Naysayer

Alicia and her husband lived in a ranch style house in Sarasota Springs, made much easier to find thanks to the large, sculpted manatee which held their mailbox out by the road. It was just past the large, sculpted dolphin a few houses down.

Alicia met me at the door, having seen my headlights pull into the circular driveway. “You found it,” she said. “Come on in. Dinner’s almost ready.”

Their home was decorated in an eclectic blend of wicker furniture and brightly colored wall hangings which all seemed to be original works of, I hesitate to say, art.

“Interesting decor,” was all that I could say.

“Thanks,” she beamed. “I did most of it myself. Michael made me a painting studio in the garage. It’s great to have a husband that nourishes my creative side.”

“Like you gave me a choice,” Michael said, lifting his six foot frame out of a papazan chair with a grunt.

Alicia made the introductions, and Michael looked me up and down with a wary eye.

“So you’re the white knight with the spare tire,” he said. “Thanks for your help.”

“My pleasure. It was the least I could do.”

“More than a lot of people would do in this town,” he said as he strode back to the papazan and reengaged with the television. He had a sullen stride to his step, in stark contrast to the pep that his wife exuded.

“Make yourself comfortable, Steve. I’ve gotta go check on dinner. You guys find something to talk about.” And with that, she scurried off to the kitchen, leaving us men to our bonding, as it were.

I took a seat on a wicker sofa and followed Michael’s gaze to the television, where Jon Stewart was giving his encore diatribe about Still President Bush.

“I don’t get to watch this at night,” he said without looking at me, “so I try to catch the reruns the next day.”

“It’s a good show,” I said. “I think he’s one of the most honest journalists on television.”

“Well, he’s funny. I’ll give him that.”

“You can’t get much funnier than the truth.”

Michael turned to me. “Alicia tells me you’re some kind of writer.” He said it as if writer was synonymous with rodeo clown. “What do you write about?”

“Well, right now I’m writing about marketing.”

“Why would you want to write about that?”

“That’s kind of a long story.”

“I’ll bet,” he said as he turned back to the television. As if on cue, Jon Stewart promised that he would return, and a commercial declared the wonders of dish soap. Michael hit the mute button and mumbled, “That’s what I think of marketing.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “it can be a bit annoying at times.”

“Annoying?” he turned to me again. “It’s freaking mind control! The whole damn country’s getting told what to buy, what to eat, how to think. It’s insidious.”

I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be making any more fans in this house.

“Dinner’s ready,” Alicia said, carrying a large bowl of spaghetti to the dinner table. I could have kissed her for the save, but I feared that the worst was yet to come.

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!

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