We’re going through!” The Captain’s voice was like thin slate breaking. He wore combat fatigues with a dusty beret.
“We can’t make it, sir. They’re laying down fire too heavy, if you ask me.”
“I’m not asking you, lieutenant,” said the Captain. “Go to overdrive!”
The throb of the diesel Stryker increased: cha-rugga-rugga-rugga. He surveyed the rocky defile ahead. “Throw back the shield!” he shouted. “Swing out the M240!”
The crew, bending to tasks in the rocking transport, grinned. “The Old Man’ll bring us through,” they said. “The Old Man ain’t afraid of hell!” . . .
“Get a free muffin with your next mocha latte!” Waldorf Twitty’s phone on the passenger seat squawked.
“Hmm?” said Twitty. He regarded the smartphone in mild astonishment. “You’re within 15 meters of Studbricks. Bring your e-coupon now!” Waldorf Twitty drove on in silence, the fire of the worst ambush in years of guerilla warfare fading in the airways of his mind. “Recalculating!” yapped the phone urgently. “Head for Studbricks!”
Waldorf Twitty proceeded to a parking lot at town’s edge. He hefted his laptop, pocketed his phone, and crossed the green expanse of industrial campus toward a distant office block, passing a clinic that ministered to employees.
. . . “It’s the billionaire investor, Boren Wellfleet,” said the pretty nurse.
Waldorf Twitty put down his external hard drive, repository of his own medical research. “Who has the case?”
“Dr. Debakow, and a specialist, Dr. Farnyard, has flown in.”
A door opened and Farnyard emerged, distraught. “It looks bad for Wellfleet. Obstreosis of the ductal tract. Tertiary. Wish you’d take a look.”
“Glad to,” said Twitty.
In the operating room Dr. Debakow whispered, “I’ve read your blog on streptothricosis — brilliant.” At this moment a machine with many displays began to go rugga-rugga-rugga.
“The new anaesthetizer is giving way!” cried an intern. “No one knows how to fix it!”
Twitty glided to the machine, now going rugga-rugga-queep-rugga-rugga-queep. “Give me a USB drive!” he snapped. He inserted the device in his own hard drive, then into a port on the trembling, moaning anaesthetizer. “That will hold for ten minutes,” he said. “Get on with the operation.”
“Coreopsis has set in,” said Farnyard nervously. “Would you take over, Twitty?”
“If you wish.” . . .
“I see you! You’re in the geofence!” his boss’s voice barked. Waldorf Twitty halted and looked around; people passed tranquilly to and fro. “I’m tracking your phone now — why aren’t you here yet? Where’s the Veeblefreetzer design!?! Why weren’t you in at 6 this morning?”
Twitty groaned. He had never figured out how to disable the location transmit function on his phone. Every app he downloaded — and he had many — claimed location-sharing could be turned off, but they buried the settings so deep. He turned back to the parking lot. He would call in sick. Or something.
. . .The dark-haired beauty took his hand. “You’ll lead us out of here?” she quavered. He nodded grimly. . .
“Say, bud, looks like you’re under-insured!” a friendly voice boomed from his pocket. “Bill Lacky with Consolidated Coverage, friend of your friend’s friend on Facebook, and a 3rd removed on LinkedIn. I’m just a few blocks away. I bet I can get an introduction from someone by the time I’m there. Heading your way!”
At a corner he leaned against a wall in the shade. “This is the police, Mr. Twitty. We are authorized to make an employer’s arrest. Hold your phone and stand perfectly still. An officer has your coordinates and will arrive shortly.”
. . . He put his shoulders back and his heels together. “To hell with the blindfold,” said Waldorf Twitty. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile on his lips, he faced the firing squad: erect, motionless, proud and disdainful. Waldorf Twitty, inscrutable to the last.
[with apologies to James Thurber.]