June 30, 2018 at 5:12 pm #9223
Alyce rises with Al and bids Isaint and Rick a good evening before following Al from the pub. The quiz had been an excellent idea and she had had a lot of fun with her friends.
She walks a few steps behind Al, wishing with all her heart that he would indicate that it was alright to walk with him instead of behind him. She is hoping that he will invite her to his room but feels pretty sure that he will not, almost certainly due to what she had said at the end of the evening. Curse her luck with words around him.
176June 30, 2018 at 8:36 pm #9226
Al heard her trailing after him. He was happy to be able to walk alone for a while, get his head clear in the crisp tropical night air. And he appreciated a woman who knew her place. But when the raucous sounds of Shlomo’s Panty Shanty came into earshot he started to feel thirsty. Stopping to let her catch up, he asked, “We go in here fer a nightcap, ya reckon you can keep from adoptin’ any more strays?”July 1, 2018 at 2:31 am #9229
Alyce’s heart leaps when Al pauses to let her catch up as they are passing by the Panty Shanty. She nods silently at his question, fully content to adopt no further strays. In truth, she rarely goes looking for people that need her; it just seems that they find her. She steps up and takes his arm in hers and walks with him to the door of the nightclub.
177July 2, 2018 at 7:47 am #9233
The doorman waved them through without the cover charge, though whether out of fear – remembering the last time Al was there – or avarice – remembering the last time Alyce was – it was hard to say. Either way, a nearly nude woman that looked positively overdressed compared to the girls on the stage obsequiously ushered them to a table that was relatively secluded but still near the main stage and told them the first round was on the house. Eyes followed Alyce’s every move, some simply because she was Alyce, others because they’d seen her dance a few nights earlier and been coming back every night since in hopes of a repeat performance. Sitting with his back to the stage, Al ordered Smirnoff for her and Grolsch for himself.July 2, 2018 at 2:13 pm #9255
Alyce is quite comfortable sitting with Al and gently squeezes his hand in appreciation of the drink. ”You are quite the man, Al. Thank you.” She leaves it at that because she is fully aware of her ability to say the wrong things if she lets her mouth start working without connecting to her brain. She does not even question why Al is sitting with his back to the stage, but wonders if it has something to do with her. When the waitress returns with the drinks, she does order a bit of bar food. Beyond that, Alyce quietly sits at the table and faces her companion, deciding to speak when spoken to tonight. For her, just being in the same room with Al is a pleasure that she does not want to end too early through something she says wrong.
178July 3, 2018 at 1:00 pm #9276
“Heh heh, ya got the right idear there, toots.” The serving girl had frizzy orange hair and milky white breasts swelling up out of a matching bikini top, and when she placed a plate of finger food in front of Alyce, Al was reminded he’d had nothing but pub snacks all evening. Enough beer and he often forgot to eat, but the visual reminder was enough to set his stomach rumbling.
Helping himself to a French fry with one hand, he used another to hook a finger in the strap of the girl’s bikini bottom to arrest her retreat from the table, then ordered cheesy onion ring tower once he had her attention. He’d never heard Alyce place her order – maybe she’d done it in AR, or just as likely he just hadn’t been able to make out her voice over the high-decibel stripper music. His dampers kept the level bearable, but they were designed to protect him from the sound of gunshots and flashbangs, and did nothing to allow things he did want to hear through. Alyce, on the other hand, had pretty much the highest-end filters money could buy, not to mention all sorts of enhancement features. So while he couldn’t hear anything she might say unless she shouted it in his ear, he could just talk in a normal tone and be confident she’d pick up every word. “Din’t realize how hungry I was,” he said, turning to momentarily watch a skinny little native ork girl with surreally neotonous features and an elaborately pierced everything. Not his cup of tea, really. Not that he minded the sight of her gyrating on the stage, exactly, but orks weren’t his thing. Then again, neither were elves, but here was this one across from him, short skirt and nothing between herself and the seat…just knowing it kept him pretty much fully distracted, even in a titty bar.July 3, 2018 at 6:29 pm #9283
Alyce might not be saying anything out loud, but she sure has a way of eating finger food. She catches the attention of the next table over and even Al can make out one of the men there groaning at the way she eats her food, if eating is what you call it. Some men have rightly claimed that she can get a very definite reaction just by the way she transfers food from the plate to her lips. It is certainly more than merely provocative, it is downright sensual. Alyce gives small sounds of enjoyment and almost purrs in her play.
179July 3, 2018 at 7:27 pm #9286
Al ate his cheesy mountain of onion rings in a half trance. But it wasn’t long before he realized he wasn’t the only one ignoring the dancers on the stage. The girls certainly noticed they’d lost their audience, and though they weren’t too happy, they weren’t the problem. This was hardly a genteel crowd, nor particularly woke to third-wave feminist theory. People were getting twitchy. Al could sense a sort of hive mind forming, a flowering of shared lust that shouldn’t be allowed to reach critical mass.
He stood up and motioned with his chin for Alyce to precede him. “Fun’s fun, toots, but now it’s time ta go afore I hafta kill somebody,” he said for her ears alone.
Out in cool air of the parking lot, he remarked, “I sure warn’t complainin’, but ya wanna entertain folks, the resort’s a better place. Things a mite less likely ta go sideways on ya.”July 3, 2018 at 8:10 pm #9289
Alyce stands as Al motions for her and walks with him from the club, the slightly cooler air doing interesting things to the front of her blouse and up her short skirt. Once outside the club, she smiles at him but says nothing, waiting for him to lead off. She will walk beside him if he indicates he desires that, otherwise she will walk a couple of paces behind him.
180July 4, 2018 at 11:55 am #9295
Al didn’t have much to say on the short walk back, and Alyce was less talkative than usual. The quiet was nice. On hitting the resort, Al didn’t head for the suites but rather to one of the quieter lounges. Soft lighting and muted jazz complemented the smoky earth and wood tones of the costly decor.
Al chose a wide booth with a low, small table – something that wouldn’t hide Alyce’s form from his, or anyone else’s, view. He took a seat across from her. “Way too early fer bed on our last night in paradise. Liquor’s better here, I can hear ya talk, an’ any antics ya might care ta pull won’t cause a riot.”July 4, 2018 at 1:59 pm #9301
Alyce orders a round of drinks and removes her cigarette case from her small purse, taking two Luck Strikes from it. She puts them in her mouth and leans over the table a bit to give Al a look down her blouse and to light them before he takes one from her. Sitting back, she deftly crosses her legs, letting him and whoever else may be looking in her direction get a quick look down her thighs. She could give a rat’s ass about anyone else, as everything she has is for Al to look at and appreciate if wants to. He has seen her naked many times, but she still gets a charge out of it. Alyce blows some smoke rings and taps some ash into a convenient ashtray. ”You have no idea how much fun this has been for me, Al. I really needed the down time. I am so looking forward to going home, though, even if only for a couple of weeks and I thank you for agreeing to come with me for at least a few days. You do know that you are welcome to stay as long as you like.”
181July 5, 2018 at 12:01 pm #9330
“Day or two’ll do, thanks.”
He finished his drink and grew fidgety. It was getting late, but he wasn’t tired and didn’t feel like going to bed. He ordered another round of drinks, wishing everything in the world was different. Or at least that something mildly interesting would happen to make him forget that nothing in the world was going to get any different. Ever.
Yup, he was starting to understand why he stayed in this business.July 5, 2018 at 6:29 pm #9333
Alyce thanks Al for the round and takes half of the glass in one gulp. She is disappointed that Al only want to stay with her for two days, but then it really is two days longer than she had thought he would give her. ”I am sorry that you cannot make it longer than two days. That will be a short camping trip, but it should still give you an appreciation for the moors. Thank you so much for giving me that much of your time. What sort of plans do you have for after leaving Cornwall?
182July 5, 2018 at 7:21 pm #9338
“Done told ya. We’s headin’ fer Seattle anyhoo, reckon I got stuff ta do there. Afore the rest o’ y’all show up fer Silky’s thing.”
She had nice legs…and so on. Sometimes she made him feel things he couldn’t drown out with booze or getting shot at or all the bad memories in the world.
He should go.
“Listen, this Cornwall thing, you gon’ whine like that the whole time?”July 5, 2018 at 8:16 pm #9339
It takes a good bit of effort for Alyce to keep from breaking down. Al’s words hurt her like a slap in the face and she blushes. Not for the first time, she wonders if Al ever really sees how he comes across or if perhaps he is doing it on purpose to get her to be the one to call quits to whatever sort of fragged up relationship this was. Looking back at the years, most of everything he has ever said to her seems to lead to the latter idea. Despite some of the things he has said, it keeps coming back to him really just not being interested enough in her to let her in. Sighing, she tosses back the rest of her drink, trying to hide the fact that her heart is breaking. ”I am sorry, Al, I did not mean to whine. Perhaps I have had a bit too much to drink.
Alyce stands, smoothing the sides of her blouse and skirt. ”Thank you for a wonderful evening. I really enjoyed the quiz and then spending some alone time with you. I am looking forward to our short holiday on the moor. However, I think that I will now head off to my room and pack so that I can be ready to leave tomorrow. What would be a good time to be ready?”
183July 6, 2018 at 7:33 am #9340
Al didn’t move. “Well, the sun’ll come up, an’ at some point thereafter I’ll put some clothes on. Have somethin’ ta eat. Maybe lay in some chow fer the flight – gon’ be a good twenny-four, she ain’t no semiballistic. So then an’ hour o’ preflight. Fuelin’. So….sometime? When-I-feel-like-leavin’-thirty? But even then, if’n ya ain’t ready, ya ain’t ready. Looks like it’s just the two of us anyhoo, assumin’ Rick’s goin’ with Isaint. So it’s wheels up when we say it is. Ya got a comm. Ya got yer feet. Ya know where I’m at. Where the plane is. Reckon you’ll find me. An’ it ain’t like I’d leave without ya. But if’n yer worried about it, you can always go sleep in my room, no way you’ll miss yer ride thataway….Yo, garcon, how ’bout some o’ that cherry pie ya had the other night?”July 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm #9346
Alyce nods and smiles at Al before leaving the table. Her sensors guide her to the elevator and she takes it to her floor, walking to her room, where she begins to pack her things. She has spent decades living in the wild and learning to pack, so the process does not take long. She puts the two suitcases near the door and steps out on the veranda, high above the lush foliage below her, and lights a cigarette, twirling the heavy Zippo lighter in her fingers as she considers her future and the man she loves more than life.
it is more than infuriating that she cannot manage to say anything that he wants to hear. She has taken to being very careful with her words and yet he still tries so hard to find something wrong with almost everything she says. Sighing, she again considers her opinion that perhaps he really is trying to push her away. They seem to work well together, very well. She has become closer to Al, Isaint, and Rick than to many of her friends. But things are not well on a personal level and maybe it is time to really accept that he just does not want her in his life that way.
Two cigarettes later, Alyce walks back into the room, strips out of her clothes and takes a shower before crawling into bed. She tosses and turns a bit, realizing that her mind is still roiling with possibilities and decisions. Sadly, the situation is still being hotly debated in her mind when she falls asleep. Her internal alarm wakes her at three and she showers before slipping into a smart, off-white pantsuit that was tailored to show her curves. The porter is at the door exactly on time and takes her cases to the elevator, calmly waiting for her as she secures her door one last time and takes a look down the hallway to where Al’s room is. Shaking her head, Alyce slips the strap sack over her shoulder and walks to the elevator, accompanying the porter to the lobby.
As Alyce signs out of the room at the registration desk, a man from the restaurant shows up with the food she has ordered for the trip and she takes the basket from him with a smile. She is told that the cooler has already been put in the cart, along with her suitcases. Some smiles, some gratuities, and more than a few compliments later and she walks from the hotel, climbing onto the cart provided by the concierge. The ride to the marina is nice at this time of the morning as, while still warm, the temperature is not yet what it will be later and there is a slight, cooling breeze coming off the ocean. The small powered cart stops on the pier opposite the Snakehandler and the driver assists Alyce in putting her cases and the basket of food. If the man has any comments or concerns about the condition of the airplane, he does not say anything. before leaving, he makes sure that Alyce will be alright. She smiles at him and tips him well for his service and politeness.
Alyce takes a seat on a crate that is sitting on the pier near the aircraft, her cases and the supplies piled neatly at her side. There is a bit of light from an overhead lamp about twenty feet away down the pier, as well as a bit of moonlight peeking through some light clouds, but that is the only light at this time of day. Fortunately, the blind do not need light to see. Alyce sighs as she takes a metal book from her strap sack and opens it up to where she had left off. The tears falling from her eyes do not mar the metal pages as she runs her fingers deftly over the raised Braille characters, reading once again the greatest love story ever told. There have been many times in the last few years that she has fervently wished that she could experience a shared love that is as strong as that of the protagonists in the story. Sadly, her life seems to be turning out far differently and far less satisfactorily than what she is reading. She cannot and will not ever deny the love that she feels, but for now it seems to be mostly one-sided.
After a bit, she puts the book away in the bag and just sits on the crate. She sends a message to Al to let him know where she is. >>Hey you. It’s me. I woke early and came down to the pier. I have some food with me for the trip and some beer on ice in a cooler. My bags are stacked and waiting to get loaded. Take your time and eat some breakfast before coming down. I will see you when you get here, but we are not in any hurry and, as you said, we can leave at when-we-feel-like-leaving-thirty. I love you.<<
When Al gets to the pier, he sees Alyce sitting on a crate, looking off at the ocean that she cannot see. It is entirely unintentional on her part, and completely coincidental, but she is sitting almost precisely as he had first seen her………………….sitting on a crate in a dusty and busy warehouse in Cambodia, slightly turned away so that he sees her profile as she looks off into the distance, seemingly completely unaware of the world around her. The only real difference is that she is now sitting on a pier next to their plane and not in that nameless warehouse where it all started.
184July 6, 2018 at 7:44 pm #9354
Al hadn’t stayed in the lounge long after Alyce left.
What had he been thinking inviting her to stay in his room tonight? Clearly he hadn’t been thinking at all. He’d been annoyed by her remarks about the brevity of his stay in Cornwall. But really he’d been annoyed at her for existing. The only thing in his world that put what he should do and what he wanted to do into conflict.
HIs understanding of human nature, the Good Book, and the philosohpies of men indicated that most people faced these sorts of conflicts on a daily basis throughout their lives. In this thing he’d always counted himself lucky – the thing he wanted to do was almost always exactly what he reckoned he should do. So he was ill prepared for the existential conflict she presented, and the unfamiliar inner tumult was like a million-volt electromagnet sucking at his moral compass.
So he’d been annoyed, at her. Or her words. Whatever. Spoken too harshly. He hadn’t wanted her to go. Hadn’t wanted her to stay either. Whichever it was, he’d wanted her to smile. Figured letting her stay with him would turn her mood around.
Nuts to that. He figured he’d been pretty magnanimous. Basically offering to sleep on the sofa on his last night in the posh suite. He had planned to stay on the sofa, right? One too many beers, his head was hazy. The invite had been for her, right? He ordered another pie. And some coffee.
So she’d left and he wasn’t sleepy but an hour had passed and he thought of her lying there in his bed and he couldn’t wait. Which was to say, she might be sad or lonely waiting for him, so he’d better go let her know he was all right. That was it. That was why he quickened his step on the way to his room.
Well, she was a surprisingly slow packer, because she still hadn’t arrived. Al had shaken his head at himself, chagrined at his schoolboy eagerness, and even more at the lack of clarity in his purpose.
Well, she’d be here soon. But he was tired now. He flopped down on the sofa (where he’d always intended to sleep, of course). Closed his eyes. But, oddly enough for him, his clothes chafed. Whatever, he’d done the nudie swimming thing. Let her get an eyeful. He’d stripped and tossed himself back down on the sofa. But the Corinthian leather uphholstery stuck to his skin. He got up to grab a sheet off the bed and berated himself for his stupidity. She wasn’t even there yet, why not just sleep in the bed until she showed up. He climbed in. He’d get out and onto the sofa when she arrived. Sure he would…..
He woke with the sun. Looked around and smiled hugely. She’d surprised him. First points she’d earned since the weird and tragic announcement about going vanilla. He found the message on his comm. Stupid martyr was down on the pier already. And by the timestamp, had been for an hour or so. He sighed. It was way the hell too early to get up, but he couldn’t just leave her sitting there.
And then he was walking across the wooden planks toward her, thanking the voodoo gods for always being there with the juice. Apparently, hollow point and full metal jacket weren’t the only sort of bullets they helped him dodge.July 10, 2018 at 8:42 pm #9383
Alyce is aware of Al’s approach well before he even sets foot on the pier. First her drones let her know, then her sensors and amplified senses. She turns her head in his direction and smiles at him. ”Good morning, Al. I hope that you slept well last night. I woke a bit early and just came on down to wait.” She motions to the two coolers at the side of the crate she is sitting on. ”Did you eat before coming down? I have some fresh fruit and beverages in the blue cooler and some bacon, eggs, and toast in the red cooler. I was told that the small heaters inside would keep the food warm without drying it out. Bloody technology, eh? Oh, and the marina guy has been by, and I signed for the fuel already, so we are good to go whenever you are ready.”
185July 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm #9387
Al nodded and spent an hour on a pre-flight. Satisfied, he loaded Alyce’s stuff and said, “Alrighty, only two of us, so we’s good ta go.”
By which he did not mean that there was no one to wait for, but that there were not too many passengers to fit into the cockpit. That was the only part of the plane with heating, and it would be a cold night. Going north was not only the shortest route, but the most politically expedient. They’d hit the North American coastline a bit farther north than would be navigationally optimal in order to miss what used to be Tsimshian – the Salish tribes took their airspace a lot more seriously than their northerly neighbors of the Athabascan Council. And the papers he’d gotten from Flannery were airtight up there. Short hop over the Rockies and they’d be into the TPA, and Al was pretty sure those guys didn’t even bother with border security. Why would they?
So shorter. No hassles. And cold.
And it wasn’t as though they’d brought a lot of Arctic-rated apparel to their little slice of tropical heaven. The cargo hold would be a long, frozen night, but in the cockpit it would be cramped but toasty. Al put the food there.
Hour-and-a-quarter after showing up on the dock they were airborne.
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