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Foreign business affairs

A fable by Bruny Hudson

The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
Vladimir Nabokov

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Part 62

Ludwig’s eyes narrowed. “Everybody in that room was concentrating so darned hard on the work. I watched what they were doing and knew I was in a garment factory, and people were sewing as if the devil were standing behind them prodding them to work faster and faster. I never saw them looking up.”

I whistled softly. “At least it gave you some leeway in your hassle to get out of there. How many times did you try it?”

“After I had no luck reaching home from the same computer for a second time, I spied another computer at the other end of the room. I sneaked to it, only to get the same result. I tried it two or three more times and then quit.”

“You never had a suspicion that your tag had gone bad?”

“How? Nobody could have tampered with it, and it never entered my mind that there could have been a bug in my Internet ID account. I thought the computers in the factory were malfunctioning.”

“So, you left the factory and went looking for another computer or a cell phone?”

“That was my intention. It wasn’t easy, though, to get out of the factory. The single door was not only closed, but locked … from the outside.”

“You can’t be serious.” A quiver ran through my body. “They lock people into a place that could easily catch on fire, with all the cloth and whatever they have in there? And with only one door?”

Ludwig heaved a sigh. “Exactly. If someone needed to go out—by the way, there were only women inside the sewing room—she had to bang on the door several times, and eventually, you would hear someone inserting a key from the outside and opening the door for her while spewing out a barrage of words, words completely foreign to me. That’s when I realized I had again wound up in a country I didn’t know anything about.”

“I guess there was no hope of your finding a cell phone on one of those women in there, locked up like wild animals.” A quiver hit me again.

“No, and it surprised me that they had computers in the room, at least the two I used. But then I thought they would need a computer system for record keeping and it required a password for access to the Internet. That was also another reason why I blamed the computers that I always returned to the same place.”

“How did you finally find your way out of there?”

“Well, after I saw how it worked, I was ready to wait for another woman asking to be let out and then make my escape. But suddenly, I heard a key turn without anybody coming forward, and I quickly hid behind a storage box next to the door. When it opened, I pushed through it, ramming legs and hearing screams, but nothing stopped me, and I just ran and ran.”

A distant clamor sent us to our paws, and with our ears erect, we listened to the sound coming from the main street. As it became louder, we nodded to each other and waited.

To be continued

Part 61

Ludwig listened with his mouth half opened to my report on Olaf. “That dog is something else,” he said as soon as I’d finished. “Good thing, I did take off right away.”

“Yeah, it turned out you were better off here than you would have been in Russia … you didn’t get hurt here in any way, did you?”

“Let’s move over there to the door, I’m supposed to watch it, and I’ll tell you all about what happened to me.”

“You have to stay outside during the night?” My jaw dropped.

Ludwig shook his head. “The door doesn’t close right, that’s why I’m on guard duty. I can stay inside or outside, whichever I like better.”

“That sounds more like it. You do have a knack for running into people who always treat you civilly and even accommodate you. I usually bump into the bad guys.”

“I just know better how to pick ‘em.” Ludwig grinned at me.

I nudged him, and we walked over to the doormat. It resembled more a rug than a mat, and we both had enough room to stretch out.

Shifting his eyes back and forth from me to the dark alley, Ludwig said, “You know all about the shots fired at the Russian warehouse. I heard them the second I’d arrived there and couldn’t get back the way I’d come fast enough. I got out unharmed, but then, I exited a computer into a room full of people. They were sitting at some kind of machines emitting a rattle-rattle-rattle without end, and I knew I was somewhere where I didn’t want to be either. I thought I’d made a typo in my home address when I entered it into the computer to leave …”

“Hold on just a second,” I said. “Not that it would have mattered since your Internet account was compromised, but you are familiar with the instant return feature of our tags, aren’t you?”

Ludwig nodded. “By the time I’d thought of it, I’d already arrived at the other computer, and all it would have done would have been to send me back to the shooting gallery in Russia. It was dumb luck that the computer I’d exited from was unattended, and I quietly hopped to the keyboard, punched in my home address and made sure I had it right this time, jumped down to the USB port and took off instantly. Then, to my utter surprise, I ended up again in the same place and even at the same computer I’d just left.”

“Whoa, the hacker Olaf had praised so highly must not have been so competent after all. Olaf told me what he’d done would send you all over the country every time you use your tag to make sure you would get lost and stay lost.”

“Oh dog, that would have been an even worse disaster. This way, I at least had a chance to get somewhat accustomed to wherever I was. You think the hacker might have screwed up on purpose? That’s why he didn’t send me to the boondocks and instead to such a busy place where people would take pity on me?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Maybe the hacker had a spark of decency in his body. Olaf surely bragged about him and his feat in making you disappear. Amazing that no one in the room saw you at the computer.”

To be continued

Part 60

The passageway was dark, but a dim light shone from what I assumed was the restaurant’s backdoor. I crept toward it until my eyes caught a sparkle. As if on cue, the Searcher’s signals turned into music to my ears, into one constant beep.

And then, I saw him. The light from the outdoor lamp above the door reflected on his golden collar. Ludwig, his left rear leg lifted, was standing at a bush peeing. 

I watched him but couldn’t restrain myself to wait until he finished his business. Overcome with happiness, I hollered, “Hey buddy, what are you doing here?”

Ludwig stopped in mid-stream, his leg still raised. Cocking his head, he slowly put his paw on the ground, and his tail started to wag, faster and faster.

“What does it look like?” he said and spun around.

I gave out a chuckle. “Like watering the plants. No, I mean what are you doing here at a restaurant?”

Neither of us dwelled on the answer, and we lunged forward, knocked each other down and hugged. In no time, our embrace turned into a scoreless wrestling match.

Clambering back to his feet and panting, Ludwig said, “I’d never have expected to see you here. Now, my question is, what are you doing here, in India from all places in the world?”

I sat up, also trying to catch my breath. “Looking for you, what else?”

“But how in the whole world did you find me here?”

“It wasn’t easy. Partly with the Searcher.”

“Ha, the Searcher.” Ludwig poked with his nose around my collar. “You tracked me down with one of those things once before.”

“But this time, Kojak had the biggest paw in my finding you. Without him, I don’t know what I could have done and what would have happened to you.”

“I’m surely glad you both put your heads and paws together to find me. Life here isn’t bad, but I’m growing more and more eager to get back home.”

I looked Ludwig up and down. “I was sure you’d be hanging out at the bazaar, not in a back alley.”

“You almost nailed it. I am staying with a guy here at the restaurant but went with him to the bazaar a couple of times. It’s just a few jumps from here.”

“That’s why the signals from the Searcher were so erratic. It drove me nuts.”

Ludwig’s eyebrows rose. “But in the end, it did its job. It’s a great tracking device if you have a starting point nearby. So, how were you and Kojak even able to dig out India and then zoom in on to this neck of the woods?”

I told Ludwig in a nutshell what all had happened after he had left for Russia and blasted Olaf for the intrigues he had played on both of us.

To be continued