The Cup and I had been working on her story as many hours a night as I could squeeze in around whatever else just had to be done. By mid-week we were a pretty smooth-working team—right up to the moment when one of the fishermen said, “Hey, look. It’s Jesus Christ.” Then the fortress of cards The Marquis had thrown up collapsed and I was standing naked before an uncompromising Yahweh on Judgment Day, only to discover that she was black.
You knew, of course, that it was going to happen. I told you in the title of the book that The Cup was really the Holy Grail. For the sake of preserving the mystery, I should have let you wait until this moment and find out like I did. But I didn’t figure you’d be nearly as likely to buy a book entitled Bradley Schuster and the Old Cup from Erma’s. And regardless of how much or how little you know about The Grail and its rich literary traditions, you surely learned somewhere along the line that it was associated with Jesus. You could have slept through English, History, and Sunday school all three and still come away with that much. But remember, I didn’t have this book’s title to help me out. I knew that what I had was ancient, very powerful, and unique among all the objects I’d ever heard of. But until this point, I had no idea that it was The Holy Grail. I was blindsided.
There followed a great deal of babbling and protesting that mostly covered my confusion and awe as I realized exactly what it was that I held in my hand. I mean, I wasn’t religious or anything—hell, as a critical historian I wasn’t convinced there was any such thing as a real historical Jesus. But that could scarcely make me equivocal about the legendary cup that the legendary Jesus supposedly used at the Last Supper.
“You’re the Holy Grail,” I finally sputtered out. The fact that I was still holding The Cup between my toes clearly didn’t help my elegance any.
Of course, dear. I thought I told you that.
“No, you managed to leave out that little point somehow.”
Sorry. Hope you’ll forgive me that little oversight. It’s good to meet you, Bradley Schuster. I’m the Holy Grail.
She was acting pretty smug about the whole thing, despite her unconvincing “I thought I told you that.” I was pretty sure she had connived for this little revelation to happen exactly the way it did. The Cup was absolutely right about one thing: she was unquestionably female.
I quit early that night and headed straight for The Boomer’s.
“Boomer, it’s the Holy Grail!” I screamed as soon as the door was safely closed behind us. “I vandalized some poor old garlic-breathed lady’s house to reclaim a battered cup that my girlfriend subsequently gave me that she bought in a junk shop on Westheimer for thirty-five bucks for the simple reason that she happened to glance up and saw me touching the damned thing, and not only can I entice sweet young things out of their lingerie and con all of Hermann Park out of their pocket change, it turns out to be the Holy fucking Grail.”
For once I actually got to him. He didn’t give me any of his erudite bullshit or analyze the ramifications of the psionic powers involved. He just sat there and stared into nothingness, patting around mindlessly with his hand until he located his beer and then drinking mechanically, paying so little attention it might as well have been Falstaff.
So we sat like that for awhile. The very best relationships are those where you don’t have to say anything. The silence doesn’t weigh on you until you feel compelled to babble something about whiter, brighter washes or the prediction for tomorrow’s cloud cover. Finally he looked up and asked, “What are you going to do now?”
I panicked a little that the ‘We’ I’d been so proud of when I’d first told him about The Cup had suddenly become ‘You’ as in you, Bradley Schuster, you’re in this on your own. The Boomer doesn’t do windows, he doesn’t do breaking and entering, and he certainly doesn’t do Holy Grails. But then I realized that he was just acknowledging that he was out of his element. I had the lead on this one.
Newly promoted boss or not, I didn’t have an answer for him.
* * *
Thursday night The Cup and I had our first fight when she realized how exhausted I was and stubbornly refused to continue working on her story.
“What do you mean, you’re not telling me any more right now? You spring that you’re the Holy Grail and now you won’t tell me any more? Why the hell not?” I raged, not making the effort to telepath.
Because you’re tired, you’re distraught, and you need a break. Your curiosity is so powerful you’d type until dawn every morning, sleep through your classes, cheat your students out of the knowledge they thirst so feverishly for, and generally live like a zombie if I let you. But I’m not, so forget it. If you need a mother to nag you, I’m your gal. Go read a book. Use some of the money that disturbs you so and treat one of your collection of ladies to dinner for a change. Fill out a note card on Louis the whichever. Do whatever it was that you did before you got me. The story isn’t going anywhere; it will still be here on Saturday.
That didn’t end the argument, of course, but it pretty well sums it up. I should have known better—you don’t ever truly win an argument with a woman. Eventually she just refused to talk at all. After a half hour of ranting without getting a response I got terrified that she might have actually spoken her last word and started begging for her to say something. Only when I finally promised to bring her a refill and quit bugging her did she relent so we could make up. Damned craziest quarrel I had ever had. Worse, when I bitched and moaned to The Boomer about it, he sided with The Self-Important Jelly Glass. So I wised up and shut up.