Kate was sitting on the sofa, sniffling and wiping away her tears as her crying abated. Alicia was consoling her. “It’s okay, Kate. It’s not so bad,” she said. Kate looked up at her. Her eyes were red. Alicia smiled a playful smile and teased, “What is it with you and men, anyway?”
The remark made Kate smile and chuckle a little, and she sat back on the couch and sighed. “Well, I suppose it’s true,” she admitted. “I sort of knew it all along, too, I guess, but I just...couldn’t believe it.”
“Yeah, that’s a hard one to accept,” Alicia sympathized. “Even I’m not completely sure about his identity. But I’m pretty sure he is who he says he is.”
“Well, I don’t know. It’s so weird,” Kate continued. “I guess I just have to take him at his word. I don’t know what else to do.”
“He shouldn’t have humiliated you like that, though,” Jay remarked, from where he was standing by Alicia’s end of the couch with his arms folded across his chest. He was still angry at Speed Racer for getting Kate to admit to his identity the way he had. Kate had started to get into a conversation with Alicia, and gave a half-nod to acknowledge Jay.
The conversation faded into the background as Jay’s mind trailed off in thought. For crying out loud, why did Speed have to go and get Kate to admit his identity that way? The poor girl had just woken up from passing out over him and then he made her admit to something she wasn’t sure she believed in.
And there was another thing. Almost as soon as he’d drawn the words from her mouth, he left. He just said ‘Thank you’ and walked off, out of the room. Jay wondered now where Speed had gone to. He was thinking more and more of going after him and finding out what the deal was, anyway. Why not? The guy had another thing coming, he thought, and besides, Jay felt like he deserved an answer to his question.
Jay abruptly turned and walked out of the room. Alicia and Kate didn’t really notice, as they were caught up in a conversation about what had happened when Kate was passed out.
Jay stepped into the foyer and started up the staircase that led to the second floor. He paused for a moment when he reached the landing, and he looked up and down the hallway. There was a door to a room at one end that was open slightly. Jay decided that perhaps Speed was in there. He walked down the hallway to the room and pushed the door open.
After he’d left the room, Speed Racer had gone upstairs to go set up sleeping arrangements for his three guests. On his way up, he thought about the events leading up to the confrontation in the living room and the confrontation itself. Speed hadn’t meant to scare Kate, and he hadn’t meant to embarrass her, either. However, he’d suspected she’d known who he was the whole time, but for some reason didn’t want to admit it. He’d had to draw it out of her. Although he was still annoyed by this, Speed was more forgiving of it now that he’d had that conversation with Jay and Alicia. It must have been just as bizarre for her to be in that kitchen as it was for me, he realized.
Speed Racer reached the top of the stairs, turned left, and walked down the hallway. There was a spare room at the end of the hallway that he had decided to set up for Alicia and Kate to sleep in, since they were going to be with him for an indefinite amount of time. The same went for Jay, but Speed wasn’t sure about where to put him as there were no more spare bedrooms.
Speed Racer entered the room and began the process of rearranging the items in it to suit company. As he did so, he thought about what he would do when it was said he hadn’t shown up for that race in China. His dad would blow a gasket. Thinking of family, it occurred to him for the first time since he’d been back that his little brother wasn’t there. Normally, he would have been accosted by now. It was right as Speed thought this that Jay pushed open the bedroom door and walked in.
“Oh, hi, Jay,” Speed said, and he turned and fluffed up a pillow on the bed.
“What is going on?” Jay demanded. “Why did you have to humiliate Kate like that downstairs? What gives?”
Speed Racer felt his annoyance coming back with this affront from Jay, but he managed to keep a fairly friendly tone to his voice as he explained, “I didn’t humiliate her on purpose. I didn’t mean to humiliate her. But I knew she knew who I was, and I thought it was ridiculous for her to deny it any longer. The opportunity presented itself when she asked to say she was sorry, so I got her to acknowledge me.”
“Well, I still think you could have done that better,” Jay stated, although less confrontational now that he had an explanation that made some sense.
“Maybe so, but how could I have brought it up to her?” Speed countered. Jay couldn’t really argue with this. He knew that Speed had a point.
“Well, actually, she’s not that bad when she’s not upset,” Jay said. He surprised himself with that statement, because he hadn’t really seen her yet when she wasn’t upset. But it occurred to him that Speed probably couldn’t have brought the subject of his identity up to Kate without having her flip out again.
“Probably not,” Speed agreed. “But I have yet to find out. Hopefully, she’s feeling better so I can show her to her room.” He turned and headed for the door. Jay followed, saying, “She was talking to Alicia when I left.”
“Good,” Speed replied, and the two of them left the room and went down the hall.
Alicia was in the process of telling Kate the details of the conversation she and Jay had with Speed Racer when Jay and Speed Racer entered the room. Alicia turned when she heard them walk in. “Oh, hi,” she greeted. “What’s up?”
“Not much. I just set up a room for you two girls to stay in while you’re here,” Speed said.
“Thanks, that’s very nice of you,” Alicia replied, standing up from the couch and turning to face him. Jay walked over to stand next to her.
“It’s no problem,” Speed replied, smiling. “I figured it’s the least I could do, since you’re probably going to be here a while.” He glanced at Kate over the top of Alicia’s head as he said this, studying her for a reaction.
“What about me?” Jay asked.
“Well...” Speed hesitated, “...I was thinking about that earlier, as I don’t have another spare room. For modesty’s sake, I couldn’t let you share a room with the girls. But I might have an idea.”
Kate had been sitting on the couch cross-legged, facing the entrance to the living room, when Speed Racer walked in. A while? she thought, in response to his reply to Alicia’s thanks. How long is that? Kate listened to what he was saying, to Alicia and to Jay, and studied him as he talked.
It was odd. Kate thought about all the daydreams and stories she’d ever made up about meeting Speed Racer, but realized that this encounter wasn’t turning out to be like any of them. What made those stories different was that she wasn’t actually expecting to meet him, as he wasn’t a real person. But now here he was, in person and very real. It was unnerving. Kate could feel herself automatically tense when he’d walked into the room.
Speed had also been studying Kate since he’d first walked in, and noticed her sit up just a little bit straighter on the couch at sight of him. So, she’s still a little scared, he thought. However, he didn’t think Kate was scared enough to freak out on him again.
Kate ran a hand through her hair. She wasn’t going to freak out on Speed Racer again, as she’d already accepted the fact it was really him. But the prospect of having to stay at his house for an indefinite amount of time made her anxious. What was she going to do? How was she going to adjust to the new world she was in? Kate had already guessed correctly from what Alicia had told her of the conversation with Jay earlier that they were on The Speed Racer Show, and Kate knew as a fan that would put them all at about 1967, pop culturally speaking. The Sixties...wow. It was more than she had ever imagined.
Speed was now inviting Alicia and Kate upstairs, in order to show them their room. Kate could see Alicia smile and follow him as he turned and started to leave the room. Jay followed suit, and Kate willed herself to get off the couch and do the same. She grabbed her backpack, which was sitting at the foot of the coffee table, and took it with her.
Kate studied the décor of the house as she followed the others up the stairs and down the hall. She noted the frosted globe lights hanging from the ceiling in the foyer, and the cinnamon-colored carpet that was covering the stairs and the hallway floor. The hallway walls were painted vanilla white.
The group arrived at the room at the end of the hallway, and Speed pushed the door open, stepping inside the room and gesturing for the others to do the same. The three of them did. Kate looked around the room she was to stay in, surveying it and studying the décor.
The room was square-shaped. There were two windows in it, each in a wall adjacent to the other. This told her it was a corner room. The walls were covered in milk chocolate-colored fake wood paneling, and the carpet was the same cinnamon shade as the stuff in the hallway. There was a double bed with a pale yellow bedspread on it, pushed into one corner, along one of the walls with a window in it. On this same wall were stuck two big, rubber hippie daisies: one in pink with a yellow center, and one in yellow with a green center. How stupid, Kate thought a bit cynically.
Next to the bed was a dressing table. It had a round mirror, and a small matching chair that was tucked under it. On top of it was a lace doily and a round-faced, twin-bell analog alarm clock. The dressing table was along the same wall that the door to enter the room was in.
Adjacent to the bedroom door was a closet that opened with sliding doors. Along the wall across from the bedroom door was a low bookshelf that ran under the other window for most of the length of the wall. In all, it was a nice looking room. But the hippie daisies were going to have to go.
“Here you go, ladies. Here’s your room,” Speed Racer said, and smiled.
“Thank you,” Alicia said, and gave a small smile back.
“Yeah, thanks,” Kate chimed in, turning to look at him. He met her gaze and smiled warmly at her. She was going to be all right. “You’re welcome,” he replied. Then he turned to Jay. “Now Jay. About you,” he stated, hooking an arm around Jay’s shoulders and guiding him out the door. “Here’s what we’ll do. I have a mattress...” Speed's voice trailed off down the hallway, as he and Jay went to go find Jay a bed.
Alicia and Kate were left standing in the room. Alicia had started to look at the décor. Kate dropped her backpack at the edge of the bed and flopped down, onto her back, on the bed. “I guess this isn’t so bad,” she remarked and sighed contentedly, staring whimsically at the ceiling.
“Yeah, this is actually kind of cool,” Alicia replied, looking around the room. Suddenly, she grimaced. “But those hippie daisies look really garish,” she remarked, making a ‘yecch’ face. Kate laughed.