Chapter 45: Delivery Boy
David drummed his fingertips on the countertop. Gilda’s Eatery was busy as usual. They had seven runners out tonight, and he was waiting for the next hit-up.
Another guy was waiting too – David didn’t really see much of the other delivery boys. They were too busy to really socialize, and even then it was more cutthroat than not. The more runs he did, the more tips he got, so if he was there with someone else, waiting for a run, it was always a game of ‘who grabs the slip first’
David watched the cook staff. It was like mid-day traffic on mid-level in there. There were almost a dozen people in one confined space, all snapping and pushing each other. He couldn’t even tell who was in charge; not that it mattered to him. David was at the dispatcher’s counter, and the only one he had to worry about was her.
He cast a brief glance at his competing delivery boy. The guy was a malnourished pip-squeak. David focused on the logo pinned to the boy’s right shoulder, making out some sort of ‘A’ in a circle before his optic started to re-focus.
“Aw, c’mon…” David muttered, putting a hand over his eye and shifting his gaze back to the counter top. He could see the indicator light behind his ‘lids’ and as predicted it began to slowly blink.
Using his free hand, David fished into his side-bag and pulled out a SuperSoda. Just out of the corner of his good eye, he saw the pip-squeak smirk.
“What?” David snapped.
The pip-squeak shrugged and looked back to the dispatcher.
He felt heat rising into his neck and David bowed his head towards his lap as he popped the lid of the soda and took a swig.
“Sector 5 –“ The dispatcher suddenly announced, one manicured hand raising with a slip of paper.
Nearly horking his soda, David shot his hand out – but with the distraction of his optic still unresolved, he was too slow.
Pip-squeak snatched the paper and grinned. “Better luck next time.”
David didn’t bother to answer him as he finished downing the SuperSoda. In moments, the light steadied again behind his hand and he felt the optic normalize. A familiar tingle behind where his left eye was relieved him enough to lower his hand and sigh.
“Still giving you trouble, hun?” The dispatcher asked.
She was a middle-aged woman with blonde hair and long nails. David had never learned her name.
She liked being called ‘dispatcher’ anyway.
“Yeah.” David shrugged.
“You should get that fixed. Could cause a shut down or something.”
David shrugged. “Get me a good run and maybe I can save up for repairs.” He smiled winningly at her and let his optic focus on her face.
(He’d seen what that looked like in the mirror – the shutter opening and closing – and he thought it looked neat. Dispatcher liked it too, always made her smile.)
The Dispatcher smiled.
“Sector 3. Vixen’s club.” She extended the slip towards him and David accepted it and then clasped his hands in thankful praise.
“You are a saint.”
“Get outta here.”
David blew her a kiss and was off like a rocket. The bag for delivery was on the counter as soon as he took the slip, and he snatched it up without delay. His FloatBoard on and running a moment after he hit the street. The unit on his wrist was fed the slip of paper, and a route opened up to him automatically.
Thankfully it was a close run, too. Maybe if he made it in record time he’d get a nice tip. To be honest though, not a lot of people were doing tips recently. They seemed to prefer the Credit purchase, which allotted a small percentage towards tips, which disappeared into David’s paycheck somewhere. He was certain it was getting taxed.
Clubs and businesses though, they usually at least gave out a note of some denomination. Vixen’s – sounded like a strip club. Those guys were always generous with their money.
David hustled onward, swerving through traffic like a pro hoverbike racer, all guts but in this case no glory to go with it.
A moment of his thoughts rambled on the statistics of delivery boy death via traffic.
Luckily he only needed a moment, because after all those other thoughts, he was already there. A smart looking black car was parked out front and some guy was smoking a cigarette under the marquis.
David hopped off his board and kicked it up into his hands, yanking the lever down.
As it hummed to sleep, he strode with delivery bag in hand to the door.
“You the food?” The smoker asked.
David grinned. “Absolutely. Where do you want it?”
The Smoker gave him a quick once over and then pushed the door open. He jerked his head into darkness and pulsing techno.
Ducking inside, he waited for his ocular to adjust to the light, and noticed a group of guys sitting by the stage. The show lights were on, so he assumed they must be practicing. David didn’t want to interrupt, so he hung back by a support beam near the bar as a girl in red and black lingerie swept through the crowd like a maelstrom.
Free show in the job, nice. David thought.
The ocular followed the girl and he took a brief moment to appreciate her form before he tried to catch a glimpse of her face. Black hair whisked around her, making it difficult to see her at first, but as he moved a touch closer from around the pillar, One moment in the song caused her to pause, running her slender hands over her thighs, then her waist, then her sides –
David couldn’t believe it.
It couldn’t possibly be Lenora.
He stepped back behind the pillar as she moved on, eyes now wide with surprise. David didn’t think she had it in her to be so… well… damn. It was almost as if the panic stricken girl never existed. She looked so … free. She wasn’t smiling, but she didn’t have to be.
David felt heat rise into his cheeks and he hastily looked down and away.
What the hell was she doing? What the hell was she doing here? This club was a dump; it was a skeevy, ugly place, where bad stuff happens to nice girls like her…
…Was this where she had been all last month? Is this supposed to help her get better? This, as opposed to him and Renee, who actually gave a damn about her? What is she thinking?
David thought they were doing better – She had invited them over just the other day. Then again, she had gotten all weird and he and Renee left pretty abruptly… Was she trying to brush them off? Was she in trouble? Did she need help? Maybe she was in debt or something with these people and -
Oh no, was it because of him? Was that murdere here somewhere…?
Thankfully, the song ended, and he hazarded another look towards the stage. Some well-dressed guy helped her to her feet and led her off. David emerged from behind the pillar with every intention of going after her.
“Hey you, what are you doing?”
David jerked, eyes darting to the side where someone had come right up next to him without him noticing.
Smiling exaggeratedly, David extended the bag of food. “Gilda’s Eatery Delivery Hope Its All Good, And Just What You Wanted!”
Without waiting for a tip, David spun on his heel and fled.