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Nine (part 6)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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At noon the following day Joe stopped the four members of the reading group at the factory door.

“Finn, you’re with me today.”

Normally this would have elicited a grin of excitement from Finny because these little side trips with Joe were always interesting. All he got today, though, was a silent shrug very much in line with Finny’s whole attitude of late. Trying to ignore it, he turned to the boys.

“You three can do some work for a change. Report to Taiyoko for your quotas.” And the normal response to this would be a chorus of whiny, high pitched “Awwwwww.” …Which is exactly what Joe got. Casper, Onetooth and Worms filed past Joe into the factory, where at least it was cool.

In Chez Spivey, Kirsten, Silja and two youths borrowed from the boutique Kirsten had just spent a small fortune in, were busy fulfilling Kirsten’s meticulous plan for party decorations, sometimes helped but more often hindered by Anneka’s excited assistance. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, two harried caterers were putting the final touches to various sugary snacks and savoury finger foods while fighting to get the jelly to set, the cream to not go off, and to keep their employer’s four-year-old daughter’s fingers away from it all.

Back in the factory, Taiyoko follows the boys into the changing room.

“Forget that,” he said as they began to hunt through the pile for the least smelly of the felt uniforms. Tai pulled a folded sheet of paper out of his back pocket. “Instructions from Joe.” He passed the paper to Casper. “Do everything on the list and make sure you don’t arrive late.” He left them to it and went back into the factory to make sure Joe’s profits didn’t slip.

Onetooth and Worms gathered either side of Casper, who used his finger to read down the list.

Finny and me will be in town. Don’t be seen.

Arrive clean unless you want to be scrubbed by Silja. I’m serious!

Make sure your presents look nice.

No swearing in the house because of Annie.

No stealing, Silja will search you before you leave.

Be there at 4 o’clock. (ask someone the time).

The boy’s looked at each other for a moment. Then they spent the next three hours in the laundry room at the orphanage. Possibly the worst three hours of their lives so far. The results of their collective efforts were… Damp, but passable.

Joe’s first stop with Finny was his ‘office’ in the square. Here he introduced her to Rodney Hassle, the auctioneer. Rodney held out a hand and Finny half shook it and half curtsied, which left them both a little red faced.

“Pleasure to meet you, Sir”

“Sure. Er, you too Miss.”

Joe shook his head.

“The point is, if you ever need to get hold of me in an emergency come to Rodney.”

Joe then took her across to Bank Officer Montenegro. This time the introduction went off with less awkwardness. Bank Officer Montenegro looked at Finny curiously, at the same time hiding a small smile that twitched around his mouth.

Introductions over, Joe led Finny back to the car and they spent the next half hour sitting on the hood and watching the comings and goings around the vaults. Joe directed most of Finny’s attention to the people using the vaults, those almost magical devices that were exclusively the domain of what Finny had always referred to as ‘The Party People’. These were the hedonistic, gun toting killers and adventurers who were mostly criminals of one kind or another and were almost entirely clones. Finny’s eyes wandered to the LifeNet facility, the home of the clones, or so it seemed. A gentle slap on the back of the head brought her attention back to Joe’s words.

“Oi. Pay attention. Never mind over there, watch them buggers at the vaults.”

So Finny watched. Watched how, no matter how big or how many were the items deposited, the vault took them all. She understood that this was ancient technology at work, but it still looked like magic.

Finally, Joe stood up and opened the car door.

“Right, next stop is Aunty Wainwright’s. When you get there mind your Ps and Qs and don’t touch anything you don’t want to buy.”

Finny joined Joe in the car. As he was starting the engine he turned to her.

“In fact, don’t even look at anything or she’ll bloody sell it to you.”



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