"Did you just check your email again?" asks Jeff. "No." I say. "I saw you." he shakes his head."You know, if he's got Stephen King it's going to take him months to read your shit. That motherfucker is prolific. He's too busy reading his shit." "Ugh," I put my head in my hands."Don't talk about Stephen King. You're making me sick." "I'm not even sure that you're right about that." he says."You're not very smart when it comes to the Interweb." "I read it online!" I tell him. "Hmmm. We'll see." Jeff pushes me aside and does his own google of the literary agents name. "He doesn't have Stephen King-it's his boss." he says. Oh thank God, I think with relief. "What do you do on here? Just look at one article and quit? Do you even know how to research something?" "I read it on someones blog and got spooked! Then I felt all guilty and stalkerish so I quit!" I cried. "Do you know what is stalkerish? Writing about this on your blog every day. You look like a lunatic." "I'm counting on him to think it's funny." "Hmmm." says Jeff. Although it's contradictory, most evidence points to a No on the dala Lama being my guys client. Jeff did, however, find an article about a man with the same name who is available for chat through Inmates.com. He is in the clink for breaking and entering, he had to be subdued by the police dogs. I don't think it's the same man, but I will of course be sure to ask the agent, just to be polite. They like it when you show interest in their lives outside of work, I am told,and if he is in jail then perhaps I could endear myself to him by sending him oranges injected with vodka-as we used to do for my Uncle Sonny when he had to spend Christmas in the State Pen.
After Jeffs more thorough fact finding mission, I am no longer worried about the Dalai Lama. In fact, now that Stephen King and the Dalai are out of the picture I feel relaxed, or as calm and relaxed as it's possible for someone like me to get on any given day-which is not much but definitely better than when i thought that the representative of a holy leader of an ancient people was reading my book.
In an effort to distract myself from my own curiosity I take Ruby to Luby's. As we wait in line, I realise that I've made a mistake. All of my patience has been used up waiting to see if this guy likes my book. There isn't a drop left for a hyperactive toddler jumping up and down like a psychotic chimpanzee demanding a balloon. "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!" "yes, Ruby? Be still." "MOMMY! MOMMY! I want a balloon!" "You have to wait until we get to the end of the line." "MOMMY! I want a balloon!" "Wait." "I want one now!" she whines. I think of my friend who is pregnant with her first child right now, unaware of what is coming for her. Ha, ha. We order our Louann platter. In front of us someone orders liver and onions. I didn't realise people still ate that. They love it, apparently, at the Luby's on 183 North of Austin. The man behind us orders it too. Horrible. Ruby insists on ordering an opaque, moss green mass that has been molded into a half moon and decorated with Cool Whip. "Honey," I ask her. "Are you sure you want to eat that? I'm not even sure it's food.' "Yeah, MOMMY! I want that! That! That!" she jumps up and down. I inspect it more closely. It has oranges and some kind of nut in it. There is also coconut, or maybe sawdust, something white.Plastic. Horrible. "It's your funeral" I tell her, prompting both Liver and Onions ahead of and behind me to look my way. What? I am teaching her sarcasm, a valuable life skill. After we sit down, and eat our fish( doesn't everyone get the fish? Who is getting the liver and onions, really, who are you people?)she takes a tiny bite of her monstrosity. "I don't like that!" she wails."I want red jello!" "Sorry dude,"I tell her."You should have picked that in the first place.You chose the gross dessert, now you have to eat it." "NOOOOO___OOOO!" she screams. "Okay," I tell her."Don't eat it. But no red jello." She screams for jello as I pay, each minute of her wailing further ensuring her status as a non-red jello owning individual. I hate the temper tantrums. At this point, only if the paramedics arrived and ordered an IV of red jello, STAT, to save her life would she actually ever see a cup of red jello. Just then a kind looking waitress brings over a carton of red jello, packaged in a Styrofoam cup-to go. "Here you go sweetheart" she eyes me as she hands it to Ruby, who looks up at me. Bitch! her face says to me, That's how I get shit DONE. Awesome. Lady, I was having a parenting moment here. I sigh. What can I do? The nice jello lady smiles at me."I just couldn't stand to hear her scream like that." she says. I resist the urge to be sarcastic and take a deep breath. What would the Dalai Lama do about the red jello? I think. "Thanks" I say, and think- Maybe it's your funeral.
Sunny Haralson was born in a house of ill repute. After acing the first grade, she ran away to join the circus. At night, while the elephants slept, she learned how to spin and sew from the spiders. She made whimsical creations for the trapeze artists, who needed their outfits to be both beautiful and comfortable. Magpies brought her shiny objects to embellish the costumes with, if they sometimes accidentally brought an eyeball they'd plucked from some unfortunate, she forgave them and quietly popped it into her mouth. The circus, for all it glorious adventure, was often low on dietary protein.
When she tired of circus life she retired and set out alone to the desert in a stolen hot air balloon.
It's there, in a tiny FEMA trailer, that she writes her tell-all memoir. She steals ideas from the coyotes and writes them down with needles made from the giant cactus that guards her doorway. The UPS man never sees her face.