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[personal profile] puffy_wuffy
[2010.11.19][1672][31807]
When Harry woke up, instead of the old familiar sight of light streaming through his window, he was greeted by white walls.  Mostly white, anyway.  At least he had his own room, though.  Hare and Rold had to share the second largest bedroom in an arrangement that included an old bunk bed.  Harold, of course, had the master bedroom, which he shared with Five.  The ranch-style three bedroom-two bath was of a decent size, at least, but each wall was a different shade of white.  
Puttering around the house in the early morning was no challenge for Harry at least, and it was lovely to not have to walk down stairs.  He staggered down the hall to the kitchen to make some breakfast.  Of course, he had to make three other portions, but he was so accustomed to it, he barely registered the extra effort.  In many ways, his life was very similar to his pre-move life.
As Hare’s last REM cycle of the night (now morning) ended, he smelled breakfast, obviously Harrys doing.  In many ways, it was like being back in the old house.  At any moment, Hare believed that he’d turn a corner and find himself on the window seat, gazing as people in the neighborhood got to work, to life, to excitement, or so he had thought.  Most of his trips out were to malls now, carefully measured grocery shopping with Rold, being afraid to spend more money than necessary.  
His nightmares were now ordinary, him driving with Rold down the same road the same exact distance to the nearby strip mall, but instead of finding stores filled with the items they all needed at low prices, the stores were filled with overpriced junk, most of it inedible.  He’d turn to Rold and as he pointed to a shelf, the store would fade, leaving him surrounded by women and unable to speak.
That last part was true to life:  Hare had yet to start a conversation with a woman.  Of course, he answered if a woman asked him a question, but he felt so nervous the he rarely knew what to say immediately afterwards, whether to make a joke or smile or to walk away.  Rold was no help, since he had “skills banged off the internet,” which generally meant that he actively avoided all females in public, even the tiny girls.  Harold seemed perfectly fine because he treated men and women both as regular people and Harry genuinely enjoyed pretty ladies.  It wasn’t that Hare had not thought of the fairer sex, he had certainly gone through a phase when he couldn’t get enough of staring at images of them, but there had been precious few interactions and perhaps it was something he would have to leave up to fate.  Eventually, he’d have to face it.
Hare thought of what to do with his day.  This was his regular schedule:  he would have breakfast with Harry, then spend time on Rold’s computer reading news until the afternoon.  Rold would want to leave eventually, and he would either take a walk with Rold or they would drive to get groceries.  Today was a grocery day, but perhaps instead of reading news, he and Rold could leave and get groceries.
Unlike Hare and Harry, Harold had been awake for some time, tinkering with Five.  Four men in a tiny house could make a large mess:  thanks to Five’s daily cleaning routines, there hadn’t been any large fights or a need to divide up labor.  The monotony of every day was getting to Harold.  Although he had been free from his job for some time, he never did anything fun.  When he had been younger, before the other Harolds had become a priority, he had enjoyed travelling.  Cultural trips of Harold’s were usually to scientific society conventions.  The change of scenery would have a cleansing effect on his mind, inspiring him for weeks afterward.
The sound of Hare’s feet plodding to the dining area reached Harold’s ears.  Putting away his limited tools, Harold patted the robot.  Without the appropriate tool, he wouldn’t be able to adjust one of the wheels.  All he really needed was a pair of needlenose pliers, which they would have, if they were still in the old house.  If they were still in that suburb, though, Harold would have to deal with the daily fear of coming home to an empty house.  If he asked Hare to get it, it would give Hare an excuse to leave the house.  Maybe everyone would go and let him think about what he, Harold, wanted to do alone.
It was clear that the relocation had been successful.  Everyone was more comfortable coming and going, but there was no real structure to their days.  Harold had little ambition besides keeping Five running and everyone fed.  The real problem was that none of them had goals in the wake of getting a house.  The project of moving had proven to be a large one, and now none of them had anything to focus on.  Harold opened his bedroom door and trotted to the join the others in eating their morning meal.
“I’ll go wake Rold,” Hare stated when he saw Harold in the hall.
Harry smiled, “Breakfast is served.  We can start without the others, Hare might be a while.”
Harold grunted, then sat down at a set place.
“Quiet this morning?”
Picking up his utensils, Harold nodded morosely.
“Nothing to do today, same as every day.”  Harry made another attempt at conversation.  He sipped water from his glass while standing.  “I’ll eat in silence again.  As usual.”
“I sort of want to talk about . . . what to do.  What next.”
Harry, slightly surprised, answered, “Of course.”  Taking a seat next to Harold, he took up his knife and fork.  “I’ve been thinking myself:  I can’t do what used to be easy.  I am achy and I’m  frail.  I’m not getting any younger.” Taking a casual bite, he continued while gesturing with the empty fork, “I haven’t seen a lot of things.  I’d like to travel.”
“I do, too.”  A wistful look came over Harold’s face.  “I remember liking it a lot when I was younger.”
“I know its probably hard for older people, but we could go in a group, it wouldn’t be a total waste . . .”  Harry began.
“--its probably worth it.”  Harold finished.
“My thoughts exactly.”  Harry tucked in to his meal in earnest
Hare and Rold arrived and they had a typical morning meal.  Although their interactions involved few words, they communicated nonverbally, speaking volumes with their eyes and hands what they could not with their mouths.  Hare cajoled Rold into doing the washing up; leaving Harold and Harry free to wander back to their rooms.  Harold and Harry instead stood near the kitchen, observing but not ultimately being helpful.  
After Rold had dried the last dish, Harold cleared his throat authoritatively.  Harry, standing next to Harold, shook his head at Harold in an expression of disdain.
“Remember, if you want something, you don’t have to order us to do it.”  Spreading his hands wide in a magnanimous gesture, Harry explained, “Like this.”  Turning to Hare, Harry blithely spoke, “Excuse me, Hare, can you do something for me?”
“Fine.”  Harold gruffed.  “Hare, can you do something for me?”
Bemused, Hare replied, “Okay, Harold.”
In a kind of rapture, Harold outlined the kind of needlenose pliers he wanted, the pliers he had dreamed of since rousing himself from slumber and futzing around with Five.  The size of the pinchers he gave in exact inches.  Indicating with his hands the size of the object, he described in great detail his ideal tool.  The depth of the grooves he soliloquized about at length.  Eventually, Harry jabbed him gently in the side.  
“Hare knows what needlenose pliers are.”  
Acquiescing, Harold tottered off to the living room rubbing his ribs.  Hare and Rold were both pleased with Harold approaching them as if they were full adults and equal to him.  Harold still had to be reminded sometimes that they were pretending to be family members since they had spent such a long period of time in their odd arrangement:  with him as head of family.  Harry continued to remind Harold, in fact, their relationship was growing in new directions.  
“Can I come, too?”  Rold pestered Hare.
“Of course.  Do you want to come?”  Hare asked Harry.
Harry shook his head no and handed the grocery list to Rold.  “Guess if you’re going out, you can get this.”
Harry joined Harold in the living room as Rold and Hare headed out the front door.  Sulking a bit, Harold had crossed his arms.
“You know I’m right.”
Harold continued pouting.
Meanwhile, Hare marveled over the change from their usual habits.  “Now we’re heading out in the morning.  Something new and unexpected.”
Rold opined, “Whatever, I like routines.”
By now, Hare had no thoughts as he drove, instead it was pure action to him.  A part of him that moved without premeditation as easy as the motion of walking.  The comforting thing about driving was that he went somewhere.  It wasn’t very far, but it didn’t have to be.
Their new neighborhood was a bit more of a sprawl than their last one:  houses were spaced further away than before and the sidewalks were much wider and flatter.  It made every lot seem like its own divided parcel of land instead of a cohesive subdivision.  The one thing that drew the area together was the tract housing:  everyone owned a ranch style whether they liked it or not.
The only thing that distinguished the strip mall’s area, the industrial area, from the neighborhood was the abrupt transition from regular roads to four lane craziness.  The lines on the main drag seemed permanently erased and so people drove however they felt like driving.  The strip mall’s false adobe walls were salmon pink and nearly orange in the morning sun.  Only near the super market were cars bunched together.

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