Staggered releases are great for story-focused games because we all know how no one ever burns through a game in a night and posts spoilers EVERYWHERE.
Anyway; table of contents here. Story below the fold. The initial punchline was going to be: "I hate herbivores; they are the hippies of the animal kingdom." Then, I realized that Susan probably gives off a pro-hippie vibe through the rest of her character. The line about dancing and heels, however, felt a bit more in tune with who she was, while still having an amicable closing point for the two.
If you forget who Susan is, what Frontiers is, well, uh, just read from the start? Really, at this point, if you haven't read all the sections, just do it. The writing is hit or miss, and some sections drag and are bad, but a lot of the story now will be self-referential, so, you need that background information.
* * *
“In my defense,” I said to Susan, who was sitting in a flattering green dress with the slit up the slide that I don’t understand the practical application for (why not just wear a skirt if you want to show off your legs? Is it somehow classier to cut up a piece of fabric? Is it so you can keep your legs warm if it is cold outside? For the life of me, I don’t get dresses with slits.)
I mean, I appreciate pretty women showing off their legs, but it just seems silly. Especially skirts with slits; that’s just trying to have it both ways at work, I’m convinced. Really, everything about women’s fashion seems to be trying to skirt the line.
“Why are you laughing?” Susan said, she was sitting with her arms folded in the passenger seat. I had let Kenny and Christine out since I wanted to talk to Susan in private. Really, I was starting to think this was a bad plan.
I mean, usually, you want to let a girl know you’re a complete asshole before she’s put on a pretty dress and is looking forward to a pleasant evening. Well, actually, I guess that’s not how complete assholes would do it. Honestly, I guess that’s how they end up with the girl most the time. It’s like a self-correcting mechanism in dating. The more willing you are to admit to lying, the less likely you are to stay with a woman because, well, women don’t like liars.
I realized I’d need to discuss my new theory on why nice guys finish last to Kenny.
“I’m sorry, you’re right. This is serious. Look, I didn’t realize what Frontiers was when we talked—”
“I sent you a link! You told me you loved my work!”
“It has come to my attention I have additional instances of dishonesty for which I should make amends.”
“You’re not taking this seriously,” Susan said. “I’m not just offended you lied to me and dragged me out here. I trusted you; this retraction is going to hurt my credibility!”
I wanted to tell her that she wrote for a cut-rate magazine — I assume that’s bad. I like things that are at a cut-rate though; maybe newspapers are supposed to be expensive? The added cost means veracity, I suppose.
“Look, I was going to tell you as soon as I saw the magazine,” I said. “But, then I ran into a man. He said my story had helped give him the strength he needed in his own life.”
“Your lie-filled, phony-baloney story.”
“Our lie-filled, phony-baloney story.”
“Where you are a Boy Scout striving against their homophobic ways to serve as an example to children everywhere?”
“Yeah, so you can see how there’s some benefit in us maybe not telling everyone it is a lie,” I said. “It’ll make it difficult, I suppose, if I ever get married. But, hey, in a year or so, no one’s going to remember it, right? So I figure, why ruin a good story?”
“You haven’t really grasped the concept of ‘coming clean,’ have you?”
This was a fair shot, I conceded. There’s a certain honor in honesty, but maybe, I suggested, there’s a higher truth that we serve.
“No, there is not.” Her suggestion seemed an excellent counter point. It was her career that I had put in jeopardy. “After all,” she had pointed out, “Any day one of these women you’ve chased after or dated might come out and say you’re lying.”
It was a fair point, and one Kenny had asked me to consider. I had already prepared my counter. “Then we use the Politician’s Defense.”
Susan looked at me warily. Her eyes had a careful balance of ‘Do shut up’ with ‘Please, explain this to me so I can make you shut up.’ Women: Even their eyes confuse you.
“We basically tell them I’m a horrible person, but hope that in two years no one thinks it is that bad since, hey, no one died. And, if I move to Chicago or New Orleans, even then I might get to squeak by on a technicality.”
“Alright, here is my final thought on the matter: The fact you lied to me is not one of the most unpleasant truths I’ve ever heard in my life,” Susan said. “I mean, I’ve gotten over those. Like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real, that your parents are fallible human beings with foibles of their own, or that your pet would eat you to survive.”
I was kind of glad that my lying to her wasn't Earth shattering. I feared that my coming clean might lead her to tears. Or violence. It was the violence I was more glad to avoid. “I didn’t mean to lie, it just sort of happened.”
“So, here is my stance: I will print a story stating that the statements you made were deliberately ambiguous in an attempt to raise awareness,” Susan said. “In return, you’ll write an apology letter to my editor.”
“That seems fair,” I said. “Everyone wins.”
There was a bit of silence for awhile, and I broke it: “Kenny says this is why you should only keep rabbits or gerbils for pets. You know, things that don’t eat meat. Good advice, though, kind of disturbed that I’m repeating any advice from Kenny.”
She looked at me and shook her head. “What exactly goes on inside that head of yours? Come on, you also owe me a dance.”
“You’re very forgiving over this whole ‘I lied to you about everything’ thing.”
“I’ll get my revenge, don’t worry. I’m a terrible dancer, and I have very pointed heels.”