Evan Smaller felt relieved when he logged on and saw Brutal_9nd was online. Today was going to be it, the big IT. The day he would suggest they meet in the flesh. It had almost been two years since they began chatting online, and as far as Evan was concerned, that was long enough. He had finally gotten that promotion to head code writer at Quark, finally gotten to a good place in his life. A place he wanted to share with Brutal_9nd, now a faceless online entity with a quick wit and killer personality, soon to be a flesh-and-blood reality (he hoped). He cracked his fingers, drew a deep breath and typed his hellos.
SmallGuy: Hi! Did you see last nightís ep of The Office?
Brutal_9nd: I think the writers have access to my workplace!
SmallGuy: LOL. Me too --my boss is such a clueless ass.
Brutal_9nd: Tell me about it.
SmallGuy: Can I be serious?
Brutal_9nd: I donít know, can you?
SmallGuy: I have something I want to ask you....
No response. Evan almost held his breath but caught himself. Hey, if it didnít work out, it didnít work out, right? Heíd live. Even if he was shattered alive.
Brutal_9nd: Well, get on with it.
SmallGuy: I think we should meet.
Another pause. Maybe he pushed it too far. Maybe he was seeing something that wasnít there. Maybe he should just learn to pick up girls in bars instead of chat rooms.
Brutal_9nd: Do you believe in pure love?
Now Evan was forced to pause. What did that mean?
Brutal_9nd: Iím not going to lie. I donít even really know you, but youíre the only human being I look forward to talking to every day.
So, it wasnít just in his head! He felt relieved, but still the question nagged him.
SmallGuy: What is pure love?
Brutal_9nd: Online, Iím words. You and me get along just fine. Pure love exists between people who donít let physical differences get in the way. People who like each other for who they are.
Evanís gut clenched a little.
SmallGuy: Tell me the truth. R U a guy? Iím sorry I canít if youíre a guy...
Brutal_9nd: No, Iím all girl.
That last response was lighting fast. All of the confidence Evan felt began leaking out slowly. What did he get himself into?
Brutal_9nd: Still want to meet?
Evan swallowed his hesitation down. Itís true; he really liked Brutal_9nd. He got withdrawal symptoms if he didnít talk to her each day. They had so much in common from weird work environments to their love of Crossed Bones: The Series. If it didnít work out, then he could just back off...but maybe he did believe in "pure love". Maybe he believed that no matter what, he could still like Brutal_9nd. And really, how bad could it be?
SmallGuy: Of course. When? Where?
Brutal_9nd: The park bench right up against 51st between 7th and 8th. That one that faces where the fountain used to be but is now a Big Guy-induced hole in the earth. 7 sharp on Thursday. Good for you?
Evan chuckled. He and Brutal_9nd ripped on the Big Guy all the time. Sure, he was grateful that he wasnít a slave to an alien race or just another stain on some monsterís heel, but commuting was a bitch in New Tronic. At least the pay compensated. His affection was refreshed, along with his confidence. He definitely looked forward to seeing her.
SmallGuy: Sounds good. What kind of flowers do you like?
Brutal_9nd: All sorts. Donít get too mushy on me. J
SmallGuy: Iíll have on a blue shirt and Iíll have some all sorts of flowers so youíll know itís me. What will you be wearing?
Brutal_9nd: Marc Jacobs. But I think youíll know.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Evan rushed to the corner store after work and picked up a fresh bouquet of assorted flowers. They had been dyed bright, unnatural colors but he thought they were unique. His entire day had been building to this moment and he had to force himself to walk slowly to the park between 7th and 8th. His feet shuffled over the cracked and buckled sidewalk, his heart beating fast- relief was just around the corner. He imagined what she would look like -- maybe blonde, maybe brunette, maybe a redhead! Cute! Maybe she was a computer nerd like him. Maybe they had even passed each other in a grocery store or in a line for coffee...
His wandering mind tightened up as he approached the bench. There didnít seem to be anyone there...was he early? He sat on the bench, eagerly scanning the passerbyís, waiting to see the look of recognition break on someoneís face. He caught the flicker of a silvery dress out of the corner of his eye and suddenly realized she had been standing there the whole time.
"Evan Smaller? Is that you?" She asked. He managed a cough but not much else as she sat beside him on the bench. "Nice flowers," she said, plucking a neon green daisy from the bouquet.
"A-A-Are you..." He swallowed hard. "Brutal_9nd?"
He sat in silent confusion, his mouth working at forming words but making no sounds. She sighed.
"I knew this is how it would go down. Doesnít take a rocket scientist." She paused, just in case he would step up and redeem himself. No dice. His mouth had stopped moving; no more questions, no more protests. "Well, you know...I should just be more careful. Sorry to have bothered you, Smaller."
His eyes followed her as she walked up the sidewalk and into a chauffeured limousine waiting at the end of the block, her perfectly tailored designer dress blowing softly in the slight early autumn breeze. What the hell was that? he thought to himself as the car rounded the corner and drove away.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Jenny? Jeeennnyyyy?!" Donovan leaned out of his golden tub, sloshing water and foam on his marble bathroom floor. "Where arrrre you?"
"Right here." Jenny appeared, dragging a bag of doughnuts behind her.
"Whereíd you go?" He whined. "I need my favorite little neck massager to properly relax." Jenny rolled her eyes.
"I went to Krispy Kreme. Duh." She hopped up onto the edge of the tub, grateful for the bubbles obscuring the lard.
"Whyíd you wear your Marc Jacobs dress?"