"Naw, not for a couple of days," Todd replied, still
pounding away at the keyboard. "I been working."
Hal went over and pushed the play button on the machine.
There was the sound of a tape rewinding, then a deep, gravelly
voice barked from the speaker.
"Dis is Manny. If youse two hacks don't pay up on dat loan
in the next t'ree days, I'm gonna send someone over ta take it
outta yer stinkin' hides!"
There was a sharp 'click' and then the tape rewound. Hal
stood staring down at the machine for a few moments. "So,
Todd," he said, as casually as he could, "when did you say you
last checked the messages?"
"Huh? Oh, I don't know, two or three days ago. Why?"
"Oh, nothing," Hal mumbled, rubbing his chin, where several
days worth of stubble had somehow accumulated. He wandered
back over near Todd and asked, "So, how long have we been
holed up in here, anyway?"
They had, as usual, put off working on their assignment
until the deadline was almost upon them and they now had to
have their "Cliffhanger" chapters turned in by the
end-of-business, today, or they wouldn't get paid. And if they
didn't get paid, it also meant that Manny wouldn't get the
money they had borrowed from him, a week ago. They had started
working on the latest story, almost non-stop, three or four
days ago and Todd was just now putting the finishing touches
on the last chapter.
"I don't remember," Todd answered, rather testily.
"You about done, there?" Hal asked, deciding that it didn't
matter, much, as long as they got the chapters to the editor
in the next couple of hours.
"Yeah, yeah. A couple more minutes."