Kage Baker didn’t trust many people. Oh, she was polite to all the hundreds of people one must be, when one moves about out in the world – she had a public persona with exquisite manners, and was always a perfect lady. In fact, you had to be an intimate friend to see her in her relaxed, at-home mode: when she could be hilariously vulgar, ferociously witty, and disarmingly silly.
Some of you, Dear Readers, knew that side of Kage. Friends who worked Faire or conventions with her; people she grew to trust via safe emails; people who could stay up late drinking rum, until she came out of her shell like a grinning hermit crab and began to assign cave-person names to everyone around the campfire … she was Bunga of the Jungle. She told hysterical and outrageous stories about the young men who went out hunting, and the unlikely things they found.
But one only got to see that face of her if you were a very close friend. One of those is Athene (of whom I have spoken before), the grey-eyed goddess to whom Garden of Iden is dedicated. Athene was not only instrumental in getting Kage’s work in sufficiently good shape to catch an agent and a publisher – she is one of our oldest friends, a boon companion since we were all on the far fringes of adolescence and trying out our adult wings at Renaissance Faires. She was the third voice in Dame Fortune’s Privates; she knew all the sacred Cow Songs and could translate Waterman songs from Yorkshire into English.
Athene has seen me at my worst, and driven me home from Marin County in a truck with a dying alternator. She doesn’t suffer fools or even minute amounts of bullshit. She’s someone I can talk to (easily and even incoherently), about Kage and my own health disasters – Athene has seen both Kage and I, in our times, through any number of weird diseases and accidents. I don’t think she’d be too surprised if I really did turn up with an alien in my chest. She drove Kage to the hospital for her tonsillectomy, when I got benched with gall stones. She brought us ice cream in various recoveries. She has been lecturing me sternly about behaving myself during my post-surgical travails – and I will behave, because Athene will come around and whack me upside the head if I don’t.
And since I moved back to Los Angeles, she has been one the people most successful in persuading me to come out of the house. She and Kimberly have coaxed and bullied me into actually going out of doors and doing something – small, easy, domestic things, like buying tomatoes. But without that prodding, I would have just encysted, like a drought-afflicted virus.
She’s a little rougher on me than she would have been on Kage – she knew Kage well, and knew the inner fragility that underlay all her brilliance and wit. I’m tougher. And often stupider. And a million times more accident prone, so I really need the reminders not to be an idiot.
Athene took me out to dinner tonight, at what has become our favourite haunt in Glendale. We laughed loudly, we gossiped, we recommended movies and television shows to one another. I cried, but I always do since Kage died; but I’m getting better, and Athene doesn’t mind when I tear up over the demitasse cups.
Other than that dinner date, I have mostly been asleep today. Hence the late posting. Tomorrow, though, I shall share with you some more extinct animals that have turned up where no one expected them. And the real reason the Russian craft Phobos-Grunt has failed. And the potential of manganese catalase.
Good night, all.