Ok. I'm letting ya'll know, theres no way in anything I'll be winning nano... but I'm gonna see if I can get anywhere near the 20kish words I need by midnight...
And.. I apologise now for how horrid it's gonna get. Chapter 11 is pretty awful.. I"m hoping the next 5 chapters are readable. (there will be continuity and other errors. I really do apologise now :) )
Without further ado... Chapter 11.
Mike and Sukie emerged from the other room minutes later. Mike was equipped with his portable camera, and a knapsack full of necessities he'd require during his nights filming. Sukie checked out her image in the large mirror on the wall of the main room. She straightened her dress, and then turned to the old man.
"So, how do I look?" she asked as she spun around. The old man whistled and nodded his approval. "You look great!" he said as he stood when she approached the table.
"Okay kids, we've got a teency bit of a walk ahead of us before we get to the center- we probably should get going so we can film all the what nots on the way there." said Mike as he made his way to the door. He stood at the doorjamb looking at the two like a puppy wanting to be let out.
The trio made their way outside, and the old man offered his arm to Sukie. Gently placing her hand on his arm, they walked down the block as the sun set to their left. Mike followed behind them filming the scenery as they made their way across the street. From a distance, he filmed the Rose Center for Earth and Space come into view like a giant ice cube sitting in the middle of the park.
The old man looked at Sukie as they saw the building. "Jeez louise! It looks like those crazy ice cubes Martha used to make, you know, with the cherries inside of them, for the punch bowl!" he exclaimed as they walked closer to the building. Mike had caught up, and was filming their reactions to the buildings. "You know," started the old man. "Years ago, the planetarium was here, but it wasn't anywhere as spectactular as this is now. The museum, though, it was always here as far as I know." he shrugged. "You know that book, 'Catcher in the Rye'?" Sukie nodded. "The main character walks around the building, and describes it to a tee. I'm pretty sure it's still the same way inside. It never changes. Though, Holden Caulfield, you know, the main character, he never goes inside. Great book, you know?"
As they approached the glass doors, the old man held it open as Sukie entered, and then followed her. They made their way to the ticket counter. The young woman behind the counter smiled as she greeted her, and then handed her a prepared packet of tickets, as well as approved press badges for the three. Sukie thanked her heartily, then passed out the badges. The trio clipped them onto their clothes as they walked around the main floor. Various exhibits littered the floor, but the main showpiece was the nearly spherical planetarium set nearly in the center of the room. The old man looked at it in awe, murmuring, "Yep, just like those crazy ice cubes." as he shook his head and laughed.
Slowly he made his way around the room as he read all the exhibit placards. He walked a complete lap, and ended up at the large asteroid, and marveled at its size. He passed his camera to Sukie, and had her take a photo of him hugging the asteroid.
"Hey, Sukie, not to be a brat, but can I ask a favor?" asked the old man.
"Sure, what can I do for you?" she asked.
"Mind hanging onto my camera? I have a feeling there will be a ton of good photo opportunities here tonight."
"Of course I don't mind- and it'll give me something to do when you're schmoozing."
"Schmoozing. I don't know if I'd identify myself as a schmoozer. I might kibitz a bit, but I don't really know about schmoozing." he said, laughing.
"Ok, go have fun, I'm going to to hang out with Mike, you go have the time of your life!" she said as she shooed him to go check out the room. The old man made another lap of the room, knowing that Mike and Sukie were following him from a reasonably respectful distance. After a few minutes of marveling at the asteroid again, a man behind him said, "You know, it really is pretty amazing." Without turning the old man sighed and leaned against the railing surrounding the asteroid. "Yeah, you know, it really is. I always wished I could be an astronaut when I was a kid." The man moved next to him moved and leaned into the railing as well. "Me too. Never quite got around to it, but I studied all about it a lot."
The old man turned and looked at the man, and was taken aback to see that it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson. "Mr. Tyson, it is truly an honor to meet you!" he said as he stood up a little straighter and stuck out his hand to shake. The two men shook hands and spoke for a few minutes before an aide walked up and whispered into Neil's ear.
"Alright then, Jim, it's almost time to get this show on the road, so I'll see you inside!"
"Oh wait, before you go," started the old man, as he waved Sukie over to him. "Can I take a picture with you? My kids will get such a kick out of this!" Neil laughed and stood next to the old man. Sukie snapped the picture and then flashed a thumbs up. "Ok, Neil! Break a leg!" he said to Neil, before he walked up into the planetarium.
"Sukie! that was Neil Tyson! The Neil Tyson! Oh wow. I never thought he'd just come and talk to me. Did you have any part in that?" he asked her as he shook his finger at her jestingly.
"Honestly. No, he just meandered over here, and it looked like he took an interest in you."
"Wow. What an honor!" the old man laughed. "Look at me, I'm like a schoolgirl gushing over her idol." they laughed for a moment before they heard the sound of bells chiming, inviting them inside to their seats.
The old man made his way up the spiraling path to the entrance to the planetarium. He passed through the door and saw the darkened theater with wide eyes. He looked around for a moment before taking one of the seats in the first row. Sukie and Mike took seats about half way around the theater in the back row so they would have a great view of the old man.
After a few more moments, the crowd all got to their seats and settled down. The panel of men and women came in next and sat in the center of the room. Neil came in next and sat in the vacant seat in the middle of the group, as he would serve as moderator. The debate was spirited and lively, and the old man hung onto every word. It only felt like mere minutes has passed before they announced intermission.
The old man stood and stretched for a few seconds before he headed over to Mike and Sukie. "What fun this is!" he said to them, while looking around the round room. "Thank you guys for making this happen" he said to Sukie. The sound of the bells ringing brought the old man out of his fan boy haze long enough for him to get back to his seat.
The debate continued, and the old man was moved by many of the arguments presented. He knew he had plenty of food for thought from his evenings entertainment, but as the event came to a close, his mind went from food for thought to just food, as he was famished.
The trio reassembled in the lobby area and they all had the thought of dinner on their minds. The old man glanced at his watch and saw that it was already half past eight. Together they decided to start walking down the block to the restaurant. During the walk down, mike and the old man were chatting about the debate they had seen, and how fascinating it really was. The two men felt as if they had learned. a whole lot if new information, and both knew that what they had learned was only scratching the surface of what there was to know.
They arrived at the restaurant after the brisk but short walk. They introduced themselves to the hostess who guided them to the bar while their table was prepared. They made themselves comfortable as they watched the crowd around them. A young man impeccably dressed in a bright blue shirt came over and took their drink orders. Mike ordered a martini, Sukie a glass of white wine, and the old man a daiquiri. "Like Hemingway?" asked the waiter with a smile.
"That would be the very one," he replied. The waiter wrote their order on a little pad of paper and walked over to the bar. The trio looked around, marveling at the scenery. The outside of the restaurant seemed tiny, and the inside was small, make no doubt of it, but the furniture was well placed to make efficient use of the space. Their drinks arrived but a minute later. The old man had a sip, and declared it to be perfect.
The trio sat and chatted about their day so far. Neil was the recurring topic of their conversation. After a few minutes of conversation, Sukie's eyes lit up. "I just realized who Neil is!" The two men cocked their heads to the side and looked at her. "He's the guy who got Pluto demoted? Right?" she asked, looking triumphant in her recall.
"Kinda sorta." Said Mike.
The old man nodded and replied, "It's a long story, he didn't go and say, 'Pluto, be a planet no more!'."
Mike and the old man started talking about the whole story of how Pluto was reclassified, and the topic was of the perfect length to tide them over through their first cocktail, and straight through until the hostess walked over and said, "Alrighty then, your table is ready. I hope you don't mind, it's out in the walled garden."
"Oh, no, that's fine," said the old man.
"Yes, Mr. Wong called earlier, and specifically for it," started the Hostess as she led them out the back of the restaurant. "He comes here often, and it's his favorite place to sit." She opened the door at the back, which was next to the open kitchen. A fantastically landscaped but rather small garden sat behind the building, with four wrought iron tables, delicately draped with fine linens, with chairs that had small but elegant cushions standing at the ready. They were set on a small paved patch towards the front of the space, and small trees lined the walls, and clusters of fragrant herb bushes sat in patches towards the back of the garden. Above them, a set of beams held squash and grape vines, the leaves serving as a roof of sorts, but further back, they could see the inky blackness of the sky. For being in the middle of the city, this served as a sort of oasis that one could learn to crave within the concrete jungle outside. "Oh, by the way." said the hostess as they sat at their table. "I also want to tell you folks that usually we don't allow it, but for you, we'll make an exception, you can film in here all you need to. We'll be pleased as punch to see what comes out of it."
"Pleased as Punch?" said the old man. "You don't hear that too often."
"Well," she said, as she blushed slightly, "I guess I picked up the phrase in college, but I think punch is a rather pleasing thing, don't you think?"
"I have to agree with you, miss. Thank you!" said the old man, as she handed out the menus. She placed a wine list on the table. Before he looked at the Menu, Mike whipped a small tripod out of his bag, and set the camera up to take a clear set of shots from the table. He sat down, and put a small remote control onto the table. "Well,I'm not going to film all of dinner. It'd be too much. I figure we'll only hit the high points or something." said Mike, with Sukie nodding her head in agreement. The old man just shrugged, as he read over the menu.
The menu options were fairly limited, but there was a great amount of diversity within it. After a few minutes of reading through, the old man decided on his appetizer and main course. He closed his menu then placed it down flat on the table. A few seconds later, Mike and Sukie followed suit.
After a few more minutes of small talk, a waitress came over to the trio and took their orders, writing it down on her little pad. She walked over to a computer terminal in the corner and pressed buttons on the screen. "Computers everywhere!" remarked the old man. "Years ago, they'd take a carbon copy and pass it to the guy cooking in the back. Now, tap tap tap, no bad handwriting to decipher. I guess it's an improvement but still, it's just still so modern."
Their meals came soon after, and they fell silent for a few moments while they enjoyed their meals. "This is so good!" marveled Mike as he relished his pork chop. Sukie nodded as she chewed her chicken. The old man was clearly enjoying his steak. "At home, I never have steak. It's just too much or a hassle, but it really is my favorite whenever I go out."
The trio ate their meals, discussing the topics of the lecture from earlier. The demotion of Pluto from a planet piqued some spirited debate at the table. "It was my favorite planet, you know?" said Mike wistfully.
"At least Neil did apologize about it publicly," said the old man.
"Yeah. But it was on a television show." responded Mike.
"Still, you know, it's still an apology. I'll take it." said the old man. Sukie shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes at the two men. "Boys, boys. Men! Okay, enough nerd talk!" she said, waving her fork at the the old man and Mike.
"So, then, Susan, dearest," began Mike, batting his eyelashes as he attempted to ooze charm in Sukie's general direction. "So, in your opinion, which we will indeed listen to and attempt, at most likely great personal expense, we will most likely go along with, what would you like to talk about?"
Sukie rolled her eyes yet again, as the old man sat back and laughed at this interchange. "Well, we've got places to be, things to do?"
The old man giggled as he interrupted, "Well, that's better than people to do and things to be."
The looks on Sukie and Mike's faces were priceless. Mike offered the old man a high five while Sukie just shook her head and laughed. "Ok, boys," she said as she rolled her eyes and stifled a laugh. "Apparantly, age just is a number, not a disposition."
"Hey- we resemble that remark!" said the old man, gesturing to himself and Mike.
"Okay, we'll be serious for you Sukie," Mike said, the old man nodding in agreement. "But, only for a few minutes."
"Well, tomorrow, I figured we'd take a walking tour of the city, check it out, we already have our list of things to do, and places to be." Mike and the old man giggled again at the statement. Sukie just ignored them as she continued along. "I figure, we'll hit as many of your New York related points tonight."
"There's no way we can finish the list, its the wrong time of the year," said the old man, as he pulled the original list out of his pocket. He pointed to an item about midway down the sheet of paper. It read: "Watch the ball drop in times square at midnight on new years eve".
"Well, if we keep moving, we can probably use that as an end point this year, it's still 9 months away."
"But that'll really intensify our pace, I mean, we'll be running all over the place." said the old man, looking thoughtfully into the distance, before continuing. "Do you guys think you'll be up to it?" he asked, seriously looking at Sukie and Mike.
Sukie shook her head at the old man in disbelief, "I thought broaching this topic would be a whole heck of a lot harder. Mike and I were talking about it earlier." Mike shook his head affirmatively as he chewed. "We're in if you're in."
"Oh hell yes!" exclaimed the old man. "Lets figure this out over dinner, and then, tonight, lets have some fun!" The trio animatedly discussed their sped up schedule. This seemed to the old man to be what seemed to be his wildest fantasy- an adventure, every day something new, a fast paced adventure, like a fantasy lifestyle.
As they finished their meals, they had a new list drawn up on the table. They would be streaking across the world now attempting a speed run of the remainder of the goals on the list. Sukie was assigned the old man's still camera. Mike would do his darnedest to capture as much as possible on the video camera. Mike and Sukie decided to text Ronin and let him know about their plans to push along a little faster. Nearly instantly, Ronin reponded with a text, as Sukie said, "Ronin, he's near impossible to get on the phone, but if you text him, you can get him day or night. I swear, I think he's connected to his crackberry in a rather immoral way. The trio at the table smiled, then Sukie read the text.
"Idea is impressive. Consider yourselves all stars. Sending you another camera man soon, please keep him behind the camera, 4 is a crowd, keep me appraised on your status."
"Wow. Looks like we now have a silent filming partner." said Mike, shaking his head in approval. "This'll make it easier to do a whole lot of things." Mike and Sukie looked very pleased as they ordered a round of champagne.
They raised their glasses, and The old man, well, he was ready to go ahead and have the time of his life. They toasted their new decision and their new plan with a glass of champagne over dessert. "To insanity!" toasted the old man as they clinked their glasses.
They sat and joked as they paid their bill and left a handsome tip. They had decided to go return to the hotel room and hang out a bit, so they could have an early start in the morning. Together, they walked to the hotel, arm in arm.