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The Moxy Byrd Chapter 7

Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:56 am
by RescueRaptor
May 9th 2043 15:00
Tony flopped down on the couch in the breakroom and pulled out his phone. Fifteen messages from Yuna. He’d been so busy he hadn’t even heard his notifications.
Three days had passed since the Dome had disappeared. The whole city was still in chaos. He’d gotten off at eleven last night and tried to buy some peanuts at the local grocery store only to find the store was almost picked clean of all goods. People who could, were fleeing the area and taking all of the food with them.
The hospital in Wytheville had made it on the list of hospi-tals that could treat Domers and that had led to crowds of protestors. He’d actually had to shove his way through a line of screaming people this morning. Something about allowing disease ridden Domers into the country. What did they expect them to do? Let these poor people die?
He scrolled to the last message. “Sent that clip of you on TV to my dad. He says it’ll really help with your professional career.”
Tony put his phone down for a moment. Professional ca-reer meant becoming a doctor. Her parents had often made statements about how it was a shame he had settled on being ‘just a nurse’ when he was so smart. Tony never did more than laugh at their open condescension, but it always left a bad taste in his mouth. Of course, it was easy for Yuna’s par-ents to talk about grad school. Her dad was a lawyer at a big law firm, so college tuition had never been a financial burden for the family. Yuna was following in her father’s footsteps. She was set to graduate law school in June.
“Have to keep that in mind after I pay off my student loans.”
That’d take another fifteen years at the rate he was going. Not that it mattered. He loved being a nurse. He was a people person, and nurses spent the most time with people. But he wasn’t going to tell Yuna’s parents that. He’d tell them what-ever it was they wanted to hear because Yuna was his dream girl.
She was far and away a better catch than he was. Tall, thin, and graceful, always smelling of nice perfumes and expensive shampoos; she was significantly out of Tony’s league. Besides that, she was smart, driven, and witty. He was willing to put up with a little crap from her parents.
“Did you take any pictures while you were in there?”
“No. Wasn’t allowed to.”
He snapped a shot of himself and sent it. A moment later a picture of Yuna popped up on his screen. Comparing the two, he almost laughed. She’d used some sort of filter, and her face seemed to be glowing and surrounded by heart shaped bubbles. He, on the other hand, looked like he was hours away from death.
“What’s for dinner tonight? It’s the first time I’ve seen you in a month. Better make it special.”
He rolled his eyes and smiled, typing, “How about Thai?”
“No. I said NICE. No wine, no Yuna,” shot across his screen.
It was going to be one of those dates. He pulled up a list of French restaurants that hadn’t closed down. Scrolling through their menus, he found one that had a decent wine list but no lobster or steak. He had to try to keep the cost of this date in check at least a bit. Clicking on the phone number, he patient-ly waited for his phone to connect. What else was he gonna spend money on, anyhow? Monique had threatened to fire him if he showed up with another tattoo.
Reservations made, time set, and Yuna pacified with promises of wine and stories, Tony hurried back to the nurses’ station. Across the hall he could see into the door of Moxy’s room. The TV was on, and she was sitting up, scowling at it. He walked over and tapped on her door.
“How you doing?” he asked.
She jumped. The scowl vanished and was replaced by a look of consternation. “Hi, Tony.” Her face reddened, and she glanced back at the TV for a second.
“You okay? You look upset.”
“I’m fine. I was just watching TV.” She didn’t meet his eyes.
He walked into the room. The TV was on the news. In big red letters at the bottom of the screen were the words, “Domer revolutionaries bring violence to Wytheville.”
“I heard about the revolutionaries on the news last night. They were really dangerous, right?” he asked.
“Dangerous?” she hesitated. “Yes. They were dangerous.”
“Did you ever meet one?”
“No.” Amia’s face was expressionless.
“That’s good. The news said they were causing a lot of trouble for you guys.”
“Yes. They made a lot of trouble for the government,” she said without hesitation. She looked back at the TV. The screen changed to a story about a puppy that had found a new home. She exhaled and leaned back a bit.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” Tony asked.
“Yes.”
“Five of your bones are currently broken, but there were more than two dozen healed fractures. And Stephanie has over a hundred healed fractures, including like twenty in her neck and back. What happened to you guys?”
“Oh…” Moxy looked down at her hands.
“Hard to talk about it?”
“I don’t really know why Stephanie had broken bones,” she said cautiously.
“Could she walk?” Tony asked.
“Yes.”
“Really? How?”
“I… I don’t know. I never really knew about the bones.” She stared at her cast for a moment.
“She didn’t mention the bones? I’ve never seen anything like it. She must have been in continuous pain.”
She winced slightly and frowned. “Uhm… I know that she had a bad childhood.”
“Wow…” he tried to think of what else to say. She avoided his eyes. Clearly, she wasn’t willing to talk about it. His pager went off. “Looks like I’ve gotta run. See you later, Moxy.”
“Bye, Tony.” She looked back at the TV.
• ● •

Tony was sitting with Yuna at Café Mon Chéri. It cost more than any place he had ever eaten prior to meeting her. He’d taken his mom and grandma here last year for Mother’s Day, and he’d practically had to beg them to stay once they’d looked at the prices. Yuna, ever the opposite of his life, flut-tered in and sat down in her chair gracefully. She immediately asked the waiter to bring out the wine and appetizer menu. Tony balked and silently mourned the death of his bank ac-count.
“What do you think? Red or white?” she asked in her effer-vescent voice.
“Uh, should we order first? Don’t people usually pair the wine with the food?” he asked, shifting a bit in his chair, try-ing to get comfortable in his collared shirt.
She’d bought him a tie of all things. He’d hoped she wouldn’t make him wear it, but it turned out she’d bought it specifically for tonight. She’d shown up at his house at seven and told him in no certain terms that he needed to change shirts. No matter what he did, the knot had ended up wrong. Yuna had gotten tired of watching him struggle and slapped his hands away, effortlessly tying it for him in seconds. “I feel like an old married couple,” Tony had joked.
She’d barely looked up from the tie. “Yeah.”
“We can drink something now, and then drink a bit more when the food comes,” she paused, glancing over the menu. “I want a salad. They have really decent salads here.” She smiled at him and Tony gave in immediately. He’d always had trouble saying no to that smile. Who wouldn’t? Shiny black hair pulled back into a low ponytail that showed off her long slender neck and flawless skin, wearing an open shoulder black dress that highlighted her graceful collarbones and thin, well-toned arms, eyes perfectly accented with hints of eye-shadow, Yuna looked stunning. Tony was positive that every person in the restaurant was looking at them and wondering how she could possibly be here with him.
“Oh, yeah, sure. Whatever you want is fine.” He swal-lowed back his anxiety at sounding so chill about money.
Yuna beckoned the waiter. When he approached, she brusquely ordered a bottle of white wine, barely making eye contact with the man.
“So, Jihoon Oppa, tell me everything! Start with the Dome lands. I can’t believe you actually got to go there.”
Yuna had refused to call him Tony since she’d learned that he actually had a Korean name. She, along with his mother and grandmother, were the only people who ever used it. For her, her Korean heritage was a matter of pride. Her great grandfather had been instrumental in the fight against Japan during World War II. When he’d decided to immigrate to America, he’d been received as a hero.
Tony’s family on the other hand, had no war heroes. Far from it, his grandmother had fled here as an unmarried, preg-nant teen. Korea had done his family no favors. So, when the kids at school had started calling him ‘Jihoon the raccoon’ in the third grade due to his button eyes and huge glasses, he’d simply changed his name to Tony, which was the name of a character from some sitcom his mom used to watch. But Yuna wouldn’t understand that.
“It was pretty sad, actually. All the people look so scared. Reminds me of pictures from the famine of ‘56.”
Yuna nodded. “I saw a couple of pictures on TV last night. Are they all really that pale? The ones I saw looked like they had albinism or something.” Yuna reached over and picked up a piece of bread from the basket the waiter had just brought.
“Yeah. I heard somewhere that all of them are that way. All the ones I’ve brought to the hospital have been.”
Yuna nodded. “I heard the government is working to quar-antine that whole area. Is it really safe for you to be working with them?”
“Probably too late for me now,” he said with a laugh. “But we’ve tested them all and there’s nothing unusual in their sys-tems. Honestly, the most common things I’ve been treating so far are sun damage and malnutrition.”
“Well, it’s not just that, I heard on the news that there were a bunch of dangerous revolutionaries out there.”
“I heard that, too, but I have yet to see anything other than sick and hungry people, so I think I’m fine. Plus, there’s American soldiers all over the place out there.”
“Did you ask any of them what they think about the revo-lutionaries? I’m so curious.”
“Baby, I barely have time to ask them what their names are.”
Yuna reached across the table and stroked his hand. “Poor Jihoon Oppa. You look tired.”
A little thrill ran up Tony’s arm as her fingers ran across his skin. Seven years later, she still had the power to take his breath away with a single touch.
“I have to be honest, though, if I’d been living in that place, I might have been fighting for a better life, too. It must have been horrible,” he said when she pulled her hand away.
Yuna frowned. “There’s a difference between fighting for a better life and inciting anarchy, Jihoon Oppa.”
“You never give up on the law, do you, Baby?”
“Law and order are necessary for society to thrive. Think of all of the greatest civilizations. They all have one thing in common: strict laws that governed the people. Do you know why civilizations collapse?”
She paused and held him in an earnest stare, her eyes shin-ing with passion. Tony smiled. She was always at her most beautiful when she talked about law.
“They collapse when the people no longer respect the law. Sure, it sounds poetic and brave, but revolution, anarchy, vig-ilantism, all of it leads to a breakdown of laws and mores. And that of course, leads to a breakdown of society, which leads to a breakdown of government.”
Tony laughed. “I surrender. You are absolutely right. I’ll keep my nose out of all revolutionary activities.”
She took a bite of her bread. A mischievous smile crossed her face. “You’d better, or I’ll have to find some way to pun-ish you.” Tony smiled excitedly. That sounded very promis-ing.
Yuna rolled the conversation into the socio-economic prob-lems the Domers were now posing to the U.S. government and then into the long-term legislation that would probably need to be passed. Tony found himself again amazed by her. She was bringing up problems that he hadn’t even considered. Of course, he hadn’t had much time to think about anything, what with the current situation at the hospital.
They were enjoying a second glass of the white wine when their food came. Yuna quickly folded her hands and waited for Tony to do the same. He acquiesced, and looked down awkwardly as she said a short blessing. When she finished, he picked up his fork and knife and hoped his chicken was worth forty-five dollars. He rather doubted it.