Ursa Major

In every network, nodes intersect.

Where nodes intersect, trunk lines form, combining streams of information multiplexed together like liquid pulled through tree roots, passed up the trunk and redistributed to branches, twigs and leaves.

Groups of people used to meet around campfires, along river embankments and in hilltop forts to accumulate and multiplex information gathered by their peers.

Information seeks the quickest route to travel — water flowing down a hill, photons passing around a galaxy via gravitational lenses, gossip in the hallway.

– – – – –

Ed’s phone vibrated.

He looked across the small wall separating his office from the dance floor. Everyone was busy either dancing or talking, just the way he liked to see his clients and instructors, no one left alone.

He read the text.

“Update?”

He responded. “Full class tonight.”

He received a smiley face in return.

– – – – –

That evening, several hundreds miles away, in an unused Dekalb-Peachtree Airport hangar, a pizza delivery truck pulled up.

The delivery man lifted a pizza warmer satchel from the back of the truck and pressed a buzzer on the hangar side door.

A bald Turkish man with a thick handlebar mustache opened the door and nodded the delivery man inside.

“What have you got for me?”  The question echoed in the hangar, coming from nowhere.

The delivery man held ou the satchel. “It’s the software and geotracker you ordered, placed in a Faraday cage as specified.”

A brown, hairy arm extended from a gap between two crates. “Give it here.  Your payment is already inside your truck.  You know your next delivery?”

“Neil in Huntsville.”

“That’s right.  He thinks it’s a special pizza order so make sure the local Papa Pie store makes a fresh, hot pizza in time for Neil’s delivery.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You can call me Mama Bear.  Now go!”

The Turk, one hand on the semiautomatic machine gun hanging from his shoulder, escorted the delivery man outside.

– – – – –

Ed received another text from Mama Bear. “Order us four large pepperoni pizzas with extra cheese and marinara sauce on the side.”

Ed replied. “How soon do you need them?”

“Four hours from now.”

Ed replied with a wink emoji, then stood up.

“Hey, Neil!”

Neil had finished dancing a foxtrot with a woman he’d taught for six months, her understanding of dance steps just becoming clear.  “Yeah, Ed. Whatcha want?  We’ve still got 20 minutes left.”

“Come here a minute, willya?”

Neil tromped across the dance floor, pointing at Guin and giving her the thumbs-up on the quick progress she was making with Raubine.

“Yeah, boss, what is it? Got another client lined up for me?”

“You still moonlighting at night?”

“Well, sure, Ed.  Furniture moving, architectural rendering, pizza delivery…”

“You’re keeping busy.”

“You know how it is…”

“Sure I do.  You working the pizza job tonight?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Do you mind making a delivery for me if I called it in?”

“If I’m available.”

“Of course, Neil. You can’t determine your route, can you?”

“I could ask, if I knew about what time you needed the pizza.”

“Two o’ clock.”

Neil pulled up the schedule app on his phone, then realized what Ed had said. “Hey, boss, we close at midnight.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. It’s the same every weekday.”

“But this is Friday night.  Doesn’t Papa Pie stay open late on the weekend?”

Yeah, midnight, like I said.”

“If I could convince your manager to stay open later, would you mind putting in a little extra overtime?”

“Yes, if there’s a tip involved ’cause waiting around two hours after close ain’t gonna cut it if I could be at home finishing up a drawing.”

“It’s for a special party, if you know what I mean.” Ed patted Neil heartily on the back, winked and snickered.

“I get it, boss, but…”

“And I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Okay, Ed.  I’ll be there.  Now I’ve got to get back and help the new couple get comfortable on the dance floor.”

“New couple?”

“Yeah, Lee and Karen.”

“Go for it. I’ll see you at two.”

“If not before!”

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