Being back on the job seemed perfectly normal. You'd think I had never even been away. The place didn't skip a beat. I felt happy to see my desk. Glad to hear from my terminal. Joyful that justice is swift in this town.
"Good morning, Mr. Cooper."
"Good morning. "
"How are we feeling?"
"We are feeling fine. We truly are. What's new?"
"Well, there's are a great number of messages accumulating in your voxbox."
"What do they say?"
"Will has left four requests all with a redundancy rate of 87.5 percent. Should I synthesize?"
"Yeah. Let's hear what the old man wants."
"Lane, I need a progress report on your speech. We're on for tomorrow, and I haven't even seen a sample. Get back to me as soon as possible. I'm counting on you to WIN-WIN this right out of the box for us. Think outside the box, Lane, and watch your information!"
"When did he send this?"
"This synthesized message is a composite of actual vox recordings starting three days ago and finishing with one last transmission this morning at eight o'clock."
"Okay. TRANSMIT: Sorry for the delay, been out of office for three days. Speech progressing on schedule. I will be there for you tonight. OVER."
"Who else has been transmitting?"
"There are six voxes from females regarding a wide variety of recreational activities."
"Just forward them to my home vox. Is that it?"
"There's a message from Sandoor."
"Get him on for me." This is one man I need to talk to fast. "Sandoor?"
"Hey what's up, Lane."
"Sandoor great to see you."
"You alright, pal? Heard about your little bed n' breakfast thing."
"Yeah, I had trouble deciding between the Eggs Florentine and the French Toast."
"You gotta be careful who you spend your spare time with. Trochanter and his band of counter cultural mind terrorists can screw with your head. Big time."
"My head knows that now, believe me."
"Hey you know what I did to my place?"
"Your place in Jamaica?"
"What other place is there?"
"Well I don't know, your place here. In Town square."
"That's just the house. Not the same as the place."
"The place, of course. The space in the Caribbean. "
"None but the."
"Of course. So what did you do?"
"Oh, you know what I was telling you about smoke, right? How smoke is the direct result of the Holy Spirit, the last sacrament of humankind and all?"
"Oh, right. Your theory about why people smoke".
"Inhaling the Holy Spirit. The last real ritual."
"Merging with the ethereal and all that."
"Right, you remember. Well, I built a huge fireplace right in the middle of the living room."
"In the middle?"
"Yeah, with six sides. Six holes in it so people from six sides can all put wood in it."
"I don't know why the fuck six. It just sounded even."
"It doesn't just sound even, it is even. Six is an even number, dickhead."
"I fuckin' know...you shit. So I put six sides on the thing so that six people can all simultaneously and get this part, simultaneously place the raw fuel in the heart of the fireplace itself."
"If this is some kind of numerology shit, I don't even wanna hear it."
"No, pay attention. It's not mumbo jumbo. It's absolute balance that's all it is. Absolute balance."
"If you say so, I'm not gonna contradict you."
"You're not gonna contradict me cause you ain't got no reason. It's plain and clear. A balanced orderly lifestyle."
"I'm glad to hear you're staying grounded to mother earth, Mr. Dick."
"Infidel. Anyway, listen up. My people did some poking around for me."
"We did a little digging around Trochanter's place. Found some pretty incriminating shit."
"Some kind a box. I think it's that public speaking gizmo you were telling me about."
"You found it? The CDR4000?"
"This is what the fuss was all about?"
"That's what I've been dying to find. I need that thing to get me through the speech tonight. I can't believe you found it."
"Well damn, looks like your speech is gonna work out after all."
"Thank God you found it. Where was it?"
"In the dude's living room."
"You got in his living room?"
"My people. My people get shit done. You know that."
"So what was he doing with it?"
"How the fuck should I know? I'm just trying to watch your back."
"I was there trying to meet the guy. I need the damn thing. I can't believe you found it. Well you done fucking great. I'll tell you that much."
"Well, you know how we do it. I'll send it downstairs to your secretary."
"Great. Tonight you'll see the CDR4000 in action with yours truly at the controls."
"I'll be there."
Go to chapter 17