The Sympathetic Universe Part 16

After coming back half-dead from exhaustion and still without Eliza’s phone, Angel’s mood had darkened. Sitting on the green easy chair with her ankle elevated and wrapped in bandages from a first aid kit she’d found in the kitchen, Angel told Gabriel with no small amount of condescension that his “sacrifice” wasn’t virtuous when it only caused trouble for everyone else. He was just being an attention seeking puta.

“On top of that,” Eloy pointed out between mouthfuls of sundried tomato pesto pasta, “stealing people’s ideas is the opposite of virtuous. In my time, it’s called ‘plagiarism,’ and you don’t get any points for it.” Eloy felt sorry for Eliza, who was on double-duty translating everyone’s arguments into French. Even when Destiny told Gabriel her mommy would have put him in time out by now, he calmly informed her that God’s rules were greater even than those of mommies.

In the meantime, Eloy was still wondering about this little girl. Why did Destiny have a two way radio and how did she know how to use it? It didn’t assuage his concerns when he asked her and she said “What’s a wadio?” Angel admitted that she hadn’t seen any two-way radio with Destiny, who eventually admitted that she had left it behind because it kept making “scawy noises.” How had she properly operated a radio that she didn’t even know how to turn off?

Destiny didn’t have the attention span for extended interrogation. When asked where the radio had come from, she started bawling about Mr. Tiger. When asked where she came from, she started bawling about her mommy. When asked if she even knew what decade she was from, she bawled about her mommy and Mr. Tiger.

So, over the next few days Eloy did his best to slowly piece together the story. As Gabriel became thinner and began to spend more and more time sitting unresponsive in the corduroy easy chair, Eloy learned that Destiny’s favorite show was Power Rangers, placing her firmly in the 90’s or later. He learned that Mr. Tiger took the form of a stuffed animal that came to life and talked to her when no one was looking. He still couldn’t figure out what happened on that mountain that let Destiny talk to them.

Angel called a meeting about Gabriel in Eliza and her room. The topic was “Should we force-feed Estupido until he comes to his senses?”

“Estupido” was Angel’s new name for Gabriel, sometimes “Viejo Estupido.”

Angel was in favor, Eliza was against, and Eloy was abstaining, thinking it better not to take a side against either of these women. Destiny was in the common hall with Gabriel, playing with a coloring book from Eliza’s pack that had alarmed Eloy when it said it was for adults, but turned out be full of flowers and abstract patterns that were not inappropriate for Destiny at all.

“I don’t think he likes it here,” Eliza said in Gabriel’s defense, “He doesn’t speak our language; he’s the oldest by forty years; I haven’t seen one meal show up that would be at home where he’s from. Maybe we can figure out how to get the fridge to make something he wants to eat.”

“I have looked that fridge over a few times now,” said Angel, “there’s no knob or anything to adjust to get different food.”

“But maybe it doesn’t work that way,” Eliza said, her tone sounding oddly confident, “Maybe need to think differently. What if it responds to our desires? Maybe we can all… think about Gabriel’s favorite meal and it will show up?”

Angel and Eloy stared at Eliza, who raised her hands. “Look, let’s all just think of the most delicious rice and bean stew that we can imagine. Maybe if we stand by the refrigerator when we do it. It’s nearly lunchtime now.”

So they gathered up Destiny, who was fully on board with Eliza’s “mind reading fridge” scheme, and went to the kitchen. Gabriel was slumped in his chair with his mouth wide open snoring and in no position to be suspicious.

“Ok,” said Eliza, descending to sit cross legged on the kitchen floor, “everyone close your eyes.”

Eloy sat on the counter and closed his eyes.

“Now,” said Eliza, “Imagine you are sitting in front of a wooden bowl in your monastery’s mess hall. The steaming stew in front of you smells of onions, oatmeal, asparagus, and sausage. You dip your spoon in and bring a chunk of sausage to your mouth. It is perfectly spiced pork. You saw the pig slaughtered just today.”

Destiny cried in protest at the image of the slaughtered pig.

“Ok, you didn’t see it slaughtered, but you can tell it’s fresh. Also fresh is the thick slice of barley bread next to it and the whole leg of mutton on a plate besides. You are ready for a feast!”

“You reach out to the pile of roasted turnips and pluck one out. They’re still hot and smell of garlic.”

Eloy peeked and saw Angel’s nose wrinkle at the turnips, but she said nothing.

“The turnip yields easily to your teeth and is packed with juicy flavor. It tastes as if it’s been cooked in the fat from the mutton.”

Eloy had no idea what mutton even was, let alone what it tasted like.

“Ok, everyone,” said Eliza, “just sit with that image for a while.”

Eliza remained silent for a few moments and spoke again. “I am going to open the fridge. Keep thinking of the delicious stew, mutton, bread, and turnips.”

Eloy watched Eliza go to the fridge. She pulled out a red lunch tupperware and, with trepidation, peeled off the top. Eloy couldn’t see what was in the tupperware, but he did see her make a fist pump.

“Everyone,” she announced, “today for lunch we’ll be having turnips, barley bread, and what I believe may be mutton!”

“Ewwww!” Destiny whined.

Eloy watched as Eliza scooped off some turnip and put it in front of Gabriel’s nose. Gabriel sniffed, and opened his eyes. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?”

“Ton déjeuner.”

Gabriel reached out and took the spoon. “D’où est-ce que sa vient?”

“Le réfrigérateur.” Eliza smiled, “Dieu vous aime et… veut que, ah, vous viviez”

Gabriel huffed and gave the spoon back. “Non.”

It took another day of thinking of various medieval dishes, and by the time they had all exhausted taste for ale, barley bread, and mutton, Gabriel was finally convinced that God didn’t want him to fast until he died. He ate all four tupperwares of sausage-tripe stew in one lunch.

It all fit together too easily for Eloy’s liking. It was more than apparent that they were not playing by the rules of their… homes for lack of a better term, but he was beginning to suspect there was more at play.

What were the chances Eliza could have just guessed the nature of the refrigerator? On her first try, no less.

What were the chances that Destiny would just happen to figure out how to operate a two-way radio and then forget?

It might be because of her recent success alone, but Eliza was carrying herself with more confidence lately. She hadn’t patted her shoulder in a while. Eloy had received no hints or visitations at all from his mom that would allow him to accomplish such unlikely feats. Heck, Mom couldn’t even be bothered to stop a hurtling van before putting him in the driver’s seat. Gabriel’s interpretations of his god’s will were so erratic it was more than clear he was not getting any direct channel. Angel had lost Eliza’s phone and nearly killed herself trying to find it again. No divine intervention there. Eloy narrowed his eyes. Trying to intuit the requirements to win this virtue challenge was hard enough on its own. What would he do if Destiny and Eliza were getting help that the rest of them were not?

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