Madame olatana warbut as.., p.22

Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 22

 

Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer
 


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  “You are always so clever with things, honey,” Una said. “And do we have a reserved table in the dining room?”

  “I would not think so, Una. I didn’t see any tablecloths as we walked through the public rooms, so I think we serve ourselves from the buffet and carry our own dishes,” Carls Wunwak said.

  “It will be adequate for three months, Carls,” Una said in a brave attempt to cheer her partner. “We each have a desk, we each have a long bed, and we each have an easy chair. The housekeeping robots will come every time we press the housekeeping button, and we can watch the sky on the monitor above the door. This is going to be very interesting, and our children say they are anxious for daily updates from each of us.”

  “But this is no way for our planet to present its dowager queen’s deputy,” Carls Wunwak went on. “This is clearly a cabin for a middle-income couple with no distinction.”

  “Carls, we are struggling to maintain a middle-income lifestyle,” Una reminded him. “We can’t expect to be thrown into the first class, with its requirements for clothes and socializing. You can’t play poker on our income, and I can’t play bridge. This second-class cabin is just where we will be comfortable.”

  “And I expect I will have no opportunities to add to our income if we stick to the second-class lounge,” Carls Wunwak insisted.

  “Honey, those days are over. Sex workers do not travel on these craft, and single women are few here.”

  “I am used to a robust sex life, and you and I are used to only two or three sexual activities each week,” Carls Wunwak told his partner. “I am getting horny already, and we have been aboard this craft only one hour.”

  “Then I am going to have to crank it up,” Una concluded.

  VII

  There remained only an hour before the craft landed at Heathrow Annex, the busiest spaceport in Earth’s Eastern Hemisphere. Una emptied the closet and the dresser of the cabin, folded each item of clothing, and carefully placed it inside one of the two steamer trunks.

  “What are these receipts, honey,” Una asked Carls Wunwak as she waived a stack of papers.

  “Those are receipts I picked up, ones that other entities on this craft have discarded,” Carls Wunwak answered.

  “And do you need these? Should I put them into the trunks?” Una wondered.

  “Just to see if I can present any of them as expenses on our expense report,” Carls Wunwak answered.

  “Honey, these are not our expenses!”

  “We need every cent we can get, Una,” Carls Wunwak said. “I have to be creative if we are to pay our bills on what the Parliament has agreed to pay me.”

  “But this is wrong!” Una said.

  “It won’t be wrong until somebody denies the expense,” Carls Wunwak said.

  “Listen, honey, you never had to cheat anybody before,” Una went on. “We have the kids’ tuition bills paid for the year, and we have had more than enough to eat on this craft.”

  “The future is murky, Una,” Carls Wunwak told his partner. “Going from one thing to another is very scary.”

  “We have to have faith….”

  “Faith?” Carls Wunwak cried. “In an astrologer and an impoverished dowager queen? This is very tenuous, and we both know it.”

  VIII

  Queen Mastila, that energetic consort of the late King Hutarfe, sat in the best client chair in Madame Olatana’s consultation room.

  “Carls Wunwak has been on Earth for three months, Madame,” Queen Mastila said.

  “Have you heard from him, Your Majesty?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “I write every day, and he writes every week, Madame,” Queen Mastila answered with some sadness in her voice. “He is turning tricks there, and I don’t know how to handle any of that.”

  “Indeed? Is this in addition to his responsibilities at the dance company, Your Majesty?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “They don’t see much of him over there,” Queen Mastila said with a sigh. “He is helping with fundraising, calling on Earthlings with money, and asking for contributions. It is these people he is getting involved with.”

  “So, Your Majesty, you are saying Carls Wunwak is raising money by offering his sexual services to Earthlings in return for contributions to the dance company?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “Exactly, Madame. Older Earthlings, both female and male, like the size of him, I am sure. He is over seven feet in height, as you know, and he has a twelve-inch-long penis. Earthlings don’t see anything like that among the natives, and surely word has spread around. Earthlings want to try him on for size, and the general manager of the dance company says contributions are pouring in.”

  “So he is still in the game, Your Majesty?”

  “And he writes only once a week, Madame.”

  IX

  After Carls Wunwak and Una had been on Earth for a year, it was time to make arrangements for their return to Warbut.

  “Those directors at the London dance company want us to stay on,” Carls Wunwak told Una. “Perhaps for another year.”

  “Honey, my work is difficult from Earth, and my income is growing smaller each month we are here. If we are to stay here, you need to make sure we have enough money in the bank to pay the next set of tuition bills,” Una insisted.

  “I have never had a full accounting of donations at the London company,” Carls Wunwak said. “The donors I see on a regular basis assure me they are being very generous with their contributions, but nobody ever offers me a Universal Gold dollar.”

  “What do you say to these people?”

  “I just give them the latest information about programs and the status of the endowment,” Carls Wunwak answered. “The director I work for has a new brochure every couple of weeks, and I make sure each donor has it. The quarterly status report will be published in another month, and I will need to make sure each of my donors is listed. That will also give me an idea of who is contributing what.”

  “Mercy! Do they print the actual amount of the gifts?” Una exclaimed.

  “They print general headings, such as one that might say ‘Over one million’ and the names of the entities who contributed over a million in Universal Gold. After the list gets down under one hundred thousand, it becomes pretty specific, and I can figure the middle amount as the donation,” Carls Wunwak told her.

  “So you know the amount your efforts are bringing in?”

  “Very close,” Carls Wunwak. “For the last quarterly status report, I figured I was responsible for gifts totaling six million. What with talk and shagging, I ought to be the star salesman for the year.”

  “So you ought to ask for at least two million for another year, and you ought to send some of that money to Warbut to repay the Parliament for the salary you have earned,” Una suggested.

  “And don’t forget the costs of that spaceship, with its tiny cabin and self-service meals,” Carls Wunwak said wryly.

  “Let’s make a list of the money the Parliament has spent, and that will give you a good idea of what we will need to stay another year,” Una said.

  “Throw in those tuition bills, too, Una,” Carls Wunwak said. “I also could use several new suits from London tailors. This climate is too cold for my Warbut clothes.”

  “Very well.”

  X

  Queen Mastila sat dejectedly in Madame Olatana’s best client chair.

  “So he is staying another year, Madame,” the dowager queen said.

  “Your Majesty, are your plans for the Telluric Island dance company on hold?” Madame Olatana asked.

  “Not yet, Madame,” Queen Mastila answered. “The English company sent two of its directors here to work with me, and one of them has been named the general manager.”

  “And Carls Wunwak will stay on Earth, Your Majesty?”

  “Contributions there have increased, Madame, and not decreased. The longer he works with donors, the better the income for that company. He is in France now, working in Paris to help to increase the end
owment for the London company. The English on Earth have fully compensated our Parliament, and Carls Wunwak is banking about three million in Universal Gold each year. His partner has resigned from her work, and their children are finished with graduate school,” Queen Mastila told the astrologer.

  “And he is almost one hundred years old, Your Majesty!” Madame Olatana exclaimed.

  “And he writes to me only once a month, Madame.”

  11 Lotgh Wilnaugh

  I

  On the date the Earthlings on Warbut called January 19, 2246, Pache poked the intercom button and talked to Madame Olatana.

  “It’s about that bill for the Parliament, Madame,” the receptionist said.

  “What about it?”

  “The Parliament’s clerk says they have no purchase order,” Pache reported.

  “The Prime Minister ordered the service himself. Tell the clerk to call Mr. Aputt,” Madame Olatana said.

  “They need a purchase order number, Madame,” Pache went on. “I called the Prime Minister and talked to one of the deputies. She says if Mr. Aputt ordered something, we should have insisted on a P.O. number before we complied with his request.”

  “Nonsense. I can’t tell the Prime Minister to complete some paperwork before I fulfill his needs,” Madame Olatana fumed.

  “So what do I do?”

  “Leave it to me, Pache. I will remind Mr. Aputt of our conversation,” Madame Olatana said.

  II

  “Pache, the Parliament’s ombudsman is coming here today, perhaps within the next ten minutes,” Madame Olatana announced as the receptionist was leaving the consultation room.

  “Does this entity have a name?”

  “Lotgh Wilnaugh, according to the clerk,” Madame Olatana said.

  “Just what will an ombudsman actually do?”

  “Now, Pache, we need to play the game. In order to collect on that invoice, the ombudsman will ask me a few questions about how the order was placed,” Madame Olatana answered.

  “You are a terrible fool if you think somebody actually working for the Parliament will be of any help whatsoever,” Pache insisted.

  “You are probably right, Pache, but we need to be polite,” Madame Olatana said. “This is the next step, and every cent counts these days. I have been threatened by the Universal Message Service that our connection will be cut off in thirty days, and that connection allows us to consult with our most prosperous clients.”

  “The queen always calls on the local line, Madame,” Pache said.

  “Her Majesty is a very valued client, of course, but I am talking about clients who pay in advance, which the royal family never does,” Madame Olatana explained.

  “Poo. The royal family rarely pays at all, and we never send them a thirty-day notice,” Pache returned.

  “Do I hear somebody in the reception area?” Madame Olatana asked.

  Within two minutes Lotgh Wilnaugh was seated in the best chair, and Madame Olatana had sent the caustic Pache back to the front of the office.

  III

  “Welcome, Lotgh Wilnaugh, to my consultation room,” Madame Olatana said. “What can I do for you today?”

  Madame Olatana knew exactly why Lotgh Wilnaugh was there. He had come to attempt to settle the invoice she had sent to the Prime Minister, perhaps to settle it by paying her nothing. However, not even his exceedingly thin and tall frame could intimidate her; she had done the work and she wanted to be paid.

  “Thank you, Madame. I have come to discuss your invoice for twelve hundred dollars in Universal Gold, the one you sent to the Prime Minister,” Lotgh Wilnaugh said.

  “I see,” Madame Olatana said. “What about that invoice needs a discussion?”

  “You don’t reference a purchase order number, Madame,” Lotgh Wilnaugh said. “The Parliament does not pay any invoice that does not give a reference to a purchase order.”

  “I did not ask the Prime Minister for any paperwork when he called me for help,” Madame Olatana replied.

  “Help? Why would the Prime Minister need your help?”

  “It was just after His Majesty Hoselah IX ascended,” Madame Olatana explained. “Mr. Aputt wanted several dates for the oath of office.”

  “Several dates?”

  “His Majesty, formerly the Duke of Swemor, had certain goals for his tenure as our monarch, you see. And I had to find a date and a time where those goals would be facilitated,” Madame Olatana went on.

  “What! Twelve hundred to pick out a date?” Lotgh Wilnaugh cried.

  “I picked fourteen dates and times,” Madame Olatana said. “I gave the Prime Minister a list of those dates and times with their pros and cons. I spent nearly fifty hours looking at the alternatives.”

  “Hogwash! You can’t say one time would be better than any other!”

  “I have picked the times for other monarchs to take the oath. For example, King Hutarfe wanted to expand the planet’s income so the Wiklvings would not starve. I selected seven dates and times for King Hutarfe. The one His Majesty selected had a con of wearing down his health. As you may recall, King Hutarfe worked so diligently that he died of a heart attack,” Madame Olatana explained.

  “He dropped over dead of a heart attack after that criminal King Edsella of Lillitzen leveled the royal palace,” Lotgh Wilnaugh reminded the astrologer.

  “This health condition was exacerbated by years of work, with no vacation or other respite. I warned King Hutarfe that would be the price of this extraordinary income increase he was able to bring to our planet,” Madame Olatana argued.

  “So you believe you can charm the fates? Inveigle Fortuna’s Wheel?”

  “I believe, Lotgh Wilnaugh, I can select a time and a date when certain attributes will be favored. I believe I can tell you, by just looking at the day and time of your birth, what your strengths and weaknesses are.”

  “Balderdash!”

  “Pache!” Madame Olatana shouted into the intercom. “Find Lotgh Wilnaugh’s birth data in the Clerk’s database and send it to my computer.”

  “That’s private information,” Lotgh Wilnaugh said.

  “Not on this planet, not at all. The birth data of every native is available to any Warbut citizen, and the birth data of most immigrants is available on that same database, too,” Madame Olatana said. “I can find your genetic codes on the same database, although I have not completed my study on the use of those codes in my predictor work.”

  Within a minute Lotgh Wilnaugh’s birth data sprang up on Madame Olatana’s console.

  “I see, for a starter, you are going through a terrible breakup in your home,” Madame Olatana said. “Transiting Nicknard is exactly opposite the natal star on your chart this week.”

  “Rubbish. My home is stable. You are a fraud, and I cannot help you with this invoice,” Lotgh Wilnaugh snapped as he jumped up from the best client chair.

  “Very well. Come back when you have better news for me,” Madame Olatana calmly said. “I will inform Mr. Aputt of your decision the next time he calls for help.”

  IV

  Three days after Lotgh Wilnaugh flew out of her office, Madame Olatana was not surprised to read a report on the Universal Message Service that told of a strange house fire in Warbut’s capital. It was strange because all Warbut homes are fully plumbed to extinguish fires within thirty seconds.

  “Did you see this article about Lotgh Wilnaugh’s home?” the astrologer asked Pache.

  “Says the partner set it, Madame,” Pache replied. “After an argument about the meaning of life.”

  “But how could it get so far advanced? That’s my worry,” Madame Olatana went on.

  “She apparently took some care with clogging all the receptors, since the fire department found that none of them was working,” Pache told her employer.

  “But those receptors are tested every half hour, for each building on the planet!” Madame Olatana exclaimed.

  “She must have made quick work of it,” Pache surmised. “They can
t locate her, either. Did you see that?”

  “There is no use in concerning oneself with the meaning of life,” Madame Olatana said. “Such curiosity is of no value and adds nothing to the experience. Life is meant to be felt, not thought about.”

  “I wonder if that was Lotgh Wilnaugh’s side of the argument,” Pache said. “He looked like somebody who could not see more than his own side of any discussion.”

 
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