“Hey,” Ernie murmurs, noticing I’m still awake.
I roll onto my back. “Huh?”
“How come you’re not naked?”
“Why would I be?”
The light from the phone casts an unnatural glow across Ernie’s face. “If I were all gymnast like you, I’d totally sleep, eat breakfast, and do laundry naked.”
“Uh, thanks, but indecent exposure’s not my thing.”
“It’s only indecent if you’re fat, hairy, or old. For hard-bods like you, being naked is considered art.”
“Whatever, dude.” I shift onto my side.
And onto my back again. “Huh?”
“What’s that noise?”
“Some kind of distant opera music. You can barely hear it.”
I fumble my Bluetooth speaker and portable music player from the bedside table, hold them up. “It’s my bedtime playlist. ‘Sirens’ Whispering,’ from Vangelis’ Oceanic album.”
Ernie listens for a moment, frowning. “Sounds like the theme for a butter commercial.”
“Vangelis is not butter music.” I replace the speaker and player on the table and turn back onto my side.
I keep quiet, hoping Ernie will get the hint.
He doesn’t. “Isn’t it fucked how scores of average babes and bitches are getting knocked up, and nobody gives a shit. But the instant Asia Afrodesia gets blasted in the uterus, the news media is all over it like flies on horseshit. Why do we care more about our celebrities than we do about ourselves? Besides having a few extra zeroes tacked onto her paycheck, Asia’s no better than you or me. Why does she get the care and concern?”
Talking into my pillow, I say, “The fact that you look down on her because she’s a celebrity makes you just as hypocritical as the media looking down on the rest of us because we’re not celebrities.”
“Whatever, nerdling. Damn. Darklord’s not replying to any of my chat messages.”
Still face-pillowing it, I mumble, “Hey.”
“Huh?” Ernie mumbles back.
“What makes you think you can track El Cassetto?”
“Duh. It’s mostly teenage girls who’re getting knocked up.”
“So, teenage girls are always posting everything about their lives on social media. Geez, Theo. You’d make a really lousy stalker.”
“Anyway, I did some research. All the news stories report El Cassetto only gets it on during late night power hour. It looks like it knocks out the dudes first. Defenseless, the chicks are then knocked up. When they wake up the next morning, they’re nine months pregnant, and El Cassetto is long-gone. No goodbye kiss, no farewells, not even a Starbucks gift card left on the pillow. Your average compact cassette tape is sixty to ninety minutes total length, thirty to forty-five minutes of play time per side. That’s our window. Once we spot the relevant status update, we slap on our safety muffs…” Ernie holds up his earmuffs for effect. “…upload, and intercept El Cassetto before it has the chance to pull a disappearing act. Of course, it would save a buttload of time if Darklord would just answer my fucking messages.”
“If he’s even half the mastermind you claim him to be.”
“Oh, he’s a mastermind all right.”
“What makes you think he’ll fess up?”
“I have ways of making people talk.”