Miles Armstrong took the Fort Wayne Transit train from Kekionga Optics to Grand Wayne Station. Time was of the essence, but life is short, and he decided to walk from Grand Wayne to the bridge on Main Street so he could see some of the churches and early 20th-century homes West Central Fort Wayne was known for.
He saw an old plaque in the neighborhood declaring it The City of Churches. Miles smiled. He thought Fort Wayne was The City of 24-hour bars.
When he got to Main Street, he noticed a familiar-looking woman with Latino features, and he paused. It was Shelby Loredo, whom he met just a half-hour before after a meeting with the mayor at Kekionga Optics.
We’ve got to stop meeting like this, he said with a smile. Loredo smiled, too, and that impressed Armstrong – most women Loredo’s age hadn’t heard that old expression before.
He started to ask how she knew how to find him, but quickly surmised she was monitoring the data he was seeing on his Tau.
You know, that was supposed to be a secure meeting, Armstrong said. I better tell your boss.
Oh, Loredo responded, you wouldn’t believe how insecure the Tau network is there.
So, Miles, do you want me to show you the railroad tracks?
Loredo walked along the Greenway the short distance to the railroad bridge. They crawled under the wood structure, through the manicured landscaping. His eyes studied the base of the viaduct, and he pointed a hand-held sensor toward the bridge.
So, do you play the trumpet? Loredo asked.
Yes. Badly, he said. My name hasn’t made me any better.
Armstrong slowly moved the sensor across the viaduct. There it was.
Can you help me lift this out? he asked her. Do you like jazz?
Loredo saw the panel in the viaduct and helped Armstrong pull it away. Who says jazz is dead? she said, quoting an old joke. It just smells funny.
After they pulled the panel away, both stared into the pipeline. About two feet above the river’s low level, the water would easily rise above it during a decent rain or release from the Kekionga Dam.
So do you’re not a fan of Miles Davis or Louie Armstrong? he asked.
Both saw the Wayne Robotics stamp on the polymerastic pipe. That’s strange, Loredo said. I thought Henry Manufacturing made all the polymerastics here.
Miles who? Actually, I am a big fan of that old music.
Armstrong turned serious. That’s not the only thing that’s strange, he said. Wait here while I crawl through this for a little bit.
And miss my chance to get dirty in the yucky pipe? You talked me into waiting.
She didn’t wait long. Armstrong crawled about 75 feet, turned a curve, and pointed his sensor down the pipeline. It was only about two miles long, not near long enough to reach Wayne Robotics.
When he crawled back, Shelby Loredo was scrutinizing Armstrong’s Tau, which had fallen from his belt as he entered the pipeline. Armstrong wiped the dust and dirt from his clothes.
Oh my, Loredo said. You really smell.
I know, Armstrong said. There was so much dust and crap.
Loredo played So What?, an old song by Miles Davis, on her Tau. I wonder, she said, why a water pipeline would be so dry.