Monday, April 11, 2005

I identify him easily enough from descriptions at the office. I sit down across from him, smiling. Soon we are chatting. I am good at chatting. Eventually we move over into the personal. His life. His wife. Lots of folks, you think they are chary of their privacy, but there is hardly anything these days they would sooner dispense with. Everybody is obsessed in these screaming hysterical publicity times with ADD - no one has enough of it.

We talk, and I take mental notes. I retreat to my berth, and my partner is steaming. What's taking so long?

I tell her, I must be sure. She rolls her eyes. I have to be saddled with a conscientious hit man. I go back to my subject.

Over the miles rocking over the countryside we talk. Yes, yes, he has had much trouble but he expects it to go away soon. He has made an unfortunate match and she will leave him and he will accomodate that. Yes, it can be hard, but what is one to do?

I can't do it, I say back at our berth. I can't.

When I go back for one last talk with my subject, he isn't alone. He is sitting with a most voluptuous blonde. I am close before I realize they are together. Her hand is on his knee and they are laughing.

I catch the eye of my partner, then stand smiling beside the happy couple. When my partner has her camera ready, I reach an envelope to my subject, across the heaving bosom of his friend, wish them a good day, and quickly exit the car just behind my partner.

It's really a small job, she said. You are paid to do a small job. And here we are clear over on the other side of Flatlandia and must travel miles on these bloody rails again today, all because you are a moralist. I'm saddled with a plagued priest.

The subject is still smiling as he opens the envelope, expecting great tidings perhaps from his new friend.

He unfolds - a subpoena.

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