BACK to the Main Index
BACK to Heaven and Earth
BACK to the Previous Chapter
"Damien, was I really a wolf last night?"
Pause. "Nathaniel... What do you want me to say?"
He knows me all right. Even though he technically met me less than a month ago. Am I that much like my father? I consider and decide, "Tell me the truth."
Damien watches me for a moment. Makes some kind of assessment. Finally: "Yes, Nathaniel, you were a wolf."
urk. The truth hurts. Which is, I guess, why I am so sure it is the truth. _Damien_ is fine with it. My _father_ is fine with it. I think of Laraine, of Manfred, of my mother. They don't seem any more accepting of the idea of lycanthropy than I have been; at least, I know Mother left Dad because he mentioned the condition, and Manfred went so far as to kill himself... Granted, I felt until a very short time ago that my becoming a wolf was impossible. Yet if Manfred suffered the same shifts of being, and his wife died on the full moon...
I will stay at Uranenborg, at least for now, and try to find out more about my condition. But I cannot face Laraine. Not if I am one of them. Isn't it likely that I may be subject to the same alterations as her stepfather? I cannot risk injury to someone so obviously fragile.
Once again, my companion of choice is Damien.
Of course, Damien is valet and close companion to my father as well, but for the time being I am too uncomfortable with the unsorted thoughts in my brain to attempt close contact with Oskar. His size, confidence and strength intimidate me... When Damien is with Dad, I'll be in the Observatory.
I am only too glad to allow myself to be
housed in my own, barred room. I cannot go back
to Luna until I know what I am. When the next
full moon comes, I want to be where Damien can
close me in and keep an eye on me.
Maury and Laraine are understandably confused by my attitude. More than once Maury tries to coax a response out of me with a hopeful, "Love ya?". Laraine is beginning to be just plain pissed. And I'll admit I haven't been very polite to her... but if she knew that I was trying to avoid danger to her person, being that I am most likely a monster, she would realize that it's for her own good.
As it is, I get a lot of scowls from that china-doll face.
Mrs. Hudson, wise woman that she is, feeds us all and keeps her mouth shut.
The Observatory is a wonderful place to be, regardless.
I love watching the sky change colors, something it never does on Luna. The effect of those swirling and billowing white, grey and (in storms) orange clouds can only be imagined when watching them from the other direction, outside the atmosphere.
Not to mention the _air_ on Earth. It's so _real_. Sometimes I go out to the lawn and just stand there, feeling the power of this place. I imagine I'm beginning to fill out a little, like my father, losing that classic lanky "Loonie" look. Robust? Me? It's possible.
Oskar enjoys the lawn, too, and I usually give way to him when he comes out to watch the seagulls. They don't trust him a whit, invariably staying just out of reach on the dark water, but he _watches_ with an intensity that I find myself echoing (from a distance, of course). It might be neat to get our hands on one... sort of look at it, you know, and then let it go... probably.
I am a little shy of the water, though. I tend to stare at it most from my window, which clearly shows me the slope, the pebbly-muddy beach and our moored short-distance boats. We can't go to Reykjavik in one of those, but they get us out to the Ferry all right. I do attend the Friday night pizza outings.
One day Damien finds me at my window, watching my father watching gulls.
He says, "I think Laraine is looking for you."
"That's why I'm hiding up here."
"What do you have against her all of a sudden?"
I turn to look at Damien, who, I could tell as soon as he entered the room, is chewing wintergreen gum (and therefore blinking). "Look, how am I supposed to communicate to her that if I take leave of my senses with her around, I'll never forgive myself? She's been through enough, don't you think?"
Damien adjusts his gloves. "Nathaniel, Laraine may not want to talk, but she's not simple. Tell her anything you want. I think you're hurting her feelings, showing up, making friends and then ignoring her. Why are you so sure you'd lose control anyway? You let me put a leash on you in Reykjavik."
I'm past wincing. I say, "Look, Damien, don't you think it's obvious what happened to her mother? Cassandra died on a full moon. Does that not disturb you the slightest bit? Who knows what this family is capable of?"
"Manfred was in an institution, by his own choice. He was not in jail."
"He dismissed all the help."
"Maybe his wife's death upset him so much he couldn't handle dealing with people."
"Damien. With all due respect, I think you have a very poor grasp of the obvious."
The chewing stops and those intense eyes lock onto mine. I think he's smiling in a rather patronizing manner, but I'm not sure because I have to keep my gaze steady. "Nathaniel. Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel. Speaking of overlooking the obvious... One of us present in this room was, not to put too fine a point on it, in very real danger of being picked up by Reykjavik Animal Control last month."
At that I do hang my head. "Sorry."
"It's not a problem, really. I've been dealing with your Dad ever since he gave me a job back in America. He's a very generous man and a good friend. In some ways you're very much like him."
"What about my Dad is generous?"
A slight, wry smile this time. "Well, where he met me, I would have had a very hard time finding a position with anyone else."
"Because. There are certain stigmas to certain conditions, which can only be erased when someone like your dad finds the potential in a person and springs for surgery and treatment that allow that person to appear virtually normal in the rest of society."
Something is dawning. The perpetual fog in my brain parts just the slightest bit. "Do you aspire to be a valet?"
He laughs. "Not exactly. Oskar knows that. He thinks I'd be a wonderful surgeon; I told him that's a goal of mine, if I can ever get the schooling."
"Why can't you get the schooling now?"
Damien sighs. "Nathaniel, have you noticed _anything_... odd about me?"
"Well..." I pause. "I, well, that is, I..."
Damien breaks out laughing again and I look at him in surprise. He returns the look with some mixture of amusement, pity and-- maybe-- hurt. "You think I'm crazy, don't you."
"Well, maybe a bit-- eccentric--" Yet that fog is clearing in ever greater patches. For everything this Earth inhabitant does...
He shakes his head and chuckles. "Why can't I get the schooling now. Okay. Your people have far greater medical advancements than we do. A treatment center in America halted the bacteria, healed the wounds, rearranged some tendons, and gave me a prosthesis. But my nerves cannot be regenerated with current medical technology."
"They could be on Luna... What the Hell are you talking about?"
"Leprosy, Nathaniel. Beauty of a disease. You can stop it but you can't cure it. The nerves are destroyed."
This is where I, sensitive soul that I am, begin to blather about pointless things in an effort to keep a very disturbing conversation "light" and "friendly".
Of course Damien sees through that and neatly puts a stop to it with, "Want to see my prosthesis?"
"Here, I'll take it out. Ready?"
"Damien, please. I get the point."
"Okay. Darn. I've always wanted to spring this on someone and I've always been too polite to actually do it. Sure you don't want to see it?"
"I knew you thought so."
"Damien, no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean--"
"S'okay. I know. Point to all this being that you, Nathaniel, had not the foggiest idea why I might change pairs of gloves like an obsessed person, never touch hot food until I know it's okay, and apply antibiotics and disinfectants until I smell like a walking hospital ward. Since you had no idea why, I suppose it was only natural for you to assume the worst as far as my brain power is concerned."
Boy does he know me. "Can't feel anything... at all?"
"That's about it."
"Do you injure yourself often?"
"Every day. Before I met up with Oskar, I was a mess of sores. Luckily my eyes weren't too badly damaged-- they got me blinking again, to protect them, with surgery to link the mechanism to my jaw. But for my hands and feet they can't do anything except to say, 'Watch yourself'. Of course they set the tendons so I can _use_ my hands. But when I forget about a scratch or cut, or when I miss a little wound somewhere, things can get nasty in a hurry. You'd be surprised how much inflammation can build up when you don't favor a wounded limb... You okay?"
"Mm... Yeah. I'm... surprised that you can talk about this. I would never... I mean, I would probably never have the guts..."
"Yes. I know."
"I, uh... I think I've steeled myself. If you wanted to display your prosthesis, do it now, if you'd like."
"You got it!" With a typical Damien-esque flourish, the man lifts his upper lip and withdraws a plastic molded nose. There is no cartilage, only the thin layer of skin now fallen back without support. I stare. Leper. I shudder. The picture is familiar, like something out of an antique book with the diseased standing around holding rattles on staves. The classic flattened face and glaring holes. Hm. Considering it's Damien, I stare some more. He solemnly accepts the scrutiny. Finally, I begin to see the visage before me as an individual man, and one I know and like, at that. The inked pictures of lepers fade from memory. Just Damien. Without a nose. "Go ahead, put it back in, please."
"Certainly." He does so.
The next time we all go on the Ferry for
pizza, I make a detour to a mini-mall and buy a
small, silver heart pendant. You probably know
why. It's just that I have to test the theory. I
don't know if I can ever trust anything I haven't
seen with my own eyes. The clerk admires my
taste, offers to wrap the pendant up for me. I
accept, returning to Dad and the rest of the group
with a small, white cardboard box in one hand.
"So, what did you buy, Nathaniel?" asks Dad.
I don't really look at him. In answer I mutter something about souvenirs. That seems to satisfy him.
Damien doesn't say anything, which makes me wonder if he's seen through me-- again.
The Ferry is crowded, as usual, and the trip home makes me antsy. Dad loves a crowd like this, but I'd rather have a little more space to myself. I get the feeling he considers this entire ship to be his private territory. It's a good thing he's so _generous_ with his territory. The picture of antique white decks running in blood just crosses my mind, but I block it out and just stand between Damien and Mrs. Hudson all the way home, holding my little box.
Maury is calling to Laraine from his private room when we get home, and while she goes to greet him I slip upstairs to my own quarters.
Once I'm locked in, and before anyone can wonder where I am, I remove the lid from the white mini-mall jewel-box. A layer of cotton covers the pendant; I pinch it between my fingers and toss it aside.
Silver. We'll see about this.
I tilt the box so the heart-shaped pendant falls out into the palm of my hand.
I'm thinking about it, weighing it, when I begin to experience a feeling... Not sure what... Just a different sensation...
A moment later the feeling has resolved itself into _burning_.
I'm being _burned_.
It takes several seconds for me to work the whole sequence out in my brain and actually drop the silver. Then I half-stagger to the washroom and run cold water over the red blot on my palm for a good five minutes while I try to compose myself.
And Manfred _ate_ this stuff?
"Boy, Manfred, you must have been _really_ upset."
Cognition returning, hand still buzzing with discomfort, I wander back to where the pendant has been dumped on the floor.
So what do I do with it now?
A few minutes later, I find the discarded cotton. Making certain not to touch the jewelry, I fold the cotton around the silver and lift it cautiously to the box. Once I have it safely confined, I take the heart down to Maury's room.
The musky parrot smell greets me, along with Laraine's sweet female scent. Laraine is giving Maury a much-appreciated parrot neck-rub, but both look up as I approach.
"Hi, Laraine, hello, Maury," I mumble.
Maury immediately begins flapping and bobbing, which means he wants to be picked up. In case I'm failing to get the message, he pipes up with a demanding, "Whatta ya want, MAURY?"
"Silly bird," I say and turn to Laraine. "Laraine, do you like jewelry? Silver? Stuff like that?"
She nods, and I know she's seen the box in my hand, but she lets me do my thing.
"Well, in Reykjavik I bought this-- well, a little, just a little thing to put on a necklace or something, and I thought you might like to have it."
She smiles hopefully. "LARAINE!" shouts Maury, and she absentmindedly picks him up. He looks up at me smugly from his new perch on her forearm.
"Here." I hold out the box.
Laraine accepts and opens the box with a wonderful display of grace, considering that Maury's steel beak is in the way as he tries to help.
I am rewarded with a glowing smile and a quick kiss on the cheek.
Laraine puts the reluctant bird back on his perch and floats off towards the stairs, motioning that she has a chain she wants to wear the pendant with. At least now everyone will think I was just being nice, giving her a gift. I'd just as soon they not know about the burn. They'd probably say that I'm a danger to myself...
Maybe I am.
"TTTTTTTToast?" Maury asks as he paces back and forth on his perch.
"I don't have any toast. Be a good bird or you'll have to go in your _cage_."
"Well quit asking me for things, then. I'm not in the mood."
"tttttoooaast?" this time more sweetly.
"Don't have any toast."
"That's not going to work either."
The red-and-green parrot mumbles incomprehensibly to himself as I head for the door. "See you later, Maury. Be a good bird. Laraine will be right back. Nathaniel doesn't feel like playing with you today."
As soon as I step through the doorway, before I even have time to close the door, a deafening and terrifying sound presses on my ears. My heart pounds so I'm not even certain I'm not physically hurt. When the sound and the ringing aftermath finally subside, I turn around.
"MAURY, you little shit. What the Hell are you trying to do to me? As if my nerves weren't bad enough already."
Maury bobs happily on his perch. He has found a way to get my attention.
"No more! Understand?"
"Whatta ya want Maury," he confirms.
"All right. Good bird."
My back is turned on him again, and again, inevitably, the howl. Long, rending, so recognizable that my ears and mind shy from the possibility. There is no joy, no open call in that howl. It is not a song, but a scream.
There goes my peace of mind for the rest of the day.
I begin to picture the late Manfred Clavius not as a man, but as a wolf.
The night of the full moon approaches and I
feel the old uneasiness again. I spend more time
in the Observatory. When I look at the circle of
smokey whiteness that used to be home, I wonder
whether I could ever really return to Luna
University. Mutants-- _my_ kind of people are not
looked upon kindly by my government. Treated
fairly, yes. Let loose on the streets, no. As I
recall, there were no exclamations of horror or
disgust when Damien leashed the werewolf and took
him away. Do I belong on Earth? Can this be me?
An image of Damien, injured as he must have been
before my father took care of him, crosses my
mind. And I thought he was nuts. I thought they
were _all_ nuts. It's obvious Mother felt the
same way. She had a man she thought she could
trust, and he let loose with an outrageous story.
Obviously a madman. What if she knew that what he
said was true? It's all too much to make sense
And then, suddenly,
The moon will be full tonight.
The relaxed air of ritual in Uranenborg on Hven is almost spooky. I shudder involuntarily as Dad casually mentions that he'd better finish dinner soon or Damien will have quite a time catching him, and Mrs. Hudson chuckles and says she'll just have to coax him with his favorite foods then.
I know what food they would use on me if I got out of hand-- provided they could get my attention at all. It all seems surreal and timeless.
We go to our rooms as the sun falls. Damien says good night and locks the heavy doors. Time and thought shift.
Doors. No, one door, one window. Not solid, but impenetrable... bars... clear... no air... yes air, no wind. Sniff, sniff, sniff. My room. Good. Flop. Drifting...
And in the morning, chaos.
I ache in every atom of my being. My mouth
tastes like mud and seawater and-- and-- I smell
stew! There, near the bed. Oh
thankyouthankyouthankyou Mrs. Hudson. I'm
starving. I pick up the bowl and eat
slobberingly, feeling strangely cold and shaky.
I've never wakened this exhausted before. Sounds
are filtering through my door... Too many sounds,
There are strangers here. What the HELL happened last night?
My nose works feverishly as I tentatively let myself out into the hall. Yes, the door is unlocked. Yes... there are so many voices coming from downstairs-- the direction of the main hall, I think-- that I cannot hope to sort them out. I will have to venture down there if I am to know what's going on. The only scents here, near my door, are those of my family.
I step carefully in the direction of the stairs. At my father's bedroom door I stop as Oskar, too, emerges cautiously. He looks as tired and confused as I feel. I wait for him to take the lead, and we go down into the mass of strangers together.
"Son?" he almost whispers. "Are you all right?"
I shake my head in bewilderment. "What happened?"
"I don't know."
The lower rooms of Uranenborg on Hven are packed with people. I sense the calm and confidence of some uniformed police officers, but the overwhelming scents here are of seawater, the outdoors, confusion and relief. What...
Damien comes shouldering through the drip-drying people and a wave of combined relief and fear startles my senses. Damien is here, he'll explain everything, but he's covered in the odor of blood and bandages. His hands are swathed in thick white wraps. Yet he seems pleased to see us; there is no terror in his approach.
Just as the valet reaches us, a small child wearing a blanket around his shoulders makes his way among forests of legs and hurls himself at me. I shy back, but his thin arms encircle my knees as he cries, "DOGGY!"
_Doggy_? I look down at myself. No... It's good old Nathaniel D'Yangelo...
Damien claps my shoulder with a bandaged hand. "Kid recognizes you!"
"Why? What did I do?"
"Does either of you remember anything?"
Oskar and I shake our heads no.
"Laraine's around here somewhere-- I'm sure she'll want to see you as soon as we can find her. She let you out of your rooms while I was out on one of the boats. That blasted ancient Ferry went up in flames last night. I think between the two of you you brought about fifty people to shore. Police are helping get them home now. I brought in a few myself, I must say, but it was Laraine who let you loose. Good thing, too."
Dad and I are staring at him, open-mouthed. Finally, Dad speaks. "The Ferry..."
The child is still clinging to my legs. I pat him on the head in a dazed fashion. "You're telling me that _I_ swam in the ocean last night, and... and..."
Damien smiles at us, understanding our incomplete grasp of things even though the effects of the night are milling all around us. "You two need some rest while we explain. How about hitting the chairs in your dining room? Sit down awhile so the police can do their thing, and I'll see if I can find Laraine."
The truths filter comfortably into my addled brain. Laraine comes, gives Dad and I each a kiss and hug, and then stands, beaming proudly, by the door. She, too, seems tired, but I am relieved to see she is not hurt. Apparently, while Mrs. Hudson called the police boats and Damien rushed to help rescue the passengers who had jumped to safety, Laraine took action of her own and let us down to the dock.
We worked side by side, we are told, even bringing the last man in together, helping each other support the weight.
That seems a little hard to believe. I look shyly at Dad, but he just shrugs, then smiles. Suddenly I love Uranenborg on Hven.
There are words I never thought I could find spiritually uplifting, deeply warming, wholly satisfying. As we sit, resting, letting chaos continue around us, that little child finds me again and simply lights up with joy. He speaks, gleefully, petting my knees again. "_Good_ doggy!" What an amazingly eloquent child.
Maury, too, when I go to see him in some small attempt to feel that my whole pack is here and known, manages to say something flattering. He begs and flaps and when I lift him up, he rewards me with a decided, "Love ya!"
Eventually the strangers leave.
Seagulls are perusing the beach for detritus thrown ashore by last night's explosion.
Dad watches them, moving slowly, but they take off as we descend the slope to the dock. Damien wants to show us something.
The mud is a mishmash of footprints and debris, but Damien manages to find what he's looking for, and points. We look.
One footprint is deeper, larger than the other, but they are placed beside each other, almost as if the paws' owners were signing their names in the mud. Father-Son wolfprints. I try to remember, to call up some idea of the man we might have brought in together, when our jaws were taxed and our coats heavy with water. But the only dreams I recall are dark and misty. Still, the prints are there. I touch the pressed-in mud with a finger and rub the slickness between finger and thumb. Every month this happens. Every month. Maybe... maybe we could spend a full moon free on the lawn. Or maybe... Maybe nothing. What am I thinking? _Wolves_. Last night's behavior must have been an exception. I think of Cassandra and experience a new chill. "Let's go in."
But Dad wants to stay outside and keep an eye on the ever-increasing flock of seagulls. In the end I stay with him.
I'm not sure how long we've been idling on the brown-grassed lawn when I notice something curious.
"Hey, Dad, what's that shiny thing that seagull has?"
We rush the shore, silently, hopefully, closing in on the bird. This is no Maury, with steel beak and claws. This is something fragile, flapping...
We don't catch the seagull (_darn_ it), but in its flight it drops the object I spotted.
"Could it have come from someone aboard the Ferry?" Dad wonders.
I turn the subtly twisted gold band over in my fingers. "It could, I guess. We'd better tell the authorities in case anyone from last night can identify it."
When we enter the big main doors of Uranenborg, Damien is the first person we see. We show him the ring. "A woman's ring," he notes. "Could have come from last night, but then, with an explosion like that _anything_ could have come up from the bottom. I'll ask Mrs. Hudson to call the police and describe it, though."
He never gets that far, because the next person to appear is Laraine. I hold the gold ring out to her. "Look what we found."
She looks. A sigh escapes her. I let the ring fall as she holds out her pale hands. She grasps it, strokes it, then places it on her finger.
I glance in amazement at Damien as Laraine takes me firmly by the hand and begins pulling me down the hall to the concourse.
We don't stop until we come to the covering of velvet that obscures Cassandra Clavius's painting. Laraine's eyes are intense as she draws back the velvet and firmly directs my gaze to the familiar visage of Mrs. Clavius. I don't understand, stare blankly, until she shows me her ring finger again and strokes the frame of Cassandra's portrait.
Wait, I think I understand...
Laraine, melancholy yet loving, turns the twisted band on her finger and fixes me with a deeply meaningful look.
From somewhere within my disarrayed self comes a voice. "Your mother..."
She nods, helping me along.
"Your mother... Drowned?"
Mournful nod. Then Laraine hugs me.
She... Drowned? What about... What... Oh Lord, what _about_ Manfred?
We're sorry, Sir. Cassandra was... killed last night when the Ferry struck her boat... we have been unable to find a body. We're terribly sorry.
But I don't even remember! Where is she? This can't _be_...
The shrieking of a wolf who will not remember, who will wake up a man with no wife, a mute, bereaved daughter and the faintest of nightmarish visions seen with wolves' eyes through unbreakable bars. No wonder she let us out. Her father never forgave himself.
I return Laraine's hug in my own silence.
Another day, another episode in the D'Yangelo
Lunar soap opera. I ignore the mail in the
reception box and start for the kitchen for a
frozen dinner when I notice that the phone is
The phone indicates that the call is from Earth. Well, it's about time. That boy has been gallivanting about that planet long enough without ever a word to me. You'd think Nathaniel could contact his own mother... I kick off my high heels (_impossible_ to walk in but oh-so-essential for high-class luncheon with other members of The Family) and reach for the receiver.
"This is Christina D'Yangelo," I say, batting a tendril of loose hair out of my face.
"Hi. It's Oskar."
'Shock' does not begin to describe it.
"Well... Well, Oskar..."
I recover a little of my usual composure. "Is Nathaniel there?"
"Yes, he's here, but he gave me the code and I asked to make the call. We have a favor to ask, I must admit."
Disappointment. Disappointment? Why? I'm not disappointed about this being a business call... am I? "What would that be, Oskar?"
"I have a friend. An Earth native. He needs clearance to Luna for medical treatment and possible permanent residence. Is it possible that the D'Yangelos could do something for him?"
"It's... possible. Why don't you send me his information and I'll see what I can do."
"It should have gotten there today. There should have been a package on the shuttle."
The mail. "Just a minute."
There is, indeed, a package. I hold the receiver between shoulder and ear while I open the thick envelope. Oskar speaks in my ear. His voice sounds just the same... "Say, Christina, I like your hair that way, but a little piece is loose from the comb." I swipe the hair away again and shake out the package's contents. The friend's information is there, but a glossy photo which lies on top has my immediate and entire attention.
I know he knows I'm seeing it now.
"Oskar. It's been over twenty years..."
"Yeah, I know. Your ring has slipped upside down on your finger, Christina." I fix the ring and continue staring at the photo.
Both my boys. They look so handsome.
Wait a minute. This is an audio-only phone. "How are you doing that?"
"Don't play innocent with me. You know what I'm talking about."
"I know _you_. You know, Nathaniel is a lot like you."
"Not in this picture he isn't." Earth... How did they get off so easy? How is it that the rest of the family is together on a 'mad' planet, while I defend myself alone against the insanity of these society get-togethers? This is ridiculous, I tell myself. The man couldn't possibly be the same one I married. It's been twenty-one years...
"Yes, well, that picture was taken last month. Damien took us in for a sitting so we could see what we looked like. I hear we were very good boys. You really should come down and see us sometime."
"Oskar, that's impossible and you know it. We don't even know each other anymore. Why don't you just put Nathaniel on now. I don't think we should talk anymore."
"Tell you what. First, you go warm up your mushroom-sauce noodles. You must be hungry after pretending to eat at that damned luncheon. When you're done, Nathaniel will be waiting to talk to you."
"Oskar... This isn't _fair_." But something in me waits for the next line.
"Christina, I want you to come back. You know, I... never took my ring off, either."
"Did Nathaniel tell you about that?"
"Nathaniel? No... I know you would never take yours off and I wanted you to know I never have, either."
I sigh and look again at the photo. It _could_ be some mock-up, some computer-generated thing. _If_ their expressions weren't so charmingly confused. It's obvious they have no idea what the photographer is doing. Oskar so dark and thick-ruffed, Nathaniel without so much coat but handsome in his own right. Together.
Oskar lets me look at the picture a moment more before he speaks. "Wolves mate for life..."
"I know that, Oskar, I know."
"Oh, come now, don't cry. Take some time to think about it. Eat your frozen dinner. If you don't mind, we'd really appreciate knowing if there's any way Damien could come to Luna. But when you're done thinking, feel free to call me back. I will be waiting."
"I know you will, Oskar. Can you-- can you put Nathaniel on now?"
"He's right here."