Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 10
“Very good. And there were eight left?”
“More than eight. I then looked at records of children where these men were identified, at a probability of more than ninety percent, of being a child’s sire. I eliminated some because they had too many children, and I eliminated others because they had paternity judgments pending,” Rondo said.
“No need to get Evela involved with somebody who may have a significant paternity levy in the near future,” Rondo expounded.
“And there were eight left?” Madame Olatana pressed.
“I also threw out two who were members of the Wiklving tribe. Those folks are on that island to the north, just east of the island where King Hutarfe put all the Earthlings, and they are really very low class. Can’t feed their existing children and can’t stop making more babies,” Rondo went on.
“That got you to these eight?”
“Except for two sons of members of Parliament. I threw those out, too. You don’t want to get Evela involved with some sleazy politician’s family.”
“Yes, I understand. I’ll look these over, and perhaps we can think of something to do with these men,” Madame Olatana replied.
“I’ve already got that lined up,” Rondo told his employer. “I’ve found an event center, Joy of Celebration, that will hold a reception for about ten of us. We can put the total on Evela Trodias’s invoice and charge our customary twenty-percent markup.”
“I’ve got an account at Joy of Celebration, Rondo, and I’ve almost paid down my balance,” Madame Olatana said.
Evela Trodias hurried into Madame Olatana’s office a few days later. The astrologer had called her with a message that she had an urgent matter to discuss.
“Take a seat, Evela Trodias,” Rondo said. “Madame is just finishing up with a client, and she will be with you in a moment.”
“And I hope you can put something down on your account today,” Rondo went on. “We would hate to see another month pass without some payment.”
“Payment? I thought Madame said I could postpone the payment until the work had produced results,” Evela answered, somewhat alarmed.
“Just twenty dollars in Universal Gold would show a good intent,” Rondo went on, in spite of the fact that Madame never wanted any client to be harassed for payment.
“I can certainly pay twenty dollars,” Evela said as she handed Rondo her financial disc. “Maybe even twenty-five.”
“Twenty-five is even better,” Rondo agreed as he slid the disc over Madame Olatana’s account input station. “And now Madame has signaled that she is free for you.”
Privia, the headwaiter at the Joy of Celebration event space in the heart of Warbut’s capital city, was in a conference with that hot spot’s chef.
“They will have eleven people, all Warbutians,” Privia said. “We ought to plan for twelve, though.”
“None of these fussy Earthlings?” Glocy, the chef, asked.
“All Warbutians, nine males, two females,” Privia went on.
“And do we have a deposit?” Glocy wondered.
“Twenty-five dollars in Universal Gold,” Privia answered. “Not bad, huh?”
“I can do a very fine spread of hors d’oeuvres with twenty-five in Universal Gold,” Glocy agreed. “The rest on account, I guess.”
“Madame Olatana’s account,” Privia replied. “She’s managed to get somewhat up to date in the last two months, but she’s always a slow pay.”
“But she’s good, sooner or later,” Glocy said. “That’s the important thing.”
“What is this fancy invitation, son?” Harolo TwoSevenNine asked as he waived a stiff card.
“I called that woman, that astrologer, to ask what the invitation meant, and the assistant, a man named Rondo, said it was a reception with a nice spread of food. To meet one of their clients, a single woman with a goal of meeting single men,” Mayda TwoSevenNine answered.
“Can’t be too shabby if it is being held at Joy of Celebration,” Harolo said. “Must be a very important client.”
“Maybe this client, a woman, just wants a free consultation with a doctor,” Mayda suggested. “I’ve been a doctor for almost a month, and many people have already approached me for just a hint of a diagnosis.”
“Mercy, son!” Harolo cried. “A visit to a doctor can’t cost more than this reception at Joy of Celebration.”
“It can if I order a lot of procedures,” Mayda argued. “That’s how I make my money, Dad. You can’t live on the consultation fees. You have to have a cut of the ancillary procedures.”
“Then what could this woman want with you? Even though you are a big, sturdy lad, you don’t have an extra dollar to spare for a woman. In another year you will be taking over the expenses of this household as I retire. That will require every cent you have, with your sister in college and your brother in the voluntary clergy in the service of King Alfred of England,” Harolo asked.
“If this woman has a good job, we might make a go of it,” Mayda reasoned. “I am about ten thousand short per year, as I calculate it, and if we take in a woman to share my bedroom, it might pay us. We will need to add a new bathtub to the downstairs bathroom, but that ought to be able to be amortized over two or three years.”
“But it would mean making some commitment to such a woman!” Harolo cried, clearly in alarm. “Women aren’t as dumb as they let on, son. They think they have a good provider in hand, but they always want a commitment. And they always hire an investigatory accountant to check on every cent you claim you have. Now, your mother was a good provider, and I was sort of sorry when she died.”
“To get the ten thousand, Dad, I may need to do a little in the romance department,” Mayda suggested as he shrugged his shoulders.
“As I said, son, you may need to do more than just a little in the romance department. Women these days can’t be bought with a kiss or a box of candy. They want everything nailed down,” Harolo advised, pounding his fist on the table that held the fancy invitation.
“It’s something to investigate, all right,” Mayda concluded.
Privia waddled into the kitchen and cried, “That Olatana party is here, and there are only six of them!”
Chef Glocy nodded to the headwaiter and said, “They ordered for twelve, they will pay for twelve. Are the two women here?”
“Yes, that astrologer, Madame Olatana, is here in another of her bizarre hats, and a younger woman is here, too,” Privia told him.
“We ought to have plenty of leftovers, then. Take out just half of the chargers, and I’ll put the rest in the fast-freezer. We will have a good start on that large party’s order for tomorrow,” Glocy said.
Privia’s two minions carried the plates to the buffet table, with Privia himself following to lend a tone. The wine table was popular, but with only six guests the barkeep was not busy.
“Will we be expecting anyone else?” Privia asked Madame Olatana.
“No, just the six who are here,” Madame Olatana answered. “This is Evela Trodias, and you already know Rondo. And we have three gentlemen, Doctor Mayda TwoSevenNine, the weather analyst Mr. Cotter, and His Majesty’s pilot, Mr. Kagaw.”
“Yes, Mr. Cotter is one of our regulars, Madame,” Privia whispered. “Very kind to the staff, he is.”
“Just make sure Evela Trodias moves around, that she gets plenty of face time with each of the three gentlemen,” Madame Olatana asked the headwaiter. “Rondo and I will circulate, talking to anybody who is not conversing with Evela.”
“It will be as you wish, Madame,” Privia whispered.
“I don’t want to alarm you, Evela Trodias,” Madame Olatana began as Evela entered her consultation room the day after the party.
“I have done extensive checking on all three of those men, and each has some drawbacks,” Madam
“I thought there would be a few more men,” Evela said.
“I invited seven, but only three were able to come,” Madame Olatana told her. “If I could have selected three for you to meet, it would have been those three, though. I have compared your birth chart with each of those men’s charts, in great detail, and I have that information ready for you now.”
“In addition to the information on those men my parents selected?” Evela asked.
“Your parents selected men I cannot recommend,” Madame Olatana said, firmly shaking her head. “I would like to recommend two of them to your mother, but she already has her hands full with your father and she does not need another man making a nuisance of himself around her house.”
“All men are nuisances, Evela, and if you have to have one he ought to be congenial,” Madame Olatana said, using exactly the words she had said to nearly every other lovelorn woman who had come into her consulting room.
“And are any of my parents’ selections congenial?” Evela asked.
“Not in your terms,” Madame Olatana answered. “You need to have like temperaments, and not one of those men is ever going to be able to cheer you when you are down. The men your parents selected are all too serious, too humorless for someone of your intellectual gifts.”
“Well, I did like Doctor Mayda a bit,” Evela confessed. “He seemed to like me, too.”
“All three of those men liked you, Evela,” Madame Olatana replied. “Certainly Doctor Mayda is someone you should consider.”
“But he has issues?”
“He has certain drawbacks, as do the others,” Madame Olatana said. “Mr. Cotter, for example, is a popular media consultant, and he has some very young women running after him. He is very susceptible to these attentions, as many men are. He would want watching.”
“And the others?”
“Mr. Kagaw is under the continual demands of the royal family, as are all that family’s employees. You could never depend on his actually showing up for any appointment, be it your wedding, your child’s soccer game, or a childbirth. Some women can live with this and others cannot.”
“And Doctor Mayda?”
“Here we have a man with significant family responsibilities,” Madame Olatana said.
“You mean he is married? Or involved with the mother of his child?”
“No, it may be worse,” Madame Olatana bewailed, waiving her hand. “He has a lazy father, a sister who is essentially a perpetual college student, and a brother who begs for money so he can be part of King Alfred of England’s religious claque.”
“So he works full time to support these hangers-on?” Evela asked.
“And he will want you to work full time, too, to contribute your share to this bunch,” Madame Olatana insisted.
“I already work full time. What would be different?”
“The minute you step into this man’s house, he will want you to be the housekeeper, the cook, and the sex partner,” Madame Olatana explained. “And, he will want you to pick up after the father and the sister, who also live in that house. And when this religious brother comes to town, you will need to entertain him and his colleagues, people who will deplete your pantry before they finally depart.”
“And Doctor Mayda will take my salary?”
“I suspect he is already making plans for that salary,” Madame Olatana said. “His planetary alignments show that he has a good heart, but he has been left with too many responsibilities. His mother is dead, and I see by her birth date, which Rondo found, she was a terrible martyr to the rest of the family. You would take her place, except your sex partner would be the son instead of the father.”
“How could I marry Doctor Mayda and avoid sharing these responsibilities?” Evela asked.
“A very clear and unbreakable marriage contract would be appropriate,” Madame Olatana said. “Rondo will make an appointment with our attorney, and she will outline the clauses you will need. You need to give this man some percentage of your salary, and, in return, you will receive Warbutians and robots to clean, cook, and do the laundry. You would need to service Doctor Mayda sexually yourself, as we Warbutians are used to doing.”
“So I would attract him by playing his own game? Do you think I should make the proposal?”
“I think to take the upper hand at this point is critical,” Madame Olatana said, pounding her hand on her desk. “If you allow this man to propose, you are just inviting him to entrap you. Jump on this right away, just after you have seen the attorney and have a contract in hand. A nice proposal gift, such as a piece of jewelry, would be appropriate, but don’t go overboard.”
Booe Trodias and Lunet Iral cornered their daughter, Evela, just after supper a few days later.
“You have turned down three dinner dates with our friends,” Booe Trodias scolded. “Your father and I cannot let this insolence pass by without a few words to you.”
“I certainly appreciate your helping me with my search for a mate,” Evela replied. “However, I am closing in on my candidate.”
“I have found someone I want to propose to, and I will meet him with a draft contract at the lawyer’s office tomorrow,” Evela told them firmly.
“Now, Evela, we haven’t given our consent,” Lunet Iral said, alarmed. “We don’t even know the name of this person.”
“I will give you the name and even bring him to the house after he and I review the contract,” Evela said. “I can’t bandy his name about until he and I have come to some agreement.”
“Well!” cried Booe indignantly. “I don’t think a discussion of this man with your own parents would constitute bandying his name about!”
“Nevertheless, I want to make sure he is willing to go forward with an engagement before I introduce him,” Evela insisted. “You might have too much interest in those men you have sponsored to make this man welcome here, and I want to be certain he and I are of like mind before I present him.”
Harolo TwoSevenNine was also affronted, a few days later, by the disrespect Evela had shown him by holding the initial meeting about the contract in the lawyer’s office. She had not invited him, having the absurd belief the matter concerned Mayda only. If he had known about the meeting, he and his daughter would have made every effort to attend it, and they would have made sure Mayda’s only brother had been sent money for passage from his current missionary assignment on the Wiklvings’ island so he, too, could add his requirements to the marriage contract.
“Now, Mayda, are you going to counter this offer?” Harolo asked. “Surely this woman has more to offer than a meager thirty percent of her gross.”
“I looked at the numbers, Dad, and thirty percent seems just about right,” Mayda answered. “She has to give ten percent to the Crown or the Parliament, depending on who has the upper hand. If the Crown has won the latest election, her ten percent goes mostly to various charities King Hutarfe has set up for the poor; otherwise, the Parliament takes this same ten percent and uses anything left over after infrastructure costs and debt service to increase their own salaries. So forget ten percent, anyway.”
“But that leaves ninety percent!” Harolo figured. “Of that she is willing to give you, her husband, only thirty percent!”
“She has bills, too, Dad,” Mayda explained.
“Bills? What bills can there be? We are housing her, we are paying for the fuel costs, we are using good furniture for her that your mother and I bought many years ago,” Harolo argued.
“She has to give ten percent to her own parents, Dad, to help pay for the wedding,” Mayda went on. “She has professional training to pay for, she has to buy a few clothes, she has to pay for her food while she is at work, and she has to pay for her own medical care.”
“Training? Medical care? These things are luxuries that she can give up in order to live here with us,” Harolo said incredulousl
“I looked at the fine print on that contract, Dad,” Mayda continued. “I have to pay for a full-time housekeeper and two new robots.”
“A housekeeper and robots! Your mother and I lived without these fancy robots for all of her married life,” Harolo pointed out. “This woman is just shirking her marital responsibilities! Let me write out the counter offer.”
“I have already countered, Dad,” Mayda told him. “I have asked for, and received, the last five years of income statements. Thirty percent would get us about forty-five thousand in Universal Gold, and we will need to pay about twenty thousand for the housekeeper each year. If I put in that bathtub and buy those robots, I will have debt service of about two thousand a year, and I countered that she raise the percentage to thirty-two to make up for all of that. In five years the debt will be cleared, but the extra two percent will still be coming in.”