Paradigms Lost – Chapter 09

Chapter 9: Join Me for a Bite?

It is an immutable law of nature in any business that just as you go to hang up the “Closed” sign, the phone will ring or a customer walk in. It gets to the point that you automatically hesitate for a few seconds before finally turning the lock and setting the security system, not because you’ve forgotten anything, but because you’re giving the inevitable a chance to make its appearance less painful through preparation.

This does not fool the gods, however, so just as I stopped hesitating and turned the key, the phone rang. I gave my usual mild curse and picked up the phone. “Wood’s Information Service, Jason Wood speaking.”

“Ah, Mr. Wood. It is good to hear your voice again.”

There was no way I could forget that deep, resonant voice with its undefinable accent. “Mr. Domingo! This is… a surprise.”

I hadn’t heard from Mr. Domingo in several weeks, ever since we’d finished the Great Vampire Cover-up, and hadn’t expected to ever hear from the blood-drinking gentleman again.

“No doubt. I was wondering if you would do me the honor of joining me for dinner — in the purely normal sense — sometime this week.”

Well, now, there was a poser of a question. And given that he obviously had more than enough people to call around and arrange his schedule, it must be rather important to him if he was calling me personally. “Ummm,” I said smoothly. “Might I ask why?”

To my surprise, he, also, hesitated for a moment. “There are several matters I would like to discuss, but at least one of them was touched on during your first visit to my home. In a sense, you might consider this a business meeting.”

“I’m aware of certain elements of your business, Mr. Domingo,” I said, trying not to sound overly cold despite my distaste for drug-runners. “Without meaning any undue offense, I don’t think that I could be of much assistance, given certain other elements of my own.” Such as wanting to stay on the right side of the law, for instance.

I was startled to hear a soft chuckle. “Would you be willing to take my word for it that you would find any business proposal I would make to be neither overly onerous nor morally reprehensible to you?”

I considered that. “As a matter of fact… yes, I guess I would. All other things aside, you strike me as a man who takes his word very seriously.”

“Your perceptions are accurate. Can I take that to mean you will accept my invitation?”

“Now that you’ve gotten my curiosity up? You’d have a hard time keeping me away. I can’t manage it tonight, but tomorrow night or Friday would do.”

“Excellent. Tomorrow night it is, then. I shall tell Morgan to expect you at eight o’clock. Have you a preference for a menu?”

What the hell, I knew he wasn’t hurting for money. “Since you’re buying, I have a fondness for fresh lobster and shrimp.”

“Noted. My chef rarely has a chance to show off; I shall let him know someone will be coming who can appreciate his work, as he has himself a preference for seafood dishes.”

“Great. Um, should I bring anything with me, this being partly business?”

“For this meeting, I think just your mind will suffice. If we reach a significant agreement, then we shall go into the more formal details.”

“Gotcha. Okay, see you at eight then.”

“I shall be looking forward to it. Good-bye, Mr. Wood.”

“Good-bye, Mr. Domingo.”

I stared at the phone for several minutes afterwards. “It appears I have an interview with a vampire.”