Zephyr

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  • #20636

    Herr D
    Participant

    Chapter 8: Editing Views

    Seventeen new pages proofed, eight images cropped and logo added, teleprompter fed, and final pages sent to printer–Eight minutes to two. Yah. This IS closer than I like. David practically ran to the printer as it stopped. He separated it by heading, handed Tia and Shelley their stacks, and darted over to Old Mike, who was muscling Camera One an inch or so to the left at a time and checking the view. Their quick conversation was lost in the noise of Nathan and Stuart doing sound check and Jennifer’s wrist canes clicking as she headed to the bathroom. Looks like panic, and he isn’t bothering me. I may have to push the envelope more often. Jennifer caned up to the sink. She smiled at the trashed counter with it’s splotches of makeup and powder. An eyebrow pencil and a lipstick, forgotten, lay under some sodden, crumpled paper towels. The bathroom sink of a pretty woman. It’s like that book, ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray.’ A wreck made to preserve beauty.
    A loud crashing noise echoed through the building. Shouts, curses, and the scrambling of men followed. Speaking of wrecks . . .
    The bathroom door swung open, revealing a worried-looking Tia. Tia flounced in, followed by Shelley. Jennifer gave them a questioning glance.
    “They broke Cam One again!” blurted out Tia. Ohhhh.
    Shelley grinned. “Two minute wait. Three extra commercial spots. They’ll have Cams Two and Three moved by then.”
    “Can Po have the adaptors swapped by then too?”
    Shelley and Tia froze. “Go!” said Shelley. Tia ran out. Shelley turned to Jennifer. “Thank you.”
    Jennifer shrugged. “I just figure it’ll keep the wrong people from getting in trouble. Like you and your boyfriend helped me earlier.”
    Shelley had bent toward the mirror, looking for faults in her makeup. “Who?”
    “Young Mike.”
    Shelley gave Jennifer a funny look. “I wouldn’t do that to him.”
    “What?”
    Shelley smiled, “If I wanted him, I’d have to get him another job first. David wants the world thinking Tia and I are dating HIM. If I dated someone here at work, David would fire them for me messing up the image.” Shelley looked Jennifer up and down. “Besides,” she whispered, “I’m not into men.”
    Um! Um! Oops. Jennifer felt her cheeks warming up quickly. “I didn’t know.”
    The bathroom door burst open. Tia came in, anxiously looking at the mirror. “Know what?”
    “I’m forty,” said Shelley, winking at Jennifer.
    “You are NOT!” Tia blurted out. “You don’t even look THIRTY!”
    Shelley smiled warmly, “Why, THANK you, Tia! Of course I won’t look this good for much longer.”
    Tia blinked at Shelley while she pulled out a foundation bottle and applied a speck to her already perfect base coat. “Why’s that?”
    “I started using foundation a few years ago.”
    Tia froze, staring at the bottle of foundation in her hand. “What?!” she squeaked.
    Shelley and Jennifer started laughing. Tia snatched up a paper towel and threw it at them, easily deflected by Shelley. Tia froze again. “I forgot.”
    “What?”
    “How do you say that word mezz- mezz- ?”
    Jennifer frowned, “You mean mezzanine?”
    “Yes! Thank you.”
    Jennifer shook her head. Tia left the bathroom at a full run.
    Shelley looked up at Jennifer in the mirror. “He’s not into me either.”
    “What? Who?”
    “Young Mike. He does like working with me, and I think I’ve caught him checking me out. He’s not into me though.”
    Jennifer blinked. “Why not?”
    Shelley laughed. “Men looking doesn’t mean anything. Do you think men fall in love with magazines? Or commercials? David used to look at me before he got me in the situation I’m in. Young Mike says he doesn’t like makeup much.”
    Uhh? “Situation?”
    Shelley smiled. “Nothing like that. David knew not to touch me. He hired me straight from a little station in West Virginia. Not a studio like this one, either. A whole station. But he hired me based on a piece I did on sexual harassment. He’s never going to act up in front of me.”
    “What situation, then?”
    Shelley grimaced. “He lied to people, saying I got the job BECAUSE I was sleeping with him. He wound up bragging to the wrong people about it and driving a little business away from us. You know that station in Delaware that stopped ordering our feeds?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Well it’s owned by a woman. She got wind of that and called me, said she was trashing my application to work for her. She said she’d heard the ‘rumors,’ but I know who started them.”
    “#%^&*”
    “Yeah, well; he’ll get his someday.” Shelley walked out.
    Even considering the wreck of Camera One and the late start, the filming went well. Post-production went surprisingly smoothly, Jennifer finishing up a few minutes before four o’clock. She toyed with her simplified logo transparency as the feeds were bought and sent, Nathan and Stuart being their usually goofy, over-eager selves. Really, guys. It’s good product. You probably push down what they’re willing to pay us. She was beginning to close the file when David trotted out of the office with a map, all smiles. He pushed ‘page.’ “Young Mike, please report to the editing desks.”
    By the time Young Mike arrived, David had borrowed a large straightedge and started drawing lines on the map. He looked up. “So, how did your field day with Shelley and Jennifer go?”
    Young Mike looked at him oddly. “Shelley seemed to think we got some good leads and some good footage.”
    “And your bit on Zephyr?”
    “Not so much about Zephyr. Our leads wound up being in other directions.”
    “You want to make it here as an assistant tech, or a cameraman? Maybe go full-time? Wait for tomorrow. Tia and I are going to get this story moving. We’re going to try to interview the thing. And I’M going to do the camera work. You’ll see how I want it done. I need you to stop at the hardware store before six and get the list Po is making.”
    “On it.” Young Mike left.
    So, Davy-boy CAN be led around by the nose by a guy, as long as he thinks he’s impressing him. He’s NEVER slept with Shelley. Probably never with Tia either if he’s that cagey about harassment issues. Shelley’s into women, and I may be the only one here who knows. Young Mike is like a closet stud or something, pretty clever, and may be naive enough to not know David would probably like him to take my job. Tia can actually run without messing up her hair . . . how? I can’t even cane at HALF-SPEED without messing up mine! –Wait. David is acting like he’s some kind of investigative reporter. Interview Zephyr? What’s he doing with that map?

    #21420

    Herr D
    Participant

    Apr** I have actually edited in the end of Chapter 8. Ch. 9 coming soon. Having trouble with the remaining promised pic above.
    Mar**I must apologize to those who are enjoying this. I have been more than swamped — Dismal-swamped? — and will be likely April before I get back to finishing Zephyr.

    #22209

    Herr D
    Participant

    Chapter 9: Potential

    Jennifer checked the batteries in the digital camera. “David?”
    David looked startled. “Yes?”
    She held up the camera. “Is that map glossy?”
    He blinked. He looked down. “Yes.”
    “You’re not going to need me to get a picture of it, are you?”
    He blinked again. “That’s what I’m preparing it for. Why?”
    Oh, you forgot. “Camera one is the only one we have that can allow for the sheen. Unless you got another digital or bought some of that plastic I asked for.”
    He gritted his teeth. He looked down at the map, turning slightly red.
    “Of course, if you explain what you’re doing, I could make it on PowerPoint. Today’s post-production is done.”
    He blinked again. “Like a slide show?”
    “I could make it a slide show. In stages, even. Like that piece on economists last month?”
    He smiled faintly. Yeah, I know you loved making Ph. D.’s sound stupid.
    “Okay,” he said, “That would be a nice touch for this.” He fished a wad of paper out of his pocket. “Unbunch that for me. I should double-check it anyway.” He handed it to her.
    Eee-ew. Sweaty. What IS this? Is that Tia’s writing? She unfolded and flattened it beside her laptop.
    David pulled a mini-cassette recorder out of it’s case, checked the tape, set it down, turned it on, and began speaking in his anchor voice.

    [Continued Next Block]
    #24198

    Herr D
    Participant

    [continuation of Chapter 9]

    “It occurred to me that this phenomenon must have a pattern. I consulted with several colleagues, and one of them realized that locations had been ignored. Charting them on a map with her, I saw her realize something. Our very own weathergirl, Tia, realized that if you chart the locations and put them in order, you have a diagram of a storm.” He clicked off.
    TIA figured this out? “Huh!”
    He handed her the recorder. “How long is that?”
    Jennifer didn’t even rewind it. “Ten to fifteen seconds.”
    His eyebrows went up. “You’re not going to check it?”
    “I can.” Jennifer turned her watch toward him, rewound it, and pressed ‘play.’ She clicked off on the beat after ‘storm’ with perfect timing. His eyebrows went up again. “Thirteen and a half? Fourteen?” she said.
    “Yeah.” Gee, Davy-boy, don’t look so disappointed. You’re supposed to LIKE your employees doing well.
    “So, you want the map–don’t have to photograph it, we already have it digitally. Add the points in order so it takes fifteen seconds to form the whole. One of the weather arrows to connect the dots? That’s easy enough.”
    “I want it to take closer to thirty seconds. That’s a lot of points to put in.”
    “Oh. Well, have Tia say more about the shape of the storm. What it might mean. People like her voice. I can slow it down all at once if I do it equally. Just tell me how much time.” I find her voice irritating, but that’s just me.

    [Continued Next Block]
    #25019

    Herr D
    Participant

    [continuation of Chapter 9]

    David called Tia and kibitzed a bit, then taped her explanation. He requested two copies of the map slide show, one for forty-two seconds and one for forty-nine. Jennifer programmed the time delays in first. She called up the map and generated a master digital copy for alteration and began plotting and saving. This really IS a lot of points. She looked up to see Mr. Crowe starting to leave and checked her watch. Early. Not even four-thirty. He waved. She returned it. At four-forty-five she leaned back in her chair and rubbed her neck. Half done? This is taking FOREVER. Someone ought to lay out Davy-boy and smash Tia’s perfect little nose in. It’s a SPIRAL. What’s so impressive that she moves in a spiral around the neighborhood? She turned on the terminal next to her as Stuart left. Here I am, the last worker bee! She plotted the last point as she heard running footsteps coming up the stairs. She frowned and hit ‘Save’ as Young Mike came bursting in. He was running flat out, holding a 35mm camera, twisting off a telephoto lens. He tossed it on an office chair and went right for the courtyard window. He held the camera at an angle to the window and rapidly took at least a dozen pictures. Then he fumbled open the window and continued shooting. Jennifer listened carefully for screams or sirens. What on EARTH is so amazing? She got up and began caning toward him.
    “Oh! You’re still here!” Young Mike blurted out without turning, “Can you bring me a camcorder?”

    [Continued Next Block]
    #25061

    Herr D
    Participant

    [continuation of Chapter 9]

    Jennifer caned over to the cabinet halfway between them and opened it. Batteries all dead, most likely. She pulled out a camcorder with one of Po’s adaptors wired to it and looped an extension cord over her shoulder. Gauging the distance, she plugged in the camcorder, dropped an empty box on the floor, laid the camcorder in, wound up, and shoved the box with her right cane while heaving the coiled extension cord right at Young Mike. “Heads up!”
    He turned without stopping shooting stills. Jennifer almost dropped her cane seeing his surprised face turn into a smile as he snatched the cord with his left hand. He left the camera on the sill, continuing his turn, stopped the box gently with a foot, went down on the other knee to grab the camcorder, whipped the plug around into his hand and plugged it in as he began to stand up. And knocked the perfectly good 35mm camera out the window with his elbow.
    “Aaugh!” she yelled out. Young Mike didn’t look away until he had the camcorder focused.
    “Oops.”
    “OOPS? We’re almost three stories up!”
    “It only fell to the ledge. Maybe a cracked lens. The pictures might still be good.” Jennifer blinked and continued caning toward him. “Here,” he said, “Hold this.” He angled the camera into her hands, moving it slowly. He changed the view to wide-angle. Jennifer gasped. The afternoon haze and something that might have been car exhaust was layered over the courtyard in an interlocking pattern of hexagons. “What on EARTH is THAT?”
    “No idea.” Young Mike had trotted back to another cabinet and brought back a piece of bent conduit and a pair of pliers. He bent the end into a hook and looked out the window. “Aaugh!”
    “What?!” Jennifer looked down. The camera was nowhere to be seen. “Oh my–” That’s trouble. Those things are REALLY expensive. If only he’d dropped it in the box. SLAP! Feel the palm burn from a good catch. Gentle pressure of cardboard. Scent of paper, dry rot, dust . . . AM I GOING NUTS, FANTASIZING ABOUT WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN?
    Young Mike grabbed the end of the camcorder, as she’d let it droop and repositioned it. “I didn’t hear it fall, did you? Here, I’ll take that. If I’ve lost a camera, I’ll need the best footage I can get to make up for it.” He began slowly panning the cam around with surprising precision. “Good thing you thought of the cord, though. This battery’s dead.”
    “Um–no. I didn’t hear it fall.” She bent and looked. “I don’t guess a magpie would be strong enough to carry that off, huh?”
    Young Mike had a smile in his voice. “No. I don’t think so.”
    As she straightened she saw him look away. Hey, Tarzan, I saw that! What would you bother about ME for?

    [Continued Next Block]
    #26267

    Herr D
    Participant

    [continuation of Chapter 9]

    Jennifer and Young Mike stood at the window, she just staring, him recording, as the peculiar hexagons of smoke mixed with the air and were no more. Young Mike panned the camera around, zoomed at a couple of windows, turned it off. “So what are you working on?”
    “What? Oh. I think I’m done, finally.” She reached up and shut the window. They both jumped as they heard a loud smacking sound. #*(!@#$!? Young Mike looked up from the cord he was coiling. “What the–” He froze.
    “What?” said Jennifer. Young Mike reached around her, picked up the cardboard box, and showed her the 35mm camera without a word. Her eyes bulged. They both as one looked up at the ceiling to see–nothing. Their eyes met.
    “We should be going, then.” His face was wooden, eyes darting around, “Slowly.” Jennifer caught her breath. She began trying to cane quietly past her computer. She glanced at the screen, frowned, and powered it down. Young Mike left everything but the 35mm camera right where it was and walked right beside her. He walked her to the freight elevator, pushed the button, and was silent until they got inside and the door closed. “What was that, Jennifer?”
    She gaped at him. “What do you mean? How would I know?”
    “You frowned at your computer. You usually have no expression when you’re powering down.”
    SOMEbody’s been watching. “That? That was nothing. I must have saved all the final copies without remembering. I only remember saving the one working copy, but the file list said they were all saved.”
    Young Mike nodded. “You’ve been helped. Just like I was just now. With the camera.”
    “WHAT?!”
    “Think about it,” he said, “Think hard. DID you save just once? Or did you save how ever many that was?”
    As the freight elevator door opened, Jennifer jabbed her finger on the ‘close door’ button and pushed ‘2.’ “There were FIVE copies. I need to look at them.”
    Young Mike pushed ‘1,’ waited for the doors to open, and held the ‘open door’ button. “Are you sure you want to go back there right now?”
    Jennifer cringed. “No. But I have to. How can I be sure she HELPED me? What if she erased all my work and saved five BLANK copies? I won’t have time to do this again tomorrow. I promised it would be DONE. I HAVE to check. There doesn’t even need to be five! Why the extra?”
    Young Mike frowned deeper. He pulled his finger off the button. “Well–” he said as the door closed, “How many copies do you need?”

    [Continued Next Block]
    #26268

    Herr D
    Participant

    [continuation of Chapter 9]

    “Four,” said Jennifer, “The working copy ready to put in the timed delays.”
    “One.”
    “Three more. Total run time of thirteen, forty-two, and forty-nine seconds. All the copies have fifty-seven data points.”
    The door opened. Young Mike put a hand on her shoulder. “Lend me a cane.”
    “What?”
    “You stay here and watch. Call out if you see something behind me. I know how to call up a file list and check run times. I can run back here fast if anything happens.”
    “I’m not giving you my password!”
    Young Mike almost managed to not show hurt in his facial expression. “I’ll get the laptop. We’ll take it to the van.”
    “Okay.”
    Two minutes later they were in the van. Young Mike took his time walking around the van to lock the loading dock door. When he got back, Jennifer told him the news. “The extra copy is a minute nine seconds.”
    Young Mike frowned. “Can you tell what time those files were made?”
    “Why?”
    “Because I think they happened while we were at the window.”
    It took some doing, but they figured out he was right. Jennifer finished subtracting between time indexes, looked up to announce he was right, and frowned. “Where are you taking me?”
    “The last bus probably leaves in what, one minute? We’re all the way across the square. Besides, Shelly told me I should drive you home.”
    “We haven’t returned the laptop.”
    “We can lock it in the van overnight. I can bring it up tomorrow morning. I have to be in at seven-fifteen.”
    “Seven-fifteen?! Why so early?”
    “Old Mike is borrowing an engine lift to handle Cam One. I have to return it to the mechanic that owns it.”
    “Mmm.”
    “Would you like to go to dinner with me?”

    **Editor’s note: YAY! Chapter nine is FINALLY complete!

    #27669

    Herr D
    Participant

    Chapter Ten will not begin until I’m in a more solid job-hunting routine. Your patience is appreciated.

    EDIT: 6/24/14 I AM NOW WORKING! I am now a year away from this. I’m beginning chapter ten offline to get back in the swing of it.Smile

    #41628

    Herr D
    Participant
    Chapter 10: Too Fancy For A Hole In The Wall

    Thirty minutes later, Jennifer was seated at a table feeling badly underdressed in her blue business casual. The doorman to the ridiculously expensive-looking restaurant had moved them to the head of the line and showed them straight in. The concierge had blandly handed Young Mike a striped tie that somehow clashed with his plaid shirt, his suspenders, and even his solid-colored pants. The table was in a hidden corner of an elegant and dimly lit dining room.

    Despite the long line outside, the dining room and all its twenty-some tables were empty save for them. Menus without prices had been handed to them without a word, and a waiter was standing twenty feet away waiting for a signal. What are we doing HERE? Are you trying to impress me? Did you think any other guy was actually trying to date me at ALL? She peeked around the menu.
    “What . . . do you recommend?”
    Young Mike lowered his menu. “I think we should wait for Mr. Machiavelli before we order.”
    Jennifer’s eyes widened. “You think he’s coming to our table? The owner?” Who are you exactly, Mike?
    He smiled. “I normally speak to the doorman and ask if it’s a good night. They seat me when they can and don’t usually hurry. And they never want me to pay. Of course, they usually only offer me two choices, and I’ve never brought a guest either.”
    “Why do they feed you gourmet food for free?”
    “I’ve done research for them for free.”
    Research on how to charge people ninety dollars a plate? Research on how to get people to wait an hour in line hoping a reservation cancels? Research on how to blackmail the Mafia? “Huh.”
    Mr. Machiavelli himself walked into the dining room. Eighty, morbidly obese and pale, wearing a tailored suit that looked expensive, he walked slowly up to the table. “Mr. Claren.”
    “Hello, Mr. Machiavelli.”
    “I had hoped I’d see you tonight, but I didn’t expect you to have a guest.”
    “I can pay for her, M–”
    Mr. Machiavelli stopped Young Mike with a small gesture, just lifting a finger. “Your money is no good here young man. What is it young lady?”
    “It’s nothing, sir. Good to meet you.”
    Mr. Machiavelli raised an eyebrow. He motioned for the waiter to leave. “Tell me, young lady.”
    Jennifer paused, looking at the eighty-something who looked closer to sixty. “Is your accent part Irish?”
    Young Mike and Mr. Machiavelli looked at each other in surprise. “How did you know?” they said almost in unison.
    “I do sound editing for a living. I’d say you have a little Irish, some Italian, and maybe some old Chicago in your voice.”
    “Do you know who I am?”
    “You’re Mr. Machiavelli. You own this restaurant. Historic Italian and gourmet food.”
    “Who would you tell that to that I might be Irish?”
    “It’s none of anyone’s business.”
    Young Mike said, “I have seen her keep a secret before.”
    “It’s easier for me to keep secrets if I know no laws are being broken.”
    Young Mike started to say something, cut off by the same gesture of Mr. Machiavelli. “You’re a nice girl. Someone Michael would bring here and offer to pay for. You’re law-abiding and keep secrets, and you have good ears. Tell her.” He sat down, barely fitting in two chairs.
    Young Mike looked surprised, nodded. “Mr. Machiavelli is his legal name, but his grandparents were named MacPherson and McVale. They are a distant relation to the Claren family. My research made the connection in our ancestry. Then my research uncovered that the McVales may have been coerced into bootlegging by the mob. Backington was a likely hiding place. It just happened to be a convenient stopping point on a bootlegging route–a really small town without even a single speakeasy to draw attention. Then suddenly, a month before Prohibition was repealed, five people were murdered in Backington. Mr. and Mrs. McVale and three men who worked for them. No evidence was ever uncovered implicating Mr. and Mrs. ‘Machiavelli,’ his parents, who ran this restaurant. It was fashionable to hint that a restaurant had mob ties but not really have any. Italian food sold a lot better than Irish food in those days.”
    “You’re saying that Mr. Machiavelli’s parents changed their names?”
    “Not legally, but they took the trouble to file his birth certificate legally. So HIS name really is legal.”
    “Okay–so you two are related.”
    “That’s not all,” said Young Mike, “This property was the only one they owned besides the family home. The home was torn down decades ago. It and the cars were sold off to help pay for their son’s upkeep.”
    “So?”
    “Where did they hide the booze?”
    “You mean you think it’s in THIS BUILDING?”
    Mike pointed. “I think it’s in that wall.”

    [coming soon, Chapter 11, and I DON’T mean bankruptcy]
    #41675

    Herr D
    Participant
    Chapter 11: Not So Fancy After All

    Mr. Machiavelli didn’t even have to stand up. He leaned back and reached out to the draped wall behind him. He hurled aside the drape to reveal two sections of old and garishly ugly yellow tile, edges of dark paneling around them showing what had obviously been recently removed. “I made a mistake from the measurements you gave me and found a problem.” He stood up, leaned forward, and rapped on both sections with a heavy mallet from the toolbox on the floor.
    Young Mike’s face fell. “I was wrong?”

    Wet acrid tang in full darkness What? What’s that? $%^& Jennifer shook her head to clear it. “Wrong? What do you mean?”
    Young Mike explained. “I’ve worked construction. There’s a section of pantry that ends against a solid column of concrete for strength on the other side of the section to the left. I drilled into it on the other side to demonstrate that my measurements were right. But the section to the right has no reason to be solid, and it doesn’t sound hollow.”
    “–So it’s full, right?”
    “I’m afraid so.”
    “It’s full of rotten moonshine?” The two men turned and looked at each other. “Right? It’s full of what the five people were killed for?” What are you looking like that for? That’s obvious, isn’t it?

    [continued next block]
    #41676

    Herr D
    Participant
    [Chapter 11 continued]

    “There couldn’t possibly be that much in there, could there?” said Mr. Machiavelli.
    “More likely it’s full of rainwater, sir,” said Mike, “Has the roof ever leaked?”
    “Call me Tony, Mike. From tonight we’re not just distant family helping each other. This is everything I’ve wanted to find my whole life. And you bring me this beautiful girl smarter than both of us!”
    Oh #$%^ Beautiful compared to what? You? And the rotten moonshine was obvious! “Thank you, Mr. Machiavelli.” Jennifer blushed in spite of not believing either compliment.

    Mr. Machiavelli wheeled around, overturning one of the two chairs. “You two like steak?”
    Mike seemed to be having trouble processing this change of topic. “Sir–uh, Tony? Yes, I like steak? Jennifer?”
    “I love steak.”
    Tony put two fingers in his mouth and puffed out a whistle that sounded loud enough to shatter the water glasses. The waiter opened a door at the end of the dining room. “Six medium-rare filet mignon with mushroom glace stuffed with spiced crab! Sweet tomato-heavy salad onna side! Choice of dressings! Water for three! Pick the best red wine we have that goes! Mincemeat pie for dessert! Hold on!” Tony turned to Mike and Jennifer, “Pardon my presumption. Does that sound okay?”
    Good #$%^&ing LORD! “Are you sure?” said Jennifer, “I only gave you an idea! I couldn’t eat but one filet mignon anyhow!”
    Tony snorted. “One for you, two for him, three for me! Perfect! What’s wrong?”
    No wonder you look like a walking heart attack. “Okay?”
    [continued next block]

    #41677

    Herr D
    Participant
    [Chapter 11 continued]

    “Yes, Tony. Sounds wonderful.” said Mike.
    Tony looked back up at the waiter. “Skimp on my three salads. I want to enjoy my dessert. And bring Michael’s black bag from the office before the soup. And the drill bag from the pantry.”
    The waiter paused. “Soup?” he said.
    “I’ve heard,” said Jennifer, “That your Zuppa Giovanni is VERY good.”

    #41678

    Herr D
    Participant

    Chapter 12: Taking Care Of Business

    “You heard the lady!” said Tony, “Zuppa Giovanni for three! Hurry back with those bags!” The waiter retreated. “Good choice of soup with steak!” He unbuttoned his suit jacket and loosened his tie. He lifted the toolbox onto a chair next to Jennifer and put his hands under the table. Mike was across the table in an instant and they lifted it and carried it around behind Jennifer. “Miss?”
    “Jennifer.”
    Tony smiled, hanging his coat over a chair. “Jennifer. Please dig out the large safety knife. Dinner will be about twenty minutes.” As she pulled out the knife, the waiter came scurrying in with a cloth toolbag and a black vinyl camera bag. Mike took the camera bag and motioned the waiter to Tony. “Okay, order in?”
    “Yes sir. The mayor wants to know if you’re available. Charlie wants to know if we should open a fifth dining room. Jacques said we need to double our chicken, chocolate, and spice orders this week and wants you to come along on the market run in the morning. Something about a vendor who wants to meet you personally.”
    Tony looked around, annoyed, holding the knife switched open. “Put those screens around this area from the lady’s chair to that wall.” He looked up to see Mike had put two screens up already. “No, we’ll do that. Bring me a whole box of finger wipes, a package of bleach wipes, a box of garbage bags, a box of deodorizers, two empty mop buckets, and two butcher aprons. A rubber mat–one of the ones Jacques isn’t using. A plastic placemat. One of the big ugly ones from the back of the storeroom. Jacques thinks we need that much CHICKEN? Tell Jacques ‘we’ll see,’ tell Charlie ‘yes, limited menu if Jacques is willing,’ and tell the mayor ‘probably not.’ I owe my distant cousin here a favor, and I’d like to handle it tonight–just call it a family matter. It’ll make him laugh. Don’t disturb us except to bring the meal–help Charlie instead. Capishe?”

    [continued next block]
    #41679

    Herr D
    Participant
    [Chapter 12 continues]

    The waiter paused, then nodded and scurried out. Mike had screens blocking off a fourth of the dining room and a camcorder set up on a tripod before the waiter could leave the room. Tony kicked the downed chair a few feet and went down on one knee as Mike began moving tables from between the camera and the tile section on the right. Tony cut a large triangle out of the carpet and peeled it up to reveal an old drain. Mike was finishing testing the camera when the waiter returned. He wheeled in two mop buckets lined with garbage bags and nearly filled with the supplies. He wheeled them up to the screen beside Jennifer and looked up at her.
    Do I LOOK like I know what to do with all that? Jennifer leaned past the line of screens. “Mr. Machiavelli? The waiter just brought the supplies you asked for.”
    “Henri? Did you find everything?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Add duct tape to the list of supplies to buy anna mark it ‘urgent.’ I’m gonna be out in about five minutes.”
    “Yes sir. Should I send in Charlie to help you? He does enjoy helping with renovation.”
    “No! Tell him I’m rating how well he’ll run things when I’m out sick next month.”
    “Next month?”
    “Well, last year my doctor said I’d have a heart attack by next month. If I don’t, I’ve got to schedule a time to call him and laugh at him, okay?”
    “Ah. Yes sir,” Henri winked at Jennifer, smiling, “Zuppa Giovanni for three in ten minutes.”
    “Henri?”
    “Yes?”
    “Better make it fifteen.”
    “Fifteen, sir.” Henri walked out.

    [continued next block]
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