“Mom, are you ever going out of the house again?
Gina could see that Tommy was angry. His face had a familiar scowl, the one she always associated with spinach because it was with strained spinach that she saw it for the first time. He was stomping away now, shaking his head in affected disgust, his ponytail bouncing out an admonition. When she heard the dishes begin to slam against the counter, she turned to her screen and typed …RTI bbl… (real time interruption be back later) and closed out the window. Her modem informed her that she had been on-line for 4:35:17, but she knew that wasn’t really the case. There had been a restart to activate some newly acquired software. Reluctantly she moved her mouse to click on disconnect.
“Tommy, what is the problem?”
The fourteen-year-old boy looked up with an exaggerated snarl. “I’m hungry and you don’t give a shit! That’s the problem!”
Gina felt an rt pang. She was uncomfortable with it. As she walked across the kitchen floor, her mind typed,* slowly walking across the kitchen floor * She moved to her son and put her arms on his shoulders. * extending my arms and embracing Tommy* Then she felt him shrug her off.
“Jesus, Mom. I just wanted something to eat!”
“I’ll fix you something.”
* his face pouting * “What?”
“How about hot-dogs and eggs?”
* Tommy smiling * “OK.”
She had just begun to scramble the eggs when she heard Merry wake up crying from her nap. “Mommy will be right there,” she said. The crying got louder. Gina worked faster, speeding up her mechanics.* a trickle of sweat running down her forehead…*
An hour later she was back into her network, feeling better, having had an rt exp, and feeling like she had earned her way back into the room. She connected at a slick speed and saw her handle flash onto the screen:
Damsel enters the room….
Brown eyed girl says: Hello Damsel * smile *
Pierre winks at Damsel: there she is …the woman of my dreams
Alec nods knowingly: Supermom is back without so much as a hair out of place
Damsel blushes: good evening everyone *smiles demurely*
This room was a general chat area that was populated by adults. Not part of the AOL or Microsoft networks, it was included in the geocities complex called The Paris Cafe. Gina particularly liked it because there were people, mostly from Quebec and Montreal, who sometimes conversed in French. It gave her a chance to get in some practice.
Damsel was known for her wit and her wisdom. She was also known as someone who had been around the cyber block and would not be taken by surprise. In such a role she was often a counselor for newbee’s.
Her fingers clicked across the keyboard at the speed of a screen flicker. Gina was multitasking. She activated her Skype line and found out which of her circle of friends might be online elsewhere. She shifted into an observer’s role at the Cafe and minimalized the screen on her monitor. She rechecked her other dialogue boxes and flipped through some messages. Things had happened while she was off line.
Her yahoo messenger icon was blinking to inform her of a message: Damsel, he says that he’s confused and that we need to take a break from each other * tears flowing * It hurts and I need to talk to you…Sultry Wench.
Gina’s heart was squeezed. Sultry was one of her best friends and the affair was young and hot, and she had tried to warn Sultry to go slow because it was following a familiar pattern. She saw that Sultry was off-line and dismissed the urgency of the situation. There were other things to do.
Much later in the night, after Merry had been given her bottle and put down, after her son Nick had gone out and come home with beer on his breath that Gina decided not to confront, after she finished reading her self-assigned Shakespearean history, after she found herself doing some work research at the Internet Business Camera Data Base,
Damsel met Browning in a private chat room.
Slowly raising her ankle length skirt for his kisses, which she applied with her moistened fingers, she rubbed her clitoris and moaned for her lover. One handed typing passed between them and the orgasm built to a sweet intensity until she broke loose and
….mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. to let him know of her release. He responded with an orgasm of his own, and they held each other tenderly, staring out of their windows looking at the same moon and the same stars from 500 miles apart. Then they said good night and Gina crept through her rooms checking her children, and finally she turned off the monitor for the night. In the morning she would have to work very hard on the two web sites that her customers expected. But for now she felt peaceful and content.
The doorbell was startling. She had been hard at work for hours and was just finishing the second of the websites. The customer was there to pick up the work she had completed had only spoken to her on the phone, professing his lack of knowledge of computers and explaining that he had been reluctant to advertise on the net. Gina was able to easily convince him of the multiplicity of advantages that came along with online
advertisement. He was a little early, but she was prepared for him. Wearing a long black skirt that buttoned up the front and showed off her long legs and her slender waist, Gina answered the door. Her cotton blouse was thin and gave her an airy feel.
Mark, from The Mansfield Funeral Parlor, was a good looking man. He was tall and had a friendly face. His brown mustache had happy ends that curled up and seemed to say hello and give him a permanently uplifting smile. Gina was aware of his eyes on her as they walked over to her work station. He said yes to a cup of coffee. He sauntered alongside her in a way that she found delightful…* walking together through my rooms * Thinking that I could just reach up and take his hand and that he would let me have it without so much as a moment of awkwardness… Her mind posted her body typed out reports of her feelings.
It took her well over an hour to explain all of the anchors and links that she had embedded into his site. Everything was there, from pictures of caskets and pics of the viewing rooms to pricing information about additional services. There were examples of
guest books and memorial cards. It was interactive. In short, a customer could plan the entire service without having to come into the office. Or a loved one, too bereaved to go to the parlor, could see it all on line while other relatives communicated with that person on the phone or on line and made the appropriate decisions. It was all there, right down to a picture of Mark, appropriately attired in a dark suit with a comforting though not jovial expression on his face.
“Well, I’ll tell you true, you’ve done one heck of a job here, Miss. Hennessey.”
“Call me Gina, please,” she said smiling. “I just put it together, Sir. All of this was in the materials that you supplied, but I do believe that it extends an additional service to your customers.” She paused wondering if she should go ahead with the results of last night’s research. “There is one more thing that I would like you to consider?’
“And what would that be”
“Well, for a fair price we could have cameras placed in the room and offer direct online access to people who could not actually attend the wake.”
At first Mark seemed jolted by the idea, but then he slowly nodded and said,
“Can you show me what you mean?”
As Gina took him through an explanation of the technology that she had researched for him, she began to see the advantages dawning on him. The equipment could be paid for from its own uses in a year. It was a one-time cost and it allowed them to offer what no other parlor in the area had. His smile was growing more flexible and she could see his eyes surfing over her face and her body with soft, unobtrusive glances.
Tommy crashed in through the back door. “Mom, is that guy still here? Merry wants to have lunch!” Tommy shouted his question before he entered the room.
“Mr. Mansfield, this is my son Tom.”
“Hi,” he said, dismissing the man instantly. “How long are you gonna’ be?”
Mark smiled at Tommy and at Gina. “I wonder if you would let me treat you and your children to some lunch,” he said.
…Damsel blushing…”Oh thank you so very much, but I think it would be more of a production than you realize. Tommy, I’ll just be a few minutes.”
“Fine, but if she starts crying I’m outta here, Mom.”
As Tommy walked out of the room, Gina felt a slight pressure of Mark’s knee pressed into her thigh. She did not move.
“Perhaps we could meet for dinner and you could go over this for me again,” Mark said
“It’s very hard for me to get out,” Gina said.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. I have a niece who is an excellent baby-sitter. If I send her over and you are comfortable with her, what do you say?”
*blushing wildly …heart throbbing * I’d say that you were most resourceful, Sir.”
Gina made the date. Mark left. She was flushed. Her cheeks were burning. She went into the back yard and relieved Tommy. He was angry again. Gina didn’t care. “I was working, Tommy.”
“Yeah, well, that guy was working you, Ma!” Tommy stomped off.
Gina held Merry in her arms and said, “Mommy’s gonna get us some Macdonalds.” The little girl smiled.
Later that evening: Damsel enters the room
Browning kisses her hand: You look radiant tonight, my Damsel
Sultry Wrench shouts: Honey, am I glad to see you!!
Gina settled in to ask her friends what she could do about the problem of her