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Protected Sex

by Edd Vick

The knock comes just after sundown. Melly gets up from the table and opens the door, laughing about it maybe being Flora back from her date early.

Instead, the taller of the pair flashes a badge. "Agent Blakely, SIAA," he says. "Amelia Ranning?" When she nods he pushes past her and sees me. "And John." He consults a photo on cheap printer paper. "He's the one."

The bottom drops out of my stomach. The chicken, the potatoes, the broccoli in front of me lose all their allure in a second. I stand. "What's this all about?"

"When it's us, sport," he says. "There's only one thing it's about." He looks me up and down with too much familiarity. "This you?" He holds out the photo.

I glance. He's got me, all right. I nod.

"John?" It's Melly. "John, what are they saying?"

"Copyright infringement," I say. Congress long ago criminalized copyright piracy. "They're with the Sexual Industry Association of America." Don't eff with the Mouse, as someone said back in the 20th.

"Sex?" she says. Melly and I only do it in the dark; it's safer that way in this age of ubiquitous cams.

"Not just sex," says Agent Blakely. "Protected sex." He laughs at his joke; he means 'protected' as in 'copyrighted'. Most sexual positions are public domain through long use; through prior display in various manuals and movies. It takes imagination or luck -- bad luck, in my case -- to get on these guys' radar. He whaps the photo with a couple of fingers. "Caught on webcam and posted to MyFace at fourteen-oh-two hours day before yesterday."

Melly frowns, looking from me to the agents. "Fourteen? That's, what, during the day?" She'll have it figured out soon.

"You've got me," I say to the agents. "Let's hit the road."

Blakely moves to the window by the front door, twitches aside the curtain. "It won't be long now," he says.

Melly and I hear it at the same time. The distinctive sound of Flora's motorcycle. Her date's over.

Blakely's partner moves a little to place himself between Melly and me. Blakely opens the door for Flora. He glances down at the photo, then back up to her.

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