I sat in the Big Red Garage on Fremont Street in the dark. My chat program was set to “available.”

Outside in the hot Vegas night, the light show began. Men and women carrying beer footballs stopped in their tracks. They looked up at the seventy-million-dollar vault of lights. Animated submarines battled overhead. On the promenade, Japanese tourists whipped out video cameras.

I was working on storyboards for an upcoming show while the smell of propane whirled heavily into the room. Next door, forklifts filled their tanks. I felt lightheaded.

Suddenly there was Julie. Her words had wrapped halfway around the planet to reach me in cyberspace. “I’m on an island,” she said. Paradise.

That was eleven years ago. She was in her early twenties.

Julie still lives on the island. She usually only steps off-island to go sailing, dive with great whites, or go on secret missions. That’s my perception anyway.

She never tells me about the secret missions.

She works for a government. She’s good looking. She once found out someone following her at a dignitary function was snapping photos of her ass. I think she had soldiers confiscate the film. She sent me one of the snapshots. I felt lucky.

Julie speaks dozens of languages.

She often comments on TheNervousBreakdown.com and on its Facebook page.

A soldier’s guard dog once rescued her from a would-be rapist. I’m almost certain the accused was executed. Julie doesn’t talk about it. She kept the dog until it became blind and crippled.

Around the time the dog died another ran to her home, jumped on her, and licked her face as if to say, “It’s OK,” then left.

A shaman once gave her a shell shaped like a heart. He disappeared down a long strip of sandy beach.

Recently she watched a wild dog come out of nowhere and bite off a young man’s nose.

She once got swept out to sea in a storm flood. She was discovered by Swedish sailors. She knows a lot of good looking Swedish men. I often wonder if it’s because she was hardly wearing anything when she was spotted bobbing in the ocean.

A guy she knew got chopped to bits with an ax. That had nothing to do with the government coup on the island, which she helped solve. As she did, one of the conspirators sat in a jail cell talking to her. He offered her fifty cows if she would be his bride. She declined. She has a thing for Swedes.

Julie once jumped out of a helicopter onto tangled tree roots and shattered her knee. I wrote her a long letter about overcoming obstacles and pain. I actually don’t remember what I wrote. But Julie does. She tells me about the letter when I’ve forgotten it. I act like it was no big deal, like it’s always on the tip of my tongue.

We spoke on the phone once, maybe twice since we met in cyberspace. Sometimes we chat everyday. Sometimes weeks go by.

We miss each other. We often trade stories.

Julie [4:22 PM]:
hummm  Did I tell you about the naked man?
novelboy2 [4:23 PM]:
No. Do tell.
Julie [4:24 PM]:
I woke up at 1:39 to go to the bathroom. I never turn on a light because it wakes me up. So I come out and there under the skylight was a naked man just finishing taking off his clothes.

novelboy2 [4:25 PM]:
What the heck? I thought you had soldiers guarding your casa?

Julie [4:26 PM]:
Me too. But some guy went into my room, thought it was the guest rooms and got naked.
novelboy2 [4:26 PM]:
Who was the guy?
Julie [4:27 PM]:
Some guest of another person living here. He was a bit drunk. I screamed so loud I woke everyone up  ahah

When Julie is online, her name flashes from red to blue. Soon a little yellow note appears. It’s a little treasure.

She doesn’t say much. When she says hello it’s often in threes: “Hi hi hi.”

Our goodbyes are usually longer. In between we always find a way to say we care. Often, that’s by worrying about each other.

Julie [4:13 PM]:
How are you? I was worried. Haven’t seen you in a few.
novelboy2 [4:13 PM]:
I was at the library today.
Julie [4:14 PM]:
novelboy2 [4:14 PM]:
Yeah. Why would you be worried? Think I was floating away somewhere?
Julie [4:15 PM]:
God, I hope not!
novelboy2 [4:16 PM]:
I could use a boat ride.
Julie [4:17 PM]:
What’s wrong?
novelboy2 [4:18 PM]:
You ride boats all the time. Are boats bad?
Julie [4:18 PM]:
Noooo. I love boats. But you never said that to me in 11 years ahah.
novelboy2 [4:19 PM]:
We talked once not long ago. You said you would take me on a boat. And it’s raining here. Makes me think of boats.
Julie [4:19 PM]:
I would love to sail with you.
Julie [4:19 PM]:
And you can stand right next to me.

Julie is often in secret government meetings. The government she works for monitors her chats. Sometimes she gets really bored and leaves her chat on. No one can see her computer. I try to cause trouble. My goal is to try to get her to spit out her strawberry tea.

novelboy2 [4:28 PM]:
What’s new with you?
Julie [4:28 PM]:
I’m in a meeting.
novelboy2 [4:29 PM]:
Can’t they see your computer screen? Is George there?
novelboy2 [4:29 PM]:
Hi George!!!
Julie [4:29 PM]:
ahahaha No one can see the screen. But he is here.
novelboy2 [4:30 PM]:
Hehehe. Shhh…
novelboy2 [4:30 PM]:
Blow me a kiss. Hurry. Before they all look!
Julie [4:30 PM]:
ahahahahaha spritz one coming. 
novelboy2 [4:31 PM]:
A spritz kiss? What they heck is that? Sounds 7-Uppy.
Julie [4:32 PM]:
Well, you kiss your fingertip and then pretend that you are pumping a spray bottle. 
novelboy2 [4:32 PM]:
Never heard of it. That’s badass. I want two.
Julie [4:32 PM]:
Okay. spritz spritz.
novelboy2 [4:36 PM]:
What’s on the meeting agenda?
1. Julie: your turn to make the coffee.
2. Julie: Your turn to clean the bathroom.
3. Julie: Your turn to host the February “All-Island Chili Leaf Eat-Off.”
4. Julie: You need to take over on TPS reports.
Julie [4:37 PM]:
“Julie. You are brilliant!”
novelboy2 [4:39 PM]:
Julie: you did a bang up job on that cow poop dispute over on the Janga Janga farm.
Julie: brilliant conducting of the sea serpent shadow box festival.
Julie: fine job with your statistical analysis of the intra-island fungus disaster.
Julie [4:39 PM]:
funny funny funny ahaha 
Julie [4:42 PM]:
ahahahahahah Not so far from the truth ahah
novelboy2 [4:44 PM]:
Julie: Chief Wonawango said the constellations to the east aren’t fixed correctly in the sky for late January. You’re going to have to get with NASA and see if they can hurry on that level 7 Earth axis-shifting experiment. Wonawango has put in three requests and one curse.
novelboy2 [4:47 PM]:
Julie: Chief Wonawango said he would have all 7 of his wives surround my car and push their breasts against it if this isn’t done. Julie: My wife might not like to see that kind of de-civilization taking place on my new Honda. And, we’re having the Russians here on the 1st for a tour of the local worm farm. Can you lead that? And, Julie. Dress up for once? You’re acting like this is some kind of vacation. You know the code. Pea coats in January. P-E-A  C-O-A-T-S.
Julie [4:49 PM]:
You are decidedly the best most imaginative man I have ever known.