Sunday, December 11, 2016

Social Simulator Run 135 [Reboot]

Joel was struggling to enjoy the office’s holiday party, when Graciela made her unexpected approach.  
“Hey, boss…”  She struck a pose in front of him.  Hands on her hips.  Her proverbial “little black dress,” clinging in ways that would get him counseled in “Inappropriate staring” back at the office.  A wicked looking smile on her face.  “I made myself a promise that, one way or another, I was going to get you on the dance floor tonight.”  
“Uh…”  A plate of chicken skewers were still in his hands, not yet placed on the table before him.  He swallowed, noting that his glass of water, he was driving himself tonight after all, sitting there looking so far away.  “I, uh, don’t…”  
“Come on…!”  Graciela moved in, hooking her left arm through his right.  Using her own right hand to clamp on to his wrist.  
“No, no…  I just…”  He lifted the plate of chicken skewers to display them.  Tiara, the invoicing manager, suddenly appeared and plucked the plate from his grip.  From behind, someone…  Lexa from order processing, came in to take his hand from the back of his chair and pull it out of reach.  
“No, nothing…  I wanna see you shake some booty.”  
A panic attack swept through him.  His booty didn’t shake.  It was locked in place since becoming president of the computer club in High School.  Looking past Graciela and her hair, now flowing in glistening locks down her back instead of the pert little bun she kept it in at work, at the people on the dance floor, he knew for sure that what little booty he might possess would snap in to if he attempted to move it like that.  
“No, no…”  Using extreme delicacy, he loosed Graciela’s hold on his arm and extracted it.  He backed away before she could grab it again.  
Lexa moved back in when he turned to go around the table.  
Tiara moved in front of him when he looked toward the gap between the back wall, where he’d chosen to sit, and the greeting table by the entrance to the restaurant’s rental space.  
Graciela had her hands on her hips, tilted up to one side, and smiled in a way that told Joel she had anticipated his reaction and planned out a response.  It was that sort of forethought that one her the company’s “Outstanding Performance Award,” which Joel had come JUST to present to her.  
He looked back and forth, then back and forth again.  It was then he spotted the edge of the tablecloth and the dark space beneath it.  
Before he knew what he was doing, Joel dove to the floor and crawled under the table.  He was directly under its center before Lexa could pull up the edge of the cloth and say something to him.  
“No.”   Joel shook his head.  He couldn’t tell what she was saying from the loud thumping of the music threatening to destroy everyone’s eardrums.  He just kept shaking his head and saying, “No,” when he saw her mouth move.  
It took about ten minutes, including the time the three of them tried to move the table from over him, forcing him to scoot along to stay in place, but they eventually gave him and walked away.  It took a half hour more for Joel to get himself together enough to stop the simulation.  
“So, Charlie…  I, uh, hear you’re leaving the company.”  
Joel was standing in the bar area.  It was just outside the curtain partition to where the tables, the dance floor and the DJ’s equipment was set up.  He had made a beeline for it once he arrived at the party, and had been standing in once place, shifting his weight back and forth, waiting for when the awards were to be presented.
“Yeah…  Finally outa here.”  Charles Mason nodded his head.  He was smiling broadly, something he never did when bringing the records he’d gathered as a field agent to Joel’s unit.  He looked like he was sweating, though the bar area was making Joel tremble with the cold.  His eyes were red and watery.  “Bet you’re happy about that, huh?”
“I, uh…”  Joel turned his head to one side, then the other.  He had complained to Charlie and his supervisor about the sloppiness of his data, not being properly statused or formatted when he’d uploaded to the server, at the beginning of Charlie’s tenure.  But that had been months ago.  
“That’s the one thing you…”  He gestured with his drink toward Joel.  Joel stepped back as some of it sloshed out of the glass at him at the gesture.  “And I can both agree on, huh?  We’re both glad we don’t have to…   Fucking deal with each other, huh?”  A very maniacal laugh erupted from his lips.  
Joel swallowed.  Other field agents hanging out in the bar area moved in.  He had only wanted the work down right, he wanted to say.  But looking into Charlie’s eyes, seeing the other field agents waiting to hear how he would respond, and remembering one of them quip that “Charlie Mason” was one “n” away from being a psychopathic killer, Joel felt any such feedback would be useless.
Joel nodded, muttered something close to “Good Luck,” and squeezed through the clustered agents to return to the dinning and dancing area.  Graciela caught him within ten steps of the entrance, a good twenty meters from the nearest table.  
Joel didn’t doubt the accuracy of his simulations.  His job was to create them for the attorneys that were their clients.  Recreating accidents, crime scenes to show juries their client’s version of events.  They were designed to be believable.  Joel knew they were credible.  
What he was beginning to doubt was his ability to get out of something he knew would be embarrassing.  
“Hey, Joel, if you hurt your foot, why is that cast of yours coming off?”  Graciela gave him a smug look as she pointed toward the floor.  
“So…  With our current level of incoming orders…  I’d say we’re a good…  one hundred eighty-three orders or so away from making the projected goal.”  
“Really?”  John Hamerson, the owner of the company nodded in appreciation.  Joel had been told that Hamerson liked his work, but he still avoided talking to him if he could.  It made him too nervous.  “Well, we’ve closed three deals this week, that I think…”  
“Mr. Hamerson?”  
“Hello!”  Hamerson’s smile lit up as the both turned to find Graciela stading there.  “Graciela, right?” 
“Yes.  I was wondering if I could borrow my boss for a moment.  He promised me a dance tonight.”  
“Actually, I…”  
“Certainly!”  Hamerson made an expansive gesture as if offering Joel to be Graciela’s personal property.  He clapped Joel on the shoulder.  “It is a Party!”  
Joel waited in the bathroom.  Until a customer from the restaurant came up to him and said, “You look you could be someone special…”  
Walking down the street.  Joel thought he’d just circle the party until the presentation.  Until it started to rain…
“Maybe this will tell you ‘No’ means ‘No!’”  Joel pulled out the gun he’d added to the simulation.  
People screamed.  Tables overturned.  Graciela stood there, her avatar’s face displaying the most realistic look of horror Joel could imagine.  She’d actually written the algorithm that created it, he remembered.  
He ought to record his own expression to get the perfect representation of shame.  
[Delete Simulation Run]
[Delete Database]
[Empty Trash]
[Initialize Drive]
Joel sat in a chair by the table next to the wall.  The curtains covering the walls were, in reality, a deep green and not the bright red in his simulations.  They must have changed the decor from the images he’d downloaded.  
He wasn’t ready for this.  His idea of simulating what was for him an awkward social situation to figure out how to handle it hadn’t worked.  Or…  Maybe it had.  In the sense that situations like this maybe just needed to be experienced.  
“Hey, Joel…”  
He looked up to find Graciela standing there.  He took a breath.  His simulations had not don’t justice to her proficiency at wearing her little black dress.  Tiara was standing to her left.  And Rosa to her right.  It turned out that Lexa had given her notice that morning.  She had not told anyone nor posted anything about it online before announcing it.  
“Hey, Graciela.”
“I made a promise to myself that, one way or the other, you and I are gonna…”  
“Dance?  Sure.”  
Joel pushed his chair back and stood up.  His empty plate and glass were already pushed well to the center.
When he turned back, he found Graciela was giving him an open mouth stare. Tiara and Rosa were giving each other wide-eyed looks that would be filed under “Extremely Startled” in his Reactions folder on his computer.  
“Uh…  Ok.”  Graciela recovered quickly, her mouth transforming in a toothy, ear to ear smile.  
“Just know…”  Right then the DJ started up another set.  A loud, techno-thumping number that made the curtains shiver with anticipation.  
“Just…  Know…”  Joel couldn’t even hear his own shouts into Graciela’s face.  “There’s an eight…  Percent chance…  I fall and pull you down to the floor…  With me.”  
“You want to dance to, ‘Get Down with Me?’”  Joel had to read her lips to figure out what she said.  

“Never mind.”  He nodded toward the dance floor.  She took his arm and let him lead them out.  At least he knew that falling down wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. 


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