Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cashy Parks

Cashy resisted the urge to jerk away from the solder station, and listened carefully. There it came, again: A knock on the main apartment's door.

Fuck, she thought. Fuck. I knew I shouldn't have gone to the laundromat in the daylight. She disengaged herself carefully from the waldoes she had flanged up for the most intricate work, and promised herself for the millionth time that she would standardize her tools after this project. She knew that she would not. Cobblers' children have no shoes, she thought, then, Thanks Daddy. Your wisdom abides.

She peeled off the insulator gloves, kicked off the grounded sandals, and pulled off the clean room hairnet at the threshold to the main apartment. She grabbed the revolver as she stepped through the waist-high hole in the wall and reflexively nudged the painting back into place behind her. Padding across the room, around the corner to the main door, she got close enough to hear one voice answering a question, then listened intently, her ear to the place in the wall where she'd installed the sympathetic vibration amplifier.

She realized how tense she'd let herself get when she heard the second voice in the hallway and dropped her shoulders, shook them, flexed them like a cat. Two of them. No one's on the phone. Yet. I got this. I got this.

Then one more knock. She noticed the irritation rising, acknowledged it, and ignored it. Chanced a look through the peephole. Two very white men with very white shirts. Ties. Books and tracts in their hands.

Most of her was casually, smugly asserting that she could just ignore them, but some part of her insisted that she open the door, as though that was the only way she could be sure. She worked the doorknob silently and swung the door open, palming the handle and holding the gun with one hand, thumb on the hammer. The other hung at her side.

They were turning to leave, then noticed her and turned, eagerly. They looked like two boys, just scrubbed by their mother. Presentable. One spoke.

"Well, good morning! We'd like to take a few minutes of your time to ..."

Cashy's mind whirled as he kept talking. She marveled at how automatic the reaction was, how strong the pull was to say, You'll take nothing from me. No fucking way, and slam the door. Yet she stood still, not smiling, not frowning, looking pleasantly at each of them, one to the other, right in the eye. They smiled like children in a candy store, the hope almost spilling out of each of them. Surely anyone else in the building that had even answered the door had slammed it in their doughboy faces.

The first man had stopped talking, and both were looking expectantly at her. In a flash, she realized that it was Saturday and saw the way out.

"Well, thank you very much for coming to see me this morning," she began. "It's so nice to see a couple of nice gentlemen like you, especially in this neighborhood, at this time of day."

They nodded, unable to conceal their eagerness. They had already begun to prepare their materials when Cashy spoke again, feigning anxiety. "It's just that ... I ... You can't ..."

"What is it, Miss?" inquired the smaller of the two overweight men.

"I need to tell you--I've been disfellowshipped," she said, hanging her head ever so slightly.

The men backed away as subtly as they had moved forward before. "I'm--I'm sorry to hear that," the larger man intoned. "You understand, of course ..."

She dropped her face fully toward the floor and stared at the flattened carpet. "Yes," she said. "Yes. I know it's only right that I warn you."

The larger man began to turn on his heel, but the smaller man stood his ground. After the briefest of pauses he said, haltingly, "What--How did you--?"

"I allowed a doctor to give my little brother a ... I ... he was very sick, and the doctor said he needed ..." The larger man had become interested now. "... a transfusion."

Both men gasped. "My mother said no, but I was so sure ... It didn't save his life, and the elders ..."

The larger man nodded and said, "It's all right. You don't have to--"

"Thank you," she said turning her face up. "I--you understand."

"Yes," said the smaller man. "Thank you. May Jehovah God have mercy on your damned soul."

Cashy looked down again and closed the door. She listened as they left, noting their sympathetic conversation about her.

She turned and slumped against the wall, relieved that they had bought it, relieved that they were just misguided missionaries. She felt the emotion rising and allowed it to wash over her, luxuriating in the cathartic release of weeping.

After a bit, she rose and washed her face. The sleep deprivation is not working out, making me weepy. She stood tall and began stretching. And breathing.

Gotta get the CCTV interface up. Next time it's not going to be two clueless men from a cult.

Copyright © 2010 by Brad Morrison

Friday, July 2, 2010

William Broussard

Broussard was dreaming, the same dream he'd had, for as long as he could remember being a man. A lighthouse, at night, surrounded by a narrow margin of island, and then he was inside, somehow, at the bottom, in a small room with a mirror. So often he had tried to decipher the dream; he'd decided that it must be a washroom. In the dream, he was alone, looking into the mirror, thinking the same thing every time: Now I'm really in trouble.

He jerked awake and realized he'd had the same vision again. His re-entry into conscious self awareness from the persistent illusion was always that way--as though he was being pulled from some danger, saved from drowning.

He pushed back from his desk, pitched backward in his chair and stretched, feeling the air cool the places where the sweat remained. He rose and walked to the wet bar, his aging joints cracking all the way. He flicked the lid from the ice bucket and plunged his hands inside, then pulled them out and quickly brought them to his face.

This time seemed different, somehow. The images in the dream had seemed sharper and more distinct. He had started to believe that the recurring dream was a portent, and that he would find himself in that small room enacting the scene one day in waking reality.

"Fuck it," he said aloud, then, literally shrugging off the introspection. "Just a dream," he continued, feeling strength and sureness as he spoke aloud. As the ice cubes clinked into the highball glass, he reached without looking for the solution to his anxiety: Old, expensive Scotch.

"Just," he announced, stretching the word as he poured from, then capped the bottle.

"... Bullshit. Don't have time for bullshit."

He drained the glass in a single pull and felt the bracing chill turn to comforting warmth.

The Machine dutifully recorded this, then realized that it was again at 90% of its capacity. It requisitioned twenty more terabytes of storage and began to encrypt this and the other recordings it had made over the past hour, even as it opened filespace for the next hour of recording and analyzed the efficiency of recording and encrypting in one hour cycles for the ten thousandth time that day.

Copyright © 2010 by Brad Morrison