Dar glowered at the full tables in the cafeteria. Spying Cass sitting by herself, with a French fry hanging forgotten from her lips like an unlit cigarette, he moved in her direction. She was scribbling furiously in a spiral-bound notebook. He wondered what she was writing that was so fascinating she had obviously forgotten to chew.
He thumped his tray onto the table, making her jump and stare at him with huge eyes. Damn, she’s cute
. “Mind if I sit with you?” he asked when she continued to look at him like he was an alien species that had a surplus of tentacles.
She shook her head; the motion made her realize the fry was hanging. She shoved it into her mouth and chewed furiously. It reminded him of a startled rabbit.
He slid into the seat. Dar had tried to talk to her several times since they had introduced themselves in the break room, but she had always scurried off like he had the plague.
He wondered if he should change his deodorant. The way she acted anytime he got within ten feet of her made him think it wasn’t working. He surreptitiously sniffed himself. No strange body odors.
She continued to stare at him.
He rubbed his nose. No boogers. Why did she always give him that deer in headlights look? He decided to plow on and ignore it. “Whatcha writing?” He took a bite of his sandwich.
She blinked owlishly at him. A slow blush started at the base of her throat and worked its way toward her forehead. “Nothing,” she mumbled, flipping the notebook over. She picked up her drink and took a big suck on the straw.
He eyed her. “Uh huh…” He reached for the notebook to see for himself.
She started choking on her cola. She made a grab for the book, her sleeve catching several fries off her plate and flinging them at him in the process. “Don’t!” She gasped breathlessly, still trying to cough up the beverage she had inadvertently inhaled.
Dar looked from the notebook to the purple faced, wheezing woman in front of him. Then he looked that the fries in his lap. “Okay.” He started picking them off, hoping they weren’t greasy enough to ruin his slacks.
Another tray landing on the table made them both jump.
Mabel-Ann flopped down into the chair. “Hi, Dar. Hi, Cass. Wow, sure is busy in here today. Thanks for saving me a spot.”
The look on Cass’s face told him she hadn’t been doing any such thing.
“Hello, Mabel-Ann, how are you today?” he asked courteously. He saw Cass frantically shaking her head from the corner of his eye.
Mabel-Ann launched into a discourse of her day. Which somehow involved a scuffed shoe, six cats, her husband’s bowel movement, and licorice flavored hard candy. It came to an abrupt end as she caught sight of Cass’s notebook. “Writing more dirty poems, Cass?”
Cass moaned, and her head thunked down on the table.
“Dirty poems?” Dar inquired. He gnawed off another bite of his sandwich and looked at Cass with interest.
Mabel-Ann nodded, blithely ignoring the other woman’s embarrassment. “Oh, yes, Cass writes dirty poems. She calls them erotica, but they are dirty.”
Another woman paused by the table. She smiled at him. It was the arugula woman. He tried not to stare at her faintly bulbous eyes and protruding lips. “Hello, Cass, who’s your friend?” She leaned to the side to look at Dar’s lap.
He blinked. Did she just check out my crotch
Cass looked up from the tabletop and sighed. “Beatrice, Dar, Dar, Beatrice.” She stood with great dignity. “Now, please excuse me; I have some things to do before my lunch break is over.” Taking her tray, she left, head held high, although he was fairly sure that she would much rather have a hole open under her.
Beatrice slid into Cass’s vacated chair. She smiled in what she probably thought was a coy manner. It served to make her look like a myopic trout. “So, tell me about yourself, Dar. Are you seeing someone?”
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger
! He scooted hurriedly away from the table.
“Pleaseexcusemegottamakeaphonecallnicetomeetyoubye.” He practically ran after Cass. No wonder she didn’t want to talk to him. Now that he thought about it, those women seemed to always be hovering around her. Lurking in the background, like an evil fog.
He caught up with her in the hallway. “Hey, Cass, wait up.”
She turned, notebook clutched to her chest. “Hey.”
As he opened his mouth to say something, the yellow pantsuit woman strolled by. Today’s ensemble was a sickly shade of greenish yellow with bone beading. She paused to eye Dar’s sandwich before continuing on to the cafeteria.
Cass watched her leave, then made a strange humming/sucking noise.
“Are you humming?” He stepped slightly away.
She blushed again. “Sorry. That woman reminds me of a vacuum cleaner. She’s always looking for something to eat.”
Cass continued to speak, not noticing the look on his face as she peered down the hall at the woman. “I don’t write dirty poems, by the way. I write erotic poetry. It’s been well received.” She said the last a bit defiantly.
He nodded slowly. “I’d like to see it sometime. Well, I just wanted to say hey. Lunch tomorrow? I promise not to bother you. I have some homework to work on and it’s nice to sit with someone who doesn’t have to be entertained.”
Dar saw that she was trying to think of a polite way to turn him down. “I could get there a bit early and get one of the small tables,” he threw in as a blatant bribe.
“Please?” He gave her a pitiful look.
She sighed. “Okay, see you tomorrow.”
“Great!” He winked and hurried off to his desk. Vacuum cleaner? Hoover. It was too big a coincidence. He continued to his desk with a thoughtful expression. Dar leaned back in his chair and folded his arms behind his head. He tried to remember the little snippets of information he had managed to glean from his conversations with Rikki in the past.
He could remember that she lived by herself and didn’t spend a lot of time with other people. She said she had brown hair and eyes and was “blindingly average” in looks. If Cass and Rikki were the same person, he disagreed with that assessment.
While he wouldn’t say she was stunning, he found her cute. And, he could really go for a nice cuddle in her cleavage. The firm, full globes of her breasts made his fingers itch to explore them. He wondered why she was always hiding them behind baggy sweatshirts and black T-shirts with rather rude sayings. Most women he knew would be flaunting those puppies. If anything, she seemed irritated that they made it harder for people to read her shirts. It boggled the mind.
He sat up straight as inspiration struck. He knew how he could see if she was in fact Rikki without exposing himself and looking like a moron if he was wrong. All it would take is a trip to the local video store.