When Chip was seconds away from hitting “Dial” on his phone to call the police and report Lurlene missing and believed dead, the throaty rumble of her Corvette purred to a stop in front of his apartment building. Chip let out a huge breath of air that he hadn’t realized he had been anxiously holding in. He all but scurried over to the top of the stairs to better see her coming in.
Lurlene walked right in the front door and started up the stairs without looking so far up as to see Chip perched right in front of her. He peered closely looking for visible injuries or evidence of mistreatment. Lurlene jumped a little when she saw Chip’s feet on the top step and craned her head up to see him lurking.
“What? Aren’t you glad to see me?” Lurlene queried defensively.
“Where have you been? I was so worried. I almost called the police. I have no idea what I was going to tell them, but I was going to ask them to call out the cavalry or whatever the modern equivalent is. What happened?”
“Relax, Chip, your box is well-placed and I can guarantee that Buck didn’t suspect a thing when I was doing it.”
“How do you know he didn’t see you?”
“Well, let’s just say he was insensible of the situation.” Lurlene said circumspectly.
“What does that mean? You didn’t hurt him, did you? Or I mean, he didn’t hurt you either, right?” Chip fretted, peering close again to look for evidence of damage. Lurlene didn’t have an bruises like she might have gotten from a brute like Buck Lemaire, but Chip wanted to see even more closely if there were more subtle evidence of mistreatment.
Lurlene turned shyly away from Chip’s scrutiny and finished going up the stairs and pushed around him.
Chip turned to follow, “Wait, Lurlene, tell me what happened. How did you do it without him noticing?”
Lurlene spun back around to face Chip, “I just gave him something that he’s always wanted and while he was occupied with it, I was free to do as I pleased behind his desk. Is that enough detail for you?” Her eyes flared, daring him to push her for more information.
Chip wasn’t sensitive enough to notice her frustration, so he bludgeoned on, “What could you give him that makes you so sure that he didn’t see you? You know if he saw what you are doing, then none of this plan is going to work. Did you have some kind of pills with you? Something to knock him out?” Chip was trying his hardest to solve the puzzle of what Lurlene wasn’t telling him.
Lurlene channeled her teenage self with a fiercely dismissive sneer and an opposing slope of her shoulders and hips. She shook her head at Chip’s cluelessness of the signals she had been sending to leave her be and she decided to just give him the information that he couldn’t stop trying to extract.
She mimed an obscene gesture that their high school teachers would definitely not have allowed as communication back in the days when they were each other’s social nemeses. Chip’s jaw dropped down nearly to the top step and he coughed and gasped a few times before he could bluster out his objection. “You, you wouldn’t!”
Lurlene knew that Chip wouldn’t have approved of her methods, but she rejected the suggestion that he had some right to tell that to her. “Listen, Snow White. What do you know about what consenting adults do when they are trying to steal access to each other’s computers? I’d say if I want to bob his knob then you should keep your puritanism to yourself.” She thumped him in the chest with her forefinger to punctuate her opinion of his level of standing on the matter.
“But, why? You said that you ran him out of your house before just for asking. You can’t sleep with everyone just to get what your want!”
Lurlene started to raise her voice: “I can, I will, and I did. You can’t tell me who I should or should not be sleeping with! What possible relationship could there be that puts you in charge of my body? Your adolescent fantasies are about 20 years out of date, my little friend.” Lurlene even stomped her foot, but demurely.
Chip was a bit surprised that Lurlene had even noticed enough about him 20 years ago to realize that he had had adolescent fantasies, but he flushed with shame anyways. Lurlene continued in a more reasonable tone as if she cared enough to convince Chip of some rightness that inhere in her decision. “We did it Chip. I mean I did it, but you made it possible for me to do it. And now you can do whatever it is that you’re going to do next and send Buck Lemaire to prison where he can rot. Isn’t that worth it? Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”
Chip thought that might be overstating his position, but since Lurlene had figured out what lascivious thoughts were in his mind so long ago, he wondered if maybe she hadn’t seen more accurately into his own psyche than he himself did. “Well yes, but I didn’t expect that you would justify those means with that end. Maybe we could have come up with another solution! Maybe there was another way to skin the cat that I wasn’t smart enough to see yet!”
“No Chip, no, I don’t think you are seeing this the right way. We need to act to change the world, to clean up people like this who are going to cheat at whatever cost to be in control and make their money. There isn’t a clever solution that cuts this Gordian knot in a fell swoop. There’s been gruff, powerful, rich dudes trying to push their decisions on the rest of us since Ook the caveman. You aren’t going to come up with some clever hack for this one. If you don’t want to this town and the people in it to get stepped on, then at some point we need to start making some decisive moves to get there. I just did that. Now it’s your turn, what are you going to do?”
Chip didn’t think that there was anyone he could sleep with to move things along, so he did the best he could and grabbed his laptop and his keys off the counter. “Let’s go for a ride.”