Synopsis: "(revisiting the scene of the massacre in style)"
The chopper lands on the roof of the hotel and 225 greets her there with a smile then an embrace.
"What's with the chopper 225?"
"This time we do it properly."
They head for the elevator to the suite.
Three years earlier at the spot in Bangkok, 225 greets 045, inviting her into the booth.
They're testing out a new canvas 225 is thinking of retrofitting the spot's booth tables with.
The testing goes well as far as 225's concerned. 045 was duly impressed, which means it's now time to see how the financing will work.
"(Need to contact 165.)"
Third day of testing with 225 in Jakarta.
"(After the tests at her spot in Bangkok, I begged for a dupe of her deal for my own spot in Jakarta. But I get to go second, so it's cheaper and less risky.)"
The test bench is laid out in 045's suite.
It looks like a pool of liquid pixels framed in handcarved hardwood and glass fitted with rubber joints concealing bits of undreamt of technology.
"It was the taste in the air that night. Darkened ruby berries ... but when I asked her about it she claimed not to know what I was referring to. Playing coy? Did I misinterpret her response? I can replay the exchange. (here it is) ...
"No, I truly love it. The taste!"
"Nevermind. How many no-shows tonight?"
"Just 3, but there's still a line out front, so we're covered."
"Who are they?"
"Curious gate crashers?"
They both laugh.
Totally different this time.
285 remembers their first attempt back in New Delhi a year earlier.
She's glad 225 noticed the change in the air, but a little miffed she mistook the light scent of bruised berries as a taste. (A taste. Well, that's not even possible, is it? An airborne TASTE that is universally appealing and atmospherically appropriate? Weird challenge. File that one."
New Delhi - one year earlier...
"Not sure. She said I could expect a crowd. Last time I sub-contract work out to someone I've never met face to face. What time is it?"
"We'll give it another half hour then throw our fates upon the mercies of the manager. Find out anything useful?"
285 thinks back to her awkward night with the hotel manager, winces, then smiles.
"Shouldn't be a problem. Where to next?"
"Let's try Bangkok. And younger this time. I've been playing around with one myself. It's much easier to use than I thought it would be. Really intuitive."
"So we're in?"
"That's up to 345."
"One more year?"
"They aren't going to let us buy the single property. I told you that."
"Just rent it out then."
"Might be better to build our own."
"Buy the chain."
"I don't know the first thing about running a resort 105."
"Keep their team in place, then sell it again after the shoot... or just keep it. It's nice."
"It is nice."
"You should be."
"Why is this one a 2A?"
"Because I have less control over its outcome. More real risk - higher rating."
"Have you done this before?"
"The drug or the Ritual?"
"Yes, very many times. But always alone."
She stares at 105 a moment too long, turns then walks outside.
"Ok, let's go."
The next morning things have changed between them.
"Have fun in Jakarta."
"045 will be there."
"... with 225, no thank you!"
"I'm going to be busy, so no calls."
"You said that already."
"I'm serious. 3B busy."
The rating clung to her the entire flight and throughout the show. She may have called more out of curiosity than necessity, but...
"(Bored. Boring. Bored. God I wonder what 165 is up to. Damn. Bored...) Hey, I need you."
"I know ... and I'm calling anyway."
"Yeah. Airfare included."
"Coach, but 3B. Tonight. For you."
"Ok. All right. I'm packing in 15 minutes. See you tonight."
"(3B. My God.) Finally. Some fun."
Later that evening at the spot.
"Good crowd tonight. Full but not packed. Well heeled for the most part. We'll do the gosTDanSe number and end it with your 3B."
"Of course! Have you ever been kicked out for one of these?"
"You are the only one I know crazy enough to pull off my stunts with me. And, anyway, I thought you owned this place?"
"On paper. There's still laws."
"Eh? Get dressed 105. Hot fresh minds await our blows."
"Brush my teeth. Clean my face. Pack my bags. Take my shower. Get dressed. Minimal make-up. Check-out. Coffee. Catch the shuttle. Catch the plane. Meet with 345. Show her the new way."
"(The limo to and from SFO didn't feel as outlandish as I feared it might. Soothing actually. 045 barely noticed. Finally get to go over the new pitch strategy. Maybe we use that outdoor cafe near the lobby. In the mood for a good brownie. Even if it is unloaded.)"
"So it's not an acquisition. Not at all. It is a sub-contract for employment services."
"But the contract is written so that we own them."
"That's the contract. Totally different from the pitch. You asked me to prep you for the pitch, right?"
"Right. Thanks. (could work)."
Freshly armed she adjusts for the call ahead.
It lasts all of 15 minutes.
"Three years of prep for a 15 minute call ... 285 said little throughout the negotiation. (if you could call it that) Just ok. Twice. Makes me believe she somehow knew already what I was going to propose."
Swiveling in her seat she sits upright. She takes a bite of an apple, Opens the contract. Dives in.
Everything looks fine.
"Everything feels ok. Not sure what I was so upset about. Buyers remorse I guess. Well, that does it."