Story Go Round 06/29/2002, round 1, #2


Ray sighed, picked up his latte, and stepped over to the ATM. He inserted $5 and the now friendly automated face of the Automatic Therapist popped up. Three options appeared, and the mellifluous voice read them.

"If you need to feel understood, say or press 1. If you need someone to yell at, say or press 2. If you simply need company, say or press 3." Ray hung up. He was feeling too perky for Emma. Her hyper-soothing voice was not what daddy needed right now. He ambled down the sidewalk of the bleak, unfeeling city streets, aiming to see the Chief. The Chief lived in a cheap, boarded-up, two -tone, musty, shag-carpeted, thrice-condemned bungalow at the foot of a skyscraper.

When he got there, only the screen door was closed. He could hear the fan blowing and Cherise, his mistress, humming gospels and moving pots and pans around in the kitchen. "Evenin' Ray", she managed, moving the two 'lite' cigarettes around in her mouth while she shuffled the stir fry. "'Spect you want to see the Chief. We were thinking you'd put in an appearance this evening."

"Well, you know me better than most," he replied quietly. It was durned awkward, having his mistress be the Chief's housekeeper. Cherise knew that look and responded with her own patented facial expression - the one that said "I know, and I don't care and you'd better not say anything! I mean anything!" There was a sound of bumping and clanging against furniture in the next room, and the Chief came in from the bedroom in his virtual Eskimo suit, fresh in from his job in the deep freeze.

"Stuffy in here," he grunted, and pulling off the networked hood he lowered his face to the tepid stir fry for a sniff. "And smelly," he finished with a slap on Cherise's butt that caused one of her cigarettes to fall into the wok as he turned to Ray. "You don't look so good," Chief said, "come on up to the roof and we'll sit back, womp a few rats, and talk."

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange