Matthew Williams sat in between the intravenous fluids pumping into the wheelchair-bound lady and the half-shaven glare of the Hispanic businessman clunking his briefcase on his legs. The line stretched through the peeking rays of the sun sneaking over the horizon of downtown Los Angeles, The white Apple logo pasted on the clear window showcasing an array of blinking colors and cardboard cutouts of phones. Matthew shivered as the quiet breeze accelerated through the funneling buildings escalating towards the rose and purple neon blanketed sky. He pulled on his brown jacket and wrapped himself inside of it. A ringing tone beeped as a man opened the colossal transparent doors and waved the line in.
"One at a time." He said as the line bustled inside. The man turned to the black security guard next to him. "Stop after 50."
Matthew overheard and breathed a sigh of relief. He was easily one of the first people in line. Important, considering this was his job. Matthew works as a professional line sitter. He is payed by people to wait in line for various items, and bring the product to the individual that would rather waste someone else's time on something that would go obsolete in six to nine months.
Matthew wasn't complaining. It kept beer in the fridge and the part of his rent in shape. He skipped inside and made a beeline towards the back of the store, where a small white box waited for him. He looked around at the scrambling shoppers around him; dictated by the giant lit logo watching over them like a mechanical god.
"Can I help you?" A frail old lady said at the counter."
"I'm here to pick up for Allison." Matthew said as he handed her the receipt.
"Are you her husband?" She asked.
Matthew grimaced and showed her his ring less hand.
"Then are you related?"
"Nope. This is business."
"I'm gonna need more confirmation than that." The lady said.
Matthew sighed. "I'm a line sitter. I just hold the line for her."
"A line sitter. I'm paid to sit in line for people."
"Is that your job all day?"
"Sorry ma'am, but jobs are tough nowadays."
The lady looked at her computer, shifting her eyes to the flimsy receipt while she pounded keys on the board.
"Sorry, but you have to call up 'Allison'." The lady said as she air-signaled quotation marks.
"She's very much real, ma'am." Matthew said quietly. The two stated at each other. The lady remained skeptical as she tapped on the gleaming counter. The noise of the people in the store rose to a steady roar like the chirping of birds in a jungle.
"How about I throw in an extra 50 for you?" Matthew asked.
The lady stepped back. "A-are you bribing me?"
"I give you a few coupons, too." Matthew's face reddened as his quiet voice quivered.
"Don't tell me you don't like it at least a little."
"Fine. I won't. But Let it be know that I don't like it."
A paste white man with shining white hair sat at the circular wood table and narrowed his ruby eyes with contentment. "That's exactly what someone who hasn't seen it would say."
A women dressed in a loose yellow shirt and charcoal pants scoffed as she adjusted her cascading brown hair. "I need to get on the road. I don't want to hear another word about My Little Pony, or anything for that matter, from you until I get back."
"No texts or calls until four?"
"Exactly. You'll miss me so much that maybe you can be submissive so I don't get a migraine."
"Oh Lizzie, we both know why you prefer me submissive."
Elizabeta Hedervary took a slightly mushed orange from a metal holder at the center of the grey counter and flung it at the man's head, making him groan as he patted the impact spot.
"Snowflake." Elizabeta said as she walked out the door.
As she slammed the screen door behind her, she looked out at the quiet street hazed in the mid-morning glow raining down on the city around her. She walked to the cracked driveway and felt her way around the old dirt bed of a rose garden towards her final destination: a blue and yellow taxicab.
Inside the house, Gilbert Beilschmidt fumbled with his warm beer bottle left out from the night before. He dropped off the chair at the table and leapt over the couch as he sprawled his frame over the cool faux leather with the sun's rays touching his feet hanging over the edge of the couch. Just as he was about to click on the wide-screen plasma television, he felt a vibration in his sweatpant's pocket. Gilbert groaned as he yanked the smartphone out. After seeing the screen, he bucked up slightly.
"Is something the matter, Frau?" Gilbert said.
"Please Don't call me that. Anyway, Eliza texted me a few seconds ago. She said the construction site was shut down for some sewage explosion or something, so you have the day off." Matthew said.
Gilbert groaned. "Sorry Matthew, but my slate is covered for the day."
"And what do you suppose that would be?" He asked.
"First, I'm going to actually catch An episode of the price is right. Then, I think I'm going to splurge and head to that Dodgers game today. After that, it's Vargas Cafe and Bar for me."
"Or you could cover the second line for me so I can go to Vargas's once in a while." Matthew said.
"Calm down, Birdie. You still get Saturdays off. Gotta go."
Gilbert hung up the phone and plopped the phone onto the cushion next to him. He sighed in contentment as he reached for the button-laden monolith. He snatched the remote and smashed the red power button on. However, Gilbert was unprepared for the image on the screen. In front of him were rainbow bars running over the television. He cursed, and he switched to different inputs on the remote. It seemed that the screen was stuck.
Meanwhile, Elizabeta drive down the smooth street through downtown Los Angeles. The Doors blared out from the speakers around her, with "Love Her Madly" dancing around her. Her eyes lowered in fatigue as she clutched the steering wheel with one hand. She switched on the air conditioning with the free hand, letting the cool air combat with the rising temperatures in the thick air swirling around her head.
She sees two men with briefcases waving their hands with the speed of a moth's wing. Elizabeta veered over a lane, cutting off the limousine that blared out its horn. She lurched to a halt at the curb, and the two men piled inside.
"Lehman Memorial Bank. 19th and Wisconsin."
Elizabeta nodded as she threaded the gas pedal and made her way onto the wide road. She pointed her car straight as she barreled down the cement expanse. The taxi blended in with the small sea of red sedans and orange Cadillacs with the heat bearing down and pressing the early morning chill into oblivion. She glanced in her mirror. The two men were as stiff as a wooden board. Their eyes were bloodshot with dark circles surrounding their eyelids. One of them breathed heavily, like he had run a mile to get to the taxi stop. Elizabeta slowed down and stopped at an intersection. A bus zoomed in front if her as a cloud passed overhead, protecting them from the hard glare for a few seconds. She stared at the sky over the horizon blocked by towering apartments and condominiums.
One of the men cleared his throat. "Can you make a right?"
Elizabeta turned to face them. "I can't really do that." She pointed at the wall of a Volkswagen next to her.
"I'll give you an extra hundred."
"I can't do it. Sorry."
The old man sighed as he tapped the shoulder of the younger man. He leaned in and whispered something as he nodded.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. Elizabeta looked out at the world around her. A couple of joggers ran away from the direction of her car. An old lady with obviously blonde dyed hair walked her white Pomeranian. A few businessmen and women were typing away outside of the Starbucks by the small tent a homeless man slept in. Another baby in a stroller, and another day of cooking in the hot late-spring sun.
They reached the bank. The taxi stopped at the corner of the sidewalk right behind a red Lamborghini. The two men started to climb out of the car. Elizabeta gasped as she leaned towards the open window on the passenger side.
"Excuse me. That's sixteen dollars." Elizabeta said.
"Lady, we have to go." The two men started to escape up the stairs.
Elizabeta launched the stick shift into the parking slot, and she rocketed out of the cab. She ran to the open window on the other side, and pulled down the glove compartment to take out a mini-bat hidden underneath the stack of insurance papers.
"Assholes. You stay right there." She yelled.
The two men stopped and turned around. Their faces grew into shock as a fuming Elizabeta ran towards them. The men scrambled up the steps as the security man at the door hopped down to the bat-wielding Hungarian women. Elizabeta stopped as the security guard out his shoulders in the two escaping men.
"Hold on there. What's going on?" The guard asked.
Elizabeta pointed at the two men with her bat. "They're not paying me. And they tried to bribe me on the ride, so I know they have some.
The guard pushed the two towards her. "Give her the cash."
The older man took out his wallet and flung it at her, making her glare at the two men as they scrambled away and disappeared through the large mirror doors of the building. Elizabeta threw her hands up and crouched down to pick up the wallet. Her emerald eyes scanned the area around her, searching for any hint or idea of this being some inane practical joke. All she heard was the rumble of the pack of automobiles sauntering past and the whispering wind snaking around her.
Gilbert had absolutely nothing to do. After the freak sewage leak at the construction site, he knew he would be off for a few days. He actually had some plans. For some reason, he felt a little uneasy. There was something odd brewing in the out if his stomach, like a knot had grown and surrounded his intestines. However, he momentarily forgot as he saw a certain Hungarian women kick open the door of the cafe, knocking the bell off of the thine rope it was on.
"Hey Bella. Gilbert's at the corner." A shorter man with chestnut hair and a long curl on the side of his head said.
"Thanks Feli. Did you get Lovino in that maid uniform yet?"
Feliciano nodded. "I snuck a picture, too. I'm using it for the promo posters of the restaurant."
Elizabeta giggled as she strode to the corner of the room, where Gilbert had a smug grin. She sat down and took a sip of his undrunk water, abandoned for a nice bottle of beer.
"You're really going to bother my lunch break for the cable, aren't you?"
Gilbert cackled. "Your third of the bills are electricity and cable. You could use that cab fare you get. But, no! Somebody wants to be morally correct."
Elizabeta scoffed as she adjusted her disheveled hair. "I would be more organized if you weren't demanding so much attention. Anyway, you still owe me for bail."
Gilbert playfully nudged her with his large hands. "It's been three years. Just admit that I'm never paying you back. Anyway, you should skip out on work and come to the game with me."
Elizabeta leaned and scooted over the red leather seat towards Gilbert. "I'd love to, Gil. Sadly, someone has to pay for the house. And it's not Mister Ex-Stoner, either."
"Matthew is a stoner, thank you. No ex about it."
"Speaking of work, this strange thing happened to me. I picked up a couple of...official looking guys. Everything was fine, but they seemed nervous. Then, one of them tried to bribe me to cut across an intersection. The worst part is that, when I got to their drop-off, they tried to bolt."
"Shit Lizzie. That's twice this week."
"Some security guard stopped them. The older one threw his wallet at me, and they took off. He just threw his wallet away." Elizabeta took out the wallet and plopped it on the table. Gilbert reached for the wallet like a mouse sneaking up on a piece of cheese. He felt the cool Leather skin and dragged it over the grease-stained wooden table. He picked it up, and fumbled through the folds, pulling out a couple hundred dollar bills.
"Holy shit. Guy had big money. Why wouldn't he pay you?"
Elizabeta frowned. "Check his ID."
Gilbert pulled out a white card that carried the phase of the man. "Jeffery Payne. Department of a Homeland Security. So what?"
"Where you dropped as a kid, Gilbert?" Elizabeta asked.
"Why'd you think my eyes are naturally this way?" Gilbert responded.
Elizabeta rolled her emerald eyes. "Why the hell would a man from there go to a bank?"
Gilbert shrugged. "Maybe there's a meeting. Can we move on to the cable now?"
Elizabeta reached across the table and put her small, calloused hands on Gilbert's muscled arm. "I already payed it. I'm not a freeloader, thank you." She said as Gilbert grew a smirk and narrowed his eyes.
"You're calling me a freeloader. I guess you forgot about living in my house for a good six months when we were 16."
"Sorry that I was covered in soot from what was left of my-."
"Pizza, potato bastard." A man donning a permanent scowl slid a deep dish pie covered in pineapple onto the table. He crossed his arms as he sighed.
"You're not gonna do the chant for us, Romano?" Gilbert chided.
"My birthday is exactly six months from now. And you owe me for last year." Elizabeta said with a smirk.
"No. Anyway, stop shouting. Feliciano is giving me a headache enough already."
"What for?" Elizabeta said as she sunk her teeth into the thick slice.
"Cable's out. I guess the whole neighborhood is if yours is out, too."
Gilbert frowned. "Is there a screen with colored bars and a long buzzing noise?"
"That too. It's more annoying than hearing you three at night."
Coughing was heard as Elizabeta nearly choked on a long piece of cheese. "We haven't done anything of the sort for months now. And we always close the windows before."
"Lizzie, can we go to the house quickly? There's some things I need to do."
Gilbert was slapped on his shoulder by the annoyed girl across from him. "I have to go to work, Gil. You can finish yourself off."
Gilbert hopped up in his seat. "Not like that, dummy. But, that's an option, too. I need to check something, though."
"Still paranoid from that prank? I thought we made up for that."
Gilbert slid out of the chair and grabbed Elizabeta's arm. She gasped as she was hoisted to her feet and practically dragged out the door. Romano yelled in the background.
"Idiotas! You need to pay."
Gilbert winked and waved as he ran towards the shared home, with Elizabeta in two as he gripped her hand. They spotted the nicely cut lawn and ran over the maze of cracks on the driveway up to the screen door. Flinging it open, Gilbert ran to the laptop on the counter as the television continued to buzz in the background. The house smelled of marijuana and lavender permeating from the air fresheners crowding the power outlets in the room. Cluttered stacks of notebooks, binders, and a few candy wrappers littered the hardwood floor as Elizabeta kicked of her shoes and skated over the ground, chuckling as the breeze flew around her. Gilbert massaged the keys on the laptop as he brought up a news website.
"Gilbert, why the hell was I dragged from free food?" Elizabeta said as she crossed her arms.
Gilbert kept looking at the screen with a rare stern expression plastered on his face, one of curiosity and, unbelievably for Gilbert, nervousness. "Really? You thought I was paying for that? Anyway, I just find it ver...uh...Lizzie? Stay close to me, alright?"
Elizabeta looked quizzically at the Prussian man. "Gil, what's wrong? You're being weird."
Gilbert started to open his mouth, but a dreadful buzzing noise blared from the speakers surrounding all corners of the room. It went on and off, and Elizabeta looked at the screen just as a robotic voice came out.
"This is an emergency alert message from the United States government. This is not a test. A nuclear missile has been detected in an Unknown location in Asia, and is heading towards the Los Angeles Area. Detonation is expected to occur in the next hour. All residents within a 350 mile radius must take shelter underground immediately. If there is no fallout shelter, go as far underground as possible, and place as many walls and objects between you and the nearest window as soon as possible. Please hold for a message from the president."
The incessant beeping continued. So did Gilbert's stammers of disbelief.
Hello Ladies and Gentleman. Welcome to this new story. If you have any suggestions, please leave a review or pm and tell me. Comment, concerns, insults, and injuries are all welcome. Thank you, and see you soon.