Grenshaw stood staring at the Marigold CafÃ©. Inside, a couple chairs were tipped over; the stools that normally lined the diner’s sidewalk bar were piled in a corner. But all else seemed intact. It looked closed, but not closed for good. Actually, if it weren’t for the big sign pasted in the window declaring “out of business,” Grenshaw could imagine customers bustling inside. He could picture the chef flipping fried eggs and bacon.
Hadn’t he just seen the chef yesterday? Wouldn’t he have given some warning? It made no sense. Everything had happened so fast.
Grenshaw dialed the office again; he’d have Tommy look up the details of the account. He wasn’t sure what he was going to find, but then again, he seemed to be discovering all sorts of strange things these days. Might as well try.
Mary answered. “Hello Mr. Grenshaw. This is Mary.”
“Mary, I need to talk with Tommy.”
“Tommy.” What did she mean who? “The intern?”
“I’m sorry sir. The intern’s name is Adam. Would you like to speak with him?”
Grenshaw was only slightly surprised. The way things were going . . . . “You’re sure there’s no Tommy there? No Thomas? Nothing?”
“No sir, I don’t know if we’ve ever had a Thomas working here.”
Of course. “Okay. You’ll have to excuse me, Mary. I’ve had a strange night.”
“No problem, sir.”
Grenshaw walked back to his bike shaking his head. There had to be some explanation for all this.
As he was approaching the bike, he reached in his pocket for his keys. They were gone. “You’re kidding me!” he said out loud. Passers-by looked at him like he was dangerous.
He retraced his steps mentally, trying to figure out where he might have left them. Then he looked at his bike. The keys were still in the ignition. He couldn’t believe no one had stolen it.
As he mounted the bike, he once again heard that voice urging, “Get your life right.”
“Get your life right, my ass!” he shouted, drawing more frightened stares from pedestrians. He checked his watch: 11:20. He had time; maybe the computer shop would have some answers. “They damn well better,” he said out loud; he’d given up on appearing normal.
Fortunately, GCF computers was open. It was the first thing that had gone right today. But when Grenshaw walked in, the man at the counter – the one bent over his work like a watchmaker – said, “Can I help you?”
“Uh, yeah,” Grenshaw began, amazed at the guy’s poor memory. “I was in yesterday?”
“No, I don’t think so,” he said kindly.
“Do you already have a GCF computer?”
“I think so.”
The man came out from behind the counter and looked at Grenshaw’s neck. “Yep. You sure do. How long have you had it?”
“Well, like I said, I was in yesterday. I think I bought the computer then.”
“But you’re not sure?”
Grenshaw scratched the back of his head. “Well, no.”
The man went in a back room and came out with a small plug. “This is gonna pinch a little.” He connected it to Grenshaw’s neck and then moved his hands through the air, manipulating something that was invisible to Grenshaw. “Okay,” he said. “Our records indicate that you bought the unit six months ago.”
to be continued . . .