An Extraordinary Vehicle

Krash krash-sideways

Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Krash Sideways


3. One bloody latte a day

I squinted at the docile dope the temp agency sent me this week.
“I said no syrup, love.”
The temp, who would, I decided, be even more temporary than the last, blinked back. She blinked a lot. Blinking was her thing, apparently. “You say syrup,” she said. And she smiled. Sweetly.
“No. No syrup.”
One latte a day. Is that too much to ask? One. A day. Now I’d have to wait twenty four hours for the next one. Because two is more than the budget can manage, with the launch delayed and the bank account “temporarily suspended for your convenience.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Syrup.” And she offered the bottle of low-sugar vanilla.
English was not her first language. Earth was not her first planet, I suspected, but it’s no longer politically acceptable to stipulate, is it. I gave the agency plenty of hints, mind. Someone worldly, I said. Someone down to earth.
And who did they send me?
Loretta. And her lousy lattes.
A whole day would be dented now. I am far too busy and much too important to have my concentration impaired or my beverage bollocksed up. There were things that had to happen in the next twenty four hours and mistakes were not an option. Today, of all days, it had to be right.
Today, I would hire the crew.
I stood at the rented desk in the rented office for which the rent had not technically been paid. Sitting makes me moody. So does money. According to my ex, and my other ex. Oh, and the other one. And Miriam.
Miriam. I couldn’t afford to think about her. How she lacerated my heart when she looked away.
No. Not that. Focus.
Hiring. Today was all about hiring. The letters had to go out. In a hurry.
I waved my hands in the air and attempted to control the three dimensional virtual cursor. I still can’t get the hang of the bloody thing. What’s wrong with a good old fashioned touch screen for crying out loud?
Where was the list of candidates? I couldn’t find it. I’d lost it. Probably saved it somewhere. Did I? Couldn’t remember. Bugger.
Well, no matter. I didn’t get where I am by pushing paper. I got where I am by the seat of my space pants, latte or no latte.
“Lorinda,” I said, speaking slowly and loud and watching her very closely.
She wasn’t terrible looking as a matter of fact. The greater gravity hadn’t yet made anything sag.
“Loretta,” she explained.
“Right. Whatever. Listen very carefully. I need you to find the list of candidates for Moon Mission Three. Understand? The list has been carefully vetted.”
“Petted,” she said.
“No. Good grief. Look, just find the list. They’re ranked already. Calibrated. Track record and background checks. Take the top two names, and invite them for testing. OK? Use my digital sig.”
“A letter?” said Loretta.
“A letter. Piece of paper. Writing on it. Put it in an envelope. Mail it. Got it?”
“I have not known letter yesterday.”
“It’s an earth thing. Look it up. And one more thing. Do not make any mistakes, you got that? This is critically important. Everything hangs on it. Pick the top two names. Nobody else. I do not want some inexperienced farmer with stars in his eyes. OK?”
“Farmer with stars in eyes,” Loretta noted.
“And most importantly of all,” I said to her slowly, “under no circumstances whatsoever are you to contact, admit, or in any way respond to Pernicious Kiss. Remember that name. Pernicious Kiss.”
“I remembering,” said Loretta.
“Don’t forget.”
“Where you going?” she asked as I made for the door.
“Starbucks,” I told her and closed it with a clatter.

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