Keeping Score: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

KeepingScore

(Excerpt from Keeping Score, the precursor story to Capturing Captain America)

Kaja saw him walk towards the door with the posture that Marines are recognized for outside of union. She took his empty glass and a sensation overcame her.

“Wait Ronan! You need another drink!”

Ronan turned around. He saw it was her that called him. He stood for a few seconds analyzing Kaja’s face. Stoic but her eyes looked right at him. She hadn’t been suggesting another drink. It was an order to come bar to the bar and sit down. Curiosity had him walk back.

“I thought you said I wasn’t old enough to drink? I’m driving my motorcycle tonight and the cops are random stopping everyone around the corner.”

“You need another drink. A virgin cocktail and its on the house.”

“Peace offering?”

“No solider. I just think you need a drink.”

“The bartender who knows everything. I take it your precision makes you good mixing drinks?”

“My specialty but tell me why you came here tonight? I hear the Tova Lounge in Malibu is near your place.”

“They ID.”

“So you rode your motorcycle all the way to West Hollywood?”

“I had a meeting with a recruiter from the Marines.”

“Aren’t you already in the ROTC?”

“C’mon you know what that means?”

“You get scholarships I’m not eligible for.”

“And I enlist in active duty after graduation. I was planning to go Army but I’m joining the Marines instead.”

For a second Kaja felt her heart race and tighten with thoughts of Ronan being shipped off and not returning for years, forever. If she allowed her mind free reign Kaja knew she would start to cry. When her god-brother Viktor in San Diego enlisted he returned from his first tour in time for her grade 12 state math competition. It was a Marines cufflink with the symbol of the Corps. He told her to use it as a lucky charm to cool her nerves if she got scared during the tournament. Then Viktor left and he never came back. Kaja won the tournament wearing his lucky charm in her pocket.

“What’s the matter? Are you protesting my decision in silence?”

“No, I suddenly decided to calculate my tips in my mind for a second.”

“Listen, I know you’re from Berkeley and all but you do realize you’ve probably grown up in a liberal bubble.”

“Just like you grew up in the cloistered enclave of Malibu?”

“OK I’m really now. You want a fight Kaja? Is that what you like to pick at people for? Get some help.”

“Wait. I’m sorry Ronan. It’s my humor. You just don’t know it yet.”

“What did you want to talk to me about when you stopped me from leaving?”

“Why you’re so keen on how I solved that algorithm.”

“It’s not something I’ve seen before. It’s almost like a mathematical formula that can be applied to investments and stock picking.”

“I see.”

“I think you should consider a career in finance and I need help with my stock portfolio. I’d pay you to be my picker, run numbers, use a computer to model simulated performances. You’d make more working for my father than the best tips in total in this bar.”

“I see. You want me to count the ways to double your good fortune?”

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