the dangers of a red shirt by phoenix.writing

31 Jan

“That guy. The one over there in the red shirt. He’s been in here every day this week.”

Jo looked over at the guy in question.  Brown hair, jeans, t-shirt.  Kind of average-looking, nothing to write home about; not the sort of guy who normally grabbed Angelica’s attention, only Angel had manhandled Jo into a sort of dramatic huddle several aisles away from the poor guy in question.

Jo frowned.  “Okay, he’s been here every day this week.  So?  This is a business and we do have regulars.”

Angel made a sound of derision.  “Jo, we’re a bookstore.”

“I know this is a difficult concept for you to grasp, Angel,” Jo said with a roll of her eyes, “but see, some people buy a book, read a book, and then come buy more books.”

Angel’s expression said that she didn’t appreciate Jo’s attitude, but all she said was, “He hasn’t been buying.”

“Then maybe he’s browsing.  Avoiding the winter weather.  Waiting for someone.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Quite deliberately, I assure you,” Jo said with a sigh.

“Jo,” she whined, “clearly, he’s not interested in our merchandise.”  Angel waited a beat to see if Jo would ask, then kept going.  “There’s been a demonstrable trend.  You know when the guy is here?”

“Every day this week.  You just said.”

Angel rolled her eyes.  “Still missing the point.  The guy is here when you’re here.”

“I’m here during business hours,” Jo pointed out dryly.

“You’ve got a shift, Jo, and the guy is here when you’re here.  He lurks wherever you’re working.”

“You should clearly spend less time in the romance section.”

“And you should get your nose out of the books and notice that the guy is totally checking you out.”

“You have an overactive imagination.”

“Jo.”  An edge of steel had entered the voice.  “You are going to go over there.”

“I’m not going to do any such thing.”

“You areor I am.”

Jo sighed because she knew exactly what Angelica meant.  And that Never Ended Well.

She pushed off from the shelf of books that she had been leaning against.  “Very well.”

Angel started fluffing her hair and straightening her shirtas if there was anything inspiring about a uniform t-shirt.  Jo batted the hands away.  “Leave me alone.”

“Try sounding more excited than if you were heading before a firing squad.”

If she got to choose?

Why couldn’t there ever be a legitimate customer who wanted assistance when Angelica got like this?  But the area seemed completely devoid of life apart from the two of them and Jo’s unfortunate target.  And Angel didn’t even have to be within hearing distance; she just knew if Jo went with “Anything I can help you with?”

Jo had learned the hard way, however, that there was no use simply telling Angel she wasn’t interested; she’d developed better ways of ending conversations quickly.

So she marched up to the brown-haired guy, waited until he met her eyes and she could see that his were a rather nice brown, and said, “Brave choice.”

“I’m sorry?”

She gestured at his shirt.  “Just standing around in a shirt like that.  It’s practically inviting disaster.”

He looked down at his shirt in some confusionshortest convo ever, she thought with some satisfactionand then back up at her, and his lips twitched.

“Well, if I’m not important enough for the credits, I might as well be the token guy who dies before the commercial break so you know the situation is serious.”

Hmm. Reference seized and expanded upon, and they weren’t even in the sci-fi section.  The entertainment value of the next thirty seconds was looking up.

“So,” Jo said, “I have a friend.”  She gestured back at Angel, who tried to look as though she wasn’t looking.  “She’s quite insane, so I have to humour her, you understand.”

He looked as though he didn’t understand at all but was willing to go along with it anyway, for he nodded with an attempt at solemnity.

“She’s under the impression that you’ve been coming here to look at me.  And, like I said, she’s insane; in the interest of saving you from her attempts to set you up with me, I’ve come over here first.”

“Ah.”  There was a slight loss of eye contact.  “While I wouldn’t want to make any snap judgments about your friend or her sanity, she may not have been completely off-base with that particular notion.”

Jo sighed.  “And here I thought I’d actually manage to convince her that we were a business with customers.”

“I could buy something.”

“Probably wouldn’t fool her, but at least it would seem like we were making an effort.”

Are we making an effort?”

“Well,” Jo shrugged, “it’s statistically improbable that she’d get it wrong all the time.”

He considered this for a moment and then held out his hand.  “Chris.”

She shook and offered, “Jo.”

Chris smiled at her, eyes lighting up, and Jo reflected that if it turned out that Angel had got this one right, it might even be worth the fact that she wasn’t ever going to let Jo forget it.

12 Responses to “the dangers of a red shirt by phoenix.writing”

  1. ingridfnl January 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Very nice and playful. I grinned while I read this. 🙂

    • phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was definitely supposed to be light and fluffy. ^_^

  2. juleshg January 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    I loved the Star Trek reference. Very funny! I liked Jo and her humour immediately and I was really rooting for her by the end.

    • phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

      I’m pleased that you got it. 😀 Solely in the interest of keeping Angel under control, I thought it was very important that Jo and Chris had a chance. 😉

  3. thatgrrl January 31, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    I didn’t get a Star Trek reference, but it never was one of my favourites. 🙂 I like that we both had romance in mind when we wrote about the man in the red shirt.

    • phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

      In the original series, the ensigns had red shirts as a uniform. Whenever a team beamed down to a planet, there was usually about half the credited cast (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc.) and then a couple of red-shirted ensigns. Who would die in the first couple of minutes to show that the situation was dire? Not the credited cast, of course, but those red shirts. Wearing a red shirt in Trek thus became a bit of a dangerous pastime. 😉 Romance is the spice of life. ^_^

  4. jadamthwaite February 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    I didn’t get the reference either, but I did like the story! I loved the playful dialogue and I really like the relationship developing between Chris and Jo, even in just a couple of lines of conversation. They’re going to have a great how-we-got-together story to tell!

    • phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story even if the details of the reference escaped you (I expanded upon it a little in the comment response above). I definitely envision the story as being something that they can tell their children one day. 😉


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