THE St. Louis Speakeasy
It is currently Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:29 am GMT

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message

Ahoy!
 Post subject: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:53 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
Under the electric hum of lights and filters, the room was quiet. Most of the science facilities were deserted at this hour. Even the usual crew of grad students and overachievers who haunted the premises had thinned out with the arrival of suppertime. Not so Dr. Hotchkiss; his day thus far had been an extremely unproductive one, which he supposed was his own fault for coming to work hungover in the first place.

With a deftness born of much practice, he rolled up his right sleeve, plunged his arm into the next tank, and removed a dripping shrimp. He released the shrimp from the gentle cage of his fingers and redirected his attention, tuning out the sound of its tiny claws scrabbling against the metal pan of the triple beam balance. His brow creased as he leaned down to view the finely calibrated instrument at eye level. While the eraser of his pencil was too chewed-up to be usable, the graphite end was sharpened to a fine point, and he used it to tap the sliding weight until equilibrium was regained.

He recorded the figure in his notebook, picked up the shrimp, and deposited it once again into its tank. Then he turned and with a slow, sweeping gaze, took in the sight of the other four dozen tanks which lined the walls of the room and occupied most of its flat surfaces. Only a handful still needed feeding; his assistants had taken care of the rest. Unfortunately, this handful still needed to be weighed before he fed them, and while he was close to being done, it still took more time than he wanted to devote to it.

Sighing, he removed his glasses to rub at his eyes with his clean, non-shrimpy hand. Soon enough he would be heading home to feed himself and his private shrimp collection. After that, all that remained was to review his lecture notes, perhaps catch up on his reading, and go to bed.

Still, he couldn't quite shake the nagging feeling that he was forgetting something.

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:50 am GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
After an apartment building, bar, and university where everyone knew him, Luka Spektor had been plunged into a world of strangers. The prospect of seeing one familiar face now filled him with relief. The night before, however--in the empty hours between turning out the lights and finally drifting off--Luka had started to speculate. The more he speculated about the reunion, the more nervous he became. After all, he'd changed a great deal since the infamous Lisbon Zoological Conference of '25. There was no saying what his old friend would think of him anymore.

The day of the meeting, he was distracted from his fretting by a minor miracle.

Long ago, Dr. Amsel had managed to get hold of a pair of Eastern American three-toed box turtles. For years he'd tried to breed them--it was always difficult to import turtles from the United States--but they had refused to produce any eggs until after their owner's death. Today, Luka awoke to find one hatchling, already hiding beneath a plant. The others struggled to follow, consuming their own shells as they emerged into the light. The sight brought tears to Luka's eyes. It always did.

He spent the day caring for the hatchlings. Like human babies, such delicate specimens simply couldn't be left alone. As his appointment approached, Luka lingered by the door to deliberate. When he arrived at the University, he was clutching a large picnic basket. He wandered through a few wrong corridors before the numbers on the brass plates began to approach what he'd been told. At least there was no one there; he felt like a trespasser, even without some American to accuse him.

It wasn't nearly as grand as Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität.

He caught a glimpse of Dr. Hotchkiss from outside the lab. The man didn't look any older than he had in Lisbon. Luka, on the other hand, knew that he had aged far more than two years. His slouch had become pronounced, as had the half-moons beneath his eyes. He wore a sweater instead of a suit. He hadn't even slicked back his hair, which he would've sworn was beginning to gray.

Luka swallowed and stepped inside.

"Doctor Hotchkiss," he said, his accent as heavy as ever. In spite of himself, he was already grinning. "Do you recollect me?"

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:49 am GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
At the unexpected interruption, Clyde glanced up from his work. The surprise was only momentary, after which a toothy grin split across his face.

"Well, well, well." He plopped the shrimp back into its tank, wiped his right hand vigorously on the hem of his labcoat, and thrust it out to clasp Luka's for a vigorous handshake. Until Luka spoke, he'd forgotten why most of their prior conversations had taken place in German. Feeling merciful, he made the switch.

"<No need to stand on formality. Please, come in, come in.>"

He led the way through the lab to his adjoining office, which, while not entirely devoid of shrimp, offered a rather more comfortable setting. It also gave him an opportunity to showcase the magnificent new oak desk he'd received as a gift of gratitude after a particularly stirring appearance at the East Connecticut Arthropod Society. Today, however, the desk was merely for show. Two padded chairs sat before it, and he pulled one around to face the other.

"<Have a seat,>" he urged. "<Can I bring you any coffee? Tea?>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:49 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
At Clyde's familiar grin, Luka felt a measure of relief. It seemed like a dreadfully long time since he'd seen a friend, or even shaken someone's hand. When he heard Clyde switch to German, he responded with a grateful smile. There was nothing more frustrating than being trapped in the narrow scope of his poor English. Luka's German was tinged with a slight Russian accent. Otherwise, he spoke flawlessly.

He thanked Clyde, assessing the well-furnished office with an admiring glance. While Luka's university was far grander than Clyde's, his office in Berlin had looked more like a closet than a room. Not that it had mattered at the time. He'd spent most of his time in Dr. Amsel's.

"<Please. Coffee, perhaps?>" He sank into a chair, setting the picnic basket down on the floor beside him. "<I must say, Doctor, it is wonderful to see you so well. In fact, I have brought a small token from Berlin.>"

He reached into his coat to produce a bottle of very good apricot brandy. Just how he'd gotten it through customs was anyone's guess.

"<I do hope you're partial to Marillenschaps...>"

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:16 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
"<Good God, man. Am I partial? I've been slowly dying of thirst since 1920.>" Taking the bottle, he held it up to the light and squinted at the label. He turned it one way and then the other, with the sort of reverent silence normally reserved for shrimp.

"<This,>" he said, "<is the good stuff.>"

Then, remembering that Luka had asked for coffee, he set the bottle down on the desk. Or rather, the felt pad atop his desk. He was very careful about anything that might risk the perfect finish of the wood. On a small cabinet in the far corner of the room sat a single burner, which he proceeded to light, and a Sintrax vacuum coffee maker of which he was rather proud. There was already water in the carafe, so he left it to heat while spooning coffee grounds into the top bulbous glass piece.

"<So tell me, how was the crossing? Not too rough, I hope.>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:34 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
“<Ah, yes, so I've heard,>” he said, still beaming. Clyde’s approval pleased him. Especially now that he’d seen a hint of the luxuries in the other man’s life, it made Luka a little proud to have something to offer. The university, the office--it was all a far cry from his miserable existence in the apartment on Accomac Street.

At the mere mention of the crossing, Luka grimaced. "Rough" didn't even begin to cover it. He hadn’t been traveling on what was strictly a passenger vessel. He also wasn’t strictly a legal U.S. immigrant. As a result, his journey had been rather less than comfortable. The seasickness, the insomnia, and the grieving hadn’t helped.

“<I always thought I loved the water. That was before I became acquainted with the Atlantic… But here I am now, thank goodness, either way.>” He shrugged and smiled at Clyde’s back, hoping to deflect the conversation. “<And you, my good man? I’ve been hearing about your latest paper in Berlin—The Diphyletic Nature of the Infraorder, em…Thala...hm.>” He snapped his fingers.

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:20 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
"<Oh, it was nothing, really,>" he replied proudly, with a little wave of his hand. A thin veneer of modesty was necessary, of course, but Clyde wasn't about to lay it on too thick. The truth was that it hadn't cost him much effort at all. Most of the research had been pilfered from his undergraduate assistants, whose names appeared as footnotes in the index. He had even conned a sophomore into typing the whole paper, in exchange for a passing grade.

He could do such things with impunity, though. That was just one benefit of his position.

"<Really, though. I'm being talked about in Berlin?>" Clyde didn't tend to distinguish between his publications and himself. The Sintrax burbled as the coffee brewed. As he talked, he began setting out cups and saucers from a matched set. "<You can't imagine how your news raises my spirits. I admit to harboring envy towards you Europeans. Of course, I've done well for myself here-->" indicating his office, the desk, the shrimp tanks along the wall "<--but there's no denying it's something of a backwater.>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:28 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
He listened to Clyde patiently--even with interest. Luka had been more or less living with Dr. Amsel for a decade. He took self-absorption among academics for granted.

"<Certainly.>" Perhaps he was exaggerating. He had heard the paper mentioned at least once, though, and he wanted Dr. Hotchkiss to be pleased. "<You're well-regarded there.>"

At Clyde's commentary on "the Europeans," he shrugged. Luka hated the United States, but it was difficult to tell how much that had to do with the English language, his terrifying neighborhood, and too much vodka. "<Berlin may still have an edge, but not for long. The Republic is unstable; the city is a war zone. Since the War, the funding is in America. So are the fresh ideas. Europe is taxonomic. America is evolutionary. It is my humble conviction that the future lies here.>"

He didn't have to specify "the future of biology." It went without saying. That was the only future of interest.

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:46 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
Clyde looked up and gave a startled little blink. "<Oh--! Well! That goes without saying of course.>"

He resumed fiddling with the Sintrax, which had ceased to burble and was now simmering in silence.

"<There's more to Europe than just Berlin. Could I stand to live there? I don't know. But you must agree that the Continent has its advantages. Believe it or not, America's egalitarian ideals have a downside. Which is to say, the scientists and academics who make this progress possible don't get nearly the respect we deserve, outside of certain circles. Germans, on the other hand--Germans appreciate a man with a title. How do you take your coffee?>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:51 am GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
First he had to absorb the fact that those words had actually come out of Clyde's mouth. Then he had to absorb the fact that Clyde had seriously meant them. For a split-second, his eyes widened with incredulity. Why had he ever thought he had anything in common with this man? The egomania was forgivable, even amusing. But the shameless endorsement of an archaic, unjust, idiotic system was simply too much to bear in silence. Perhaps it stemmed from ignorance. Ignorance, however, was just as unforgivable for an academic man.

Luka was not an angry person. In fact, he was remarkably even-tempered. He had spent many years slaving away in a pathetic closet in Berlin. His colleagues mocked him behind his back, but well within hearing distance. Sometimes for being a communist, sometimes for being a Russian, sometimes for being a Jew. He'd also been called "Frau Amsel" more times than he cared to repeat. Passed over for every raise and promotion, Luka produced highly-acclaimed articles that were published under the name "Professor Doctor Doctor Emmerich Amsel."

And here was Hotchkiss in his elegant, spacious, well-furnished office, telling him that American academics didn't get the respect they deserved. He swallowed down his vexation and proceeded to speak in an amazingly calm voice.

"<I'm not so sure, Dr. Hotchkiss. The German academic bureaucracy is notoriously inefficient. Many scholars spend their valuable time and energy working toward meaningless titles instead of doing productive work. Or others who have done productive work are ignored because they lack the money or time to validate it with titles. A more efficient system might place emphasis on collaboration and shared research rather than competition...>"

He had forgotten about the coffee.

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 1:00 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
"Pish-posh," he replied cheerfully. "<Let the old fogies have their stack of titles. Keeps them out of the way while the rest of us get some real science done! Eh what?>" Unfortunately for Luka, Clyde was close enough the reach over and give him an almost-friendly slug in the shoulder.

"<What you need,>" he went on, serving up the coffee despite his guest's lack of stated interest, "<is some of each. The best of both worlds. Take me, for instance. I have all the qualifying degrees I could possibly need, more publications than you could shake a stick at, and a solid background in fieldwork. No one would dare ignore me--and if my peers prefer to bury themselves in books, it's no skin off my nose. Let them mold in the libraries. Thins the herd when grant season comes around.>"

A wistful sigh escaped him as he set Luka's coffee in front of him. He paused just long enough to draw breath. He'd perfected his breathing interval, such that the other person never quite had long enough to get a word in edgewise. "<Not that any of it matters a whit to the anti-intellectual rabble you'll find milling around in these parts. In the broader sphere, I mean. The city. That's what I was getting with that bit about the Germans. A little regard outside the upper echelons of the academy, now that would be nice.>"

A thought occurred to him, and he peered through his spectacles at Luka. "<Where are you based these days, old boy? Setting up at St Louis University are you?>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:15 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
Luka, unfamiliar with American customs, had no way to predict or understand the blow to his shoulder. For a second, the expression on his face betrayed the growing conviction that Dr. Hotchkiss was completely insane. That seemed to be the only explanation for his self-congratulatory reply, which drastically missed the point of what Luka was saying. The moment had passed, however, and there was really no point in arguing with Dr. Hotchkiss anyway.

He thanked Clyde for the coffee, wilting under his searching stare. The question reminded Luka of his utter dependence. Any hope of legalizing his immigration status, learning English, and obtaining a university position rested on Clyde's influence and mercy. And the Lisbon Conference had been a long time ago.

"<I am in America indefinitely...but...I have no promise of a university position as of yet,>" admitted Luka. Though he spoke with careful deliberation, there was a cringe implicit in his voice. "<For the moment I am--well, on hiatus from academic work, you might say, and er...instead playing piano...>"

He cleared his throat and took a swallow of the coffee, color rising to his cheeks. He hoped Clyde wouldn't pry any further about his work as an entertainer. It was bad enough to be hammering out ragtime tunes for paltry tips. Worse yet, the venue was a whorehouse. Since 1925, Luka had fallen far.

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:13 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
"<I didn't know you could play the piano!>" Clyde's exclamation conveyed both his shock at Luka's hidden talent and a fleeting suspicion that this had been deliberately kept from him. He had a vague memory of absconding with a piano--or at least attempting to--at some point while in Lisbon. He struggled to recall what Luka's role in this escapade might have been. He was certain the Russian had been at least marginally involved.

Belatedly, the rest of his colleague's words filtered into Clyde's consciousness. "<Hiatus,>" he repeated, as though he'd just smelled something faintly disagreeable. Behind his enormous spectacles, his eyes narrowed.

"<Hiatus,>" he said again.

He took a large gulp of coffee, set the cup down atop an embossed leather bound encyclopedia of freshwater crustaceans, and folded his arms across his chest. Despite his oft-ridiculous outer trappings, Clyde was a man of science at heart. When you came right down to it, not much got past him.

"<And is that by choice?>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 

Egad!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:18 pm GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:09 am GMT
Posts: 18597
Location: Look for the furtive one.
Custom Title: Egad!
"Ah, yes," said Luka, showing his crooked teeth in a shy grin. "<In Lisbon you very much wanted to hear me play. And then we...I believe we tried to steal a piano from a church?>"

The tone changed as Luka's confession sank in. He stared down into his coffee, feeling a bit interrogated by Clyde's gaze. Was it by choice? His first impulse was an emphatic no, but then, he had no logical reason to have fled to America. His position, his funding, and his colleagues remained in Berlin.

"<Er--you recall my research partner Dr. Amsel, do you not?>" Emmerich hadn't made it to the Lisbon Conference, but his name was well-known in the world of zoology, and he had given lecture tours in America before. "<Perhaps you have already heard. He is... He passed away quite suddenly this August. I was offered his position, but I wanted to establish myself as my own, ehhm... Well, I wanted a change of scene.>"

As he reached this conclusion, Luka seemed to deflate. He'd never had many friends at the University, but in the wake of Emmerich's death, he realized he was living in social Siberia. There had been rumors, he knew, and after the incident in August he found himself scrutinized for excessive signs of grief. Just showing up for work had become an intricate form of psychological torture.

"<I would very much like to find work in America, but there are complications. First of all...>" He reverted to his thick Slavic accent, blushing. "My English very bad."

_________________
Image
"Fotecp, that is indeed the stuff of nightmares." - Dvorak


Top
 Profile  
 

Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: King Crab ((Fotecp!))
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:55 am GMT 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:59 am GMT
Posts: 56525
Location: proper tea is theft
Custom Title: Ahoy!
"<Well that's an easy fix.>" He waved his hand, brushing away the problem like a pesky fly. "<Put you on research for six months, maybe a year. Get some undergrad from the Language department to tutor you for class credit. Once you take on a course load, we could rustle you up a bilingual TA from somewhere. Unless you'd prefer to keep playing piano.>"

Clyde didn't believe in obstacles as a rule. Insurmountable ones, even less so.

He tapped a finger against his large white front teeth, thinking. His hands still bore a faint odor of shrimp, though he had long ago ceased to notice it.

"<...surely there's more to it than that.>"

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group