Her hair was auburn and her lips were grey. She, as always, looked not as a professional, but the profession itself. The room was painted in a blue that would get old in a couple of years. The chairs, while comfy, were clearly IKEA specials.
"I told you, I don't want to talk about it!", I exclaimed in reply, my eyes darting about the room revealing my uncomfortability.
"You've been seeing me for months and we're getting nowhere. I need to know what happened.", she spoke, still as glass.
"I... ", I almost choked. "I don't have any serious problems." She looked at me with a tilt of confusion.
"I came here because I like you. Like, I mean, I really like you."
She counted the pages in her hand. "Are you saying that you spent two, thousand dollars to get to know me?"
"Maybe you do need professional help, after all.", she said with a rare smile. I smiled back a bit more deeply than hers.
"Would.. you like to join me for dinner, this Thursday night?"
She moved her eyes away to the corner of the room, as if she had something to process.
"Yes. But I'll pay. It'd be ridiculous for you to spend another dime on me."
I smiled with excitement. We sorted out the details and I hugged her deeply in reply. She kissed my cheek.
It was a brisk evening. 7PM at a bit more than casual restaraunt off El Camino. Despite the weather, the gas heaters would make it a pleasant evening. I almost walked inside to inform the restaraunt of our reservation. My hand on the door handle, a voice came as a surprise. "Excuse me." Puzzled, I stayed still. "I believe you have a reservation over here." I turned and sat down at the open chair. I normally was one to question, but somehow that seemed not in my best interest.
I took control of my eyes and face and tried to align them so they would show no emotion. I wasn't afraid, but nervous... definitely nervous. "And what can I do for you, gentlemen?"
The three looked at eachother. The one in the brown suit spoke first. "It took us a while, but we've finally figured out who's the biggest insurance fraudster in Palo Alto." I raised my eyebrow. "Is that so?"
The chubby one off to the left spoke up. "We know who you're here to see."
I cringed. "Look, maybe what I did was wrong. It doesn't involve you! I paid out of pocket."
"With whom?", the brown suitted man spoke.
I scanned the three's eyes. "Alyssa, my psychiatrist. Obviously."
The one furthest wrote in his notepad. "Well, isn't that interesting?", he said, trying to fit in with the other two.
"We're not here about the psychiatrist. We're here about the eleven houses you've had destroyed by "tenants", in the past year."
I cleared my throat. "Excuse me?"
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and jumped as much as one could while sitting. I turned around as she did until I could see her. Her smile turned from one of a laugh into one of concern. "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there.", I said.
She looked around the table and spoke at me, in a voice with a hint of condemnation. "What is going on!?"
I shrugged. Before I came up with an answer, brown-suit spoke. "And who are you?"
She furrowed her eyebrows. "I am Mister Thomas' psych---", she cleared her throat. "Date."
I looked around, completely confused. The one at the back spoke. "Mister Thomas? Ma'am, this man is William Cassidy and he's in serious trouble."
I looked at her, unable to give an explanation. The one on the left spoke. "You may need to find another date tonight."
She bent over and looked right near me. "You lying moron! You had me played that whole time! I know you now, you're just acting like you always did!", she stormed off and the table fell quiet.
I finally showed a deep strain of sadness. "Don't feel bad for this, liars can't keep it up for long." Another one of them smiled. "Crimes like this don't take long to get out of your system. You'll be out in a couple of years, tops."
The three of them looked away from me, off into the distance. "What??", the tone more shocked than confused.
A man stepped forward to the table. "Could you explain what you are doing with my brother?", he spoke. I turned to look at him after the first word.
"It's been a long time", I said neutrally. My brother appeared he was accepting fate and offered to trade spots with me. I obliged.
"You don't want to know what I've gotten myself into.", he said with a smile. "The good thing is I'll have two years of free rent a lot of money waiting for me after it all.
The three men raised their eyebrows and nodded. Finally, the one on the left spoke. "You're free to go. I'm sorry for the confusion."
I left and debated giving the stooges the finger while I walked towards my car.
A week went by and Alyssa would not hear it. In person, over the phone, email. No luck at all. She would never trust me again.
I pulled the goggles off. I'd spent the past two weeks running virtual reality simulations of my crush, trying to see how it would pan out. It never did, I couldn't even make it to the first date. All of this technology, all of the scripts. All of the data mining on her... nothing.
I guess I'll just go old-school and try Craiglist.