It’s dark, really early in the morning, and a commlink rings and buzzes on the nighttable.
A hand reaches out to pick up the phone.
A bleary female voice mumbles, “Who is it? Calling at this hour…”
“What time is it?”
“Around 4 am?… Yeah.”
“Nothing, Maz needs to get ready for work. He’s meeting Carlito in 30 minutes.”
“Work, what, why didn’t you tell me last night?”
“Well between eating, you making sure Ashley and Connor were ready for bed, having some drinks and watching a few episodes of UCAS’ Most Wanted, Maz never really had the chance.”
“Come back to bed, Maz.”
“Maz needs to get ready. That was Carlito calling. Maz is meeting him for a briefing over breakfast at the IHOP before going in to work.”
Monica sits up in bed, the comforter falling to offer Maz a nice view.
“Mitchell, you can’t just tell me you love me last night, spend the night, drop this news on me and then leave.”
“Maz is sorry but Mitchell isn’t here right now, he can’t be. Mitchell needs to come back from work alive and Maz needs to see to that. Mitchell will see you tonight.”
Maz bends down and kisses Monica on the forehead.
He heads out the bedroom down and down the hall, towards the entrance, he sees Ashley’s face peek out from her door.
“Back to bed kid.”
The face disappears quickly.
Maz didn’t mean to sound so gruff.
Maz really is an ass, he should have just left Monica and her family alone, instead of involving them with another person who was going to end up splattered somewhere across Seattle’s concrete. And did he need to do that right before X-mas. Now he had shopping to do. So Maz was an ass and stupid. Go figure.
He pulls into the IHOP, puts his helmet away and tells the bike to go home as he walks inside to meet Carlito.
Carlito is already seated at a booth to the side drinking coffee, he waves Maz over as he sees him come in.
“Hi Maz, thanks for join me.”
Maz nods to Carlito, “Maz likes IHOP but hopes you have something useful to say. He could have used a little more sleep.”
Carlitto gives Maz a run down of the changes Knight Errant has made and some of the important folks at HQ. “Oh, and after you fill in all the paperwork, they want you to go through a psyc evaluation.”, Carlito finishes saying.
“Maz is guessing you thought if you started with that Maz might get up and walk?”
Carlito remains silent studying Maz’s face.
“You can tell them I’ll only talk with Dr. Jerry. You know like DJ MasterZ’s song said `You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em`.”
“I think that was a cover tune Maz. It was originally a country song.”
“Which country? UCAS or the old USA?”
“I mean country and western, cowboy shit.”
“Well I guess that’s the last time I take advice from DJ MasterZ.”
Well after the interview with some HQ stiffs in suits, Maz thought the interview went well…
“So Mr. Hendricks, why do you want to work for Knight Errant?”
“Wait what?”, Maz stands up, “Carlito told Mazula you wanted him to work for you. Is this an interview? What’s with the one way glass?”, Maz puts his face right next to the glass and waves, “Hi Mom.”
“No offense intended Mr. Hendricks, we just want to make sure you’ll fit in with the culture here at Knight Errant.”
“Well like Mazula’s friend Sam once told the Stripper ‘The only culture you have is bacterial’. After the tempo situation, the gang war and everything else, its pretty obvious that you need folks who know what’s going down.”
and filling in forms…
“Sign here, initial here, fill out this form in triplicate, sign there…”
“Triplicate? Wait can’t I just tell you the crap you need and then give you my thumb print or some fragging shit like that?”
He sat waiting outside an office for the better part of an hour… he wakes just as Dr. Jerry opens the door.
“Ah, Mr Hendricks is it? Do come in?”
“Hi Jerry, How’s the wife Alice and the kids? How’s Julie?”
“The family is doing well.”
Maz walks over to the table that contains 2 glasses and a jug of water with ice. He pulls a bottle from his jacket and pours a decent splash in each, reaches into the jug and pulls out some ice to throw in each glass. He picks up the 2 glasses, hands one to Jerry and drains the other.
“Its been a long day.”, says Maz as he pours again and puts the bottle back on the table.
Dr. Springer looks from Maz, to the glass in his hand, to the bottle on the table and takes a sniff of the drink before taking a sip.
“So Mr. Hendricks, how are you feeling?”
Maz pulls out a small device, places it on the table and a holograph of a mostly naked Sitara pole dancing appears.
“Mazula’s feeling much better now.”, he sits in one of the chairs.
“And how does this make you feel?”, Dr. Springer looks from the bottle of alcohol to the pole dancer, although his attention seems to linger more on the dancer.
“Maz feels relaxed for the first time since leaving bed this morning and you Jerry? How are you feeling?”
“You don’t think this is inappropriate for both the workplace and for a psychiatric evaluation?”
“Are you projecting Jerry? Maybe you find it inappropriate, maybe Maz should find it inappropriate. Have you ever just stopped working for a few weeks Jerry?”
“You mean a vacation?”
“A vacation? No that’s for rich people.”
“You don’t need to be rich to take a vacation. A vacation doesn’t even need to involve travel.”
“Oh don’t take it wrong Jerry, Maz has travelled, Montreal, San Francisco, Mexico and that’s just in the last year or so. He’s been other places he’s been trying to forget as well.”
“Why is it that you need to forget?”
“Dead bodies don’t provide much comfort, Jerry.”
“Maybe you should think about a change of careers.”
“Maz is not the sharpest tool on the tree. He is a man of action, and his skills are limited to areas requiring fire arms. In that line of work even the planners live with regrets.”, Maz thinks about the planned execution of Cross-eyed Louie.
“And how does that make you… awww hell, shouldn’t you… can’t you…”
“Tell me Jerry, should Maz get married?”
Jerry looks shocked, “Mr Hendricks, I hate to tell you this but Julie has moved on, she is already engaged to be married.”
“Its not about your receptionist Jerry. Maz has met someone, he’s known them for a few years. But would it be selfish to want that, knowing the possible consequences? Is it stupidity to deny it? Does Maz deserve a chance at happiness? I rescued a girl from an astral dragon but I couldn’t prevent my best friend’s death and now I want his wife? What’s wrong with me Jerry?”
“Maybe Mazula is human after all.”
“Maybe he is Jerry, maybe he is.”