The elevator was a padded cell/ for the socially insane/ and the chronically unwell/ up three flights of stairs/ to the girl I knew/ she wore skin on skin/ with amphetamine/ on the hair of her lip/ the key doesn’t fit the lock no more.
Dateline The Alligator Pear: November 1st, 17:08
Groups of male drinkers are highly permeable. Groups of female drinkers are also basically permeable, however, for various reasons that you will be aware of, somewhat less so than their more devolved counterparts. With these truisms in mind, the thin man prepared his cover.
He selects the largest of the group, ruddy complexion running to seed through a noxious combination of hotel living, corporate ineptitude, and nature, and opens with the most anodyne possible comment. “That’s a tough one,” he says extending his hand. “I’m Jack from marketing, over from London. You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today.”
The men give him a quick once over. This is more than enough. “You wouldn’t believe what happened to US today” says the big man. “Jesus what a day.” He sits down and “Jack” is established. Just like that.
Three hours later and the thin man has learned the following:
i) “Bill” is Bill Wetherington, Head of Accounting for the Green Group Asia. Aristocratic name, upper-middle class title, garden variety courage.
ii) The drinkers are also in accounting.
iii) Green Group is under internal pressure based on intensifying rumors of shady financial action at the very top. The current CEO, Anderson, is being challenged by a new board member, Rink. The rumors are rampant yet unproven, and the three men know relatively little about what is going on.
iv) Bill’s absence means that the men have no one to take their cue from re their stance on the firm’s political climate. Predictably they have been drinking for days. They are easy marks, too easy, but they don’t know enough. The thin man will have to attend the party tomorrow and scout an insider.
v) The men drank whisky alternated with beers and the occasional shot, tequila or vodka, which always came with roars of achievement and slaps on the back. The thin man gave himself to the role; he slapped back.
Eventually one of the men did circle back to Jack’s role in the firm. The thin man kept it vague, of course, claiming to be a kind of internal consultant and using a lot of words. A small amount of information communicated verbosely is a sure recipe for boredom and soon enough the men moved back to their own woes. It was a quarter after midnight when the thin man had heard enough and he bid them goodnight. By this time they were fast friends, and had agreed to meet for a pre-event drink the best day. The event space is pre-permeated; the reception folks don’t stand a chance.
Dateline The Thin Man’s Room: November 2nd, 0:32
Now we have a little confession to make. While the thin man may appear the picture of competence in the events depicted above, competence is a) relative; and b) often pretty narrow. He can ply information from drinkers in a company on the brink, sure, and this is a skill that pays. And while his severance pay was still running some women were around the general lifespace. Which was all good. However while the thin man may spend his days in a blur of undirected motion, he does have specific tastes in certain matters. The thin man, for instance, likes women to tell him what to do from a distance. More precisely he enjoys instruction from a non-copresent muse.
On the ship he and the crew didn’t always have the ability to live entirely on the internet as the modern human is wont to do, however since washing ashore in Singapore the thin man has established contact with some women he has never met. Of course there are plenty of guys who pay for the privilege of being under the thumb of a woman, there is apparently a whole industry around it. Good for them. That particular industry is a bit on the overt side though, and the thin man is not of it. He may, however, be quasi-adjacent. In any case after a shower the thin man texts Desiree.
What he wants here is, basically, for Desiree, who is 23 half French and half Romanian, to give him feedback in the form of some word, action, or idea to integrate into his espionage performance. A whisperer stage right, who can introduce the element, the thrilling frisson, of the random. A stylist, a sequencer, a psychically co-present muse. Desiree plays this role only moderately well; she is studying to be a dancer, goes to auditions, and generally alternates between attention and absence. Are you familiar, dear reader, with the interplay of attention and absence? I thought as much.
Anyway, tonight Desiree comes through. Fear, she says, fear is the operating mood of the Green Group employees. Young she may be, but she is smart our Desiree. Ingratiating oneself with the fearful is easy she says. And she is right, if the instability runs all the way to the top so will the fear. He just has to find the right mark and he’ll get what he needs. The idea of pocketing the $20,000 is appealing, 100%. He thanks her and tries to keep her on but she is done. Oh well, you get what you get. Some form of sleep and wake up as Jack. No problemo senor.
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