Thursday, October 16, 2003

Today’s Word: Platitude

"Please don't kill me," said the execusoft, "take what you want, but don't kill me."

"Spare me your sad platitudes," said Carla. She flicked the barrel of her scream gun, indicating the exec's breast pocket. "Just hand me your globeaccount card and I'll be on my way."

The thin, parch-white man's eyes jittered about the alleyway like marbles rolling into a gutter.

"Look, ain't nobody coming for you. Smart people don't walk down this way, just overpaid upper-middle-class tightshirts like you, who think they can beat lunch traffic over to ninety-third street. So gimme the card and lets both get on with our lives."

"You sound reasonably intelligent for a hoodlum," said the execsoft, watching Carla's eyes intently to see if he had said too much. In the meantime, he slid his wallet out the breast pocket of his euro-style jacket.

"Yeah, it doesn't take a reasonably intelligent girl long to figure out there's two ways of making money in the slums of old New York." Carla cocked her head to the side and said, "I chose the safer of the two."

The exec held out his wallet and she took it with her free hand, quick as sunlight.

"Why don't you get a real job?" he asked, a lick of peevishness slipping into his voice, making it sound years (decades) younger.

"Oh, I've got a real job, this is my at home business. Glad to have served you, have a fine day."

Carla sprayed the dirty asphalt between the execsoft's feet with bullets and he ran back down the way he'd come. She didn't bother to leave the area, no one would report the shots, and even if they did the cops would never respond, not for small arms fire. She opened the wallet, stared for three seconds, then said, "Hmm, a fellow businessman."

The carpilot's license inside belonged to one Mrs. Evelyn G. Portson, aged fifty-three. The woman's globeaccount card was still there, but had probably been reported by now. You only had a good fifteen minutes before the accounts were closed and marked with tracers. Using that card would be like calling NYPD and saying, "I stole a wallet, come pick me up at Sach's!"

Disgusted, Carla tossed the wallet into a nearby puddle, returned her automatic to the concealed holster in her jacket and started back toward the bookstore where she worked swingshift.

"Damn competition," she whispered into the wind as she turned the corner and headed for work.

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