Sunday, March 19, 2006

Fixer [Interim Title] Chapter 1 Part 1

Power grows from the barrel of a gun.

Ruminations on the nature of power do not normally occupy my time. I, Kathy Varis, am no virginal innocent. I learned a few unpleasant truths about how the world works at an age when most girls were busy cutting the latest pictures of teen idols out of Tiger Beat. But the nature of power simply is not a subject of daily interest to me. Except when I'm staring down the barrel of a gun.

In this case, the gun was in the hands of a very jittery security guard who had a bad case of the Barney Fifes. I admit it, he'd caught me red-handed. Or dirty-handed as it might be, since I was half-buried in garbage in a dumpster behind his place of employment, the headquarters of Akilna Software. But this did seem somewhat of an overreaction. It isn't as if he had to worry about me beating him up.

"Uhm, hi!", I said brightly, smiling at him. "Do you really need that gun?" I tilted my head a little, emphasizing the fact that I am indisputably female and indisputably tiny besides and physically about as intimidating as your average twelve-year-old girl, which I'm not but hey, I didn't get to choose my genes, any more than I got to choose my natural blond-ness and all the dumb blond jokes that came with. "You might want to put it away before someone gets hurt," I added.

The security guard put it away, his hand shaking somewhat. I clambered out of my humble abode, glanced at his nametag, and asked, "Hey, Earl, could you help me find my checkbook? I think I accidentally threw it away today. I'd appreciate it a whole lot, okay?" I turned up the "cute" factor a bit with another smile -- okay, shameless, but what the hey, you work with what you got -- and Earl grumpily said, "You're not supposed to be back here."

"But it's my checkbook!" I wailed forlornly. "What if someone finds it and writes hot checks? Didn't you read that identity theft series in The Examiner last week?"

"That's why I'm back here, miss," Earl said, looking relieved that he wasn't going to have to shoot somebody or deal with anybody more threatening than Miss Perky Young Lady. "You just go on home, we have everything covered.

I put a bit of a tremor in my voice. "Well... if you say so..."

"Go on home, miss."

"Okay, but if you find a checkbook that says Alyson Morisson, give me a call, okay! My phone number's on the checks."

"I'll do that. You just go on home, young lady."

"Thanks! Bye!" I gave him a little half wave with my right hand, smiling big at him again, and headed for my car, a nondescript beige Toyota like a million others on the road. Earl watched me drive off, feeling secure that he had bravely defended Akilna Software from the scourge of ditzy secretaries digging through the trash.

Perhaps at some point in the near future he'd think, "What's a dainty blond secretary doing getting all dirty while digging through the garbage?" But I doubt it. Probably the only thing going through Earl's mind was, "Awe. How cute." If he knew my real name, he'd be saying the same thing. Let's face it, "Kathy" makes you think of some perky cheerleader ready to wave her pom-poms and do cartwheels. You don't think "corporate espionage."

Which, I suppose, is a plus if you're me, and corporate espionage is a big part of your business.

One of the scourges of modern life for those of us who are, let us say, on the questionable side of the system, is the demise of the payphone. With cell phones cheap and widespread, payphones are disappearing left and right. And the few that remain are call-only -- you can't receive calls on them. And prepaid/disposable cell phones have their own limitations. But in this case all I needed to do was make a call.

I found a pay phone at a service station off of the 101. A fog was rolling in off the bay, softening the lines of the modernistic office cubes of the Silicon Valley. You could almost pretend that you were in a real city, rather than in a soul-less collection of buildings devoted to making money or taking care of the people who worked in those cubes. I dialed my number, and listened as the person on the other end answered.

"I got it," I told the voice on the other end. "Meet me at my office. Tomorrow. 8am." I hung up and headed home.

[ To Be Continued ]


  1. Good gosh, Badtux, I never knew your name was Kathy. The things we find out when we read blogs!


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