Colonized Mike, Ch. 1: UMPTEENTH TIME

by Smiley McGrouchpants

            “I don't know what everybody's so afraid of,” he countered, jocularly, hitting his stride, angling his chair behind his desk so he could better “approach” the room, sizing them all up like shots in a game of pool.
            He loved pool.
            I love pool, he thought, momentarily distracted . . .
            “ . . . but it's a complexity of systems problem — ”
            A wave of the hand.  Complexity.  He didn't believe in it.  “I've heard enough!”  He should've resisted the impulse to slam his clenched fist down on the inkblotter on the desk — it was corny, and would alienate all the professionals in the room a fraction, who didn't merit being treated that way, and he might have to work to win that mutual esteem and respect back again — but, since when did he resist his impulses?  He went ahead and slammed it!
            “ . . . but I hadn't even reached my point yet — ”  Wide eyed, the architect Miles Von Buren looked to his colleagues, his suspenders making him feel, for all their finery and fashionableness, like he had been reduced to 8th grade in an instant.  No help there.  People were still adjusting to this.
            “Forecasts are showing a best case scenario of two weeks at the most . . . ”  Baxter Lyons, ever the voice of moderation amongst the accredited elite who had known him through the better part of his 30-year career, spoke over his thick beard with a musical baritone rumble that always seemed to quiet the beasts.  His fingers itched for a cigarette.
            Not this time.
            “For the umpteenth time — ” (he had heard that phrase someplace, and liked it) “ — gimme something better than educated — ” (oh! that's right — it had “ump” in it.  Colonized Mike was always a jock at heart, a dolt in wise owl's clothing) “ — guesses.”
            He blinked his eyes at them, like the pretty boy he still was.
            At 43.
            They said some more things, but whatever.
            Meeting adjourned!