I netbook at different locations, depending on where I need to be at a given time. One thing I quickly discovered is that all McDonald’s are magnets for…shall we say, eccentrics? We’ve already covered Data Vampire, the bane of my netbooking existence. Today I’m sitting in a different one, at the very same table where I’ve encountered Dead Cat Guy and Puppy and Coyote Girl.

Dead Cat Guy seems to live a solitary and lonely existence. Except for when he ventures forth to his local McDonald’s, where he roams the tables looking for likely victi–er, I mean sympathetic ears. I had encountered him before. He longs for a new computer that he can’t afford, so he makes up for it by vicariously enjoying those miraculous machines belonging to others. Questions, questions. And sad tales tales that draw forth empathy like a magnet inexorably sucks metal to its location.

One day computers were never mentioned. It was all about his dead cat. I heard the story several times before he got to me. Slight variations, but basically the same tale. His special, super duper rare breed cat got run over, and he rushed outside to find it lying pitifully in the street. His first thought? Well, second probably after hoping the cat would be okay. Why, he started frantically trying to get the license plate number of the cruel, heartless perpetrator…so he could call the police to report a hit and run. Of his cat. By the time he reached my table, I had managed to stuff all the reactions I’d had, as he worked his way to my too prominent to be ignored position, way back in the corner of my brain reserved for the absurd. So, I decided I could spare some sympathy and kindness for a guy who obviously craved it desperately.

I listened to his tale of woe, learned that the police are oddly reluctant to put out an APB on a hit and run cat destroyer (Oh! The outrage of it!) , the special rare cat has some special rare power of healing, and will be fine. I also learned just how much he loved his cat, because in the course of being rescued out of the gutter it had dragged itself into the ungrateful feline bit him! More than once. He sported the bandaged fingers to prove it, making it harder, I’m sure, to type on the new computer he has been getting “any day now” for a couple of years. I said all the right things, offered the right condolences, in just the right tone, and he was satisfied enough to walk away before my battery died completely.

Then there’s Puppy and Coyote Girl. An employee at said erstwhile restaurant, who will talk to anybody about anything they will listen to. There’s no more captive an audience than fast food customers with their mouths stuffed to the teeth with burgers and fries, without them being bound, gaged, and sleep deprived. Torture in its various forms, is still torture. Even if it tastes good. When it comes with a super sized side of yammer. Again with the rounds to table after table of unsuspecting diners. As I heard the words “Do you want a free puppy?” over and over, I chewed and tapped with dread.

Suddenly,  it was my turn. I was trying to download a phone app that time, and every glance up to try to make some polite response, my screen dimmed. It drove me so batty, I finally sighed, put my phone down and gave her my undivided attention. No, thank you, I don’t want a puppy. Free or otherwise. Of course, I love dogs. I just don’t want one right now. Why, no, I’ve never heard of anyone having a coyote for a pet before. I did know someone with a half-wolf once….beautiful animal…kept my distance, though– NO! I do not want a half-coyote. ..thanks, for asking. Really? They make good pets? Mmm hmmm. I’ll keep that in mind…. On and on. My food grew cold, my phone grew de-charged, my patience grew threadbare.

Eventually, I gave up, stowed my phone, threw out my trash, with her–ahem–dogging my every step. I kid you not. She trailed me to the trash can, then to the door. I was almost afraid she’d follow me out to my car and try to get in, so I turned firmly, one hand at the ready to shove that sucker open and make a run for it, and said (nearly choked me) I’d enjoyed talking to her. Then I practically broke all land speed records making a hasty exit. Once I was safely backing out of my parking spot, I risked a quick glance over my shoulder, and darned if she wasn’t still standing where I could see her, looking as if she calculated the likelihood of my windows being open so she could try for one last yammer at me.

There seems to be little danger I’ll be needing writing and screenwriting character generating software anytime soon. Right now I’m having such a happy, peaceful netbooking time, with the freedom of attention to actually write a post. There. Is. Not. Another. Soul. In. The. Place. Ah, blessed relief. Wait…some people just came in. Pardon me while I wrap this up, and get out of here. Just in case….

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