INTERIOR - DAY
TWO says, "It is nice."
ONE says, "How would you know?"
TWO says, "I'm sitting here, too."
ONE says, "Not that spot. I mean this spot. Right here. I really like it here. I don't see what's so special about over there."
TWO says, "It's a nice place in general."
They're in a coffee shop. ONE seems really anxious about something, glancing everywhere all the time and whatnot.
TWO says, "Neither do I, really."
ONE says, "But you chose to sit there. Why would you select such an undistinguished position? What were you thinking?"
TWO says, "I guess I was thinking I need to rest my feet."
ONE says, "Aren't you even the least bit nervous? How many are we at?"
TWO says, "Uh, five. I'm excited. But I wouldn't call it nerves."
ONE says, "Of course it's nerves. It's all nerves."
TWO says, "What all?"
ONE says, "You all. We all."
ONE grips the table suddenly.
TWO says, "What?"
ONE lets go of the table.
TWO says, "I hear stuff though, I hear glasses clinking, various conversations...there's an uncomfortable silence at the table just over there."
ONE says, "What you are 'hearing' is just your nerves telling you glasses are clinking. Telling you when there are conversations. Not telling you when there aren't. How else would you know you're excited?"
TWO says, "Okay, sure. I'm using my nerves. But I'm in control of them. There's no reason to panic."
ONE says, "See. That's what I don't trust about you. Nobody who is as calm as you pretend to be--"
TWO says, "I'm not pretending."
ONE says, "Nobody who is as calm as you claim to be can be trusted."
TWO says, "No, that's not right. Calm inspires trust."
ONE says, "But it really shouldn't, should it, I mean, given that it's just your nerves telling you you're calm, causing you to believe you're in control when you aren't. And most people will cease to observe carefully that which they believe they can control. Like, how many confirmations we at right now? Don't look."
TWO says, "Seven. You were saying? I observe what needs to be observed."
ONE says, "The nerve observes. You just interpret. Who are you to say what's making things relevant or irrelevant in that noggin of yours?"
TWO says, "It's not who I am, it's what I am. I'm a human being. And that's something that I need to get on with being. I'm not going to be able to put myself to any good use trying to observe every little--"
ONE snorts, "Not from that spot over there, you aren't. But maybe from this spot here. That's the beauty of it."
TWO says, "What is it with you and spots?"
ONE says, "Switch with me and I'll show ya."
TWO says (rolling his eyes), "Fine."
They switch chairs. ONE is careful to gauge the reaction of anyone watching.
ONE says, "Is anyone breaking up?"
TWO says, "What do you mean?"
ONE says, "Is anyone breaking up with anyone? At other tables? On the street, outside?"
TWO says, "No, but..."
ONE says, "How do you know?"
TWO says, "I can see them."
ONE says, "Right. And I can't. Not from here."
TWO says, "You can see that window."
ONE says, "But I can't see all the windows. You can. So only you can know definitively that no breakups are taking place on the street outside."
TWO says, "When's the last time you saw a breakup on the street?"
ONE says (wistful), "It's been a long time... but then I haven't been around. Back in the day, this was it. My spot. I watched a lot of breakups from this spot."
TWO says, "I come here almost everyday, and I don't think I've ever seen a breakup."
ONE says, "Why should you? They aren't relevant, right?"
TWO says, "Right."
TWO slumps down in the chair a little, looking defeated, maybe by the inane conversation, or...
TWO says, "How many confirmations does it say on my laptop now?"
ONE says (checking the screen), "Eleven."
TWO says, "That's more than enough. They're late. Now that gets on my nerves, in a situation like this. Think they'll ditch?"
ONE says (distracted), "I dunno."
TWO says, "I don't get you. You were the one on heightened alert. You were all cranked up about it."
ONE says, "So their being late is no more of a concern than anything else. As far as I'm concerned it's all an emergency. Because it's all happening, right now. And I can't stand it. And those two seem somewhat estranged."
TWO says, "So, you're just a lit fucking lunatic by nature. Which two?"
ONE says, "What was your first clue? Those two."
TWO says, "I barely know you at all. And I don't see em."
ONE says, "Love you too. Next to the column: they're actually together."
TWO spots them now, two people sitting at a table together, but pointed away from each other as they individually eat their respective lunches. One of them is trying to grab a pepper shaker on the table, but can't see it due to their weird sitting position, and the other keeps sliding the shaker away from their ever-empty grasp.
TWO says, "Not anytime soon."
ONE says, "Not THEM."
TWO says, "Oh, 'them'? Well, obviously 'they' do take requests, so..."
ONE says, "How do you even ask something like that?"
TWO says, "Not really sure. I mean, if you know they're willing..."
ONE says, "But we don't know. Wouldn't it be easier if they turned out to be a man?"
TWO says, "We could have asked for a man, but you wanted to roll the dice."
ONE says, "Should we just like write it down? Before they arrive?"
TWO says, "But what would we write...? It's the same problem..."
THREE now finally pipes up from offscreen:
THREE has been sitting one table over and eavesdropping on their conversation the entire time. From his table, he can see all the windows AND all the tables, so by ONE's criteria, his is the best spot in the house, even better than ONE's original seat (now occupied by TWO), and THREE appears to know it, because he has the widest, shit-eating grin on his face.
ONE and TWO exchange prophetic glances. Seems like this is the person they've been waiting for.
ONE and TWO cannot look away now as THREE gets up from his table, and we see that he is an older gentleman, slim, medium height, and impeccably dressed in a classic, three-piece business suit. Taking his fastidious time, he disposes of the wooden cutlery and carefully folded food wrappings on his tray, then folds a thin crease in the tray liner before discarding it in the correct compartment and placing the tray on top of the garbage can. Then he moves to join them at their table, extending a hand first:
FAREWELL, READERS! NOTHING FURTHER HAS YET BEEN WRITTEN BY THIS WRITER. THAT MIGHT BE BEST: YOU WOULDN'T WANT US TO CONTINUE EDIFYING YOU, WOULD YOU?
YOU CAN, HOWEVER, HELP CROWDFUND THE NEXT CHAPTER, IF YOU WISH. NOT THAT YOU'D EVER ENCOURAGE MANTHINKING. MAYBE IT'S ABOUT SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. THAT'S THE TICKET.
REGARDLESS, WE ARE ON IT BUT WE NEED SOME EXPENSES COVERED OR WE'LL JUST BE FORCED TO GO BACK TO OUR FORMER JOBS AS FULL-TIME JACKANAPES. TOUGH BUSINESS! THE LEAD ON THIS CASE HAS ASKED FOR A CONTINUATION ANTE OF TWENTY BCH NICKELS (1.00 BCH), OR SIX LITE QUARTERS (1.50 LTC), OR 8 MEGANEX (8 MNEX), OR 375 CARDS (375 ADA), OR WHATEVER PERCENTAGES OF EACH ADD UP TO A HUNDRED.
AS OF LAST UPDATE, THE ANTE TO CONTINUE THIS CHAPTER IS 0% FILLED. IF THE REST HAS NOT BEEN SENT TO ONE OR MORE ADDRESSES BELOW, BY THE ANTE DEADLINE, APRIL 20, 2023, WE WILL PUT THIS PAGE 'ON ICE' FOR A TWELVE-WEEK EMBARGO PERIOD, MINUS ONE WEEK FOR EVERY 10% OF THE ANTE FILLED. SO IF THE ANTE DEADLINE WERE TO ARRIVE ONLY 59% FILLED, FOR EXAMPLE, THE RESULTING EMBARGO WOULD LAST SEVEN WEEKS, AFTER WHICH TIME, THE AUTHOR MAY RE-OFFER THE CHAPTER, WITH A POSSIBLE RE-EDIT (AND THE FUNDS ALREADY DONATED TOWARD IT, PRE-EMBARGO, WOULD STILL APPLY TOWARD THE NEW ANTE). IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, THE ANTE DEADLINE ARRIVES AND IT'S 100% FILLED OR MORE, THE AUTHOR WILL BE EXPECTED TO POST THE NEXT CHAPTER WITHIN TWO WEEKS AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE SAME AUTHOR'S MOST RECENTLY PREVIOUSLY FULLY FUNDED GOAL AT bitcoinmars.org or cryptonoir.org, AND THEN WE'LL RESTART THE NEXT CONTINUATION ANTE (IF ANY) AT 0% FILLED, SO THAT EACH CHAPTER WILL BE CONTINUED (OR NOT) BASED ON ITS OWN MERITS. THESE ARE THE RULES OF cryptonoir.org