The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 2, pt. 1

Transient

Sal’s house was in a better part of town, and Jo tried hard not to feel too envious as she hopped out of the cab and started up the drive. Sal was hurting too, lately, she reminded herself. It’s not like her life was perfect just because her surroundings were a little bit nicer.

Sal was waiting at the door when she arrived, no doubt notified by her assistance system that she’d arrived. She was wearing the assistant when she opened the door; a pair of old-fashioned smart glasses, though they were still a few steps above Jo’s own phone. The smart road would undoubtedly have signaled the house of an arrival and her identity, and the house would then have passed the information on to the assistant system.

“Jo! It’s been weeks, how are you? Come on in,” she said with all the appearance of attentive warmth, but there was a tension in her shoulders that Jo caught right away.

“Hey Sally, yeah, it’s been a while. Sorry I haven’t checked in recently.”

“No problem, things have been a little crazy here. Anyway, what can I help you with?” She removed the glasses and set them aside as she led Jo to the living room, which was positively overflowing with gadgets. Now Jo really knew something was wrong. Sal was a neat-freak. “Sorry about the mess,” Sal said, with a touch of embarrassment.

Even her messes were neat, somehow. The room wasn’t large, but it was bright and well lit, with bleached wood flooring and white chairs and sofa that faced inward on a round glass coffee table that drew the eye with a metallic red steel frame. Scattered across the table were enough phones and tablets and auxiliary displays to run a small country.

“Just thought it was past time for me to check in and see how your systems are running. Had any trouble lately?” She tried to sound casual, not to betray her hopefulness.

“Everything’s good there, at least,” she said with just enough of an apologetic smile that Jo knew she’d been outed by something in her face or voice. “If you’re looking for work though, I could get you to run a few deliveries and a pickup for me. Nothing too big, but it’d be helpful.”

Jo nodded. It’d been worth a shot. “Sure thing. Just send me the details,” she was saying as her phone buzzed a new arrival.

“Already done.”

Jo dug out her own phone; sure enough, two deliveries and a pickup. “The Dolesham Heritage Society?” That was the sole destination she had to visit.

“I’ve been doing some work for them the last few months. I’m hoping to take them on as full-time clients, if things work out.” She sounded a little doubtful on that last point, she noted.