Thursday, 13 October 2011

41) Go Boom

    Francis was hopping on one leg, heading towards the door. His shoulder was scrunched up and holding his cell phone to his pudgy pale face. The phone’s tinny voice blathered on… “then select number 5, if you want to talk to an operator then select number 7 or wait on the line…”
    He spun surprisingly fast for a fat man, in only because he was already in motion, and braced himself against a convenient door jamb as he slid on his other boot. For a tiny slice of time his gaze whipped up from the wood floor, crossed the threadbare couch, and alighted on the full wall window to his backyard resplendent in the tropical mid morning. He then powered his vision to his phone, beady little black eyes through powerful lenses.
    The display of the phone was full of dozens of numbers and hashes and stars. He’d been working at the damn system for several hours, probing its decision tree to get himself back into the mood to talk AI. It was fun, but it was also frustrating. He’d picked a particularly obstinate challenge this time. He promised himself a pumpkin milkshake at the Luau Bar tonight if he figured out the tree before the interview.
    The company he was calling was a combination offshore data haven and credit union. They changed up their phone menu every twenty four hours taking into account previous calls in order to make an impossibly complex and convoluted set of pathways.
    He jabbed his pudgy finger at the ‘6’ key. The phone responded with static and then strange long drawn out vowels, then crackling, then the signal dropped, then he swore. He jabbed the power key to put his phone in sleep mode and shoved it in his breast pocket. That was his third run through the tree this morning, mapping out the dead spots. Find a pattern, see where it breaks, draw a map, and compare that map to other maps. That had been his simple motto for so many years it was damn near instinctual. And it had been so successful to afford him a house and plenty of toys. So many toys in fact he often forgot where he left them all. It was purely fun at this point, but he took it personally, he wanted to buy an island next year.
    From first consciousness this morning he’d been at the Bank’s phone tree and swearing up a storm, adrenaline pumping and beleaguered heart racing.
    Finally, with both boots on he jogged out the open front door and slammed it behind himself with his butt. He slid on to his waiting bicycle and pedaled off to the front gate. He passed several other cookie cutter McMansions just like his, eased on his brakes at the gate sensor and timed it just right so that he rolled through the opening gate. He went left and up the three hundred meters to the main street, Haliakoi Ave, past several ditches and the lone finger of a marsh with cattails and palm trees.
    He pedaled harder and harder, his brain buzzing with the previous maps of the phone trees he’d ferreted out before.
    He finally made a match with a map he’d done several months ago. It was spindly and long like a spider made of bundles of straw.
    A bight red hot pain jabbed him in the eye. He swerved and tanked hard onto the asphalt, limbs flailing and crashing into the unforgiving ground.
    He wailed long and hard, sniffling and crying hard into the uncaring sky. Gone were his plans for clever repartee at his interview at Genataxis in twenty minutes. Gone was his processing of the phone map. His body screamed pain and all he wanted was his mommy.

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