I'm missing Kate tonight, and it occurs to me that I haven't yet told you what little I know about her abrupt departure.
Last week, as you may recall, I expressed concern that if Black Rose Katie Specks didn't somehow make it back to her own time, she would soon be resuming her life of crime, right here in the 21st Century. When I discussed the issue with Kate herself over the weekend, she didn't even bother to deny it. So when I got home on Monday and she wasn't here, my first thought was that she got tired of waiting to be mysteriously returned home, and hitchhiked down to Nogales or Naco to become a smuggler; or else that she'd gotten in trouble trying to rob a bank.
But there was nothing on the news about a bank robbery, or about anyone trying to rob anyone with only a flintlock gun for a weapon, or crossing the border into Mexico in a pirate outfit and with no identification. Furthermore, there was nothing missing from my house, not even the clothes I loaned to Kate. Even the necklace that Kate loaned to me for the VIVI Awards was still here. Had she left on her own, I doubt very much that she would have foregone the chance to steal anything that she might find useful. She was grateful for my hospitality, but not that grateful. All things considered, then, it was starting to look as though my friend the pirate had disappeared the same way she appeared - mysteriously, suddenly and involuntarily.
I hoped that meant that she did return to the late 18th Century, but there didn't seem to be any historical record of her - not online, anyway. Google turned up quite a few results for "pirate Kate," but most of them are either an Internet handle or clearly fictional, including a pirate's daughter in an old novel, a woman who meets a time traveling pirate in a recent novel (!), and one of the daughters in The Pirates of Penzance. Maybe Katie Specks didn't make it home after all, or maybe she did nothing under the name Kate that was noteworthy enough to make the pirate websites.
It wasn't until last night that I noticed a Word file on the desktop of my computer, one I never put there. The file name was "To Karen." Thinking it might be a note of farewell from Black Rose Kate, I opened it up and read:
I write this in haste, because, as you might say, "my ride is here," and cannot wait. Her name is Ariel - or so she claims. She is certainly no airy spirit (or mermaid - I did glance through your Disney collection over the weekend). She also claims to be indirectly responsible for my having been beached here in the desert with you. In the final of her three claims, she proposes to take me home. I have decided to put this third claim to the test!
Thank you for your hospitality, patience and friendship.
That Disobedient Wench,
Black Rose Katie Specks
Underneath this, in a different color font, was a second, more surprising note:
I found out about your "house guest" earlier today while Googling for evidence of disturbances in time in your version of reality. When I read your journal entries about Black Rose Kate, I realized that I ought to "swing by," as you put it, and get her safely home.
Based on similar recent incidents in this part of the Multiverse, I'm pretty sure that Kate's arrival in Tucson was a side effect of what I've been calling a "leak" in my pandimensional sports car. I think you'll agree that a sports car is a much more practical way of traveling than my dad's castle is--if I can get it working properly. I know that you know about Toujours Chez Moi, because I saw it mentioned in your story Mall of Mâvarin. Cathy and Carl are fine, by the way. Your imagination seems to be pretty closely tied in with worlds my dad and I move through on a regular basis. Intriguing! Kate is not from your reality, any more than I am, so in a way you were right to make the contradictory claims that she was both fictional and real.
I'd love to stay and say hello in person, but I have a test in the morning. I'd better get Kate back to her bit of space-time, and then go study. The test is on A Wrinkle in Time, and I haven't finished reading the book yet!
Your Imaginary Friend (LOL!),
(Joshua Wander's daughter)
I don't know why I'm so shocked about this. After all, Joshua Wander himself once bought tickets at Worldwide Travel while I worked there. Why shouldn't his daughter borrow my laptop for a few minutes?
By the way, I also found my notebook, the one in which Black Rose Kate wrote a brief version of her life story. I'll share that with you another time, but for now I'll tell you this much: she was not born with the name Kate or Katherine, or anything like that.
Fair weather and safe harbor, Kate!