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Uno and Fog: Hand Tossed

April 23, 2019

After an interminable morning of meetings as the vice president of marketing for Norte Corporation (Yes my father lacked imagination when he founded the company) I made my way to a taxi and from there to a franchise of Mighty Meaty Mike’s Pizza.  I could have taken a limousine or been chauffeured in some expensive car, but even in New Amsterdam that kind of thing stands out.  Better to look like just another suit looking for a quick slice during a late lunch.

I was tired.  I could syphon a little power discretely and jazz up my nervous system, the equivalent of using my gift as a three shots of espresso, or something less street legal, but everything has a price and I prefered to muddle through.

Vice president of marketing sounds really impressive but marketing is just another word for customer service, or more particularly getting customers (procuring), keeping customers (maintaining) and encouraging customers to spend money (engagement).  There is a new euphemize for a very old concept seemingly every few months along with a new management technique.

Decentralization while empowering the work force is currently de jure, but it will soon be followed by a period emphasizing a clear communication structure with strongly defined goals.  The very human problem of not enough control or too much control never seems to get balanced properly.

My father specifically put my in this role so that I would become the public face of the company over time.  That and to keep an eye on me.  He at least suspects me of my other job.  Since he never does anything for one reason when two will suffice, I wouldn’t put it past him to having considered that it was a type of position that would interfere the most with keeping dual identities.

Despite the tedium, there are several advantages, including access to people and events that The Fog can’t get to without considerably more effort.  It was during one of those, at the very beginning of my career that I received my unfortunate appellation.  Without belaboring it, during a hostage situation that unfolded while at a soiree I had taken my then college girlfriend to, I had tried to reassure her not to be scared because the man in the mask was me.  “Its Juan” I told her.

She heard “Its One.”  And proceeded to tell everyone including the reporters that the one that referred to himself as One had saved her and the hostages.  It had the sort of idiotic appeal to it that made the name stick and the most I could do was insist when I could that it was actually Uno as a nod to my heritage.

People have wondered if I was just extremely arrogant to call myself The One or if it was in reference to some prophesy that I was to fulfill, but neither are true.  Its just the result of a regrettable miscommunication.  You don’t get to pick your abilities and in my circumstances even your name.

The Fog  was investigating the Natural History Museum. Neither of us expected him to find much there, especially after so much time, but you never knew.  That left me with the pizza place.  There was only one franchise that had a delivery area that covered all the victims and that was where I was headed.

Mighty Meaty Mike’s is set up for take out and delivery.  The sign outside has a smiling pepperoni with a cape flexing its cartoon arms.  Inside a counter faces the customer.  A  pizza rotating under a heat lamp sits at one end, a register in the other.  A drink fridge lines the wall in the small customer space.  The ovens filled most of the space behind the counter as several young people quickly put together pizzas and shoved the finished product into cardboard boxes.

I waited for the only customer to leave before approaching the pudgy middle-aged man at the counter.  At least he wasn’t wearing a dirty t-shirt and apron.  “What can I get you?”

I pointed at a piece of the meat fanatic.  “The special,” I slid a hundred on the counter, “and some information.”

He eyed the hundred, “You a cop?”  There is at least one super out there that claims he can detect lies by the sound of a person’s heartbeat.  I can’t do that, but I can see when someone’s brain lights up, which can be anxiety, but it can mean a lot of things.  It does tell me to press further when I see it.

Counter guy is looking at me warily, but his nervous system wasn’t charging up.  But one of the lads making pizza was.  Super skinny hipster, tight jeans, tattoos and hair bun.  “No, but I’m looking for one of your delivery boys.” I saw the skinny hipster light up like a Christmas tree.

“What about?”

“I just wanted to talk to him about one of his deliveries two nights ago.” I paused and then made up a lie on the spot, “I think he was the last person to see my sister.”

That’s all it took for him to leap up with a curse.  He muttered something I didn’t recognize and thrust out one of his hands.  The black tattoos on his arm took on a life of their own and sprayed outward toward me.



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