Above Suspicion — Short Story (2nd installment)

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2013 1:46 PM

When Vivienne met Dr. Theron and was told that his organization was starting a summer program to connect top undergraduate and graduate students with global research opportunities, it had been a perfect match.  The focus of Vivienne’s doctoral thesis was about the effect of environmental changes on human behavior.  Specifically, Vivienne’s research over this summer would examine the effect of decreased or increased sexual risk behaviors after dissemination of certain AIDs prevention tactics.

“Hey Davies,” a distinctively masculine voice called out, “are you napping in the sun like a cat?”
Vivienne reluctantly removed the cool towel and looked up at a recent source of annoyance for her: Kevin Chen.  Kevin was one of her fellow humanitarian workers/researchers.  In total the group was very small and consisted of ten graduate students, who each were studying different areas.  Kevin wasn’t exactly a pretty boy heartthrob.  He was taller than most people would expect someone with the last name Chen to be—rightly or wrongly so.  He stood at about 6’0” and had dark brown eyes and hair.
The only thing about his appearance that seemed to be out of place was a rather long jagged scar on the left side of his face.  The scar extended down from his hairline to just halfway above his cheek.  The scar wasn’t puckered, but it was noticeable when the sunlight reflected off his face just so.  Vivienne figured that it was probably the result of some childhood boyish mischief.  Despite this last physical characteristic, he had the total affectation of a nerd.  She could imagine him in high school scurrying down the hallways, wearing suspenders and pocket protectors.
Not that she hadn’t been a nerd herself back in high school.  In fact she’d been both a nerd and more than a little overweight.  In addition, her seemingly permanent “metal mouth”—worn to address a colossal overbite—had been a kiss of death to ever having a high school sweetheart at the small rural town in which she grew up.  Now she had managed to lose most of the weight, the braces, and had grown into an urban chic sense of style.
Unfortunately, unlike her, Kevin had not grown into a sense of style.  He had to be at least twenty-eight years old, and today he was wearing a puke green plaid shirt, khaki pants which were plagued with an assorted array of stains and dark rimmed eyeglasses.  As they say, to each their own.  However, she could still imagine that she and Kevin Chen were kindred spirits of sorts.

Kevin was nice enough, she supposed.  He was very friendly and quickly started up a conversation with anyone … usually involving some unintelligible topic in theoretical physics, which she couldn’t even pretend to follow or contribute to.  Despite his obvious brilliance, he still happened to annoy her at every turn.  She had known him for roughly three weeks, and he had always managed to say or do something that worked on her very last nerve.  For instance, last Thursday while she had been interviewing several schoolchildren, whose parents had given permission for them to participate in her research study, he had spilled a whole gallon-sized container of water on a dozen of her completed survey sheets.  Even though he had apologized profusely, and seemed genuinely chagrined, it didn’t change the fact that she still had to expend countless hours to redo twelve lengthy interviews and character assessments.
“Hey Kevin,” she replied while arching her head back to look up at him.  “No I wasn’t napping, just resting my eyes.”  He stood directly in front of her chair, and his tall stature cast a long shadow behind him.
“Oh, well you know, I just wanted to apologize for last week.  I’m such a klutz sometimes.  I’m surprised that you didn’t murder me.  I hope that it didn’t take you too long to redo your reports.”
To be continued …
Above Suspicion © 2013 Loren Mathis
 All Rights Reserved.
Loren Mathis

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