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قراءة كتاب Eastern Standard Tribe

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‏اللغة: English
Eastern Standard Tribe

Eastern Standard Tribe

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 9

right, sir, all right, here you are."

The wallet was tattered and leather, and it was indeed made in England, as the frayed tag sewn into the billfold attested. Art turned it over in his hands, then, still smiling, emptied the card slot and started paging through the ID. "Lester?"

Lester swore under his breath. "Les, actually. Hand those over, please — they don't come with the wallet."

"They don't? But surely a real British wallet is hardly complete without real British identification. Maybe I could keep the NHS card, something to show around to Americans. They think socialized medicine is a fairy tale, you know."

"I really must insist, sir."

"Fuck it, Les," the second one said, reaching into his pocket. "This is stupid.
Get the money, and let's push off."

"It's not that easy any more, is it?" the third one said. "Fellow's got your name, Les. 'Sbad."

"Well, yes, of course I do," Art said. "But so what? You three are hardly nondescript. You think it'd be hard to pick your faces out of a rogues gallery? Oh, and wait a minute! Isn't this a trade? What happened to the spirit of transatlantic solidarity?"

"Right," Les said. "Don't matter if you've got my name, 'cos we're all friends, right, sir?"

"Right!" Art said. He put the tattered wallet in his already bulging jacket pocket, making a great show of tamping it down so it wouldn't come loose. Once his hand was free, he extended it. "Art Berry. Late of Toronto. Pleased to meetcha!"

Les shook his hand. "I'm Les. These are my friends, Tony and Tom."

"Fuck!" Tom, the second one, said. "Les, you stupid cunt! Now they got our names, too!" The hand he'd put in his pocket came out, holding a tazer that sparked and hummed. "Gotta get rid of 'em now."

Art smiled, and reached very slowly into his pocket. He pulled out his comm, dislodging Les's wallet so that it fell to the street. Les, Tom and Tony stared at the glowing comm in his hand. "Could you repeat that, Tom? I don't think the 999 operator heard you clearly."

Tom stared dumbfounded at the comm, watching it as though it were a snake. The numbers "999" were clearly visible on its display, along with the position data that pinpointed its location to the meter. Les turned abruptly and began walking briskly towards the tube station. In a moment, Tony followed, leaving Tom alone, the tazer still hissing and spitting. His face contorted with frustrated anger, and he feinted with the tazer, barking a laugh when Art and Linda cringed back, then he took off at a good run after his mates.

Art clamped the comm to his head. "They've gone away," he announced, prideful.
"Did you get that exchange? There were three of them and they've gone away."

From the comm came a tight, efficient voice, a male emergency operator. The speech was accented, and it took a moment to place it. Then Art remembered that the overnight emergency call-centers had been outsourced by the English government to low-cost cube-farms in Manila. "Yes, Mr. Berry." His comm had already transmitted his name, immigration status and location, creating a degree of customization more typical of fast-food delivery than governmental bureaucracies. That was bad, Art thought, professionally. GMT polezeidom was meant to be a solid wall of oatmeal-thick bureaucracy, courtesy of some crafty, anonymous PDTalist. "Please, stay at your current location. The police will be on the scene shortly. Very well done, sir."