“Zahra! You have to come!” Fabian declared as he burst into the house after work.
“I have to go where?” Zahra demanded.
“There’s a new club opening in town called The Queen. Half priced drinks all week!”
“And why should I be excited that something I’m not going to drink anyway is half price?”
“I’ve heard a rumor that Vita Alto likes the place.”
“The Leader of the Free World? I didn’t vote for her.”
Fabian made puppy dog eyes. “Don’t you ever want to have any fun?”
Which is how Zahra found herself on her way to a disco dance club.
The Queen was creatively lit, Zahra could give it that.
Fabian had failed to mention that if the Leader of the Free World were showing up at a dance club for drinks, there would be extra security. But he sailed right by with his golden tongue and police badge.
“Hey there, Fabian Branch Sample with Sunset Valley’s finest. Keep up the great work!”
The bouncer didn’t even try to keep Fabian out. Zahra slipped through quickly before he changed his mind about her.
There she was: Vita Alto, the Leader of the Free World. Haggling with the bartender over how much vodka should be in her Bloody Mary.
It was as if stars were flashing in Fabian’s eyes. He was drawn to her like a bee to honey.
“Wow, Ms. Alto,” he stammered. “I was really amazed by that, um, speech you gave last week.”
Vita Alto raised an eyebrow. “The one about the trade agreement with Al Simhara, or the one about firefighters rescuing kittens?”
She laughed in a way that was not entirely friendly. “I thought so.”
Zahra sat at the bar and watched her dear husband make a fool of himself.
The food was greasy, but actually not too bad.
She tried to enjoy herself, but the flashing lights and loud sounds gave her a headache. Zahra had no sense of rhythm, and she hated to dance. This really wasn’t the place for her, and she persuaded Fabian to go home early.
“It’s all right if you go out without me,” she told him in the car ride home. “I know you have these… social… needs. I’m perfectly happy to stay home with my science and inventions while you have a good time with other people.”
Fabian’s throat caught. “Are you sure?”
Zahra nodded. “We’re different about this. It’s all right.”
Fabian had never been quite sure that she’d forgiven him for Agnes. It seemed he had her trust back after all.
Time passed, and Hank Goddard was promoted over Fabian. Fabian and Hank had been partners since the beginning of their careers, and it was odd to transition to reporting to him as his boss. There was a little bit of jealousy there too. Fabian was getting close to a promotion to his dream job as a Forensic Specialist, and it stung to know that Hank would get there first. Still, Hank had a list of ex-girlfriends as long as his arm and no real responsibilities, and Fabian and a wife and family. Dues had to be paid.
Fabian’s new partner was Willem Yo. The Yo family had changed since Willem was dating Shanni, however. Willem’s younger sister Michelle had gone into acting and had gotten some attention in martial arts films. Fabian was dying to meet her.
“Ada!” he declared one day as he burst into the house after work. “You have to come with me! I got an invitation to Willem’s birthday party!”
Ada clapped her hands. “Wow! So strange your partner would invite you to his party!”
“This is my big chance to meet Michelle Yo. She is going to be a big star, I’m sure of it. Why don’t you come with me?”
“Sure…” Ada said. “If Charles comes with me.”
Fabian flinched. He and Charles usually stayed in opposite halves of the house. “Why Charles?”
“He helps me keep from doing embarrassing things,” Ada said.
And so they all ended up at the gates of the Yo estate for an evening pool party. Fabian had known that the Yos had money, but he hadn’t really guessed just how much money.
Like any truly fashionable pool party, nobody was swimming. Guests stood around in their swimwear, sipping cocktails and having suave conversations.
Fabian barely spoke to Willem. They could do that at work. Instead, he downed two or three of the bright pink cocktails to get his confidence up to approach Michelle.
“I have all your movies!” he said. “I, um, watch a lot of television. You’re really stellar in Kung Fu Kazam. Sure, you don’t have many lines, but you deliver those kicks with such feeling. That’s acting!”
Michelle seemed to appreciate the adulation. Or at least she didn’t tell him to stop.
An hour and another two cocktails later, and Fabian’s praise was starting to take a more personal tone. “You know you’re an incredibly attractive woman. Do you mind telling me…. what’s your sign?”
Ada gasped and ran to Charles, who was making smalltalk with Michelle and Willem’s younger sister Jenna.
“Charles! Come quick!” she cried. “Dad’s flirting! You can’t let Mom kill him!”
Charles was there as quick as a teleport would let him.
“Hello there, I’m Charles,” he said, shouldering between Fabian and Michelle. “This a great party.”
Fabian seemed to realize that he was being rescued. He went pale. “Hey, um, Michelle, this is my stepson. You should have a lot in common. He runs the dojo in town.”
Michelle offered him a blinding smile, and Charles had a brief insight into what might have made Fabian act like an idiot. Not that it took much to get Fabian to act like an idiot.
“I’ve heard about the Spirit Sample Dojo!” she said. “The choreography in my next film is pretty challenging, and I’ve been thinking about showing up there to see whether you’d be interested in some personal training.”
Charles blinked. “You act in… martial arts films?”
Michelle laughed. “Obviously, you don’t watch as much television as Fabian.”
Actually, Charles never watched television. He didn’t see the point of staying indoors watching pictures of the outdoors when you could just go outside yourself. But he decided it would be rude to say so.
Still, listening to Michelle talk about her career was more interesting than Charles had expected. After quite a while, he was able to pull himself free of the conversation and escort Fabian to the car.
On the way, he picked up Ada, who seemed to have hit it off with Jenna.
“See, it’s not just me,” Ada said brightly as they piled into Fabian’s patrol car. “Charles keeps you from doing embarrassing things too! He’s just like that.”
“I’m a turd,” a sobering Fabian wailed as Charles eased the car out onto the road. Charles shrugged, focusing on the road.
“I’m a great big, stinky, slimy pile of –“
“Zahra ought to wise up and kick my ass to the curb.”
“You expect me to disagree with you? Look, I don’t know what Mom sees in you, but you make her happy. If I catch a whiff of you making eyes at another woman, and I’m going to tell her. You know she’ll divorce you.”
“You’re not going to tell her about this?”
Charles sighed. “Not this time. Once Mom knows, there’s no going back. So prove to me you’re not a turd.”
“Thank you,” Fabian said.
“Jenna kept rubbing my knee,” Ada said. “I wonder why. Is my knee more soft than the rest of my body?”
So, after everything Fabian’s been through with Zahra, he started rolling wishes to flirt with Michelle! Ack!
So that’s my Michelle Yo sim. She doesn’t look like Michelle Yeoh, but she don’t look too bad IMHO.