Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 13 of 64

Now V/DT was striking back, angling for a government contract in Massachusetts, a fat bit of pork for managing payments to rightsholders whose media was assessed at the MassPike’s tollbooths. Rights-societies were a fabulous opportunity to skim and launder and spindle money in plenty, and Virgin’s massive repertoire combined with Deutsche Telekom’s Teutonic attention to detail was a tough combination to beat. Needless to say, the Route 128-based Tribalists who had the existing contract needed an edge, and would pay handsomely for it.

London nights seemed like a step up from San Francisco mornings to Art—instead of getting up at 4AM to get NYC, he could sleep in and chat them up through the night. The Euro sensibility, with its many nap-breaks, statutory holidays and extended vacations seemed ideally suited to a double agent’s life.

But Art hadn’t counted on the Tribalists’ hands-on approach to his work. They obsessively grepped his daily feed of spreadsheets, whiteboard-output, memos and conversation reports for any of ten thousand hot keywords, querying him for deeper detail on trivial, half-remembered bullshit sessions with the V/DT’s user experience engineers. His comm buzzed and blipped at all hours, and his payoff was dependent on his prompt response. They were running him ragged.

Four hours in the police station gave Art ample opportunity to catch up on the backlog of finicky queries. Since the accident, he’d been distracted and tardy, and had begun to invent his responses, since it all seemed so trivial to him anyway.

Fede had sent him about a thousand nagging notes reminding him to generate a new key and phone with the fingerprint. Christ. Fede had been with McKinsey for most of his adult life, and he was superparanoid about being exposed and disgraced in their ranks. Art’s experience with the other McKinsey people around the office suggested that the notion of any of those overpaid buzzword-slingers sniffing their traffic was about as likely as a lightning strike. Heaving a dramatic sigh for his own benefit, he began the lengthy process of generating enough randomness to seed the key, mashing the keyboard, whispering nonsense syllables, and pointing the comm’s camera lens at arbitrary corners of the police station. After ten minutes of crypto-Tourette’s, the comm announced that he’d been sufficiently random and prompted him for a passphrase. Jesus. What a pain in the ass. He struggled to recall all the words to the theme song from a CBC sitcom he’d watched as a kid, and then his comm went into a full-on churn as it laboriously re-ciphered all of his stored files with the new key, leaving Art to login while he waited.

Trepan: Afternoon!

Colonelonic: Hey, Trepan. How's it going?

Trepan: Foul. I'm stuck at a copshop in London with my thumb up my ass. I got mugged.

Colonelonic: Yikes! You OK?

Ballgravy: Shit!

Trepan: Oh, I'm fine -- just bored. They didn't hurt me. I commed 999 while they were running their game and showed it to them when they got ready to do the deed, so they took off.

##Colonelonic laughs

Ballgravy: Britain==ass. Lon-dong.

Colonelonic: Sweet!

Trepan: Thanks. Now if the cops would only finish the paperwork...

Colonelonic: What are you doing in London, anyway?

Ballgravy: Ass ass ass

Colonelonic: Shut up, Bgravy

Ballgravy: Blow me

Trepan: What's wrong with you, Ballgravy? We're having a grown-up conversation here

Ballgravy: Just don't like Brits.

Trepan: What, all of them?

Ballgravy: Whatever -- all the ones I've met have been tight-ass pricks

##Colonelonic: (private) He's just a troll, ignore him

/private Colonelonic: Watch this

Trepan: How many?

Ballgravy: How many what?

Trepan: Have you met?

Ballgravy: Enough

Trepan: > 100?

Ballgravy: No

Trepan: > 50?

Ballgravy: No

Trepan: > 10?

Ballgravy: Around 10

Trepan: Where are you from?

Ballgravy: Queens

Trepan: Well, you're not going to believe this, but you're the tenth person from Queens I've met -- and you're all morons who pick fights with strangers in chat-rooms

Colonelonic: Queens==ass

Trepan: Ass ass ass

Ballgravy: Fuck you both

##Ballgravy has left channel #EST.chatter

Colonelonic: Nicely done

Colonelonic: He's been boring me stupid for the past hour, following me from channel to channel

Colonelonic: What are you doing in London, anyway?

Trepan: Like I said, waiting for the cops

Colonelonic: But why are you there in the first place

Trepan: /private Colonelonic It's a work thing. For EST.

##Colonelonic: (private) No shit?

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Yeah. Can't really say much more, you understand

##Colonelonic: (private) Cool! Any more jobs? One more day at Merril-Lynch and I'm gonna kill someone

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Sorry, no. There must be some perks though.

##Colonelonic: (private) I can pick fights with strangers in chat rooms! Also, I get to play with Lexus-Nexus all I want

Trepan: /private Colonelonic That's pretty rad, anyway

##Ballgravy has joined channel #EST.chatter

Ballgravy: Homos

Trepan: Oh Christ, are you back again, Queens?

Colonelonic: I've gotta go anyway

Trepan: See ya

##Colonelonic has left channel #EST.chatter

##Trepan has left channel #EST.chatter

Art stood up and blinked. He approached the desk sergeant and asked if he thought it would be much longer. The sergeant fiddled with a comm for a moment, then said, “Oh, we’re quite done with you sir, thank you.” Art repressed a vituperative response, counted three, then thanked the cop.

He commed Linda.

“What’s up?”

“They say we’re free to go. I think they’ve been just keeping us here for shits and giggles. Can you believe that?”

“Whatever—I’ve been having a nice chat with Constable McGivens. Constable, is it all right if we go now?”

There was some distant, English rumbling, then Linda giggled. “All right, then. Thank you so much, officer!

“Art? I’ll meet you at the front doors, all right?”

“That’s great,” Art said. He stretched. His ass was numb, his head throbbed, and he wanted to strangle Linda.

She emerged into the dawn blinking and grinning, and surprised him with a long, full-body hug. “Sorry I was so snappish before,” she said. “I was just scared. The cops say that you were quite brave. Thank you.”

Art’s adrenals dry-fired as he tried to work up a good angry head of steam, then he gave up. “It’s all right.”

“Let’s go get some breakfast, OK?”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)