Here’s the beginning:
I always sit alone. Night after night while friendly conversation buzzes all around, I scribble away at my pad. Like the severed lobe of a lobotomized brain my quietness keeps me apart from the surrounding barroom.
Not that they don’t try. Their electrical impulses probe with questions and icebreakers, smiles and shoulder taps. But all I return is a blank stare, as is our way, while many muse over why I don’t respond.
Wheezing Joe wipes foam from his facial hair and breathes into his beer. “Is she deaf?”
“Doesn’t speak English.” Zev replies, wiping down the oak counter with a stained towel.
“No. She is a conceited reporter spying on us.” Gina never takes her eyes off the door as she stirs her gin blossom. Looking right past her female companion, her mind focuses on one thought; prospective mates. I had yet to comprehend it, but for some reason, I threaten that quest.
I cock my head to one side, calculating the odds that I am creating too much interest amongst the patrons. Seventy-six percent. Much too high. I must not rouse suspicion. Planning to lower my autonomic response filter, I slip into the bathroom stall and lock the rusty door securely before reaching back to the base of my skull to adjust the invisible touch screen.
Immediately there is an increase in emotion. I jerk upright as a variety of new sensations wash over me.
I pull my long hair back tightly and tie it at the nape of my neck before exiting. My intestines are churning as I step up to the bar. I can barely croak out the words, “One pomegranate martini, please.”
With shaking hands, I grasp the glass stem, trying to find comfort in the dry ice mist rising from the martini. Gina turns away with a half smile when I spill some of the sanguine-colored liquid onto the floor. Her female companion guffaws while Joe takes a gulp of beer to hide his chuckling.
Careful not to spill again, I cross the room to sit back down and gaze into the wine-colored fog. The pomegranate martini reminds me of home, a volcano-covered planet so far from the sun, that the sky never brightens beyond a pinkish hue. I lower my nose and cool steam moistens my skin like Lyra’s atmosphere at perihelion.
I glance out of the corner of my eye. Lowering the filter has worked. The flies are relaxed. Even Gina’s brain waves have ceased their jagged patterns. I have been accepted as just another quirky bar regular. And in so doing, they give me a name. They dub me the Human Chair, she who sits but never responds. Funny they would call me human. And flattering in a strange sort of way. They never call me this to my face, but I’ve heard them whisper, “She’s the Human Chair,” to every newcomer who asks about the woman scribbling away in the dark corner
Many barflies think they can break through my severed wall of gray matter. A few send drinks. Some try smooth lines to strike up conversations. I never understood the one that goes, “What is a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” It seems to imply that The Blue Ace is a disreputable establishment.
A few even tell carnal anecdotes to provoke a response. Wheezing Joe loves to tell about the sexual misadventures of blonde-haired women. I am glad that I have chosen dark hair when I hear how lighter shades affect human I.Q.
Of course, it is all in vain. I ignore them all. The ice cubes melt in untouched glasses. Compliments and witticisms go unacknowledged. No matter how loud or rude they are, my pen never slows.
If it did my superiors would take away this assignment. And I have grown too fond of this human form to shed it just now. These strange sensations that go along with inhabiting a female body. The sweet taste of a pomegranate martini on my tongue. The feel of my pen gripped between these efficient digits. A warm tingling in my loins when that tall male on the subway smiles at me. I often must remind myself that I am an observer not a participant. An anthropologist who is detached from her surroundings.
This excerpt from my science fiction short story was recently published in Shifting Sands. This anthology is an eclectic blend of short stories and poetry from the talented members of the Coastal Dunes Branch of the California Writers Club. For a copy, here’s the link.