Monday, October 20, 2008

Chapter 4 - Home is where the Hard Drive Is

Home is Where the Hard Drive Is

The door opened with a whoosh, disappearing into a slot to the left of the metal door jam. Brad entered the loft and dropped his keys in the bowl on a small table under the keypad on the inside wall. Next to the bowl was a cradle that he placed his cell phone in. Rosie's voice came over a small speaker somewhere in the entry, "telephone access redirected to home base."

Brad continued, veering off to the left past a section of the loft that looked much like a conference room. Ceiling high, etched glass walls segregated a large table complete with high back leather chairs from the other spaces in the loft. Just past the conference room was a wall filled with large flat screen LCD panels, beneath which were a few keyboards and comfortable looking office chairs. As he approached the LCD panels he addressed them saying, "Rosie, please bring up new communications."

Almost immediately, three of the larger displays jumped to life showing a list of new email, phone calls and posts from the variety of social networks he belonged to. He quickly scanned the list attempting to prioritize the messages. As he scanned the messages, a three toned chord sounded softly in the background. "Rosie, who is it from?"

"Telephone call from Pristine Auto," the disembodied voice responded.

"Rosie, open telephone access." Brad waited a couple of seconds to allow the connection to be made. "Cirkus Consulting, Brad Maunikey," he answered with a bit of up-inflection in his voice.

"I thought I saw you drive by. Your lunch is here." The voice on the phone belonged to his friend Eduardo Gomez, or Big Ed as his friends called him. Big Ed owned an auto body repair shop in the building directly adjacent to Brad's home. Both buildings were owned by Brad and he in turn leased the space used by Big Ed's repair shop. The arrangement worked well for both men as Big Ed kept an eye on Brad's home during the day and Brad supplied high tech security for the shop when the business wasn't open. Big Ed and his family had adopted Brad, who was not an uncommon visitor for holiday dinners.

"Great. Thanks, big guy! I'll be right there. Have you eaten yet?"

"Sure have."

"Cool. OK. Be right there. Rosie, end call." Brad's mind was always working too fast and was oblivious to the confusion he caused others.

Just before the line cut off he could hear Big Ed's voice say, "Rosie, who, wha..."

Brad made his way down the back metal staircase, "Rosie unlock south entrance." He heard a slight buzzing sound as an electromagnet engaged and pulled back a two steel rods that kept the door at the bottom of the stairs locked. He pushed the door open and entered the space beneath his loft. Even though the space was technically part of his residence he had offered the space to Big Ed for storage. Painting supplies, fenders, welding rod, sheet metal, etc were neatly arranged on long rows of shelves.

Brad keyed a combination into a door at the end of one of the rows of shelves and pushed his way into a short hallway that held entrances to the body shop's restroom as well as Big Ed's office. Brad leaned on the doorway that entered Big Ed's office and saw his friend Big Ed sitting behind a well-worn metal desk that had probably been around since World War I. The chair was utilitarian and just barely up to the task of fighting off the considerable effects of gravity on the large man. Big Ed didn't really look fat as much as he looked well-packed. He had large tattooed forearms and thinning hair that was mostly grey. Big Ed's office was clean and organized, although there were a considerable number of folders neatly arranged on his desk.

"Good thing you showed up, the smell was getting to me. I still don't get it, why do you call me Rosie?" Before Brad could say anything, the phone rang. Big Ed grabbed it and started talking car shop business. Brad knew it was a very busy place, Big Ed ran a clean shop and had built a considerable business through word of mouth. Big Ed motioned toward a bag on his desk and Brad reached over and picked it up. The conversation wasn't ending quickly, so Big Ed put a hand over the receiver and said "Sorry, this is gonna take a while."

Brad smiled and waved with his free hand. The food smelled incredible and he wouldn't mind taking it back upstairs to eat. He turned around and retraced his steps through the back of the shop and up the stairs to his loft. He dropped the bag on one of the computer stations and turned back into the loft heading for the kitchen. "Rosie, list phone messages."

"10:04am Denver Police. 11:23am IPSO, Incorporated. There were also 5 hangups from the cell phone of Lieutenant Thomas Dunberry." Brad grabbed a cold bottle of soda from the refrigerator and headed back to the workstation where his burrito awaited. His curiosity was peaked by the phone calls. He was surprised that he had missed so many calls. He didn't like answering calls while he was at a client's site, but five hangups and two messages seemed like a lot for a short morning. "Rosie, play Denver Police call."

"10:04am Denver Police. Uh, hi Brad, Thomas Dunberry, its been a while since we talked last. Uh, its kinda important, could you give me a call?" Brad opened the sack and pulled out the white Styrofoam box that held his burrito. The Chile Verde sauce was out of this world and his mouth was salivating with anticipation. He wondered if he would get to finish it. He had only worked with Lt. Dunberry a couple of times and it had never proven to be boring.

"Rosie, call Lieutenant Dunberry cell phone." He opened the white Styrofoam box and let the remaining steam waft out. Geez, he loved a good burrito.

"Dunberry," came the sullen voice.

"Uh, hey there Lieutenant, its Brad Maunikey, I have a message to give you a call." It was odd. Brad was uncomfortable talking to Lt. Dunberry, always having that odd sense of guilt that is commonly associated when passing a patrol car even when going the speed limit. He heard that the pitch of his voice was higher than he would like.

"Great", Lt. Dunberry's voice seemed to cheer up slightly, "Hey, I know you are busy, but it is bad. Any chance I could get you to come down here?" Brad's eyes lit on the untouched burrito, a wry grin touched the corners of his mouth.

"Sure, what's up? Where do you need me to go?" Brad closed the white box, pushing it back in the sack. Lt. Dunberry gave him an address.

"Rosie, mute. Rosie, compute eta. Rosie, unmute."

Brad heard Dunberry on the line, "Mute what?"

"Sorry Lieutenant, I was talking to my assistant." It really bugged Brad that he had to prefix all of Rosie's commands with her name. He had initially tried to have the program figure out what commands were relevan,t but it was beyond what he could accomplish right now. It was confusing to the people he didn't speak with very often. His girlfriend, Sarah, on the other hand, had learned to tune out the "Rosie" commands. He was pretty sure that Big Ed understood but he could be pretty stubborn.

Rosie's voice came over the speakers next to the workstation, "with current traffic conditions it should take approximately fourteen minutes twenty three seconds, confirm load of directions to your GPS."

"Rosie, confirm. Ok, Lieutenant, I should be able to get there in fifteen or twenty."

"Great, just ask one of the patrol officers when you get here to come find me. Hey, call me Tom, would you?" Dunberry instructed.

Brad grabbed his soda and the burrito bag and headed back toward the front door. "Rosie, confirm GPS load. Open front door and open garage door."

Rosie repeated the directions as she understood them. Brad subconsciously heard her repeating them. These commands in particular were pretty straight forward and they were rarely messed up. He could repeat them if necessary. Walking past the table he grabbed his cell phone and instructed Rosie to direct voice communication to the cell provider once again.

As he reached the end of the alley next to Big Ed's shop, he hopped out and walked the burrito over to a table in the mechanics bay. He addressed a couple of the body repair mechanics who were near the front. "Hey fellas, lunch if you want it." Why did he always miss lunch?

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