Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 52 of 64

“I’m going to have to go, I think,” she said.


“To California. That was my fucking ex again. I need to go and sort things out with him.”

“Your ex knows who I am?”

She looked blank.

“You told him you were at my grandmother’s place. He knows who I am?”

“Yeah,” she said. “He does. I told him, so he’d get off my back.”

“And you have to go to California?”

“Today. I have to go to California today.”

“Jesus, today? We just got here!”

“Look, you’ve got lots of catching up to do with your Gran and your friends here. You won’t even miss me. I’ll go for a couple days and then come back.”

“If you gotta go,” he said.

“I gotta go.”

He explained things as best as he could to Gran while Linda repacked her backpack, and then saw Linda off in a taxi. She was already savaging her comm, booking a ticket to LA. He called Fede from the condo’s driveway.

“Hey, Art! How’s Toronto?”

“How’d you know I was in Toronto?” Art said, but he knew, he knew then, though he couldn’t explain how he knew, he knew that Linda and Fede had been talking. He knew that Linda had been talking to Fede that morning, and not her fucking ex (God, he was thinking of the poor schmuck that way already, “fucking ex”). Christ, it was five in the morning on the West Coast. It couldn’t be the ex. He just knew.

“Lucky guess,” Fede said breezily. “How is it?”

“Oh, terrific. Great to see the old hometown and all. How’re things with Perceptronics? When should I plan on being back in Boston?”

“Oh, it’s going all right, but slow. Hurry up and wait, right? Look, don’t worry about it, just relax there, I’ll call you when the deal’s ready and you’ll go back to Boston and we’ll sort it out and it’ll all be fantastic and don’t worry, really, all right?”

“Fine, Fede.” Art wasn’t listening any more. Fede had gone into bullshit mode, and all Art was thinking of was why Linda would talk to Fede and then book a flight to LA. “How’re things in London?” he said automatically.

“Fine, fine,” Fede said, just as automatically. “Not the same without you, of course.”

“Of course,” Art said. “Well, bye then.”

“Bye,” Fede said.

Art felt an unsuspected cunning stirring within him. He commed Linda, in her cab. “Hey, dude,” he said.

“Hey,” she said, sounding harassed.

“Look, I just spoke to my Gran and she’s really upset you had to go. She really liked you.”

“Well, I liked her, too.”

“Great. Here’s the thing,” he said, and drew in a breath. “Gran made you a sweater. She made me one, too. She’s a knitter. She wanted me to send it along after you. It looks pretty good. So, if you give me your ex’s address, I can FedEx it there and you can get it.”

There was a lengthy pause. “Why don’t I just pick it up when I see you again?” Linda said, finally.

Gotcha, Art thought. “Well, I know that’d be the sensible thing, but my Gran, I dunno, she really wants me to do this. It’d make her so happy.”

“I dunno—my ex might cut it up or something.”

“Oh, I’m sure he wouldn’t do that. I could just schedule the delivery for after you arrive, that way you can sign for it. What do you think?”

“I really don’t think—”

“Come on, Linda, I know it’s nuts, but it’s my Gran. She really likes you.”

Linda sighed. “Let me comm you the address, OK?”

“Thanks, Linda,” Art said, watching the address in Van Nuys scroll onto his comm’s screen. “Thanks a bunch. Have a great trip—don’t let your ex get you down.”

Now, armed with Linda’s fucking ex’s name, Art went to work. He told Gran he had some administrative chores to catch up on for an hour or two, promised to have supper with her and Father Ferlenghetti that night, and went out onto the condo’s sundeck with his keyboard velcroed to his thigh.

Trepan: Hey!

Colonelonic: Trepan! Hey, what's up? I hear you're back on the East Coast!

Trepan: True enough. Back in Toronto. How's things with you?

Colonelonic: Same as ever. Trying to quit the dayjob.

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Are you still working at Merril-Lynch?

## Colonelonic (private): Yeah.

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Still got access to Lexus-Nexus?

## Colonelonic (private): Sure -- but they're on our asses about abusing the accounts. Every search is logged and has to be accounted for.

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Can you get me background on just one guy?

## Colonelonic (private): Who is he? Why?

Trepan: /private Colonelonic It's stupid. I think that someone I know is about to go into biz with him, and I don't trust him. I'm probably just being paranoid, but...

## Colonelonic (private): I don't know, man. Is it really important?

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Oh, crap, look. It's my girlfriend. I think she's screwing this guy. I just wanna get an idea of who he is, what he does, you know.

## Colonelonic (private): Heh. That sucks. OK -- check back in a couple hours. There's a guy across the hall who never logs out of his box when he goes to lunch. I'll sneak in there and look it up on his machine.

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Kick ass. Thanks.

##Transferring addressbook entry "Toby Ginsburg" to Colonelonic. Receipt confirmed.

Trepan: /private Colonelonic Thanks again!

## Colonelonic (private): Check in with me later -- I'll have something for you then.

Art logged off, flushed with triumph. Whatever Fede and Linda were cooking up, he’d get wise to it and then he’d nail ’em. What the hell was it, though?

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