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 YOU APPEARING, [ KRISTIE/BIRDIE FLYNN ]
ACE MESSNER
Posted: Feb 22 2012, 09:26 AM


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He’ll be fine,” Ace replied. Her worried frown was evident and sweet, but wasted on the dog. The owner himself did not bother to see where his canine had taken off to. The entire ‘danger’ side of this ordeal was not lost on him. Contrary to popular belief, Ace had picked up on something odd happening lately. He had not traversed part of the city in his car that first day without realizing things had changed. Though his mind might be slightly closed to the gravity of the situation, his eyes were not. He had seen kids on the side of the road getting eaten by their parents. He had seen neighbours shooting neighbours in some grotesque replica of an old Western. He had seen a weeping bride shoot her betrothed and left them both to be devoured by their guests on what should have been the happiest day of their life.

Still he managed a smile without effort as Birdie’s arm fell in with his and commenced their innocent stroll through the decay that was Houston.

He had not contemplated where to. He had just thought a walk would be sufficient. “We can head over to William’s Tower?” he suggested. It was not far. Just the other side of the street really. Only they had to walk the length of the mall first. It was a big mall. But their destination would be bigger, albeit in height not width. Then he caught up with what she had just said. “You were chased last time? What happened?


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Feb 22 2012, 02:03 PM


26 | KRISTIE
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"Okay," Birdie replied with a little smile that was aimed directly at her newest friend, her smile twitching but only because she really was worried for his dog. There were things out there that would eat him and not care that he was Ace's companion, that he would be heartbroken if something happened to the overgrown puppy. Maybe that was why she watched Jack go for as long as she could, just until he was out of sight and then she turned back to look Ace. He was so strong… so brave.

And she was completely entranced. Silly Birdie, she told herself, as she smiled back at his smile, her own turning her face cheeky and playful and a little silly. And not for the first time, did she want to skip around, but here, with him, it was probably one of her goofier impulses. So she battened that down and just nodded at him, trying to keep herself from being silly.

"Sure… William's Tower," she said but it was all too possible to tell she hadn't a clue which one that was… but she honestly didn't mind. She just wanted to be out in the sun. It was the first time she felt safe outside since Grayson appeared at the mall… because, let's face it, zombie guts does nothing for ensuring one's good feeling. But turning to look at Ace, she nodded. "I went outside for some fresh air and then ended up running when those things came at me. This man named Stan helped bring me back. I was lucky, I think…" she said and then turned to look over his shoulder. "I'm okay though… have you been chased too?" she asked him, worried now. "It's terrible to be afraid."

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Feb 24 2012, 12:48 AM


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Many of his fellow inhabitants in the Mall had told him stories of how they were chased. If not told, he had overheard it many times. No matter how it was conveyed to him, the common ground they seemed to share was fear. They had ran for their lives and feared this was the end. Ace didn’t like the idea Birdie had run flat-out and had her pulse and adrenaline heightened not only because of the physical strain but also the terror. “They don’t discriminate much,” he noted. Children, women, men, black, white… It never mattered. “I think a lot of people could learn from that.” This wasn’t a popular opinion, and he managed a small laugh. “I’m not saying we should eat one another. But we should strive to be blind in regards to the differences in others.

This entire situation had put such agendas at the bottom of the priority-list, yet people were still people. They still held on to their arbitrary beliefs, even if those beliefs were overshadowed by the more immediate need to not die. “I’ve been chased, yeah. But I’m faster than most and it’s never been difficult to loose them. I don’t want to walk around being constantly afraid, so I simply don’t.” He turned to her with a bright smile, courtesy of whitening products. “I nurture a healthy respect for them though. I wouldn’t poke an angry bear, so I won’t poke them either.” The former model suddenly wished he could meet a bear. He had always liked bears. “Do you think there are any bears left?” His brow knitted together, thinking.

At that moment they rounded the corner and their destination came into view. Ace didn’t plan to actually enter William’s Tower. He was not too fond of heights and at 902 feet, the Tower was tall. Still it had been a long time since he stood at its foot and felt insignificant. He often felt insignificant without the aid of a gigantic building, but skyscrapers were odes to humanity – to their strength and brains and creativity. They showcased how nature could be defied should it be wanted. Ace believed in humanity. He also believed they wrecked everything around them. Their self-destructiveness had always been undeniable.


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Feb 24 2012, 03:03 PM


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She knew that she had a good friend when Ace actually took that tactic, when he told her that he thought that they weren't that different from them, the zombies. Of course, everyone else she'd ever met thought her silly or crazy for feeling that way, but she couldn't help herself. They were human beings at one time and to her eyes, they were merely sick, and if there could have been some kind of prevention, they could have been helped, or they could have never suffered at all. It was why she turned to him with huge eyes nodding along eagerly. "I agree! You would not believe how many people think that they are so different from us. They… they really don't understand that there's no reason to look at our differences. They're people…" she said almost in a whisper-tone, her eyes on the view instead of his face at the last. Yes, it was just too nice to have someone who understood, she thought, even as she turned pink.

Honestly, she liked that her opinions were actually listened to, and though she wasn't the kind of person who could attract much attention, his was good enough. And that was why she looked well and truly sick to her stomach for the thought that he'd been chased as well and she couldn't' stop herself from reaching out to pat his arm. "Well, it's nothing that anyone would blame you for. We all run sometimes, when we're scared," she murmured, but the quick change in topic made her blink. "Bears? Probably. There's no one to hurt them, really, right? They'd be out there," she said quietly and then blinked. "Let's not go looking for them, though. I think they'd be more angry than the zombie-people."

But the moment they stood beneath the Tower, she leaned her head back, her ponytail pointing straight down even as her hand twisted on his sleeve to keep from falling backwards, her eyes widening. "I've never been around this building… do you like it?" she asked and jerked her head forward to look at Ace. She figured he had to, if he wanted to come see it.

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Feb 26 2012, 07:42 AM


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Birdie agreed with him. Ace was not surprised, and he was not surprised because he was so smug he expected her to agree with him out of awe. He was not surprised because she was kind-hearted and amiable. There were probably a lot of kind-hearted and amiable people out there who still found it inside themselves to hate those who attacked them with unparalleled contempt. Though Ace was not a genius when it came to reading and understanding people, he was not a complete imbecile either. For all his lacks, he had foreseen the woman by his side voicing her agreement. “That makes two of us, at least.” He had encountered few others so far. Any at all? Jack didn’t count. Jack was equally as oblivious as his owner.

Her expressed sympathy for him having been chased caused him to fix her with a baffled look. He didn’t expect sympathy for that. It would be strange if not all had experienced the same. “You really are caring,” he stated with a smile. He wondered why they had not bonded before, and concluded shortly after it was because they had not talked. If they had, they would’ve noticed each other earlier. At least he liked to think so. Since he would never be given the answer to that equation, it was a satisfying thought. One that couldn’t be proven wrong. “I’m glad you walked into the store today Birdie. You specifically, and not somebody else.” Once again he squeezed her hand.

The walk to the foot of the Tower didn’t take long. They didn’t encounter anything malevolent on their way. Twice Ace spotted Jack sprinting around somewhere, just in sight but quite far in the distance, and twice he let his head bob a short nod in reaction. In-between these two nods, they talked about bears. “I don’t think hunting has flourished lately. Hunting predators, I mean. People with guns are busy shooting their former neighbours.” No reason rekindling their earlier conversation, however much he liked how they agreed. “So maybe there are bears left. Maybe they’re having a great time. I hope they are.” With nothing to ruin their natural habitat anymore, they should.

Bears were huge and furry. Albeit not furry, the building they found themselves under was huge too. Ace did his best supporting Birdie as she leaned backwards to take it all in. “Yeah, I’ve always liked it. It’s built to function as two separate towers stacked on top of one another. It's unique that way.” He mimicked her motion and looked up. “I like that. I like the uniqueness.


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Feb 26 2012, 05:35 PM


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"Yes, two of us… against so many. I think that we could talk more into understanding if we tried," she told him with a quick glance over at his face, seeing the very real concern in his eyes. He honestly felt the same way that she did and it was touching when no one else every agreed with her point of view. Those poor people… so many were out there, being killed and they may have been dangerous, but she still felt sorry for them. And she was relieved that Ace felt the same because if she had to get that look from one more person, she'd probably cry.

Yet, when he turned to look at her, she turned to him as well and nodded, somewhat shyly. "Well, it's hard not to. No one deserves to be scared and you're really nice," she reminded him with a little tilt of the head but then glanced down at the tips of her shoes, red beneath the bright sky-like blue skirt. Yeah, she was embarrassed… just until his voice rang out again and she jerked her head up to look at him once more, her eyes widening. She hadn't expected such a thing from him, but the words… they were kind and sweet. She was touched. "I'm glad I did too, Ace. Very much. You've made today really special without doing hardly anything at all." She squeezed his hand back and then smiled shyly up at him again, her ponytail swinging as they walked.

She wasn't quite sure how the talk got around to bears, but she was really glad that it was something a little less scary to her than the sick and twisted people she sometimes saw in the distance. Jack, of course, was a sight that made her relax here and there, though she did worry about him, but since Ace didn't seem worried, she tried to hide it. "You're probably right… I mean, guns are being used to protect themselves from… well, you know," she said with a sigh and then glanced over at him. "I hope there are bears, lots of them and they're thriving… and eating honey. That really happens, right?" she asked him with a little smile that quickly turned cheeky. "I always loved Winnie the Pooh."

But it was funny for the pair to be talking about bears, both real and imaginary, underneath the awning of the Tower, but she couldn't help it. It seemed fitting, like something from a fairy tale if she squinted just so. "I've never really looked at it much before… it is unique…" she told him with a soft laugh and then glanced over at him, just in time to squeeze his hand again. "Thanks for bringing me… it's so pretty, with all the glass and the sun."

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 09:00 AM


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Ace wasn’t sure bears ate honey. Did they? “Well, they are omnivorous.” And that could definitely entail they digested honey too. When he thought about it, it did seem peculiar. Bears were huge animals, feared animals. How could they reach that size from honey? “What are the nutrients in honey?” Surely not good enough to yield such a result. Ace was embarrassingly enlightened on calories and maintained a healthy intake versus outtake ratio, even when the priorities of the world had faltered from the bodies on fashion billboards onto pure survival. “I always liked Tigger the most. He’s so energetic and random.” The thought brought a smile to his face. He would need to go the bookstore later and ask Virgil how the cartoons were faring.

If they leaned any further back, they’d both fall over. Albeit a funny picture in his head, even encouraging a small snort, he doubted he would feel the same after his head had hit the asphalt. Better stay upright. Better support Birdie so she didn’t suffer that painful faith. “I think people take it for granted in their busy lives. Just walk by it, not looking up. The observation deck is clo – actually, we could probably go up. But I don’t think I want to climb all those stairs inside when we just escaped from the Mall in the first place. Do you?” He looked over at her. If she wanted to, they would walk up. It really was that simple.


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 12:56 PM


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She wasn't so sure about bears, never having really studied them back home, so most North American animals were completely out of Birdie's wealth of knowledge. Then again, if anyone were to ask her about meerkats or lions, she'd probably talk their ears off. "Are they? They'll eat anything?" she said and then made a face. Yes, she was reasonably sure that a bear would eat a person… but she didn't want to see it tested anytime soon. "Uh, there's not much nutrition in honey… so I think they'd probably eat other stuff too. I've heard that some bears even eat bees," she said then her eyes widened dramatically. "I hope they have strong mouths…" She honestly didn't want to consider how much that would hurt… she was once stung between the toes and it made her hobble around for a good hour. She can imagine just how much one's tongue being stung would be cripplingly painful. "Me too. I liked Tigger the most too, though there was something comforting about Kanga. And Roo. Actually, I liked Owl too. Piglet always reminded me of someone who needed a hug… hugs are important." And if that wasn't Birdie in a nutshell, then what was?

But still leaning far back, she kept her eyes on that high building, the thought of going in it making her dance on her toes. But there was something nice about sharing this with Ace, because she hadn't ever considered that there was anything mysterious or mesmerizing in the city anymore. He's slowly convincing her otherwise. His hand on her back was comforting, though, and it's why she turned her head to smile at him, even as she straightened up a little to keep from falling backwards. "I think you're right… they get used to it being there, and then it's not special anymore. That's pretty sad, isn't it?" she asked him… but then when he mentioned going up, she just shook her head. "No, thanks. I'm afraid of heights and I think that would be a LOT of steps, right?" she asked him, her hand still in his. That was all she needed. Sharing a view with a friend, a warm hand to hold… and the sound of a dog's tags rattling as Jack came back again. "Besides, Jack wouldn't like those stairs, right?"

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Mar 13 2012, 10:01 PM


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When they started talking about the inhabitants of Hundred Acre Woods, Ace had to smile when Birdie basically mentioned all the animals as her favourites. For various reasons indeed, but he still found it charming how she saw the good qualities in all. Most had a definite favourite – like his was Tigger – and she did too, still she spoke warmly of all. He gave her hand another squeeze. There couldn’t be enough of those. “Piglet and his knots,” Ace mused. “I think Eeyore needed that hug even more. Those sad eyes, how he was depressed... I always thought of him as the ‘pin the tail on the donkey’-animal who escaped.” He glanced at her to see her reaction but was already shaking his head. “I don’t know why he’d escape from a kid’s birthday party though. I guess getting that nail stuck ever five minutes would hurt.” The thought alone hurt.

Jack seemed to materialize out of thin air at their side as they were contemplating going up. “You wouldn’t like a nail to the butt, would you?” Ace asked his four-legged friend, leaning down to mess up the fur. Back to Birdie, he liked her excuse. He was not too fond of heights himself. It was the feeling of getting pulled over the edge that didn’t sit well with him, though he had been to the Eiffel Tower multiple times without making a fuss. He rarely made a fuss of such common things when nobody else did. He didn’t need to steal attention that way. “You’re right; Jack would be disappointed if we went in now. He’s house-trained and wouldn’t dare pee.” The dog tilted his head and perked his ears, somehow aware they were talking about him. “And I didn’t bring any poop bags. Even if this building is deserted I don’t want to leave excrements in there…


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Mar 14 2012, 07:49 AM


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Who else, really, could Birdie talk over Winnie the Pooh with, and all his little friends? No one, that's who and it was comforting, having such an easy camaraderie with someone. So what if they'd only met… it was obvious that he understood her better than most people. That quick squeeze of her hand warranted a glance down at their fingers all but entwined just before she yanked her gaze back up to his face with a quick smile of her own. Yeah, these two should stick together, and she knew it. "Piglet and his insecurities. And poor, dear Eeyore too. I can't believe I forgot him. I'm glad you didn't," she said with a quick nudge of his side with her elbow, and then sighed. She hadn't considered Eeyore having gone through that… it was almost depressing! "No wonder he was so sad.. that sounds painful. Can you imagine it, being the entertainment at others' expense?" she said quietly and then shook her head too. "If we find a Disney Store… we need to free the Eeyores…" she suddenly thought, and then grinned widely. "Can we do that?"

She glanced down at the dog and with her free hand ruffled the fur just at his ears, her smile turning cheeky. "No, he doesn't want to have a nail sticking into his bum," she said in near baby-talk and then bent until she was nose to nose with the dog, her smiles turning into giggles as she was licked. Wiping a hand down her face as she straightened to look over at Ace, she gave him with blink and then nodded. "Well, I wouldn't want Jack to be unhappy. This is as much his outing as ours… and wouldn't it be unfair to leave him out?" she asked him, her hand still in his. "Then where should we go? There's got to be something else around here… is there something else you'd like to see?"

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 06:25 AM


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Eeyore really was the epitome of sadness in popular media. From a child’s perspective he wasn’t necessarily perceived that way. More often than not the donkey was merely the boring counterpart of Tigger, who was the most enigmatic and childlike of the animals. He didn’t attract much attention outside of maybe a desperate want for him to move away so everybody could be joyous and happy. Ace had too been a kid not fond of the depressive side of the stories, but had taken a liking to Eeyore as he got older and realized Eeyore might just have a reflected (albeit narrow) outlook on life. If he was the donkey of nail-fame, however, Ace agreed with Birdie: Out there, in the vastness of the world, plenty stuffed animals were in need of rescue.

His face taking on a somewhat determined frown, following a gleeful look at her suggestion, he said, “There is a Disney Store in the Galleria. Operation Eeyore can start there.” He was not sure where else in Houston there would be Eeyores aplenty. But if they found a map at information, they might plot where to continue. “Too bad the Internet is down. Google was very useful for quests like this.” Ace was by no means tech-savvy, but he had used Wikipedia enough to earn a black belt in getting side-tracked. How often he had landed on ‘American serial killers’ he had no idea. He always seemed to return there. That, or fetishes.

Humans. Odd creatures.

Jack too was a creature, though nowhere near as odd. Deducing his body language was not a hard feat and once that was done, he had conveyed everything he wanted. An easy life. Ace hoped he appreciated it. “Well, there’s Hidalgo street… But it’s severely lacking in the horse department, so I always found it a disappointment.” He grinned. Hidalgo.


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 11:38 AM


26 | KRISTIE
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If Birdie was being completely honest, this was just a lovely excuse to go skipping throughout the mall with Ace… but she had to admit that she wanted to save all the stuffed animals she could find. Could she just stop with the Eeyore toys? No, not at all. She figured that they would need some kind of trolley in the end, because there was bound to be a bunch of toys in there that needed saving and if she were going to do it, she wasn't leaving any behind. Would Ace get annoyed? She hazarded a glance over at him and then smiled widely, knowing he wouldn't. No, they were evenly matched and it was nice to know that she had a partner in crime that saw things the same way she did. It was comforting.

She cocked her head to the side at his frown, but then took a step nearer, as if to ask him what was wrong… only to blink and then slowly and completely and unabashedly smile up at him within seconds. He's a genius! "Perfect! We can make a map, even, and we mgith have to have a trolley of some sort… something to carry them all out of there in. We only have so much we can carry.. can't leave a man behind… erm, you know, donkey," she added, and then rocked back onto her heels, so excited. She felt like she was going to explode from excitement… this is what she needed, to have something to do. It was going to be so very exciting… too bad she didn't have any black clothes, she thought. She wasn't a ninja though. "Google? I've never used it," she told him honestly and then shrugged. Why would she? She only used her computer for work… and did most of her research in books. It was her way. "But it sounds useful… too bad."

Her hand still moving on Jack's furry little face, she leaned back up to stand beside Ace, her hand moving to slip back at the crook of his arm, and it was only then did she feel good enough about continuing on their little excursion. But… she couldn't stop herself from turning to look at Ace with huge, wide eyes. "There's a street named after a horse? Can we see it?" she asked him and then grinned widely. "I once read about that horse… You know, I always thought horses were the more boring cousins to the zebras. I mean, when you think about it… anything without stripes has to be pretty jealous, am I right?"

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 01:52 PM


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The trolley-part wasn’t a bad idea. At all. “How many do you think there are?” he pondered out loud. At least one. Probably more. They would have the entire crew. Disney always had plenty of their best-selling items. So Winnie himself would be over-represented, as well as Tigger. Tigers were naturally cool animals and that definitely worked in Tigger’s favour. “One of the stores must have something to roll them around with. Not just bags. It’ll look like we’re going to toss’em away. And we’re not.” He frowned. “We need a good place for them to rehabilitate. Any good ideas?” Somewhere childlike and serene. No blood. Just love.

She must’ve experienced love, even if she had never experienced Google. “You only missed out on the answers to all of your questions, ever. But that was then and this is now. To answer all questions, we now have to go to Virgil and use the Encyclopaedia Britannica.” It wouldn’t answer where the Disney stores were, no, but it would answer everything else.

Even where Hidalgo first came from. “It was Frank Hopkins’ mustang, wasn’t it?” Here. Another topic he had read about. Read till his eyes bled. The story was very inspirational, though he thought the movie was a bit over the top. Like any Hollywood production. “You want to visit the street? Sure, but remember there’ll be no horse. As the good American I am, I need to repeat that disclaimer before I let you accompany me. Misleading you wouldn’t make me look good, would it?


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Birdie Flynn
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 02:40 PM


26 | KRISTIE
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"I really don't know. Probably so many that we can't carry them all ourselves. And Jack wouldn't want to help. He'd rather play with them," she said and bent to talk baby talk into the dog's face. "Yes, he would… no tug of war with Eeyore's tail," she teased him and then ruffled the fur between his ears as she moved to stand. Honestly, she hadn't ever been into a Disney Store other than the one time that she wandered into one at the airport in New York. That was quick because she had Ayo sleeping on her shoulder and she didn't want him to wake to see toys… not when they needed to get to the Ministry. Now, that was all in the past and she didn't even want to think of how much hope she'd had in those early days. It just depressed her… which was why she clung to what Ace said, needing it to distract her from the past. "Um… my kiosk has stuffed animals already. We can bring 'em there. There's others for them to live with… probably not as scary, right?" she asked him and then slowly grinned. "You can stay there too if you wanted. Might be nice to have a hand, taking care of those poor, injured donkeys." And the rest, but the donkeys needed them most, she believed. Poor Eeyore.

She was interested, though, in this Google thing, and though she hadn't used it, she listened, enrapt as Ace explained it the best way he could. It was the mention of someone's name that she hadn't heard before that made her blink. "Virgil? Is he like… the Mall medicine man? Because that's how it was back home… the wise man was the oldest in the village… smart, old man. Is he a smart old man too?" she asked him, head cocked to the side, eyes looking up at him so earnestly. "I like encyclopedias. Let's go find him next…" she added softly, shrugging. After all, where else would someone like her read up on all the things about the US? The medicine man didn't know much about it… but that didn't bother her.

She even learned about Hidalgo in that book, something that most likely didn't think she would have heard about. But she loved animals… why shouldn't she know about THAT one? "Yeah, it was. Did you know that he tried to save the wild horses? And rode with a circus?" she asked him as they started to walk. "I mean, we could go there if you want… I like the fresh air… it's been too long since I've been outside and the sun feels good…" she said, throwing her head back just a little before opening her eyes and then smiled brightly up at him. "Don't worry, nothing you could do would make you look bad. You warned me, and I wouldn't be disappointed. This is a good day…remember? Sunshine and fresh air makes everything better."

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ACE MESSNER
Posted: Mar 22 2012, 12:59 AM


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He’d tear their heads off,” Ace agreed and glanced down at his dog with a loving look. It wasn’t the head-tearing that brought forth his smile, but rather the memory of how many a stuffed animal had met their end aided by the sharp teeth of his big mutt. Lots of mornings his apartment had been covered in cotton because some careless friend or lover had left behind what they assumed would be a good toy. They always turned out to be short-lived and messy things. Squeaky rubber balls or something equally durable did the trick.

Her kiosk? “You have a kiosk?” he asked, baffled. He didn’t know. He hadn’t thought much about where people spent their days in the Mall. He just wandered about and met them, not for a second pondering where they slept. A lot of mandatory human-related topics he hadn’t visited. Where people did their toilet-business. What they normally ate. How women coped with their monthly event now. “It would be a good place for them. That, or a ball pit. I doubt the McDonald’s in the food court has one though. Food courts aren’t well-equipped in that area. But there might be a playground somewhere?” Parents must have had a place to deposit their children, surely.

Parents were wise for the most part, and if they weren’t, they had to pretend to be to fool their kids. Virgil was wise, and though Ace could’ve laughed when Birdie asked if he was the medicine man, he didn’t. It was an innocent enough question. “No, he’s not. He’s the well-mannered man who stays in the bookstore. He keeps it tidy, and is very helpful with finding things.” He nodded, then frowned as it occurred to him ‘medicine man’ might be a hint to her past. “Are you used to medicine men?” It was such an quaint and foreign way of looking at it. Ace liked that.

They started walking again, now heading for Hidalgo street. It didn’t surprise him she too was fond of the tale. “I’ve read about that somewhere.” There hadn’t been much tangiable evidence. A lot of sources disputed whether Hopkins had been the legend portrayed in the movie or not. “Now back to zebras,” he said, and looked at her to offer a mirthful wink. “Is not pattern alike?


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