In hindsight, it would have been better if I had simply checked into a hotel instead of having the cab driver return me to Arizona Mat’s house. Arizona Mat’s house has an excellent alarm system and he has the only key. I curled myself up by the front door and settled in for a wretched night’s sleep.
I blinked as the rays of the morning sun woke me the next day. I yawned and mightily stretched a crick out of my back. I heard the roar of the zambonis as they finally pulled up to Arizona Mat’s house. Arizona Mat and Tall Square were beyond exhausted and both slowly got off the zambonis, limply punching each other in the shoulder. I reached into Arizona Mat’s backpack and pulled out his keys. I guided the weary frenemies into the house and let Tall Square fall in the doorway. I proceeded to walk Arizona Mat to the alarm system, and maneuvered his finger to the numbers he pointed towards. Then I let him collapse to the floor.
Today I saw something that I do not ordinarily see in Arizona. . .rain. And not a gentle rainfall, but a full blown ripping storm. There wasn’t much to do in the weather, so I spent the day inside with Arizona Mat and Tall Square who still weren’t speaking so I could enjoy some peace and quiet.
Around 1pm, Arizona Mat suddenly offered his hand to Tall Square and apologized for being such a drip. To make it up to him, he offered him a free sandwich from Ike’s Love & Sandwiches and said he’d take us to the movies. Tall Square, justifiably, was wary, but accepted the proffered handshake. I sensed something was awry and decided to just observe.
So we went to Ike’s and it was probably the best sandwich I had ever eaten. Hostilities seemed to be soothed and we went to watch Boruto, the final chapter to a long running anime series called Naruto. It was an excellent film. Things continued to remain calm between Tall Square and Arizona Mat and we spent the rest of the evening puttering around.
I remained suspicious of Arizona Mat’s kindness towards Tall Square the next day, especially after I saw Arizona Mat leaving the office which I was using as bedroom, giggling to himself. He announced that he was treating us to lunch at Osaka, a teppanyaki and sushi restaurant. Arizona Mat ordered the sushi boat which came with a large variety of delicacies and a dragon roll and a crunchy roll.
It was a delicious meal and Arizona Mat said he had a special treat for Tall Square. The waiter brought out what Arizona Mat called a kanboo roll. I raised an eyebrow as I was familiar with sushi types, but had never heard of a kanboo roll. Arizona Mat offered Tall Square the roll, a sinister smirk on his face, and Tall Square wolfed it down.
A few minutes later, Tall Square started to look a bit befuddled.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yes, except for one thing. Do I know you two gentlemen?”
“I think we need to get him to a hospital,” I said.
“No, he’s OK,” said Arizona Mat, a smarmy grin on his face.
“What exactly is a kanboo roll?” I asked.
“It’s Japanese for amnesia. Yet another brilliant invention from Carolyn for stopping potential threats to my glorious personage.”
“Has it ever been tested?”
“Yes, just now.”
I heaved a mighty sigh as Tall Square regressed to his 21st birthday. Arizona Mat led Tall Square to the car and drove us to the airport. He had purchased the first available ticket and we led Tall Square the gates. Tall Square had continued to regress as he forgot more and more details of his life. By the time we were nearing the gates, Tall Square was now about 5, skipping around singing, A Tisket, A Tasket. We got permission to assist Tall Square to his departure gate and left him on a chair, a zen-like grin on his face. I think he had regressed to the womb. We then left him to his own devices.
Farewell, Tall Square.
“Now we can have some real fun,” said Arizona Mat, gleefully rubbing his hands together.
Arizona Mat failed to elaborate until we reached his home. On his doorstep was waiting a giant box.
“Oh, boy! She’s here!” said Arizona Mat.
Arizona Mat ripped open the box which held a pet carrying case. Opening the door, a friendly golden retriever mix leaped out and began licking Arizona Mat.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“This is Jojo, my new sidekick. She’s infinitely more loyal and has ten times the brains that Tall Square ever did,” replied Arizona Mat. “Who loves you, sweetie?” he asked, as he rubbed her belly.
Arizona Mat announced that we would be heading to Tucson the next day to have a bit of fun. We began the trip with a visit to Old Tucson Studios. This is still an active studio and many classic western films and TV series have been filmed here. I thought the entrance fee of $18 was very overpriced. You’d be hard pressed to make a day out of this place unless you were gung ho about seeing all of the little shows and events that would take place during the day.
Still it was an enjoyable visit, especially for a film buff like myself. I watched auditions for new saloon girls as well as an old fashioned western gunfight and fistfight in a little sketch about a botched robbery. The most entertaining moment came when Arizona Mat decided to ignore the “Don’t get too close to the animals” sign and was poked by a bull. It was just a glancing blow, but enough to send Arizona Mat into a faint. I made some extra money by posing Arizona Mat as a horse thief corpse and charging 25 cents per picture.
When Arizona Mat regained consciousness, he drove us to our hotel, The Doubletree, which was a rather nice oasis. After settling Jojo into the room and getting an icepack for Arizona Mat’s injury, we proceeded to Dakota’s Bar and Grill. Arizona Mat ate an avocado BLT and I munched on a jalapeno bacon chili cheeseburger.
Once we had filled our cavities, we proceeded to Golf N Stuff, a pretty decent miniature golf course. It was a much closer contest than our last battle. It was close until the final few holes, where Arizona Mat finally managed to build an advantage that I could not overcome. When that ended, we returned to the hotel where I read and Arizona Mat watched football.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the Cactus Rose, one of two restaurants at the Doubletree. I enjoyed a breakfast quesadilla that had chiles, onions, cheese, eggs, and sausage with a side of breakfast potatoes while Arizona Mat ate a Quick Start that had sausage, eggs, sourdough toast, and breakfast potatoes.
During our meal, Arizona Mat said we would be heading to the Chiricahua Mountains where we would be doing a 5 mile hike. I was looking forward to it as I have been preparing myself for a climb up Mt Fuji in August 2016 and thought this would be a good test of my fitness level.
It was a lovely hike. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was just right. I was proud to say that I handled the hike very well. It was a good first step on my journey to climb Mt Fuji. Jojo proved to be a real trooper as she bounded about. Arizona Mat introduced me to an interesting device called a camel pack which holds 3 liters of water. Drinking from it is quite easy and much handier than carrying a thermos. I’m going to have to get one for myself before climbing Mt Fuji.
At the end of the hike, we hopped back into the car and began the 4 hour journey back to Phoenix. We had a supper at Simi’s Café, an Asian cuisine eatery. Arizona Mat had Pho and orange chicken while I had a garlic chicken stir fry.
Towards the end of the meal, Arizona Mat began to look a little befuddled.
“Are you OK, Arizona?” I asked, a smirk slowly forming on my lips.
“Do I know you, sir?”
“Yes!” I crowed.
I should probably explain. When I saw Arizona Mat use the kanboo roll on Tall Square, I saw my chance to rid myself of this pest once and for all. I managed to find some more of it in “Carolyn’s” office. I ground it to a fine powder and waited for my chance. When Arizona Mat was briefly distracted as he forked a piece of chicken, I used the sleight of hand which served me so well when I cheated Arizona Mat in poker several years ago.
I left Arizona Mat at the table where he had curled into a fetal position and was gently sucking his thumb. I ran into the night and shouted, “Free! Free at last!!” I ran to the car, removed my luggage which I had placed inside before we left, and hailed a cab.
As I was driven to the airport, I sunk into the seat, a big smile on my face as I knew the Arizona Chronicles had finally come to an end at last.