Friday, March 23, 2018
Arlyn paid and thanked the delivery man for the Chinese food, giving him a large tip for getting it to her apartment so quickly. As she turned with the giant bag, Cordel let out a low whistle.
“Either you’re feeding a small army of men who will be here shortly to kill me for what I witnessed, you think I’m as hungry as a lumberjack, or you’re as hungry as a lumberjack.”
“I’m as hungry as a lumberjack,” said Arlyn, “and I did order extra because I wasn’t sure how much you’d eat, but I’d hoped you’d eat with me while I explained.”
“Before you explain,” said Cordel, “I need to apologize. I shouldn’t have pushed you like that. Molly said to leave it alone, but I couldn’t. I needed to solve the mystery of you. It was so selfish and I am so sorry.”
“The mystery of me?” Arlyn shook her head as she headed to the coffee table and started to take out all the Chinese food containers. “I’m far from a mystery.”
“Says the woman who just passed out in front of me right after telling me not to call an ambulance,” said Cordel as he grabbed two plates and some serving spoons from the kitchen and brought them to the couch.
“Fair enough,” said Arlyn as she sat. Cordel handed her a plate as she sat beside her. She started to spoon herself out some fried rice. “First, I didn’t pass out. What you saw was called cataplexy.”
“What is that?” asked Cordel as he helped himself to some sweet and sour shrimp.
Arlyn added some sesame chicken and egg rolls to her plate, topping it off with some of the shrimp. Cordel eyed her plate. “You really do eat like a lumberjack and here I thought you ate only carrots.”
“I snack on carrots,” said Arlyn, “even though my body constantly craves carbs. I have narcolepsy, one of the symptoms is cataplexy another is being hungry all the time.”
“So tell me about the cataplexy,” said Cordel before taking a bite. “This really is the best Chinese food I’ve had in town.” He said around his bite.
“I told you,” said Arlyn with a smile. “Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone, it can look a lot like a seizure, but basically I can’t move my arms and legs or keep my eyes open, but I can hear everything around me, so thank you for not shoving the wooden spoon in my mouth or calling an ambulance.”
Cordel’s cheeks turned red. “So you heard that huh?”
“I did,” she admitted. “Also thank you for the pillow. That was very kind of you, next time though, no need to stare at me.”
“Will there be a next time?” asked Cordel.
“I can’t guarantee there won’t be,” said Arlyn, “but it is usually brought on by sudden, strong emotions, like a laughing fit, fear, anger, or stress.”
“Stress huh?” said Cordel as he poked at his fried rice. “Like someone interrogating you and threatening to hurt your best friend by getting her fired, because he’s a total jackass?”
“Something like that,” said Arlyn, with a forgiving smile. “Yesterday morning I didn’t answer the door because I had overslept and didn’t hear it or my phone. I was stressed from our argument the evening before, and didn’t follow my schedule. I tried to get back on track yesterday after I finally did wake up, but your questions didn’t help and then … bam … cataplexy.”
“So you could just fall asleep while we’re talking?” asked Cordel. “Just at any second, you could be snoring?”
Arlyn shook her head. “No, it’s only like that in the movies. I know when I need to sleep, when an event is coming on. I can usually get to a bed, or the couch in time. It doesn’t happen often because as well as the medicine I take in order to help regulate it, I stick to a schedule.”
“The schedule I agreed to keep when I signed the contract,” admitted Cordel.
“Yes,” said Arlyn, “but this isn’t all your fault. I should have been upfront with you. I just hate sharing my diagnoses with people. Once they know, they start treating me different and it’s like everyone is walking on eggshells around me. No one wants to trigger the narcoleptic girl.”
She piled more fried rice and another egg roll on her plate.
“Well I am sorry I triggered the narcoleptic girl,” said Cordel. “Regardless of your illness, I acted like an entitled turd this morning. I’m sorry.”
Arlyn gave him a smile. “I think you just came up with the name of your book … Entitled Turd.”
Cordel let out a hearty laugh. “Sounds like a best seller to me! I know a lot of entitled turds who will think it’s their autobiography.”
“Oh but there can only be one entitled turd,” said Arlyn.
“I am one of a kind,” confessed Cordel. He sat his plate on the table and leaned back. “I’m a stuffed one of a kind. How are you still eating?”
“As I said earlier, it’s a side effect of the narcolepsy,” explained Arlyn. “The food sensors and sleep sensors in the brain are very close together, so sometimes my brain mistakes being sleepy for being hungry. Since I’m so tired, my body craves carbs for a quick fix. After cataplexy, my brain is not only confused about my food sensors, but since my body has been stressed it thinks I need fuel.” She pointed to the banquet on the table. “So I eat, like a lumberjack.”
“This is all so fascinating,” said Cordel. “I feel I should be writing a book about you, instead of the other way around.”
“You can write?” joked Arlyn.
“Hardy, har har,” said Cordel. “You know this isn’t fair. You can make all the jokes you want to, but if I start to joke, you’re going to go into a cataplexic state again.”
“True,” said Arlyn, matter-of-factly. “You just have to put up with me and my lumberjack appetite. Just be glad you know me now. I used to a mess.”
“Used to be?” Cordel raised an eye brow.
“Hardy, har har,” mocked Arlyn. “In high school I had no idea how to manage my hunger. It controlled me instead of the other way around. I was a big girl due to that lack of control. The lunch lady once found me in the cafeteria eating all the bread rolls that were meant for lunch. They bought them pre-cooked and then just stuck them in the oven to reheat. There I was, eight in the morning, skipping my first period class eating cold rolls. I was so embarrassed.”
“Oh that’s nothing,” said Cordel, “and I don’t even have a medical excuse for my embarrassing story.”
“Do tell,” said Arlyn, “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Oh there are many,” said Cordel. “In junior high, we were doing sit-ups in gym class. I got partnered up with the prettiest girl in school. She was holding my feet, with her hands. We’d had ham and beans for lunch … and…”
Arlyn gasped. “You didn’t.”
“I did,” said Cordel. “I farted right in her face.”
“What did she do?” asked Arlyn.
“She was totally cool about it,” said Cordel. “She kind of laughed and then stood, so she could hold my feet with her feet. I tried to apologize after and she told me not to worry that things like that happen.”
“Oh that could have been so much worse,” said Arlyn. “I had a huge crush on one of our soccer players, of course he didn’t know I existed. But one day I thought I heard him call my name as I was walking down the hall. I turned, still walking, but didn’t see him, I turned back around and rammed my face right into an open locker door. Made such a racklet that everyone in the hallway turned to see what had happened. Had a goose egg on my head for almost a week.”
“Ouch,” said Cordel, “but that doesn’t beat making out with a tree.”
“I’m sorry what?” asked Arlyn as she cocked her head.
“Senior year, it was one of the last parties and I got totally wasted,” explained Cordel. “It was not a pretty sight and it didn’t help when I was moments away from passing out I found a lovely tree. Seriously, it was love at first sight. She had nice big, spacious roots, and soft moss creating the perfect chair. I sat down and leaned my cheek against the moss that was growing up her roots. I was so thankful for a comfortable place to sit that I started to hug the tree and telling her that I loved her.”
“You did not,” said Arlyn in shock.
“Oh I did,” said Cordel. “I’m just thankful it was a time before everyone could record on their phones or I’m pretty sure the press would’ve gotten their hands on it by now. Definitely not one of my finer moments.”
Arlyn started to gather up the food. “I can’t believe you did that.”
“I can’t believe you used to be a big girl,” said Cordel. “Not that there’s anything wrong with curves, but I can tell you’ve made some really good healthy choices.”
Arlyn couldn’t help but blush at Cordel’s compliment. It had been a long time since anyone had made her blush.
“Thank you,” said Arlyn. “Once I was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy, by a specialist, I was able to realize what was a symptom of the disease and what was actual hunger.”
“Wasn’t that hard though?” asked Cordel as she helped her gather up the Chinese food. “I hate being hungry.”
“That’s where the carrots come in,” said Arlyn. “I’ve always loved carrots, so instead of running for the carbs, I ran for the carrots in-between meals. That being said, I do allow myself to have a meal like this on occasion. Food is very much a comfort to me as much as it is fuel for my body, so I also took up swimming, which I found to be stress reducing, created a schedule that would work for me, and cut out all caffeine.”
“No caffeine, that sounds painful, as a narcoleptic, I figured caffeine would be your go to,” admitted Cordel.
“I have to stick to my schedule, which includes naps,” said Arlyn. “If I’m drinking caffeine, then I risk getting off my schedule because the caffeine is keeping me from having a good rest.”
“Wow,” said Cordel. “I had no idea it was so complicated.”
“Most people don’t,” said Arlyn, as she gather the leftovers and headed to the fridge. “Most people see an exaggerated, stereotype in T.V. and movies and think narcolepsy is just falling asleep in the blink of an eye or used for comedic purposes.”
“Doesn’t that piss you off?” asked Cordel, as he put the plates into the dishwasher.
“It used to,” said Arlyn. “Now I find it annoying and ignorant, so I advocate as much as I can for awareness. But that is enough about me.” She looked at her watch. “We still have two hours of interview time left and we have to get busy talking about you and this book.”Cordel rubbed his hands together and joked, “Well, I am my favorite subject.”
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Arlyn threw open the door to her apartment before Cordel even had a chance to knock.
“I am so sorry about yesterday,” she said. “That was totally my fault and it will never happen again.”
“It’s okay,” said Cordel as he walked in the door, “well it will be as soon as you tell me why.”
“Why?” Arlyn cocked her head as she closed the door.
“Yes, I would like to know why you refused to answer the door after making such a fuss about me coming here and not changing the schedule,” answered Cordel. “I did what you asked.”
“You did,” admitted Arlyn, “and I appreciate that more than you know.”
“Then show me your appreciation by telling me why,” he said.
“All you need to know is that it won’t happen again,” stated Arlyn. She could feel her blood pressuring rising at Cordel’s insistence. Why couldn’t the mana just accept the apology?
She gave him a smile. “I would have brought your favorite food, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t carrots and I had no idea what it would be, so you’ll just have to take my apology.”
“Or I could terminate the contract,” said Cordel as he sat on the couch.
“You wouldn’t.” Arlyn crossed her arms.
“I would,” he said putting his feet on her coffee table.
Arlyn walked over and slapped his feet down. “It’s none of your business.”
“We’re working together,” said Cordel. “I need to know you’re reliable.”
“I’m telling you I am,” said Arlyn as a tingle started to assault her arms. She took in a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves. If she went into a cataplexic state now, she’s have to tell Cordel and that was the last thing she wanted. “The fact that I’ve authored over thirty books as a ghost writer should also tell you I am. I will also add that ten of those hit the best seller lists.”
“Why don’t you have any existence on the internet?” Crodel asked. “I had my assistant do a back ground check and nothing came up.”
“I’m a private person,” said Arlyn. “My whole career is to be listen, write, and never been seen.”
Cordel shook his head. “I think it’s more than that. I think you’re hiding something from me.”
“Because I am and it’s none of your business!”
“I’m making it my business,” said Cordel as he stood. “I don’t work with people who are keeping secrets from me. That’s a good way to get hurt.”
“We’re not on location,” said Arlyn, her legs starting to grow heavy. “We’re in my apartment. Now I need you to stop.” She paused taking another deep breath. “Please.”
“You need to think of Molly,” said Cordel. “What will happen to her if I terminate this deal?”
Her thoughts turned to how devastated Molly would be if she lost her job. A job Molly loved and it would be all Arlyn’s fault, just because she refused to tell Cordel about her condition.
Arlyn’s body started to go numb as she sat on the couch. Cataplexy was happening and she wasn’t going to be able to stop it. “Don’t call an ambulance.”
Cordel watched as Arlyn wilted onto the couch and appeared to pass out.
“What the …” he walked over to her and took her pulse. It was high so he pulled out his phone to dial 911, when he remembered her last words and put his phone back into his pocket.
“Don’t call the ambulance?” he mused out loud. “I don’t even …” He stood and started to pace, thrusting his hands through his hair. “I mean any normal person would call an ambulance.”
He thought about the way she moved to the couch before she passed out. She knew she was going to, he decided and that’s why she told him not to call an ambulance. He paced some more and tried to think of what to do. He grabbed a throw pillow and placed it behind her head.
“Okay, now what?” to the unresponsive Arlyn. Again he raked his hands through his hair and then bit his fingernail, a nervous habit he had shed back in junior high. “She’s breathing, so that’s good. Maybe I should elevate her feet?” he mused out loud. “I wonder if she needs a spoon in her mouth so she doesn’t bite her tongue.” He slapped his forehead. “That is a seizure, not ...” he guestered to the sleeping Arlyn. “…whatever this is.”
He rubbed his hands over his face. “Think Cordel, you’ve had field training in first aide. You know what to do.” He shook his head. “No, you have a medic on staff for these things telling you what to do.”
“You’re talking to yourself, Cordel,” he said. “You sound like a raving lunatic.” Maybe he was a lunatic? Maybe he had caused this? “You just had to push. Molly told you not to.” He snapped his fingers. “Molly!”
Arlyn had said nothing about calling Molly. He tapping in the number and waited. “This is Molly.”
“Molly, thank God, this is Cordel Foster.”
“Mr. Foster, I hope everything is okay,” said Molly.
“No, it isn’t … far from it,” replied Cordel. “I came over to Arlyn’s apartment for our interview and I was trying to get to the bottom of why she ditched me yesterday and she just passed out on the couch, but not before … and get this … she told me not to call an ambulance.”
“Is she breathing?” asked Molly, calmly.
“Yes, but her blood pressure is high,” said Cordel.
“It always is during one of these attacks,” said Molly.
“So this happens often?” asked Cordel.
“More than she’d like,” said Molly. “Did she bump her head on anything?”
“No, she was near the couch,” answered Cordel.
“Good. She’ll wake up, just give her time.”
“Wake up? Molly, what is going on?”
“She’ll tell you when she wakes up,” answered Molly. “She’ll have no other choice. I would tell you if I could, but I really can’t. Trust me when I say it’s not life threatening, but if she quits breathing, call an ambulance.”
“Well that is all totally reassuring,” said Cordel, knowing the sarcasm was thick in his voice.
“This is why I asked you to let it go,” said Molly. “I practically begged you yesterday, you didn’t and now this has happened.”
“So this is my fault?” asked Cordel, all bravado gone from his voice.
“I’m sure your questions certainly didn’t help,” said Molly. “Now, you wait there. I don’t care how long she sleeps, you stay. Understand?”
Molly’s tone was that of a mother and Cordel couldn’t help but say. “Of course.”
“Any changes in her breathing you call 911 and then me. Text me when she wakes up,” she ordered and then hung up.
“This is crazy,” Cordel said out loud, but he grabbed a chair from the dining room table and sat it directly in front of Arlyn. He sat, with his elbows resting on his knees and watched.
Arlyn woke up and stared into the clover green eyes of Cordel Foster.
“Take it easy,” he said gently. “Something happened, but you’re okay.”
Arlyn let out a groan. She knew exactly what had happened. She had let Cordel work her into a state of cataplexy.
“You okay? What do you need? Water? I can take you to the doctor. Do you have meds somewhere you need?”
All of his questions were making her head spin. Of course she couldn’t blame him. “Water, please.”
He hurried from his chair and rushed to the kitchen. As he opened various cabinets looking for a glass, she slowly sat up and stretched her aching muscles.
Cordel came back with a glass of water in one hand and ice cubes in his other. “Ice? My hands are clean, I promise. I washed them about a dozen times in case I had to CPR.”
Arlyn nodded and forced a smile. “Yes, please. Thank you.”
She took the glass after he put the ice in and took a long drink.
“Easy,” he said, “maybe you should sip?”
She used the time drinking not only to quench her thirst but to think of what to say next. She had told very few people about her condition and never someone who was a practical stranger, like Cordel. The fact remained he deserved an explanation and the best course of action was to tell him the truth.
“Carrots!” he said, making her jump from her thoughts. “Do you need your carrots? I’ll get them.”“Actually,” said Arlyn, with a light laugh. “I’m starving, do you like Chinese food?”
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Cordel stared at the closed door and looked at his watch. He was on time, but Arlyn wasn’t answering. After the fuss she had made the day before about him needing to be at her apartment at their scheduled time, without compromising once with his schedule, and now she wasn’t opening the door.
“Arlyn, come on,” he said through the door. “I’m here on time, even though I had to leave my breakfast early. I even brought coffee. Well, I had my driver get coffee, but the fact is, I’m here. I know you’re mad, but let’s be professional. Open the door.”
There was no answer. He put his ear to the door, holding his breath to listen for movement inside. Nothing.
He pulled out his phone. Maybe she had decided to meet him at his place and they had just missed each other in traffic. She should have called, but maybe she was trying to make a grand gesture of apologizing like he had done with the carrots?
He tapped the number for his assistant. She answered right away.
“Hey, Hillary, are you at the house?” he asked. Cordel had converted his pool house into the Finding Folklore offices and Hillary had her own office there.
“Yeah, I’m in the main house. The AC guy is here working on the office air. What’s up, boss?”
“Good, did Arlyn Wade show up by any chance?” asked Cordel.
“No,” said Hillary, “Mr. Oliver came by wanting to discuss some things that he didn’t get a chance to talk about with you at breakfast since you left so early.”
Cordel let out a groan. He knew he had come off unprofessional, even though the group of execs from The Voyage Channel had told him it was fine, and that the book was important. “Did he seem mad? He was mad, wasn’t he?”
“No,” answered Hillary, “more like concerned. It’s not like you to skip out on a meeting with the execs.”
Cordel ran his hand over his chin. “Okay, I’ll call him and make time go into the Voyage offices to rub elbows. Man, I can’t believe this.”
“What’s going on?” asked Hillary.
“I left that breakfast to meeting with Arlyn and work on the book, but she’s not here and now I feel like an idiot.”
“I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding,” said Hillary. “Is there anything I can do?”
Cordel shook his head. “No, not unless you have a time machine.”
“Maybe you should look for one of those on your next adventure?” teased Hillary. “Do you want me to call her?”
“No, thanks, I’ll do it,” said Cordel with a chuckle. He hung up, thankful to have Hillary. She was not only the best assistant he had ever had, she took life in stride and never seemed to stress. He was glad to call her his friend.
Cordel scrolled through his numbers and found Arlyn’s. He tapped the number and waited. As the cell started to ring on his end, he also heard music playing from inside Arlyn’s apartment.
He banged on the door again. “I know you’re in there Arlyn. I can hear you’re cell phone!”
Cordel waited sure she would finally answer the door. Her voicemail clicked on and he waited for the beep. “Arlyn, I’m at your front door. I can hear your cell ringing, so I know you’re there. This is unprofessional. I did what you asked.”
He jammed his finger into the “end call” icon wishing he could slam the phone down instead. He banged on the door again. “Arlyn, this is ridiculous, let me in.”
He put his ear to the door and heard nothing. No television, music, or footsteps, not even typing on the computer, the woman was being a ghost. Like most ghosts that Cordel searched for, she was being a pain in his neck and not showing up.
Shoving his phone into his pocket, he stormed down the hallway and through the front door. He looked down the street, thankful his driver had found a parking spot in the shade to sit and wait. He marched to the car and thrust the door open.
“Mr. Foster,” stammered the driver as he pulled his ear bugs out and closed his tablet. “I’m sorry I thought you’d be a while.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Cordel. “I’m not upset with you. I’m quite capable of opening a car door, what I’m not capable of is tolerating bratty women, who insist on one thing and then when you do it, they change their mind. So incredibly childish.”
The driver looked over his shoulder. “Back home then?”
“No,” said Cordel, “go to the publishing house. I need to have a word with them.”
The driver gave Cordel a nod as he set off for their destination. Cordel tried to calm himself during the drive downtown, but the longer the drive took the angrier he became. He could not shake how he had gone out of his way to reschedule his whole day for Arlyn and then she didn’t even bother to open the door.
“We’re here, Mr. Foster,” said the driver. “No parking on the street, text me when you’re finished and I’ll meet you out front.”
Cordel gave the driver a nod before he got out of the car. He tried to calm his walking from a march to a normal pace, but his steps seemed to match his racing heart. He knew Arlyn’s editor Molly, was not to blame for Arlyn’s actions, but she was going to get an earful, none the less.
He stormed inside, took the elevator to the appropriate floor and then marched to the front desk. “Tell Molly O’Hanaghan that I need to see her immediately.”
Cordel didn’t give the receptionist his name. It was apparent by the way her mouth dropped open and she stared at him that she knew very well who he was. Molly was around the corner in an instant after the receptionist had hung up the phone.
“Mr. Foster,” said Molly, a big smile on her face, “this is quite the surprise. Can I get you a coffee, tea, water? I think we might have some soda in the fridge if you prefer.”
Cordel found him anger melting away at Molly’s smile. She was older than he, with a short brown hair and a smile that reminded him of his mother’s. It was a smile that said, she’d help in any way she could and then cook him a chicken pot pie for dinner because he was getting “too skinny.”
“Just a private place to talk,” said Cordel.
“Of course,” said Molly. She looked at the receptionist. “Hold my calls please, Ann. Right this way.”
Molly led Cordel through the office filled with cubicles and he worked hard to ignore the stares. He knew they were all wondering why he was there and if they could ask for an autograph, but they knew it would be unprofessional to ask. He appreciated their professionalism, which was more than he could say for Arlyn.
Molly gestured to a comfortable looking couch in her office, offering Cordel a seat, before she closed the door. Instead of going to her desk, she sat on the other side of the couch and turned towards him.
“How can I help you today, Mr. Foster?” she asked.
“It’s about Arlyn Wade,” said Cordel.
“Okay,” said Molly, softly, “I understand it’s been a bit of a struggle getting to know one another, but she reported your last meeting went very well.”
“It did,” said Cordel, “until she wouldn’t relent from her strict schedule and come to my house for the interview, so I rearranged my entire day to come to her apartment as she so stubbornly insisted, but she wasn’t there. I find this very unacceptable, Mrs. O’Hanaghan.”
“Please, call me Molly,” said Molly as she reached for her phone. Cordel noticed that her smile had faded into a look of worry. “Just give me a minute and let me call her.”
He was surprised when she stepped out of her office and closed the door to make the call. He tiptoed to the door and tried to listen through it. Then he shook his head and walked back to the couch. That was the second time that morning that Arlyn had him trying to eavesdrop through doors.
Molly came back in, her smile returned. “Good news, I got a hold of her and she’s all right.”
Cordel cocked his head. “She’s all right?”
Molly sat beside him. “I can’t go into details, but I can say that when you told me Arlyn didn’t answer the door this morning that gave me cause for concern. That isn’t like her.”
“So you know her well?” asked Cordel.
“I consider her one of my best friends,” said Molly. “So I ask that you be patient with her and I don’t think I’d be betraying her trust to say that there’s more going on that meets the eye. She has to have this schedule, that’s why she doesn’t typically do the initial interviews with clients. She usually meets them later after she’s reviewed what information has already been given. That’s what has worked best for her in the past.”
“I’m trying very hard, but when she pulls a stunt like this morning, it makes it very difficult,” said Cordel. “I expect a higher level of professionalism, but I’ll do what you ask, because you’ve given me something that intrigues me.”
“What is that?” asked Molly.
“The mystery of Arlyn Wade to solve.”
“Mr. Foster, that is not what I was getting at,” state Molly. “I’m asking you to respect her privacy, not totally disregard it.”
Cordel stared at Molly and thought about his options. It would be easier just to find another ghost writer and not put up with the annoying and, what he considered to be, incredible unprofessional behavior. There was something about Arlyn that grabbed at him. She was unlike anyone he had ever met. She wasn’t intimated by his celebrity status, which in a way made her easier for him to talk to, but she acted like a diva herself. If one were looking in from the outside they might think that Arlyn was the celebrity the way she demanded things.
He sat back and shook his head. Everything she was demanding, he had originally agreed to. He wanted Arlyn Wade to write his autobiography. He wanted to come out looking like an explorer and not fool searching for noises with an overactive imagination.
“Mr. Foster, do we have an understanding?” asked Molly, snapping Cordel out of thoughts.
“We do,” he said with a nod.
“So you’ll respect her privacy?” asked Molly. “You’ll not pry and you’ll take my word for it that she has a good excuse for not answering the door?”
He gave her a smile. “Molly, I like you.” His smile widened as Molly’s cheeks turned a soft shade of pink. “You’ve been honest with me and yet, you haven’t betrayed your friend.”
“I’m also her boss,” said Molly, “and I assure you that if you stay on schedule, this will not happen again. You’ll be glad you stuck it out with her, she’s excellent at what she does.”
Cordel rose and Molly followed his lead.
“I’m sure I will,” said Cordel. “Thank you for talking me off the ledge. I guess I’m not used to being stood up.”
“Again, she didn’t mean to,” assured Molly. “It was out of her hands as much as it was out of yours.”
“You know,” said Cordel, “it would be easier if you just told me what was going on. I can be very a very understanding guy.”
“You’ve shown as much in this office,” said Molly, “but it’s not my story to tell.”
Cordel nodded and walked toward the door. “Fair enough, thanks again for your time. Tell Arlyn I’ll her tomorrow at our usual time and place.”
He shook Molly’s hand and left the office, telling her there was no need for her to see him out. He knew the way. He had originally thought to stop and talk to some of the workers at the publishing house, make it a little meet and greet, but he was on a mission that couldn’t wait.
The minute he walked out of the building he texted his driver that he was ready and then called Hillary.
“Hey boss man,” she said. “Did you get everything worked out with Arlyn Wade?”
“For the most part,” said Cordel, “but I have some research work for you.”
“What can I help you with?” Hillary asked.“Find out everything you can on Arlyn Wade.”
Friday, March 9, 2018
Arlyn stared at her phone the next morning as she drank her coffee. She had expected Molly to call upset because Arlyn had treated Cordel so rudely. The truth was he really got under her skin, so much so that she had slept more than sixteen hours. Usually, her schedule kept her from doing that, but when her body was taxed it slept.
Sighing she picked up her phone and dialed Molly.
“Arlyn!” Molly’s voice was cheerful and way too peppy for just after eight in the morning. “I expected to hear from you last night, but I’m glad you called. How did yesterday go with Cordel Foster? Was it amazing?”
“It was something,” mumbled Arlyn. She bit her lip. “So he hasn’t called or spoken to anyone at the office?”
“No,” said Molly and Arlyn could hear the hesitation in her voice. “Why? What happened?”
“We didn’t exactly hit it off,” said Arlyn.
“Oh no,” sighed Molly, “is he a complete jerk. You know they say you should never meet your heroes. They’re never what you expect.”
“It wasn’t just him,” confessed Arlyn. “He was late and I wasn’t very nice about it. We kind of started the whole thing off …” she thought of his words. “… well off on the wrong foot. I kind of expected him to call and complain about me and I was afraid I had gotten you in trouble. I’m sorry, I know how much this means to you Molly. I’ll do better, if he comes back today.”
“You mean, when he comes back,” said Molly.
“You’re being optimistic,” said Arlyn.
Arlyn could almost hear Molly shaking her head. “No, I’m being realistic. First, he asked for you and fought for you to write this book. He’s not just going to give that up because you two clashed on the first day. I can tell this means a lot to him and he only wants the best and you are the best. Egos aside, both of yours, I just have a feeling that you two are going to make an amazing team.”
“I really do hope you’re right,” said Arlyn. There was a knock at the door. “Gotta go, that’s either Cordel or my pink slip.”
Molly laughed. “Call me later.”
Arlyn hurried to the door. She opened it and bit back a laugh. Cordel was standing in front of her on one foot and holding the biggest back of baby carrots she had ever seen.
He smiled and gestured to his foot. “Starting on the right foot today.”
Arlyn let herself smile. “Thank you for being on time. Please come in.”
He crossed the threshold, bowed his head, and held out the carrots in a dramatic gesture. “I acted like a complete jerk yesterday. Truth is I’m used to people waiting on me when I’m late, even though I know how rude it is. I set the tone all wrong for our meeting. Please accept this bounty of carrots and my most humble apology.”
“I will accept your carrots, but I do have a condition,” said Arlyn.
Cordel held up his fingers in the Boy Scout salute. “I promise, on my honor as a Boy Scout, I will be on time and respect your schedule.”
Arlyn laughed and shook her head. “No, that you also accept my apology. I acted like a jerk yesterday …”
“We both did,” countered Cordel. “So we start over?”
Arlyn took the carrots. “Let’s do.” She gestured to the table. “Please have a seat.”
As he walked to the table, she closed the door and put the carrots in the fridge. “So were you really a Boy Scout?”
Cordel smiled, showing off his dimple. “I was.”
Arlyn made her way to the table and opened her folder. “Did the Boy Scouts spark your love of myths and legends with all those campfire stories?”
Cordel shook his head. “I was the kid telling the scary stories around the campfire. My dad was a big believer in Big Foot. My mother said he was telling me stories while I was still in her belly.” He laughed. “After hearing all those stories, she still won’t go camping. She claims it’s the mosquitoes, but I think she’s afraid of the dark.”
“Did you and your dad search for Big Foot?” asked Arlyn.
“Oh yeah,” said Cordel, “we went camping almost every weekend. My dad also taught me how to track during those trips.”
“You must’ve been the most popular Boy Scout, then,” said Arlyn.
“Actually.” Cordel rubbed my jaw. “I wasn’t, besides my campfire stories, I was pretty much a loner. The other scouts thought I was cocky.”
Arlyn gave him a smirk. “Not you.”
“I’ve always been the type of person that wants to share my knowledge with the world. I can do that now with my show, but as a kid I just vomited everything I knew to anyone who would listen, whether they cared or not.”
“Vomited?” Arlyn raised her eyebrows.
“That’s why I’m leaving the writing to you,” he said with a wink. “I’m sure you can find a better way to express I was a know-it-all kid.”
“Have any of those Boy Scouts had second thoughts since your success?” asked Arlyn.
Cordel shook his head. “I’m pretty sure they all still think of me as that know-it-all kid, but now I’m a rich know-it-all, traveling the world, doing amazing things, and what they think doesn’t keep me up at night.”
“I imagine it doesn’t,” said Arlyn. “What I can imagine is that your dad must be pretty proud of all you’ve accomplished. Does he ever get the chance to go out on location with you?”
Cordel’s smile faded.
Arlyn’s face softened. “Are you okay?”
Cordel nodded. “I knew we’d talk about my family. They are an essential part of who I am today. My mother still sends me care packages with all my favorite snacks, even though she knows I have a staff room filled with them. She just wants to make sure that I’m happy and that is her little way of showing me that I’m loved.” He chuckled softly and smiled. “You know those snacks taste better than any in my staff room, even the store bought ones.”
“I would imagine they do,” said Arlyn. “Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman.”
“She is,” confirmed Cordel. “Which is why it is confusing to me on why my dad would cheat on her and why she would stay with him.”
“Oh,” said Arlyn, understanding Cordel’s change in attitude when she mentioned camping with his father. She cleared her throat, knowing she was entering dangerous territory. “Could it be that since family obviously means the world to her, she’d rather forgive and fight for what she loves rather than let it fall apart? Maybe that’s part of her care package to you?”
Cordel rubbed his hand over his jaw and leaned forward placing both elbows on the table. “You know, I’ve thought about that and I know you’re right, but it seems I can’t forgive like my mother. The hang up for me is that he put the thing she loves the most, as you put it, our family, in jeopardy, all because he couldn’t keep it in his pants. It seems more than disrespectful, it seems hateful.”
“Have you talked to your father about how you feel?” asked Arlyn. “Nothing can condone what he did, but a little insight might help you to forgive.”
Cordel’s smile returned as he sat back in his chair. “Well, look at you. See, now I know how you do it.”
“Do what?” Arlyn shook her head.
“How you write amazing books for people,” explained Cordel. “You have a savvy way of getting into their heads. You’re not just a writer, you are a therapist.”
“You know what it is,” said Arlyn, a bit surprised with what she was about to share with him. “I love these conversations. I can’t stand small talk. I’d rather talk about something deep and meaningful than about the weather or traffic. Yes, it’s nice outside and the traffic sucks, now let’s talk about something worth having a conversation about.”
“Yes!” said Cordel. “I totally get that. I think that’s why I love talking about the paranormal. Everybody has a story, whether they want to admit it or not. That’s what does it for me, talking about unexplainable things in the universe and my quest to explain them and get others interested.”
“So is they why you picked cryptozoology as a focus in college?” asked Arlyn.
“I went in thinking I was going to get my wildlife biology degree. I had watched the shows on television about searching for the paranormal, but it seemed like such a far off dream for a little nobody from Kansas.” answered Cordel. “So, I went with the sure thing. Get a degree in wildlife biology, then either become a game warden or find a research project.”
“How did that turn into cryptozoology?” asked Arlyn.
“So I finished my degree in wildlife biology and decided I’d rather do field research than be a game warden. I’d much rather face big foot than a poacher with a gun.”
“Understandable,” said Arlyn.
“To be in field research, you really need a masters,” continued Cordel, “so I pursued my masters in wildlife biology with an emphasis in mammalogy. That is where I met Professor Duncan. He was my advisor and we spent hours talking about cryptozoology. I started going on research trips with him to south Texas. We were looking for black panthers, but caught something else on one of the game cameras.”
“What was it?” Arlyn felt herself leaning forward on her seat.
“To this day, I don’t know,” admitted Cordel. “It could’ve been a mangy coyote or raccoon. You can’t imagine how ugly and unidentifiable a coyote is without hair, especially a sick one.”
Arlyn nodded. “Yes, I believe a creature washed up on the beach not too many years back and everyone thought it was some kind of monster, it turned out to be …” She tilted her head, trying to remember what kind of animal it was.
“It was a nutria,” said Cordel.
“Yes, ugly looking thing,” said Arlyn, with a shiver.
“But, not quite as ugly when it has all its hair,” said Cordel. “One might even call it cute.”
“Right,” said Arlyn. “So back to the mangy coyote.”
“Or chupacabra,” said Cordel.
“Oh yes, I’ve heard of that creature,” said Arlyn.
“Good, I half expected you to say ‘chupa what?’. That’s the response I usually get when I say chupacabra,” said Cordel.
Arlyn blushed knowing she had said the exact same thing to Molly when she had mentioned the chupacabra.
“So you saw this picture on the game camera and it was love at first sight?” asked Arlyn.
“Something like that,” said Cordel. “Professor Duncan and I went back to south Texas as much as we could. We still studied the black panther, which we found none, but I don’t doubt the sightings, and we never got another picture of the mysterious creature.”
“Seems like a far leap from one picture to international adventure star,” said Arlyn.
“Oh it was, but this is where a little bit of luck game into play,” explained Cordel. “Professor Duncan was asked to assistant with some reptile research at the Welder Wildlife Foundation. We both had experience, so we said yes. They were tagging Texas indigo snakes, which are just massive in size and were short a couple of hands. Just so happens, the Voyage Channel was shooting footage of part of the capture, tagging, and release of the snakes. I got along great with the producer and he even asked me to do give some information on camera about the snakes and habitat, which I did. Later that night, we were sitting around a fire, talking about weird things we had witnessed in the wild and our picture was passed around. The producer got my contact info and the rest his history.”
“Oh you know you’re going to have to go into detail, right,” teased Arlyn.
Cordel laughed and looked at his watch. “I do, but I’m afraid I have to leave. I know it’s early, and I hope that doesn’t interfere with your schedule too much.”
“No, it’s fine,” said Arlyn. “You’ve given me a great starting point.”
“One other thing,” said Cordel. “I really need us to meet at my house tomorrow.”
“Absolutely not,” stated Arlyn.
Cordel stared at her, mouth slightly agape. “Um… what?”
Arlyn squared her shoulders. Going to Cordel’s house was not an option. Being in a practical stranger’s environment would make her too nervous and possibly cause her to go into cataplexy. Her mind begged her to tell him, but her pride won out.
“I need to conduct the interviews here, that was part of the deal,” said Arlyn.
“I know,” said Cordel, “Just this once. I have a breakfast thing near my house and I won’t be able to make it to this side of town on time and even if you allowed me to be late, I have a photoshoot tomorrow evening at my house, so it would just be easier to do the interview there.”
“I understand, but that’s not possible,” said Arlyn.
“Okay, then we need to skip tomorrow,” said Cordel.
“Also not possible,” said Arlyn. “I’m on a deadline and we are already a day behind.”
Cordel rubbed his jaw. “I understand about the deadline, that’s why I’m asking you to work with me, by coming to my house …”
“And I’ve already told you that’s not going to happen,” interrupted Arlyn.
“What are you some kind of hermit?” frustration dripping off of every word. “I’m trying to meet you halfway here and you’re not budging an inch.”
Arlyn’s head started to buzz at the word hermit. It wasn’t the first time she had been called that, but it never felt any better. “I am not a hermit. I just have a certain schedule that has to abide by and going all the way across the city will throw that schedule into chaos. I don’t expect you to understand, but I do expect you to adhere to the terms you agreed upon.”
Cordel laughed and shook his head. “You are a piece of work, lady. No one can live life scheduled like that. You might leave the house, but you are a hermit to your schedule and expect everyone else to live your world, which is basically a prison.”
“And you are a narcissistic jerk who thinks the whole world should turn upside down when you snap your fingers,” said Arlyn, her voice raised. “Now, I expect you here tomorrow at nine in the morning to continue our interview. Good day.”
She slammed the door and locked it. She could feel her muscles tensing up. She had let her emotions get the better of her. She was thankful her arms were the first to seize up that gave her time to get to the couch before her legs gave out. Usually it was the other way around, but she hadn’t been under this kind of stress in a long time. Because, she mused, she kept to her schedule.
She fell onto her couch as her full body tensed leaving her paralyzed. Arlyn closed her eyes and focused on taking deep breaths as sleep took over.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Arlyn took a deep breath and paced her apartment. As if she wasn’t nervous enough about having a client come to her house, Cordel was over an hour late. They would have little time to talk before she would have to make him leave to stick to her schedule.
Her daily schedule was important in maintaining her health and now some boogey man chaser was fouling it all up.
“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Arlyn fumed under her breath. She walked over to the counter and picked up her cell phone. She scrolled through her contacts until she found the information for Cordel’s manager. “This arrangement is off, he can talk to one of the assistants at the office. I’m not putting up with this …”
But before she could hit the call button a knock on the door startled her. She marched to the door and jerked it open, ready to give Cordel a piece of her mind, but found her voice was lost. Standing in the doorway stood a tall man, giving her a half-smile showing off his single dimple. His dirty blonde hair was short but messy and his five o’clock shadow gave him a handsome rugged look. He raised an eyebrow.
Arlyn found her voice. “You’re late and now we have to reschedule.”
Cordel raised his hands in a peaceful gesture. “I know, I’m so sorry. My plane was late. I’ve been in Belize looking for the Tata Duende.”
“Tata what?” Arlyn shook her head. “No, I don’t want to know. You’re late and I have a schedule to keep, so we have to reschedule.”
Cordel took a step towards the threshold. “Do you have another client? I’m sure they’d understand.”
Arlyn rolled her eyes and folded her arms. “It is not about another client, or whether or not they would understand. It’s about valuing another person’s time, and you have shown Mr. Foster that you do not value mine or you would have been here on time.”
The smile on Cordel’s face finally faded. “You’re right. You are a professional and I have made a lousy first impression. I really am terribly sorry, and you would have every right to terminate this contract. I was told you have a rigorous schedule and I promised to abide by it, but I beg you to give me another chance.”
Cordel got on his knees and folded his hands together in a begging posture. Arlyn’s cheeks turned red. She grabbed his arm and pulled him up and inside. She quickly looked in the hallway to make sure none of her neighbors had been walking by to witness Cordel’s display.
Cordel laughed as he stumbled forward and Arlyn closed the door.
“You’re stronger than you look,” he teased.
“And you’re more annoying than I thought you’d be,” said Arlyn.
Cordel nodded and flashed her smile. “I’ve been told that before. Don’t worry I’ll grow on you.”
“I doubt it,” said Arlyn under her breath.
“I heard that,” said Cordel.
“Good,” said Arlyn as she walked toward her small dinette set. She gestured to a chair. “Sit, we can get some of the preliminary questions out of the way, but then you’ll have to leave.”
Cordel walked over and sat down, giving Arlyn a nod. “I’m an open book, pun intended.”
Arlyn stifled another eye roll. She pulled out a sheet of paper from a folder that sat on the table. “I have your resume, so why cryptozoology?”
She hoped her voice didn’t shake as asked the question. Now that the anger was fading she felt nervous. She took a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves. Being angry and then nervous could send her into a paralyzed state and that was the last thing she wanted during this interview.
“Are you nervous?” asked Cordel. He gave her a movie star smile when she didn’t answer. “You are. Listen, don’t be. I’m just an ordinary guy. Don’t let my celebrity get to you.”
This made Arlyn laugh. “I would hardly consider you a celebrity.”
Cordel grabbed his heart and acted as if he were wounded. “Ouch.”
“Sorry, that was uncalled for,” said Arlyn. “Truth is I usually have an assistant do this part, so yes, I am a bit nervous.”
“An assistant?” Cordel folded his arms. “I’ve read your books, it’s hard for me to believe you get into the heads of the people your writing about using an assistant.”
“Well, if you’ve read my books, then you know I do,” snapped Arlyn.
Cordel put his hands up in a peaceful gesture. “Could we stop?”
Arlyn closed her folder. “Yes, we most certainly can.”
He shook his head. “No, not with the interview, with the bantering.”
Arlyn stood and walked to the kitchen. Cordel was getting her riled up and that was the last thing she needed. Although she knew she needed to sleep, her brain told her she was hungry. She reached into the fridge and grabbed a bowl of baby carrots and marched back to the table.
Cordel gestured to the carrots. “I don’t know what that means.”
“It means I’m hungry,” said Arlyn. She offered him the bowl and he took a carrot. He didn’t eat it, but looked at it as if it were food from an alien planet. She gave him a smirk. “It’s a carrot, as in a vegetable.”
“I’m familiar with the concept of vegetables,” he said popping the whole thing in his mouth.
“Sometimes I have to eat,” said Arlyn.
“Don’t we all?” Displaying his own smirk.
“No, I mean yes, I mean …,” she took a deep breath. “… I mean, sometimes it can’t wait. I hope you don’t mind.”
He reached over and took another carrot from the bowl. “It is not a problem, but I do have a question.”
“It’s not my blood sugar,” said Arlyn, “and my health really isn’t your concern.”
“Wow, you are really wound up tight aren’t you? My question had nothing to do with why you have to eat, that’s your business. I just wondered if there was something I could do to help lighten the mood. This is all very serious.”
Arlyn cocked her head. “So what did you expect? That you’d just come in here and recount your tales of folk lore and legend? That I’d swoon over the details of your bravery?”
“I’ve never minded a little swooning?” Cordel joked.
“I am a professional, Mr. Foster.” The alarm on her phone went off, causing her to jump. She turned it off and folded her arms. “That’s our time for today.”
“What? I haven’t even answered a single question.”
Arlyn walked to the door. “Then you should have been on time. I am a professional and I have a rigorous schedule. A schedule you knew about and agreed upon. Be on time tomorrow and we’ll start over.”
He walked over as she opened the door. “So you’re really kicking me out?”
“Yes,” she said with a nod.
He rubbed his hand over his jaw. “I don’t think I’ve ever been kicked out before.”
“Well looky there,” said Arlyn with a smile. “It’s a brand new adventure for you.”
She closed the door, the look of shock still on Cordel’s face. She half expected him to knock on the door and fire her, but he didn’t. She felt her body grow tired and knew she needed her bed. Her legs grew sluggish and she knew she wouldn’t make it to the bedroom, so she settled for the couch.
As she placed her head on the decorative pillow and pulled the throw blanket over her, she hoped Molly wouldn’t be mad or get fired when Cordel cancelled his contract.