hunting. Of course they came up with our corps--the troubleshooters,
the unorthodox boys, the Holy Idols. And the corps fished around and
came up with me.
I didn't really mind: a vacation tends to get boring after a week or
two anyhow. I've got no family ties I care to keep up, and few enough
close friends. Most of us are like that; I imagine it's in the nature
of the job.
It was a relief to get back into action, even if it meant putting up
with the kowtowing I always got.
When I stepped out onto the spaceport grounds, as a matter of fact, I
was feeling pretty good. It took just ten seconds for that to change.
The President himself was waiting, as close to the pits as he could
get. He was a chubby, red-faced little man, and he beamed at me as if
he were Santa Claus. "Mr. Carboy," he said in a voice that needed
roughage badly. "I'm so glad you're here. I'm sure you'll be able to
do something about the situation."
"I'll try," I said, feeling foolish. This was no place for a
conversation--especially not with the head of the Government.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll succeed," he told me brightly. "After all, Mr.
Carboy, we've heard of your ... ah ... group. Oh, yes. Your fame is ...
ah ... universal."
"Sure," I said. "I'll do my best. But the less I'm seen talking to
you, the better."
"Nevertheless," he said. "If we need to meet--"
"If we do," I said, "there's a set of signals in the daily papers.
Your Intelligence should know all about that, Mr. President."
"Ah," he said. "Of course. Certainly. Well, Mr. Carboy, I do want to
tell you how glad I am--"
"So am I," I said. "Good-by."
The trouble with the democratic process is that a group of people
picked at random can elect some silly leaders. That's been happening
ever since ancient Greece, I imagine, and it'll go on happening. It
may not be fatal, but it's annoying.
My job, for instance, was to prop up this foolish little man. I had to
work against a group of guerrillas who were even more democratic, from
all I'd heard, and who seemed to have a great deal of common,
ordinary brains. Of course, I wasn't doing it for the President--it
was for the Comity as a whole, and it needed to be done.
But I can't honestly say that that made me feel any better about the
* * * * *
I was driven out of the city right after I'd packed up my
supplies--two days' food and water in a rude knapsack, a call-radio
and some other special devices I didn't think I was going to need.
But, I told myself, you never know ... there was even a suicide
device, just in case. I packed it away and forgot about it.
The city was an oasis in the middle of jungle, with white clean
buildings and static-cleaned streets and walks. It didn't seem to have
a park, but, then, it didn't need one. There was plenty of park
The beautiful street became a poor one half a mile out of the city,Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>