Bernard Page 10
new machine, also with Barry's help cabling, fitting the components together, until between them they got it to work smoothly enough through the basics. There were still glitches with the old printer, and she wasn't so sure about the installed spyware: it slowed the machine down really badly. But at least the thing didn't crash.
     Carmen thanked Barry warmly for his help, gave him a peck on the cheek, and pointed him toward the door. He gave her a sheepish look.
     "You wouldn't have a beer, Carmen, would you?"
     "No, Barry," Carmen said sweetly but firmly, "no beer tonight. But I'll buy you lunch next week?"
     He smiled back, sadly (for a brief moment reminding Carmen, uncannily, of Jack Kushner), and left.
     Carmen spent the next hour or so checking the applications she regularly used. Only then did she settle down to checking her personal email. There, as always, was an email from him, but she decided to tease herself

and him for a bit by answering all of her other email first~of which she had an unusually high volume that day~there were even several tempting spam offers~ before indulging herself in the day's supreme pleasure.
     His email, when she finally opened it, read: "something has me very worried please reply as soon as u can"
     Carmen flushed with guilt~she had kept him waiting unconscionably, irresponsibly playing with her idiotic "power," it was now almost eleven~and she quickly jotted a reply: "what's the matter? i'm here."
     No answer.
     She typed another message: "IM me, i'm at home."
     Still no reply.
     She waited several minutes, then sent another email: "hello? r u there?"
     Still no response.
     "i'm sorry i waited so long to get back to u, i just got a new computer and had to set it up and check it out before