You've probably already heard that things didn't go quite like we planned. Two of the girls were sick, so Mom didn't come to the restaurant, more about that later. So there we were at the table, waiting for them to bring our pizza out to us. I'd had half a glass of beer, but dad had already polished off the rest of the pitcher, and was calling for more. I think he'd started before he got there too.
Our usual server, Marcy, brought out a full plastic pitcher and set it on the table. I don't think you know her, but shes twenty-five, seven years older than me. She looked older though and was kind of overweight, probably because she got to take home free pizza at the end of her shift, and she needed it, with two little kids to feed. "Your food will be right out," She waved to the empty seat next to me, and her sleeve rode up showing the scars where she'd been burned . "Tammy not coming tonight?"
I started to tell her Tammy wasn't feeling good, but stopped when I saw the expression on Carmen's face. You know that my sisters, Carmen and Lucy, the sixteen and fourteen year-olds, were there with us. Mom didn't need to be there, like you said, they would have picked her up... but like I said, I'll get to that later. Carmen got a really funny look on her face, and Lucy got real busy looking out the window. Marcy is always nice, even to the little kids when they get noisy or make a mess. She noticed my sisters and moved away to give us some privacy. She got stopped by a table of women, all of them older, wearing clothes that were too tight, meant for women twenty years younger. It wasn't one of her tables, but they yelled at her about their order anyway, real snotty like.
Dad hadn't noticed, he was too busy drinking and staring at some coeds at a big table near our booth. To be honest, I couldn't blame him. They were hot, all of them in halter or crop tops, and wearing shorts. Two blondes, one lighter than the other, a redhead, and another with short black hair. Their boyfriends didn't seem to be too happy with dad's attention, but they didn't say anything, just gave dad dirty looks. I turned back to my sisters. "Okay, spill it, what's up?"
Carmen shook her head, "Nothing." Her hair fell around her face, hiding her outbreak of zits. It was blue today, she'd dyed it with cool-aid again, some of her friends had probably talked her into it. I'd liked it better when it was its natural brown, almost the same color as her skin, and halfway down her back; the way it was before she cut it short last year right after the announcement about the swarm.
I reached over and brushed it back with my fingers so I could see her almond eyes. She's got moms features and coloring, but dad's height and build, so she wound up nearly as tall as me, but she looks smaller because she's always trying to hide her face. I've always thought she was pretty, zits and all, but that's not the kind of thing you can tell your sister. "Hey," I said "you know something about Tammy, what is it?"
She pulled away, out of reach. "You don't want to know."
So she did know something. It figured she would; Tammy's a senior this year, so I don't see her all the time like before I graduated. There'd been something going on with her for the last couple of months, but I hadn't been able to figure it out. She'd been distracted, even when we were making love. If the girls knew, I had to find out. It was Tammy, after all, that talked me into getting retested so I could volunteer. You know I only got a 6.4 on my first CAP test; you're the one that helped me bring it up to the 6.8 I have now. You know about my sisters' scores too, how Carmen improved from 5.2 to 5.4 and I'm sure Lucy would have scored a LOT less than her 6.1 without your coaching. Carmen looked down at the table, but while Lucy kept her head turned to the window behind us, I could tell she was watching me. "Look girls, I need to know what's going on."
Carmen shook her head. "You'll get mad."
She had a point, I do have a temper, another thing you've helped me with, but when I was younger, well she's the closest to me in age and annoyed me the most. "I can't promise not to get mad, and if you think I will, I probably will, but I promise not to get mad at you." I looked at Lucy and gave her a poke in the ribs. "I won't get mad at you either kiddo, so spill it."
Lucy looked at me with her wide eyes the way she does when she's thinking. She's nearly as small as mom, with little bitty titties, so skinny I can almost get my hands around her waist. Her skin is paler than mine so if you didn't already know you wouldn't think shes half Filipina, but you'd probably think she was only eleven or twelve instead of fourteen. "You promise?" she asked. She waited until I told her so, then looked sideways at Carmen. "Well I didn't actually hear it, but Carmen did. She was supposed to tell you before we got here, but chickened out."
I looked over at Carmen, who shrugged, looking at me from under her dark blue hair. "So what did she hear?"
Lucy looked out the window while she talked. "We rode home from school with Jeff and Holly today and they were talking. Carmen overheard her telling him that Tammy was going out with one of the football players tonight. Jeff said the guy was bragging that she was giving it up to him while stringing you along." She paused and looked at me, right in the eyes. "The guy said that she said you were a geek. That you had the CAP score to get her out, but that he was going to get her pregnant first."
They were right, I was mad, but you know what? I was kind of relieved too. I didn't really want to leave Earth to fight the Swarm for the Confederacy, not if what you found out is true and they don't plan on defending us. I was never in love with Tammy, not really. She's a great fuck, and even fun to be with, but I'd already noticed she's kind of two faced. I hadn't noticed that part of her until after I'd already promised to sponsor her and, right at that moment, I realized how much of the way she had acted around me was designed to convince me to do it. Her doing something like this let me off, and I didn't have another reason to go. Dad's 7.1 score would be enough to get mom and the girls off planet, and I was free to stay and fight. The accelerated ROTC course had a slot for me, thanks to your recommendation. I'd take extra classes over the summer and a year after that, I'd have both an associate degree and a commission. I didn't have to leave my options open anymore, I could commit to something solid, and you know what? I was fucking happy she'd done it. Relieved didn't cover it. And as for the Swarm, we might not win, but at least we'd go down fighting.
The girls watched me nervously, worried I guess because I hadn't said anything for a couple of minutes but between finishing off two thirds of the new pitcher and staring at the coeds, I hadn't thought Dad had heard a word we'd said. "Sluts", he announced in a loud voice. "That's all they are is sluts. An' they're all the same, lead you around by your dick until they get what they want."
Even though I agreed in Tammy's case, I still didn't like to hear it, especially not in public like this. At least Marcy had gone off to answer the phone and didn't hear what Dad had to say. Dad kept talking like that, even though we tried to quiet him, and two of the guys at the next table got up, fists clenched.
That's when it happened. Everything went gray as the interdiction shield went up in a dome over the building and most of the parking lot. Dad shut up, the guys froze, and it got real quiet as the rest of the diners realized what was happening. Marcy, with her back to the windows and her attention occupied by the phone call and the order she was entering into the computer was the only one still talking, and I'm sure everyone heard her ask into the phone:
"Will that be pickup or delivery?"
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