"Oh my, oh my, a burglar!" Frankie's voice was soft and a bit nasal, so remote from the way she normally spoke it would have been enough to send someone who knew her laughing in fits. But the young stud bent over Janice's bar didn't know her.
"Huh?! I'm no burglar, lady."
"You aren't? What are you doing here then?"
Frankie knew perfectly well what a man wearing boxers and one sock might be doing a half hour before noon, bent over Janice's bar. But it never hurts to ask, does it?
"I just fucked that bitch over there senseless."
Saying that the youth stood up straight, and Frankie briefly considered he might start thumping his chest any second now, complete with Tarzan's monologue. So she made big round eyes and put both hands to her mouth. If you were really good at missing clues, you might have thought she just got here on her day off as a catholic convent teacher, but her eyes really gave her away. Then she noticed Janice, who was now supporting the frame of the door to her bedroom.
"You don't seem all that senseless to me..."
"You heard the man speak hon. I'm senseless."
"See?" All things considered, this guy was a very promising talent. How he managed to miss the eye exchange, or the fact both women were painfully trying to not burst out laughing and rather flushed as a consequence is, and will remain, a mystery.
"Does your burglar friend have a name then?"
"Name's Paul." said Paul extending a hand with a brusque gesture.
"Pleased to meet you Paul. I'm Dolly."
"You are?!" Paul looked very surprised, as a kid named Paul might look when he discovers there's other kids named Paul, too. "Great balls of fire, Dollies sure flock to me, don't they?"
In one glance Frankie realized what had happened.
"I'm sure it has something to do with them fiery things, Paulie. Mind if we girls have a moment for some girl talk?" Moving quickly, she passed Janice and closed the door behind them.
"You dizzy cow, didn't we go over this one hundred times yet? I'm Dolly, you're Emily."
"I don't like Emily."
"Alright, then you are Betty Sue or Mary Sue or whatever."
"Ya, but I didn't know precisely how thick he is when he asked my name, and didn't really want to risk it."
"Well who's to know what the going conventions are when two hillbillies meet?"
"You just secretly wish you were me, don't you."
"I didn't call myself Frankie, now did I?"
With that Frankie jumped on Janice who was sitting nicely on the bed being a good girl, pushed her on her back and sat on her. Bad Frankie!
"Where did you find him, anyway?"
"Well..." Janice spoke undisturbed by her new and somewhat strange position, "I went to a 'southern music' event."
"What's southern music?"
"Now that I don't know. Anyway, turns out it's sponsored by some oil family from Arizona."
"Don't tell me. Let me guess. The good for nothing son of said family recently managed not only to get kicked out of the third college, but also convince his Pop all he really wants to do, and what he is in fact meant to do is music. To be more precise, music producing, which, in the nugget that passes for a brain when presented in the setting of his head means telling innocent young girls he's a producer."
"And then he came to the big city and rented out a second hand hall somewhere around here and filled it with all the bands he personally has friends in, for his big opening."
"Unfortunately his PR person was a real loser so not that many people showed."
"Well... that's better than thinking all the big labels conspired and paid an otherwise eager public to not show up."
"Hehe... what was that guy's name?"
"How should I know, you're the music girl."
"Well... I forget."
The girls were now laughing laying sideways in the bed, Frankie on her left, Janice on her right.
"I thought you might want to go get lunch or something."
"Actually you are a godsend, I got stuff to do and this infantile idiot is starting to get on my nerves."
"So send him off."
"That's what I was contemplating, right before you were kind enough to show up."
"What, you drafting me?"
"Hehe... I'm not the man to do that..." then looking intently at Frankie, making her chuckle "unfortunately. You got anything better to do, anyway?"
"Heh... obviously not, since I was idly making unexpected calls on vague acquaintances."
Janice suddenly put on the stern face of a chief justice. "Vague acquaintances, ey? If you don't mend your irreverent ways I'll fix you a tuna sandwich."
"Thought you got stuff to do?"
"Yes, I do, and good old Paulie has a very obvious maternal complex, he is practically holding onto my skirt. I think it would be a lot easier to shoot him than explain people have things to do and women are no exception."
"You know, at some point you will meet your ideal match, and then I will come visit and you will be barefoot and pregnant like God meant you to be."
"Shuddup, I am really fed up on that sort of crap."
"Awww there there." Frankie patted Janice's forehead while Janice made a cute frown that looked like an angel is trying to scare a bird in some rococo fresco.
"So, keep Paulie busy until I come back?"
"If he buys lunch."
"I'm sure he will. And while you're at it, might as well get him to refill my bar, pirates or sailors or dock workers or somesuch were here earlier and dried it for me."
Frankie was counting on her fingers "Pirates, sailors, dock workers... I wonder what's missing."
"You sure something's missing?"
"Ya, I'm sure there were 4 things."
"Maybe we should ask Paulie?"
"Maybe we should nibble on the carpet?"
"I don't think we should."
"Me neither either."
"You don't think we should ask Paulie or nibble on the carpet?"
"Precisely", said Frankie with a smile.
"So, you gonna help?"
"Ya, ya, sure. Oh, hang on, I got an idea." Frankie started quickly unbuttoning her shirt.
"Love, I really can't right now." Janice had a sad exasperated look on her face.
"Just bear with me will ya? And strip already." Frankie was making for the underwear closet (Janice had a clothes closet and an underwear closet), dressed in what her mother supplied her with, back whenever that joyful event took place. All things considered, it didn't look all that bad on her.
Before Janice had a chance to take off her short nightgown, which simply meant grabbing it and pulling it off, Frankie was back with battle gear.
"Always quick as a ferret... I don't even dare speculate what your mph would look like if you gave it your best shot."
"Something tells me you don't mean miles. Now don't make me spank you!" Frankie threw a lovely black piece with a long thick see through lace band over Janice's face and hopped in the red and mostly see through one she saved for herself.
"My, my, don't we look good." The girls were holding hands behind their backs facing the tall dressing mirror. Janice's left nipple could be distinctly seen through the lace band, then the curve of her breast, then some of her navel, then the strip just missed her pubis but showed a thin cut of leg all the way down. Frankie's suit was obviously meant to be worn with underwear, not that she cared. It was mostly very thin lace in a floral pattern that showed her almost entirely. You could definitely make out her lips, and her breasts seemed to be fruit growing on the leaves and stems on the Lycra. Hers didn't go all the way down, it was in fact rather short and when she moved quickly the perfect tan of her ass, without even the tiniest underwear mark could be seen.
"Oh, Paulie!" Frankie yelled. "Come in here, help us with something."
The door opened and they turned, still holding hands behind their backs, to face a jawdropped kid.
"Great balls of fire!"
"You don't say..." Frankie was chuckling. "The gods seem to favor you today, you get to pick. Which lovely lady will you entertain for the rest of the day?"
"Ummh... dlwhh...." Paulie was babbling, the shock semengly (oh oops I meant seemingly) having reactivated a long defeated babbling problem.
"Dolly!" he managed eventually.
"Hehe... well it can't be both dollies, not today anyway. So make up your mind, the Dolly on the left or the Dolly on the right. Quick before they disappear in a puff of smoke."
"wttt... rrrrkt.... right" The senseless bitch fucker really had trouble with his enunciation.
"Right ey? Right you are. Of course you realize this means you have to buy me lunch first, right?"
"ssss sssttk ssserrttkk"
"Seitainly?" Frankie was really having fun.
"Good boy. Now get out, the lady of your dreams will be with you shortly. The door snapped instantly, somebody obviously needed air."
"Now you stole my hillbilly!"
"No I didn't. Don't worry, I'll get perverse, he won't want to ever see me again."
"You will? Like how?"
"I will probably stick something or other up his ass, depending on what I'll have handy. He didn't strike me as particularly confident, or for that matter sure of his sexual preferences."
"You don't say."
"Of course he'll enjoy it at the time... but then, even his brain is bound to ask some questions. I'm sure he won't want to see me again either way."
"You demon, you!"
"That's why you love me so much."
"How did you know he was going to pick right though?"
"Oh get out of town. He already fucked you didn't he? Senseless to boot. Course I was going to be next. You ever met men before?"
Frankie had been putting on red stiletto heels and when she stood up muscles in her ass tightened to keep her balanced, Janice couldn't resist slapping it.
"Heh, you can kiss it too, but you will never get yours looking like that."
Janice made puppy eyes and was doing the sniffles.
"Aww, don't cry bitch, we all love your fat ass better anyway." Frankie grabbed a fur coat and was making for the door.
"You are going like that?"
"What's the problem?"
"You are going to get arrested."
"So your Paulie can bail me out."
Janice could hear Frankie laugh and Paulie babble in the other room for a few moments, and then the apartment door slammed shut.
When John finally showed at the club a day or so after the failed story night he found Manny hunched over the table with papers spread all about. His beloved blue vase had even been pushed aside to make room for whatever project it was. Manny was so absorbed in it that he didn't even look up when John greeted him.
Looking over Manny's shoulder, John recognized flow charts, of all things. Delighted that Manny was working on something he really understood, John sat next to him and started reading, trying to follow the logic of the thing.
After a bit John realized what the fault was, the reason Manny seemed to be so lost, with many sheets of paper all over and lots more wadded into tight balls littering the floor around the table. Instead of a sensible single entry point and paths leading to various possible results Manny appeared to be trying to construct something with lots of possible entry points leading to a single result.
"That's not right."
"What's not right?" Manny looked up from within his piles of paper, with something of the expression of a cute Guinea pig in sawdust.
"Your flow charts, they are all upside down."
"What do you mean upside down? Can't you read?!" Manny was pointing at his charts, which indeed had writing on them, facing the right way, too.
"Flow charts can't be upside down in how you wrote on them, cause you can write either way."
"Write either way?! Write what? I am not done with this side yet, why should I flip them over?"
"You don't flip flop charts, that's not how they're used."
"I'm using them, so this is how they are used. Go figure."
John was looking at Manny with big wide open infant eyes, then he went and sat down on a stool. After sitting there quietly for about 6 minutes, he tried again from a different angle.
"Your charts are all wrong."
"What? Didn't you just say that before?"
"Well yes, because it has to have a single start point, so it's always the same."
"So you will be sitting there and telling me my charts are all wrong every 6 or so minutes? Tell you what, this is the second rim and look", Manny held up his second rim, or moreover the 6 sheets left of it. "It's almost done, I might as well cut a bulk deal with the stationery supplies at this rate. So by now I noticed they are all wrong."
"Well yes, they are, because they have to have a single start point."
"It doesn't matter if it's two rims or twenty, it still has to have a single start point."
Manny looked at John, squinting his eyes as if he was myopic and trying to get him into focus... and eventually shrugged and went back to his chart drawing.
John didn't say anything, he was sitting on his stool sulking, every once in a while looking up as Manny drew away at his charts, mumble something and sulk some more when Janice walked in.
"Hello there, how is everybody today?"
Nobody answered, Manny too busy to keep the markers out of his eyes, John just looked at her with a long face and mumbled something about upside down.
"What's he doing over there?" Janice was looking at John wondering whatever happened to the poor fellow.
"He's catching a wabbit."
Janice looked at John a short moment until it dawned on her, she turned to face the baldish guy drawing and exploded in laughter. She was laughing so hard she automatically sat down, her entire body in convulsions. Manny was now standing up and watching her, trying to shuffle the pieces of paper on the table so either Frankie's name doesn't show at all, or none of the goals show, or at least no mix of the two on the same square foot. Fumbling with the papers he was gradually becoming flushed, and what had started originally as a mental search for something to say slowly turned into a mumble, that eventually got loud enough even he could hear it, and now he had to say something, immediately.
"What's so funny?"
Poor Janice, who by now had mostly caught her breath, although she was still holding her belly, was sent into another fit, this time falling over sideways on the couch, practically doubled over. It was probably because of the buck teeth. Manny didn't have a huge gap, some people might have said it was kinda cute in its own way, but in the circumstances... well...
Manny briefly considered running to the kitchen and getting the girl a glass of water, but all the evidence was spread on the damned table. Leaving was out of the question.
"He is doing it all wrong, too." John was nothing if not persistent.
"He's trying to do some flow charts, but he is doing it wrong."
"Flow charts? You mean the things they use in computer programming class to keep people from joining up?"
"Flow charts are some charts that you draw when you try to approach a task algorithmically. It allows you to break a complex task into smaller bits, that can be more easily implemented."
"Exactly." Janice and Manny formed a nice little chorus.
"But he is doing it all wrong."
"Would you stop with that already? I lost count."
"What's he doing wrong?" Janice was looking at The Chart Table with a curious sparkle in her deep-as-the-ocean blue eyes that Manny found most threatening.
"See when you do flow charts you are supposed to always start with the START box, and end up wherever, and the way he is doing it, he starts a million places and always ends up in the same spot. He's doing it backwards."
"Well they aren't flow charts, they are wish charts."
"Wish charts, iiiinteresting. Just what are you wishing for there?" Janice was now right next to the table, opposite from Manny, and he made the mistake of lifting his hands in a sort of refusal gesture, allowing Janice to grab a couple sheets. It took her about 6 seconds to read through such eye catching captions as "Trust", "Display of Strength", "Display of Gentleness", "Frankie's Possible Childhood Traumas".
Getting this far, Janice burst out laughing. Dear God, they'd have some interesting bits to share next they meet. Briefly she considered maybe letting Frankie be saddled with both Paulie and Manny. She just couldn't stop laughing. Then she realized the poor guy was sitting right there in front of her, suspended, with a begging face almost saying insult me, hit me, shoot me, just please oh please stop laughing already.
"Are you gay?"
"Gay?! Me?" Manny was opening and closing his mouth like a fish on dry land.
"Yes, you, do you prefer to have sex with men."
"No!" Manny nearly yelled, purple and red around his nose and mouth.
"You write wish charts about getting into some Frankie guy's panties, but you aren't gay."
"Huh?" Slowly it dawned on Manny "Frankie is a girl!" he yelled at the top of his lungs.
"Frank is a guy's name, isn't it?"
"But Frankie is a girl!"
"How would you know anyway, it says right here you didn't get a peek yet."
Manny was really purple all the way, even his hands were reddish. He spoke with breathing breaks between each word.
"Frankie is the blond woman that was here when you first came around."
"Oh?" Janice looked very surprised.
Manny was still sputtering, desperately searching for something to say when Fred inadvertently rescued him by coming out of his office to see what all the commotion was about.
Seeing Janice, Fred's look of concern transformed instantly to one of delight, like the sun had finally come out on an otherwise dark day.
There she was, she of the deep ocean eyes, gracing the club with her sheer presence, laughter bringing light into his otherwise dismal world.
Fred advanced, holding out a hand to shake.
"Good to see you back with us!"
Janice looked at the extended hand, and reluctant to surrender the curious documents she was clutching decided on a warm smile and a nod instead of the expected handshake, such an old fashioned custom anyway.
Disappointed that he had missed the chance to hold Janice's hand, if even for a moment, Fred smiled back and moved a bit closer, trying to see what was on the papers she seemed to be protecting.
Janice noted the interest but decided Fred was the least of her concerns for the moment.
Manny, seeing that his precious flow charts were on the verge of becoming really public knowledge held out a hand to Janice hopefully. Janice slowly turned to face Fred, and as she did she had her hands behind her back and her back mostly turned to Manny, and gave him his papers back so discreetly Manny wasn't aware what's going on until they were practically in his hand.
New respect and awareness of Janice slowly spread over Manny. He looked almost curiously at the papers in his hands, Frankie? What was he thinking? When an angel like Janice was right there in front of him? So kind, so thoughtful and of course so beautiful. He couldn't even grasp it. Any other girl would have used the opportunity to make fun of him and humiliate him as much as possible. If anyone asked before, he would have said that is the very definition of a woman, it has to be like that the way there has to be a tide or sewage clogs. But she didn't, and it wasn't by mistake or neglect or superior force or anything at all, she just helped him out instead, when he was in a spot, and there was no benefit for her in it. Why would she even help him, there was nothing he could have done for her, conceivably. But maybe there is more to this, maybe there is something he overlooked in his blind folly for Frankie. Maybe this soft pleasant girl really likes him? With that Manny was smiling, so broadly Fred was startled for a moment.
"How come everybody is so fascinated with that evil girl? I swear I will never understand men."
The three men started together, but then they diverged, in something suggesting a behavioral experiment.
"Whatever do you mean?" Fred was totally lost now. "What evil girl? Did I miss something important here?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Manny checked his speech at least three times, there must be a way to turn this right."Someone of such a naturally good nature, as yourself, might see evil where there is only foolishness."
"Whatever do you mean? What's there to understand?" John was speaking in his normal, even, screen reader like voice.
"Right now, I wish I understood what's that girl got that drove 'em crazy like that." Janice said with almost teary eyes, obviously picking John's response.
"Well a virus has nothing in particular that makes a program go crazy, which is easily proven by the fact any good virus can make any program go crazy, irrespective of the program in question."
"So you're saying it's not something she has?"
"If it were something specific to the virus, not only would it be very difficult to make any viruses at all, because of the vast variety in programs that exist, but that contradicts experience, because everyone knows that it is a lot easier to write a virus than a program."
"But then, the fact that many men are attracted to the same woman should be proof they are screwy, rather than the woman is attractive. Doesn't that contradict experience too?"
"Furthermore, the relative security of various programs, understood as their likeliness to crash when executing random code, which is an approximation of an undefined viral infection, is not the same thing with the relative utility of the same programs. Useful programs can be horribly insecure. Secure programs can be horribly useless."
"Yes, but it's not two different things, it's the same thing. A woman is attractive to men, and that is part, a good part of her. Trying to live by any other standard will, in the end, make one unhappy, the only difference being that unhappiness would be a given, as opposed to a matter of personal failure."
"Certainly it can be argued the best solution to this dilemma would be to make useful programs and ignore their security. This can maybe be countered by observing that conversely, the absolutely secure program is very easy to make, being a variation of unplugging the computer. However, just as that is not a solution, but more an avoidance of the problem, it can be considered that the useful and unsecured program is also, in fact, just an avoidance but not a solution to the problem. The fact that it would have better ideological support than the other extreme should count little, if what one is after is in fact solving a problem rather than satisfying an ideology."
"But you have to understand it is very difficult as it is. Sure anyone can use make up, just as anyone can use a paint brush, but just that doesn't make one beautiful, or attractive, or a painter. Attempting something that you have a reasonable shot at completing, however insignificant a fragment that something is when considering some ideal big picture, will still get you better off than hunting the chimera of absolute and universal perfection."
"Of course the important factor is, programs are not, or rarely are, a scientific pursuit, but most often a matter of engineering, which is to say they are practical solutions to practical problems. As such, it is more important that they solve the practical problem than that they adhere to whatever abstract standard of programming. In a global sense however, rather than having a myriad of programs that each solve in its own way the same age old problems, it might be better to have a classification of problems and implicitly of correct solutions for them. To a certain degree, this is what the science of programming is all about."
"But why would any one individual be interested in some sort of trans-individual improvement? That goes against the very nature of an individual, and because of that it is downright harmful to the individual, and precisely the reason I said before unhappiness would be a given."
"Indeed it can not be reasonably expected that programs will stop being programs and eventually become simple applications of a law, or structure of laws, regardless of advances in the theory of programming. More importantly, it is certain programs that exist already will not be reviewed or rewritten to keep up with the requirements or standards put forth by the theory, especially as those standards are likely to change over time. But both in making new programs, as in fixing malfunctioning old programs, it might be beneficial, in terms of saving effort and resources, to start by considering what the general theory of programming has to offer."
"So then what you are saying is there is simply no hope, because old age will finally catch up with the lot of us? Why would one bother to consider that, as there is obviously no solution, and there can't be a solution? Isn't it much smarter to just live the moment for all its got?"
Fred and Manny had neck pains by now, from moving back and forth, as if they were down close next to the field at a tennis match, something with Kurnikova in it. It can't be said they really followed much, especially because John had this way of explaining simple things very complicatedly, or complicated things very simply, never quite clear which, not that they couldn't have followed if they really wanted to, you realize, but as it happened they didn't really want to, they both had more important things to ponder. And these things were, of course, Janice. All things considered, maybe they just thought they had other, more important things to ponder, seeing how if they only had paid attention they probably could have swept the girl over with the sure and confident gesture of a casino hustler on a streak.
"Programs are not designed to be perfect, they are designed to be efficient. It can be said that the perfect program is not the one that completely follows any standard ever imaginable, or ever enacted, but the one that solves its problem with the minimum use of resources. As such, programs exist to a greater degree than standards do, and of course then the existence of programs can not be threatened by the existence, or change of standards... theory.... programs.... are not to be taken..."
Janice was however not paying anymore attention, having refocused on the two men that were fixing her as if she was the TV screen. After all, what should she care about all that crap as long as she still can take her pick.
"The existence... is implied... programs are not... standards."
John was slowly moving back until he was in the library section and then he made a turn in the dark and was seen no more.
The silence was almost humming with the sound of the men's meditation, and Janice was basking in it, as if it were the spring of the fountain of youth. She didn't really need anyone to tell her what they were thinking, it's not like it was all that new to her, or to this world, now was it? Just when she was about to drift away to the magic land, leaving her body to collapse, or maybe float to the ceiling, a phone rang. Hers.
"You got your stuff done yet?"
"So where you at?"
"Uh... a sort of a club... you know, a place for some friends to hang out."
"Ha? No I don't know, tell me all about it."
"Well, you know, little of this, little of that..."
"Oh yea? Nothing big?"
"Doesn't look like it."
"No, I haven't looked yet."
"So what the hell are you doing at the dork club then? I thought you needed to do stuff that was important you two faced snake."
Janice used to love her name. Back in college she found this booklet about the influence a properly chosen name can have on its proud owner, how it can empower their actions and decisions, and how it was just as important as the star configuration at birth and knowing all the rising directors for a successful, famous, glamorous life. An utter load of crap, of course. However, it just so happened that for whatever reason conveniently buried in the deepest recesses of her mind Janice loved her name. And thus, for her, all that load of crap made sense. Until the cursed day that horrible hag of a friend of hers... well actually girlfriend at the time, stumbled on a book called The Newborn Janus An Introduction to Modern American Politics. How horrible, the English language couldn't even vocalize properly, it was j-a-n-u-s not j-a-n-i-c-e bleah... and all that crap about two faced... she wasn't more duplicitous than the next bloke, besides she was a Gemini, what can she do?
"So I did."
"Well alright, I'm out of jail now, wanna go for a swim?"
"What, right now?"
"Well not right now, how about in fifteen minutes?"
"Alright, call your husband see if he's free."
"My husband? My huuuusbaaaand?! Aaaaarghhh."
Janice was looking at the patterns on the ceiling waiting for Frankie to run out of breath.
"Fine, call your boss then." Janice was really getting the goat. There was a short silence after which Frankie spoke in a very calm deep tone.
"If you don't want to be swimming in a pool of your own blood you are gonna set up swimming for me. Depending how fast this mule can be driving (kicking noises were heard from Frankie's end) I'm going to be at your place in about an hour. Now git."
"Well folks, it seems a friend had some sort of household emergency, I will have to get going now. So long."
With that Janice was making it out the door, and it was either the blinds on the men's eyes, or the result of her happy meditation minute, but she was definitely seen as floating, barely touching the ground at all.