"Hi," I said. "I'm Major Chafage."
"Oh, we've heard of you," said the man. I noticed a disturbing tone of amusement in his voice. I didn't like it.
"Uh oh. Is that bad?"
"No! We've just been reading all your registry entries," explained the woman.
I nodded. I understood.
"You've been upsetting a lot of people," laughed the man.
"Oh, stop," I warned. "You know that's only going to feed my ego, thus reinforcing my bad behavior."
"I mean, please, go on," I continued.
"I thought you'd be taller," said the woman, looking me over.
"Or shorter," added the man.
"Or older. Or younger. And with less..." She trailed off, at a loss for words.
"Ratty facial hair?" suggested the man.
"So basically I'm completely not what you expected, in some vaguely inarticulate way?"
"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, or not conform to your preconceptions," I offered, hesitant. It was truly a surreal experience, hearing myself talked about in such a way. Not that I didn't enjoy it.
"So what do you do, in the real world?" asked the man, unpacking.
This was a very common question. "Nothing. I'm independently wealthy. Although I do some modeling from time to time. Freelance work. Mostly underwear. No, actually. I'm a writer. Which means I'm unemployed. What do you do?"
"Well, I work for the ASPCA," said the woman. "Euthanizing kittens."
"And I'm a sleeper agent for Al-Qaeda," said the man. "But don't tell anyone."
"Do you want to shoot up some heroin?" asked the woman, retrieving a needle from her pack.
"No thanks," I said, startled. "I gave it up. Last week."
"Oh, well, don't mind us," she said.
"By the way, you might want to tent. We're planning on having raucous jungle sex later in the shelter," said the man.
"I'm a screamer," nodded the woman. "I love screaming."
"She really does," agreed the man. And then they started kissing. Open-mouthed. With lots of tongue. It was grotesque.
And that's how I met Ripley and Jaguar, the notorious serial killers, insurance lobbyists and Bush Pioneers who would later be arrested by the FBI for libel, sedition, arson, and rape. And whom—despite their striking physical resemblances—should definitely not be confused with Ridley and Panther, two extremely lovely people whom I met at the Crampton Gap Shelter. They're completely different people.
And I'm back.