Bernie

Bernie Schoor is the owner of a auto repair shop that specializes in older classical cars, such as Monk’s beloved ’64 Ford Falcon convertible. Bernie also runs a backdoor information business, that may or may not be based on his previous life in the intelligence services.

“Do you have a number where I can reach you?”

“I have an answering machine; you can leave a message there,” I replied.

Bernie Schoor sat back in his chair, a wide grin upon his face. “No phone?”

“No phone.”

“Any particular reason you don’t carry one?” he asked.

“Don’t need one.”

“Really?” Bernie seemed unusually animated.

This was my second visit with the Falcon, a relic from 1964 and not exactly a collector’s dream, but it was a convertible built for a town in love with such things and I’d kept it in good shape, something Bernie admired.

“Wow, a ’64, not many of these left. I see it goes with the clothes,” he winked as he said this the first time I brought it in.

I have a passion for the clothing of the fifties and sixties, a style I prefer over jeans and tee shirts, or God forbid, shorts.

There was no need for a call the first time.

“Shouldn’t a guy who runs errands for an outfit such as Aeschylus and Associates have the standard means of communication so prevalent in this day and age?”

“How do you know I work for Aeschylus and Associates?” I was surprised he knew.

“Didn’t you tell me the first time you were here?”

“I know I didn’t.”

“That’s right, it was just before you started.” Bernie motioned to the chair beside his desk, “Have a seat, Monk.”

After hesitating, I sat down. “How do you know where I work?”

“I’m a curious guy.”

Uh-huh. “You run a garage, who cares where I work if I have the money for whatever maintenance the car needs?”

“It does seem contradictory, doesn’t it?”

“Or invasive,” I answered.

“So, no phone…”

“No phone.”

“What about emergencies? What if there’s no time to spare?” He was fixated on this phone thing.

“There always time, and if not…well, then there’s not. People have survived for a million years without this artificial tether; I can too. As for emergencies and the like, I’ll figure out something. Besides, if you’re careful emergencies are rare and if you’re nobody special it won’t matter.” I had my reasons.

“Interesting.” Bernie leaned forward, a sparkle in his eye. “And the possibility of surveillance, of your being tracked, accounted for, isn’t part of the equation? It’s the lack of importance, the social anonymity, the being a nobody.”

“Something like that.”

“But you worry nonetheless?”

“Concern, not worry,” I countered.

“Of?”

“Of the capitalistic militaristic machine and its bureaucracy.” I was channeling Moses, wondering if Bernie knew about him. “I prefer anonymity.”

“Yet I know about you.” He continued smiling at me.

“Do you? And if you do, you had to work at it, no?”

“I did.”

“Why then would I hand myself over on a silver platter just for the convenience of knowing the weather or traffic at any given time. It’d spoil the surprise.”

“Some people like to have the weather and traffic at their beck and call,” was his retort.

“People are fools who know not what they do,” was mine.

“Perhaps, but the day may come when your recalcitrance will be overmatched by circumstance or desire,” he warned.

I laughed. “I don’t see that happening, but thanks for the warning.”

Bernie Schoor got up; as did I. Outside the cab was waiting. “The Falcon should be ready tomorrow,” he told me as I got in the cab.

“If not, leave me a message,” I said.

I left him shaking his head.

©2019 David William Pearce

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