Friday, August 14, 2009

the sixteenth letter, part 12

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

tammy went down five blocks searching for any sign or edwin or jojo, then circled back around each of the blocks in turn with no result. she pulled up beside the torque man who had been looking on foot, with crispus in tow.
"no luck?". she asked him.
"no. i never expected to catch jojo, but i thought we might find the other one."

"we better take in these two we've got in back. what about him?"
"i say let him go. for now." the torque man stared long and hard at crispus. "we will be watching you, fellow. any contact with conspirators or malefactors and you can expect another visit from us. do you understand?"
"yes, officer."
"you can go."
"thank you, officer."

the torque man got in the van beside tammy and they drove off slowly. crispus headed back to the main boulevard where they had originally stopped him.
'i'm a little surprised," said tammy. "not that i question your judgment."
"i think he knows something. i meant it when i said we'd come back later."
"in a couple of days?"
the torque man smiled. "in a couple of hours. let's deposit these two jokers first."

when he reached the main boulevard crispus only walked one block before turning into an alley. he walked half way down it, and with a quick look back, opened a door on one side. he entered into a storage area with large metal cardboard and metal containers lined up against the walls. the area was neat but not shiny neat, well lit but not bright. he tapped on a square metal container and then slid a panel back on it. edwin was huddled inside.

crispus looked down at him with a neutral gaze.
"is it safe?" edwin asked.
"it's not going to be safe," crispus told him. "but you have to get going,"
"can't i stay here?"
"you can stay here if you want but what good will it do you?" crispus answered levelly. "nobody will come for you, you will be on your own. just as if i never helped you."
"why did you help me?"
"a good question but one i don't have time to answer." crispus took a scrap of paper and a pencil out of his pocket. the piece of paper was an invoice from the supermarket, he wrote something on the blank side and shoved it toward edwin.

"go to this address. tell them bobby sent you."
miserable edwin reluctantly got up and out of the container and took the piece of paper.
"go straight east to get there," crispus told him. "straight east. those police will be back, probably after they dump your two friends, and this is your best chance to avoid them. you know which direction east is, right?"
"yes." edwin looked at the paper. "how far away is this?"
"about ninety-nine, one hundred blocks. and walk, make sure you walk, don't try to get clever."
"one hundred blocks!"

"you can do it. just keep walking."
"i'm not going to run! " edwin looked at the address again. "isn't this in the middle of the albigumsions or some crazy sect?"
"that's the chance you have to take. wait two minutes after i leave, two minutes, then get going."
"who sent me?"
"bobby. bobby. it's not that hard to remember. give me that, i might as well write it down."
"ii don't understand why you're helping me."

old sarge looked up from his crossword puzzle as tammy lee and the torque man brought hongwu and moctezuma up to his desk. a couple of robots were lounging behind the desk.
"we have a couple of special offenders here," tammy told him. "this one," she indicated hongwu, "aggravated disrespect, aggravated disrespect to a police officer and accessory to attempted escape. and this one, attempted escape."
"i'll take care of them," old sarge told them.
"i'll make out a report," tammy said, "how soon do you need it?"
"whenever you get around to it. what's a twelve letter word for despair?"
"hopelessness," said the torque man.

old sarge pointed a finger at him. "you're good."
tammy and the torque man went back to their van and drove out of the garage.
the two robots moved up to take charge of hongwu and moctezuma. "any special treatment for these two, sarge?" one of them asked.
the other stared at hongwu. "aggravated disrespect to a police officer!"
"nah, just put them upstairs with the rest of the flotsam."
"should we watch over them special?"
"if it makes you feel good."

back on the boulevard, walking home to his little apartment, crispus couldn't believe what he had just done. he didn't even believe in the network and had joined only because the beautiful rosa lee, the love of his life, was one of the leaders - at least it seemed to crispus she was a leader.

but his joining hadn't seemed to make her any less cool to him, and he hadn't been pulling his weight in the network. when he had found edwin running away he had immediately seized on the chance to bring somebody, anybody in, but quickly had second, third and hundredth thoughts.
could edwin possibly make it through a hundred blocks and "albigumsion" territory?

what would bobby - whoever bobby was - make of edwin if he got there?
should he have let edwin keep the piece of paper? there was no way he was going to remember the address without it.
crispus felt like hailing the next law enforcement entity he saw and just turning himself in. but he kept putting one foot in front of the other.

he wouldn't be able to sleep when he got home and he wouldn't be able to study.

he decided he would have a cool orange and pineapple drink - maybe both of them he had in his refrigerator - he would have to go out later and buy some more - and watch his favorite show, robin and marian.

the two robots led hongwu and moctezuma up the ramp in garage 533 to the holding area. it was almost empty. they were placed on the far end of a bench away from the door.
"you will have company soon," one of the robots told them. he was a slightly newer model than the other but still an old model.
"good," said moctezuma.

"good?" asked the robot.
"we're friendly guys," moctezuma told him.
'friendly is not good."
"that's what you guys are here for," said hongwu.
the robot stared at hongwu. "aggravated disrespect to a police officer. whatever possessed you?"

"i wouldn't have disrespected you the same way, officer," hongwu told him.
"no? what did you say to the officer?"
"i told her she had a nice shape."
the robot considered this. "and i do not have a nice shape?"
"you have a functional shape."
the robot laughed. "everything that functions has a functional shape. you are very smooth, my friend. you will do well. on jupiter."
with that the two robots left them.

the sixteenth letter, part 13

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