Two men are sitting in the open style livingroom -- one, in the middle of the large leather couch, buried under a wide assortment of printed white paper and scribbled yellow pads as happily as a hamster in sawdust ; the other in the elaborate armchair. The sun's golden beams signal a lazy, tropical afternoon. A stout, squat and hardy tripod propped against the low coffee table catches some light and gladly glimmers for its catch. It was evidently made for shooting, but what exactly ?
A mess of hardware covers the solid oak table to its carrying capacity, in a peakless pyramid. There's various guns and rifles, uncounted, perhaps uncountable. The peculiar design of its magazine makes a honest to god tommy gun stand out -- or maybe it's just a replica. There's also boxes, for ammunition, for fishing supplies, for who knows what. One, round, metallic, painted blue pokes out on a corner, sending to the world it's message of "Danish Butt" before being sucked back into the formless arraignment. There's at least five recognizable laptops in various states of burial, an abundance of cabling, diverse electronics in such a state of undress as to expose the green plastic processors get glued onto, and also metallic radiators, passive, fanless. A low hum bathes the scene, produced by a hundred different sources, some stateless, some stateful, some electronic, others mechanical.
Suddenly, the door to the street flies open, admitting one teenager.
"Hi pumpkin!" manages the man on the couch in the three seconds he has open before pumpkin disappears upstairs. She's in the uniform of her time and place, white sneakers with polka-dotted ankle socks, cutoff jeans to a strictly specified level in relation to her buttcheeks, some indistinct white tshirt falling off of one shoulder and a mess of sandy blue hair. And by blue we of course mean blonde, cosplaying hasn't yet come of age.
"Is that Wanda's ?" inquires the man in the armchair, some disbelief in his voice.
"No, no, nonono. Willow's in college. This is Christine, but these days must be called Kris."
"No, god forbid, not with an h. Kris, you know, like the knife. This is important, believe you me."
"I can't believe you called Wanda's girl Willow."
"But what is it with you writers, I tell you the girl's name and then you want to ask why is she called that ?" there followed a pause, during which the faint whiff of affectation in the couchsitter's speech and manner matured, and transformed, and yielded the root of a wave of secret, mutual understanding that emerged dominant and above the soupy din permeating all things and washed over the room. The act of adults understanding each other relies on obscure reference and unspoken implication, and leaves the participants faintly smiling inside. "At least it wasn't Wren." capped the initiator.
"So what are we looking at here ?"
"I'll tell you, thirty-six fifty, and that's a deal. You won't find better."
"Not even that bad. Listen, if I wire you eight grand or so, can you remit the remainder in cash ?"
"You mean dollars ?"
"Sure, I was looking to get rid of some."
The man at the table daintily fished one laptop from the mess before his feet, placed it on the generously wide arm of his temporary leather encasement, then extracted another one from a case set on the side of the arrangement and half-buried under overhang. He fiddled with them, in turns and tandems for a few minutes, then declared "All set."
"What's that, like half an hour ?"
"Maybe an hour, it looks well congested."
"Would you like some cookies or something, a cup of coffee ?" offered the host, affably.
"Nah, " and the visitor stood without dropping the final period.
"No, listen, I'll go court Chris, if you don't mind."
"Be my guest."
"Do you mind if I come in ?"
"I... uh... I..."
The man stepped inside the teenager's upstairs bedroom, pushed some indistinct pile to the side and sat himself on the corner of the bed.
"What's the matter ?"
She blushed intensely under the tan, resulting in rare coloring, but answered quite cooly and self-collectedly, "I don't know."
"Are you a virgin, Chris ?" inquired the man seated on her bed, a slight glimmer of a smile dancing in his eye.
"Yes." came the whispered reply. Then the rest of her caught up with the whisper and she stated, just as cooly and self-collectedly, "I am a virgin."
"Well now... how long's that been going on ?" continued the inquiry, its medical, matter-of-fact nature overwhelmed by the glimmer maturing into a proper smile in the corner of his eyes.
Her eyes widened for a moment, and then her mouth opened and then she started laughing. A very pretty laugh, wilting and feminine, many little silver teapots banging in a bag. "What do you mean how long, sir! Since I was born. It's not a girlscout badge, you know, it's something you're born with."
"Actually Kris... I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know ?"
"I've never seen one."
Her eyes widened again. "You've never seen..."
"You're lying to me."
"It's not called lying, in this context."
"What's it called then ?"
"Would you like to see mine ?"
"If you're willing to show it."
"And if I show it to you, will you be seeing something you've never seen before ?"
"You have any idea how tantalizing this is ?" but he made no reply, just watched her eyes as she cooed, "I know all about you, you know ? You've seen everything, haven't you. Everything..."
"I should hope not."
"And after you see it, will you want to take it away so I can't show it to anyone else ever again ?"
"Um... well not right off. Why, who did you want to show it to ?"
"Nobody, really. I never even thought about it before you asked."
"What do you think about ?"
"You know... having sex... making out. But it's never like this. Because nobody ever thinks... it just doesn't come to say, you know ? It just doesn't..."
"Yes, I know. Give me that ugly tshirt thing. What the hell is that anyway."
"I... I don't know."
"Do you have lingerie ?"
"Not... not really. I don't have any tits anyway."
"What, you think they'll grow ?"
"I don't think so."
"Do you have hotpants ?"
"Uh... I have a pair from like junior high, they're kinda tight."
"Are they velvet ? Let's see."
"Yes, actually. Look."
"Those are actually dolphins. But put them on."
"Yeah, nevermind the workout. Hop in the car come pick me up. We're taking this kiddo lingerie shopping." then after a pause "I dunno, she's new." He clicked off then handed the small, clamshell-style antique phone back to its owner, still seated on the couch.
"Isn't she a little young ?" inquired the owner, pensively.
"What can I tell you."
"Naah. She just showed me around."
"Is she gonna be okay ?"
"She's gonna be fine. She's actually quite clever, you know."
"I know, I know."
Then they both turned, because for some reason the girl jumped on both feet at the bottom of the stairs, as if she had been playing hopscotch all the way down. "Bye, daddy!" she shot, as she bolted out the door.
"Bye, pumpkin!" came the automatic reply. Then, after a moment, as the door was closing over the leaving man's uplifted right arm, "Take it easy" came out softly, almost whispered, and it sounded like prayer.