Kandie was reading her viewcom. It was Friday morning and they were on the way to Phoenix. The chauffeur drove with clinical efficiency and the dull drone of the fusion engine was just discernable.
Kandie's face looked concerned. “Chuck, have you seen this?”
The front page of the Hertferd Chronicle projected itself in the air in front of Chuck. The headline hung in the air like an unwelcome pollutant: ‘Carlton accused of promoting murder’.
Chuck read the article with disbelief. He knew about Robinson, but somewhere along the line he didn't know about Busey. The article showed a picture of Tom Busey, giving details of his new promotion. It also gave full details of the suspicious death of his first wife.
Where the hell had Willerby got this?
“What are you going to do?” Kandie asked.
“Well I don't have much choice do I? I'll have to get rid of him.”
“Don't be so hasty Chuck; he's only a suspect, you know, ever heard of innocent until proven guilty?”
“Oh come on. If I'd known I wouldn't have allowed his promotion, you know that.”
“Yes, but if you get rid of him now, potentially it makes you look like you think he's guilty, or worse it makes you look weak, like a guy not in control of his own company. You could make some political capital out of it you know...”
“Well, you could show yourself to be the defender of individual rights an American a true patriot. Willerby was trying to discredit you for being manipulative. This shows you've a heart. You could issue a statement to say you did know of the investigation but innocent until proven guilty is an American law you stand by. I'm saying just don't be too hasty will you?”
“I'll have to give it some thought.” Chuck looked out of the window.
“I wonder whether Willerby has got hold of it yet.”
“I would have thought so,” Kandie replied evenly, “She seems to get hold of most things one way or another”
“That's a change of tune. You couldn't say enough that was nice about her.”
“No, you’ve got it wrong. I don’t like her but I respect her. In any case, I think she might change her tune soon.”
“Why is that?”
Chuck smiled, “Just a strong feeling.”
“Well, I still think you can get an angle on it.”
“I’ll call Kelly.”
Chuck picked up his viewcom.
“I've seen it,” Kelly said, “I’ll have my response to you in a couple of hours. In the meantime don't talk to the press.”
That’s highly unlikely, I'm on my way to Phoenix.”
“Are you being followed?”
“Followed?” Ellephanie said in surprise.
“Yes, you know, have you got someone on?”
“Look answer me that and I'll shut up.”
“Okay, my head says get rid of him and my heart my tail? I've heard this morning that T7 have put tails on both of you. I was just going to call you. You beat me to it.”
“I don't think so. I'll check it out.”
“Oh and another thing, I've left a new number in your mailbox. It's encrypted. I suggest we use that one from now on, I'll explain later. I'll talk to you in a couple of hours. I've got to run. Bye.”
Phoenix loomed in the distance now.
“Are you excited?” Kandie asked abruptly. Chuck looked inquisitive.
“About the baby? Yes.”
“That's not much of an answer, is it?”
“I'm excited, alright?”
“You don't sound excited.”
“For Christ's sake Kandie, l’m excited!”
They swept into the gates of Phoenix and the chauffeur opened the door for them into reception. All the Easter bunnies had disappeared back into their storage hutch for the year.
Tom and Annie Busey were sitting in reception and watched Chuck and Kandie breeze past. Chuck didn't notice him.
Chuck and Kandie were shown into a small room with flowers liberally scattered around. There was a small window set in one of the walls with a table in front of it set for breakfast. They sat quietly for a moment and shortly afterwards Goldie entered the room.
“All set then?” They both nodded.
“Do you want some breakfast?”
“Well, it's the inauguration. Yep I will”
“Two lots of poached eggs on toast with a small sliver of salmon,” Chuck replied, giving his wife a knowing look.
“It's amazing isn't it,” Kandie said looking into the window, “Still only just still visible to the naked eye.”
“But very much alive”.
“I can't wait until she gets bigger, so we can see her wriggling about”
Goldie came in moments later, with the device placed on a small black velvet cushion.
“It's official, she's responding to audio signals,”
Kandie reached out for the small device and undid her blouse.
“Do you want to be alone?
“No, it's okay Goldie, you stay here with us.”
Kandie undid her blouse and placed the small device over her heart.
“Strange feeling, even now after you've had some children before. She can hear me now.”
“Yep, she sure can.”
“Magnify,” Goldie said.
The image of the tiny foetus was magnified several times on a screen projected onto the wall. It clearly had a top and a bottom but much was still unclear to the naked eye.
“She will always hear you now.”
A waiter came in wearing a tie and discretely served up the breakfast. The hot smell of eggs wafted around the room.
“Jees, I'm hungry.”
“Well look, I'd better go, I'll see you later,” Goldie said. “Okay."
Goldie left the room discretely and checked her watch. She was running late.
“How do you feel Chuck?”
“Like it’s only half mine.”
Kandie put her hand across the table.
“Not in spirit, Chuck, not in spirit. I know it’s hard but it happens to a lot of men these days, you know that.”
“Doesn't make it any better, you know.”
Goldie went back to the foyer.
“Tom, Annie, I’m real sorry I’m late I have been running around this morning trying to make up time. How are you both? How are you both feeling?”
“Fine,” Annie replied.
“I 'm really glad you came in person.Would you like to follow me?”
Tom and Annie followed Goldie like obedient school children on the now familiar route towards the changing rooms for the Phoenix chamber.
“She's in row twenty, you guys get suited up, I'll meet you out here in five.”
Tom and Annie were now used to the procedure and got dressed without any sexual tension. When they emerged Goldie was in her suit too.
“I'm glad you came in person. A lot of people don't, but I think it's the right thing to do.”
Goldie showed them to row twenty.
“In here, I'll put it on magnify, still a speck, but here you are.”
Goldie offered Annie the device on a cushion sheathed in protective plastic.
“It will stick over the suit, Annie and you can put it over your heart when you’re outside.”
“I'll leave you to it”
Kandie and Chuck gazed through the window into the Phoenix chamber within, watching figures walk around, like some futuristic ballet.
“Chuck, I can't help being excited.”
“I know,” said Chuck indifferently.
“Come on, we agreed you'd forget all this Mayor stuff for this morning.”
“So forget it, Chuck. Please."
“I haven't got a bloody switch Kandie, I'm not like some robot who can just turn it on and turn it off.”
“Not even for your own daughter?”
“Look I'm trying.”
“Chuck, this was supposed to be time out you know, time to think about, us our family.”
“I know. I can't help it Kandie. It just doesn't feel very real. I mean I look at her, you know, and I think, ‘Well you aren't mine really are you?’ ”
“Chuck, she's ours for God sake, she's ours.”
“Yes but who else’s?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters, it matters to me. How would you feel if the child was only half yours, because you were sterile?”
“I understand Chuck, really I do, but you can't go on blaming yourself. It’s not healthy. And in a few weeks you'll be her father whether you like it or not.”
“Nice eggs but not as nice as yours.”
Kandie smiled, “Very funny.”
“What do you mean?”
“The smile disappeared from Kandie's face. “Never mind.”
“What do you think I ought to do about Busey?”
“Chuck, for God's sake! Keep him on as an example of how magnanimous you are.”
“Okay, so what are we going to call it, her?”
“Don't know, I've always fancied Sandy, what do you think?”
“Sandy, it's a bit kind of..”
“Cheap somehow. What about Michelle?”
“Michelle is pretentious.”
“What about Kim?”
“Kim, nice strong name.”
“Why don't we make a list?”
“Why don't we use this machine here?”
Chuck pressed the button on the glass on which their fresh orange juice and other breakfast items stood.
“Welcome to the Phoenix system,” a voice chimed, “Before I can assist you I will need your code.”
There was a pause and the screen flickered with graphics of little children running around under a sprinkler.
“That's fine. Do you have anything on names?”
“Yes the menu is in front of you.”
“Can you download to my box?”
“Of course. In whole or in part?”
“Good, thank you. We can discuss it at home. Now, shall we go?”
“Listen I'm sorry, I've got stuff to do.” Kandie sighed in a resigned kind of fashion.
“Whatever you want Chuck, whatever you want.”
“Look, we can talk on the way home.”
They walked through towards the foyer in silence.
“Isn't that Tom Busey?” Chuck asked, trying not to stare too obviously. “
“Yes,” Kandie said, under her breath,” And don't stare.”
Chuck strode towards him and Kandie tried to catch his arm. Tom looked up.
“Are you Tom Busey?” “Yes sir”
“Do you have a day off today?”
“I shall want to see you in my office tomorrow. Please, call my secretary to make a time.”
“Sir, may I ask what it's about?”
Annie was looking at Chuck with daggers in her eyes.
“Bastard,” Annie blurted suddenly.
“Annie! Please excuse...”
“You fucking bastard. Do you think I'm stupid or something, you chicken shit? You might as well kill our child as take his job away”
Chuck stood still blinking for a minute
“I think that's for me and your husband to discuss.”
“Get out of here. We’ll sue your ass if you so much as consider it!” Annie screamed.
“Good day, Mr. Ellephanie” Tom said evenly. Chuck walked off and regrouped with Kandie.
“I want to talk to you,” said Kandie.“Well you bloody talk to me then,” Chuck replied huffily.