Author : Helen E. Kourous

Vijay had arrived early at New Windows on the World, expecting the worst. He knew she would be late, so he took the opportunity to adjust the mood of his BlueShark textile-display sleeve stripes to his personally-designed schema Variations on Green Funk. That would annoy her. Ads for senso-cocktails followed picotech news summaries in flickering chartreuse Mandarin characters down his sleeves.

An eyeblink later he had opaqued his ZeroFear wireless wraparounds and downloaded his favorite politic-pundit vidblog. Newspeak shorthand marched along his lower peripheral vision before curving out to crawl, muted vintage-DEC orange, across the mirrored lenses. In a moment the waiter arrived with his Australian lager 10 degrees Celsius, fresh sprouted bread, and tarragon olive oil. Damn. Forgot to change my eve mode prefs.

Another waiter swooped by and swapped the lager for a Manhattan, angostura and rye, nearly frozen, with a sashimi plate.

He leaned back, fade-into-woodwork observer mode, ankle casually on knee. He studied his worldstock valuations for the sino-adjusted previous trade period on his boot sole, sparing roving glances of the expanse of the rotating sky-café. He of course had his back to a partition.

Then Vijay saw her. Ana was wearing a throwaway cosi-cola wrap and was speaking conspiratorially with the Maitre d’ by the entrance vidfountain among the palms. She was a mauve-gold shimmering confection, the subtlest sparkles from platinum-plaited head to razor-stiletto foot. He knew how long it took her to achieve that fuzzy, glinting, slightly out-of-focus soft effect. He shivered. I hate that dress. And she knew it. As he watched, the gold-mauve schema was melting into her favorite red-black combo. He gritted his teeth.

She obviously thought she had arrived first and was chivying up some sort of special treatment. A welcome interruption with a vitally important vidcall, perhaps, on an agreed-upon signal. A gilded salad fork would drip from her fingers to the adcarpet, shimmering with aerial scenes of desirable resort destinations, and the Maitre d’ would swoop in and rescue her from an interminably boring and extended breakup.

Well. She’s got another thing coming.

An advance wave of her new pheromonic engineered preceded her barracuda-spiral approach. He blinked, taken in despite himself. Her runway-strut approach was only slightly marred by the clashing Caribbean colors of the ad-carpet. Still, it could not compete. As the Maitre d’ seated her, Ana flashed her teeth strategically in the natural window-light and folded her spidery legs beneath her. She settled herself, fabric fluttering down about her like butterflies alighting. She opened a compact makeup case and unnecessarily inspected her flawless complexion.

She closed the case with a snap and graced him with the calculated flash and lash-look again. She narrowed her eyes. Yes. He thinks he will surprise me with bad news.

He’s got another thing coming.

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