Haley: Part 1

So, I was scheduled to work at Grand Lake Steak and Fine Dining except Dad got a call, and Chuck’s Pizza was short staffed, and could anybody help?

Dad sent me.

And that wasn’t all bad. You get better tips at Grand Lake Steak than Chuck’s, but half the staff at Grand Lake Steak hated me because Dad had me help retrain them.

Dad fired people after our family took over. They blamed me for that too. Behind my back, I heard them call me “Daddy’s little spy.” I wasn’t trying to be, but after a month, Dad had asked me what I thought about them, and I told him.

I could smell their fear when I came in for my next shift. It’s not as bad now, but skipping a shift there makes any day better.

Chuck’s Pizza is a hole in the wall. It has a small dining room with a few tables, but most of its customers were there to pick up take-out, and didn’t stay longer than ten minutes at most.

It’s also been robbed twice in the last two years—not that anyone should be surprised. It’s not in a nice neighborhood. I think it must be the only business on that side of the block that’s open.

After last year’s robbery, I asked Dad why he kept it open, and he said it was close enough to Grand Lake University that it paid for itself.

I’ve always thought it was nostalgia because it was the first restaurant Grandpa ever managed, and the one Dad practically grew up in.

I could hear Dad’s heartbeat as he told me, and it never sped up. So he believes what he said, and when I worked there on Thursday night, it felt like the whole restaurant wanted to prove him right.

I came in at four in the afternoon, and after five-thirty, it never slowed down. I was the only waitress in the restaurant. When I wasn’t taking orders, I ran the cash register. When the dining area finally emptied, I took orders over the phone, and made pizzas.

I took my first break at nine-thirty which was probably illegal, and ate some spaghetti in the breakroom. Then I walked out the back door, and called Nick on my cell phone.

His family was in Minnesota visiting his grandparents. Nick picked up on the third ring, and we talked.

Somehow, the topic changed from missing each other to ideas he’d had for improving Night Wolf’s car. At first it was kind of cute to hear him get excited, but after ten minutes of him explaining how he’d redesign the car’s engine, it was easy to wonder why we’re dating at all.

Not that I’d break up with him over something silly like that, but I wasn’t calling him because I wanted to talk about the car my grandfather used as a superhero.

“Haaa-ley,” one of my co-workers opened the backdoor, “there’s a guy in the dining area.”

“Now?” I said good-bye to Nick, and went back to work.

Unlike Daniel, Nick’s best friend, I don’t have any kind of danger sense, but if I did, I like to think it would have been freaking out when I went back into the restaurant.

I walked past the stacked boxes, and counters where we assembled the pizzas up to the counter next to the dining area.

He stood next to the counter, and smiled when he saw me.

If all I could do was see him, I might not have felt as uncomfortable as I did, but I still would have felt a little nervous. He didn’t fit in with the neighborhood. He was almost seven feet tall, and had muscles that I could see outlined under his trenchcoat.

His trenchcoat.

I mean, seriously, a trenchcoat in July? Without any hint of rain?

But seeing was just the tip of the iceberg. I smelled warm plastic, silicon and metal–advanced electronics and a lot of them. And the sounds? In addition to his heartbeat, which quickened as I stepped closer, I heard the whirr of small fans. It came from the forearms of his jacket.

He held up his right arm, sliding his hand out. The hand was flesh, but the forearm was encased in metal.

Below his hand, a lens glowed red.

“See the light? It’s a laser. Give me your money or I’ll burn you down where you stand.”

14 thoughts on “Haley: Part 1”

  1. Fishy…why would a guy with so much expensive work done him hit a place like that?
    a) Fishing for supers ( or the League )
    b) running from something else and desperate.
    Leaning towards a) here, it looks like he asked for Haley here.

  2. Eli, I’d guess a big guy (I’d stress the “almost seven feet” here because I’m 6’1″ myself and nobody ever considered me a tall person) would want a laser because if you bring a bat and the store owner brings a shotgun, your size only makes you that much easier to hit.
    I wonder if Haley’s picked up enough of Lee’s instruction to handle the situation without shifting. Would be handy for all those “secret identity” reasons.

  3. ok first thing i thought of when you said 7 feet is that it was a remnant of Prime’s agents, and i thought that right up until you mentionned that he had motors and a laser. then i just got freaked out and thought it might be an evil next generation man machine. like maybe someone forced Chris to make them a suit for evil purposes.

  4. I’m glad SOMEBODY voiced it that Nick spends way to much time on super-gadgedtry.

    You gotta remember to take of the lady, Nick.

  5. “Below his hand, a lens glowed red.”

    Ah yes, the menacing pizza robbing supervillain “Rosey Palms” is back! No wonder he wanted a pretty girl to rob. Look at him, working the pervtrench, keeping those hands cool with some fans.

    She has better reactions than him at least, so after she whoops on him, I’m picturing she give him a good, old-fashioned threatening. Something like, “If you ever even hold a laser pointer near me again, you’ll have to squat backwards to even EAT a pizza.”

    Also, Direwo, it may not necessarily be expensive. You can make a low-powered laser these days for fairly cheap. I believe Maximum PC had an article on how to put one together in the casing of a toy phaser that is strong enough to burn through black tape. Considering the tech level is higher in the story’s universe, it’s entirely possible this is just some mad scientist going through his mad undergraduate years, needing mad money to keep drinking mad beer and play Angry Birds. I don’t think he necessarily asked for Haley either, since she was pretty much doing all the work in the place before her break.

  6. Uh, I don’t think that a supposedly normal girl kicking the crap out of a high tech robber that weighs three times as much as she does would be in keeping with protecting Haley’s secret identity. She’ll probably just hand over the money and call someone else to handle the problem, or possibly close down the shop and track him down by scent.

  7. As The Russian, recurring enemy of The Punisher, could tell you, never underestimate the power of a hot pizza to the face.

  8. We’re not just talking lasers, we’re talking cyberimplants, bodywork the silicone smell is the giveaway.

  9. And I’m talking a hot pizza to the face, what with it’s sensitive lips, skin, nose, mouth, and eye areas.

  10. I meant to reply to a few of these earlier,but…

    Why’s a guy with lasers hitting here?
    Not telling, but it’ll become obvious eventually.

    Bill: Every relationship has its conflicts. This is one of theirs.

    PG: Hot pizza to the face? That sounds familiar, but I don’t think I’ve read that issue of the Punisher. On the other hand, if the story made it into a graphic novel, I could easily have flipped through it in a bookstore.

  11. The other thing that makes hot pizza so devastating (to the roof of the mouth or otherwise) is the stickiness of the melted cheese. Hot is bad, hot that sticks is just plain nasty. Edible napalm, anyone?

    Hg

  12. Another thing that makes a hot pizza in the face dangerous is the high fat content. Some of it might go into the helpless victim’s mouth, and cause them cardiovascular problems!

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