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قراءة كتاب Eastern Standard Tribe

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Eastern Standard Tribe

Eastern Standard Tribe

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

/private Junta I just hit a woman while driving the Kensington High Street. Her fault. She's hurt. Wants me to admit culpability in exchange for half the insurance. Advice?

##Junta (private): I beg your pardon?

Trepan: /private Junta She's crazy. She just got off the phone with some kinda lawyer in the States. Says she can get $5*10^5 at least, and will split with me if I don't dispute.

##Junta (private): Bloody Americans. No offense. What kind of instrumentation recorded it?

Trepan: /private Junta My GPS. Maybe some secams. Eyewitnesses, maybe.

##Junta (private): And you'll say what, exactly? That you were distracted?
Fiddling with something?

Trepan: /private Junta I guess.

##Junta (private): You're looking at three points off your licence. Statutory increase in premiums totalling EU 2*10^5 over five years. How's your record?

##Transferring credential "Driving record" to Junta. Receipt confirmed.

##Junta (private): Hmmm.

##Junta (private): Nothing outrageous. Were you distracted?

Trepan: /private Junta I guess. Maybe.

##Junta (private): You guess. Well, who would know better than you, right? My fee's 10 percent. Stop guessing. You were distracted. Overtired. It's late. Regrettable. Sincerely sorry. Have her solicitor contact me directly. I'll meet you here at 1000h GMT/0400h EDT and go over it with you, yes? Agreeable?

Trepan: /private Junta Agreed. Thanks.

##Junta (private) (file transfer)

##Received smartcontract from Junta. Verifying. Smartcontract "Representation agreement" verified.

Trepan: /join #autocounsel

counselbot: Welcome, Trepan! How can I help you?

##Transferring smartcontract "Representation agreement" to counselbot. Receipt confirmed.

Trepan: /private counselbot What is the legal standing of this contract?

##counselbot (private): Smartcontract "Representation agreement" is an ISO standard representation agreement between a client and a solicitor for purposes of litigation in the UK.

##autocounsel (private) (file transfer)

##Received "representation agreement faq uk 2.3.2 2JAN22" from autocounsel.

Trepan: /join #EST.chatter

Trepan: /private Junta It's a deal

##Transferring key-signed smartcontract "Representation agreement" to Junta.
Receipt confirmed.

Trepan: /quit Gotta go, thanks!

##Trepan has left channel #EST.chatter "Gotta go, thanks!"

5.

Once the messy business of negotiating EU healthcare for foreign nationals had been sorted out with the EMTs and the Casualty Intake triage, once they'd both been digested and shat out by a dozen diagnostic devices from X-rays to MRIs, once the harried house officers had impersonally prodded them and presented them both with hardcopy FAQs for their various injuries (second-degree burns, mild shock for Art; pelvic dislocation, minor kidney bruising, broken femur, whiplash, concussion and mandible trauma for Linda), they found themselves in adjacent beds in the recovery room, which bustled as though it, too, were working on GMT-5, busy as a 9PM restaurant on a Saturday night.

Art had an IV taped to the inside of his left arm, dripping saline and tranqs, making him logy and challenging his circadians. Still, he was the more mobile of the two, as Linda was swaddled in smartcasts that both immobilized her and massaged her, all the while osmosing transdermal antiinflammatories and painkillers. He tottered the two steps to the chair at her bedside and shook her hand again.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but you look like hell," he said.

She smiled. Her jaw made an audible pop. "Get a picture, will you? It'll be good in court."

He chuckled.

"No, seriously. Get a picture."

So he took out his comm and snapped a couple pix, including one with nightvision filters on to compensate for the dimmed recovery room lighting. "You're a cool customer, you know that?" he said, as he tucked his camera away.

"Not so cool. This is all a coping strategy. I'm pretty shook up, you want to know the truth. I could have died."

"What were you doing on the street at three AM anyway?"

"I was upset, so I took a walk, thought I'd get something to eat or a beer or something."

"You haven't been here long, huh?"

She laughed, and it turned into a groan. "What the hell is wrong with the English, anyway? The sun sets and the city rolls up its streets. It's not like they've got this great tradition of staying home and surfing cable or anything."

"They're all snug in their beds, farting away their lentil roasts."

"That's it! You can't get a steak here to save your life. Mad cows, all of 'em. If I see one more gray soy sausage, I'm going to kill the waitress and eat *her*."

"You just need to get hooked up," he said. "Once we're out of here, I'll take you out for a genuine blood pudding, roast beef and oily chips. I know a place."

"I'm drooling. Can I borrow your phone again? Uh, I think you're going to have to dial for me."

"That's OK. Give me the number."

She did, and he cradled his comm to her head. He was close enough to her that he could hear the tinny, distinctive ringing of a namerican circuit at the other end. He heard her shallow breathing, heard her jaw creak. He smelled her shampoo, a free-polymer new-car smell, smelled a hint of her sweat. A cord stood out on her neck, merging in an elegant vee with her collarbone, an arrow pointing at the swell of her breast under her paper gown.

"Toby, it's Linda."

A munchkin voice chittered down the line.

"Shut up, OK. Shut up. Shut. I'm in the hospital." More chipmunk. "Got hit by a car. I'll be OK. No. Shut up. I'll be fine. I'll send you the FAQs. I just wanted to say. . ." She heaved a sigh, closed her eyes. "You know what I wanted to say. Sorry, all right? Sorry it came to this. You'll be OK. I'll be OK. I just didn't want to leave you hanging." She sounded groggy, but there was a sob there, too. "I can't talk long. I'm on a shitload of dope. Yes, it's good dope. I'll call you later. I don't know when I'm coming back, but we'll sort it out there, all right? OK. Shut up. OK. You too."

She looked up at Art. "My boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. Not sure who's leaving who at this point. Thanks." She closed her eyes. Her eyelids were mauve, a tracery of pink veins. She snored softly.

Art set an alarm that would wake him up in time to meet his lawyer, folded up his comm and crawled back into bed. His circadians swelled and crashed against the sides of his skull, and before he knew it, he was out.

6.

Hospitals operate around the clock, but they still have their own circadians. The noontime staff were still overworked and harried but chipper and efficient, too, without the raccoon-eyed jitters of the night before. Art and Linda were efficiently fed, watered and evacuated, then left to their own devices, blinking in the weak English sunlight that streamed through the windows.

"The lawyers've worked it out, I think," Art said.

"Good. Good news." She was dopamine-heavy, her words lizard-slow. Art figured her temper was drugged senseless, and it gave him the courage to ask her the question that'd been on his mind since

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