So far, he wasn’t impressed with the great Dr. Loder, the Angel of C-Block.
But then, he was in a bitchy mood. He probably wouldn’t have been impressed if he’d met the president. He was in this thing to win, and if meeting the Angel hadn’t been everything he’d hoped (she seemed a little slow on the uptake, for starters), then that’s how it was, too bad, so sad, pass the gravy.
“Nice elevator,” he said as they stepped inside. “I can’t believe they turned ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ into muzak.”
She pressed B
, then turned and looked at him with sober, dark eyes. Brown hair, brown eyes, too skinny, too tall. Your typical twentieth-century Homo sapiens
. He felt a little sorry for her…it must suck not to evolve. “What?” she asked.
“Didn’t you see the elevator on your way…” She trailed off, and he waited for her to put it together. “No, of course not; you didn’t come in the conventional way. How did you get up to my floor?”
“Oh, ways and ways,” he replied cheerfully.
“I’d like to know. Can you fly? Walk up walls? Teleport? Can you disrupt the air around you -- is that what happened to my deck door? Can you --”
“What rude questions from the great Dr. Loder,” he said with mock amazement. Actually, not so mock. By contemporary standards, they were
rude questions. The twentieth-century equivalent of asking, “So, are you planning to ever lose all that weight?”
“I’m sorry,” she said at once, and a little color came into her cheeks. She was a great-looking woman, no question -- when she wasn’t blushing like a virgin, her skin was the color of whole milk, not a freckle or a mole anywhere (that he could see). Too thin, yeah, but she probably couldn’t help her metabolism. If she spent all that time in C-Block, ministering, she probably didn’t have time for many six-course meals. “I didn’t mean to butt into your life.”
“That’s all right,” he said as the doors opened. He followed her out into the garage. “I butted into yours.”
“Yes, but it’s my job. It’s what I’m here for.”
“Yep, Humanitarian of the Year, that’s you.”
She gave him a sharp look, and her dark brows crinkled together. “If you have something to say, by all means…”
“What? You’re swell. We of the C-Block are so grateful.” He said it in a tone so honeyed, he almost made himself sick.
“There’s no winning with you people, is there?”
He nearly tripped. “‘You people’?”
“You heard me,” she snapped. Now there was a lot
of color in her face. Damn, she was a cutie when she was torqued off. “I’m down there pretty much every day, helping run the free clinic, and you all know I won’t turn you in, but when I try to get an apartment in C-Block, it mysteriously doesn’t happen. I bust my ass helping you people
, and what thanks do I get?”
“So you do it for thanks?”
“No.” She clicked a button on her keychain and her car, a navy-colored, boxy electric model, beeped at her. Then she turned to him and practically snarled, “I do it for some Goddamned respect
. I’m good enough to come down and help at eleven o’clock at night, but I can’t live down there? You people
put the fences up, not me. You people
don’t mind taking up all my time, but I’m not good enough to live with you. So don’t show up at eleven at night, break my door, expect me to drop everything and come with you, then make snide remarks about my lifestyle, okay, Cherry?”
At last, something he maybe had the moral high ground on! “Don’t call me Cherry.”
“Well, you haven’t told me your name, fuckduck, so what choice do I have?”
“Fuckduck?” he cried, delighted.
She had started to swing herself into the front seat, then stopped and put a hand over her eyes. “I can’t believe I called you that. I’m so sorry.”
“No, no, it was great! Jeez, the whole thing was great. I didn’t know that you tried to live -- I mean, I didn’t know any of that stuff. I guess you’re right, some of us stick to ourselves maybe a little too much; but between staying off the government’s radar and trying not to scare ordinary folks, and make a living, it’s -- it can be hard sometimes.”
“Yes,” she said quietly. “I can’t imagine. Even though I’ve seen it, it’s still beyond my comprehension. Because at the end of the day, I get to go home to B-Block, don’t I?’
“Well, yeah.” The way it came out, it was almost an apology. Well, he was
sorry for her.
One thing for sure, he was looking at Dr. Loder in a whole new light.
He stuck his hand out, and they shook across her car roof. “Jasper Savage. But my friends call me Jaz.”
“I’m Gladys --”
“Yeah, I know.” He let go of her hand, which was cool and small, incongruous with the rest of her lanky frame. “We’re just too trendy, aren’t we? I had, like, four Gladyses in my class --”
“And there were two in mine, and you’re probably the thirtieth Jasper I’ve met in the last year.”
“Well, someone’s got to set the style trends for you people.”
“Now you’re just being nasty,” she said, and ducked inside her car.