“I think I’d know if they were dead,” Nora offered.

“Relax old man,” Benny said, stepping from around the divider with his own cup of steaming coffee in hand, the other hooked in the pocked of his vest. Frank smelled the hazelnut. So it was Benny that took the last one! Bastard. “They’ll be fine.”

Frank sighed. It seemed he was the only one concerned. No one else seemed to be concerned their boss, Ephram Palantine, hadn’t been heard from either in a couple weeks now. To be fair, he’d gone into Limbo for longer periods of time, but still… They were short handed for a mission like this.

“It’s hard to,” he confessed. “I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to that part of the world these days.”

“Maybe you need to join my Tai Chi class,” Benny offered glancing between him and Nora. “Both of you.”

“We need be worried,” Nora said, looking up. “One puddle of Zen is quite enough for this place.”

“Ouch,” Benny replied. “Coming from you, that really hurts, Nora.”

He turned back to Frank, a speculative expression on his face.

“What do you think of our latest recruit,” he asked, nodding towards the boardroom. “I see you have some more data.”

“And I have seven episodes of Coast of Coast to go over,” Franks said. “Recruit seems a strong word for it. Especially if it works out like last time. He seems like a good guy. Its never fun putting someone through this, except when it is.”

That was enough to make even Benny grimace.

“It’s a process,” he said.

“That’s what Truman always told us when things went wrong,” Frank noted, ten turned wistful. “I liked Janie.”

“Word is she’s fine, got a job on Wall Street, is raking in the dough” Benny smirked. “What did it cost her, a couple of months in treatment? She did get us most of the way there, even if we had to wait a couple years for another client to cinch it.”

“It’s the screams that get to me,” Frank said, “You know that. The despair.”

“Word is Gary isn’t a screamer, if that’s any help,” Benny replied. “Background checks said he’s reasonably stable.”

“Ordering us more hazelnut would help,” Frank told him. “You go through that like its oxygen.”

“Do I?” Benny said, glancing down at his coffee, then looked up totally at peace with himself, offering another one of his Zen smiles. “Maybe I do.”

A phone started ringing. It sounded like Benny’s.

“Back in a few minutes for details,” Benny said, turning away.

Frank sighed and glanced at the picture of a grinning Janie on his bulletin board, sandwiched between hyper-glotsic scales and a picture of a meteorite crater. Wall Street, huh. Other people’s millions on the line. What would that stress be like? Despite everything he’d experienced over the last eight years, he didn’t envy the woman.

Frank went back to his station, pulled up the recordings Wilbur had sent him. Activity seemed to be increasing this year. Peak was going to come in only few weeks. They’d found Gary at the right time.

Coincidence. I think not.

Their boss knew what he was doing.

Go to Chapter Four

Go to Chapter Six

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