Bewildering Stories

Table of Contents
Chapter 22, part 4 appears
in issue 145.

Observation One:
Singing of promises ...

by Michael E. Lloyd

Chapter 23: All the World’s a Stooge

Considering the immensity of the challenge facing him, and the fact that it was still only forty-eight hours since he had placidly accepted his latest mission, Deputy Political Advisor Raymond Graves felt he had made substantial progress.

On the afternoon of his empowerment, he had returned directly to his office and had succeeded with consummate ease in gaining the approval of his boss to his unexpectedly needed grand tour. In passing, he had sneaked a quick insight, as instructed, into the Senior Political Advisor’s own true thoughts on the enlargement of the European Union ...

He had then embarked on the huge task of personally organising his twelve meetings and constructing a feasible itinerary for them. With a combination of good luck, dogged persistence, the calling in of several favours, some very fortunate flight connections, and much juggling of provisional appointment times, he had managed to fix up five of them before close of play on that Wednesday afternoon.

Then, before rushing home to pack for his own whistle-stop tour of some of the centres and outposts of the European empire, he had held his latest team meeting. Unfortunately, only four of his seven team members were in Mons that day, but they had all agreed to remain in the office a little later than usual, intrigued by their colleague’s sudden spate of privately-conducted phone calls, and very keen to learn more. Raymond, however, had left their meeting considerably better informed than any of them ...

He had flown out of Brussels on a mid-evening departure, and had completed three of his pre-arranged meetings the next day — one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and the last very late in the evening. The other two sessions which he had set up in advance would not be taking place until the Sunday morning and afternoon.

En-route, throughout that Thursday, he had placed several more phone calls, and had managed to book three further appointments — one for the Friday morning, one for the afternoon (he had just emerged from that one), and another for early the next day.

He was also reasonably hopeful that two more meetings could be organised in a single city on the coming Monday morning ... this would be his next little challenge, as he travelled back to the latest airport. Even if he managed to arrange both of those sessions, he would still only have achieved ten out of the twelve that he had been tasked with. But he would have done his best. He knew that.

He would then return to Brussels on the Monday afternoon — and if he was very lucky, he might also get a little time with his other team colleagues, and even with some of his senior managers, as Quo had requested ...

Although the diplomat in him was hesitating to jump to any rash conclusions, Raymond Martin Graves could not avoid the depressing fact that, out of the total of ten absolutely true private opinions he had so far obtained, no less than seven had proved to be fundamentally different from their public versions ...

Proceed to chapter 24 ...

Copyright © 2003 by Michael E. Lloyd
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