Makers

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 70 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne was getting sick of breakfast in bed. It was hard to imagine that such a thing was possible, but there it was. Lester stole out from between the covers before 7AM every day, and then, half an hour later, he was back with a laden tray, something new every day. She’d had steaks, burritos, waffles, home-made granola, fruit-salad with Greek yogurt, and today there were eggs Benedict with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. The tray always came with a French press of fresh-ground Kona coffee, a cloth napkin, and her computer, so she could read the news.

In theory, this was a warm ritual that ensured that they had quality time together every day, no matter what. In practice, Lester was so anxious about the food and whether she was enjoying it that she couldn’t really enjoy it. Plus, she wasn’t a fatkins, so three thousand calorie breakfasts weren’t good for her.

Most of all, it was the pressure to be a happy couple, to have cemented over the old hurts and started anew. She felt it every moment, when Lester climbed into the shower with her and soaped her back, when he brought home flowers, and when he climbed into bed with her in the morning to eat breakfast with her.

She picked at her caviar and blini glumly and poked at her computer. Beside her, Lester hoovered up three thousand calories’ worth of fried dough and clattered one-handed on his machine.

“This is delicious, babe, thanks,” she said, with as much sincerity as she could muster. It was really generous and nice of him to do this. She was just a bitter old woman who couldn’t be happy no matter what was going on in her life.

There was voicemail on her computer, which was unusual. Most people sent her email. This originated from a pay phone on the Florida Turnpike.

“Ms Church, this is—ah, this is a person whom you recently had the acquaintance of, while on your holidays. I have a confidential matter to discuss with you. I’m traveling to your location with a colleague today and should arrive mid-morning. I hope you can make some time to meet with me.”

She listened to it twice. Lester leaned over.

“What’s that all about?”

“You’re not going to believe it. I think it’s that Disney guy, the guy I told you about. The one Death used to work for.”

“He’s coming here?”

“Apparently.”

“Woah. Don’t tell Perry.”

“You think?”

“He’d tear that guy’s throat out with his teeth.” Lester took a bite of blini. “I might help.”

Suzanne thought about Sammy. He hadn’t been the sort of person she could be friends with, but she’d known plenty of his kind in her day, and he was hardly the worst of the lot. He barely rated above average on the corporate psychopath meter. Somewhere in there, there was a real personality. She’d seen it.

“Well, then I guess I’d better meet with him alone.”

“It sounds like he wants a doctor-patient meeting anyway.”

“Or confessor-penitent.”

“You think he’ll leak you something.”

“That’s a pretty good working theory when it comes to this kind of call.”

Lester ate thoughtfully, then reached over and hit a key on her computer, replaying the call.

“He sounds, what, giddy?”

“That’s right, he does, doesn’t he. Maybe it’s good news.”

Lester laughed and took away her dishes, and when he came back in, he was naked, stripped and ready for the shower. He was a very handsome man, and he had a devilish grin as he whisked the blanket off of her.

He stopped at the foot of the bed and stared at her, his grin quirking in a way she recognized instantly. She didn’t have to look down to know that he was getting hard. In the mirror of his eyes, she was beautiful. She could see it plainly. When she looked into the real mirror at the foot of the bed, draped with gauzy sun-scarves and crusted around the edges with kitschy tourist magnets Lester brought home, she saw a saggy, middle-aged woman with cottage-cheese cellulite and saddle-bags.

Lester had slept with more fatkins girls than she could count, women made into doll-like mannequins by surgery and chemical enhancements, women who read sex manuals in public places and boasted about their Kegel weight-lifting scores.

But when he looked at her like that, she knew that she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever loved, that he would do anything for her. That he loved her as much as he could ever love anyone.

What the hell was I complaining about? she thought as he fell on her like a starving man.

<<< Back to Part 69

Continue to Part 71>>>

As part of the ongoing project of crafting Tor.com’s electronic edition of Makers, the author would like for readers to chime in with their favorite booksellers and stories about them in the comments sections for each piece of Makers, for consideration as a possible addition to a future edition of the novel.


Doctorow’s Makers is now available in print from Tor Books. You can read all previous installments of Makers on Tor.com on our index page.

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