The not-so-distant future San Francisco of "The Distinct Mosaic of Marivel Parado" has plenty of room to explore. I still like many things about this deleted scene, which illustrates the fact that even with cameras everywhere, not everything is documented—and that no matter how shiny the future, somebody's always a jerk.
Roomy as the future is, the story had to stay short. This scene took place on Marivel's morning commute, sandwiched between two other uncomfortable incidents. Its presence made public transit look like a miserable experience, which is not the future I wanted to present. It also made the society seem a little too tattle-happy. I took it out before sending it to editor Paul Tuttle Starr, and it's still a bit rough.
Although I think this incident occurred—perhaps with a lighter touch on the tips database—it happened some other day when Marivel wore her artsy earrings.
The bus stopped, and the couple in the seats next to her rose and exited hand in hand. Marivel slid into the window seat. A tall woman sat down in the aisle seat, still blatting into the headset that protruded from her floppy sun hat.
"I'm on a bus, can you believe that? It's _so_ loud." The woman sighed dramatically. "I know. I know. I can't get any work done like this. Call me in fifteen. Bye." The woman turned to Marivel and regarded her through dark glasses. "You know, I don't belong here."
Marivel didn't respond. _Lovejoy, is she a creeper or a nutter?_
"I'm unable to determine her identity, madam. I'm afraid that her glasses and hat are confounding the cameras." Maybe on purpose, Marivel thought. The sun hadn't burned off the fog layer yet.
"I have to ask," the woman said in a confiding tone, "I saw you typing on your arm. Are you a hacker?"
"It's okay. I won't tell anybody. You see, I need a hacker. Something terrible has happened to me. I can pay well. _Very_ well."
"For what?" _Lovejoy, record audio._ If this woman was up to no good, Marivel could send in a tip.
"I knew you could help me. My car's been lockpounded. It's completely unfair. That's why I'm here on the bus."
"How did that happen?" The police didn't usually lock cars for one-time violations.
"There was a misunderstanding about parking." The woman shook her head quickly, as if she were rolling her eyes. "My office doesn't have enough, and sometimes I had to park in another lot. I have urgent appointments, lucrative appointments. Big business deals. Sometimes I just have to park where I can."
"The hospital near my office. You'd think they'd be grateful for the money I bring in to the city."
_Lovejoy, how can someone get their car lockpounded for parking in a hospital lot?_
"It would require several offenses, madam, but it appears that would happen only if the offender parked in a no-parking zone or in emergency-room parking."
"I can't help you," Marivel said without looking at the woman.
"Of course you can. I can pay well."
"I can't, and even if I could, I wouldn't."
The woman snorted. "High and mighty, are you? I do more for this city than you, and I don't need to know _what_ you do to know that. I can tell by your cheap earrings." She stood up and flounced away as quickly as the crowded bus allowed.
Normally, Marivel would have Lovejoy upload the convo to the tip database. Being unpleasant was one thing, but antisocial behavior deserved to be part of the woman's mosaic. The dangers of a mismatch were too great in this case, though. Marivel shook her head and let it go.
You can read the entire story—and several others—in You Gotta Wear Shades, available for $2.99 from The Sockdolager and Amazon.com. If you'd rather read it online for free, The Sockdolager has you covered there, too.
© Copyright 2015 Laura Blackwell