Story: Dear Apple, Byte This! (chapter 1)

Authors: mandygirl78

Back to chapter list

Chapter 1

Title: Dear Apple, Byte This

Once again Jo found herself involved in one of Blair's "brilliant ideas" - to help restore the inner-city libraries in New York. Blair wanted to bring interest to reading to inner-city youths. This time, however, she got the Drummond family to join in on it, thus making it a Warner-Drummond partnership. Blair vowed to visit one of the libraries, but true to her nature, she sent Jo to do the not-so-glamorous job of visiting the libraries and managing the restorations. She roped in rich investor Phillip Drummond's adopted son, Willis, a building inspector for his dad's company and a good friend of Jo's, to tag along with Jo in the restoration.

One of the libraries was located in Harlem; it meant something to Willis since the library was about three blocks from his old home there. He remembered the days he would come here to do his schoolwork so he could get away from his pestering brother, Arnold. The librarian was a close friend of his late mother, so he was very fond of her. Jo and Willis had to make an estimate of how much it would cost to repair the library. The place was not in great shape; it retained a very 80s look since the last time it had a decent renovation was back in 1986. The chairs and desks were old, the only audio equipment available was a turntable and a tape recorder, and there was no available internet service. With the exception of the magazine racks for stuff like rap or fashion magazines, the library wasn't used much. Cobwebs took over some of the bookshelves. Just by looking at one of the sections of the library, they knew it would take a lot of work and a lot of money to repair the entire library.

"I can't believe this place. When I had my foot patrol duty here, I used to walk by. Now I'm thankful I never visited. This is yet again one of her 'brilliant ideas', Willis. She always gets me involved in them."

Willis knew that Blair meant well with this project, but he had to be honest about her. "Well, you know Blair likes to create projects but never follows through. At least you apply the practical aspect of them."

"Yeah, I know, I just wish she coulda come here and helped us wit' this."

"This is Park Avenue Blair we're talking about here. She would be scared to death to even drive through here. I know you had to be when you first did your foot patrol here."

"Yeah, even though I came from the Bronx." After hearing all those horror stories from her neighborhood and her colleagues about the area, she was scared at first. It wasn't easy for her at first due to the instinctual mistrust that the community had for white police officers. Eventually, due to her fairness, her kindness, and her skills on the basketball court, the community accepted and even embraced her.

"Lucky for me, things turned out good, so good, in fact, that some of the men started to ask me out." Jo said with a small blush on her face. Willis couldn't help but chuckle at the situation.

"I had ta tell them that I was married to Rick. Luckily, I left before my divorce; otherwise, I would have had more explainin' to do!"

"Yeah, you would have," Willis smirked.

Jo referred back to the subject in hand, "Anyways, looking at this place, I feel like I took a trip back to 1985, but without the DeLorean."

"Yeah, nothing has changed much since I was here last time. I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing since I still have fond memories about this place," Willis said as he was looking at the neon-blue bookshelf with books dated no later than 1986.

"Yeah, lookit this one," she said as she pulled the book out of the shelf and blew the dust off. "Poppin' n' Lockin': Breakdancing for Beginners!"

Willis took a look at it with some disbelief and then they both laughed at it. "We gotta rock it, don't stop it, we gotta rock it don't stop!" He joked, taking part of the lyrics from Afrika Baambaata's classic "Planet Rock."

The two were fully laughing in the library until they were interrupted by the librarian's, "Hush!"

"Now, now, you two, I know there aren't a lot of people here, but this is a library and you've got to keep quiet," Mrs. Fletcher scolded.

"Sorry 'bout that," Jo said with sincerity. Mrs. Fletcher had been the librarian for over fifty years. Her tireless dedication to the library and to the community won her numerous awards and praises from the city and its politicians, yet those same bureaucrats still made excuses for not providing the library with some money.

"Hey, Willis, let's take a look around so we can get our estimates quickly and hand them over to Blair. I'll go to that room over there and you go to the audio room," Jo said.

"Right," Willis said as he went off to the audio room while Jo headed to the other room. When Jo walked into the small room, she realized, much to her horror, the extent to which the building was stuck in the 80s. She didn't know whether she was in 80s heaven or 80s hell, but she was more inclined to think the latter. The room was colored a hot pink that was fading; a worn-out, sun-burnt poster of LeVar Burton promoting his show "Reading Rainbow" hung on one of the walls. There was a desk with a computer and right next to it was a Muppet Babies mug with pencils in it. One of the pencils had a Gizmo character from Gremlins at what was supposed to be the eraser end.

In addition to the unintended retro environment, there was an old poster of Mr. T giving his trademark menacing look. It was not as faded out as the Reading Rainbow poster, but it seriously reeked 80s. With one hand pointing to the viewer, the words above him read 'I Pity Da Fool Who Don't Stay In School! Stay In School Suckah!' Jo just looked at it and shook her head in embarrassment.

"God, of all the decades I had to have my teen years in, it had to be in the 80s…"

Then there was the computer. The only computer in the library, it was obsolescent and looked like the one Jo had used when she was in college. In fact, it looked exactly like the one she dealt with one time about Blair.

The old Apple IIe with one functional disk drive out of two was connected to an Epson dot matrix printer. The broken disk drive had a sticky note saying "Out of order" on it. As she looked at the battered, fingerprint-smudged screen, it read "1 - Logos, 2 – Languages, etc."

"Nah, it couldn't be." Her curiosity got the best of her, however, so she sat down and pressed the key for Personal Counseling.

"Hello, I am the Hubcraft Interactive Interpersonal Communication Counseling Program DK-40R, but you can call me Steve."

Of all the old, retro machines she could have run into, it had to be him. The discussion they had was still fresh in her mind like it had been yesterday.

"Oh no, it\'s you again," Jo said in annoyed disappointment.

"Get comfortable. Start at the beginning. Tell me everything," the computer said.

"Hi, my name is Jo. Do you remember me?"

"I am not blind like Stevie Wonder, but I cannot read lips. If you want voice activation, then please press the red button. But don't tickle it!"

Jo had a mischievous look on her face and decided to have fun with the computer and brushed her fingers over the key . . . until it broke off.

"Didn't you hear me say don't tickle it!"

"Well, sorry, I didn't expect it ta break off."

"Say, your accent is not like that of those who usually speak with me."

"Well, I'm not from around here."

"I can tell, you did not greet me with 'sup dawg'," he said. "However, your voice does sound very familiar. What is your name?"

"It's me, Jo."

"Jo… Checking my database now."

The 8-bit computer took more than a minute to retrieve the information. During that time Jo was twiddling her thumbs, both amazed and bored at how slow the computer was. It made her realize how far technology had come and made her quite thankful of that.

"Ah yes, I remember you. How are you doing, sir?"

"I'm a woman! Remember?" she replied sternly.

"Yes, you claimed to be, it is recorded in the database."

Immediately, Jo clenched her fist and pounded the desk, "Do ya wanna keep the remainin' keys on your keyboard, huh? Coz I ain't gonna give ya a peep-show to prove to ya that I'm a woman."

"Just kidding. Sheez, you are still quick-tempered. How are things progressing for you, Jo?"

"Well, I'm now Lieutenant of the Central Park precinct."

"So you are currently a law enforcement official?"


"That does not surprise me. I saw that one coming."

"What's that s'pose ta mean?"

"Nothing at all."

Jo was taken aback by his assumptions and she made it clear to him.

"Ya don't know me that well ta make any assumptions," Jo said angrily.

"That's where you're wrong, Jo, because I know everything."

"Oh yeah? Well, since you know everything, Mr. Einstein, what's the engine type of a 1983 Kawasaki CSR1000?" Jo would know this arcane information because she used to own one.

"That one is easy, Jo. The 1983 Kawasaki CSR1000 contains an inline four, 998 cc, 4 Stroke engine that is air cooled. Do you want the maximum torque?" Steve informed her in encyclopedic fashion.

Jo was mildly impressed and said, "No, that was good enough. Now tell me the sequence of the Fibonacci number."

The computer yawned and said "0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89-"

"That's good enough," Jo said before getting bored to death by the computer's monotonous, droning voice. The computer answered her first two questions with ease; however, she knew a question that the computer probably wouldn't be able to answer – a current-event question.

"OK now, who's the current president, Einstein?"

"Easy, it is Ronald Reagan."

She knew that the machine was not in tune with the times, but seriously, she thought that was ridiculous. "Ronald Reagan? Whatsa matta wit' ya? When was the last time ya got updated?"

"My modem broke on October 5, 1986 at 7:37 PM Eastern Standard Time. I have not connected to the Hubcraft BBS since."

"Oh my God," Jo said in disbelief.

"So the great Ronald Reagan is not our president?"

That comment stunned Jo a little bit, but not much, knowing back then a lot of people praised Ronald Reagan and how people laughed at her when they found out she voted for Mondale. In the back of her mind, she had always thought that the program was written by a bunch of yuppie, Reaganite conservatives, judging by the way it talked and the way it gave out advice.

"No! The current president is Barack Obama. He's the 44th President of the United States."

"Barack Obama? Are you pulling my printer cable? What kind of name is that for a president?"

"He was born in Hawaii but his father was a Muslim from Kenya."

"From Kenya? Does that mean the current president is black?"

"Well half-black, his mother is white; however, he is often associated with African-Americans. We don't use the term 'black' anymore, we use African-American. See, this is a different America from twenty years ago. Things have changed. We have become more accepting than in the past. Heck, nobody gets worked up about interracial relationships anymore." However, what she purposely left out was that there was still one of type of relationship that a few ignorant and/or just plain mean-spirited people still got worked up about...

"Twenty years ago? What year is this?"

"2009, genius."

"2009? Are there flying cars with Flux Compacitors? If that's the case, then that would be totally awesome, fer shur!"

"No! Ya been wachin' too much TV n' movies! There ain't no such things."

"Well, that is totally bogus, dude."

"People don't say 'totally bogus, dude' anymore, nor do they say 'fer shur'. The Valley Girl era is dead. You're so out of touch."

"Hey, that was a great song. You're out of touch, I'm out of time…"

"Will ya stop it? It's bad enough that I got a few Hall and Oates songs on my iPod."

"An iPod, what is that?"

"A portable device used to listen to music that is stored as computer files."

"What? You lost me."

"You're very out of touch, Steve. People don't listen to their music on their Walkman or watch movies on tapes anymore, and nobody calls from a pay phone anymore. Look at ya, you may have worth somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000 when I first met ya."

"Not including tax."

"Well, nowadays your 8-bit butt wouldn\'t even be worth $2 to $3 at a thrift store, including tax. There are computers out there that have flash drives and DVD drives instead of old disk drives that don't work." She said as she pointed to the one with the 'Out of Order' sign."

"Watch it, buddy."

"I'm not your buddy, buddy! Computers nowadays are hooked up to real printers, not this piece of crap," she said pointing to the dot matrix printer. "They can get on the internet instead of that BBS thing ya talkin' 'bout. They have hard drives in them to store information, which I bet ya don't have."

"Humpf, hard drives are for wimpy computers. Real computers don't need all that space to get the job done. Are you just jealous, Jo, that I'm more intelligent and charming than you'll ever be?"

Jo looked at him with disgust, "No, you ain't! You're even more conceited than Blair!"

The computer then quickly showed 'Now looking up database," as it was retrieving more info.

"The sun will swallow up the Earth before you get the information..." she muttered to herself.

The computer finally got the necessary info.

"Blair, I remember you talking about her. Did you sever your friendship with her?"

Jo just chuckled. She remembered seeing Blair walk by laughing in the hall and then throwing the printout of the computer's advice in the trash.

One of the best decisions of her life.

"No, I didn't."

"Why not? You two were hurting each other back then."

"Yeah, that was true, Steve, but we're loving each other now."

"Loving each other? I do not comprehend."

"Me n' Blair are in love, we're a couple."

"A couple? Aha, I knew that you were a man all along!"

When Jo heard that she didn't know whether to laugh or to get a sledge hammer and whack the computer to pieces. Regaining her composure, she simply said to him, "I am not a man, do you see an Adam's apple?" She lifted her chin up to show her neck proving that she didn't have one.

"No, I do not. Then Blair must be the man."

That was it for Jo as she slammed her hands on the desk and shouted, "No! No! No! Neither one us is a man. I'm a woman; Blair's a woman. We are both women and we are in a romantic relationship. We kiss, we embrace, we cuddle, we spend lots of time together, we have se –"

Before she completed her sentence, Steve went virtually insane and said, "Two women cannot be in a romantic relationship. That does not compute. That does not compute. That does not compute. That does not compute…"

The message flashed repeatedly on the screen in sync with its squawking. Jo was trying to quiet the computer by pressing all the keys on the keyboard and loudly whispering at it. "Be quiet! This is a library!"

"That does not compute. That does not compute. That does not compute. That does not compute…"

Jo redoubled her efforts to shut Steve up when she heard others approach. Steve's wailing mixed in the air with Willis' snickering, the unmistakably irritated throat clearing of Mrs. Fletcher, and a click of heels across the tile in a certain rhythm. She turned slowly to peek over her shoulder. "Blair!"

"What did you do to the computer?" Blair demanded.

"Blair! I didn't expect to see ya here." Jo responded. She was purposely avoiding her question and Blair knew it, but she decided not to call her out on it.

"Well, Mr. Drummond told me if I don't get physically involved, he will pull out of the project."

"Don't worry, you won't break a fingernail for this job." Willis said.

"That's good because I just got them manicured. Anyway, while I was walking down here, a bunch of men kept staring at my back. I checked to see if something was on my slacks but there was nothing."

Jo and Willis couldn't help themselves but to snicker. Mrs. Fletcher just shook her head in disbelief. "Blair, they were checking out your butt in those Armani slacks. They don't hide your 'curves' very well."

"Checking out my . . . my derriere?"

Jo quips, "Oui princesse."

"Jo's right, what can I say? We black men love that big booty!" Willis said while still laughing.

"That's interesting. Most of my past dates complained about my derriere, but over here, I got three dinner invitations because of it!"

"What! Some of them asked you out?"

"Yes, grease monkey, why wouldn't they? Apparently they have excellent taste in women," Blair stated with a hair flip. "One was a poorly dressed guy named Gary, who had no chance since he looked like a troll. Then there was LaTron, who dressed decently but he was like only five feet tall. There's something wrong if I have to look down to a man."

"That shouldn't be nothing new to you, looking down at oth-, um, uh, never mind."

Blair looked at him and huffed. Then she continued, "And finally, there was this gorgeous guy who wore a sharp Bespoken suit and had the latest Rolex watch. He looked like a younger Denzel Washington. His name was Stefan."

"Stefan? Stefan Jones?" Jo growled out with her blood boiling hot.

"What's wrong with him? I turned him down."

"He's a freakin' gigolo!" Jo snarled. In an instant, the green-eyed beauty turned into the green-eyed monster.

"Calm down, Jo! He ain't worth your anger!" Willis said.

"I'm gonna kick his butt up and down 125th street! I'm gonna ram his head into every trash can in the alley! I'm gonna -" Just when Jo was ready to explode, the computer got louder.

"THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE!" Steve cried. He started to print it through the dot matrix printer.

Mrs. Fletcher was puzzled. "We've had this computer for 17 years, and it's never acted like this."

"Well, all I told him was that me and you are in a romantic relationship, Blair.\"

The computer quieted at hearing Blair's name, "So this is Blair?"

"Yes, it is." Jo replied.

"Well, I have to admit, she is one hot lady!" Blair smiled and flipped her hair once again, as Jo growled a bit in disgust over how Blair craved any type of compliment. Nevertheless, the computer continued, "But still, that does not compute. That does not compute. That does not compute…"

An idea popped into Jo's head. She really wanted to give him something that would blow his circuits away. So she gave Blair her mischievous look, and Blair smiled back in return, agreeing to cooperate in Jo's scheme.

"Hmm, baby, let's give him somethin' that will surely not compute in his processor," Jo said with her devilish grin.

"No problem," she responded back with the same smile.

Jo slowly slid a hand behind Blair's head to draw her lover near her while gently wrapping her other arm around Blair's body. Then she gave her a sensual kiss, it was tender yet passionate.

"Lord have mercy!" Mrs. Fletcher gasped, then fainted. Luckily, Willis was able to catch her. The faithful, churchgoing, Baptist librarian had heard about it and seen it on TV but she had never seen two women kissing right in front of her eyes! Mrs. Fletcher's reaction was nothing compared to the computer\'s. As the kiss ended, everyone (conscious) in the room heard Steve say, "What the heck?" before the monitor and the main computer blew up. The kiss was too much for Steve to process. The explosion was small enough not to do any external damage, but had obviously blown Steve to kingdom come. Everybody in the room was shocked and didn't speak for a while until Blair spoke up.

"How can a computer get so worked up about same-sex relationships?" Blair asked in astonishment.

"Well that's what ya get from a software program written by yuppie, Reaganite conservatives." The yuppie, Reaganite conservative present sent Jo a death glare. Jo turned pale. "No offense, Sweetheart," she responded nervously.

Blair just smiled back and said "None taken!"

They were startled when a young teenager spoke up from the corner, "Wow! I didn't expect teh computah ta blow up like dat! But I'm glad that piece of junk did."

"Why so?" Blair asked.

"I wanted some advice on howta get my friend off drugs, but all it told me wuz dat he only had ta 'Just Say No'!"

"Gee, weren't the 80s wonderful?" Jo said.

"Let's not start that debate, Jo, because we don't have time to finish it . . . properly. You know what happens when we argue, right?" Blair said with a touch of seduction.

Jo immediately blushed, "I sure do." Blair returned a blush as well.

"Anyway, let's do the rest of the estimates for the library. At least we know we need a new computer," Blair stated.

"True, in fact, there's a spare room in this building that can hold three computers. And we're getting PCs, not Macs, no stupid Apples in this library!"

"Was that an Apple computer?"

"Yes, it was, Blair."

"Then absolutely no Apples! Now let's get back to work." When Jo and Blair turned around they were surprised to see Mrs. Fletcher lying on the floor with her dress wrinkled and dirty. Willis tried his best to revive her by fanning her with his hand. She was moaning softly.

"What happened to her?" Jo asked.

Willis looked up and said "When she saw you two kissing, she fainted."

Jo and Blair looked at each other and just laughed. Jo returned her attention to Willis, "Tell Mrs. Fletcher we're sorry we offended her by our actions."

"Nah," he said, "I know Mrs. Fletcher. She's a sweetheart of a lady. She was shocked, but I doubt that she was offended."

"I'll tell ya what, let me take care of Mrs. Fletcher since I have some medical training. You and Blair continue on with the estimate," Jo said, trying her best to hide a smile. At first everyone nodded in agreement. It took a bit for Blair to catch on that Jo had just set her up. The moment Jo knew Blair had figured it out, she revealed her smile, increasing Blair's irritation.

Before Blair could protest, Willis, stifling his own smirk, jumped in, "Come on, let's get this done. The sooner we do it, the sooner we can leave here."

The next day, Jo and Blair surfed the internet on their Gateway laptop, appreciating their latest model computer.

"See, Blair, there ain't nuthin' more wonderful than modern technology," Jo said as she headed to YouTube.

The blood drained from their faces when they saw what was in the Featured Videos module: "Horny MILF Sappho Smoochin' Blows Computer Up!" Sure enough, it was a 1:43 clip of their incendiary kiss with the explosive death of the computer providing the finale. Only up since yesterday, it had already chalked up 320,000 hits.

"What! How. . .huh. . ?" Jo stuttered.

"I noticed the young gentleman in the corner had his iPhone out." Blair looked at Jo coldly. She was not one bit happy.

"There ain't nuthin' more wonderful than modern technology, huh?"

Back to chapter list