‘Tis Charity to Show
Literally an hour had passed and nothing had changed since Rand had turned on the recorder; the mind-numbing, drone-like reams of entries on Dr. Ellis’ uneventful working days came at her like paint balls, pelting her with useless information and no possible leads.
Rand yarned, not even bothering to stifle it. She needed a break, but she pressed on, knowing that there were more wafers and more logs that needed her attention. Rand brought her hands up level to her chin and looked down into her nails, wishing she could get a manicure.
“I can’t really understand this. I don’t know if it’s too much exposure from the sun or what, but I’m getting these dry, patchy rashes on my arms and shoulders. It’s becoming fairly distracting to me. I’ll have to go to Dr. Grimes to see if she has anything for them. This can’t be my childhood eczema, that’s certain, since I was cured of that condition when I was 8 years old…”
Rand reached over and pushed the ‘off’ button in utter exasperation.
“What you need, lady, is a cure for your talent of bringing on catatonic inducement,” Rand said in hopeless disgust.
Like she thought to herself before, she needed a break.
Now, she was taking one.
Leaving the wafer inside the recorder, Rand scooped up the remaining wafers on the desk and stacked them, placing them next to the leather envelope. She pushed herself away from the desk and got up from her chair when something made her pause midpoint.
“What the hell’s that?” It was coming from behind the door.
What was making that racket? Was someone moving furniture?
“It sounds like a lot more furniture than we have out there.”
Puzzled, Rand turned away from the desk and went to the door and opened it. She poked her head out, stretching out her neck and leaning towards that noise. Then, stepping out of the office and closing the door behind her, Rand walked down the hall, the noise getting louder as she got closer to the meeting room. She turned the corner and then suddenly stopped, taking in the peculiar sight in front of her.
“What is all this?”
Obstructing the door to the meeting room was a row of chairs, small tables, tools, carts and containers, some were set up straight, some were upturned like they were knocked over, very much like the way the furniture was left when the landing party first got here.
“What’s all this stuff doing out in the hall?”
Was the floor being mopped? Rand, incredulous, looked up from all the stuff in the hall to see Riley pushing the couch she had sat on earlier in the day.
She headed over to the meeting room, angling her way to the side so as to not injure herself among the chaos.
On entering the meeting room, Rand saw that the row of stuff formed a curving line that went from the hall to the middle of the room’s interior, with pieces of furniture and other items that she was seeing for the first time since staying at this site. At the end of all this mess was Riley, standing from a distance, his eyes narrowed, his stance wide-legged, his arms stiff and away from his body. He was a man focused, obsessed, his head scanning over the furniture, the tools, the containers, the carts.
“Uh, excuse me! Riley! What in the hell are you doing? What is all this? Why are all these things out here? Where’d you get all this?”
She looked at Riley, baffled, her arms outstretched to her sides, palms facing up.
Riley spoke to her, though he never took his eyes off his monstrosity, as he stepped up to an upright stool, picked it up, laid it to its side, and stepped back.
“Earth to Riley! What the hell are you doing?”
Rand raised her voice, even though she was sure Riley had heard her the first time. Finally, he turned to her indignantly, like an artist interrupted while working on his masterpiece.
“For your information, I’m making my obstacle course!”
“My obstacle course, for Christ’s Sake! You went to the Academy! You know what they are!”
“You’re making an obstacle course,” Rand said more as a statement than a question.
“An obstacle course, yes!”
“Uh, why Kevin?”
“Why?” Riley asked the question like it should have been obvious to her. “I’m gonna tackle an obstacle course that’ll put that asshole’s to shame!”
“Asshole? What asshole?”
Rand took a beat and really looked at Riley, not quite believing what she was hearing.
“Russo? You mean your instructor from back in the Academy?” Rand asked this question in a low, deliberate voice, like she was talking to a mental patient brandishing a butter knife.
Well, he certainly was being mental!
“That instructor from back in the Academy gave me a C grade, remember? I told you about him!” he implored, his palms facing up, his fingers clenching desperately. “He totally fucked up my GPA! I told you that!”
“Okay, yeah. But that was a long time ago, Kevin. You’re a navigator on one of the finest ships in Starfleet, and you didn’t have to make up any classes. You graduated with the rest of your class. You need to get over it, and you can’t have all this crap out here.”
Rand walked over to the stool that Riley had earlier rearranged. “I’ve never seen this stool before. A lot of this stuff I’m seeing for the first time.”
Riley shrugged. “They were in storage.”
“The door at the very end of the pantry. There’s stools, more folding tables and chairs, shelves.”
Rand picked up the stool and turned to Riley. “Thanks for telling me where you found all this junk, ‘cause I’m putting it all back ASAP.”
“What do you mean?”
“What? You want me to spell it out for you? I’m putting this stuff back and you’re going to help me, since you’re the one who made the mess with all this shit.”
“Put that stool down,” said Riley threateningly.
“Kevin, you can’t have all this stuff out here just because you have some ancient vendetta towards some past gym instructor. Now, if you’re not going to help me then move out of the way.”
“You’re not going anywhere with that! Put that down,” yelled Riley stomping his foot, his fist clentched.
Rand lowered her eyes at Riley, like a parent gently scolding a whiney child misbehaving in the aisle of a busy grocery store.
“Now stop this, Kevin,” she said levelly. “I’m putting this stuff away…”
“No, you don’t!"
Riley rushed towards Rand and accosted the stool she was carrying with both hands, pulling at its legs viciously while Rand held on to its seat, pulling back with equal fervor.
“Kevin, this is childish! Put the damn stool down!”
Riley’s face was a bright red as he yanked, pulled, and even threw in an occasional kick at Rand’s ankles.
“You put the chair down and leave my obstacle course alone! Leave me alone, you cunt!”
Did he just call me cunt?
That did it!
Feeling herself losing her composure, Rand released the chair in utter disgust, allowing Riley to tumble backward to the floor, his legs flaling in the air. Rand went over to Riley and stood over him, jabbing an accusing finger at him while he stared up at her, his face grimacing from the contact the back of his head made with the floor.
“If I’m a cunt, then I can just get Mr. Spock to help you clean up this shit!”
Rand then took a breath, fighting to regain her cool. She crossed her arms and turned her head to the side, raising her brows in an expression that both dared Riley to do something else stupid and condescended him for being stupid in the first place.
“You like Mr. Spock, don’t you? Always a pleasure to work with him,” she said smugly.
Indeed, Rand hoped that this tactic would work, since she really didn’t want to have to call on Spock herself. Not after that episode yesterday. Let Riley deal with Spock all by himself should the first officer decide to leave his quarters and see this absurd trailing mess.
“You know dinner should be ready in about an hour, so I f think it would be best if you started on this now so that we can have a place to sit down and place our food, genius!”
Rand looked at Riley sitting on the floor and thought to herself how much he looked like a child, sitting there poking his lip out, his shoulders hunched. She shook her head and started to turn when she heard a thick clang, like something falling on the floor, so she turned to see what is was.
Rand felt her right foot get caught under something, and by the time she realized it was a small cart laid on its side she lost her balance and tumbled, arms waving about wildly in a sorry attempt to regain herself, her body falling hard on the metal cart, its edges hitting her simultaneously in her chest and upper thighs.
Rand laid there, spilled over the cart, the pain in her chest and thighs stabbing and ebbing into her muscles and flesh in waves of numbing, excruciating punishment.
She struggled to get up from the cart, but Rand was in such pain that she opted to stay where she was until the pain lessened, until she could get up. During this time, Rand heard something, something rather out of place in light of what just happened to her.
“HA HA HA HA HA…..”
Was she hearing right?
Riley was standing over her, his body doubled up in laughter, high-pitched, maniacal.
He laughed so hard that, at one point, he had to sit back down on the floor, fat tears streaming down his cherry red face, his mouth contorting widely like a zoo animal at feeding time.
Yuck it up, asswipe!
Rand felt the rage build in her, rising from the soles of her feet to the top of her head, boiling inside her body.
She wanted to rush him, beat him down like a hammer to a nail, until he was buried in the floor, but she was in too much pain to move. Rand could only watch while Kevin Riley’s laughter became more and more hoarse, discordant, as he reveled in a twisted sort of fun at her expense.