Zoos, thought Janice, are testament to the fortitude of human will. It is no small feat of courage to spend the day watching these magnificent beasts mope around the far corners of their little enclosures, trying to ignore all the noisy assholes with cameras, and not finish the afternoon by going home and hanging yourself.
The truly maddening part was ridding on the little tram around its circuit of reproduced continents and listening to the prerecorded tour guide drone on about all the good research and breeding programs that the facility was involved in. Another one of mankind’s attempt to put its thumbprint on the world. Part of a long series of pompous attempts at controlling nature, this time by trying to save it.
The little mock safari train rounded the final bend to the back-end of the zoo and came to a halt at the cute little rundown station right in between Asia and Australia. Just past the Komodo dragons was the Pagoda Cafe, a small plaza surrounded by an ornamental garden and complete with a large pond. Crossing the bridge she took a moment to admire the gold jumbo koi before scanning the cafe for her meeting. She gave an annoyed little sighed when she spotted him.
“I thought you’d be kidding about the pink carnation,” she said approaching the man in the white linen suit, “you look like a walking cliché.”
“I’m sitting if you hadn’t noticed, and the good thing about clichés are they’re obvious sweetie. The obvious tends to go unnoticed. I can I buy you a drink? I’m afraid the strongest thing they got here is Gatorade, but I’m sure something can be arranged.”
“I’ll be fine thank you,” Janice said taking a seat. “Please tell me why we are meeting in this god awful place.”
“You want god awful you should go to the Africa exhibit when they feed the White-backed vultures,” the old man smiled, “talk about a stench.” He took a sip from his drink and looked around casually. “Let’s just talk about our little problem. I know this isn’t your preferred venue for our little interdepartmental meeting, but this is the one place that I know our mutual friend is not”
“Any word on him?”
“Nothing yet, but he ain’t got too many places to go. So tell me Doc, what do you think happened?”
A scowl briefly ran across her face. “I am not a physician,” she snapped, “so please don’t address me as one. What I do requires more skill than those glorified barbers.”
“I’ve had a long look at your dossier, I picked you for this job myself, and I know damned well what you are. Doctor you ain’t but, there are several names for what you do as a matter of fact, and lady most of them ain’t pleasant. But that isn’t what concerns me right now. What I got on my mind is that I got an asset runnin’ loose with his memories all scrambled. You were brought on to keep that from happening, you pretty much screwed that up. Now, I’m not pissed about that,” he leaned back in his chair, “it’s a temporary setback, we’ll fix it. What I want right now is for you to tell me, in your professional opinion, how long you think we got before he gets his old brain back?”
“Untreated? I estimate a week at best,” but we’re probably looking at closer to four days.” She softened he tone but still couldn’t hide the insulted look on her face. “He’s developed some tolerance to the serums, also he was under a great deal of mental strain. I recommended a longer series of treatments but, that was obviously disregarded.”
“Your objections were noted but I don’t control of the timing on this one, there’s outside influences at work. Can you mix up a cocktail,” he asked, “that will bring his head back to where we need it?”
Janice winced at the comparison of her art to that of a bartenders “I was already planning on upping the dosage, on your suggestion. That and a few days of rest and further treatment should repair the situation. I will need some time and a few samples from our subject to create a more permanent solution.”
“Well, we can’t have him running around remembering things, that would be inconvenient as all hell. Probably get him killed to boot.” There was a ringing from under the table and the old man pulled up a large shoulder bag and dug through it for a moment. He produced an antiquated cellphone from its depths and stared at it for a moment. “Excuse me Janice,” said Mr. Davis, flipping it open “I have to take this.”
Janice nodded, pulled out her own phone and toyed with it patiently while he talked.
“Yeah? What’s that? Good, good, just take care of it, but be careful I don’t want anyone hurt, and I don’t want you seen doing it either. She’s with me now, we’re on our way.” He shut the phone and dropped it casually back into his bag.
“Good news?” she asked looking up.
“They located our boy. He used the credit card I gave him to check into a motel about two hours ago. He’s still there sleeping off his little fit. One of my other associates is going to scoop Jerry up and bring him back to his apartment sedated,” he said getting to his feet. “Get your stuff and meet me there in an hour, you can do that right.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but Davis was already heading across the little carved bridge. She watched him go as he lazily plucked the carnation from his lapel and dropped into the koi pond. Jerry was right, she thought, his boss is kind of a jerk.