Friends Like These


I will admit to it right away so we can move on. I did wake up to both a conference and a concert. The conference was with all my voices in my head, and the concert was all to myself with my voice and my echoes. I am not the greatest singer ever, but I can carry a tune, and my echo can definitely carry the tune that I carry. And of course, that put me in the mood for some sweet curry goat, so I finally unrolled myself and hopped off the couch.

I jumped in the tub at least six or seven times before I decided it was time to get clean. I turned on the water and took a nice, relaxing shower. While washing up, I made a plan of attack for the day. This one will be a long one for sure. That’s what she said! What? I slapped my face to get my brain back on track. I needed to check on Luis, come up with a day for the meeting, and figure out travel.

Out of the three, travel was the one that kept my attention as I dried myself off and headed to my temporary office. I made a few calls to get my day started. I sent in for a few extra changes of clothes, breakfastlunch, a quick message of thanks to Anthousa in the front desk, and a call to Olympus Travel, Resorts and Spa to ask for group and family rates. The last call was to Luis, which went straight to voicemail, which I expected. It meant he was en route. Through this all, Mourgo was constantly on my mind.

I made my way to the opposite end of the floor, where my clothes remained neatly folded where I left them. I had nothing else to wear until the delivery from the nearby boutique arrived, and I was expecting food from the Sunrise place. As I reached out for my pants, a massive black paw smacked my hand away. I stood there, frozen for a few seconds processing, and came to the conclusion that I was hallucinating. I reached out a second time, and again my hand was swatted away.

Inching forward over the back of the couch, I found the source of the swattery. Lying on the couch where I slept was Mourgo. He was on his back, looking up at me. Half surprised, half stunned, I made my way around the couch, and as he made room for me, sat down. When I did, Mourgo nudged my shoulder and then laid his head on my knees. I was stunned. Summoning an ally without concentrating and using my thyrsos was something I had not done in over a thousand years. What did all this mean? 

I sat there for a few minutes, trying to work out in my mind the intricacies of this bond while petting Mourgo. The connection with this panther was not only strong, but was strengthening. That meant that either my abilities were also getting stronger, or there was something about home that acted as a surge of some sort. I definitely felt recharged, and that was something that I would have to look into. On other good days like today, when the voices in my head are only a whisper.

The doorbell brought me back to the moment, and I got up to answer it, wagging a finger at Mourgo to keep him from following me. I opened the door to a cart of food. As the person who brought it to me smiled and turned to leave, I grabbed him by the sleeve. 

“What you brought to me, bring to me again! Yes, now. Bring it up right away. No, I did not call it in. That’s why I’m telling you now. Now go! Hurry!” A sudden roar from behind me, curbed all other questions and set the man back to the elevators in a hurry.

I closed the door and rolled the food cart right up to the couch. Mourgo was already on the floor and licking his chops. I condensed everything that was brought to me onto one heaping plate and set it on the floor. I emptied the milk into an empty bowl and added a splash of coffee, and set that down as well. Part of me wanted to see Mourgo turn into a were panther and just lift the coffee mug and drink from it. But that would be crazy, right? Speaking of which, I realized that I was still running around in the bathrobe, so I quickly changed while Mourgo was too busy eating to mess with me.

Unfortunately, me and the word quickly do not always get along. I, you see, was not just a normal guy that puts my pants on one leg at a time. I prefer jumping into them with both legs just to prove my point, but that takes time and repetition. Good thing I was a master of repetition by repeating myself in a masterful way. 

Just as I finished dressing, the doorbell rang again. I opened the door to another food cart. This time the order included the new clothes I’d bought over the phone. The person who had made the delivery, the same person who had brought me the food earlier, was already by the elevators, pressing the CALL button over and over.

I changed into the new clothes, and I was almost done with my meal when the phone rang. I rushed to the office to pick it up and realized that I should get a mobile phone again. Do not take this the wrong way. I am not one of those people that hate technology. What I am, though, is a wanderer. I like to take off from time to time. Follow my feet in a random direction and see where they will take me. Sometimes I like to get lost, and that is something I simply cannot do with a cellphone in my pocket.

When I answered the phone, I heard Luis’ smooth voice butchering my title yet again.

“Geia sas, Mega Kyrie!”

“Luis, you really must work on that title. You sound like Max Headroom on helium when your voice breaks trying to get that right. Where are you?”

“Sorry, Master, I will make more of an effort now that I will be there with you, I promise. The jet has just landed in Lisbon for refueling. I should be touching down in Thessaloniki in a few hours, and it’s about another hour or two driving distance to where you are.”

“That’s great to hear, Luis. This is not one of those Top Gear races, so take your time and be safe. What else do you have for me?”

“Yes, Master. Thank you for your concern, sir. Thank you for not mentioning that the episode should have been named The Chile Special instead of The Bolivia Special for the fiftieth time. I contacted all the branches about the meeting, and everyone was excited and perturbed. After a long series of emails and calls, they are all standing by.”

“That’s good to hear. And yes! Thank you for reminding me! I have no idea why Top Gear decided on that silly title. I mean, the trip started there, but it did not end…”

After a slightly controlled sigh of frustration, Luis tried to steer the conversation down the right path. “Indeed, indeed. Now, getting back about the meeting, Master?”

“Oh yes, carry on carrying on.”

“As luck would have it, there is a convention in Napa, California, in four days’ time, and a multitude of our partners are scheduled to be there. That would make for a good place to hold the meeting for the Master Plan.”

“Ah, yes! Napa is pretty. Too bad it is not Naples, though. I could go there with Mourgo.”

Luis paused at that, and his voice held a hint of trepidation as he asked, “With…whom, sir?”

“Mourgo, my new friend. I can’t wait for you to meet him!”

“Of course, sir. Any friend of yours is welcome, sir. Is he…is he real or one of those inner friends you are so fond of?”

“He’s real, all right. You bite-cha.”

“Don’t you mean you betcha, sir?”

“That, too!”

After another pause and soft sigh, Luis dove back in the Master Plan. That is why I keep him around, amongst other things that I cannot quite remember right now. “If you do not mind, Master, I am bringing a few aids with me. They will oversee the daily charges and chores. That will free me up to accompany you to the meeting.”

“That sounds perfect, Luis. Thank you for all you do for me.”

“Don’t mention it, sir. I will go ahead and let the remaining partners know that the meeting will be held in Napa after the convention, then?”

“That sounds good, Luis. Make it happen. I already told people in the lobby to expect you, and they said they would see you upstairs if I am not around. We have a lot of work ahead of us, my old friend.”

“Old, sir? I would not broach that subject if I were you.”

With a snort, I put on my God Voice and said, “You overstep your bounds mortal! I can show you a bit of me if you’d like.”

Without missing a beat, Luis fired back, “Oh, but you already have, Master, and look where that’s got us.”

A few seconds later, we were both laughing heartily at each other, and that felt good. Unfortunately, I had to leave things there and hang up. The day was already getting away from me, and I still had much to do.

I walked back to the couch and saw Mourgo wrapped up in my blanket on the couch. I patted the panther softly, scratched the base of his ears, and told him all about Luis and how he needed to behave for him and his helpers. His ears perked up during my speech, and I knew he was actually paying attention to me. A yawn and a chuff were all I got from him once I was done, but I knew deep inside that he would not cause too much trouble. 

Things were looking up for me, and I was happy. I had Luis, and Mourgo, and the Master Plan, and food, and clothes, and a relative quiet in my head. I opened the outer door, let myself out, and made my way to the elevators with a broad smile and a tap dance, using my thyrsos as a cane. 


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