Madame olatana warbut as.., p.15

Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 15

 

Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer
 


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  II

  “Welcome, Piev Fallgan, to my consulting room,” Madame Olatana said. “And is this your daughter?”

  “This is my oldest child, Frak. She has been unlucky in love, too, but she has a man on the string now,” Piev Fallgan answered.

  Madame Olatana helped Frak get Piev settled into the best client chair. Piev was frail but determined to push aside the two younger women while she gathered her silk skirts about her chair.

  “I want a man!” Piev Fallgan began. “If you are in the business of finding lovers, I want you to find one for me.”

  “Yes, we have had some success here in our office with finding suitable partners for our clients,” Madame Olatana said. “We ask for a number of facts….”

  “Facts? The only fact you need to know is that I want a man!” Piev Fallgan shouted.

  “Yes, but we need to ask a number of questions to allow us to hone in on appropriate times,” Madame Olatana explained.

  “Times? The time is now!” Piev Fallgan continued.

  “Let us start with the dates of prior successes in love. Do you know how to use the Earthlings’ calendar?”

  Piev Fallgan snorted. “Everybody is using that calendar now. Even King Hutarfe uses it when he publishes his schedule. The Earthlings are so simpleminded that they can’t adjust to our calendar, so we have to adjust to theirs.”

  “It really is quite straightforward, Piev Fallgan,” Madame Olatana tried to explain. “The Earthlings just disregarded the first eighteen million years of the life of the Universe and started their count at the birth of their great prophet. We are now at the Earthling year of 2235. In what year did you meet Frak Fallgan’s father?”

  “Never met him,” Piev Fallgan confessed. “Just a number in a sperm bank. Liked his looks, and my parents wanted a grandchild. Eleven months later Frak was born. Two years after that her brother was born. Twenty years after that my parents died and I was stuck with these two fatherless children.”

  Frak threw up her hands and cried, “Oh, Mama, you can’t be still harping on that! All our fortune has come from our biological fathers’ families. Every cent you have in income!”

  “Shut up!” Piev Fallgan cried. “I never said we were poor. I said only that I have never had a man. I want a man.”

  “So you have never had a love relationship?” Madame Olatana asked soothingly.

  “Too busy!” Piev Fallgan cried. “What with these children always tugging at my apron and my parents in their dotage and having to be served at all hours of the day and night, there never was any time for anything for myself. Now that I’ve got the money and the time, I want to buy a man.”

  “And can you describe the kind of man you would like?” Madame Olatana went on.

  “I want the best,” Piev Fallgan answered. “Somebody with a good brain in his head and a good grasp of plumbing.”

  “Plumbing?” Madame Olatana asked, staring at her client.

  “All my troubles are with accounting and plumbing,” Piev Fallgan said. “I’ve got a woman who comes to the house to handle the accounting, poking and pressing me to make hard decisions about money and then telling me I have no worries. So it’s the plumbing that bothers me.”

  “Plumbing?” Madame Olatana repeated.

  “Don’t tell me to move. Plumbing troubles follow me wherever I go,” Piev Fallgan said, sighing. “Even when I visited a friend for two months, that friend’s basement flooded. I can’t get away from broken pipes, dry wells, clogged sewage systems, and fidgety pumps.”

  “Surely we could find a plumbing firm to be on call for you,” Madame Olatana suggested, thinking of the twenty-percent markup on such a service and how it might solve her cash-flow problems.

  “No!” Piev Fallgan shouted. “I want the plumber in the house and in my bed at all hours! I don’t want to be plumberless any longer, and anybody who can engage to find an attractive woman for that fat and overbearing chef can easily find a plumber for me.”

  “Do you know this chef?”

  “Chef Glocy? He lives two doors down from us, and his only conversation these days is how you are going to find a partner for him. I’d like to shut him up, but you know what men are,” Piev Fallgan replied.

  “Yes, I do. And how old should this plumber be?” Madame Olatana asked, almost in a voice of incredulity.

  “Old enough to be a journeyman plumber and young enough to get it up and keep it up in a lady’s bed,” Piev Fallgan answered, pounding her fist on the arm of the chair.

  III

  “So you understand the problem?” Madame Olatana asked Rondo after he had shown Piev and Frak Fallgan to the door.

  “Yes. She wants a plumber, and we have to find one,” Rondo replied.

  “Well, let’s start with that description of our work. By the way, she certainly does have Nicknard afflicted in her natal chart.”

  “Nicknard?”

  “The planet in Warbut’s star system that rules plumbing systems. Now, how do we find a plumber?” the astrologer wondered.

  “That’s the easy part, Madame,” Rondo replied. “I just access the Parliament’s Department of Consumer Affairs and make a list of all the plumbers. Then, I look at that same department’s index of complaints and weed out the incompetents.”

  “How long will that take?”

  “Let’s give it an hour, and I’ll estimate the task,” Rondo suggested.

  In an hour, minus time for interruptions by callers and those appearing for appointments, Rondo talked to his employer again.

  “I’ve got a total of three hundred twenty plumbers. It took me just ten minutes to find them and to create a list on my own computer,” he said. “Then, I started to compare my list to the list of bad apples, and I am about ten percent complete.”

  “How many were eliminated?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “About half. You can’t be too careful if you are a plumber, according to these complaints. Most of the beefs concern the costs of the work, but some are about substantial issues, such as poor workmanship and low-quality materials,” Rondo answered.

  “So in another eight hours, we will have a list of plumbers with no complaints?”

  “In another eight hours, we will have a list of all plumbers, with issues noted. If we want to eliminate the ones who charge too much, we can do that. If we want to keep those under consideration, we can do that,” Rondo said.

  “And the sex of these plumbers?”

  “There is no notation in the Consumer Affairs file about the sex of any plumber. That’s the next step, I guess. Taking our list and going to the usual birth data registry, which will give us both sex and age. Then, I will need to access the tax data to get an idea of who is single. It’s a complicated job,” Rondo said.

  “How much of the advance is left?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “I asked Piev Fallgan for another five hundred. We have not spent anything yet, except for our own time,” Rondo told her.

  “Let’s review the list after you have sorted through the complaints,” Madame Olatana directed.

  The next day the initial work on the list was complete, and Rondo showed that list to Madame Olatana.

  “We have just over one hundred fifty plumbers who are fairly complaint-free,” Rondo said.

  “Fairly complaint-free?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “I eliminated those who charged more than twenty percent over the estimate. The rest I kept in the mix,” Rondo said. “I threw out all those who were found to be incompetent.”

  “Yes, that’s right. And the sexes and ages?”

  “That’s the next step, Madame. It ought to take me about five hours to check these, and then we will have a smaller list to compare with tax files.”

  A week later Rondo was able to say, “I’ve got the list of plumbers down to seventeen. Is that manageable?”

  “Very manageable.”

  “The only problem is that two of these males are from the planet of Drintde. It took me seven hours to find th
e birth data on Drintde’s birth registry,” Rondo went on.

  “I’ll start to look at all the birth data immediately, including the charts from Drintde,” Madame Olatana replied. “Charge Piev Fallgan’s account two hundred in Universal Gold for our work so far. Then I can pay the etchers for adding the title of palm reader to the door.”

  IV

  Two days later at the Senior Artisans’ and Pipe Fitters’ Club in the Warbut capital, Olag Nisha and Geral Otrun were just finishing their third run through the buffet brunch.

  “A funny thing happened yesterday, Geral,” Olag Nisha said into his translation cube, which was part of the required attire at the Club. “I got a fancy card from a palm reader, telling me I could get a free reading. And me being from Drintde, too, where hands are so different from hands on Warbut.”

  “I got that same card, Olag!” Geral Otrun cried. “Somebody named Rondo. What is the scam, do you think?”

  “Ah, you Warbutians always imagine something new is not on the level,” Olag Nisha replied.

  “We are often right,” Geral Otrun said grumpily.

  “But what can this fellow want but to increase future business?” Olag Nisha argued. “You get a free reading today, with some predictions for the next year. One or two of these predictions come true, and you think the fellow has the second sight. You quickly schedule an update, at the regular, exorbitant prices. That’s how it works.”

  “Like fixing platinum pipes with copper?” Geral Otrun suggested.

  “Well, not exactly. There’s no second sight involved with copper. It will break down,” Olag Nisha insisted. “Your platinum is rated for a millennium. I put platinum into the royal palace just two months ago.”

  “Yes, King Hutarfe is getting the place fixed up, now that the Earthlings are finally paying taxes that exceed His Majesty’s debt service,” Geral Otrun said.

  “Debt service?”

  “Hutarfe hit upon this idea of raising his income by inviting Earthlings, dumb as they are, to come to that vacant northern island, now called Telluric Island. He put in many conveniences, such as roads and water systems, with the agreement the Earthlings would pay him an income tax of ten percent,” Geral Otrun told the Drintdian.

  “And are they paying?”

  “Many are. And Hutarfe finally has something left over after paying to retire the various bond issues he had to float to finance these conveniences,” Geral Otrun said. “That’s why the palace systems are being upgraded.”

  “I wish His Majesty would pay his bill,” Olag Nisha confessed. “Just a little bit each month would help.”

  “Don’t do work for the Warbutian royal family!” Geral Otrun said. “Or, ask for a recommendation in the form of a crest. They never pay on time. You will be lucky to see the final payment in another year.”

  “Maybe this palm reader will tell me when that invoice will be settled,” Olag Nisha suggested.

  “Maybe we should go over there to this Rondo and schedule our complimentary readings,” Geral Otrun said. “I’m free after brunch. In fact, I’m free for the rest of the week.”

  “No work, eh?”

  “Just taking a little break,” Geral Otrun said. “I don’t have a family to support, so I can work when I need the income.”

  “I don’t have a family to support, either, but I have bills to pay,” Olag Nisha said. “Maybe this Rondo will tell me when I can take a vacation.”

  “Let’s go see Rondo now and then come back to the Club for the lunch spread,” Geral Otrun suggested.

  V

  Madame Olatana pointed her long finger at Rondo and said, “Just when the Duchess wanted a horary to locate her missing bracelet! You took down the time she called, didn’t you?”

  “Yes, the exact time, from the Universal clock,” Rondo answered. “By the time you get to it, she will have found the bracelet under her stockings in her dresser drawer. These fellows are here. In the flesh.”

  “Do they look like men of means?” Madame Olatana wanted to know.

  “The big black one, the Warbutian, is pretty sloppy, but the big white one, the Drintdian, is neat and well dressed,” Rondo admitted. “Both are well fed, so they won’t need Piev Fallgan to pay their grocers.”

  “I had better see them. They are expecting palm readings, I suppose?”

  “That’s on the cards they brought, Madame,” Rondo replied. “They thought I was the reader, but I told them I was just the receptionist.”

  “But you are so much more, Rondo!” Madame Olatana exclaimed. “You found them, although I’ll have to explain all of that to them.”

  “Yes. Should I show them in?”

  “Give me a minute to put on my hat.”

  Within five minutes the two plumbers were seated at the desk in the consulting room.

  “We are very happy you have come to talk to us today,” Madame Olatana started. “I’m afraid we have a tiny confession to make.”

  “Confession? Mercy, is this a stickup?” Olag Nisha asked.

  “We need to see if you want to receive money,” Madame Olatana hurriedly replied. “We don’t want to take any of your money. We will make no charge for our time today, and you may leave at any moment.”

  “So what’s this confession?” Olag Nisha said. Geral Otrun merely nodded.

  “One of our best clients, a well-to-do single woman who lives in the planet’s capital city, has asked us to find a life’s partner for her,” Madame Olatana began. “She was very particular about that partner’s occupation. He was to be a journeyman plumber. After some considerable research, we have found that you two are the only viable candidates. You each have the good reputation our client wants, and you are single.”

  “We might have good reputations, Madame, but we are not in the crowd where the well-to-do travel,” Geral Otrun said, shaking his big, black head. “We are working men, and we get our hands dirty with filth the rich cannot imagine.”

  “Nevertheless, our client would expect you to be an engaged consort and to handle household problems that might come up,” Madame Olatana tentatively put forth.

  “Engaged consort?” Geral Otrun asked.

  “I mean that our client would want you to take an active role in the partnership. You would be consulted on every matter, and you would be essentially free of day-to-day responsibilities that would involve other households,” Madame Olatana said, attempting to make clear what was to her very brackish.

  “So she wants a live-in plumber!” Olag Nisha said. “And she can afford it!”

  “In a matter of speaking, that is true,” Madame Olatana said. “But you would be more than a plumber. You would be a full partner, with all the privileges and responsibilities of such a position.”

  “So she wants somebody to hump her in her bed!” Olag Nisha declared.

  “There is the sexual aspect of the matter,” Madame Olatana admitted. “Your birth dates have given me, as a professional astrologer, the idea you are virile men, not unaware of the pleasures of sexual intercourse. The relationship would need to be committed to fidelity. Our client is ready to make such a commitment for the right man.”

  “Mercy! So you are just a matchmaker?” Olag Nisha asked.

  “I am primarily an astrologer, and I have given a great deal of attention to your birth charts,” Madame Olatana said. “I can tell you that both of you are in financial distress at the present time. Olag Nisha is working too much to pay bills, and Geral Otrun is devoid of work and is struggling to make ends meet.”

  “That is true, Madame,” Geral Otrun admitted. “Nobody else knows it, but it is true.”

  “And this woman client, whoever she may be, might help us out of this pickle,” Olag Nisha said.

  “Are you willing to meet our client?” Madame Olatana asked. “She is not young, but she is able to provide well for her partner. No children can be born of this union, but she will surely pass on before either of you.”

  “Never hurts to meet somebody,” Olag Nisha said. “I supp
ose she is a native Warbutian. Big and black?”

  “Yes,” Madame Olatana agreed. “She might favor Geral Otrun for that reason, or she might favor somebody completely different, a man from a different culture.”

  “Then, I say we meet her. Agreed, Geral?” Olag Nisha said.

  “As you say, Olag, can’t hurt.”

  VI

  Several days after the two plumbers had met with Madame Olatana, Piev Fallgan and her daughter, Frak, returned to the astrologer’s consulting room.

 
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