This story from Alexandra Grunberg went nowhere I expected from its beginning. It was a pleasant surprise in all the best ways.
“Wow, you literally have no idea how to have fun. Here, let me help you,” said Zach, jumping to his feet and pulling Peter up with him.
“You see that girl over there?” he asked, pointing to the far corner. Of course Peter had seen her. She was the first person Peter saw when he arrived that night.
She was the reason he always arrived ten minutes late on Tuesdays, because he knew that she left work ten minutes late and he wanted to pass by her in the parking lot. She was the reason he had bought a big book of Sudoku puzzles, because he had seen her making her own puzzles in a notebook during a D-Section employee meeting and hoped that one day she would catch him working on them. She was the reason he had started listening to classical music and researched St. Bernards, because he had overheard her telling a friend she always thought of the dog when she heard the name “Beethoven.” She was the little piece in the puzzle of his life that never quite fit, forcing in a special spot each day, a small imperfection to an otherwise unchanging routine, and therefore made it perfect.
“The one with the black hair?”
“Yes, the beautiful girl with the black hair,” laughed Zachary. “That’s Rose. The girl she’s drinking with, Kelly, well, she and I have a bit of a history, and I was just chatting with them and happened to figure out that Rose is single. Hint, hint. Maybe we should go over and talk to them.”
“Do you really think I’m so lame that I need you to set me up with someone?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
“You can go over and talk to them,” said Peter. “I’m going to get another beer.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re making this difficult. Well, just so you know, Kelly was open to having a mini get-together back at my place after this blows over. If you’re interested, I’m sure Rose will be there. If you’re not interested, I’m making you go anyway.”
Zachary wandered off to help a couple of interns who were setting up a beer pong table. Peter walked over to the bonfire where someone had brought up three large ice coolers. The ice had already melted, but there were still plenty of cans in the lukewarm water.
Peter was surprised to see BB standing by the bonfire. Because the fire was still going strong, Peter guessed that BB had been ordered to bring up a steady supply of unusable data. But at the moment, the little guy was frozen still, his little head tilted upwards, the camera facing the night sky. He was so still, Peter worried that he had suffered some major malfunction.
A young man whose shirt had come completely undone staggered over to BB and placed his beer on the robot’s head. Peter saw the flimsy metal cave slightly under the weight. He ran over and grabbed the beer, throwing it off the roof.
“What’s your problem, dude?”
“This is expensive company property,” said Peter.
The man staggered off toward the beer pong table and BB rolled around to face Peter.
“How are you doing, BB?” asked Peter.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
Peter waited for the robot to roll out, but it did not move.
“Got some work to do?” asked Peter.
The robot stayed in place. Peter was worried. First the printer, then the transmitter. He hoped BB was not failing on him, too.
“What’s wrong BB?”
Peter heard that strange sound again, the small release of air as BB lifted his head to the sky.
“This is the hardest thing I do all day.”