Earth to Terry. The sky is falling. You saw about the Bank of Tokyo?
No. Ive been working on the Brazilian thing.
It led the news this morning. For the first time in history, the Bank of Tokyo declined to buy new-issue U.S. Treasury bills. Do you realize what that means?
They already have enough of our debt?
Precisely. Do you get the significance of that? The largest single purchaser of U.S. government debt just declined to finance any more of it. As in our debt. Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, the first of your generation have started to retire. You know what theyre calling it?
Mountainous debt, a deflating economy, and seventy-seven million people retiring. The perfect economic storm. Not bad, Cass thought, making a mental note to file it away for the blog. And what is the Congress doing? Raising taxeson my generationto pay for, among other things, a monorail system in Alaska.
Cass realized suddenly that she was standing, leaning forward over his desk, and shouting at him. Terry, meanwhile, was looking up at her with something like alarm.
Sorry, she said. I didnt mean to . . .Long day.
Listen, kiddo, Terry said, that resort in the Bahamas where our client Albert Schweitzer threw the party with the ice sculptures . . .why dont you go down there and check it out? Well call it research, make Albert pay. Least he could do. Take your time. Stay for a few days. Bring a bathing suit and a tube of tanning oil and a trashy paperback. Take a load off. Get . . .you know . . . He waved his hands in the air.
You use that word more than I do. Its my generations word, not yours.
Its useful. It may actually be your generations major semantic contribution so far. Its pure Teflon.
They coat frying pans with it so stuff doesnt stick. Spin-off of the space program. Like Tang.
Never mind. Look, go home. Go to the Bahamas. Hang an Out to Lunch on the blog or something.
He was already back to typing by the time she reached the door. On her way out, he shouted, If you get any brainstorms on how to make my Brazilian Indian tribe look like bloodthirsty savages, e-mail me.
The computer screen was glowing at her in the dark of her apartment. A prior generation would have called it psychedelic; to hers it was just screen saving.
She showered, changed into comfy jammies, ate a peanut-butter PowerBar, and washed it down with Red Bull. She unscrewed the safety cap of her bottle of NoDoz, hesitated. If she took one, she wouldnt get to sleep until at least four. Unless she popped a Tylenol PM at three. She wondered about the long-term effects of this pharmaceutical roller-coaster ride. Early Alzheimers, probably. Or one of those drop-dead-on-the-sidewalk heart attacks like Japanese salarymen have. She popped the NoDoz. She could sleep in tomorrow. Terry wasnt expecting her in the office. She wanted a cigarette but had given them up (this morning). She chomped down on a piece of Nicorette gum and felt her capillaries surge and tingle. Shock and awe. She flexed her fingers. Showtime.
She logged on. There were 573 messages waiting for her. Her Google profile had searched for reports on the Senate vote and auto-sent them to her inbox. She read. Theyd voted in favor of Social Security payroll tax augmentation. Jerks. Couldnt bring themselves to call it a tax increase. She felt her blood heating up. (Either that or the effects of the pill.) Soon energy was surging in her veins in equal proportion to outrage. Her fingers were playing across the keyboard like Alicia de Larrocha conjuring a Bach partita.
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