School had just let out for Summer Vacation that very afternoon and I knew I was about to resume my work-study. So, I turned in all my books, placed my uniform shirt in my backpack and collected all of my personal items.
My science teacher saw me leaving the school building.
She was holding my old Eveready 1259 in her hand and stopped me saying, “Since you did so well in my class, I think you deserve this back. You’re very bright, but you need to be more serious during class time. You also need to watch your language.”
“Thanks.” I sheepishly told her. Little did she know that I had job security for years to come, despite being only sixteen. I initially wanted to tell her off, but I guess her giving me back the flashlight had caught me off guard. She didn’t know about my newer Eveready 1259 in my backpack and wasn’t going to find out.
My teacher then handed my flashlight to me and asked, “Were you serious about working with fuel tanks are were you just trying to be smart alleck?”
“I do work with fuel, but I am not allowed to say any more.”
“It’s illegal you know for someone your age to do that kind of work.”
“Trust me, it’s legal. I just cannot say anymore.”
“Whatever you say. Just be careful.”
I then quickly exited the school building. In just a few hours I had to walk to the helicopter terminal on the other side of town to be transported to the secret base. However, first I wanted to get some more batteries and bulbs for both of my Eveready 1259 flashlights. Therefore, I made a bee line for the supply house.
Finally I made it there.
As I walked through the door, the same salesman greeted me, “Hello young man, haven’t seen you in a while. Did you teacher take away your second flashlight too?”
“Nope. Actually she returned my original 1259 to me because she thought I did well in her class.”
“Wow, then teachers sure aren’t as strict as when I went to school. One time I brought my favorite Matchbox car to class and was playing with it on my desk. The teacher took it and I never saw it again.”
“Yes, but I never brought anything to school again, unless I needed it for class. Anyways, what brings you here?”
“I need more bulbs and batteries for these two flashlights. I would prefer some PR6 bulbs and as many Energizer Industrial D cells as possible.”
“I do have those, but why exactly do you need PR6 bulbs? They’re dim as all hell. And it’s not like you actually need your flashlight to be explosion proof, right?”
“But I definitely do need it to be explosion proof.”
“Come on, I know you can’t be eighteen yet, and that means you’re not allowed to work in a hazardous job. So why would you need an explosion proof flashlight?”
“That’s top secret, now I am on foot and have to get across town in a limited amount of time.”
“Okay, young man, whatever you say. Since you like explosion proof flashlights so much, might I interest you in a Pelican 1900? It’s explosion proof, brighter and much smaller. Plus it comes in different colors.”
“Let me see one, then maybe.”
The salesman showed me the display.
“It costs 12.50 for one Pelican 1900.”
“I’ll take it.”
“What color do you want, kid?”
“The neon green looks cool.”
“You’ll probably want replacement lamps, right?”
“They’re $4.50 each.”
“Give me three.”
“That’s $13.50 in addition to your $12.50. And you’ll want replacement batteries. They are 18 cents each for the Energizer Industrials.”
“Give me eight of them.”
“That’s $1.44 in addition to $13.50 for the lamps and $12.50 for the Pelican 1900. Which comes out to $27.44 plus tax.”
“Great. I’ll take ’em.”
“Didn’t you want PR6 bulbs and Industrial Alkaline D batteries as well.?”
“The D cells are 95 cents apiece.”
“Give me six.”
“Okay that’s $5.70 in addition to $27.44 for your other stuff. And PR6 bulbs are $1.90 apiece if you want them as well.”
“Yes. Give me four of them.”
“All right that’s an additional $7.60 plus the $33.14 for everything else. If you don’t want to buy anything else, your subtotal is $40.74.”
“Okay, that’s fine.”
“That comes out to $44.20 after tax.”
“I pull out one of my two $50 bills and hand it to him.”
“You must either have rich parents or you work to have that kind of money.”
“Is that why you so desperately need your flashlights to be explosion proof?”
“I’ll neither confirm nor deny. Now I have to get across town quickly.”
He gives me the $5.80 back as change and hands me all of my merchandise. I then put all of it in my backpack and leave the supply house, looking at my watch.
The time indicates 1:20 or 13:20 if looking at the secondary numbers. I have to be at the heliport by 4:00 or 16:00, but it’s way on the other side of town and I’m on foot.
A female classmate sees me walking in the hot sun and offers me a ride.
I take it.
“Where are you heading?” She asks.
She gives me a puzzled look and then asks, “Why do you need to go there.”
“It’s for my job.”
She smiles and asks “Going work in the tanks, right.”
“Yes. You must have in that class.”
“That was totally cute how you showed off that flashlight with the lights off as we took notes.”
“Actually, though, I think you’re just cute anyway.”
She leans over to kiss me. I blush.
“I didn’t realize you liked me.”
She smiled brightly and nodded her head.
“I wish we could do something this summer, but I’m going to be out of the country.”
“Is it for your secret job.”
“Would you be able to call me?”
“Yes, once I put a SIM card in my phone that I get from the base. I have an international cell phone. If you see a strange looking number, it’s probably mine.”
“Okay, I’ll give you my cell and my parents’ house number.”
She calls them out and I put them in my GSM phone.
“Are you on AIM?” I ask her.
I take a piece of my sales invoice and write my screen name on it and hand it to her. She dictates her screen name to me and I write it down.
Afterwards she holds my hand and drives me to the heliport.
As we are going there, I tell her, “I have a little bit of time and cash, so maybe I could take you to lunch.”
Her eyes light up and she nods.
“Where would you like to get me lunch?” She asks.
“Applebees.” I reply.
With that, we pull into the parking lot and are seated.
We order and are soon served our food.
Over the course of our meal, she asks, “What is so secret about your job anyway?”
“Well we develop products that could make other products obsolete. The owners of companies whose products become obsolete would want to kill us and destroy our workplaces. That’s why we are flown by helicopter, but the wherabouts of my jobs are totally unknwon to me. I’m sorry I cannot tell you anymore.”
“How did you get this job?”
“I was chosen by an online profiler who I guess thought I was smart and trustworthy.”
“I’m going to miss not seeing you.”
“But we can talk on the phone and online.”
“Yes, but that’s not the same as seeing you cute face.”
I blushed brightly and she giggled.
I looked at my watch. It was now 2:55 or 14:55 in secondary numbers.
“Do you have to leave now?”
“The helicopter leaves at 4 P.M., but I would like to be at the heliport sooner than that.”
“Can I stay until you board?”
“Sure. I would want you to.”
“You really would?”
“Of course. No one else ever paid attention to me like you do.”
“So you like me as well, then?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
She kissed me again.
I paid for the meal and then we left.
As we were riding to the heliport, she asked me “Are you going to miss me?”
I nodded, then said “Terribly.”
“You’re so sweet.” She said and kissed me a third time.
We sat in her car and talked. Other student workers began to arrive. I held her hand and stayed in her car until I saw the helicopter land.
My watch indicated 3:58 or 15:58 in secondary numbers.
“I guess I have to go now. Can I kiss you this time?”
“Of course you can.”
We stared at each other, then closed our eyes and passionately kissed. I embraced her and kissed her once more, then walked out of her car with all my stuff.
She waved and blew me one final kiss as I boarded the helicopter. As it took off I could see her standing on the ground watching us leave…