“You admit you are the girl that goes by California.”
“Cal, yeah. That’s me.”
“You have an unregistered navel. You declared All Orange back in 1914, before such things even existed. Do you admit you are also a time traveler?”
“I can admit that. I am allowed. Now… give me something hard.”
Natali Woodhull did not respond immediately. Then: “I’ve lived here since the lemony days. I know a thing about citrus.”
“Good for you Natali. Can I let Rocky in now? We must practice for the big ball 2 weeks from Friday. End of story. Completio.”
Natali paused again. “Not quite yet,” she decided. “As California, you are created by a man named Wilson, true?”
“I *am* Wilson. I am the 28th president of the United States of America born in Staunton, Indiana.” She smiled.
“But… you are a woman,” points out Natali.
“Then: Wilsonia. The feminine form of Wilson. I tipped the scales in favor of me. I am both feminine and masculine. General Grant knows.”
They sat there for a while. They could hear Rocky rapping on the door of the coffee shop, saying stuff like, “come on,” and, “let me in already.” Finally he seemed to go away. Tronesisia nodded her head a little with this. “It’s going to be difficult for him to come back. He’ll get lost in the city lights, he will.”
“I’m sorry. But this is important. There’s a wall in this town of course. In olden days it was called the Green Monster, not because of its color but because it ate green — trees to be specific.”
“General Grant allows glimpse into Navelencia at Orange Cove,” says Tronesisia cryptically, and then reaches down to lift her metal shirt a bit, exposing the orange in question. “Green Monster. It has a hole in the center.” She circles the navel with a silver index finger, then lowers the shirt back and beams blue eyes at Natali. “I heard you used a recording of our signature song for a dance last week.”
“I did,” admitted Natali, hoping Tronesisia wasn’t mad about the borrowing (what was *that* about?). “But just for a particular customer. On a whim, if you will. I got it from Chris.”
“Did it have a certain effect?” Tronesisia’s pace was crisp and precise.
Natali didn’t know. She recalls she was really into it. Trance dance. “I’m not sure,” she offered. “Can you explain?”
Tronesisia got up out of her chair and danced the same exact dance, right there on the spot. Natali Woodhull’s mouth remained agape at the beginning. How? she thought. How?
And then she began to remember.
There was a ship.