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Where: A Phone Call

When: September 1, 2012; Morning

What: Mere circumstance turns a simple word from purely coincidence to luck and fortune.

It's an ad that most people would overlook. Even Zan, normally, wouldn't give any attention to the personals pages of the newspaper. The reason behind the paper at all was to cover surfaces not to be painted in his parents' basement, the narrow windows and doors hidden behind black and white newsprint. It was while taping a sheet over the door leading to the outside that single word caught his eye.


That damn word has been popping up a lot lately. Too often to be of any coincidence or act of paranoia. It prompted the mayor's younger son to take another look at the ad itself. Too much to be simply coincidence. His phone is pulled out of his pocket and the number is called.

And the phone is answered, by some happy coincidence or owing to the fact that its owner does not care for persistent ringing noises. "Yeah?" is the answer. The tone of voice is tired, half-annoyed.

Zan doesn't respond immediately. There's little that feeds over the line, the humming of the water heater's heating element, the whir of air being blown through a vent system. Then Zan's voice edges out an apprehensive, "What do you know about invisible guys?"

"I know they have no incentive to hit the gym," Ken answers with that sort of humor that comes from boredom. "Exactly why are you calling?" he wants to know. "Not an invisible man looking for love, are you?"

"Because someone I know told me about an invisible man," Zan answers. "Kind of a strange coincidence, don't you think?"

"I guess," Ken sighs into the phone. "You didn't happen to get the invisible man's phone number, did you? Because I kind of wanted to talk to his friend, the one who's so interested in data drives."

Another pause lingers, though not quite as long as the first. "What do you know about data drives," Zan asks.

"I know they're worth about five thousand dollars," Ken says. "Do /you/ have five thousand dollars?"

"Are you a salesman," Zan asks. He sounds a little skeptical, nearly chuckling. "I haven't seen the invisible man, though. Nor his friend. I've only been told about them."

"I am right now," Ken says, "But only if you're buying. If you're /not/ buying, then you'll have to tell me exactly why I don't want to hang up this phone if you want to keep chatting about invisible men."

"I might be buying," Zan says carefully. The line goes quiet for a couple of seconds, but for the background noise which grows fractionally louder. Within the basement, he steps around some building supplies, rollers and paint cans, to peer up the stairs leading to the rest of the house. "Let's talk about that price, though."

"Okay," Ken says, a definite smile in his voice. "If you don't like my number, what's yours? I know this drive's been worth a number of crimes, and I know what most people would pay to keep out of jail, so…it's up there."

"I'll call you," Zan states. There's no room for negotiation in his tone on that point. "As for the drive. Three thousand, and access to a lawyer if you come into needing one."

"Call me? You just did," Ken says, sounding a little puzzled on that point. "And when you say a lawyer, what kind of lawyer do you mean? And what does 'access' mean? And if you're not the lawyer, how do I know he'll represent me when the time comes?"

"My number," Zan says. "You aren't getting it. What I mean by lawyer is I'll call in a favor. To my brother. He's a defense lawyer and I'll see that he represents you."

"Hm," Ken grunts. "I guess I'll have to just take that part on faith. Pro-bono representation from your brother and thirty-five hundred. Deal?" He ignores the number business.

"I'll include his business card and all phone numbers," Zan replies. "Pro bono representation, thirty-two hundred. And once we trade, this call never happened."

"Fine," Ken agrees. "But I want cash, you understand? And there's been violence around this thing, so here's how it's going to go down. We're going to meet somewhere. I will not have the drive on me, but I will give you the key that will unlock the place where the drive's kept. You will give me the money, we'll go down to where the drive is kept together, so you know I'll keep my word. You'll open it up and take the drive and then you'll leave, and I'll stay and leave later. Got it?"

The sounds from the bowels of the house lessen as Zan moves away from the stairs. "Half when we meet," he says, "in exchange for the key. The rest when I get the drive. To make sure we both keep our ends of the deal. I'll meet you outside Pearlies, in two days just after lunch, I'll be wearing Rebels colors."

"That's fair," Ken decides. "I'll find you, we'll do it all on the up-and-up. Nobody gets hurt, nobody gets cheated, we all get what we want. …Do you know what's on the drive?" he can't help asking at last.

"Good." Zan nearly ends the call there, pausing when the question comes over. "I might," he answers, "I'll be in touch."

The call is ended after just a short pause. He glances toward the stairs again, as though expecting his dad to come down any second and raise hell about what kind of trouble he might be getting into now. But when no one does, the mayor's boy pushes his phone back into his pocket and gets back to work renovating, wondering at what kind of luck he has to stumble on a find like that.

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