Allan sighed heavily. The meeting had lasted longer than he had anticipated and he was not happy. The new sub-systems were not feasible and he had identified a number of errors and omissions in the project requirements, which would result in probable conflicts on one or more subject matter areas. He had then spent three hours in a boardroom demonstrating the probable implications of staying on that course. He had even put forward a more viable alternative from the feasibility study he had carried out. In conclusion, he had recommended a design subgroup be formed to integrate the work already done and the new modifications for what he saw as being an innovative solution. The board had retired to consider the presentation and the data Allan had provided and would be meeting again in one week. The project was, therefore, on hold. Allan despaired at times like this. Why couldn't anything ever be decided on the spot?
As a result of this meeting, he was now late in arriving home. He was angry, hungry and tired. Automatically he turned on his computer, connected to the Internet and then went to take a shower.
The automatic connection had been to his Instant Message service and, as he walked from the bathroom towel-drying his hair, he glanced at the screen.
Allan smiled. That smiley face made him laugh and he typed in a reply.
Allan: Hi yourself.
Instantly, Allan received a response.
Carl: You busy?
Draping the towel around his neck and shoulders, Allan sat down in the chair facing his computer.
Allan: Just got home.
Carl: Working late?
Allan: Had a meeting.
Allan: Not really.
Carl: Oh, did something go wrong?
Allan: Not really, no. They're just too indecisive and stubborn.
Carl: LOL! Is that their job?
Allan: I sometimes think it must be.
Carl: What was the meeting about?
Allan: A client project that won't work the way they want it too.
Carl: How do you know?
Allan: It's my job to know.
Carl: Okay. So you told them?
Allan: Yes, I told them.
Carl: They didn't listen?
Allan: They listened, but whether they heard is another thing altogether.
Carl: Bet you end up getting your way.
Allan: Probably, but I'd sooner it be now than next week, it requires a lot of work and the sooner we can get a team on it, the better for all concerned.
Carl: Sounds complicated.
Allan: Only the way they go about it.
Carl: So, you're pissed off?
Carl: See, I made you laugh.
Allan: Yes, you did. Thanks.
Allan: So what you been up to today?
Carl: Went swimming.
Allan: Yeah? Where?
Carl: Just at the local pool.
Allan: Okay. Thought maybe a river, or something.
Carl: You ever seen British rivers?
Carl: Thought not.
Allan: LOL! You like to swim?
Carl: Yeah, it's something to do.
Allan: You don't work?
Allan: Oh, okay.
Carl: Can't get a job here.
Allan: Sorry to hear that.
Carl: Thanks. Just means I don't have any money to do anything.
Carl: Yeah, it is.
Allan: So, when you do work what do you do?
Carl: I've never worked.
Carl: Yeah. I left school with hardly any qualifications and stuff.
Allan: Okay. What would you like to do?
Carl: God, I don't know. Anything, I guess.
Allan: Well, that's a wide range.
Carl: Yeah, I guess. I mean, there's stuff I don't wanna do, but I'm not sure what I do wanna do. I just know that I need to do something.
Allan: What do you enjoy doing?
Carl: What do you mean?
Allan: Hobbies. Leisure activities. You said you liked swimming.
Carl: I do.
Allan: Can you get a job at the pool?
Carl: No, I already tried that, but I don't have the qualifications to be a lifeguard.
Allan: Is that what the job was for?
Carl: Yeah. Tom told me about it.
Carl: He's a lifeguard at the pool.
Allan: Okay. Can't he help?
Carl: With what?
Carl: I'm not with you.
Allan: If Tom's a lifeguard, can't he advise you on what qualifications you need to be a lifeguard? Maybe you can do a course somewhere.
Carl: Dunno. Never thought about it.
Allan: Couldn't hurt to ask.
Carl: Guess not.
Allan: What else do you like doing?
Carl: I run.
Allan: What kind of running?
Carl: You know, general running, just to keep in shape.
Allan: You look after yourself, then?
Carl: I try. Isn't always easy to get motivated.
Allan: You run alone?
Carl: Yeah, since the dog died.
Allan: Oh, sorry.
Carl: That's okay, it was a while ago.
Allan: Maybe you could find a running partner and motivate each other.
Carl: No way.
Allan: Why not?
Carl: Sooner do it alone. That way I don't have anyone else to think about.
Allan: Okay. You like your own company, then?
Carl: I guess.
Allan: What about computers?
Carl: What about them?
Allan: You know how to use one, right?
Allan: Maybe a job in computers.
Carl: No, that's not for me. Couldn't work with them all day and then come home and use them, would drive me insane.
Allan: LOL! I know that feeling.
Carl: Oh, yeah
Carl: Wasn't thinking.
Allan: LOL! That's okay.
Carl: So, what do you do for fun?
Allan: Fun? What's that?
Carl: You must do something. You can't work all the time.
Allan: Since I got relocated here that's all I do seem to do.
Carl: That's not good.
Allan: Little else to do.
Carl: Do you swim, or run?
Allan: Me? LOL!
Carl: What's so funny.
Allan: I'm guessing that I'm older than you.
Allan: Well, running isn't something that my brain can compute.
Carl: LOL! Are you ancient, or something?
Carl: That's not old.
Allan: I'll bet compared to you it is.
Allan: See. 12-years difference.
Carl: So? I'll bet when you were 20 you ran and swam and stuff.
Allan: Yeah, I guess I did.
Carl: Well, you can always take it up again.
Allan: I haven't the energy. Sooner sit in front of the TV. LOL!
Carl: Okay, you be a couch potato. LOL!
Carl: Nothing much to do where you are, then?
Allan: To be honest, I've been so busy with work that I haven't really been anywhere to find out.
Carl: Oh, maybe you should. There may be a cinema, or something.
Allan: I can't remember the last time I saw movie in a theater.
Carl: Neither can I. Costs way too much.
Allan: Yeah, is like seven bucks to see one here.
Carl: I don't know what that is in British money.
Allan: Neither do I.
Allan: You going to be online for much longer?
Carl: Not sure. It's almost midnight here in the UK.
Allan: Okay. I didn't realize the time.
Carl: Why you asking?
Allan: I just need to call for take out, or something, I haven't eaten yet.
Carl: I can wait while you make your call.
Allan: I need to get dressed, too.
Allan: I just took a shower and I saw you online, so I got chatting and forgot.
Carl: Forgot? LOL! So I guess that means you're naked and wet?
Allan: Naked, yeah. Wet, no!
Allan: But I am cold, so I do need to go find something to throw on.
Carl: Okay. I can wait.
Allan: Cool, brb.
Carl smiled to himself. He had been chatting to a naked guy on the Internet. He laughed. If only Allan knew that he, too, was naked.
Carl: That was quick.
Allan: Found a t-shirt and shorts, that'll do.
Carl: You called for food?
Allan: Damn, no. brb.
Carl smiled to himself again.
Allan: Okay. Done.
Allan: Don't let me hold you up if you need to go to bed.
Carl: That's okay, I can stay around until your takeaway arrives.
Carl: The burger, or whatever you ordered.
Allan: Ah, okay. Take out. Pizza. Thanks, makes a change to have someone interesting to chat to.
Carl: Someone else come in the room?
Carl: You said there was someone interesting to talk to.
Allan: I meant you.
Carl: LOL! I know. But I ain't interesting.
Allan: Oh! Well, to me you are.
Allan: When you spend all day amongst dummies, it's nice to get away from all that and have a normal conversation.
Carl: With me?
Allan: LOL! See, you make me laugh.
Carl: LOL! So how long you been relocated?
Allan: A couple of months.
Carl: Just you?
Allan: No, some of the other guys from the firm, too, but I don't see a lot of them outside work.
Allan: All they talk about is work or their families.
Carl: Oh. You not married?
Allan: Me? God, no!
Carl: You make it sound like a crime.
Allan: For me it would be.
Allan: Because I never saw myself as the marrying kind.
Carl: Well, guess 32 is still young. There's still time.
Allan: Not for me. I don't want a wife.
Allan: I don't want kids, either.
Allan: What about you?
Carl: I don't have any kids.
Carl: Can't afford to support myself, let alone anyone else.
Allan: Well, I guess 20 is a little young.
Carl: I guess.
Allan: Do you have a girlfriend?
Carl: Nope. No wife, no kids, no girlfriend. Come to think of it, I don't have any friends, either. Kinda like you.
Allan: LOL! Well, all my friends are back home, but, you're right, I have none here.
Carl: I think that's sad.
Allan: Well, you just said you didn't have any friends, either.
Carl: I never had any friends. At least you have some, even though they're not there.
Allan: You must have some friends.
Carl: No, not really, I never really kept in touch with anyone when I left school.
Allan: What about Tom?
Allan: Was that his name? The lifeguard at the pool?
Allan: He isn't your friend?
Carl: I guess. Sorta.
Carl: He's someone I met at the pool. Guess we did have a few drinks together one night.
Allan: Well, there you go. You have at least one friend.
Carl: Yeah, I guess, but I don't see him too much.
Allan: Oh, I think my pizza arrived. brb.
Carl waited. As he did so, he thought about Tom. Maybe he ought to visit the pub again and see if he was around. He made a mental note to do so and then returned his attention to the screen.
Allan: It was my pizza.
Carl: Okay, well, guess I better get to bed.
Allan: Thanks for chatting with me.
Carl: Any time.
Carl: Yeah. It was fun.
Allan: Cool. Sleep well.
Carl: Thanks. I will.
At that, Carl logged off. Allan saw him go and headed to the kitchen to get himself a beer from the refrigerator and settle himself down in front of the TV with his pizza.
Carl went to bed. Thoughts of Tom in his yellow polo shirt and red shorts turned to thoughts of a naked American online. He had no idea what he looked like, but he had been naked. He could picture naked real good.
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead