“Well, it makes a kind of sense,” I reflected.  I looked back in my memory as to what Nellie had said or done.  “There was the weirdness in the parking lot back there, where she was probably cursing me or something.  She raised the amulet to you, as if to tell you not to tell when we walked in – you pushed me down on the floor, in fact.”  I didn’t look at Doloise.  Because I was busy driving.  That’s it. “She was the one who took control and `told the story,’ if I recall correctly, but then she would have lied to me about the heart thing.”

Doloise continued to drink her milkshake. 

“Maybe it wasn’t a lie.  What did she say?  Her husband spent 3 days in the place of the dead, and something of that place will not leave him.”  I frowned.  “Then she looked me in the eyes, and said that they thought I could close that door.”

I hit the steering wheel again.  “Forget it.  I can’t understand women, let alone women who might be Dragons.  Did she want me to succeed or fail?  Was it a set-up?  Are all of the Red Poets part of the Dragon?  Did they want to prevent me from closing the door in Ivan?  Are Ivan and the being we call Nellie even related?”

I caught Doloise shaking in the corner of my eye, and I glanced at her.  It’s not like there was any traffic.

She was laughing.  Silently, but unmistakenably.  Um.  That’s not a word, but it doesn’t matter because she was definitely laughing.

At me.

“Alright, what’s so funny?”

“It cannot,” she broke off for another wave of silent shaking, “be explained.”

“I said I’d never understand women.  Or fairies.  Or Dragons.  Heck, just throw in the whole world because I can barely even understand myself, or why I’m not making you just walk,” I grumbled, waiting for the light.

It turned green and I continued down the street.  Off to my right was a tattoo and piercing place I had had recommended to me.  On the left, an Ethiopian restaurant I wanted to try sometime.   I tried to concentrate on the sheer niftyness that was Colfax and ignore my concerns for at least another minute or two.

My phone rang, and I nearly hit my head on the roof of the car from sheer surprise. 

I fished it out from where I put it in the console and put it on speakerphone.  “E.”

“What are you doing tonight?” it was Maggie.

“Um.”  Is there a Dummy’s Guide to “How To Tell Your Ex-Girlfriend That You Are Busy Fighting The Forces of Darkness Without Her?”  If not, maybe someone should write one so I can buy it.

“Nothing?  Great.  Come out to eat with me and a couple of friends.”

“Is this a blind date?” I asked.

“Could be,” she decided.  “Why, you’re not involved with anyone, are you?”

“Um.”  And the follow-up guide, “How To Tell Your Ex-Girlfriend You’re Being Chaperoned By An Otherworldly Being.”  “Not exactly, but I have someone I’d have to take with me.”  Or was I the chaperone?

“Does this someone have a name?”

I sighed.  “Yes.”

“Good.  You’ll have to tell me it sometime.  Does this someone have…a beard?”

“Doloise, and no, is that a problem?  Or are you trying to find out if my companion is a guy?  You know I prefer women.” 

“Remember to shave.    And a preference isn’t a rule, dear.  Is Doloise…” she thought about the name, I could tell. Good, I could ask her about it since I wasn’t able to look it up.  “Of drinking age?”

“Um.”  How about a guide on telling your ex-girlfriend anything?  I mean, just because Doloise probably had a personal existence of two weeks material, and thousands of years through her creators… oh well, fey and alcohol was a bad mix anyway.  “Yes.”

“It sounds complicated.  That’s definitely not your type.  Anyway, meet us downtown at the mall & Market Street just after sundown, unless you’re off fighting Dragons or something.”


“That wasn’t funny.”

“You have no idea.  See you then.” 

“You, my dear, are going to owe me some answers.  Bye.”  She hung up. 

“So, no fighting Dragons tonight,” I told Doloise. 

“Was that your squire?” Doloise asked.

This time, I was the one who shook with laughter.