Nikola_Tesla_1984: Thanks for joining private room
Laneybird1: You going to kill me now or show me your weiner lol?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: My camera is covered with electrical tape! Otherwise I might ;) but not a murderer btw. So you got my attention. Is it true?
Laneybird1: Yep, George Viereck was my grampa. R U a skinhead or something?
Laneybird1: Grampa had a wall-sized Nazi flag in his basement and named his dog Rommel
Nikola_Tesla_1984: he was Nikola Tesla’s best friend, that’s why I care. Nazi = douche either way though
Nikola_Tesla_1984: What do u remember about him?
Laneybird1: Green pumpkin seeds
Laneybird1: And his dog
Laneybird1: The dog wasn’t a nazi lol
Laneybird1: His grandfather was Kaiser Wilhelm
Laneybird1: My grampa’s granpa, not the dog’s
Nikola_Tesla_1984: You’re shitting me
Laneybird1: I shit thee not. I’m a descendant of Queen Victoria
Laneybird1: So what’s the deal with Tesla? And my gramps?
Laneybird1: What’s your real name
Laneybird1: Do you read Orwell or are you just a baby?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Both :) but yes, born in 84. You?
Laneybird1: Laney and I’m too old for you!
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Age is just a number
Laneybird1: An important #
Laneybird1: Agree to disagree?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Agreed R U really in Queens too?
Laneybird1: Live in Minnesota, but I’m here for 5 days. You?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Near Ithaca, Finger Lakes. But I’m living with my sister in the city until I can find a new job.
Laneybird1: Finger Lakes? Ur from there?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: My brother Val has a winery. Our parents are from Alsace and moved us here as kids. Val wanted to bring Alsace with. He makes Riesling.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Indeed. Want a bottle? :)
Laneybird1: Maybe 2 !!
Nikola_Tesla_1984: The oldest wine in the world is underground in Strasbourg where my Mamama lives.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I’ll take you sometime?
Laneybird1: I wish! How old is it?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Checking Wikipedia
Laneybird1: That is old! Vinegar?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Mamama says she tried it, but probably not true! Only presidents get a taste
Laneybird1: So really, why Tesla? Why u interesterested in my dead family members?
Laneybird1: Sorry for typing
Nikola_Tesla_1984: What you said in the main room about Ceres
Nikola_Tesla_1984: about the salt
Laneybird1: R U still there?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: yes, had to pee
Nikola_Tesla_1984: You don’t pee?
Laneybird1: Whatev. It is salt though. On Ceres
Laneybird1: Don’t you think? What else could it be?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: They say the spots are the size of Las Vegas. Just sayin
Laneybird1: That’s ridic. Salt, Nick
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Did you really work on the launch of Dawn?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Or was that to lure me into a private room?
Laneybird1: I thought you were doing the luring
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Oh yeah, yur right
Nikola_Tesla_1984: but what did you do for Dawn?
Laneybird1: I was an accountant
Nikola_Tesla_1984: yawn no really
Laneybird1: Really. I did get project updates though. I was sort of in the loop
Laneybird1: U RA dork
Nikola_Tesla_1984 :I know, that’s why you love me.
Laneybird1: You move fast, kiddo
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Older women in science turn me on
Laneybird1: Even accountants?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: of course
Laneybird1: Why does everyone in that room believe Ceres is something else?> More than salt?
Laneybird1: On a dwarf planet?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Well, it is intriguing. The sports are so bright. Maybe it should mean something
Laneybird1: Maybe you just want it mean something
Laneybird1: We’ll find out in August next year
Laneybird1: When Dawn flies closer
Laneybird1: Been waiting since the launch in 07 for images
Nikola_Tesla_1984: want to watch together?
Laneybird1: Lol it’s not a show. Probably a silent time elapse video on you tube
Nikola_Tesla_1984: So I’ll bring popcorn?
Laneybird1: Seriously, tell me about yourself
Nikola_Tesla_1984: So I’m Nick. I’m 31.
Laneybird1: Already told me that!
Nikola_Tesla_1984: It was in case you can’t do math. What about you?
Laneybird1: I’m 39. Black hair, grey eyes. Short.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: You or your hair?
Laneybird1: Both. You?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I’m not a giant either. 5’9’’
Laneybird1: You beat me. :) 5’4”
Nikola_Tesla_1984: So what else?
Laneybird1: I live for pizza. Hate drinking milk
Nikola_Tesla_1984: so no mustache?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: what else?
Laneybird1:I don’t like drinking coffee from navy blue mugs
Nikola_Tesla_1984: You must get that from grandpa’s side
Nikola_Tesla_1984:You know, white supremacy
Laneybird1: Har de har har
Nikola_Tesla_1984: K, what else? Family?
Laneybird1: I have a twin sister
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Is she hot?
Laneybird1: i hope so, We’re identical
Laneybird1: My dad’s from Mexico and don’t have a mom, but she’s the side you’re interested in.
Laneybird1: Her dad was Tesla’s buddy
Nikola_Tesla_1984: No mom, but have a mom?
Laneybird1: She left, not just us, but everyone. Left the nazi too.
Laneybird1: I don’t know her, but knew her dad. He made good pancakes. My own dad married a dude.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: So two dads?
Laneybird1: 2’s better than one! One’s my step dad. They live in Mexico though.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Do you visit?
Laneybird1: They come here. I’ve never left the country.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Really? Maybe I’ll take you somewhere :)
Laneybird1: To France? That’s where Alsace is right?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Oui! I’ve been there twice, but it’s hard if you don’t speak German.
Laneybird1: You mean French
Nikola_Tesla_1984: In Paris, in Strasbourg, yes. But my relatives are in a weird village and they only speak Alsatian.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: It’s kind of like Swiss German I guess.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I also went on an art school trip to Paris
Laneybird1: Of course you went to art school
Nikola_Tesla_1984:I ended up dropping out. The trip to paris was the best part of the program
Laneybird1: I think you have to be a dropout to be a real artist lol! So did you see anything life-changing as a blooming
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Giverny, Cluny, Rodin, Louvre
Laneybird1: Did the Mona Lisa look at you?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Just smiled. She’s littler than you’d think.
Laneybird1: What’s Cluny? George’s gallery :) ?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: They have la Dame à la licorne
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Lady and the unicorn. It’s mideivel
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Medieval (had to spellcheck that one) tapestries.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: They’re tapestries of the 5 senses, but what’s cool is all that’s going on around the subjects. they don’t seem to notice everything in the air around them.
Laneybird1: Sounds trippy
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Yep. I loved it
Nikola_Tesla_1984: U’d probably like Rodin though.
Laneybird1: And how do u know?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Cuz you’re female! His museum is a house with a garden.Lovers come right out of rocks there, they come into being together, entwined.
Laneybird1: This is me blushing!
Laneybird1: sculptures are so eerie to me. They capture a moment, but they could also capture a moment that hasn’t been.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Well, life inspires art, but art inspires life
Nikola_Tesla_1984: or so they say
Laneybird1: THat’s imagination, right? Art influences life? Maybe the artist creating it makes it true somehow.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: That’s what I thought, but then I saw this little old woman. at Rodin. It was so raw, so painful to look at her. She couldn’t have been more than a foot high.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: La misere, it was calledt. Miss Misery.
Laneybird1: Ok, i assume you’re talking about a sculpture, not a real lady?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: That’s the thing! All I could do was hope she was imagined, that she wasn’t real. But how could the detail be there? She was bent over so u could see th pain Even her spine was sad.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: But how could he make her so real? he had to know someone suffering that much. And if he really imagined it, then wasn’t he creating suffering by putting her into being?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Sorry, I’m crreeping you out
Laneybird1: no, just thinking…
Laneybird1: Maybe the statue suffered so she didn’t have to. So the idea of her could be there without the misery. Maybe Rodin’s a kind of savior :)
Nikola_Tesla_1984: maybe! but It wasn’t even Rodin, I guess it was a friend of his who made it.
Laneybird1: So we’re agreed that you’re taking me to Paris then?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: How about we start small. Queens. Or a bit beyond. I can take you to Wardenclyffe
Nikola_Tesla_1984: On Long Island. It’s where Tesla built his tower.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Wardenclyffe Tower = free energy for all
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I’m sure you can see why it didn’t work!
Laneybird1: So it’s still there?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Tower = No, But the energy is. Want to come?
Laneybird1: Are you nuts?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Yes, let’s go on a field trip. Something better to do?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Want to come?
Laneybird1: Actually I do!
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Really? Or???
Laneybird1: Really. Or let’s talk anyway. I think i need to talk 2 you. 612-293-5803
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I’ll call u
Nikola_Tesla_1984: That was weird Laney
Laneybird1: I know
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I could hear you smiling
Laneybird1: Still smiling.
Laneybird1: I’ve never told anyone that before
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I’ll take it to my grave.
Laneybird1: Not anytime soon please, we haven’t met yet!
Nikola_Tesla_1984: So do you want to?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: I feel like I know you
Laneybird1: Me too
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Really know you though. It’s weird.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Are you hungry? I know a good noodle place.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Still there?
Laneybird1: Still here. I do know you, Nick. I don’t know how, but I know you. I think I’ve been looking for you.
Laneybird1: There’s a huge Hindu temple across the street from me. I can see it through my window.
Laneybird1: Think about it
Laneybird1: There’s even a statue there! A guy with tons of arms and crazy hair. Right outside my window
Nikola_Tesla_1984: If it’s a Hindu temple, that’s Shiva. I hear he’s a good dancer
Nikola_Tesla_1984: so think we’re reincarnated or something? my aunt used to call me an old soul
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Someone who’s already died a thousand deaths.
Nikola_Tesla_1984: think we met in another life?
Laneybird1: I don’t know
Laneybird1: Just will be glad to meet you
Nikola_Tesla_1984: so noodles?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Lamian Ping in an hour?
Laneybird1: Checking where that is from here
Laneybird1: 45 minutes
Laneybird1: You didn’t tell me what u look like
Laneybird1: You didn’t tell me what you look like
Laneybird1: Did you leave yet?
Nikola_Tesla_1984: Remember, You’ll know me
Laney has the address for Lamian Ping. It’s only a 20 minute walk from the Hindu temple, a building with an out-of-place ornateness in Flushing, Queens. A disheveled man is ripping open a package of tube socks on the sidewalk in front of the temple. “Cheaper than laundry, Sugar,” he says as Laney steps past him. There’s something about he pronounces the last word “shoe-ga” with such musicality that it makes her turn around and look into the man’s jaundiced eyes. She feels a pang of regret as he sends her a yellow wink and proceeds to change his socks.
The restaurant is in a sprawling food court below street level and Laney takes an escalator into a teeming chatter that smells like everything she’s ever inhaled all at once. She scans the signs, but can’t read the red and black characters.
拉 面 平
Under the sign is a beautiful woman with dark hair so long that it reaches below the cuffs of her white shorts. She’s pulling and twisting and punching a blob of dough on a metal counter. Her nametag says Nancy.
Nancy’s thin arms spread straight out like wings and Laney can see the dough become strings. Her hands work quickly and the movements can’t be isolated, but suddenly there are four ropes, then eight. Nancy steps away from the counter and folds the noodles into a steaming pot. As she separates from the counter, Laney notices her lower half. Nancy’s short white shorts reveal two long, thin legs, one of flesh and one of carved wood. Laney makes no effort not to stare as her eyes trace the viny, floral pattern woodburned into the leg from the cuff of her shorts down to her delicate wooden ankle tucked into a canvas shoe. The leg is meant to be a thing of beauty more than function, but Nancy moves with more grace than expected from behind the counter to where Laney is standing. She picks up a menu with the same coded characters as the room around her and motions to a Formica table with two chairs.
“I’m waiting for someone,” says Laney, but she can tell by the woman’s non-reaction that she doesn’t understand. Nancy stays next to the table and places the menu that must have been laminated years prior into Laney’s hands. She can’t decipher the characters and the pictures are nearly hidden behind the film of a thousand fingerprints. “I’ll just…thank you.” But Nancy stays, waiting for a command Laney can’t possibly give.
She wants to wait for Nick. To see if he looks how she imagines and to ask if he, too, will skip the beef today. Nick will know what to order here, must know what to say. But for now, all the greyed-over bowls on the page look the same. She wants more than anything for Nancy to go back to her post so she can watch the mesmerizing noodles again as she waits for her date to come down the escalator. But Nancy grabs her hand and a spark travels up her arm as she moves Laney’s finger down the page. She stops at an indiscernible bowl and looks to Laney for agreement. Laney sees the outline of a hand-drawn carrot, the nearly ubiquitous symbol for a vegetarian dish, and squeezes Nancy’s hand to confirm. The pressure of the clasp is returned by the waitress, a silent I am here.
Nancy is still hovering over Laney when a shout comes from behind the counter. “Ping!” followed by a string of mounting and descending words in quick succession by a mustachioed superior wearing a dirty apron. Nancy gives a quick grin and releases her hand, then turns back to the open kitchen. Laney feels her eyes travel along the groove in her leg, twisting and bending along the woodburned motif, wishing she could run her fingers along the tendrils and feel their texture. Soon Nancy is back to pounding and stretching, twisting the dough until it folds in on itself. But as she pulls her arms back out, Laney see the separate strings again and she can’t take her eyes off the culinary display.
She doesn’t know how much times has passed. She has slurped through the solid contents of the savory soup by battling with chopsticks decorated in patterns that quite resemble Nancy’s leg. She looks left and right before bringing the bowl to her lips to sip the umami concerto that lingers on the bottom. Accepting that her luck in a chat room was too good to be true, Laney pays at the counter and concedes that Nick is not coming. She nods in Nancy’s direction and rides the escalator back to the surface.
She has to leave New York in less than a week and return to the autumn leaves of Minnesota. Fragments of plans she’s already started sketching swirl around her head, plans that now seem too Nick-heavy to be reasonable. Laney finds herself walking, knowing not where she’s headed as long as it’s nowhere she’s been. She walks for what must be half an hour to a vast park, willing the disappointment out of her body with each step forward. The red-green of the trees seems to breathe her in and exhale her onto a paved clearing. Up and overhead is a tired metal globe, surrounded by fountains; she’s seen this somewhere before. It must be from the World’s Fair. Flushing, 1965. Her grandfather would have been here. Maybe Nick would have come for him. The metal on the globe no longer gleams, but still holds the hopes and dreams of decades past within its matte-grey sphere.
Surrounding the fountain is a temporary exhibition of sculptures, a group of stationary figures that seem discordant in their variety. It seems fitting to end up here after the morning’s otherworldly exchange. Laney has almost made a full circle and stops at the last statue. Someone has left a paper coffee cup at the base, with its steamy contents curling up to the metal above it. It’s a statue of a gigantesque woman with a perfect metal ball of hair coming out the back of her head. She wears a long coat and her face is smooth and kind. She’s holding someone up, someone smaller, an old woman crumpled in pain. Even cast in unyielding metal it looks like the large woman is in motion, infinitely catching the other from free-fall and holding her tight. Laney senses the suspended potential energy of the woman dropping to the floor as she studies the sculpture. A commotion off to her right turns her head.
Two men burst from the trees, chasing after something black. Somehow the scene is happening too fast and Laney can’t place what’s going on. There’s a bull with ruffled fur that makes it looks like a stuffed animal found in a consignment shop. The animal’s labored, swinging gait shows that the chase has been long. It likely started with an exhilarating liberation, but three tranquilizer darts prove the end is near for the bovine.
The bull’s hooves are not accustomed to the concrete of Queens and are a constant reminder that the animal is far from home. It collapses in front of the globe and one of the men runs over, laughing. “He wanted to see the Unisphere!” he says and walks toward the heaving animal. A small crowd has gathered. “Thanks for your help, man. I’m sorry that took longer than expected. And this is the third one to escape this year! I’m telling the boss we need a better gate.” He walks over to the other man, now panting like the bull as he recovers from an unplanned chase and offers his hand. “You’d better get to that appointment, buddy.”
The men shake hands and the sweatier of the two walks over to the bull, noticing Laney as she looks on, horrified. “This happens more than you might think, Miss.”
Laney asks if the bull is going back to the slaughterhouse.
“A sanctuary will probably take him. Look, he got out, right? We’re not bringing him back. He just needs to go somewhere else. Can’t have a bull wandering around the streets of Queens.” His face is a bit squinty and his head drips with sweat, but he’s handsome. So much so that she has difficulty meeting his eyes. When she finally does, her heart pounds ferociously, threatening to crack her ribs. She sees something dark and fast rising up behind the man, but she can’t look away from his dark regard. The bull is standing, pushing, trampling. The man’s body is shoved against the base of the statue and a dark spot appears on his shirt where a horn or hoof must have gone through. His eyes lock back to Laney’s as his chest now makes small quick movements up and down. He opens his mouth as his body lay leaking, trying to speak, but no words come out as a hot tear slips out of Laney’s eye. Instead the air is speaking directly to her, a whisper carried by the coming winter to pronounce two words from beyond the realm of anything she knows. She looks to the dying man and smiles.
“You were right. I do know you, Nick.”