Epo’s father, whose name Nosir had learned was Ephraim, gave Nosir a firm slap on the back and pushed him out the door. Nosir barely had time to say his good-byes to the family, especially to Epo’s mom who had treated him kindly. The dog nipped at his ankles as he left. Ephraim encouraged him out, “Nobody’s gonna miss you ‘round here. Not least too much. Now we have to get you a job, boy.”
Nosir didn’t like being referred to as a nonmod male child but, with the notable exception of her father, Epo’s family had been nice to him and he didn’t want to appear ungrateful, “Oh yes, a job, I’d like that.”
They walked for a bit down the gray worn causes of Circle Seven. Nosir asked, “Where do they need a level two journalist?”
Ephraim coughed up a hoarse laugh, “Journalist, ha, ha, I don’t think so. I’ll get ya something, though. Don’t worry about that, buddy.”
“Oh great,” replied Nosir, although he wasn’t sure what else he could do. After walking about a macrospan they came upon a shiny red and white unit which seemed to be made of something other than plasto. In front was a neon sign which lit the individual letters in order and then flashed the name ZIGGWILLIE.
“Here we are,” said Ephraim. “Now don’t act like an Imky!”
They walked between many neatly aligned rows of cars. Cars existed before the PIG scooters. They were large and people sat down when they rode in them. Mac’s pick-up and ’57 Chevy scoot-abouts were roughly based on them. Cars were replaced by the PIG scooters because there wasn’t enough petrol to support the growing urban populations. Also, you could fit a lot of PIGS into a small place so from a sales perspective they were good for Imkass. One still did see cars in nonmod areas like Circle Seven. In the Vaistes, it was rumored, there were SUCs, suburban utility cars. They were oversized and had four wheel drive. These vehicles had roamed the land for many generations making Imkar’s ancestors rich on petrol sales. Ephraim commented, “Some nice cars here, huh? Bet you don’t see too many of these downtown.”
“No,” said Nosir quietly. He did like cars better than PIGs. He had many bruises deposited upon his ankles by overzealous PIG drivers who had banged into him as he walked to work. They pushed through a door which had some kind of ancient noise maker on it. Chaaaling! A handsome nonmod came out from the back. He had dark hair, a serious smile and only one working eye which casually glanced at Nosir. “Hey, Ephraim,” he said in a smooth but tempered voice, “How goes it? How’s the Camaro running?”
“I want to ask a big favor of you. I wouldn’t normally but it is something Epo has asked me to do,” said Ephraim.
“Epo, she ever come back?”
“Not exactly but we have heard from her. This Imky here, his name’s Nosir, Epo wants us to help him out. Do you think you could give him some work?”
Ziggwillie looked again at Nosir, more closely this time. Nosir was sure he was going to say no. After a moment Zigg said, “Sure . . . anything for Epo.”
Ephraim and Zigg chatted a little longer before Ephraim left. As he was leaving Nosir said he would see him tonight but Ephraim replied, “No, you won’t!” Zigg explained that Nosir could not stay with Ephraim any longer as a mod living with nonmods would attract too much attention. He said he knew some mods who were looking for a roomie and that Nosir could stay there. Then he put Nosir to work saying, “I always get my dollops out of a man.”
Nosir thought he might answer the phone, greet customers or do the odd filing, but Ziggwillie would have none of it. Against Nosir’s protestations of ignorance, Ziggwillie put him right under a car. Nosir did not know anything about mechanics or cars, he barely knew how to push buttons which was the one skill a mod had to master. He looked up at a tangle of tubes and rods, widgets and thingamabobs. He felt a migraine coming on. Zigg slid in beside him and zapply said, “Follow my lead, Nosir. We’ll make a nonmod out of you yet.”
Nosir didn’t much want to be a nonmod, too many social disadvantages came along with that designation. Ziggwillie moved about under the car with confidence. Nosir was awkward at first, but soon started to respond efficiently to Zigg’s commands. After a few hours, the underside of the car didn’t look quite so threatening. While cleaning up at the end of the day, Zigg said, “You’re not so bad for an Imky.” Nosir thought this was funny as Epo had once said something very similar to him. “Let’s go get you set up with your new roomies.”
Nosir was curious as to what mods he might be staying with. No self-respecting mod would be living in Circle Seven. But, alas, here he was. Zigg said one of them worked at the car supply warehouse. He was a scoper. Nosir commented that Zigg must have meant an Org. But, no, Zigg had meant a scoper, or scientist as they used to be called. Evidently this scoper mod had been stripped of his Org status. Nosir thought that was not a good sign, but then his InfoCard had been wiped so he was in no position to talk. Zigg said the other mod was something called a “philosopher” and he asked Nosir if he knew what that was. “Oh yes,” said Nosir with a smile, wondering if he would be familiar with the works of Sarmus. Nosir was not a philosopher but he had spent a good part of his career trying to find out about the ancient thinker Sarmus. In many ways that was what had gotten him into this whole mess to begin with. The two left the shop and walked for some time before arriving at a cause lined with dilapidated units all with peeling plasto siding.
They knocked on number 101. A tall mod with pale skin and a wild array of stringy brown hair opened the door. “Hey, Zigg. Wow. What a surprise. I don’t quite have the dollops I owe you…”
“Yeah right,” interrupted Zigg, “I know I’ll never see those dollops. I have someone here to help you guys out with the rent. I don’t want to hear any Imkass about it!” He pushed by the tall mod, “Is Zarconi around?”
“Sure. He’s in the kitchen . . . ah . . . making something. If he offers you any, I wouldn’t . . . ”
Nosir followed Zigg in. The unit was run-down and sparsely furnished. They went through to the kitchen. The scraggly haired mod, named Pragmire, followed. Zarconi was in the kitchen amidst fizzing beakers and sparking electrodes. His head was large and squarish with clumps of white hair scattered about his thick glasses. Another mod with glasses, Nosir thought, and this one a scoper. GenMod was certainly still a long way from PerfMod. Zarconi turned around and in a whisper, which was the only way he ever spoke, said, “Hi, Zigg, what brings you to see us this evening?” Zigg didn’t take his eye off of Zarconi for a second. It was as if he felt at any moment Zarc might pull out a corrector and blow them all away. To Nosir, however, he looked harmless enough, if somewhat frazzled.
Zigg said, “Zarconi, this is Nosir. He’s gonna help you with the rent. And I don’t want any trouble, understand?”
Zarconi nodded with the slightest of head motions. Zigg then took Nosir into the other room leaving the philosopher and the scientist behind in the kitchen. “I gotta go now. You’ll be OK here, just keep a low profile, and whatever you do, don’t eat anything from the chillerator!”
Zigg started to move to the door when Nosir, remembering his manners, called after him, “Zigg, thanks for getting me set up.”
Zigg responded brusquely as the door shut behind him, “Seven tomorrow. Don’t be late!”
copyright 2005-2013 Jason Sullivan