Congratulations to author, R.B. Wood on his 60th episode of the Wordcount Podcast!
You can hear me read this story on: Episode #60 of R.B. Wood’s THE WORD COUNT PODCAST.
The prompt asked that we use 3 words in the story:
Charming | Key | Computer
STORY INSPIRATION: I never frequented bars in my single days, but on occasion when I dine out alone, I enjoy sitting at the bar. It’s a great place to “people watch.”
* * * *
I hate this place, too noisy, too busy, yet my geeky brother-in-law insisted it was the best bar in town. He should know, he said. He used to work here before he moved on to better things.
In every corner, people are talking fast, acting smart. I feel out of place even though I’ve been here before, but at the time, I knew exactly what I wanted. Today, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
The place caters to all types, though a woman with a halter top that barely covers her ample breasts seems out of place. I was once her age. I probably looked as silly as she does in that get-up, but like her, I must have feigned obliviousness. A twenty-something is now chatting her up, and they’re both laughing. Another man approaches them and asks a question before he moves on. This man is older, full beard, seems a lot more aware. He walks with purpose and his eyes dart across the room behind his Buddy Holly glasses.
Hipster, I think to myself.
A woman catches his eye. She is completely different from halter top girl. Well dressed in a suit and sophisticated, she looks like a banker or a lawyer. You can tell she’s serious too. She knows exactly what she wants and has no time to fool around. I wish I was in her shoes. When the hipster approaches her, they exchange a few words and he is definitely interested. He nods quickly and gestures for her to follow him. They move toward one of the many busy tables occupied by patrons. There is only one free seat and she takes it, setting her briefcase by her feet. They start talking for a bit before she pulls out her cell phone and shows him something on the screen. He gesticulates with his hands, then touches his ear like he’s playing a game of charades. I almost burst out laughing.
Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
Wait, now he’s sticking up his index finger while he says “Just a minute, I’ll be right back.”
“Sure,” she says and returns her gaze to her cell, swiping the screen back and forth. She seems content to wait.
My imagination is active today. I must be bored or nervous or both. I’m waiting for my man to return. Unlike the hipster servicing the businesswoman, my guy isn’t quite as committed or attentive to me. He excused himself fifteen minutes ago and has not returned. For the brief time after I shared my story when I sat down in front of him, he nodded and his eyes lit up. He asked a couple of key questions before stepping away.
I want to remain hopeful. That’s all I can do.
I swing around in my chair to face the man pulling up a seat in front of me. His main features are a jutting chin covered in peach fuzz and pretentious wire-rimmed glasses atop a Roman nose. He wants to look older than he is, but it’s not working—not on me anyway.
“Oh … hi, you’re back.” A sigh of relief escapes my lips. “Actually, the “H” is not pronounced.”
“Huh?” He looks at me like I have a third eye.
“My name is Hermes. The ‘H’ is silent. It’s French, like the designer.”
He stiffens his back and takes a deep breath. His vacant eyes tell me he’s never heard of Hermes.
“All righty then,” he says and continues in a robotic tone, “Miss ah … Miss ahhh … Air Meez.”
I decide against correcting him again. Charming, he is not.
So, here I am at the Apple Store genius bar, and across from me is Billy, who can’t even say my name properly. He’s obviously no genius. If he were, I wouldn’t still be sitting here.
“I’m afraid your laptop is now a boat anchor,” Billy says. “There’s nothing we can do. I hope you had everything backed up to an external hard drive.”
I bite down on my lower lip, and the room begins to spin. I see hipster dude walk out from behind the genius bar carrying a box. It looks like the latest iPhone. A wall of colorful accessories expands and contracts like it’s about to explode. The noise inside the store turns to a dead silence. I’m drowning in perspiration. It dots my back and rises to the surface of my forehead, then begins dripping down my face.
If Steve Jobs were still alive …
“Miss?” Billy says.
His voice snaps me back to attention.
“Are you all right?” He suddenly looks concerned.
“No … no, I’m not!” The sound of the room is reawakened by my voice. “This isn’t just my computer, it’s my life. If you’re going to give me bad news, you can’t say it like that. A little small talk at least, but this …”
Billy dips his fuzzy chin, and I half expect something snarky to come out of his over-entitled millennial mouth.
“Yes, Miss Hermes. I’m sorry to be so blunt. I just thought you would want to know. Did you …?” He drops his gaze again. “Were you able to save everything before your computer shut down?”
I swallow hard, shake my head slowly and feel tears welling in my eyes. Billy looks horrified and squirms in his seat. He jumps up, almost knocking his chair over.
“I’m going to call my manager,” he says. “I want a second opinion.” He holds up his palms toward me as if to say Hang tight, help is on the way!
Before I can say another word, he’s run off.
I pull myself together. I’ve never been fond of bars, especially genius bars.
Thank you for reading. ♥
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