An Exercise in POV
Mary Ann Parins

D oris Fay sat in Doc Holloway's waiting room. She hated the wait. She hated the mystery that was caught up in all the computer circuitry. What she really hated, though, was not knowing what went on during these visits. There seemed to be a loss of personal control.
She looked across the room at Joey Furley. He knows the answers, she thought. Every four weeks they met like this, never saying a word to each other. Joey sat in his chair, his fingers flexing in the air in front of him, rhythmically, like a concert pianist playing scales, but she knew he was running software calculations in his head. His eyes concentrated straight ahead, looking beyond, as if into another world. A twelve year old electro-neuron genius brought in to translate information, or to clear access, or to reprogram something. What DID he do here? And, of course, now his protegee, eight 1/2 year old Amy Bean, kept these appointments with him. Her gangling frame hovered over Joey's chair, enraptured it seemed, her eyes darting in accompaniment to his hands.
Doris flipped the palm sized duroplex card over in her hand. A hack plug like the ones used in all the ships. Pull it out and bring it in, she was told. It's like a time card. After the checkup here, she gets paid.
She had been hired directly from the Academy of Cultures and Behavioral Sciences. It took top placement to get a transport license once trade relations began to flourish again, and reams of regulations were imposed on individuals when travel was reopened between intergalactic depots. Doris worked for the InterSpecies Languages Group. Like other ship captains, she was required to report conversations, hints of conspiracy and any undeclared delivery, by red-lining or to channel down for backup surveillance on landing.
Soon Doris, Joey and Amy would again enter the doctor's inner office and take their respective chairs. Hers was a lounger, but theirs were twin monitors and keyboards. Doc Holloway will be his usual affable self. He'll accept the hack plug from Doris and witness her pledge, "I was there when it happened," then he'll fit the plug into Joey's machine, and some kind of interface will begin. Scenes will play on the screen in front of her, distracting and pleasant, at least she believes they are. She always tries to make connections in her mind between the people in the room, and the activities, but she never remembers much. One thing is always the same, though, it's Doc Holloway at her side. He's smiling at her and gently rubbing her forearm. It's the last thing she ever remembers.

First published: March 1994