Madame olatana warbut as.., p.11
Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 11
“You are muddled in your thinking, son,” Harolo said, shaking his head. “All that is based on her continuing to work at the same rate. If she decides to take time off to have a child, thirty-two percent of zero is zero. If she leaves you, we have the aging robots and the installed bathtub to pay for, too.”
Mayda sighed and said, “The termination of the contract requires the person who wants out to give the other person fifty thousand in Universal Gold. I will take that fifty thousand and pay off our debts and fire the housekeeper.”
“Fire the housekeeper? After living with a housekeeper for some time, we are to go back to scrounging for ourselves at mealtimes?” Harolo asked.
“We are able to live and pay our bills now,” Mayda said.
“And what if you, yourself, want out? What then?” Harolo pressed.
“I can’t leave until I have the fifty thousand in the bank,” Mayda admitted. “She’s got various investments in real estate she can sell to come up with the fifty grand, but I’ve got only loans and two good suits. This house is in your name, and I can’t mortgage it.”
“Exactly right,” Harolo agreed. “This is getting too involved, and we ought to call your cousin Thur to look over that contract.”
“Thur is fed up with having us mooch free legal advice, Dad,” Mayda told Harolo. “She said as much to me when we met at that funeral last month. She doesn’t want to see our faces in her office again unless we bring cash.”
“Blood is thicker than water,” Harolo threw in. “She’s family.”
“She’s Mom’s family,” Mayda reminded him. “We are essentially estranged from Mom’s family since you sent those bills for her burial expenses to her siblings.”
“Don’t know why,” Harolo said. “We didn’t collect a dime, and the funeral director is still calling about once a week. People ought to be content to write off invoices after a decent interval.”
Madame Olatana sat with Evela one last time in the consultation room.
“So you are moving forward with Doctor Mayda TwoSevenNine?” the astrologer asked.
“Yes, and I thank you for everything you have done,” Evela Trodias gushed. “My parents are pleased with Mayda’s profession, and I am pleased that he has accepted my contract.”
“Did you get everything you asked for?” Madame Olatana wondered.
“I was ready to give forty percent of my gross, but we negotiated thirty-two,” Evela confessed. “I’ve got a vacancy coming up in one of my houses, and we will live there until Mayda is established.”
“I thought you were going to live with Doctor’s family!” Madame Olatana said.
“Have you ever met that old man?” Evela asked. “He’s not presentable. Mayda will send him something every week to help him with running his own house, but I could not have agreed to live with those people. Mayda doesn’t know it yet, but the housekeeper and the new robots are meant for our use in my house. The contract says I may choose where we live, and Mayda still is under the assumption we will live with his family. I’ll clear that up before the wedding, but there is no clause in the contract that says so.”
“And did you receive the invoice that Rondo sent?” Madame Olatana nervously asked.
“Yes, and that invoice has been included in the wedding expenses my parents will pay. It is a drop in the bucket, compared with the cost of the reception they are planning at Joy of Celebration.”
A few months after Madame Olatana had attended the elaborate celebration of the marriage of Evela Trodias and Doctor Mayda TwoSevenNine, a payment came into her office from Booe Trodias and Lunet Iral, one that settled Evela’s account in full.
“Rondo, I have you to thank for most of this remuneration,” Madame Olatana said to her assistant.
“Most of it?” Rondo asked.
“Yes, we made most of our money after you went to the Courthouse and found those seven other men,” Madame Olatana explained. “Although I charged a fair price for my consulting hours and your research, the real profit on this account came from the markups on that initial meeting at the Joy of Celebration and the fee to the lawyer.”
“So we need to get ourselves involved in these ancillary services as often as possible?” Rondo asked.
“Well, I’m not ready to jump into parties,” Madame Olatana confessed, waiving her large hand. “If we had not been able to collect on this invoice, we might have had to swallow the extras the Joy of Celebration added to the bill. We are not in a good position to extend ourselves that much, what with the high cost of this office and the Universal Message Service’s fees for calls.”
“But if we could offer an introduction service, with a really big fee up front,” Rondo started.
“I would need to increase my insurance,” Madame Olatana said. “And we would need to get involved with private detectives, a group of people who range from the seedy to the fashionable.”
“Yes, indeed,” Madame Olatana insisted. “We cannot make a habit of introducing clients to unknown potential romantic partners without being absolutely sure about the backgrounds of those people.”
“So we took a bit of a risk with Evela Trodias?”
“Astrology is not a sure thing, Rondo,” Madame Olatana admitted. “We see indications and inclinations, but we would be better served to also have police records in hand before we make introductions. With Evela Trodias, we had three people we could check up on.”
“And we were just lucky those other four guys didn’t show up?”
“I never sent those invitations,” Madame Olatana told him. “I still have them in my desk. Those four men were not up to my standards. One was under a terrible strain from an affliction to his natal Angelto, and two were born with our star squaring the horizon. I can’t pretend to be an astrologer if I try to make vicuña purses out of those birth dates.”
“So we need to advertise as a matchmaking service as well as an astrology reader, use the Watool conjunction as our starting point….”
“…as well as a Watool trine,” Madame Olatana threw in.
“…the Watool conjunction or trine as our starting point, and have you weed out the impossible matches before we set the detectives to work?”
“And after we collect a portion of the final fee and make sure that money is deposited into our account before we go back to the Joy of Celebration for another expensive but risky soirée.”
Rondo nodded his head. “Do you want to advertise on the Universal Message Service? Or do you want to just change the name on the door?”
“I think we need to rework the layout of the front office to have the door we currently use as an exit to be the entrance for the introduction service,” Madame Olatana decided. “The number on that door, two, will be better for relationship issues.”
“So I move my desk to the middle of the room?”
“Yes, and the waiting area needs to be changed to show nothing about astrology. We need a few romantic pictures,” Madame Olatana said.
“Won’t the astrology clients be worried if it’s all lovey-dovey?” Rondo asked.
“Love and romance are the premier topics for any astrologer, Rondo,” Madame Olatana told him. “People say they want to talk about money or careers or health, but if I can give them good news about upcoming action in the romance department, they consider me worth the cost of the consultation.”
“I’ll draft a couple of advertisements for your review, Madame, and I’ll call the decorators about the revisions to the reception room,” Rondo said.
“And Rondo,” Madame Olatana added, “I’ve ordered a bonus for you, based on collecting from the Trodias account. It ought to show up at your bank later today.”
“Thank you, Madame. I endeavor to give real satisfaction.”
4 Chef Glocy
On the date the Earthlings on Warbut called May 3, 2238, Chef Glocy entered Madame Olatana’s reception room.
“I am always too busy, Madame, to come out to the front,” the tall and roly-poly Glocy admitted. “Privia and his crew handle all the customer interactions, and I work from sun to sun to get the food ready. I have monitors into the reception rooms, of course, but I rarely need to go into them.”
“Of course, yours is the critical work at our capital’s most prestigious event space,” Madame Olatana went on. “The reviews of any event at Joy of Celebration are always commenting favorably on the food.”
“Thank you, Madame. We would not last long if the food were not good. Not at our prices, anyhow.”
“And what has brought you to me today? Rondo has already entered your birth data into the computer, and I can already see why you have found such success at a very young age,” Madame Olatana said, continuing to pile it on a bit thick.
“Thank you, Madame. My problem is that women dump me, time and time again. I need to figure out how to find a suitable woman and keep her,” Glocy told the astrologer.
“How long has this been going on?”
“For thirty years, at least,” Glocy answered. “No woman has been able to stick it out more than seven or eight months. Even an Earthling woman was fed up with me after only a few meetings.”
“Let’s forget the Earthlings,” Madame Olatana insisted, waiving away the entire species. “Those people are not able to bear our children because their bodies cannot easily carry a fetus to term. We are so much larger, and several Earthling women have died in childbirth with half-Warbutian babies in the womb. I cannot recommend any Earthling woman to you, Chef Glocy.”
“She couldn’t tolerate it for more than a minute, if you know what I mean,” Glocy confided in a whisper.
“As I say, they are not built for consorting with Warbutians. If you want an extraterrestrial, we need to look to Drintde or Lillitzen for suitable consorts,” Madame Olatana said. “However, I hope we can find a local love interest for you.”
Within an hour after his consultation with Madame Olatana, Chef Glocy had traveled across the Warbut capital to his kitchen in the Joy of Celebration event space.
“What did she say?” Privia, that swank establishment’s headwaiter, asked. “Is there any hope?”
“There’s always hope, if you can afford to add it to the mix,” Glocy replied. “She is going to use an advanced search, whatever that may be, to find women in the capital and the outlying regions who might be compatible.”
“She can do that?” Privia asked.
“She can see compatibility on an intellectual level,” Glocy went on.
“You are no intellectual,” Privia unkindly reminded the chef. “You are an artist.”
“She means we might have similar ideas and similar ways of looking at things,” Glocy explained, glowering at his business partner. “She says that’s the best place to start since most relationships go sour when there is no intellectual compatibility.”
“Did you tell her you wanted a looker? Somebody presentable?”
“What she is inclined to consider as a looker would not be my choice,” Glocy replied. “I’ll have to decide for myself when she starts to stir up the candidates.”
“And you will stop your pursuit of our clientele in the meantime? You have got to put an end to this pestering of all the good-looking women in the wedding parties, you know,” Privia wondered, pointing his finger at the chef.
Glocy sighed and shook his massive head. “The only reason single women come to these wedding receptions is to find single men, and you are aware of it as well as I am. These women are ready to jump into the stew.”
“They come to meet the bridegroom’s friends, not to be hassled by the owners of the event space,” Privia returned.
“Sometimes the bridegroom is just a bum, somebody with a clean genetics report that the bride’s parents want added to the ingredients of the progeny,” Glocy pouted.
“Let’s just say that while Madame Olatana is conducting her search you will behave yourself,” Privia suggested.
“I’ll collect names and contact numbers, but I won’t go any further,” Glocy agreed. “Not for a couple of weeks, anyway.”
Within two days after Chef Glocy’s consultation with Madame Olatana, Rondo had found seventeen candidates. These women were between ten and twelve years older than the rotund Glocy and had the planet of Watool, that harbinger of intellectual compatibility, trine Glocy’s Watool, within three degrees of separation at the time of their births.
“Are these women actually unaccompanied?” Madame Olatana asked.
“Not one of these women is living with a male, according to the Universal Message Service’s billing records,” Rondo answered. “No male is on the Service’s records at that address.”
“So we have either seventeen old maids or some combination of old maids and lesbians,” Madame Olatana figured. “All of these women are at least fifty years old?”
“Yes, the youngest is fifty,” Rondo said. “Chef Glocy is just forty.”
“Looks younger, doesn’t he? The more flesh people have on their bones, the longer it takes for the signs of aging to catch up with them,” Madame Olatana observed.
“Should we look, instead, for women of forty-five?”
“No, no. Let’s keep this list for starters, and we can expand the search later if we need to,” Madame Olatana replied. “Fifty is about right for the beginning of the childbearing years, even though some women start much younger.”
Rondo shook his head. “The Earthlings like to breed early. Even when they breed cats, they like to have a young mother.”
“Now, Rondo, you have to weigh the disadvantages and the benefits,” Madame Olatana said. “A thirty-year-old Warbutian mother will have an easier time with childbirth, but a fifty-year-old Warbutian mother will raise a smarter child. Empirical data has shown those results time and time again. The benefits to all of Warbutian society are greater with the older mother.”
“That must be why we Warbut men have been preprogrammed to admire a fifty-year-old woman more than a thirty-year-old one,” Rondo threw in. “Look at the Agonies column in the Universal Message Service’s Warbut pages. All those women in Agony are very young.”
“Exactly,” Madame Olatana said. “Those women need to be patient.”
On the outskirts of the Warbut capital an impromptu meeting was taking place. Stradona, an old maid of fifty-two, had just received her mother, Tignois, into her home. These sporadic visits from the one-hundred-four-year-old family matriarch were rarely due to a piece of good news that had to be spread.
“Your brother is forming a domestic partnership with that woman, the one he has been running around with for five years,” Tignois started. “And he is younger than you!”
“Are you going to have a party?” Stradona asked, hoping to evade the real subject of this invasion into her home. “Something fancy?”
Tignois snorted. “You surely know it is not up to me to spend money on people who will eat and not bring a gift. It is up to the woman’s family, if she has any.”
“You visited those people about a year ago, as I remember,” Stradona told her mother. “A nice spread, you said. No suitable dinnerware, but plenty of food.”
“Yes, and the list of suggested gifts for this couple is reminiscent of that dinnerware. All cheap junk, nothing from Farnoll or even Earth,” Tignois went on.
“So you want me to accompany you to the party?”
“No, I want you to find an escort who will help me tell people you are not going to go through life alone,” Tignois replied, stabbing her index finger at Stradona with each word.
“Funny you should bring this up right now!”
“I have brought this up every time I have seen you in the last three years,” Tignois reminded he
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