by Thadd Presley
“You in a jam,” she asked teasingly. Then, she waited for me to respond. When I didn’t, she continued. “You want if I should help you or something?” I was struck by her thick accent. It was rough and strong and sexy. It had me interested in her from syllable one.
I always wondered how a simple thing like an accent could prejudice someone in our mind. I suppose it was written into our DNA. Either that or I could be a shallow person. But, I felt it was more than that and if she gave me half a chance, I believed I would find many reasons to want to know her.
“Hey, are ya listenin’ ta me? I don’t have much time for lunch. I need to be –”
“Yes, yes. I’m listening, but give me a moment. I’m thinking on how to –”
“How to What? It doesn’t take this long to laser scan a lunch tray.”
“I was just about to get to that. First, though,” this is when I looked up at her. “I was trying to figure out how you might help me.” She blinked at me and I waited a beat before continuing. “That’s what you asked right? If I wanted your help?”
“Yeah, OK.” She smiled. “You got me.”
I melted a little bit.
“So, tell me how I can help?”
My mind whirled. Just her playing along with me was more that I would have dared dream about with a girl like her. “So many things come to mind.” I opened the top of the Compu-Server and unplugged the motherboard from the power supply without looking up at her. I knew if she saw how nervous I was the illusion would be broken. I wanted it to seem as if I could talk to her this way for as long as she wanted. Because, we all knew that I talked to girls all the time and innuendo-laden banter was natural for me.
The cafeteria was full as usual.The eleven-fifteen lunch crowd was already cramming themselves into every possible inch behind the eleven-oh-five crowd. Which was usually not a problem, but today the new Compu-Servers were glitching and not accepting the Meal Card.
Already chaos had erupted in line.People were cramming their face with macaroni salad and hamburgers before paying, the school’s security drones were buzzing in all directions getting video of every infraction, and the human security was just beginning the mistake of physically taking food from hungry people.
Just as a drone passed my station. I got an idea. “I know how you can help?”
“Yes. Yes. Anything” She was not comfortable with the break down of lunchroom etiquette.
“Come with me. We will eat off campus.”
“You could do that?”
“Yeah, I can eat anywhere I want after my shift ends in nine minutes.”
She smiled. “I mean leave these people here with no chance of paying for the lunch they’ve eaten?”
“Oh yeah. I wouldn’t worry about that. There’s nothing I can do about the glitch in the Compu-Servers anyway.” I casually slapped the base of the computer and watched the touch screen wobble. “There’s nothing in here except cables. All the software is in the…” I pointed up. “You know.”
“Be careful.” She touched the screen and settled it’s wobble. “That’s not yours.”
A drone flew close to my head and someone spoke to me from the speakers. It was a male voice. “A level three infraction has been documented. You are charged accordingly and will report to the Commons Area for sentencing at Eighteen hundred hours.”
I smiled at myself and tried to look unworried. “I’d like to report a problem with…”
The drone spoke in anticipation. “I have informed Control that you are having problems with the interface. A two hour mandatory community service of Compu-Server training has been scheduled.”
I looked back at the girl and asked. “Would you like to go eat with me?”
“Right now?” She smiled. “No. I couldn’t.” She blushed a little and smiled again.
I reached under the small podium that held the Compu-Server and reached for Standard Procedures Notebook. Once I had it, I opened it to the first page and read the scripted announcement to the starving students. “On this notebook,right here, you need to Print your name, School Number, and list all that crap you just ate. On this, right here.” I raised the notebook over my head and shook it. “If you fail to do so, the drones will know and Control will charge you with theft. Remember, it is Station Five-Fourdeen Policy to prosecute any and all infractions. If a cartoon milk is missing at the end of the day, the oxygen to air ratio will be reduced to make up the difference in cost.”
The crowd booed and the drones buzzed. I saw it as a good chance to make my get away and took the woman’s hand. My actions were not my own. I was just feeling it, feeling her, and coupling it with the emotions her accent gave me. I felt chills up and down my spine. “Are you ready?”
“What?” Her eyes got wide and I saw a gleam of excitement in them.
“If they get hold of me, I’ll be trapped her all night making reports and looking up Student Numbers.”Of course, I’d have to do it all in the morning. There was no getting away from the responsibility, but it seemed rebellious to leave in the middle of a panic and take her with me. It was a spontaneous way to make the day more interesting and a good excuse to hold her hand. “I’ll take you to a five-star restaurant with an unfiltered window looking toward the galactic center.”
“Alright. It’s a deal.”
Copyright Thadd Presley — All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.