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Walter orders dinner at the LavaRock

Susan reached over and opened his menu. “I know you like hamburgers. Alberta’s famous for its beef.”
“That’s all they have?” Walter flipped through four pages of hamburgers.
“Hi.” A waiter wearing a black shirt with red splashes – and jeans! – slapped up in even worse, sandals. “How are you this evening?”
“Well, thank you,” Susan smiled.
“You’re allowed to wear open-toed footwear?” Walter stared at the boy’s feet. “In my day, we had to wear proper shoes, with black socks and dress pants.”
“That’d bite. Can I start you off with a beverage? Maybe an Iced Liquid Lava?”
“What the hell’s that?”
“Basically, it’s a strawberry daiquiri with vodka, then we add our own special syrup.”
Probably grenadine. “I’ll have a gin martini. Dry, with olives,” Walter requested, his eyes fixed on two silver hoops in the waiter’s ears. “And don’t bruise it.”
“I’ll try one of those Liquid Lavas,” Susan ordered.
The waiter collected their menus and flip-flopped off.
“They let faggots wear their jewelry to work now, too?”
“Dad!”
“What do you call them these days?”
“Just because a man’s wearing earrings doesn’t mean he’d gay, and if he is, you don’t call him a …”
“Are you suggesting that guy might be straight?”
“I don’t know. I’m just saying, you can’t tell by earrings. A lot of men wear them now.”
“You should know.”
Walter watched the idiot, whatever his preference, order their drinks on a computer screen. Waiters and waitresses used to just call out orders, and bartenders and line cooks remembered them. Now their pea brains needed rocket science technology; more overhead he’d have to invest in and learn to operate if he opened a place. He’d have to attract new people because most of his clientele were near dead.

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Tea Conversation

[Susan asks Walter, her father} “So. Are you going to open another place?”
“I’m too old to start over.”
“What are you going to do? You could live another twenty, thirty years.”
“Not if I drink enough. Or freeze to death before I leave here.”
“I’ll get you a coat.” Susan pulled a bright yellow ski jacket out of her closet.
“Don’t you have a warm baggy sweater?”
“Not that’d fit you. We are driving. I’ll throw the jacket in the car in case you want it when you come out of the restaurant. Because it gets even colder once the sun goes down.”
“Of course.”
Oscar [the parrot] glared at Walter as he sipped his tea. He hadn’t half-finished when Susan asked if he was ready to go. At least this Lava Rock might offer a more stimulating diversion than sitting around here all evening. And be warm, because volcanoes were hot.
“Looks like a steaming pile of shit,” he couldn’t help commenting on the approach. Once inside, the flashing red lights hurt his eyes.
“For two.” Susan smiled at the hostess, who barely looked old enough to drive, never mind work in a licensed establishment.
“What’s the drinking age here?” Walter gawked up at the skylight imitating the hole in where, in a real volcano, the lava would spew. Here it circulated in tubes embedded in fiberglass walls.
“I don’t think you need to worry about it.”
“My daughter, the comedian.”

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Walter’s 1st night at Susan’s

Walter stared at the pillow and pile of blankets on the half-sized leather couch with a sheet already over it. “I hope you’re not expecting me to sleep there.”
“I didn’t know if you’d be okay with stairs and you didn’t answer my question.”
“I’m 62 not 85.” Walter looked in the fridge. “Nothing.”
“I thought we’d go out. There’s a new restaurant that’s supposed to be good.”
“Not the Lava Rock Cafe, I hope.”
“You’ve heard of it?”
“I like to stay current.”
“Do you want tea first? And maybe put on warmer clothes?”
“I didn’t bring warmer clothes.”
“Your legs will freeze in those pants.”Susan ran upstairs and came back with a pair of little black legs that looked too small for hers, never mind his. “Here. They stretch.”
Susan left them on the table then put two tea bags in two cups and filled them with tap water before opening the door to the microwave.
“You don’t have a kettle?”
“This is faster.”
“YOu know I always refused to have one of those in the restaurant.”
“This is my home.”
In exactly one minute, Susan placed a steaming cup in front of him that was too hot to sip. “You could have put it in for less time and saved even more time. Now we have to wait for our tea to cool off.”
“In the meantime, then, go change.”
Walter picked up the black pants off the table. “Is that the bathroom?” And entered a room the size of a closet. “A quarter million, and you don’t have a shower?”
“That’s upstairs.”

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Walter arrives in Susan’s & re-meets the parrot

The rapid ride up made his ears pop worse than the plane. In what seemed like two seconds flat, the metal doors opened onto a carpeted hall decorated to look like a street. … Fake gas lamps provided dim light. Decapitated Roman pillars that held up nothing flanked each unit’s entrance. Mats bristled uselessly in front of the doors, as if mud would be left on anyone’s shoes to wipe off after trekking across so much carpet. … trying to make one place look like another… gimmicks to con people into spending more money for something than it was worth.
Susan inserted a key…into what looked like a doll house
“How much did you pay for this?”
“Two and a quarter.”
“Hundred thousand?!” [remember this is the early 90’s when this was an obscene amt of $] He nearly swallowed his gum. “It’s six hundred square feet!”
“Plus the loft.”
“Hello!”
“There he is.” The same bird he brought home for Susan after her mother died.
“You bit me, you prick!” it accused him, in his own voice.
Susan glared at him. “Did you used to sneak in my room and tease him? I’ve never heard him say that.”

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Walter arrives at Susan’s

The difference is, between an apartment and a condo:

“I own my unit.”
After Susan parked, Walter struggled to raise himself out of the front seat, while Susan pried and hefted his bag out of the trunk. “That might be easier if you’d put on some weight.”

“You should lose some; you’re wheezing just getting out of the car.”
“I’m wheezing because there’s no air.”
“Oh, right, the altitude,” said in a no-big-deal kind of voice – as if an easily explained lack of oxygen wasn’t as serious as a mysterious lack.
Susan pushed a button to summon an elevator.
“A strange way to come home. Feels like a hotel.”
“You would you know? Youve never been in one.”
“I do watch TV.”

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Walter continues drive to Susan’s condo

…Walter glimpsed a sign that said “downtown” as Susan exited. “Why are we going downtown? I’ve been traveling all day. I don’t want to go sight-seeing.”
“I live downtown. I told you when I bought the condo. Remember? You asked why I wanted to live downtown instead of buying a house with a yard.”
Walter stared out the window. Scrub-grassed hills gave way to fences, behind which houses sprawled. Then more roads and traffic lights. At the bottom of an overpass that spit them into the downtown, the surroundings severely degenerated. A bunch of scrubby old men lounged on the sidewalk outside a run-down hotel. Some pushed shopping cards. Kids in baggy pants with steel spikes poking out of their skin smoked leaning up against walls. Boys with falling-down pants skateboarded up and down steps. “No wonder you can’t find anyone decent.”
“I don’t pick up men on the street.”
Susan careened onto a ramp that sloped down into a parking garage. … “You said you bought a condo. This is an apartment building.”
“It’s a condo complex.”
“What’s the difference?”

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shortie walter & susan bit

Today, I have more time than is left on the computer, so this will be brief. I may cont tomorrow
Walter has just gotten in Susan’s car; they’re on the way to her downtown Calgary condo

“What the hell about this place made you want to pick here to live?”
“Work.”
“Civilized places have fancy-assed computer jobs. Your only tree doesn’t even have leaves, and it’s May.”
“We never get leaves till after Mother’s Day, and this year’s been cold.”
“Has been?!”
“It’s supposed to snow.” Susan merged onto the highway and pulled into the left lane, blipping past cars on the right like they were parked.
“You’re going to get a speeding ticket.”
“So?”
“You don’t care?”
“Doug usually takes care of them.”

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