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First Story

Fixing Hal

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright June 2016


Alice and Jane are having a lunch break at Starbucks. Alice has something important on her mind and she is opening up to Jane about it.

Alice says, "I'm thinking too much about Hal. The guy is a loser, but I really like him."

Jane says, "Pfft! Spend more time with your dating app."

"Yeah... but I like Hal."

"That's what everyone says... until they find the better guy."

"I know that but..." Alice gets a bright idea, "Hmm... What I want is for Hal to fix himself. Then I can screw more researching... on this topic, anyway."

Inwardly Jane laughs a little, then says, "A noble aspiration, indeed. But what are you going to do for Hal that he can't do for himself? This sounds crazy, Alice."

Alice grins, "Yeah. It sounds crazy. But then again, I'm not the first woman who has wanted to fix a man." grins even wider, "These are modern times... with modern tools... I have to think about this some more."

That said, Alice and Jane both go into zombie mode for a couple of minutes on their phones then come out and talk about other topics while they continue on with their Saturday shopping.


That evening, while cuddling up for bed, Alice looks through her dating app some more. Nothing she sees excites her.

She puts down the phone, turns out the light, pulls up the covers, and shuts her eyes.

Before she starts counting sheep she mutters to herself, "What can I do to inspire Hal? I really like him so, but these days his resume is such a bag of crap."

Hal had been trying, trying hard as best she could tell, but fame and fortune, and a steady meaningful job, were eluding him. He'd been doing some telemarketing work in a boiler room. She ran into him again when he was holding down the fort at a day care center that a new friend, Maggie, was running. Maggie raved about how well the kids liked him, and Alice had had a chance to see him in action for about half an hour. He'd been kind, gentle, and really kept the kids interested in their activities. His night job had been working with a high tech incubator startup, but they hadn't got their act together -- turned into one of those many "if at first you don't succeed" efforts. He gave up on both, and nowadays he is selling farm equipment at a John Deere dealership until his next "try, try again" opportunity shows up. He is holding his own, he isn't mooching, but he is no rising rock star at this point.

"How to fix him?" No quick answer comes to mind, so she rolls over and heads for sweet dreamland.


The next morning she goes to work.

She works way west of Brigham City as an engineer developing rocket fuels and their liners. Yeah, a for-real rocket scientist! It is an impressive title, but because rocket fuel is so dangerous the work procedures have to be both safe and carefully prescribed. She hates that part. She's in her mid-twenties and really curious about the world. Two weeks into the job she realized it was sooo boring, and going to stay that way. But it pays well and she is only two years out of college with an engineering degree so it is an impressive resume builder too.

But God! It is boring!

To keep her sanity, in between rocket fuel assignments she works on building her app programming skills. And she flies. About once a week she rents a single engine plane from the flying club she joined, flies it over the Great Salt Lake, and lands at the private VIP airstrip located at the facility. From there she hitches a ride to her building. She is building air time, a commercial pilot's licence comes to her when she tallies up 300 hours of air time. After that, she can get paid for seeing the world... well, it becomes a possibility.

But in the meantime, this rocket work is still sooo boring! She wouldn't stay long. One day soon she would give up this deadly dull world-shaking job for something interesting, high tech, and world shaking -- yes, she likes the idea of shaking up the world. If not world-shaking, then soaring above the clouds could also be real satisfying -- there are lots of possibilities.

And with a new job she would move, so she could be closer to Hal... if she decided to stay interested in him. If... if... IF! Her eyes widen... she has come up with a possible solution... maybe.

On break she quickly texts Hal, "Meet tonight? Usual?"

She is back at work, pouring rocket fuel into a six inch long test mold, and checking the steps off on her checklist, when the reply comes through, "See you there."

As she finishes the items on her list her checker-partner checks her work, then checks off the same items on his checklist -- her's is only the second most boring job.


She and Hal meet at the Golden China, a Chinese buffet restaurant. Hal is a handsome and athletic lad in his mid-twenties, like Alice.

He and Alice met sophomore year in college at an MIT dorm mixer. They hit it off well at the party, and then even better on their first date. For the rest of the year they explored sensuality and talked about everything in the world, it seemed. She was so into him that for her birthday party celebration at the dorm two weeks before classes ended she dressed in a loose-fitting peasant blouse -- sans bra. He showed up with the cake; immediately gave her a big hug; took her into her room; and as they headed in announced, "I'm going to say 'Hello' to my girl." She loved the look of surprise on his face when he started running his hands up and down under her blouse. Yes, they were deep into Netflix and chilling, but she was still a virgin.

They broke up because Hal transferred. He went from a Boston Community College to UC Berkeley in California. It was hard, but they hadn't done anything foolish so the memories for both were wonderful, intense and lasting.

Then, surprise, six months ago they discovered they both were living in Salt Lake City. Two weeks later they started cuddling up again, and both were getting warm and fuzzy again. So warm and fuzzy Alice was having these feelings... but the more she learned about what Hal was up to the more distressed she got. That's why she had been confiding in Jane earlier in the week, and why she has started this discussion with Hal now.

Both have full plates at their table when she says, "Hal, I like you a lot. I like you so much that I would like to get into a committed relation. But I'm not going to do it unless you shape up and get your act together."

Hal takes a moment to answer, "Well... what would you like me to do?" he asks in an easy-going way, he doesn't get defensive at this.

Alice thinks one last time about the fix she has come up with, then answers, "I want you to become... a stay-at-home Dad, my stay-at-home Dad." She stares at him, she is being really serious.

Hal looks back at her, surprised at her intensity. He looks at her for a full half minute. Then he gets up, comes over to her side of the table, pulls her to standing, and gives her a big kiss, right in front of everybody.

"I think I can do that. And I'm sure willing to give it a try... a real serious try."

Alice kisses him back, and they walk out the door hand-in-hand.



--The End--

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