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Chapter 5: The Ladies Who Lunch

Ada had survived the entire morning, behaving and speaking sweetly to Summersteel. Now it was the lunch hour, and she had an entire sixty minutes (let’s be honest—sixty-five) that were hers and hers alone. 
   She had made plans earlier in the day to meet up with her dear friend Kira Ambercrow. It was never difficult to make plans with her, as Kira did not work. In fact, there was no reason for Kira to do so, as she had made her fortune by the age of twenty-three, having invented a smoke detector that could tell the difference between dinner and a house fire. She had managed to stay relatively humble in spite of her success, and had vowed to use the freedom afforded by her early prosperity to assist Ada with any and all world-saving activities. 
   Kira’s skin was as black as the skin of an African American with typical pigmentation. She had a fro so robust you could have hidden a pie in it. Inspired by her friend’s keen fashion sense, and desirous of a signature look of her own, Kira was rarely seen sans her Movitra sunglasses—with chic, Dark Havana acetate frame—settled upon the bridge of her nose, and she was clothed from neck to heel in leather accoutrements, bedecked with many zippers. She completed her look with a set of brass knuckles, worn upon her right hand. She had not, to date, put them to use, but as she liked to say, “just give me a reason.” 
   Ada and Kira had met in a Coffee Bean several years earlier. They had both been present when a balding, middle-aged white man started screaming at the barista that he “could shit a better latte” and that she “should go back to her own fucking country” and that, if she didn’t give him his money back, he would “fuck her up.” Ada had intervened, advising the gentleman that he had dropped a dollar, and then elbowing him hard in the jaw when he glanced down to look for it. While Ada administered a number of other physical admonishments for the man’s behavior, Kira had grabbed his phone, which he had dropped at the onset of the assault. She had quickly scanned his contacts, committing to memory the numbers for ‘Mom’ and ‘Gram,’ and then had returned the phone to the barely conscious, prostrate figure, whose drubbing was being applauded by nearly every patron of the establishment. Ada and Kira, after exchanging names and pleasantries, then sat together at a nearby table. Kira shared the phone numbers, and the two new friends spent the next ten minutes calling the man’s dearest family members and drastically lowering their respective opinions of him. As they finished their coffees and headed for the exit, they stepped over the collapsed asshole, who was still struggling to make his body work. 
   Since that day, the two women had grown even closer, and occasionally had sex. They had stepped in and stepped up myriad times since their first meeting to provide social justice wherever it was needed.
   “How’s the new job?” Kira asked, as she took a serious bite of her cheesesteak. Kira was a carnivore, and it was about the only thing Ada didn’t love about her friend. She had tried in the past to convince Kira that meat was murder, but Kira either wasn’t buying it, or was okay with murder.  
   “Oh, you know,” said Ada. “The usual. Big ol’ capitalism rager. Men in well-fitted suits and ill-fitted temperaments. A superfluity of unnecessary rules and regulations. Coffee machine in the break room that dispenses llama piss.”
   “I’ll never understand why you do that.” 
   “Do what?” 
   “Temp work. All those awful offices, with all that awful lighting. Brain-dead worker bees typing up inconsequential quarterly reports for their hierarchal overlords. It’s loathsome.” 
   “Not all of us are independently wealthy, Kira. Some of us have to make sacrifices.” 
   “Well, sure, but there are other options. You could bartend. Work construction. Hook. Get your degree and do—oh, anything else.” 
   “Clearly I don’t love temping. But it’s perfect for me. Exposes me to many different people and toxic work environments. I get to sit inside the underbelly. And then it’s just—digest or be digested.” 
   “Right, right. I’ve heard your spiel. Corporate America is your Gotham. I get it. I just couldn’t sit in a dimly lit cubicle all day cc’ing development teams about month-end deliverables, that’s all. More power to you, I guess.” 
   Kira attended to a sliver of beefsteak that was hanging onto her bottom lip for dear life, and maneuvered it into her mouth. 
   “So what are you up to these days?” Ada asked.
   “Just keeping on keepin’ on.”
   “How’s Leviathan?” 
   Leviathan was Kira’s baby—a zebra moray eel who lived in the 65-gallon saltwater aquarium that butted up against her bed. As she wasn’t a superfan of human children, and didn’t plan on ever letting a man dick get anywhere near her reproductive parts anyway, this was the closest she was ever going to get to being a mother. Which was just fine with her. In Kira’s mind, eels were better than people in every respect. Leviathan was content to swim around his aquarium, mind his own business, and respond to Kira’s affection with mutual, unconditional love and respect. While human beings, on the whole, sucked ass.
   “Levi is good. Oh! I have to show you this.” 
   As Kira picked up her phone and started scrolling through her photos, Ada rolled her eyes, regretting that she had asked. Kira always pounced on an opportunity to show off the most adorable pictures of her eel.
   “Look. He’s hiding inside his pineapple house.”
   “I see him.” 
   “He’s peeking out the window. I mean, how cute is that?” 
   “It certainly does appear as if he doesn’t want to be seen.” 
   “So fucking cute. And look at this one. He’s smiling right at the camera!” 
   “That’s a smile?” 
   “It’s subtle. But it’s there.” 
   “He’s a looker.” 
   “Yeah. Anyway.” 
   Kira put her phone away, and Ada sighed with relief. Show her a Powerpoint presentation of puppy pictures and she’d be all-in, but she just couldn’t get into phallic water beasts.
   The two friends shot the shit for another thirty-eight minutes, then Ada returned to work for an afternoon of hellish sycophancy, while Kira went home to feed Leviathan and take more pictures of him being cute. 


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