The cafe was situated on a quiet side street, away from the noise and smoke of heavy traffic. Its outdoor seating area was a large plaza surrounded by small little boutiques filled with mid-scale clothing and jewelry. There was of course a head shop operating under the label of a tobacconist. They weren’t fooling anyone, no one really smoked cigarettes anymore. Casual nihilism was loosing its charm.
Janice used to frequent a shop like this when she was younger. She and her little covey of friends used to meet there and act all artsy and tragic. Sipping coffee like it was wine, scrawling in little notebooks and sketch pads, and generally discussing life as if they had unraveled some deep spiritual mystery. She would bet even money that inside the shop there would be a little shelf full of board games, all of them missing pieces. She let herself smile for a moment, remember her life as a teenager. The smile quickly vanished when she spotted the person that she was here to meet.
“Is this going to take long?” she asked taking the seat across from the old man, “I do really despise our little encounters.”
“Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.” Davis checked his watch, tapping on the glass covering its dial a couple of times. “I got a full schedule myself. Where is he now?”
“I thought you had your gargoyles keeping tabs on him.”
“They don’t like bein called that. At any rate, you’re the one sitting in front of me, not Ellis. You look like you need an espresso. Let me get you an espresso,” he waved his hand to attract the waiter, “and maybe a biscotti. You look like you could use a somethin to eat.”
“I’m fine,” she said. “Jerry’s at work right now, I’m meeting him for lunch in about an hour.”
“Two espresso and biscotti. Don’t worry I’ll try not to make you late. You’re gonna love the biscotti here, They got it right, just almonds and anise. Beautiful, simple.”
“Get to the point Davis. Did you want to see me for some reason pertaining to my work, or are we having this meeting solely so you can be irritating to me socially?”
“Jerry needs to forget about me.”
“I said, No.”
“I don’t think you understand the terms of your employment. You remember where we found you, right?”
“First, I wouldn’t call this situation I am in employment. Second you are done defining the terms.” She paused, smiling politely at the waiter while he placed the coffees in front of them. “I have a carefully designed serum that is already suppressing large portions of his memory; it would take months to alter it any further, especially to remove something as specific as a single person. Beyond that it would be dangerous to him.”
“I am more concerned with the success of this operation than his safety. You and I both know this kids basically a walking corpse as it is. Let’s also remember that your continued safety is tied into the success or failure of this endeavor. So, let me say it again, I want him to forget about me. I’m not asking you this Janice, I’m telling you what’s going to happen.”
She pushed the little cup and saucer away from her and leaned in to meet the gaze of the man across the table. “I heard you the first time. I said no. Not only is it dangerous, it is unnecessary. Your association with him is already pretty weak at this point so in another week or two there will be no practical sympathetic link back to you. You will be safe. He won’t be, but that that’s not what matters to you. If you insist that I jeopardize his sanity because you are feeling insecure about the plans you set in motion, I am going to walk away from the whole thing.” She leaned back in her chair. “Now would like to threaten me with what ever you think you have on me. Go ahead, I’ll wait.”
Davis glared at her.
“You’re done? Good. Let me be clear about this. We both know, if anything happens to me your whole operation falls apart. If Jerry stops treatment, he’ll start remembering his old life again. Unless you want a repeat of that little episode we had two months ago I suggest you don’t push me too far.
The old man smiled at her. “Okay, Have it your way. After all, when it comes to fuckin with people’s minds, you”re the expert. If you say everything’ll be fine, I’ll believe you.”
“Glad you see it that way.” She stood up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a lunch appointment.”
You really like the kid don’t you?”
“Not really, he’s quite boring to be around actually. I just have too much pride in my skills to let someone else take care of him. That, and treating him provides the occasional opportunity to annoy you.”