Monday, May 6, 2013

Grand Romantic Delusions Chapter 19: The Date (pt. 2)

Part II

     "OK," said Seth, leaning across the table. "I told you where I work."
     "Yes," replied Katie. "You work in this secret laboratory. But this is not so unusual. You said to me that you only clean the place, yes?"
     "Yeah, I only clean up, but I still see things, you know?"
     "What kind of things are you seeing?"
     "Things I … I'm not sure I understand them. But, there are weird things going on there all the time."
     "But if this work is for government, do they not already know of strange goings-on?"
     "Yeah, but maybe they worry about how much I know, and whether I'll tell the wrong person."
     "Did you talk to wrong person, you think?" Now she was finally getting somewhere—this is what Hanlon had hired her to do.
     "No," he replied. "I don't really talk much about work—at least not with people outside of work."
     "Then if government watches you, and knows you have done nothing wrong, you have no reason to fear, yes?"
     "I guess it depends …"
     "Have no others asked you about this work? Friends or family?"
     "I don't have any family to speak of—and few friends."
     "Besides," Katie said, "you are only worrying without proof. American government does not do such things like Russian—"
     "Wait!" Seth interrupted her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small electronic device. "This is my proof."
     "What is this thing?" Katie recognized it immediately as a data snooper. She reached out a tentative finger, as if she wanted to touch it but was afraid.
     "It's a snooper," said Seth. "It tracks electronic data signals that go through a particular device."

     "Why do you have this thing? Are you wishing to spy on someone at your work? Has someone put you up to doing this?"
     "No," Seth frowned. "The guy at the repair shop found it in my game console. Someone has been using it to spy on me."
     "Who is it that does this?" Katie was genuinely curious. Was someone actually attempting to use O'Keefe as a source of information from inside Labelle without his knowledge? Or had Labelle put this device in O'Keefe's house in order to keep tabs on him themselves? If the latter, why hadn't Hanlon shared this information with her?
     "I think it's the government. Though my friend Gary from work thinks it's Labelle that's watching me."
     "Your workplace? Why should they watch you with such devices?"
     "I don't know," he said. "But it's got me a little freaked out."
     "Are you sure such is what device is for?" Katie asked him, "Could this not just be part of console?"
     "I'm sure. I have a friend who knows this stuff."
     "You said you have not many friends?"
     "Well, it's the same friend, actually, but he really knows a lot about electronics."
     "I am thinking," Katie scrunched up her face and titled her head to one side before continuing. "Is it possible this Gary fellow works for lab?"
     "He does, but he just works maintenance."
     "Could he not be working as spy for government?"
     "I seriously doubt it. I mean ... if he did, why would he show this to me?"
     "I thought that repairman discovered device?"
     "He did, but Gary's the one who pulled it out when—"
     "Yes," said Katie. "But perhaps when this was found out, Gary showed you just for purpose of you not suspecting him as source of device."
     "Wow," Seth smiled at Svetlana. "You have a devious mind."
     "I am trying to think like person who is spying on you." She leaned back in her seat triumphantly.
     "Seriously, though … that is twisted! I like that." His grin broadened. "That's just the kind of thinking—"
     She decided to seize the initiative by pulling on his wrists and leaning closer to him, half standing in order to reach. She planted a big kiss on his mouth.
     "Whoah," he blushed. "What was that for?"
     "I am glad you are liking my mind. I am liking yours as well." She winked at him as she dropped back into her seat. "And I am thinking you are cleverer man than you give yourself credit for being. Also, I am having much to drink and am finding myself happy in your company and I am thinking that I like you very much. That is all."
     "I, uh …"
     The waitress returned with their Irish coffees, their dessert and a pair of spoons. She gave Katie a knowing grin and said, "You two lovebirds want your check now?"
     Seth blushed profusely before responding to the waitress, "Yeah, sure—the bill. I'll take it."
     "Take your time." The waitress handed the faux-leather folder over to Seth with a wink and a smile. "I'll just grab that whenever you two are ready." She left them alone again.
     "Umm … I like you, too, Svetlana. I, uh—"
     "Open wide!" She interrupted him, grabbing up one of the spoons and using it to scoop up a bit of cake and ice cream. They fed each other two or three bites before Seth held up his hand.
     "Too much," he said. "The ice cream's going to give me a headache." He took a quick sip of his coffee, which only made it worse. He winced in pain.
     "I am being so sorry!"
     "No, it's OK. I just wasn't ready."
     "Before the dessert," Katie said, " you were telling me of your reasons for not trusting anyone. Is there more than this device?"
     "Yeah, there's more," he replied. "But I … I'm not sure I want to talk about it."
     "This is disappointment." Katie frowned. "But I am understanding. Though it feels we have been long time friends, you are only knowing me for three days. Such trust comes with time, yes?"
     "It's not like that. I'm sure I could trust you, but I don't know … the company. I, uh—"
     "Might I ask you something else then?"
     "All right."
     "Why do you work for this company? Surely, if you think they invade your life, or if government spies on you because of where you do work, would it not be easier to find different job?"
     "Well, the company is … I mean … Labelle has been good to me, you know?"
     "It has?"
     "Yeah, I mean … they gave me a chance when no one else would. I'm just a drop-out without many skills, and ... I can't believe I just admitted that."
     Katie laughed and took a drink of her own coffee. "I am glad you are being honest with me," she said.
     Seth continued. "They pay really well—for a janitor I make a pretty decent living. And they have … counselors. They help me when I …" He trailed off yet again, staring at a point in space just above her head and to his left, mouth agape.
     "Counselors?" Katie tried another nudge with her foot. "Seth?"
     He blinked several times again, before reaching for his wallet. He put a credit card in the bill and looked at Katie again. "That was really good."
     "Seth? Are you all right?"
     "Yeah, sure," he responded, smiling. "Why do you ask?"
     "You were telling me of these counselors? Why do you see them?"
     "Oh, I uh … I don't, uh …"
     "Seth, if there is something wrong, I would wish for you to tell me." Clearly there was something wrong.
     Suddenly he grabbed her hands the way she had grabbed his before, and leaned in close to her. He whispered softly, "It's the dreams. I have dreams. I think I have a lot more of them than I actually remember, but I'm starting to remember more of them."
     She put a finger over his lips. "Will you tell me of these dreams?"
     "Yes," he said, "but not here."
     "Shall we go to your place, then?" She pulled playfully at his lower lip.
     "No, I'm worried they might still be listening. Do you live nearby?"
     "Yes. But wait a moment." She stood up. "I am having to visit the ladies' room. Also, I am thinking we should not be driving, yes?"
     "Oh, I'm fine to drive," he said, standing alongside her. He wobbled in place for a moment and sat back down suddenly. "We … we must have had … more to drink than I realized."
     The waitress, who had just returned to take the check, noticed their predicament. "Why don't I call a cab for you two? You're in no fit state to be drivin'."
     "Umm … yeah, OK," replied Seth. "That would be great. Here's the bill, ma'am. We'll be right back after we hit the head."
     The two of them wound their way to the rear of the restaurant and to their respective destinations.
     By the time Katie was headed back towards their table, Seth had already returned, signed the receipt and left the tip. He sat in the booth with his eyes closed—whether thinking or on the verge of sleep, Katie was not sure.
     He was an odd character, this Seth Davis O'Keefe. Perhaps it was just the effects of the alcohol, but he appeared, for just that moment, to be at peace with the world. She studied his features. She supposed he wasn't such a bad-looking fellow, some might even call him ruggedly handsome. He was a bit out-of-shape, but with a little work, he could probably jump right back into the service. Surely he had been in the service—she didn't think Gavrilo's records could be so far wrong—but O'Keefe hadn't given any of the usual, subtle indications that most people do when they're lying. Was it possible that there had been some sort of mix-up?
     There he sat—her target—lost in thought and apparently guileless. Goofy and inept though he seemed to be, he was a caring and thoughtful man. Svetlana had all but thrown herself at him, but he'd acted the gentleman the entire evening. He'd maintained his attentiveness and eye-contact with her, despite the generous amount of cleavage she displayed for him and the quantity he'd had to drink. If it hadn't been for the attention he'd paid to that dumpy little woman at the BMV the other day, she might have suspected perhaps he was gay. But then, as the evening wore on, she'd noticed him taking a peek or two at what she offered. He was very discreet about it, but his blushes gave him away.
     There was something more to this man than she had guessed upon first meeting him, but what was it? The growing suspicion that Hanlon had not been completely honest with her loomed ever larger in her mind. Something was most definitely not adding up. She thought was probably being used for some purpose other than the one for which she had been hired, and she didn't like it one bit.
     She crossed the room to the table and laid a hand gently on his shoulder. He opened his eyes, looked up at her and smiled.
     "The cab should be here any minute," he said. "So … where are we going?"
     "Somewhere where we can sleep this off," she said. "We will just have to come back to here and collect our cars in the morning."
     "That's fine," he said. "You know, I can just drop you off at your place, and we can talk again later. I don't want you to feel like—"
     "If it is all same to you," she replied, "I really would like to hear the rest of … your story. And I—" She hesitated.
     "What is it?" His genuine concern for her was plain on his face. This man was no spy.
     "I really don't want to be alone tonight."
     "I understand," he said. "But … just so you understand: nothing can happen between us."
     The surprise on her face must have been obvious to him. His own visage was a puzzle of fear and pity and concern.
     "We've had too much to drink. And I—" He hesitated again. "I … don't think I'm in the right place, emotionally …"
     "I understand this," she said. "I will be all right."
     "No," he replied. "I'll spend the night with you. I don't want you to be alone if you don't want to, but … we'll just talk, OK?"
     "This would be fine with me, Seth. And I thank you."

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