You can see the machine in the CC through a glass door. But you can’t touch it. It’s sadistically, tantalizingly out of reach. You look, pray, beseech it to restart, but it won’t. It stares at you, dour, grim-faced, unmoved, unblinking. You wish hard, oh so hard, that you could press that little white button.
Despondent yet desperate, you pick up the phone and dial The Number. You know what’s going to follow. After several rings, the same unpleasant sequence of events from the past repeats. The voice barks. You swallow hard, and explain the proxy is down. The voice grumbles. You beg. It refuses. You sacrifice every bit of your self esteem to get the voice to acquiesce.
Hours later, a car winds its way uphill. Slowly, leisurely, mocking you as you egg it on. The door opens. He steps out. Sizes you up and down, disgust writ large on his visage. He marches into the CC, you in tow. Reaches into his pocket. Fishes out the Key. It glimmers in the diffused glow of the CC lights. You lick your lips. If only, if only you could have the Key.
He slips the key into the lock on the glass door. Walks in. Stops at the rack. The machine and he regard each other for a moment. Each aware of its power over the other. And their collective power over you. His finger moves towards the white button. It pauses. He looks at you, with a hint of a smirk, knowing that he could simply walk away right then. Involuntarily, wordlessly, your face pleads. The look of disgust returns. The finger moves towards the white button. Closer. Closer. Closer. Finally, contact. The machine whooshes, squeals, then settles into a reassuring whirr. It is done.
You mop the sweat from your brow. He walks towards his car. Slips in without as much as glancing at you. The tinted windows roll up. You watch the car as it winds downhill, and finally disappears behind the thicket of palm trees. You sigh. You trudge back towards the CC, inside. And freeze. And slump.
It stares at you, dour, grim-faced, unmoved, unblinking.