Chapter 11
I got in the elevator as fast as I could. Francine Stutticks. I remember her well. She had shoulder length brown hair that reminded me of the frosting on a German Chocolate cake. I'd like to spread that frosting all over my pillows. But enough of that, I've got to concentrate. What am I gonna do, just walk up and ask if she belongs to an underground organization? Been to any all night psychedelic dance parties? Know a silver haired old man who likes to speak to millions of people at once? The 233rd floor was already here. Luckily I have access rights to any floor in the building below mine. It's only when you wanna visit someone upstairs that you need to get a passcard. When the doors opened I was hit with a wave of heat. Someone here likes tropical beaches. I wasn't prepared to walk across a sandy beach to get to the receptionist's desk. There were real waves to my right. Three couples were standing up to their wastes in water. My peacock synthetics felt too hot under this sun. It took three whole seconds for them to adjust my body temperature. The receptionist was wearing a straw hat, with round black sunglasses. She immediately handed me a Mai Tai--- without the Tai I quickly surmised after one sip. I wondered what her hair looked like under that hat.

"I'm Cooper. Lane Cooper from the 247th. I'm here to see Francine Stutticks."

"Does she have an appointment with you, sir?"

"I'm afraid I didn't have a chance to voice her one. Can you tell her I was working with her on the Financial Fitness Finder campaign? I hope she'll remember me."

"The receptionist glanced me over like a lotto ticket."

"She's at the far end of the beach. Do you see the red buoy? She pointed to a bobbing object about an eighth of a mile out to sea." Bing! I was in with her. I knew she'd cooperate.

"Yeah I see it. Do I need a raft to get to her?"

"You may take the shuttlevators if you prefer." I preferred. I never was much of a beachcomber. You never know what someone has planted in the sand. The elevator whisked me down, over, and up to an oasis of monitors encased in seashells. She was there all right. Working like Captain Nemo.

"Hi. I'm Lane Cooper. The Financial Fitness Finder project?"

"Oh, right. You're from upstairs."

"The 247th, but we're not as bad as they say. I remember you. You gave a great speech."

She paused to do a sincerity check on my eyeballs.

"Thanks. You mean you actually notice it when humans give speeches?"

"How could I not notice? It was a great speech. A marvelous speech. You really stood out."

"Well, thank you. How can I...?"

"Help me? You're wondering why I'm here. Actually, I'm visiting you because of public speaking."

"Public speaking?"

"I have to give a speech. I have to give a major, major presentation to millions of people, and I....I...just don't know..."

"Where to turn?"

"Which direction to take. There's no guidance around here for that sort of thing. We've all forgotten our roots, so dependent on electronic transmissions for everything. I don't know the first place to start."

"The company doesn't encourage public speaking. Sharing information---you know. Can't you have someone do it for you?"

"No! No, you see that's the problem. Will wants me to do it. He says I must do it."

"Will himself has asked you to give the speech?"

"The man of the house, Will. Our beloved ruler and all that. Bless his soul I'd like to ring his greasy little neck, but not today because my life is hanging in the balance. I've got to give that speech or I'm a ... Let's put it this way, if I don't do this speech, I'll be promoted down to data entry hell in the basement. I need to learn. And I thought you just might be the one to help me out. Can you teach me?"

"You want me to show you how to give a speech?"

"I'm begging you quite frankly."

"Well, that's quite a compliment coming from the 247th floor."

"I recognize a true professional when I see one."

"I might just know someone who can help you." She was sizing me up big time. Can she trust me? Can she trust this face?

"Anything you can do. If you know anybody at all, I'm anxious to learn."

"Okay. Do you know Dog Town?" BING, BING, BING!

"Dog Town? Course I know dog town."

"The corner of 32nd and Harris. Can you be there at 6:30 tonight?"

"Yeah, definitely."

"I'll have someone meet you."

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