. He told me his name was Anthony and literally propelled me out the door. I was halfway down the hall when he asked what my name was. Janine was the first name that popped into my head so that’s what I told him. His smart-ass comment about only saving the world on Tuesdays echoed through my mind as I knocked on the door at the opposite end of the hall. You don’t expect anyone to answer the door with a Hugh Hefner kimono and a blatant crotch shot but there he was. Live and in the flesh so to speak. The moment was especially uncomfortable because I recognized him as one of my friend’s friends. I cleared my throat awkwardly. He must have been just as embarrassed as I was because he wouldn’t look me in the eye.

My whole body was aching from the accident. I knew I was going to start crying again. My friend’s friend pulled me close, gave me a hug and told me he didn’t have any condoms. The non-sequitur was just what I needed to make the night complete. I stepped back from the embrace, the word condoms had given me an idea. I had been at a bachelorette party a while back. My girlfriend had handed out condoms as party favors and I had stuffed the rest of her stash in my purse at the end of the night. I handed my friend’s friend a fistful of Jimmy hats and waved goodbye. My plan was to get out of this crazy apartment building and find someone who could help. I was on my way out of the building when another door opened. A woman held her apartment door open while a man walked out. He walked past me without even looking at me but the woman in the doorway asked if I needed help.

I burst into tears right in the middle of the hallway. The woman invited me in. She asked what had happened and it wasn’t until then that I found out I had dried blood stuck to the side of my face. It turned out the woman was studying to be a nurse. She knew both of the guys who lived upstairs. They were nice guys but they had problems of their own that kept them from noticing the problems of others. We talked about men in general as she dabbed antiseptic on my forehead. She recommended that I take a long hot shower. She turned the faucet on and left to put a snack together. Clouds of steam filled the room. At some point in time my new friend snuck into the bathroom. She dropped off a cute little nightie for me to wear. That didn't fit so I borrowed some scrubs from her. We sat up talking for a while. She offered to rub my back, saying it would ease the pain. I must have been exhausted because I fell asleep on the clean sheets she had spread out on the floor.

I woke to the smell of breakfast. My bloody clothing had been washed, dried, and carefully folded. There were fresh towels in the bathroom I had used last night. The cut over my eye was still neatly bandaged. My gracious hostess let me use her phone to call a tow-truck. She called work for me and told them I wouldn’t be in that day. Once she was sure I had food, blankets, water and a best-selling blockbuster movie she left for class. I locked her apartment on my way out. A copy of her address sat in front of me as I spoke to the florist. I had just finished ordering a basket of seasonal fresh flowers when the phone rang. It was the woman calling to see how I was. I asked how her Microbiology test had gone. She started crying and told me that because of my help quizzing her she had aced it. Her instructor had asked her to stay after class. She had been offered a position as a lab assistant and the teacher had been so impressed with one of her essays that he printed off a copy to show the rest of the class how responses to questions should be written.

When I went to the mailbox I found a card from my new friend. She had written to thank me for finishing the laundry and organizing all of her closets. I picked up the phone to thank her for thinking of me and for remembering my birthday. She asked about my car. I told her the damage was worse in the rain than it was in broad daylight. We must have talked for over an hour that night. Now the two of us are good friends. We’ve tried to help the guys upstairs get into a studying routine. One of the men has a friend who’s a bad influence. The other guy has started making origami cranes for others. Sometimes all four of us get together and hang out. On Tuesdays the guys occasionally get calls for help saving the world but those are relatively rare.

Moral of the story: if you need help on Tuesday call a man. For help on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, try a woman instead.

Does anyone know anyone who has actually read War and Peace cover to cover? In the full, unabridged version? I might actually be the first, I think, as I lie down on my futon, with a cup of Kava, and wonder whether Tolstoy or my ceiling fan could provide more entertainment. Alternatively, I have a big collection of bad science fiction that I have been building up for years, that I mean to get to. But just at the moment, the lesser Coltrane starts in on "Syeeda's Song Flute" and I feel compelled to check the internet.

I check the usual suspects first, and don't find anything interesting. So I log on to a special IRC channel, the type of IRC channel that was on the eonet, one of the ones full of matrixy-style scrolling characters, the type of thing that could show up just as well on an Apricot system bought from Wacky Willy's. And it appears there is trouble brewing. I don't even know half of the names that are flashing by with complaints, and I get the feeling that if I tracked their IP addresses, they would end up ending up in broken down, uninhabited mobile homes outside of Sedona. I ask the obvious question: has anyone contacted The Doctor. The Doctor is the leader of a loose group that may or may not exist. He seems to know way too much about weaponry, and also has seen every episode of Babylon 5, which is why he has supposedly saved the world from supernatural menaces more times than I could imagine. Either that, or he is a pathological liar and I am semi-paranoid with a dissociative habit. Or, as they say in the book, "all things are true in some ways, false in some ways, meaningless in some ways, etc.". Apparently, the Doctor was nowhere to be found, which was a worry all in itself.

The main thing is, we had a problem. Apparently, recent monetary troubles were not confined to just the normal greed and what not, but were a bleed in to the earth economy of things happening somewhere else. Apparently, an organization called The Corporate Institutional Bank of Time, which I had heard of twice previously, had been trying to reach apotheosis on the sly, by buying future futures, and then selling them short, or maybe even long, depending on your temporal viewpoint. Basically, at this point, the time travel madness had gotten out of hand, and there was a thought that time itself would be subject to a credit crunch fairly soon.
I rolled my eyes (hard to do via the internet, especially the type of internet that was based on 300 bps modems, and typed:

What do you want me to do? Tune in my shortwave radio and search for a numbers station broadcasting from a purely mathematical, atemporal realm with instructions on how to save us?

was the reply, so that is exactly what I did.

And when I didn't find anything, I explained the obvious: that the project of apotheosis and perfection that had been set upon was probably doomed from the start, and that what we needed was some sort of really big gun to somehow fire at pieces of temporal flotsam that were clogging up the flow of temporal liquidity. Fitting, really: since the metanarrative seemed to not be able to carry forward into a realm of boundless fulfillment, the only thing to do was to hit the metanarrative sideways. But I didn't know exactly how to do that...so I quickly set to work, trying to figure out how the works of Jean Francois Lyotard and a 40mm anti-ship cannon could be used to disperse a threat to the time stream. And while doing this, I take a step back into reality and look down at my dock. November 19, 2008, which means it is a Wednesday. Why am I doing this anyway? Will someone give me affection for my efforts to save the world? Will, as they say, the cheerleaders come out for smooches? Barring any immediate rewards, I realize that my shift is over, and someone else will have to pick up the slack, as far as bailing out the time stream goes. If my laziness means the world will be readjusted, and when I wake up tomorrow, the world will be radically different, with no memory that it is different than it was, so be it. Because I can only save the world on Tuesdays.

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