- By Corey Brown - By Corey Brown

Severed the book

© 2017 Corey Brown

What’s in a number?

Laptop bag slung over my shoulder, I walked across the parking lot, working my way toward a downtown high rise building. I was struck by how much lighter the bag felt without a laptop in it. Of course, leaving the stupid thing at home meant I couldn’t work, but as a good citizen I was prepared to make sacrifices.

 

This good citizen’s name is Spinner, Rick Spinner, and I carry an ID badge. I am a PC tech, a consultant, a guy who, at the moment, has no way of doing his job. I smiled. This should be a great day.

 

As I approached the main entrance of the Large Corporation that houses the desk, at which, I would be sitting but not working, I saw my partner, Nacho Flaherty, having a serious conversation with a guy wearing a fancy suit. I stopped, shifted the weightless laptop bag then pushed through the door.

 

“Hey Nacho,” I said. Still looking at my partner, I nodded at Mr. Fancy Pants and said, “Who’s your friend?”

Before Nacho could reply the guy said, “Oh for crying out loud Rick, every time I come here you act like I’m a stranger.”

I looked at him, frowned, wondered what he was talking about. “Have we met?” I asked.

“He’s the hardware rep for this Large Corporation,” Nacho said. “He supplies all the computers, mice, the graft, printers---all of it.

I narrowed my eyes. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.”

“What’s going on?” I said. “Why the fancy suit?”

The man made a face and gave himself the once over. “What fancy suit? I’m wearing Dockers and a polo shirt.”

“Your shoes are fancy.”

“Nacho,” the sales rep said. “You have the replacements, you deal with this bozo. I’m out of here.”

 

As the man walked away, Nacho looked at me and said, “You really have no idea who that guy is, do you?”

“What guy?”

 

“Listen,” Nacho said. “Our PC manufacturer has recalled some of its laptop batteries. Apparently, one has exploded.” He nudged a box with his toe. “We have ninety-seven to replace here at the Large Corporation.”

I dropped my laptop bag to the floor. Nacho looked surprised and said, “Hey, take it easy on your computer. Keep doing that and you’ll wreck it.”

“No worries, I left the laptop at home. That way the bag’s a lot lighter, and without my computer I can’t work. I’ll just sit back and collect my pay.”

Nacho grinned. “Sweet, maybe I’ll try that.”

“Go for it,” I said. “Now about these exploding batteries, this sounds serious, how many are on the recall list?”

 

Nacho shrugged. “Don’t have the exact number, but our hardware rep says there are at least a jillion.”

“And out of a jillion, only one has actually exploded?”

“Well, yeah, but---”

“Seems to me,” I said, interrupting Nacho. “Like we’re over-reacting, we don’t want to cause widespread panic among the civilians. One out of a jillion? Come on, those odds gotta be something like a jillion to one.”

Nacho held up his hands. “I know, I know, but this is about public safety. We can’t risk our folks getting injured or worse. Seriously, can you imagine having one of those things explode while it’s on your lap? Bye-bye love life.”

“Sorry, I said, “I just don’t buy it. For all we know this is this some kind of political cover-up designed to distract attention from a covert weapons deal between the Bulgarians and some sheriff in Arizona.”

 

Grabbing my arm, Nacho pulled me to one side of the lobby. “Are you nuts?” He hissed. “We got a cut of that deal. He looked around then said, “Besides, those ‘weapons’ were just water pistols. So who cares? Wait a minute....” He squinted at me. “Have you been watching X-Files reruns again?”

I nodded. “You know it, scrappy. I got ‘em all on video, I was up until five o’clock this morning. And water pistols or not, the fact is we are soaking our shorts over one lousy battery.”

 

Off in the distance, we heard a dull, fwump kind of sound. A few seconds later a plume of smoke appeared in the sky. Then there were sirens. We stared, trying to figure out what was happening.

 

“You live in that direction, don’t you?” Nacho asked, his words coming slowly.

“Uh….yeah.”

“And you left your laptop at home, right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I think,” Nacho said. “We are soaking our shorts over two lousy batteries.”