|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Tuesday, November 30th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|The fog was billowing past my office window, so thickly I couldn’t see the sidewalk two flights down, much less the other side of Taylor Street. I had plenty of time to watch the fog because I was celebrating the one week anniversary of my last case. Either San Franciscans were behaving themselves better than usual, or Christopher Smart was no longer the fashion in the private eye business. And no gags about my name, please. The last clown who cracked wise drank from a straw for months. My folks just happened to be fond of 18th century English poetry, that’s all.
The only excitement in my day was the morning mail, which went straight into the trash, being all bills. I finished the crossword, gave a passing thought to the bottle in my lower desk drawer, and nixed the idea for no particular reason. So I put my feet up and watched the fog.
“Mr. Smart?” I must have dozed off. The heavy-set Eastern European type was giving me the once-over in a penetrating way. I was careless not to have heard him come in, but he looked harmless enough. His pearl gray custom-made was a thing of beauty. Come to think of it, this beezer looked familiar.
“I’m Smart. Won’t you sit down, Mr. Soros?” I usually don’t shake hands with clients until I’ve decided they’re not villains, but in this case I made an exception. It’s not every day that international billionaires cross my threshold. Anyway, I knew he wasn’t a villain.
He nodded and took one of my battered leather chairs. If he’d made an appointment, I would have dusted it.
“You live up to your name, Mr. Smart. Also your reputation.”
“Thanks, I’ve heard of you too. What can I do for you, Mr. Soros?”
The billionaire steepled his fingers and peered at me from under bushy eyebrows. “I have a very unusual request to make of you, Mr. Smart. It is without a doubt your biggest assignment ever; also, very likely, your most difficult. Price is no object, naturally, and I will both cover all your expenses, whatever they may be, as well as pay you any fee you name, within reason, or not. This is a matter of the utmost importance, not only to me, but to the entire country. Indeed, it is of paramount importance to the entire world that you succeed in this venture. The obstacles are formidable, perhaps insurmountable, but I have every confidence in your abilities.”
My ears tend to prick up whenever a client says price is no object, and an unlimited expense account and fee of my choice didn’t sound at all shabby. Still, with a build-up like this one, the job must be an absolute killer.
“Better tell me exactly what it is you want done, Mr. Soros.”
The financier took a deep breath. “Very well. On the second of November, 2004, 59 million people misplaced their brains. Your assignment, Mr. Smart, is to find those lost brains.”
I made a quick calculation. “The average adult human brain weighs 45 ounces. That’s a total weight of 166 million pounds of brain, or 83,000 tons. How is it possible that something so massive could be misplaced? And, once misplaced, how could 83,000 tons of anything stay that way? I’m sorry Mr. Soros, but it just doesn’t seem credible.”
“I agree with you in principle, Mr. Smart, but I have proof.”
Soros pulled out a yellowing newspaper clipping. The date was November, 2nd, 2004. The headline, in 72 point type, read ’59 million vote for Bush.’ I examined the newspaper carefully with my magnifying glass. It was genuine, all right. I shook my head.
“OK, Mr. Soros. I’ll take the job. Finding something this big is going to take time, and money. I’ll report in whenever I have something worth reporting. Any instructions?”
“None. Take all the time and spend all the money necessary. Call me, night or day, at this number. Good day, Mr. Smart, and good luck.”
Soros handed me an embossed card with his name and a phone number on it, nothing else. Then he shook my hand and ankled out the door. I rubbed my jaw, then reached for the bottle after all. On this assignment, I was going to need all the help I could get.
First in a series that continues on Friday.
.©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2004
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