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Only connect! … Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height.

E.M. Forster, Howards End, 1910


I don't get it," said Annie, trying not to wrinkle her forehead. "I just hit a time-warp."

"Forward or back?" asked Brendan casually.

"Back, definitely," she nodded. "That's how I know it's a time-warp – it's weird but it's sort of familiar. If it was a forward time-warp it would only be strange, right?"

"Unless you hit a place where time went backwards. Then you'd jump forward to the familiar and back to the strange."

"Well it's back to the strange, all right, but I remember it anyway," she explained confusingly. "I haven't felt this way for twenty years."


"I dunno exactly. It's like, I'm the only one in step. You know? There's an entire universe out there that's completely out of its tree and they can't see it and if I say so they say it's me and I say it's them and ... the whole thing's crazy. But I know I'm right."

She widened her eyes and inspected her beer. They were perched on bar-stools at the Front Street Pub in Santa Cruz, California, sampling the Lighthouse Lager and wondering where to have dinner. Brendan took a solid pull and smacked his lips noisily before setting the glass down with an air of decision.

"I know what you are," he announced, pausing for effect, "You are alienated."

"Oh no I'm not," she laughed. "I'm a psychopathic deviate."

"You wha'?"

"Really. It's official. I did the MMPI tests when I was getting career counseling at Cabrillo and the instructor told me. I thought she meant I was nuts at first, I was really worried, but actually that's not what it's about."


"Yeah, all it is, is I don't follow rules just 'cause they're rules, I've gotta know why."

"Oh, I get it," Brendan cut in, "Of course. Your answers deviate from the norm of conformity. Hell, that's what I'm saying."

"You mean I really am alienated."

" 'Fraid so."

"Alienated. Darn. Just when I thought I was getting over it. You don't have to be young, huh?"

"Nope." Brendan usually had the answers.

"How about hungry? Do alienated people eat dinner?"

"Only if it's vegan; vegetarian at least."

"How about Seychelles?"

She meant the restaurant of that name, though no-one who knew her would have been too surprised if she'd made a bid for hustling off to a tropical island. Exotic warmth had become her favorite coping mechanism, her drug of choice at the end of the muscle-bound eighties. They drained and dismounted, tipped and left, laughing in the warmth of a summer evening in Northern California, and floating away again from darker insights, slowly coalescing underneath.