BOOK ONE – “A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION”
(Tuesday, January 2, 2035)
CHAPTER EIGHT – GOT a LOTTA LIVIN' to DO
When the digital clock reaches 1550 hours, Norlin puts aside his files and begins writing up his Daily Report. C-Squad is preternaturally quiet... Frankie taped and gagged, the pissboys gone, the lonely and lovelorn lunatics otherwise occupied.
He pauses... "Homes," he queries, "...as our resident Jatesologist, what can you tell me about the Sun Police?"
"The Solar Commission, sir, is a public-private enterprise which regulates and maintains the rhythm and security of the Solar Furnace, its reference societies, fuel supply and personnel in strict adherence to stipulations left by Mister Jates in his ultimate will and testament. The term Sun Police, sir, is considered derogatory..."
"Yeah," Norlin persists, "...know any of 'em?"
"There are Commission personnel in my Lodge, Master Dane Varrick exempts them from obligatory disclosure of their work," Homer explains, "as you understand, it's confidential."
Norlin thinks, the name rattles round his brain, falls into a slot. "Prefab housing dook, sponsors Parchette? Yeah. Yeah! Any of 'em ever heard of a Henry Hat? Ask around..."
"I do not believe that Master Dane..."
"It's Trouble Factory business, Homes," Norlin cuts him off. "An order! Eric... you said we've had prior dealings with Percival Manfred Said. I want his microtransmitter peregrinations mapped and tapped back to - ah k'ball, say the first of the year..."
"PMS!" Eric snickers. "His initials stand for PMS, your dog-man..."
Homer Sack frowns, biting his lip, stroking one long, droopy ear. Eric Ice leans back in his chair, placing both feet on the desk.
"One day, one whole k’ballin’ day! Sure, as a perp, an alleged perp," he backs off with a little wave, "not a complainant. Dogs make his neighbors squirrely. Lotta dogs in the Jatesosphere today, right Homes? Might call it a dog day afternoon." Homer and Norlin stare back, puzzled, at this. "Old movie," Eric lays it out for them, "...sometimes they show it on the premium channel, as if you dooks'd know. Al kebbin' five-thou-a-milliliter Pacino! Bone up on your media history, if you know what I mean." He dry-spits in the general direction of Drawer 21. "Time to hit the deekashops... pick up a donna. Wanna come, Homes? Donnas dig astronauts..."
"History is bunk, Henry Ford teaches us. And bunk is what Disorgs excrete, in bulk, to counterfeit and swindle the gullible. While harmony finds its common denominator between the unpurified female and impure male elements - the distinction being deliberate, yes. Jates have mercy on your soul," Homer Sack replies...
"My fex portfolio's righteous," Eric spits, glancing towards Norlin as if to crack another wisecrack, but thinking the better of it. Instead, he sidles up to taped-up Frank Desperate and, smirking, rips the gray duct tape from his mouth...
"Oww! Get Compliance on your ass!" the bad-glass criminal threatens. "The Law Firm!"
"Frankie! Frankie! Doin' you a big favor, lettin’ you breathe tonight - don't lemme down." And Eric tweaks his ear. Almost affectionately. "Don't keb with the cleaning crew, they're just level-six clones. Doops and mutes. Ain't got the big, big brains, way you and me do..."
He smirks again, towards Homer, this time... who looks away, ashamed. “Day and a half!” Norlin fires back, typing his name and password on C-Squad's Daily Report (with brief supplements on his visit to Terushka and the debriefing of Automatic Slim), and crams a physical printout of the DR into the vacuum tube to be whooshed upstairs.
Another day at the Trouble Factory.
1559 hours, 1600...