Surry gation Anxiety: Complete short story

Date with a Surry

“I have a date. With my surry” Derrick said without warning. The waitress set the drink on the table in front of him.

“Sure,” she replied uninterested, unphased and, unlistening. Derrick looked up; an overhead light shone in his eyes. The shine stopped him from reading the name badge. It prevented him from personalising the interaction any further.

Derrick flashed a brief, fake smile at her silhouette standing over him. She in her politeness returned the gesture.

As she turned to walk away, he finally saw the name Ciara emblazoned on the badge.

She must be new as he had never encountered her before. Ciara, the waitress, walked back over to her till on the other side of the cafe.

The cafe had few people in it, couples. They were cosying up to one another as unending soft jazz filtered into patron’s ears.

The shop floor was expansive, littered with round tables and hard chairs. If there was ever a need, it could seat one hundred, but there never was.

The café’s popularity had waned since it was opening many years ago.

Now the skeleton crew that was its staff did all it could to keep it ticking over.

Derrick still liked the place and was one of the few remaining regulars. Derrick came to this cafe for two reasons; the first was for meeting his surry. The second was they did the best hot chocolates in town.

Derrick looked down at his beverage, the awning of the cup chocked with cream and marshmallow. He thought that they always skimped on the marshmallow, even when he paid for extra.

Derrick plucked a marshmallow from the cup. He held it to his mouth and sucked it from his hand swallowing it in one gulp. He looked at the cream that was making the descent from his fingers to his wrist.

Derrick licked each finger. He had now created a clean patch on his skin. Derrick knew he would have to shower but leaving it another day or two wouldn’t make much difference.

Taking a spoon, Derrick began fishing out the clumps of grime.

Derrick tried not to push the flecks into the melting mallows. He pushed the dark intruders to one side of the cup. Lifting them out so as not to let them slip through the tiny gap between cup and spoon.

Derrick grew impatient, pressed the spoon too hard and managed to tip the cup over. Derrick did all he could to save the contents of the cup.

The teaspoon slid across the table. It slipped through a gap between the table and window. The spoon hit the ground near his feet. Derrick did his best to locate the spoon with his feet.

After a considerable struggle, he relented. Derrick and bent down to perform a more thorough search. At his size, even this small task put a strain on his heart causing his breath to shorten.

Looking down he could not see the spoon but knew that it was there somewhere. Derrick managed to get the spoon back to hand by pure chance.

Derrick sat upright.

Another man had joined him at the table.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”

“You can’t still be at risk? You’re looking much better these days,”, Mick said.

Nick always complimented Derrick’s appearance at the beginning of their interactions. This was partly to encourage him but more because he had nothing to say.

Derrick had transformed over the period that the two had known each other.

Derrick’s face was becoming one with his chin which in turn was joining his neck.

Derrick’s face was more akin to that a miserable cliff than that of a human. “How’s work?” Nick said to curtail an ever-expanding silence.

“Don’t talk to me about it, another mine closed,” Derrick said.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nick said, “Something will come along.”

“Thank goodness; I was almost worrying.”

“You’ve been through worse.”

“I have?”

“You always pull through.”

“Otherwise we’d be done,” Derrick said.

“And we wouldn’t want that.”

“Unless you want to work for free?”, Derrick said. The lack of response from Nick spoke volumes, “Thought so.”

“I’m a diligent employee but not a charity. You wouldn’t want to give a surry no money. They find a way of getting paid.”

“So you are like the others?” Derrick said.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the unpaid surries out there. You keep a flow going so, that scenario isn’t applicable. Have you given any more thought to that cruise?”

“Seeing as I may be running out of money in the next month or so I’ll say it’s received the appropriate amount of thought.”

“thought I’d mention it.”

“If you want to top up your tan, do it on your own time.”

“I do.”

“Your natural tan then.”

“What’s the difference?” Nick said, “You should consider getting one yourself, you’ll look even healthier.”

“More money I don’t have spent on things I don’t want. I like that, put that on my gravestone.”

“I’ll never get that self-deprecation thing you do down. It’s the one part of you I haven’t got right.”

“It’s not self-deprecating when it’s true.”

“You need a holiday.”

“I do, but when I get the chance, I want to be the one going on it.”
Derrick said.

“You will.”

“I mean physically,” Derrick said. He had drunk the majority of his hot chocolate. Melted mallow sat at the bottom of the cup, turning into a gooey mush, unable to move, trapped. Derrick reached in dragged it up the side of the cup and placed it in his mouth and gulped.

“Shall we?” Nick asked.

Derrick nodded.

Nick leaned over and opened up the black satchel beside his feet. He took out a device with several ports and placed it in the centre of the table, the Emphatic 2.2. Not the latest model but it did the job.

“You’re going to have to update that soon,” Derrick said looking down at the device. The device had a few more blemishes on it’s surface than it did the last time. “Some of those early memories are starting to get a little fuzzy,” Derrick said.

“Degradation’s part of it.”

“Forgetting is happening too quickly for my liking.”

“If you want a clearer longer lasting memory I’ll have to upgrade the hardware. I need money for that, and since you’re the only one I surry for, it’s up to you.”Nick said.

Nick took out a small display and attached it to the Emphatic. Images flashed before his eyes. Derrick tried to get a look. “Do you want to see it or do you want to remember it?”.

Derrick said nothing, he sat back in his chair, folded his arms and looked out to the street. The steady traffic of people was becoming more infrequent. The business district was shut down for the evening.

Derrick looked back over to Nick.

“What’s taking so long?” Derrick asked.

“I wouldn’t want any of my memories getting in there. It’d bore you, gym, football, meaningless one night stands and way too much masturbation. Nothing you’d want to see.” Nick said.

“Name a price,”

“They’re not for sale,” Nick said. Derrick’s eyes narrowed, “And on that note here we are, date night. Before we go on, I’m going to need payment up front this time.” Derrick was silent, “I have a few outstanding payments with other people, I need it now.” said Nick.

“You can’t wait a few minutes?”

“Oh I can, it’s just that the people I owe to, can’t.”

“You taking again?” asked Derrick.

“Couple of previous clients are in there pretty deep. Every time I think I’m rid of them, those memories come bubbling back up. Wouldn’t want that interfering with yours”, Nick said.

“Get them vaped, I’ll pay for that”

“I’ve heard vaping causes long-term memory damage, I’ve been getting some Ignoral from a friend.”

“This friend, the impatient one?”

“Send me your dignautre”. Derrick took out his phone, made a few gestures and then looked at Nick. Nick took out his phone and received a notification.

Derrick watched as Nick sent the money on, “That should brighten up some people’s evening”. Nick put his phone away and smiled at Derrick, “It’s ready.” Nick said.

Derrick put on the headgear. It looked odd but was minimal enough not to attract too much attention, not that anybody would care. An image faded in, Derrick sees through Nick’s eyes. The image flickers. “Could you mute the blinking?” Derrick asked.

Nick did so.

The image remains constant. Derrick is in a room, a familiar one, his bedroom. Derrick in Nick’s body sits on a futon. He picks up the drink beside him and downs it in one. A tap runs in an en-suite. Steam floats through the door into the bedroom and dissipates. The flow of the tap stops and a woman exits the en-suite.

Stands and walks towards her. Their hands meet, fingers rub and stroke against each other. Derrick notices the woman wearing a beautiful yellow dress accentuating her tan. Something else catches his eye.

“She prettied it up,” Derrick said to himself in the cafe unheard by Nick.

A pale pink line starts between her breasts goes down her chest. The accident happened early on in their marriage. One day she was a keen cyclist the next she was not.

Derrick wondered if Nick ever noticed the scar if it gives him shivers the same way it did him. There were certain things that Nick could give to Derrick’s wife. Some things were only ever going to be between Derrick and Catlin.

Catlin asks if they can talk. Derrick let out a sigh, “Forward” he said to Nick. Nick obliged him.

The images speed up.

Through the talking, which goes on for quite a while and through a cab journey. Time slows and resumes normal speed in a cinema. His hand reaches down and picks up popcorn and shovels it into his mouth.

“Salted?” Derrick tastes it, “Why am I eating salted?”

“Ladies choice,” Nick said, although he is only inches away his voice is that of a disembodied ghost in his head. Did Nick eat salted deliberately Derrick wondered.

“What the hell am I watching”, Derrick demanded.

The film has subtitles, there is no way Derrick would ever watch this kind of thing by choice. Catlin loved this kind of movie. Due to strict anti-piracy laws concerning surries, Derrick could never see top-tier blockbusters. Derrick could never understand what he wanted.

Derrick becomes impatient, “Give me a breakdown.”

“Croatian, first time director. Has a rawness that comes through in the camera work. The minimal story doesn’t quite adhere to logic. Several strong vignettes deal with life after a war”. Nick said.

“Any tits?” Derrick asked.

“No,”

“Forward”.

The images speed up again.

Derrick is sitting with Catlin in a restaurant, food in front of him. A fork in his hand delivers the meat to his mouth.

Sensors in the Emphatic fire up taste synapses. It’s a sweet chicken dish causing Derrick’s mouth back in the cafe to salivate. An inferno ignites in Derrick’s mouth.

“What the hell is this?”

“Chicken Bhuna”

“My brain is going to make my IBS flare up, you know that right, my brain is stupid like that”, Derrick said.

First salted popcorn, now spicy food. Nick was doing this deliberately. Nick was messing with him.

“Derrick, Derrick?” comes a voice from somewhere out of eye line. A man stands at the table, hand thrust out, Bill Carthage. “Great to see you here Derrick, Catlin. Derrick, have you got a chance to review those forms?”

“Did I get them?” Derrick asked Nick back in the cafe.

“You never gave me anything to say.”

In the restaurant, there is silence.

“Take your time sure and get back to me on that,” Bill says, he walks away, returning to a table to sit on his own.

Derrick smiles, for all his looks, his style and colossal wealth Bill seems to have a pretty empty existence. Bill is proof that nice guys finish alone.
Catlin spoke, “Derrick, can we talk?”.

“Does she ever want to do anything else? If I wanted to talk to her, I would make time for her. Let’s skip to the good stuff” Derrick said.

“Sure?”, Nick asked.

“Yes, I am sure,” Derrick said, his impatience growing. The images sped up once more until Derrick recognises his bedroom again,

“Here we go.”

Derrick was kissing his wife through Nick; he could taste her. Derrick enjoyed the kiss, and it manifested itself as a slight groan in the cafe. Nick heard it only slightly.

“Are you sure about this?” Catlin asked.

“Jesus Christ I am sure,” Derrick said.

In the memory, Nick answers on Derrick’s behalf in the affirmative.

Catlin turns and goes into the bathroom. The lights in the room dim. Her figure emerges, silhouetted by the bathroom light.

The light turns off.

She disappears into the bed under the covers. Nick undresses as he dives into a sea of blanket and comfort. Derrick feels the tingling begin in his crotch. The pleasure was cascading down his spine like warm water.

Derrick sees the main reason he hires Nick. While Derrick may not be able to give his wife the pleasure she deserves, but he can afford a person who could.

Derrick feels the passion of their kissing, her body relaxing into his. He slides into her with ease.

Both inhale sharply.

If Derrick were ever to try to do something similar, it would take far longer than this. Fatigue would set in before anything substantial had occurred. Even if he could rise to the occasion, the centre would not hold.

This was the best alternative for everyone. The surrogate was carrying out the physical tasks of being a husband. Derrick would provide the much-needed finance. The kissing stops. She rolls on her stomach. Fingers wetted, and nipples rubbed. His right-hand pushes her upper half down and shapes her back to bring her ass up further.

Derrick’s brain can’t tell the real from memory. Electrons fire, sending messages throughout Derrick’s body.

Derrick tenses up, and his breathing restricts. It takes a moment for Derrick to reassure his body that this isn’t real and to enjoy it.

Back in the cafe, Derrick’s moans increased in volume and length. Nick was aware and becoming more uncomfortable. He had heard the groans of his employer before, but repeated exposure did not make them any more bearable.

Nick cast a stealthy glance across the cafe to make sure that they were not arousing any suspicion. No one seemed to notice. Everyone was wrapped up in themselves. Everyone except the waitress who was staring right at Nick. She knew exactly what was going on.

Derrick went quiet, tilting his head. Nick watched him.

“Go back,” Derrick said.

“No, review it in your own time.”

“Something’s not right.”

“I have places to be.”

“Go back and pause.”

“Alright, say when” Nick rewound date night. Derrick signalled him to stop. The evening froze before him, his wife on her back with her face obscured by a pillow. “You can review this as much as you want in your own time”.

Derrick sat motionless. Within the viewer, his eyes scanned the room.

He had seen something that struck him as not right, but he ignored that notion. Finally, Derrick realised that what was wrong was not what was there but what wasn’t there.

“Where’s her scar?” Derrick asked. The question set off an avalanche of other issues that were in his mind. Derrick noticed something in the image. Off on the sidelines, a slight light reflected in what limited glow there was in the room. There was a person in the bathroom watching the pair make love.

The light was reflecting of glitter, glitter used to pretty up a scar, his wife’s scar. It was Catlin standing in the bathroom, watching him. Who was having their face mashed into the headboard?

Nick would know. Derrick removed the headgear to find an envelope sitting in front of him. Derrick opened the envelope and withdrew its contents. “Divorce,” Derrick said,

“Where did this come from?”

“My bag.”

“That’s not what I meant”

“It’s been there a while.”

“What are you talking about, she hasn’t said anything.”

“She has you just skipped those parts,” Nick said, Derrick looked at him blankly.

“Put it on.”, Derrick said.

Derrick put the headset back on. Nick manipulated the evening taking him back to the start of the evening where she first wanted to talk.

“Derrick, this is it,” Catlin says within the memory, “Derrick if you go through with this it’s over. I can’t wait forever, please this isn’t a memory you want to own, is there anything you have to say?” Derrick had not been keeping up with his memories, so Nick sat silently in the room, “OK”, she said.

Derrick took off the headset and looked up at Nick, “I’m going to have to ask for that money back.”

“You already bought it, and the money is gone, you consented to this memory.”

“You tricked me, you never gave me any warning.”

“It’s not up to me to warn you, I get the memories, it’s up to you to remember,” Nick said.

“This isn’t fair.”

“You know what isn’t fair, having to sit and watch a wonderful person ripped apart. Having to hear her plead with you but I can’t respond because you can’t even bother to listen. The worst thing is that she was always going to give you a chance after chance. You were going to keep ignoring her so yes, I wasn’t entirely honest. If you had been doing your bit, listening, you wouldn’t have fallen for it. “

“You’re not supposed to get involved.”

“You’re not supposed to be skimming my pay. Like I said surries find a way of getting even.”

“Now what?”

“Fire me.” Nick packed his gear away and rose from the table. Derrick sat unblinking, unsure of what happened. Nick left the cafe. Derick remained there for quite some time.

Nick walked down the street, a smile crept onto his face. He smiled because he got one over on his former employer and because now they were free to be together. He saw Catlin parked up ahead. Nick tried to keep calm, but his step quickened. Catlin didn’t see Nick. He approached her passenger side. He knocked on the window she looked up at him and lowered.

“Nick”, she said.

“Where are we off to?”

“We?”, she looked around, “Oh.” Bill Carthage exited the restaurant and got into the car beside Catlin. Bill ignored Nick.

“What’s this?” Nick asked.

“You didn’t, I am so sorry, I thought you knew,” she said, “I mean you’re a surry for god’s sake.”

“I thought.”

“Surries shouldn’t think”.

“Shall we?” Bill said interjecting.

Catlin nodded, she gave a look at Nick. The car disappeared around a corner.

A woman approached Nick, she was pretty and had a big smile on her face.

“Nick,” she said, “It’s me, Catlin, we have a date.”

“Sure”.

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