The combination greasy spoon, convenience store and gas station on the far side of Vegas was the typical American road joint, a loud choir of shrieking waitresses, thunderous freight trucks and slamming dishes, with the jingling of coins in slots unique to Vegas. Bridge felt smothered by the humid scents of horribly fried food mixed with the choking oily stench of biodiesel. They ordered lunch and relieved their bladders, Bridge sitting in quiet contemplation while Stonewall and Aristotle nattered on with copious amounts of pseudo-philosophical political science. Bridge would grunt every now and then at some of the naïve notions both men held about capitalism, socialism, communism and whatever other theoretic –ism they could remember.
Bridge was staring out the tinted window of the booth while digesting the poorly prepared meal when his phone buzzed. “Shit,” he cursed under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” Aristotle asked.
“Ms. Angst.” The bodyguard nodded in understanding. “I forgot to call that guy about that thing. She’s gonna whine. I hate it when she whines.”
“You could just not answer,” Aristotle offered with a gleeful shrug.
Bridge frowned. “Gotta do what I do.” He stood up and went outside. The diner was loud enough to mask his conversation, but the outside was louder. He would have no trouble hearing her, as the connection piped into his brain through his cybernetic interface, but without his white noise generator, he would be vulnerable to eavesdropping. He may have left town, but he packed his paranoia with him.
“Ms. Angst, to what do I owe this early morning pleasure?”
“Where’s my sample, Bridge?” All right, she wasn’t in a cordial mood.
“Circumstances have intervened.”
“What the fuck that mean, Bridge? You trying to screw me? It’s that Zbone, you’re getting it for him, ain’t it? What’s he paying? I’ll pay more, I’m good for it.”
“Whoa, Angst, hold up, hold up. I’d never do you like that, girl, you are a valued client.”
“Bullshit, Bridge. You’d sell me to some Singapore sailor hump-hump bar if you thought you could get 20%. Where’s my sample?”
“Look, I can get it, but I’ve been called away from LA. It’s going to be a few days before I can hook you up.”
“You can’t handle business over the phone, brau?”
Bridge’s frown had to have been audible across the distance. “This is not the kind of thing you leave to a phone call, girl. You know that.”
“Few days is not going to do it. The news will be all over everywhere by then. I don’t break this in twelve hours, it’s broke fo’ sho’. Now what you got for me?”
He let out a weary sigh. “Nothing, Angst. I got nothing. When I get done with this Boulder mess, we’ll talk, work out some kind of equitable makeup, k?”
“Boulder? You’re in Boulder?”
Bridge cursed at himself silently. He must really be beat. Never reveal your location over the phone. “No, I’m not in Boulder.”
The teenager sounded excited now, her anger all forgotten. “Shit, yo, you’re going to Boulder. You’re going to the dome! Why didn’t you tell me, brau? This is perfect!”
“What do you mean?”
“Forget the pop princess. Everybody’s talking about this Boulder thing, this explosion and the dome and the hacker hallucinations and shit. I got ‘em. Did you get ‘em?” Her words and sentences were running on now in one almost unintelligible stream. “You got to get me some of that, some footage, some audio, an interview, something! You gotta!”
“What do I look like, Tom Williams, Nightly News Twat? I’m not going to Boulder for a story.”
“But you’re going, right?” He reluctantly confirmed. “Look, I’ll take anything you can get, anything, brau. Just get me some video or audio, I don’t care if it’s grainy cell phone or cybereye shit, just get me something and we’re square.” Bridge considered the pros and cons. He would be there anyway, all he’d need would be a little easy-to-get footage of the inevitable cordon around this dome thing, package it up and email it to Angst, and his failure would be forgotten. Fixing a broken deal was rarely so easy.
“Yeah, all right, Angst. I get you something. Then we’re square, capice?”
“Square, brau.” He hung up the phone and shrugged as Stonewall and Aristotle strode out of the diner. They left quickly, bopping down the road towards inevitable weirdness.
Go to Chapter 7.0
Thursday, March 19, 2009