Brimsnod bustled off. I hurried to keep up. We walked and walked. Again, I couldn’t say how long or how far, time and distance counting for nothing in the underworld. I followed Brimsnod’s trail of dust, picking up the pace whenever she seemed on the verge of disappearing.
What if she ditched me? I’d stumble in circles forever. No compass, no map. Forget about GPS.
“How do you know which way to go?” I called to Brimsnod.
She didn’t bother to slow down. “How do the bees know which way to fly? How do the swallows get to Capistrano?”
“This, it all looks the same.”
“You get tuned in. It’s like anything else.”
The voice seemed to come from nowhere.
Duke sat in the dust. He got to his feet, more limber than I expected.
“You take care of our pal?” Duke said to Brimsnod.
“Just wait. This is sliced bread and pet rocks combined. Mood rings and the cell phone. Talk about the world beating a path. My prediction: huge. Synergy! Concept. Zeitgeist. Product!”
“You want to give me a hint?” Duke said.
“No time. Creative is going to go nuts.”
She double-timed it through the dust.
Duke shook his head. “You need a nut in your corner, Brimsnod’s your gal.”
She vanished in the twilight.
“You want to tell me what happened?”
“Duke, I have no idea.”
“No surprise there.”
“I took an aptitude test.”
“Fear, death, we talked about that.”
“Brimsnod, she puts one and one together and comes up with seventeen. This ought to be good, Fatman.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll be in touch. Come on. I’ll take you back.”
Again I found myself wandering through the vastness of the underworld, until suddenly I stood ahead of the familiar steel door that led to the coal bin in my basement.
Monday: Conflict of interest does not apply