Hobo: Living forever through his adventures
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Foreign business affairs
A fable by Bruny Hudson
The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
Henry placed the tag into yet another machine. “The tag’s getting its final polish in there,” he said, “and it’ll be ready in just a sec.”
I cocked my head. “I remember Lorelei taking great effort and pride in doing it by paw or mouth, I don’t know how she did it, but it took her some time.”
“Yes, the old-fashioned way. Now it’s all done by machine, and so much faster. See, it’s already finished.”
The tumbling had stopped, and Henry pulled the tag out. “Let me fasten it to your collar, next to your old one. Don’t worry that they might interfere with each other, they won’t.”
Holding my neck still for Henry to snap on the tag, I noticed a computer sitting in the corner of his workbench.
“That computer over there,” I asked, “is it working, and could I leave straight from it to go home?”
“In fact, it is, and yes, you can. But it’s only good for that, for leaving, you cannot arrive from it. So, whenever you come back to visit me, you still have to travel first to the relay station and walk from there over here. Now, let me outfit you with a Searcher. I keep them under the kiosk counter.”
Henry went into the front room, and I heard him opening a drawer and rummaging through it.
“I’ll give you the most powerful one,” he called out to me. “I’m certain it’ll lead you to your friend. Go and fire up the computer, so you won’t lose any more time.”
When I had the computer going, Henry came back with the Searcher and hung it around my neck.
“The cord is retractable,” he said. “You’re familiar with it, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, it worked like a charm on the other Searcher you gave me. It always stayed put where I could easily get to it.”
Henry nodded. “It’s a great invention, especially since a single pull sends it back to your collar and out of the way if you don’t need it.”
“So, I guess this is it.” I patted Henry on the shoulder. “Thank you once again for all your help.”
“You are very welcome, that’s what I’m here for. Good luck with finding your friend, and try harder to stay out of trouble.”
I flashed the tip of my tongue at him, smiled and turned toward the computer. I entered my Internet ID code together with my home address and held both my tags close to the USB port at the bottom of the monitor. Instantly, I felt the jolt of a successful connection, and the first leg of my mission to rescue Ludwig had started.
To be continued
I got up and peeked into the storage room, worried I would find Henry slouched down, disheartened by Kojak’s rebuff. Instead, he was standing on a workbench, yip-yipping, which came darn close to a whistle, and rummaging through a toolbox.
“Come on in,” he called out to me and waved me in.
His cheerfulness raised my spirits, and I entered, surprised by what opened up in front of me. “Wow,” I said, “this is more a workshop than a storage room. And it’s huge. I’ve never been in here before.”
“There’s even a cubbyhole attached over there.” Henry pointed to the far end. “It has a cot in it, and it’s where I take my naps.”
“No wonder you didn’t hear me knocking at the window or shouting.” I scrutinized Henry’s face. “Well, what did Kojak say? You look and act as if you got through to him.”
“Sure. He first suggested, though, letting you sweat it out since it was caused by your own foolhardiness, but I reminded him that poor Ludwig is the one who’s taking the brunt of it and that you have already taken your share, too.”
“Thanks for intervening on my part.”
Henry nodded. “Kojak is going to reinstate your tag on your Internet ID account, and then, he’ll try to lift any restrictions on Ludwig’s tag. Right now, I’m getting you set up with a temporary one.”
“Thank you so much, Henry, I knew you would be my lifesaver.”
He pulled a shiny round coin out of the toolbox, and clamping it between two slides on some kind of press, he said, “By the time you get home with this one and get your brother moving, your old tag should be good again for unlimited use.”
“I don’t need to apply for a new one?”
“No, you’ll be all set. But Kojak brought up another potential problem.”
“What the hell did I miss?”
“Well, since Ludwig’s tag is merely corrupted but still working, he might be moving around in India, or he could even have just jumped on a truck or train, and is now far away from his initial point of entry.”
“OMD, that’s so Ludwig, considering his impulsiveness. Are there any other devices I could use, maybe something similar to a GPS?”
“No, it wouldn’t work. It isn’t compatible with the Internet travel. It gives you a route to travel by land, air or water to a destination which you, by yourself, could only reach easily via the Internet.”
“In other words, if Ludwig didn’t stay put, I won’t stand a chance of finding him.”
I slumped down. Having saved Ludwig’s last used India URL as a guarantee of finding him had been for naught.
To be continued
Henry slipped his paw off the coin press and looked at me. “Don’t despair, yet, Hobo,” he said. “Kojak told me that when he taps into your friend’s Internet account, he might be able to trace his whereabouts and find a computer or whatever nearby. He’ll then email you the new URL.”
“That sounds promising. But where exactly would I exit the device? It could be in any hellhole or a place crowded with people.”
“It could have been something just like that where Olaf had sent your friend. You said it was an India URL that didn’t mean a thing to you. Knowing Kojak, he’ll probably select a device in a place where you can easily bug out.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Kojak is a great guy, willing to help me and even going the extra mile despite his misgivings.”
“But listen,” Henry said, “when you’re hunting down Ludwig in India, check now and then at his home to make sure he didn’t find his tag working again and head home. It’ll come up on the Searcher. Unfortunately, there’s often a rather long delay in the automatic transmitting, but you can override it manually. Just tap the ‘current status’ button several times.”
I furrowed my brow. “Things are getting more and more complicated. Every time I figure something out, something new comes along, and I have to fret about it all over again.”
Henry cocked his head. “You’re always on par with any changes in your ventures. When one of your deals doesn’t work out, you always have another one lined up.”
“Not this time. It’ll be different. I’ll take my losses and a long overdue break. I have it already planned, starting with a nice relaxing stay at a resort in India after I find Ludwig, perhaps with some meditation sessions thrown in.”
“Now, we’ll see about that.” Henry grinned. “I’d bet you already have a new business idea buzzing around in your head.”
Henry’s words instantly brought back the prospect of making some kibbles from the import of spices, and perhaps also perfumes, from India, something that had briefly flashed across my mind earlier. Maybe Henry knew me better than I did. But whatever I’d do, it had to wait until I saw Ludwig, safe and sound.
While Henry worked on my temporary tag, I looked around the room, spying for a door leading to the Internet tunnel. When he swapped machines, I asked him about it.
“It’s in the small room where I sleep,” he answered. “I only tell my closest friends about it. From the tunnel side, it’s the second door to the left facing the kiosk. I don’t want other dogs knocking on it for whatever petty reason. If they don’t reach me at the service window, they can wait until I’m available.”
“Thanks for letting me know.”
“I should have told you earlier but never thought about it. I’m sure you would have woken me up banging on it.”
“So, the door in between is a fake one?”
“No, not at all. It belongs to some dog who likes his privacy, so I’m not prying. And you don’t poke your nose in it either.”
“I don’t intend to. Good, though, I’d left the door alone when I was looking for an entrance to your office. I wish someone could organize the doors in a manner that makes sense. Considering all the advanced technology, their chaotic arrangement is just ridiculous.”
“Dangerous, if not life-threatening, would describe it even better. Don’t you ever forget, keep your paws away from any anonymous door.”
To be continued