The sun hung high in the sky causing the shadows along the skyscrapers to be very faint. Returning from an early lunch, Kya felt satiated as her meal digested in her stomach.
“It has been a long time since I’ve gone to the Coliseum.” There was a small pang of sadness that swirled in her mind as she thought about Amelia.
“It is a bit pricey, and not really baby friendly, but I thought it was appropriate somehow.”
Kya carried Mattea’s baby, Evan, in her arms while she walked. Mattea pushed the empty stroller.
As they entered Classic Communication, Evan started to make small noises of glee which caused Joanne to leap from her desk and rush over to the trio.
“Oh my, he’s getting so big!” Joanne said. Her arms outstretched, looking to have a turn to hold Evan.
Kya was hesitant to pass off the baby to Joanne, but the look of excitement in her boss’ eyes was greater than the instinct to keep Evan for herself. She glanced at Mattea to get the okay and Mattea nodded.
Joanne faced Mattea’s baby outwards, and he continued to smile and make joyful noises as she gently bounced him.
“It’s hard to believe that he will be one in four more months.” Mattea said with her eyes laser focused on her child. Pride beamed from her face.
Kya let Evan grip her finger. His large blue eyes focussed on her face. He smiled and his round rosy cheeks showed his dimples.
“I should get back to shelf reading.” Kya said. She looked towards her boss, with knowingly sad eyes.
“Oh, there hasn’t anyone in yet. I’m sure things will be fine for five more minutes.” Joanne said before looking at Mattea. “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” She brushed her cheek against his soft, white blond hair.
“Oh, yeah. He’s such a good baby.” Mattea grinned. “But Daddy will be home soon,” she cooed to the baby, “so Mommy shouldn’t stick around too much longer.”
Both Kya and Joanne chuckled.
“Babies turn adults into crazy people!” Kya cooed. “Godmama knows these things.”
The large wooden door swung open behind the three women, and a tall, thin man entered. He wore a black suit, black dress shirt, and a dark red tie. His black hair was slicked back on his head, accentuating his large forehead. He held a black leather briefcase in his left hand.
Kya noticed him first, and walked over to intercept him as Joanne and Mattea continued entertaining Evan. There was something about the man in the black suit that didn’t feel typical of a visitor to Classic Communication. Kya felt nervous as she stopped a few feet in front of him.
“May I help you?”
“I need information about an author.” His voice was quite nasal, and had an edge to it.
A pit of uneasiness twisted in Kya’s stomach as she knew, somehow, that he was a government agent. She tried to focus on thinking about Evan, and hoped that the agent wasn’t one that could read her mind.
He set his briefcase on Kya’s desk without invitation, and opened it. He pulled out a well used paperback, with the cover so beaten up it was almost unrecognizable. He slapped it against the wooden desk, and a loud noise reverberated through the open space. The man in the black suit kept his grip firmly dug into the paper.
Despite its appearance, Kya knew what book it was, and so she had to put on her best poker face.
“What’s that?” She asked.
“It’s a book.” He said in an annoyed tone. He held it out for her to see.
“Who are you again?” Kya asked.
The man stood silent for a moment. “Agent Wells.”
“Well Mr. Wells, I know it is a book.” She raised an eyebrow, and gave it a closer look.
“Do you have any copies of it here?”
“Yeah, we carry that title.”
Just then, Kya noticed her boss, having handed back Evan to his mother, walking over.
“Hello.” Joanne said with a smile and a friendly tone as she extended her hand for the man to shake. “I’m Joanne Roddenberry-Roth. Welcome to my store. I believe this is your first time at Classic Communication.”
Agent Wells turned up his nose at Joanne’s outstretched hand with a look of disdain. “Tell me what you know about Amelia Facillis.”
Joanne cleared her throat and smiled again, showing off her straight white teeth. “I know that’s the name of the author of the book in your hand. Beyond that, I know very little.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
Kya could hear that Evan was starting to get fussy. She looked over at her friend, and saw Mattea signalling that she was going to go. Giving her a small nod and wave, Kya communicated that she didn’t want to leave the conversation to escort Mattea out. Mattea nodded with a look of understanding.
“Kya, do you remember seeing who dropped off the manuscript?” Joanne asked in a very polite tone. Kya recognized it as the voice Joanne reserved for stubborn people.
“I don’t remember, I think it came in the mail. We must get thirty or more manuscripts per day. Most in the mail. I just remember this one came with a note attached.” Kya went around to the far side of the desk where her chair was. She tapped the tabletop activating the screen, typed in her password, and a few moments later, the output tray on the side of her desk had a few sheets of paper in it. “Here you go. We scanned it into our records in case anything came up.” Kya handed the printed copy of the letter to agent Wells.
Joanne shot Kya a large approving smile before morphing into her more serious face as she turned back to the government agent. She turned slightly, so that she was squarely facing the agent, and stood up as straight as she could. “As I’m sure you can see, this note discusses what is to be done with the book. It asks that each store that receives it prints copies for those that want to purchase it and that all profits go towards the store. Nothing goes to the author, no contact information beyond the name.”
He scowled at the page. “Don’t you think it’s abnormal that someone would write a book and then not want any of the profit from it? I wouldn’t be here if the government weren’t aware of the risks these counter-cultural ideas could pose to our society. You don’t want your business to get messy, do you?”
Kya’s boss responded using her most powerful voice. “Whatever the author’s reasons, I still plan on selling it. Millions of people have purchased this book, and unless there are some legal grounds to prevent us from distributing it, I will continue to do so. I will not be the only bookstore in the city or even the country not selling this book. It has been a huge source of revenue for our company, and it has caught on like wildfire.” She took a breath, smiled, and allowed her voice to take on a more pleasant tone as she continued. “Besides, it is just a work of fiction, right?”
The agent seemed frustrated. Kya didn’t know if this was stop one or one hundred on his journey to research the book still clenched within his spindly fingers. “Of course. Well, if anyone comes in claiming authorship, or you remember anything else about Second Class Supers, please contact me.” The agent took out his phone, and tapped it against the desk. His contact information appeared on screen and Kya tapped on the save button.
“We will be sure to do that.” Joanne said as she turned and left towards her office.
Agent Wells slammed the tattered book back into his brief case, spun on his heels, and marched out of Classic Communication.
Kya couldn’t help but smile as she grabbed one of the copies she stored in her desk. She let out a sigh of relief. “They can’t stop us now.”