“So, how’s the king of porn promoters this morning?” The female voice behind him dripped with disdain.
Derk didn’t bother to turn his head. He was reclining on the campus lawn in front of the Admin Building under the shade of an ash tree that seemed to think mid-March was early summer, based on the full canopy of leaves it sported. His ever-present notebook computer was open in front of him, its “network connect” icons blinking in a rapid, steady flicker.
The voice came again. “Any idea how many hundreds of young people are being corrupted by the shit you spew out?” Anger had now crept in and threatened to override the disdain. “Or are molested by the adult creeps who look at it?”
He was used to this. Still, he rolled his eyes. Often they just went away if he didn’t react. But something told him this one might be different. Occupational hazard, I guess, he thought. It was beginning to grate, though. He waited motionless for the next volley. Not for long.
“Asshole! Are you just going to lie there and ignore me?” Punctuation came in the form of a prod in Derk’s upper thigh from what felt like the toe of a sneaker.
He rolled over on his back and squinted up. Her face was obscured by long, brown hair blowing around it in the steady southeast breeze, and by the dazzling effect of the alternating sunlight and shadows from the fluttering leaves.
“Good morning to you, too, miss. Or ma’am.” He shaded his eyes with a hand but it didn’t help much. He essayed a smile. “I don’t know what you’ve heard about me, but it sounds like most of it’s wrong. I’m not into porn.”
To his surprise she plopped down cross-legged beside him on the grass, set her backpack beside her and pointed to the laptop’s screen. “Oh, and I guess you’re just downloading music right now, huh? Are you going to tell me you DON’T initiate most of the spam we get every day? And that some of that spam promotes porn sites?”
“I think you mean ‘adult entertainment’ sites,” he said without rancor. He sat up himself and reached out his hand, intending to pat her shoulder in what he hoped would be a reassuring gesture, not a patronizing one.
Before he made contact she hissed, “Don’t you DARE touch me!” with such vehemence that he recoiled as if stung.
Now that her head was on a level with his, he could see that she that she was pretty. No, make that stunning. He guessed she was an undergraduate. Brazen, he thought, but maybe worth a little effort. Even a significant effort.
He cocked his head to one side as if thinking and said, “I... seem to remember... that your foot touched me first. Or doesn’t that count?”
She flushed; something he didn’t see very often. It brought out delicate facial features he hadn’t noticed before. Yeah, this might be worth a LOT of effort.
Then she put her hand into the open backpack. It came out holding a hammer.
That’s a first draft of the opening for a story idea I had this week. Are you “hooked?” Do you want to find out what happens?
Would you turn the page?