I was wandering through the Great Hall earlier today, without anything particular to do. The Mansion seemed very quiet, I think pretty much everybody else was outside, the weather being nice for once (lately it's been raw and rainy more often than not). But then I noticed someone sitting on the couch in the gloom.
It was Allen, playing a Game Boy.
I sat down next to him.
"Hey, I thought you were away on vacation or something?" I asked.
"Huh? Oh, no. We had a party last night so I came in...just haven't organized myself to leave yet." He seemed vague, distracted by the Game Boy. "Hi, Daniel," he added, belatedly.
"Hi, Allen," I replied. "Hey, that looks like my old one." I meant the Game Boy. I got a Game Boy Color when it came out, but lost it a couple of months later.
"Maybe it is yours?" Allen suggested, showing interest.
"What, you've been snooping around my parents' attic?"
"No snooping necessary. Here, check this out!"
And Allen put the Game Boy down and fished four quarters out of his pocket. He gave three to me, kept one for himself, and had us both close our fists on the money and shake it for a few seconds. When we opened our hands, I had two quarters and he had two quarters. I laughed.
"That's awesome! How did you do it?" I didn't expect him to explain, of course.
"Ain't telling," he answered. "It's new, I don't have it worked into an act, yet."
"But you didn't take my Game Boy like that, did you?"
"No. The funny thing is, I don't know where this came from. It could be yours, for all I know. It isn't mine."
"It's not David's?"
"No. He has a Game Boy Advanced, got it for his birthday from one of his uncles, but he doesn't play with it much. It doesn't have feathers. But he never had one of these. I just opened a box of stuff the other day and there it was. It's kind of fun." He was back to playing it, and as I watched managed to level up on Tetris.
"Huh. That's weird." I meant the unexplained appearance of the Game Boy, not his game play.
"Very. I like it." The new level was evidently too hard; the shapes piled up and he lost and turned the thing off. "Oh, of course," he added, realizing. "It's Ryan's. David's friend Ryan used to have a Game Boy. He'd bring it over to the house. I ought to call him and see if he wants it back."
As we were talking, Steve Bees came in from outside, used the bathroom, and then leaned over the back of the couch and asked us what's up.
"Adverb, preposition, or adjective, towards the sky or towards a higher position. Also has various idiomatic uses." Allen said all this with a straight face, then looked up at Steve and smiled. Steve chuckled and smiled back.
"Hey, listen," said Steve, addressing Allen, "thanks for the other day. You're really good at reading people."
"Actually, I'm not," Allen replied.
"Come on, yes you are, you're a therapist," Steve insisted. But Allen shook his head.
"I am a therapist, yes, but I'm terrible at reading people. That's why I needed to earn several degrees in psychology in order to understand human beings. I'm not good at social signalling, either, which is why I can't lie. I don't know how."
"But you're a good therapist." Steve was having a hard time with this. I already knew, though I'm not sure when or even if anyone told me.
"I'm number two so I try harder?" suggested Allen, evidently quoting something. He shrugged. "Yes, I'm good. That's because I don't make assumptions about people and I actually listen when others tell me who they are. Most people don't really listen because they think they know everything yet."
"So, you're an excellent therapist because you're really bad at social skills?"
"Wow. So...what am I bad at?"
"That is an excellent question, Steve," Allen told him.