Drutherstone, Ungulen, and Goren Hargus sat around the table, sipping tea made from boiled cigarette butts.
“How dire,” Goren pouted. He washed the awful taste of the tea down with another sip of it. “So Janus is truly going to die?”
“We’re all truly going to die,” said Ungulen. He rotated his tea cup around in circles.
“You know what I mean,” Goren murmured. Then he fixed Drutherstone with a sympathetic look. “It’s good you’re going to see him?”
Drutherstone was chewing the inside of his mouth. There were many travel details to arrange. He gulped an entire cup of the noxious tea without tasting it.
“In my absence,” he began. “You should have no fewer than four shows. We’ll need at least one major, probably two showcases and if you want to do an exhibition on the side, you can put the sinister elephant in a box. Ten cents per viewing. That should keep you all in the black while I’m away. Don’t do anything ambitious while I’m not around. The budgets tend to engorge themselves.”
“When it comes to the coffers, you can count on me,” Goren offered with a smile.
Ungulen rolled his eyes. “If she had her mind on anything fancy, Marrionetta would have you eating out of her hand inside of three days.”
Goren opened his mouth to protest but then stopped to wonder what it might be like to eat something out of Marrionetta’s hand.
“And there you have it,” Ungulen noted. Drutherstone considered the problem more carefully.
“Let’s try not to let the staff know I’m gone right away. Just say I’m in town purchasing all new textiles. Anyone who needs to speak with me urgently can write me a letter care of you.” Drutherstone indicated Ungulen who nodded.
“How long do you expect to be away?” asked Goren.
“At least two months,” Drutherstone’s shoulders piled and he twisted hard in his seat. “The bastard’s all the way in bloody Arabia.” He accidentally overturned his empty tea cup.
Ungulen and Goren exchanged a glance. Ungulen smacked Drutherstone on the arm. “He’ll be happy to see you. I’m sure of it.”