"Now Miss Cooper, this is an opportunity to serve your Country. In fact, if our worse-case scenario comes to pass, you could be saving the World."
He was cute, in a starched and suited fashion. Nice suit, not pricy, but upscale enough to hang well. And he was probably right, about how bad it could get. Saturday night- just twenty-four hours ago – had been really strange.
"Eldon was on the run from two groups of people, but he was only afraid of one of them." I had a sinking feeling I was going to have to tell all. In front of Tiffany.
"Who's Eldon?" Tiffany wailed. "I don't understand why this is happening to me."
I started to tell her it was because she stole my boyfriend and opera date, then shut my mouth. If I'd gone with Brian to the opera, she'd have had all the fun with Eldon.
"Mr. Kerry said that the Dimensional Security people were polite and professional and brought you straight home once they realized you weren't the people they were after." That was the other Agent. Female. Grim.
"But why did they grab us?" She glared at me suspiciously. "And what happened to my bathroom?"
I leaned away from her breath. "I loaned it to a fellow named Eldon who crashed his car out . . . on the street." Squirm. Time to be honest. "Well. After he crash landed it on our third floor balcony."
Both the Agents perked up. More men came and started bagging just about everything in Tiffany's bathroom. It had been rather naughty of me to let Eldon shower and shave and everything in her bathroom. She'd deserved it.
"And then what happened?" The cute one had a dimple that showed when he was trying not to smile. "Or rather, back up to the beginning, and start again. Try to remember even the little details."
So I closed my eyes and repeated everything Eldon had said. Up to a certain point. Then I sighed. "Drat. I hate being honest. But I suppose you do need to know." So I went on about the gold selling trip, the horse, teleporting ten miles downtown. Ahem. The magic spells of bad breath and baldness I'd asked him to put on Brian (my former boyfriend) and Tiffany (the boyfriend thief). What he'd said about the Bad Guys chasing him. About the two batches of people coming out of, umm, light or lightening edged holes to someplace else. Armed and very dangerous. I described the fight over Tiff and Brian, stabbing the one fellow who'd grabbed me with my scissors. Then Eldon jumping into his own little ring of light and disappearing. I admitted I had ridden the horse home, and then to a boarding stable where I'd taken riding lessons a couple of years ago (boyfriend with horse). And that the horse was still there. I didn't happen to mention removing most of the gold from the saddlebags, and looked really wistful when they found the two little wafers I'd left there. They bagged up everything.
"You. This is all your fault!" Tiffany hissed.
I waved my hand through the air. "I really hope Eldon remembered the temporary part of the bad breath spell."
"And how could you do that to Brian!"
"Just think, Tiff. Now you know just what he'll look like when he's forty."
She glared. "If he ever speaks to me again. I swear, Prissy, that is the worst . . . "
"Thing since you snatched my hot date to the opera?" I finished for her.
Brian had spent all of Sunday trying to convince the authorities that something uncanny had happened. Apparently he'd succeeded. The Federal Agents had gotten here just as my cab dropped me off.
"Those people could have killed me. They thought I was someone named Eppie. A criminal." She pouted.
"Were any of them cute?"
"Don't you care what they could have done to us?"
"Eldon said it wouldn't be a problem. It was the other people, those soldiers, that he was frightened of."
The Grim woman cleared her throat. "Can you describe them?"
"Well, they were all pretty tall. The one that grabbed me, my head didn't reach his shoulder. And they wearing this armor. It was in plates, like storm troopers in Star wars, except it was mostly black and some bits were polished metal. And the helmets were shaped different, more like motorcycle helmets with goggles. Whatever they were wearing under the plates of armor wasn't very tough. I jabbed my scissors into the guy's ass and he was limping when he dived into the picture."
"Limping? Do you still have those scissors? We could try for a DNA sample . . . "
I wrinkled my nose, and reluctantly headed back to my bathroom. I didn't see the scissors lying around, so I dug through the laundry until I found the jeans, and the scissors, still in the back pocket.
Agent Hawkins pulled a baggie out of his pocket and had me drop them in.
"I want them back." I didn't need to spend money on things like that, not with what boarding an oversized stallion was costing me. Of course it was Eldon's money, but would the Feds let me keep it? Would they let me keep Zeus? Now there was a bad thought. My only link to Eldon.
He nodded, then stepped over and looked at my sketch pad. "This Eldon?"
"Well, it's an attempt at Eldon." I squirmed a bit, then brought out the two chalk-on-black drawings I'd done last night. It seemed like longer than a day since Eldon had dropped out of nowhere and onto my balcony. I looked out at the noise and found some other federal agents removing the damaged railing. I don't know what they expected to find. It had had a large Suburban dropped on it and it had lost the fight.
"These are good. They look just like everyone's descriptions of the star gates. Or whatever they are. Were."
"Umm, Eldon said he was from a parallel World, not from another planet."
"Can we go over that again? Try to remember his exact words."
So I remember all I could, again, then some more agents drove me out to the stables. Zeus had been put in a coral with high sides, rather than a stall. He wasn't as big as a draft horse, but he gave it a good try. The Agents took hair samples and pictures and took all of his tack away.
Rick, the former boyfriend who now ran the stables shrugged. "Well, you said the owner had legal problems. Guess you weren't kidding. I'm glad they're leaving Zeus, though. Damn nice horse. Smart as all get out."
I beamed at him. I'd forgotten how much fun riding was. Now though, the Feds were eyeing me impatiently, so I let them take me to their offices to sign a statement, and then home.
It was late, but the apartment was empty – Tiffany had left a note, saying she was going to take a week's vacation and visit her mother. Ha! She'd run home to mommy. I'd run home to Grandpa—but just long enough to hand over the gold and ask him to hide it. Tiffany'd probably be back soon, she had a job, after all. Err, maybe she was waiting for her breath to return to normal. Hair stylists with really bad breath weren't much in demand.