Everybody has secrets, the verbose little man says, writing on the board. There isnt anyone who is what they seem. Even to themselves.
Max smirks. Izzie looks bored. They look at each other and roll their eyes. Liz looks back at Max and Max makes a face at her.
Exposing those secrets, the little man says, pausing for dramatic emphasis, Is the job of the historian. Even the most ordinary of us has extraordinary qualities just waiting to be discovered. For tonight’s assignment i’ve paired you together. It’s your job as historians to find out as much as you can about your partner by asking them specific questions and then writing up an oral history report for tomorrow.
Maria is not pleased when she reads the questions they are supposed to ask each other. She raises her hand and says, Uh, excuse me but these are kinda personal, dont you think?
Exactly, the man says. Personal is the goal of the professional biographer. And who knows, you might even make a new friend. Okay, the partners are Parker with Evans-that’s Isabel Evans. Max Evans is with Valenti. DeLuca is with Guerin.
Wait! Maria says. Did you say Guerin?
That’s right. Michael Guerin.
No, Maria says firmly, shaking her head. I’m sorry but that is totally unacceptable.
I beg your pardon? The man says, flustered by outright defiance.
Well for one thing Michael isnt even here.
Then it’ll be like real fieldwork, he says, recovering fast. You’ll have to track down your subject.
He continues to recite pairings, parings that are not random nor of his making.
Just after class the man talks to Topolsky. He says, Thank you for those questions. They’re so insightful.
My pleasure, Steve, she says in the nasal tone of a sixteen year old girl despite being a grown woman, probably because someone told her it was charming. As you know, i did my graduate thesis on the importance of oral history in psychology. So did you pair up the students the way i suggested?
Oh, yes, he says.
Sometimes you end up with the most revealing details just by putting the right people together, she says, unable to avoid sounding condescending.
Michael has made a copy of the the picture on the flyleaf of Atherton’s book of the author’s geodesic dome house. He sits with Max and Izzie in a quiet corner of the outside bleacher seats, huddled against the deep, chilly wind. The autumn sky is a harbinger of rain.
This is the thing from my dream alright, he says, waving the picture. Marathon, Texas. That’s where Atherton’s house is. That’s where the lock is that this key fits. I’m going there.
Have you completely lost it? Izzie says.
No, Isabel. I’ve found it and you both are too scared to admit it. Give me the keys to the jeep. I’m going to Marathon.
Max looks at Izzie and and she gives him a barely perceptible shake of the head.
Let’s wait until we can find out more about this place, Max says.
Max, Michael says, I’m connected to this thing. I see it when i close my eyes. I dream about it when i go to sleep. It wont let me wait no matter what you guys say.
Michael flounces off and throws them a dagger look over his shoulder.
He wont get anywhere without a car, Max says.
Maria is waiting for him in her mother’s car. When he is within a few feet she gets out and says, Hey, wait! Uh, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor? We have to do this stupid history project for tomorrow.
I’m busy, he says.
Wait. Will you just answer these questions, okay? Uh…who’s your favorite relative?
Get lost, Maria! I gotta…
What? You gotta what? What?
Michael looks at the car. He says, RU driving somewhere?
Yeah. IG2G2 to the gas station/UPS store to drop off a box for mom.
The one that’s on 285?
So give me a ride and i’ll answer your stupid questions.
Okay, she says reluctantly.
Maria parks the car at the gas station and says, Michael, you cant just make up answers.
Who says i’m making them up?
You do not watch The Young and the Restless or any other daytime soap even though you could, since you never go to school.
It keeps me in touch with my feminine side, Michael says with a straight face.
Fine, she says. You know what? I’ll just make up the answers for you.
That would be great, he says.
Then will you at least help me carry the box?
Sorry, he says, wincing. Bad back.
Maria looks at him with unbridled hopelessness.
While Maria talks to the man out front about the box Michael slides over into the driver’s seat and starts the car, since Maria was kind enough to leave the keys.
Hey! Maria cries. He’s stealing my car!
Before Michael can get completely turned around Maria stands in front of the car.
You’re stealing my car! She reiterates shrilly.
She gets into the passenger’s seat.
I’m borrowing your car, he says coldly. Now get out.
You’re telling me to get out? This is my car! Actually it’s my mother’s car and if anything happens to it life as i know it will be over. So wherever it goes i go.
Fine, Michael says. You had your chance.
He pulls out onto Route 285 and accelerates, going south toward Marathon.
OMG, Maria screams over the noise of the car. You’re kidnapping me. No, you’re abducting me!