“This is for you and this is for him to take half of like he did yesterday. You think you can keep them separate?” I looked into her eyes, moistening with unshed tears, and a little bewilderment.
Yesterday I had come into this diner for breakfast and upon leaving, saw the host arguing with my waitress about the tip I left. Obviously, he saw how much it was, and didn’t want her to have it all, if he could get his lunch hooks into it. More in a bit on why it was that much. I took note of the argument and figured I’d rectify it the next day.
I was here in the city for an install, the techs needing an extra hand for a quick turnaround. All my guys were assigned to jobs I couldn’t really pull them from without hindering a customer or project somewhere else. So, since I could afford my wages, as I don’t get paid, or pay myself, like I do the crews, I volunteered to help out. I do it occasionally just to keep active and current with the techniques and steps we use to setup and network our computer and server solutions. Sometimes I do it in a pinch, like this one. And, it’s an extra set of hands. Enough about that.
Yesterday. Yes, I was sitting for breakfast, my waitress bringing coffee, when I realized how stunningly beautiful she would be, IF she would smile. She was very literally just a shake or whimper away from tears. Frowning, her face twitching, just terrible to see. I asked her if she was OK, and she just nodded. Probably didn’t want to bother a stranger with her issues, but I got my nosy little knight in shining armor persona in gear, and decided to help with this one, regardless of how she might resist.
I mentioned that I’d be in for breakfast for the next few weeks, if she wanted to talk, and that I could be a perfectly harmless sounding board. Maybe even of some assistance. Maybe not, but I was willing to try. I just liked helping people. Her frown went flat at that revelation, but in that, she almost smiled. That’s when I left a twenty on the table for her and went to the register to pay my tab. She picked up the money and was walking back with the dishes when the “host” caught up with her, and I overheard him telling her that half of the tip was his. OMG, what a jerk.
So, this morning, I chatted with her a little. Trying to get a small smile, at least, but as yet to no avail. I couldn’t get her to break, so I knew there was something serious, something big, and something bad troubling her. I’d seen enough of life to know that. I had to get to work, so I caught her on her next pass by the booth. “Look, Cheryl, you don’t know me from Adam, but I want to help. I know you are dealing with something big and it’s hurting you. I hate seeing people hurt.” I looked to make sure the manager, or host, or whatever wasn’t in sight or earshot. “This is for you and this is for him to take half of like he did yesterday. You think you can keep them separate?” I looked into her eyes, moistening with unshed tears, and a little bewilderment. She put the $50 bill in the pocket of her skirt, and kept a $10 out in her fingers, making it obvious she had it and what it was.
“Yes, sir, I can do that.”
“Thank you. Will you be here tomorrow?” I double checked her name tag. Normal spelling of the name Cheryl. Shouldn’t be a problem.
“Yeah, Cheryl, I will be. We can talk then. Are you OK ‘til then?” She nodded, stifling another shudder. I was afraid whatever was bothering her wasn’t going to wait that long. “Cheryl, what time do you get off today?”
“2 o’clock. Right after the lunch rush”, she said, tilting her head questioningly.
“OK, I’m coming back then so we can talk. You are in trouble, and you’re too young to be in that kind of situation. Call it intuition, but I know I’m right. Don’t say anything just nod and we’ll talk at two, OK?”
She nodded, and just a faint smile appeared. And her eyes changed, somehow, so that I could see her little smile in them. She really was beautiful. I took my time going up to the register to make sure she was clear of any problems, then headed to my customer’s warehouse and the job site.
The guys don’t mind when I’m on site, because I’m not the “boss” there, as the foreman or site superintendent is. I’m just another pair of hands and another strong back when I’m out here, and won’t get involved with normal operations unless some flagrant safety violation comes up, or I’m asked to. They also cut me some slack when I’m not there, because I sign their paychecks. So, no one said anything when I cleaned up my tools, threw them in my truck and took off for the diner at 1:45 that afternoon.
Cheryl wasn’t quite done yet, so I went in, sat at the counter, and ordered an order of fries and a Pepsi, to go. She noticed me, gave a very small, inconspicuous wave, and I nodded, discreetly. When my order came out, I picked them up, paid at the register, then went out and sat in the truck. One by one, I ate a few of the fries. They were good. I think they must’ve been cut from potatoes right here, ‘cause they were fresh, and still had some skin on them. And salty. Just like I like ‘em.
Cheryl came out from around the back of the building, eyes red, and looking at the door like she was afraid of something. I held up my hand to stop her from walking any closer, then started the truck and pulled over to the corner of the building so she could hide behind it, out of site from the doors and most of the windows. I popped the locks and she jumped up and in and started talking.
“Why in the world am I getting into a vehicle with a stranger who throws money at me like there’s no tomorrow? I have no clue why I trust this situation, but I can say this. If you pulled a knife, held it to my throat, and raped me ‘til I bled to death, it would be better than what is happening in my life right now. You aren’t terrible to look at, and the pain would be over with, and who knows, it might feel better than being beaten constantly.”
“Holy crap, Batchick, what is going on in your life that it’s that bad? Hold on.” She gave me a look of abject fear. I took off out of the parking lot and down the road to a park I’ve seen in the mornings on the way from the diner to the work site. Pulling up and parking by a grassy area, I reached into the back seat for a blanket, grabbed the Pepsi and the fries, jumped out and around to the other side, threw the blanket down, went to her door, opened it, and held out my hand to help her out. The fearful look faded when she realized I had taken her to a public place, with people around, and that I might not be an axe murderer. Might not.
As I helped her out of the truck, her skirt hem rode up a little and I noticed she had loooong legs. They looked like them might go all the way up to her armpits. BUT, she had bruises on her thighs that her skirt hid when it was down. Lots of them. We walked over to where I threw the blanket and sat. Offering her the fries and a drink, I came right to the point.
“Cheryl, you are a beautiful little lady, and I know there is something terribly wrong. May I please stick my nose in your business enough to help with whatever it is??”
“Well, let’s see. I don’t even know your name...” “Chuck”, I interrupted her. “OK, but you are still a stranger and I have serious trust issues right now”.
“My name is Chuck Conley. I own my computer networking business northeast of here, I’m a childless 44-year-old widower, with no criminal record, and I think you are worth helping. And beautiful. There, I said it. I have ulterior motives. I want to help a beautiful woman and make myself feel better by doing it. What do you say?? Is that better??”
“Well at least you’re honest about it. My name is Cheryl Bates. I’m a “runaway” (she gave air quotes) staying with the owner of that restaurant and he is not a nice guy. I’m 17, kicked out of my house for personal reasons I don’t want to go into right now, and I have nowhere to go. He lets me work there for half of minimum and half my tips, half off meals and a room in the back. He hasn’t been able to talk me into having sex with him, or raped me yet, but it’s starting to look good compared to slapping my ass and thighs every time I walk by. He’s just a jerk, and if I can get enough together for a bus ticket and a couple weeks in a motel, I’ll take off and try to find a better job. I had to drop out of my senior year when I got kicked out. All I know is computers, and no one is going to hire a dropout nerd. Especially with my history, and nothing but some clothes, a birth certificate, a driver’s license, and a passport to my name.”
“Computers, huh?? Hardware? Software? Networking? What’s your primary focus?”
“Software and networking. I can play some of the games pretty well, but I’d rather write them, and I can put a network together with some success usually. My problem is I need to finish school so I can get certifications with Cisco, Microsoft, and some of the others. I even had a little Novell server running at home before I got run out. I want to certify with them, just in case they do something new.” She looked down again, and I could see her shoulders drop in a defeated manner. Her hair was the prettiest color of light red or dark strawberry blonde I had ever seen. Her eyes, a light green that would glow if I could get another smile on her face.
“Cheryl, how much stuff do you have at the diner? How hard would it be to pack it up and move, I mean?”
“I showed up there with nothing but my purse, which is in your truck and a t-shirt and shorts and these shoes, and my underwear. He gave me uniforms to wear and gave me a few bucks for a bra and panties. I don’t need them back. Are you going to ask me what I think you’re going to ask me? Why in the world would I trust someone I just met? Why in the world would you trust someone you just met? Why in the world would you go to this trouble? This is crazy. You said you own a computer business, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I did, and yes, I am going to ask that. Let me help you. Let me save you. Let me have one glorious moment where I stick my neck out to help a stranded waif like they do in the romance novels. Not like in the news, like in the books. The ones in the news don’t end all that well usually. He goes on his way, she goes to a shelter, yada yada. Whad’ya say? Up for an adventure?”
“If you still want me after I tell you why I got kicked out, I’ll take you up on it. BUT, I won’t work for less than minimum wage, I won’t trade my body for a roof over my head, and I don’t do windows. Well, I do Windows, but I don’t do windows.”
I laughed, she smiled at her play on words, and I saw it then. Her face glowed. Her eyes lit up and her smile beamed, and Lord was she beautiful. I reached out my hand, she did the same and we shook on it.
“Deal. $10 bucks an hour. Too bad you don’t know what you’ll be doing yet, but you’ll find out soon enough. You can wear insulated overalls to work for all I care. The only windows I’ll have you clean will be 7, 8, and 10. We don’t do XP anymore. No updates and no security patches so it’s too dangerous. What else?”
“Insulated overalls?” she asked.
“Yeah, you said you wouldn’t trade your body for a place to stay. I figured you’d be safe in a full set of Carhartts.” I smiled, and she nodded as if she understood. I don’t think she thought it was as funny as I did, though. “Oh, and you have to go back to school.” To that she squealed and grinned and hollered, “YES!!!”
“For some reason, I’m not getting a bad feeling about this. Normally I would be scared to death, but for some reason, I’m not. What now?” She looked around, hoping she didn’t draw any unnecessary attention to her little outburst. A few people looked, but didn’t come check it out or anything.
“Well, missy, let’s go get you some clothes and basic necessities, then we’ll go elsewhere for dinner. We’re going back in the morning for breakfast and to pick up anything he owes you. I’ll probably have a couple words with him, then we’ll go to work for your first day. You’ll just be watching and waiting mostly, ‘cause I need to do paperwork on you, and there’s insurance concerns and all that. Anyway, I promise it will be more fun than the diner. Big promise.”
We drove back by the diner, and I went inside really quick and told the cashier to let whoever was in charge know that Cheryl wouldn’t be in for her shift in the morning. She asked who I was to know that, and I just said, “a friend. And I’ll be by to talk to the owner in the morning.” She jotted down the note, and I skedaddled. Tomorrow would be fun.
I took Cheryl to Target and she picked out some clothes and shoes. I asked her very nicely, but firmly, to pick out at least one nice going out dress and a pair of dress shoes she could dance in. She smiled, cocked her head and said, “IT Uniform?”.
“No Hon, just thought I might take you some where nice to celebrate your new life. We still have a lot to talk about, though.” Ooops, I may have just erred. I probably should have said ‘Cheryl’ not ‘Hon’.
“Hon? That’s fine, Chuck. I’m not offended ... yet. I’m not a feminist and I don’t get riled with petty things. You’ll find I’m pretty easy going, but, Chuck, where am I going to stay?”
“Well, I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’m thinking the hole in the tree in my back yard. I think that would be a wonderful place for a wood sprite like you to live. If you aren’t really an elf, you could always use the guest room on the far end of my house, until something else comes up. I just want you safe and sound for a while, until you figure out your future. I hope that’s not too presumptuous. I don’t want you going from one bad situation into what you may think to be another one. This isn’t, I assure you, but I can’t prove that until after the fact.”
“Chuck, there is no reason in the world why I should trust you, or believe you, but I do. There is something about you, a voice in my head, something weird, telling me you are the real deal, just in a truck instead of on a white horse. I’m in. Please don’t hurt me. I’ve been hurt enough for two lifetimes, and I just don’t want to hurt anymore.” Cheryl looked down again after saying that, and I instinctively reached out with just two fingers to her chin and pulled her head up and to the right to face me.
“Lady, I have no intentions of making anything worse for you. Only better. You’ve kept that side of your face away from me, and I didn’t realize it until just now. How big is that bruise, and where did you get it?”, I asked her, hoping beyond hope that I was wrong. The lighting in the store was quite a bit brighter than the diner, and outside the coloring didn’t show.
She pulled away and looked down.
“It wasn’t the owner at the diner, was it?”
She shook her head, slowly, but I could tell she was doing it.
“It was why you left home, wasn’t it”?
She nodded, even lighter, and more slowly.
“Let me guess. You’re pregnant and your father slapped you and showed you the door? And your mother couldn’t stop him. Just guessing.”
She shook her head, a little more in earnest this time. “No. My mother is dead. You were getting warm, though. Stop guessing. Give me a minute and I’ll get my courage together and we’ll talk about it. Might as well get it out in the open before you spend any more time or money on me.”
She walked over to a rack of dresses for juniors and picked out a beautiful little green shiny dress. Emphasis on little. If she wore that for me, she’d own me. “Do you like this one, Chuck?” She held it up below her neck. “Yes, Doll, it’s pretty. It makes your eyes shine a little brighter.”
“Would it look as good on a boy?” At that point, she laid the dress up over the rack, and looked at me. She came over so we couldn’t be over heard, and said softly. “Please don’t hit me. I was born a boy. My name was Charles. My mother helped me start to transition when I was almost 13. She died last year. I ran out of medicine and my father wouldn’t help me. Then when I asked my aunt for assistance, she asked my father for money for the prescriptions, and he lost it. That was just last month. He threw her out of the house and told her to stay away from him and me both. It was my mom’s sister. She had been helping me as she could.”
“Stop. Cheryl. Stop.” I put a finger on her lips and with my other hand reached out and just barely touched her arm with my fingers. She didn’t flinch like I thought she might, but she did shiver a little. “Stop. Go try that dress on. I think it will bring out your eyes. It’s a little on the skimpy side, but you are seventeen. Not a little girl. When’s your birthday?”
She kissed my finger as I held it there. “In a few months. You’re not going to ditch me, or beat me, are you?” I shook my head. “You’re going to go ahead and try to help me, aren’t you?” I nodded. She opened her mouth and bit my finger, very softly, then reached up for my wrist, pulled my open palm to her face and kissed it. “There is a God. He has answered my prayers. All I wanted was to be accepted. That’s all I asked for. I didn’t ask for anything I didn’t think I deserved. I just want to be accepted. You are accepting me, aren’t you?” I nodded again. “Cheryl, go try the dress on. I think you’ll be stunning in it.” She grabbed a pair of 4” black Mary Jane heels and the dress and trooped off to the fitting room, looking over her shoulder and telling me to bring the basket over and wait for her.
‘What have I gotten myself into’ I thought. I’ve heard of this before, of course. I read. I read a lot. Transsexual. MTF Male to Female Transition. A girl born in a boy’s body. Transition at 13?? This is not your average swoop in of a white knight saving a fair damsel in distress. This is a social enigma and a chance to help someone, who without understanding and support is going to face the shits in life for some time to come. This changes everything. My life, should I choose to accept, will be forever different. This shopping cart will self-destruct in 10 seconds. I smiled at the offhand humorous thought. I guess I had been pondering this for a few minutes. I felt a tug at my arm. “Chuck, what do you think. I like it. It’s kind of short, and it shows a little in front, but all in all, it’s pretty, don’t you think??”
Oh, My Golly Gee Horse Feathers!! She is a KaNucking Fock Out. Gorgeous. “Yes, Cheryl, that’s real nice, but you can’t wear that out of the house without me or a Sheriff’s Deputy with you. OK?? Holy Crap, woman, you look nice in that outfit.” The dress was absolutely stunning. It was cut with a deep neckline showing massive amount of what little cleavage she had. Her breasts were not at all large, but they were nice. My eyes went back down her legs to the shoes. Oh My, she has nice legs, and the heels just redefined them. I was so upset, though, that I could see one of the bruises on her thigh since the dress was a little shorter than her black work skirt. Tomorrow, Chuck. Talk to him tomorrow.
She giggled. Sounded like heavens bells. “Deal. I need some hose to wear with it. Black or Off-Black thigh highs in a petite or small should work. Let me take this off. Be right back.” Wow was all I could think of. “Chuck. Chuck. CHUCK! Are you OK?” She snapped her fingers to get my attention.
“Yeah, Hon. I’m fine. Just a little distracted. Sorry. Hose. Black. Small. Yeah.”
She met me back over at the stockings display or should I say displays. They were everywhere. She located some Off Black Sheer Energy Thigh Highs, telling me that this kind shimmers a little. “Is this going to happen often, Chuck? I mean wearing nice things. Stockings? Heels? I would like to get some more natural ones, like a teak or something. Is that OK?” I nodded. Right now, I’d do just about anything she wanted. I need to set up some kind of defenses against beautiful girls. This one, anyway. It’s been soooooo long since I’ve needed any.
We picked up some jeans, another skirt, shorts, shirts (OK, blouses), and undies, (3 and 32A if you need to know), some tennies and a pair of work shoes, and socks for each, then headed to the personal hygiene stuff where she picked up soap, shampoo, conditioner, teeth brushing stuff, and all manners of skin stuff, each time, looking at me for permission, and my nod, before placing it in the basket. We were just ready to leave the area when I went over and grabbed a stick of deodorant for myself and coming back saw her throw a pack of condoms into the basket. I acted ignorant at that point, not letting her know that I saw. This should be interesting. Maybe trans girls use them for something else??
We checked out and went to a fast food joint for a quick bite on the way back to the room. She wasn’t picky, and we didn’t eat much, just a couple burgers, split the fries and a small drink. Well, I got her a small shake, too, but who’s counting.
When we got back to the motel, I asked the lady at the desk if the room next to mine was available, since there was a door between them and we could use that to communicate before bedtime. It was. I think that made her look at me a little less funny. She saw Cheryl in the truck through the window, and I’ll bet it made me seem a little less lecherous, asking for two rooms. I paid for it for the next couple nights, and went to take Cheryl to the rooms. The job here would probably not be done for at least a week or so, but I intended to send the guys home for the weekend if we were close to schedule.
We went inside her room and dropped the bags on the first Queen size bed in the room. She would have to organize and such then pack up on Friday morning for the trip home. I opened her side of the pass-through doors, then went to my room next door. Knocking, then entering through the suite doors, she said “Hi Stranger!! Long time no see!!” and giggled again. She sounded wonderful. I think she was breaking out of the shell. She seemed happier already. More upbeat. Smiling most of the time. It just took an afternoon of acceptance and caring, and there she was. Human again.
She dropped a pair of Hello Kitty panties she was folding on the bed, and walked over to me. She put her arms around my waist, her head on my chest, and squeezed. “Thank you, Chuck. You really are my knight in shining armor, aren’t you?? Do you have any questions for me? I know you’re curious, and I know you are afraid to ask. Afraid to embarrass yourself, or me, but don’t worry. I have a feeling there is not much you won’t know before too awfully long.”
“For right now, Honey, all I need to know is what you need from me to make you happy, healthy, and smiling like you just did. I’m offering you an entry level job, part time admin, part time tech work. A place to stay, rent free, if you help me take care of it. Meals, if you help fix them. And company if you can stand me. And a way to go back to school. What else can I do for you to make you happy.”
“Nothing. I’m getting happy.”
“OK, then. What can I do to make you happier?”
“Let me absorb what you’ve already done. Saving my life, saving my sanity, saving my future. Buying me a beautiful dress that I don’t deserve and shoes with it that together make me feel like a princess for her king. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate all of it. I’ll bust my butt for you to show you that, but it’s so much to process. Going from nothing to everything this quick, I just need to settle a little. You understand I’m only 17. I’ll be 18 soon, but this is overwhelming. So much attention in such a short time. In two days you have shown me more consideration than my father did in 10 years. That’s how long we’ve known. 10 years he’s treated me like dirt because I didn’t want to play football. Because I didn’t want to go to a baseball game with him. Actually, I would have enjoyed the game, but he wanted me to learn the game and play the game, not enjoy watching the men play it. And softball was totally out. Oh, well. Without Mom, there was nobody. Auntie Sue tried, but, my father pushed her away and well, until Chuck Conley, White Knight, showed up, things were pretty bleak. Enough about my problems. What can I do for you??” She looked up at me, with her chin on my sternum. Those eyes cut right into me.
“Smile. A lot. They look really good on you. I’m going to take a shower. Back in a bit.” I unhooked her from me, and turned away. I pushed the door almost closed, but didn’t latch it. Grabbing some boxers and a t-shirt I went in and took a shower. I also thought about my day. Two days actually. Yesterday morning I knew she needed someone. I don’t, however, know why I figured she needed me. But, I think we’ll get along just fine.
When I got done, in my night clothes, spelled boxers and a t-shirt, I went and knocked on the door. No answer. She’s probably in the shower. I turned on the TV and laid down to watch Fox News. Maybe the world is still turning and life will go on. Maybe.
I felt a hand on my arm, gently, “Chuck. Chuck. Are you up?” She was waking me up. I cannot believe I dozed off this early. Whoa, 11 o’clock??
“Yeah, Hon, whatcha need?”
“Can I borrow a t-shirt to sleep in?? I completely forgot PJs. I normally don’t wear them, so I didn’t think of them when we were shopping.”
“Yeah, Babe, hold on. Better yet, in that suitcase over there, grab one of the light gray t-shirts. They are the longer ones. Probably make a little dress on that cute little form of yours.” I just laid on my side watching her. Cute legs, Cute butt, towel wrapped around her head, towel wrapped around her body. Wait ... Cute butt?? The towel wasn’t long enough to cover the whole butt. The lower edge of her cheeks was showing. Oh, my Lordy what she wouldn’t do to a pair of hot pants.!!Gift Idea!! Jacket and hot pants suit!! She found a t-shirt and turned to me saying she’d be right back. Oh my, what am I gonna do?? She is debilitating!!
She came back in, wearing the t-shirt and it did almost come down to her knees. Well, half way down her thighs, anyway. She looked cute in it. I didn’t realize how small she was. 5’3” maybe. But, most of it was legs.
“Thanks, Chuck. It’s comfortable. I might keep it.” Snicker. Giggle. I just buried my face in the pillow and moaned.
“Why are we having this discussion so late, Hon.” What was she doing in there for 3 hours??
“I haven’t had a real bath for ages, and I fell asleep in the tub. The water got cool and I woke up and took a hot shower. I feel like a different person. A clean different person. The apartment at the diner barely had a shower. A real little thing. But, beggars can’t be choosers. Literally. Oh, and you have now called me Hon, Honey, and Babe. Anything you’d like to tell me?”
“Yeah. I think you are growing on me and you are beautiful. Get a good night’s sleep. We have two more days at the site, then Friday evening you and I are heading out to my house for the weekend to get you settled, make sure no one has an APB out on you, and maybe back in school. I may bring you back with me. I will probably want to. But, we’ll see. If I make any plans you don’t agree with, let me know, OK?”
“Yeah, but so far, it sounds like you have nothing but my best interests and your future in mind.”
“Yes. Let’s see. Hon, Honey, and Babe. I’d say you are looking at me fitting in your future. Don’t sweat it, handsome. It actually sounds ... tempting, interesting. I’m certainly not worried about it. You shouldn’t be either.” She smiled, leaned down and kissed my lips very softly, bid me goodnight and padded back to the other room, leaving the suite doors wide open. Damn she smelled as good as she looked.
I thought about things. All kinds of things, for about 5 minutes, and the next I heard was my phone blaring it’s alarm tone. Up and at ‘em. I rolled and sat up, looking square into those pretty green eyes. She was sitting in my room’s chair, next to the bed, fully dressed and rarin’ to go.
“Well, let me wash my face and wet my hair, and we’ll go get some breakfast and head out to the site.”
“OK.” She said, smiling. That changes her so much. Her eyes light up, her teeth shine, her whole face just glows. Beautiful. And she was ... Stop Chuck. She is a girl. All girl. Don’t do that to her.
“Chuck, I suppose, like you said, that I won’t be able to do much, but does anyone live at the site now?”
“Yeah, there are a few people with a make shift office, some laptops, printers, and such. Why?”
“Well, I thought I could get the lay of the land, so to speak, and meet your people, then print some forms and stuff for me. I need your help filling them out, but if I’m going to be your secretary, or whatever you call it, I need to start learning some time.”
“Wow. Sounds great. It’s actually Administrative Assistant or just Admin. That’s what they call secretaries and typing pool girls these days. If you slip up it’s probably a federal offense of some kind. Not for you, ‘cause you’re a girl, but if a guy boss calls lady help a secretary or typing girl or something ... they’d prob’ly get fined or have to spend 8 hours watching HR flicks about getting along with people!!”
Cheryl laughed at that, and told me, “In that case, #1, if you call me your secretary, I’ll be flattered, and no one else will ever find out, and #2, if you want me to be your typing girl, you better find me a good typewriter, with a correction tape in it. They do still make them, right?? Otherwise, I’ll have to be your keyboarding specialist, or your data input engineer. Pick one. Neither of them needs a typewriter. Oh, and even then, you can call me your typing girl. I’ll consider it to be an honor.” She giggled and made my morning.
Done with waking up, and fixing my hair a little, went to the table, slipped my Surface into and handed her my laptop case. “Be careful, Sweetie, there’s a tablet in the side pocket. Don’t let that fall out. When we get to the site, you can go in the office first, use the laptop to print off the forms, and talk to ... I think it’s Maribeth ... about the forms you’ll need. She’s the HR Admin Assistant assigned here to take care of the people for the branch of the company we’re setting everything up for. The forms are the same for the whole state. W-4, I-9 I think it is, and all that. Then I’ll have you call our insurance company later. The company forms are back home in my office or at the shop, but we can do them at home Friday night or Saturday morning. As long as the legal stuff is done, we’re OK. With the passport, Maribeth can witness you’re a bonified, certified, American girl.” She smiled at that, but I caught myself and asked about her status.
“I’m a girl. We got a legal reading and all the paperwork done when I turned 16. My birth certificate, license, passport. It’s all female. It’s all good unless I ... Oh My ... might as well share now as later. I’m a girl, until you take my pants off, then I’m a girl with a peepee. Not that you’re going to take my ... Shit!” She blushed three colors of pink and red, covered her mouth, and ran to her room with my bag. “Oh God, Chuck, I didn’t mean for that to come out that way. Please forgive me.” She was sitting on her bed, laptop case between her legs, face in her hands. Her ears were crimson!
“Cheryl, Honey, don’t worry about it. We’re going to be spending lots of time together, and things like this will happen. We need to be adults when we need to be, and we can goof around when we want. Please don’t take it or yourself too seriously. OK?” She nodded then looked up at me with a small smile. Still red, but cute. Very cute. I held my hand out so we could get going. She even makes jeans look good.
We got to the diner, and took a booth, not waiting for the host to come out and seat us. Turns out, he’s the owner. Should’a knowed. Loser. He walked over, pointed at Cheryl but only got her name out before I slapped his finger down and told him to shut up. He looked at me and reached for his back pocket, but that didn’t work either. I caught his fingers between his phone and his pocket and squeezed so he couldn’t pull his phone out. Like he was going to call 911.
“Get your hand out of there. You’re not calling anyone. You do, and Cheryl will have her pants down showing off those beautiful bruises you put on her so fast your head will spin. Minimum 30 days in jail, just waiting to be arraigned for hitting a teenaged girl. Think about it. Now, go over to the register and get her whatever pay you owe her for the last few days and get out of your waitress’s way so we can eat.” I looked at the waitress behind him. She was smiling. “Spinach and mushroom omelet and hash browns, coffee, water, tomato juice and hot sauce, Tabasco or Frank’s, for me.” I nodded at Cheryl.
“Two scrambled, bacon, and sourdough toast, coffee, and orange juice for me. Thanks, Millie,” Cheryl said to her, also smiling.
I looked at dipstick. “Cheryl no longer works here, and if you don’t get with the program, I’ll use your phone so you won’t have to. Or do you have all her employment paperwork up to snuff in the back room back there, huh??” Cheryl shook her head, so I knew the paperwork we talked about this morning hadn’t been done here. “And stay out front, away from the kitchen. If you go in the kitchen, we’re walking without eating or paying for our breakfast.” I let go of his pocket, and he walked to the register, got some money out. He started back behind the counter.
“EH!! EH!! Don’t go back there!!” He went back behind the register, leaned down, and when he came back up, he was looking straight into my eyes. He had a small pipe club. I had a gun. It was pointing straight up, safely. He dropped the pipe, and handed me a wad of money, walked out the front door and sat on the steps. Smart man. I’m glad I have a sense about these things. The waitress and Cheryl were both a little startled, but I think the waitress took it well. The cook even looked through the passthrough window and smiled. “Someday that asshole is going to get hurt treating people the way he does. Order Up!!”, he hollered, not to anyone really. I sat back down and Millie brought our meals.
We ate, and ate well. I’m going to miss the food here. It’s actually good. I handed Millie a Ten and two Fives. I told her pocket the ten, to slip the cook a five and split the other five with her boss if she had to, then I talked to dipweed on the way out. “We probably won’t be back, ‘cause I doubt we’re welcome. And I certainly don’t trust you around my food. You need to do something about your attitude. Before you get hurt.” He cussed at me and we walked away.
I handed Cheryl what appeared to be about a hundred bucks or more. Maybe one fifty. I didn’t expect to get anything for her, really. I thought he was going to be a jerk and I’d have to call in the locals to harass him a bit, but he must be smarter than he looked. He knew he was in trouble. I looked into Cheryl’s eyes when we were pulling out. Her eyes were wide open. “YOU. HAD. A. GUN.”
“Yeah, Sweetheart. I always have a gun. Not used to that, huh??”
“You. Have. A. Gun.” Her face was kind of blank. I think she’s not been around firearms much. Gonna have to fix that. A little play time in the back yard and we’ll be good to go. This weekend is going to be fun. Killing and maiming perfectly good silhouette targets. YES!!
“Yes, you said that already. You like them? I have lots of them. Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns. Wanna shoot some this weekend?? I think we will. You’ll be around guns for a while with me, so you’ll need to know how to be safe around them and how to shoot them and how to clean them. All that. It’ll be fun. Trust me. You trust me, don’t you?”
“For some reason, but I’m getting farther from knowing why. You pulled a gun out in a restaurant. What did he do?”
“Cheryl, he had a pipe bat under the register. He was probably just going to threaten me with it, but if he’d gotten that far, I probably would have put him in the hospital. No matter how that worked out, he was on the losing end. I figured we were around friendlies, almost alone except for Millie and the cook, and I was able to wake him up a bit. No one got hurt. He learned a little about people skills.”
“OK, I understand, but I didn’t think real people carried guns. Just cops and criminals and things. You’re going to show me how to shoot?”
“How to handle, shoot, and clean. Don’t forget clean. Always have to clean after shooting. Not the most fun part, but the most important. Well, after safety anyway.”
We drove to work, and I took her into the front office, introduced her to Maribeth and set her loose for a few minutes. “I’ll be back to get you in a bit after we get started in back. OK?” “Yeah, OK. I’ll get started on the forms.” I left them to it.
The guys had me help them move some servers into place and they started the cabling and setup. When I had a break in between, I went up front to get Cheryl.
“Hey, Doll. Did you get what you need?”
“Yes, and they’re all filled out. Maribeth helped me. I’m now a legal employee once you sign a couple places here.” She pointed, I signed, and handed her my phone. “Call Fred at AmFam. That’s American Family Insurance back home. He’ll get you started. No, wait.” I dialed. “Hey, Betty, Fred there? (Pause) OK, thanks. (Pause.) No, out of town on an install. (Pause) Thanks, Betty, you, too. Fred! Chuck Conley. Yeah, I’m out on a build. (Pause) Uh Huh. I’ve got a new employee. Maybe I’ll have her look at it. (Pause.) Yeah. I need her on the company policy, the vehicles, and the house if she needs to be on it. (Pause.) 17. 18, soon she says. (Pause.) Of course, part time until she’s of age. Here she is with her info. (Pause.) OK, I’ll have her look at the server issue at your office. We’ll try to be by late Friday afternoon. Thanks Fred, here she is.” I handed Cheryl the phone, miming for her to take it. Take it! Fred liked to talk, but he was a real class guy. She rattled off her personal info and they finished.