Art Pact 29


Aloysius Nektar examined his clipboard carefully and made a small note in the box at the bottom of the form. When he had finished the addendum: NO DISCERNABLE CHARISMA, he firmly clicked the top of the pen, then tapped it twice against his lips.

"This is the correct room, isn't it?" Dorne asked him. "I mean, I followed the arrows. I'm going to be recompensed for my travel time, aren't I? It cost me a lot to get here. The cost of petrol these days - I blame the Russians."

"Our secretary will take care of those details, Mister Dorne," said Nektar. "Now then, on your CV it says that you have extensive experience with dogs."

"It does? I mean, it does! I do!" said Dorne. "I've worked with dogs for five years." He stared up at the ceiling, pursing his lips. "I love dogs, and they love me."

"It's not really necessary to love dogs," said Renata, the first time she had spoken since she sat down next to Nektar three hours before. Dorne turned towards her. She gently placed one hand over her cleavage and waited for his eyes to make the slow ascent up to meet her own. "The job involves handling them, but also preparing them for - uh, surgical procedures. Cleaning them, shaving them, holding them while they are sedated, that sort of thing. Do you have any experience in that?"

"I've c-cleaned dogs," Dorne stammered. "I can do that."

"But can you remain detached?" she pressed. "Can you clean and prepare a dog knowing that the creature might go to its death within the hour? Some of these surgical procedures can be a bit hit and miss. That's science, after all," she added.

"I can do that," Dorne nodded. He sat up straight, sucking in his stomach. "After all, they're just animals, right?"

Renata turned to Nektar, who returned her nod. A GOOD START, he wrote in the box at the bottom of the form, then held it up at an angle so that she could read it.

"That's right, mister Dorne, they're just animals. You have a very reasonable attitude, that will be useful to help you fit in. Now, that will just be a part of your job, of course. You will have to be flexible, would you say you're a flexible man?"--Dorne looked down at himself, and Renata allowed herself a brief smile--"I don't mean physically flexible."

"Oh, aha!" Dorne laughed, and gestured to his stomach with one hand. "I thought you meant. I mean, I do try to keep fit, but I have this metabolism."

"I'm sure you do."

"I.. anyway, yes, to answer your question, yes, of course I'm flexible. I'm quick, a quick learner. Smart, too, I was the best in my class - no matter what that teacher said."

"Oh? What was it that teacher said?" Nektar asked, looking down at his clipboard. He flicked over the first page, looked at something, and nodded.

"Um, well, uh, it's not really that important. A long time ago, you understand. I just got into trouble once for insisting on a rechecking of an exam. There was no - it's nothing."

"Rechecking of an exam," Nektar repeated, still looking at his clipboard and nodding. "Which exam?"

"Uh, Math."

Nektar nodded again, then flipped the top sheet of paper back into place.

"What's on that piece of paper?" Dorne asked.

"Notes, mister Dorne. Just notes about the interview, your CV, and miscellaneous documents. Please, continue."

"You were saying how flexible you were," Renata prompted. "How smart."

"Well, I don't like to blow my own trumpet."

"There's no harm in that."

"If anything," said Brockman, with a sly smile, "it's proof of flexibility." He flashed an eyebrow at Dorne, who stared at him for a few seconds before laughing weakly.

"This is an interview," Nektar chided. "Please, Daniel, restrain your impulse to increase our budget for sexual harassment hearings. At least until lunchtime."

Brockman shrugged, then flashed his palms in surrender and sat back in his chair.

"Flexi..intelligence," Renata said. "Go, mister Dorne, impress us."

"Well, I've always been cleverer than my peers, of course. I was top in all my classes, or almost top, depending on whether the teacher felt threatened by me."

"And that happened often, I assume. Teachers often feel.. threatened, as you say, by those children with a more challenging intellect. You must have felt quite confined, constricted."

"That's it," he nodded. "That's it exactly."

Nektar made another note: EASILY MANIPULATED. VERY GOOD.

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