The CPU Guys
by EN Heim
Flash Fiction — Appeared in Clevermag (http://www.clevermag.com)
Went to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. My wife had to see them. She got the idea from seeing commercials on CNN. I was reluctant to go on the trip, but she said I’d like the experience. I gave her a big grin.
I packed my things and my trusty laptop. I really didn’t want to do it, but she said she wanted to Skype the kids and tell-all and let them see-all. I reluctantly caved in on the idea. It’s just another load I have to lug around. She’s the type that likes to take the household along.
The only negative thing about the trip was getting up so early to get things together. I don’t mind the early hours, but she detests it. She’s the kind of person that likes to sleep until she’s awake. The only time she likes to get up is to talk to the neighbors. As everyone knows: give a woman a mouthpiece and she’ll use it.
Well we didn’t drive. I wasn’t going to travel twelve hours through rain, sleet, and snow just to see a bunch of ponds and waterfalls. So, she arranged a bus tour. More her liking anyway because of all the people she could connect with. She was in her element. I’m not a fan of buses, planes, and where there are a lot of people in close confinement—air gets fusty.
After fourteen hours of smelling retired-sapiens, we finally came to Crikvenica, our destination, and hotel for the next five days.
What a view. We had a picture perfect room with balcony over looking the blue Adriatic, and the limestone island of Krk. No one knew how to pronounce the word, but our guide said it’s like “Kirk Douglas.” Everybody said they went to Kirk Douglas after that.
Wren, my better half, didn’t unpack like I did. The first thing she had to do was open up the laptop and Skype the kids. My luck they weren’t on yet—it’s a good nine hours difference. She waited. I went down for supper.
Meals in Croatia aren’t any different than meals in Italy—pasta, noodles, lots of veggies, and bologna. I refrained from the pasta and noodles because of my weight, and I don’t like bologna, so I vegged-out and drank beer. Beer isn’t bad in Croatia.
After returning from supper, I got an ear load from Wren. She said something about the laptop doing funny things. I looked. All the while Wren gave me the lip treatment. “Look, it’s playing solitaire.”
“Interesting,” I mumbled. “Just like when I was working.”
“What do you mean…when you were working? You’re retired.”
“Somebody’s hacked the laptop.”
“What do you mean…we got a spy?” she belched at me.
I turned off the laptop.
“Why’d you do that? I want to talk to the kids.”
“Break up the hacker. We can talk to the kids later.”
“I’m going to supper. You joining me?” she said.
“I’ve already eaten.”
“When did you go?”
“I just got back.”
Fire filled her eyes. “Without me!”
“Yeah. They had all your favorites.” She hates noodles, pasta, and rice. She’s a meat and potatoes person.
Five comes early. I’m usually up, but Wren, like I said, is in another world. I went down to eat breakfast. The usual array of fare: yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, soft cheeses, bologna, bread rolls, and muesli. I bloated on yogurt. Fortunately for me it was blueberry.
Five minutes after leaving Wren, she comes staggering up to my table. She wasn’t the best of moods.
“Slept horribly last night, I couldn’t get to sleep,” she said.
“Then you heard the soccer players last night.”
“What soccer players?”
Evidently, she was in lala-land.
“I’m hungry,” she mumbled.
“You have five minutes to get something. The tour to Kirk Douglas leaves soon.”
“You can sleep on the bus,” I reiterated.
Krk is interesting. Situated on a limestone rock it hasn’t much vegetation except brush and limestone quarries. At one time, they grew olive trees and figs. That was before the Tito era. They’re now trying to reintroduce olives. The area, on the island and mainland, is mostly tourism. Most of the industrial area is inland around Zagreb, but most of Croatia is agriculture.
We stepped off the bus at Krk, atypical Mediterranean town—Italian looking tile roofed houses and narrow streets with houses and stonewalls terracing the hillside. One street was no wider than twelve inches. I took lots of pix for the kids at home to see. That made Wren happy. She took lots too.
As we were meandering around Krk, I happen to notice the same man lingering in dark doorways and niches. Curious, I went up to him and said, “You spying?”
To my surprise he answered, “Only on weekdays.”
“Then we’re in luck.”
“Not until tomorrow.”
“Then why are you working today…this is Sunday.”
“Getting a head start…and I was bored with the wife.”
“Your wife a scatter box?” I interjected.
“Only when I’m home.”
“I see.” I looked out to the blue Adriatic and mused for a moment. “Your wife and mine ought to get together.”
“To cool my ears down.”
“How about to night?”
“We could go out and have a few.”
“That’s a deal.”
“What spy group are you with?” I asked.
“The guys that invade computers.”
“I see,” I said. “Not the computer guys that hack?”
“That’s another unit.”
“I see. So why are you spying on us? We’re just a bunch of retired has-beens.”
“We have a problem with drugs.”
“And you think we’re bringing them in?”
“You can never tell.”
“Why you constantly saying ‘I see?’”
“Because that’s what I do.”
“Could you do something for me?”
“Tell your guys at the CPU not to hack my laptop.”
“Are you the guy that plays solitaire all the time?”
“Not here. At home.”