Chapter 24: Take-out Menu

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The next morning, Rob charged up to Zev as he was saying good-bye to Greta at the town gate.

"Be careful," she said, tenderly smoothing the front of his tunic. "And come home soon."

Zev smiled. "I'll be back before you know it, babe."

"Hey," Rob said, tapping Zev's shoulder.

"Dude, cool it. We're having a moment here."

"Moment-schmoment. I need to talk to you."

Greta frowned. "You're being rude, doctor."

"I don't care."

"This can't wait five minutes?" Zev said.

"Never mind," Greta said, her voice cracking with emotion. "I should be on my way. Be careful?"

Zev kissed her smooth lips. "You told me that already."

"I must have meant it then. Farewell, Zev." Greta's sad face still managed a scowl for Rob. "Doctor."

After Greta had gone, Zev turned on Rob. "Dude, what's going on? You got a problem with us being together?"

"No, I have a problem with what I had for dinner last night." Rob could barely get the words out quickly enough. "There's a Chinese restaurant across from the cathedral. A Chinese restaurant! You said you were joking about that!"

"I was joking about the taco truck. I never said anything about the Chinese place. Although you'd think a town this size could support more than one ethnic joint."

"Zev! A Chinese restaurant! Zev!"

"Dude, why are you so surprised? They do a killer business after Sunday church services. Did you try their eggrolls?"

"Yes, I tried the eggrolls."

"How were they?"

"Fine, but—"

"Something missing, I know. Probably tough to get the right ingredients here. Still, nice atmosphere, decent food if you don't go too deep on the menu. I'll be kind and say three out of four stars."


Zev knelt down to retie the laces on his bright green soccer flats. "Look, I know what you're going to say. It's fucked up we've got a Chinese restaurant way out wherever the hell we are. But isn't it possible a Chinese family ended up here by chance?"

"No, it's not! And there certainly aren't any eggrolls in the fairy tales we keep seeing here. Something new is going on, and I'm worried we're responsible!"

His shoelaces secure, Zev hoisted a large bundle onto his back. "Rob-O, I know there's weird stuff, but I don't have an explanation for you. Right now, I've got to find those dwarf miners before the people depending on my run-down, hillbilly castle starve to death. That's weird enough for me right now."

"I don't think you understand the situation," Rob said.

"Probably not. But neither do you, so why worry? Maybe this is good."

"It's not good."

"Dude, ever since we found that can, you've been flipping out at the drop of a jockstrap."

"Something's wrong, Zev. I can feel it. Something's wrong!"

"Dude, I promise to help you figure it all out when I get back. Until then, you remember pistachios?"

"Of course I remember pistachios!" Rob said, still agitated.

"Okay, you know when you eat a bag of pistachios, the runty ones won't open unless you really crank on them, and if you do that you're spending more energy to open the damn things than you get back by eating the nut."

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