Silence filled the air.
Alex tapped the wheel repeatedly as they sped toward the next house. Sammy, sitting next to him, rolled down the window halfway. “You mind?” he asked. Through a grimace, Alex shook his head and said, “Naw.” As Sammy lit up, his quick movements betrayed how habitual it was to him. He exhaled towards the window, succeeding in getting half the smoke out of the cab.
Already annoyed, Alex thought about what must’ve prompted Tim to hire Sammy. Not only that, but what could’ve prompted him to pair a bongo lovin’ hippie with a straight arrow Mormon? Now Alex not only disliked his job, but his companion as well.
“You see “Grass” yet?” asked Sammy, wondering about the movie he recommended last week.
“No,” said Alex, feeling a little guilty. They had talked about movies more than anything, but even in film tastes they were complete opposites. Alex had been interested in the doc about marijuana, but not enough to shell out 3 bucks.
Silence again filled the cab.
Alex concentrated on his driving. Their territory was a belt of residential communities around the city, where new roads and developments could appear seemingly over-night. Tim had started the company 9 years earlier and word was out: Fixit Fast was true to its name. Wealthy computer users now relied on the company to set up new residential computer networks and repair defective ones. Alex, Sammy and the other crews did not go home until each day's work requests were completed.
When Alex had started with Fixit Fast, he had worked alone. To him, it was more of a continuation of his hobby than a job. Then Tim joined in the venture. He immediately recognized the opportunity to expand the company's services to include satellite dishes and essentially all home electronics. The company had not stopped growing since.
There was constant turnover; when many new employees learned the ropes, they left and started their own businesses or sometimes were hired by a company to trouble shoot all of their tech repairs. When new workers were hired, they worked with an old hand like Alex until they could do everything on their own.
The cell phone built into the dash of the van clicked on. Tim said, "I have an update on your next stop. The satellite dish is a Model Number 19299." Sammy acknowledged the model number started reviewing the specs for the dish on his laptop and the records of past service calls for that model while Alex searched for dirt drive that would lead them to his client. Tim and Sammy started talking about a reality TV show. Alex tried to concentrate on his driving; he hated that show.
Alex turned off of the street and up a long driveway that curved up a wooded hill side. Halfway up the drive they were stopped by a gate with twin video cameras mounted on the gate posts. Sammy said to Tim, "Security gate."
Tim said, "Here's the key code: 38746523."
Alex rolled down the window and punched the code into a keypad that was mounted on a stylish brick pillar. A voice come from the speaker, "Come on up. Thanks for getting here so quick." It was a soothing, rich female voice with an odd touch of the foreign.
As he drove the last hundred yards to the house, Alex thought about the woman's voice and tried to imagine her story. Many of their clients were telecommuters who depended on electronic contacts with their companies. Sophisticated teleconferencing systems were becoming increasingly common. Not a few of the clients were authors and composers, existing within electronic cocoons from which they fed the world their creations.
Alex was impressed by the house, what little he could see of it. The house had been built into the side of the hill and very few trees had been cleared during the construction. The front of the house had the form of a blocky cliff-side pueblo, but the exposed surfaces were all ultra modern mirrored plate glass like you would find on the side of a skyscraper.
Sammy still had not grown accustomed to such houses and the obvious wealth of many of the company's clients. He got out of the van and gawked at the house, shaking his head. "Damn," he said, "that's some place."
"Yeah, I wouldn't mind living here" said Alex, who had already located and called for the elevator. He was amused by Sammy's awe and was able to smile at him now that he had put sufficient distance between himself and Sammy's ganja infused stench.