My first sensations were a gust of cool air blowing gently upon me. My eyelids fluttered as my vision swam back into focus.
“Where am I?” I wondered.
I raised myself with my elbows, noting that a blanket had been placed over me. I gazed around the room, trying to get my bearings. The room had a familiar feel to it, but it had stuff. Lots of stuff. It almost looked like an office. I tried to stand, but my legs felt wobbly. I staggered to the door and leaned against the frame, trying to summon up some strength. I heard grunts coming from beyond the door. Feebly, I opened the door and used the wall to drag myself to the living room and then I saw. . .him.
It was Tall Square and he was doing push-ups. I tried to call his name, but it came out like a choked gurgle and I fell to my knees. Tall Square heard my squeaks and helped lay me on the couch.
“He’s awake,” said Tall Square.
Entering from the dining room was Arizona Mat.
“Ah! My Boswell. You don’t seem to have suffered too much from the curare.”
A surge of energy rushed through my body as my anger flared up. I leapt upon Arizona Mat and attempted to give him a larynx massage until Tall Square pulled me off.
“Well, that’s a fine hello,” said Arizona Mat, rubbing his throat.
“Curare is a deadly poison, you fool!” I shouted.
“Not in the hands of trained experts,” countered Arizona Mat.
“Why would you drug me? How did you even know I was coming to town?”
“Tall Square has been tailing you for months.”
“Weren’t the two of you enemies?”
“We had our differences, I admit,” said Arizona Mat.
“And what’s with this place? You always lived kind of simply. There’s stuff here now. And there’s food in the fridge.”
“The difference is that I have made the greatest discovery of all. I have found true love.”
“True love,” said Arizona Mat. “Thanks to that discovery, I have become a kindler, gentler, humbler explorer. I have made amends with Tall Square who is my sidekick once again.”
“I have a business meeting to get to,” I said.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Tall Square. “I found the business card of your SyFy rep and posed as your administrative assistant. I told him you were suffering from the Swahilian Flu and that you needed to reschedule.”
I sighed and accepted the inevitable. “So who’s your new love?”
“Dr. Carolyn Langlois. Reknowned Alzheimer’s Disease researcher.”
“Mm hmm. And where is she?”
“I see. And do you have a photo?”
“Not at the present.”
I decided to be gracious since I was familiar with Arizona Mat’s tendency to skew reality and not broach the matter of his “girlfriend”.
Being weakened from the curare, I spent the day resting up. I played a few rounds of Garfield with Tall Square and Arizona Mat with Tall Square taking 2 games and I took one. To Arizona Mat’s credit, though his teeth ground a bit, he managed to keep his ego in check. I suspected this evened things up a bit between after their handshake battles.
Arizona Mat took Tall Square and I to Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles for lunch. It’s a very nice place and serves some excellent soul food. They serve the beverages in mason jars and serve some of the best catfish beignets I’ve ever tasted. Arizona Mat also ordered some stupid fries which are fries smothered with cheese, gravy, and chicken. Arizona Mat and Tall Square each ate Betty’s Boob (a waffle and chicken breast) while I had some chicken tenders.
I caught a quick nap in the afternoon and then Arizona Mat took Tall Square and myself to Phoenix Rock Gym. It’s a rock climbing gym and a good place for a natural workout. After learning the finer points of belaying and climbing, I did five climbs up the walls while Arizona Mat accomplished six. Tall Square, who suffers from a fear of heights, did several, but was chided by Arizona Mat for his reluctance to do more. I imagined “Carolyn” had been responsible for the peace treaty between them, but cracks were definitely beginning to appear in the cessation of hostilities.
After the gym, we went to Four Peaks Brewery when I had a bowl of beer cheese soup and an Oatmeal stout. Arizona Mat had chicken wings and pumpkin porter. Tall Square ate a blackened salmon BLT and sipped a mixed concoction.
The minor jet lag, curare shot, and workout had wearied me so I collapsed on the couch in “Carolyn’s” office and slept through the night.
The next morning I walked to Fry’s grocery store to get some cash and, for reasons that now elude me, bought Arizona Mat breakfast at a nearby McDonald’s while Tall Square refused my generosity and got his own breakfast. Afterwards Arizona Mat announced that we were going to Castles N Coasters for a gentleman’s game of mini golf.
For me it was a feast or famine day. I sunk 8 holes in one, but could not accomplish squat on the other holes. The battle was clearly going to be between Arizona Mat and Tall Square who began to snipe at each other more and more as the day wore on. Arizona Mat sunk one shot where he used his putter as a pool cue and Tall Square insisted I give him a one stroke penalty for improper use of club.
“I’ll show you an improper use of club,” said Arizona Mat under his breath.
It was a tight game until the final 18 where Arizona Mat managed to dump his opponent once and for all.
“Yes!” cried Arizona Mat. “Once again I prove myself your superior in every way.”
That was a mistake.
Wielding his putter like an axe, Tall Square swung with all his might. Arizona Mat dodged out of the way at the last second and bolted for the go-karts with Tall Square right behind him. Arizona Mat barged in front of a line of kids and roared off in a go-kart, breaking through a gate and driving through the park. Tall Square hopped in another and continued the pursuit. I jumped in a third, train wreck curiosity compelling me to see this through to the very end.
Arizona Mat sped towards the bumper boats and dove into the water, swimming valiantly into a boat before zooming off. Tall Square was hot on his heels and absconded with a boat of his own. The sight of the two of them ramming each other whilst shouting profanities at each other is a vision that will forever be seared on my brain.
Tall Square finally managed to hit Arizona Mat with enough force to capsize him, but Arizona Mat swam under the water and pulled himself out, heading to the log flume. Panicked, Arizona Mat quickly got into a moving flume to get away from Tall Square. Tall Square got into the flume behind, shaking his fist angrily. Why he didn’t wait until the ride got back around like I did, I’ll never know.
I decided the two had expended enough energy and I got between the two after the ride.
“I thought you were a kindler, gentler, humbler Arizona Mat,” I stated.
“I am,” said Arizona Mat.
“And aren’t you his trusted sidekick?” I asked Tall Square.
“Yes,” said Tall Square.
“Then shake hands and call it a day,” I said.
The two of them looked at each other for a long moment, then shook hands, though, for a moment, it seemed like another handshake duel was about to occur.
After the fun park, Arizona Mat took us to the Gila River Arena where we watched a hockey game between the Minnesota Wild and the Arizona Coyotes. Needless to say, Arizona Mat was pulling for the Coyotes. Tall Square, out of pure spite, pulled for Minnesota.
Early on the game looked like it was going to be a slaughter as Minnesota slapped goal after goal into the net. Tall Square smirked with glee as Minnesota hammered Arizona.
Arizona began to show signs of life in the 2nd period and then caught on fire in the 3rd pulling to within one. A desperate scramble at the end to force overtime failed and Minnesota won by a score of 4 to 3.
“Eat it, Arizona!” crowed Tall Square as he mooned Arizona Mat.
“At least, I know how to putt!” Arizona Mat snapped back.
Tall Square’s face flushed red as he charged Arizona Mat. Arizona Mat dodged and scrambled over the wall to the ice. Slipping and sliding, he skid to a zamboni and yanked the driver from his perch. Taking control of the wheel, Arizona Mat slowly escaped from the arena. Not to be outdone, Tall Square slid to the other zamboni, politely asked the driver to get off as he cracked his knuckles by clenching his fist, and then continued to chase Arizona Mat.
I hailed a cab to return to Arizona Mat’s house and watched the two zambonis chase each other at 5 miles a hour into the night as I passed them.