The Sweat of the Brow (53)

She offers to buy me dinner. I tell her to name the time, I’d name the place. Three days later she steps out of a pod in front an orange tree, one of a thousand in a glowing grove.

She stares at me pointedly. I point over her shoulder.

She turns, and- “No.”

“Yes,” I say as I walk past her, up the stairs and into the hoverplane.

The stairs retract behind her.

We go straight up and just float over the citrus fields. When it knows we’re clear of people the ducted fans swivel and we slide forward, rolling over the trees. I give it parameters: flight time, points of interest. It offers me a flight plan. I make a few unnecessary adjustments. It sets us on our way.

“You rented this?” Katie asks.

“I did.”

“It’s not completely safe,” she says with a level stare.

“It’ll get us where we’re going,” I say. “A nice quiet place. Far from the things of man.”

“If it gets us there.”

“We’ll know in about an hour,” I say. “Champagne?”

She looks at me with exasperation. It’s nice to know I can still do that to a girl.

We skim the Everglades at two hundred feet, the lowest we’re allowed to fly. It’s a two-seater ‘plane with transparent walls. Katie and I are staring at the floor. We’re seeing the glades as they pass below, seeing through the two dozen cameras mounted outside and feeding right to our corts. Each camera can fix or zoom to make you feel like you’re down on the ground with a microscope. I could have gotten a ‘plane with a glass bottom. But it’s just not the same.

I use the cameras to follow an alligator gliding towards a muskrat. I wonder what Katie’s seeing.

We drink Champagne.

There are a few hundred places in the Everglades where a ‘plane can touch down. I pick one that doesn’t look very interesting. It’s not. It’s a field of sawgrass out under the sky. A wooden walkway disappears into the grass. Soon so do we.

“Where does this go?” Katie asks after a time.

“A little platform,” I say. “Some benches.”

She stops. “Let’s talk here.”

I turn to face her. The sun’s in my eyes. My cort adjusts. I tell it not to bother.

She looks at me.

I look back.

She looks at me.

I wait.

She looks at me.

I cock my head.

She looks at me.

I stick out my tongue.

She smiles, then. “You followed the rules.”

“Not quite,” I say.

“That’s true. So let’s talk business.”


~ by davekov on 6 October 2012.

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