Vradin, Chapter Twenty-Five

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My doctor’s appointment went pretty much the way the emergency room staff had expected: I was cleared to return to light duty for two weeks, and if everything went well, all restrictions would be lifted after that.

Joe was happy to hear that, because it meant that I would be at work in four days. We had agreed that the original plan of me working the shit shift would actually be in my own best interests, recuperation-wise. That it also gave Tank and me more time to boink like bunnies did have some small weight in my consideration, but, really, honestly it was for my own health. Okay, my own healthy sex life.

And that was pretty much how we spent the time. I swear, the Energizer Bunny could learn a thing or two about staying power from Tank. I’m not dissing on the sex, but I have to admit, as down right fun as it was, I liked the cuddling maybe a little bit more. Not that the cuddling didn’t lead to a lot of the bunny imitations, or come along close after, but there were a few times when, just out of the blue, Tank would search me out, snag me and sit down with me on his lap and just enjoy a bit of mutual hugging. Then he’d let me go back to whatever I had been doing while he closeted himself back in his study.

We had had to make a run back by the apartment early on because I had been so far out of it that I had managed to leave my laptop, my tablet and my Nintendo 3DS behind. Even if I didn’t have classes any more this quarter, I still had computer work to do.

So, maybe this is a good point to clarify something. Mixed Martial Arts is not a single style. As such, there are no belts or degrees, or whatever. The lack of any ranking system is a pain in the ass to explain every single time it comes up, so I’ve learned not to bother.

My dad teaches a mix of boxing, wrestling, ju-jitsu, kung-fu, some gymnastics, and — believe it or not — yoga. He has two sets of for-pay classes that he teaches, one for fighters that focuses on scraping and one my step mom calls the girly class, because while there’s an underlying theme of being able to hold your own in a fight, the students are there more for staying fit than staying in the ring. He does teach self defense classes at a few of the local women’s shelters, but since he never expects to see the same students twice in that context, he has a very paired down lesson set for that class, and the shelters give hand outs that remind the women how to practice on their own.

I attended all of the different types of classes while I lived under my father’s roof, and I learned early on a very valuable nugget about myself: I hate hurting people. I did learn how to take a fall and how to take a punch with grace, but I just don’t have the killer instinct.

Another thing the classes taught me was not to carry anything that could be used against me. I doubt I will ever be so foolish as to pick up a stick or, Good Lord forfend, a knife. I’ve had too many taken away from me. A rock or pepper spray, or some nice long range weapon, sure. My tactic in a fight is almost always going to be distract and run.

My father gave up on teaching me the joy of brawling around my fourteenth birthday, which is when it became blatantly obvious that I was never going to have that amazing six inch growth spurt his mother always warned me about. Instead he settled for making damn sure that I could throw just about anything I could get my hands on, and that I recognized the deadly qualities of everything from paint cans, gravel, pencils, and knitting needles.

By the way, I am not going to be picking up knitting needles in a fight, either. Pardon me while I shudder at the thought.

But I digress — I do that a bit. I am my father’s web master, and I do some web site maintenance for a couple of the smaller shelters Dad volunteers the self defense courses at. There wasn’t a lot of work to do for that after the initial set up, but occasionally I would get an email asking if I could tweak this page, or put up that promo message. I had trained a few of the volunteers for each of the NPOs (non-profit organization) in how to manage the forums they used to connect with the public about their work because I certainly wasn’t qualified to speak to the work they did.

A lot of the people staffing abuse victims’ shelters hold bachelors and masters degrees in social work or psychology. I am a computer nut. I like computers. You give clear, precise instructions to the machine and it does exactly what you told it to do. If something does not work as expected, nearly ninety-nine times out of one hundred the reason is because you gave the wrong instructions to the computer. This applies mostly to code monkeys. Users have to rely on the instructions written by those code monkeys on how to use the software the code monkeys developed, and code monkeys are not exactly known for having great social skills. Like I mentioned before, working at Ladies Night made me much better at working with other people. That still does not make me suave or sophisticated or even just generally insightful when it comes to my fellow man.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I value that people are unique to themselves. I just don’t always understand why a particular star becomes so mega popular or the shock that people experience when yet another so called scandal breaks in the media. I guess what it comes down to is that a lot of the things my peers value are not the same things I value.

That is a mildly disturbing thought, but I console myself with the knowledge that at least I enjoy the world I live in.

Jody likes to say, “I didn’t make this world; I’m just surviving it.” I like to think of it as, “I can’t make the world I want to live in alone, but I can help the people who I want to build it with me thrive.”

And so I do the computer work as a volunteer, and I refuse to take away from what another person has earned.

However, it was a slow week for the volunteer work. While Tank was busy running his company, I got a lot of time logged on my Pokemon games.

Don’t dis on my Pokemon, either. It can be as simple or as complicated a game as you choose to take it to. I go more for the simple version because I like to relax with my video games, but there are a lot of guys — and gals — in my classes who are very much into the whole “who can raise the ultimate Pokemon” thing.

So, long and short, I had a lot more free time on my hands than Tank had, but we still ended up doing the horizontal bop a lot. I was in a very good mood when it came time to go back to work. Tank, however, gave me a beautifully cute pouty little boy puppy dog eyes expression and asked if I had to. The playfulness was utterly adorable.

My first day back, Lydia took me aside and showed me how to run the cashier’s booth. It was pretty basic stuff, and she was happy enough with my handling that she appropriated me for the slot for the rest of my light duty period. By the end of the third shift, between she and Joe, they only checked on me once an hour, about the same as when Joe checked to see if Lydia needed anything. I fielded a question here and there about how Lydia was doing, but other than that, the clients seemed okay with the change over.

Ladies Night offered a very limited menu from eleven in the morning to about seven at night, mostly french fries and hot dogs. There was still a door charge, but it was about a quarter of the evening rate. I was rather surprised at how much of a crowd we got for the lunch rush, considering that the food was hardly that much different from a convenience store’s stock. I was also a little surprised at how many of the customers I recognized from my regular shift. There were a few who had been at the club the night that Anthony attacked me, and were really sweet about wishing me well. Lydia, at one point during the second week, laughingly told me that the common tip bowl (which was divided between the whole house staff, from dancers and wait staff to the cashiers and bouncers) was a lot fatter when I was on the clock than even on the big ticket weekend nights. I didn’t really have anything to say to that, so I just shrugged and said it must be a good time of the year.

Tank insisted on driving me to and from work, and I insisted that he drive my Beast at least because I had no desire to be seen getting dropped off in a very expensive luxury car while I was being made an example of for looking like I had been trying to hook up with someone. There was no need to undermine Joe or to make my life harder with coworkers who were still making up their minds what to believe about what had really happened. Tank’s compromise was to drive me in his work truck, which was about the size of Carl’s and ten years older. I would have argued some more, but, well humping like bunnies, you know? The man knew how to use sex to win an argument.

The first day, he came in with me and had a conversation with Joe. It was a closed door conversation in Joe’s office that lasted a good hour. I was ready to puff up about it at first, and was near to biting my nails with nerves by the time they emerged. Tank just blew me a kiss through the cashier’s window, looking calm and mellow, which did not really relax my taunt nerves, but Joe assured me that it wasn’t anything to sweat about. Tank had made sure Joe knew all about psycho creepy guys. I guess Jody hadn’t shared enough details or Joe and Lydia had been too busy running the club, but neither of them had gotten the blow by blow until Tank’s discussion. The two of them, Joe and Lydia, did make sure that there was a bouncer within line of sight to the cashier’s window while I was working, though I’m not sure if that was a change from their standard practices. I hadn’t paid attention to it before Lydia sat me down in the cage.

I still wore my wait staff uniform while in the cashier’s cage, but since I was much nearer to the door and therefore nearer to the draft, I got to wear a cardigan sweater and keep a lap blanket at hand for when it got busy enough to keep the draft steady.

My final doctor’s appointment before I was allowed to return to my regular shift went pretty well. Somewhat embarrassing, but pretty well. I had to explain that I had started having sex when I asked about getting an S.T.D. panel done and going on birth control. My doctor warned me about how the pills could harm a child if I was pregnant, and we decided that I would wait two more weeks, take a pregnancy test and, if it came back negative, start the pills after my next cycle. I’m kind of irregular and the stress of the past month meant that I might not see that until another month had passed, or I might start in two hours.

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