Note to our regular readers: Firing up this prologue for a new novel, Party Faces LLC, does not mean I’ve forgotten the story about Grunt, featuring Michael Jade and others. The Party Faces concept has simply been demanding expression for a while now. It seemed like a good idea to get started. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to write after the snow flies in Montana.
The bearded man glowered at his clean shaven partner. “Russ, you don’t understand. Making these available to the public is akin to handing out do it yourself kits for building nuclear bombs in your average suburban garage.”
Unimpressed, the chubby inventor aimed his watery blue eyes and his 210 I.Q. at the speaker. “Nuke-you-ler if you’re George W. Bush. You really believe nobody else will come up with this if we don’t? I taught you better than that. We’re in hundredth monkey territory here. Others have to be working on the same concept; who wouldn’t want access to a perfect disguise system in these perilous times?”
“All times are perilous,” came the retort.
“Be that as it may, the people need a way to defeat all those facial recognition programs out there. I know you agree, Tom.” Insufferably calm in his certainty, he pushed his coke bottle glasses back up the bridge of his nose so he could see through them instead of squinting over them.
“I do agree. But it’s not that simple.”
“Theatrical sigh. With you, Tom, it never is.”
“That’s why you pay me the big bucks to handle security.” This was an inside joke. Every penny had gone into research and prototype production; neither of them had drawn a salary, ever. “It won’t just go to the people. The feds will be on it like white on rice before you can say ouch. If they find us, we’ll be Hoovered up like so many dust particles from a carpet, required to work only for them by force if less persuasive measures don’t work. Foreign agents will infiltrate, copying your science like the Chinese and others have been snatching our secrets for decades. Terrorists, foremost among them the Islamists, will caper gleefully at their newfound ability to evade detection with the greatest of ease. Even if we do escape and evade, avoid detection altogether, our lives won’t be worth a plugged nickel. Every spy and hit man on the planet will be hunting us down. You think we can survive running a sales operation with the entire planet looking for us? You. Have. No. Idea.”
Russ decided to cave. A little. “Well, um, let’s say you’re right. That I have no idea. It’s true enough; the outside world isn’t all that real to me.”
“So, if you’re right…”
“If you’re right, but we can get the job done for long enough to make the knowledge open source impossible to contain before we die a thousand deaths, the question is, Tom…is it worth it to you? Because I know it is to me.”
“There’s no changing your mind, is there?”
“There never was. Besides, if a man with your background isn’t enough to keep us safe, nobody can do it. I have every confidence in you.”
It was Tom’s turn to sigh. A real sigh, drawn from the soles of his feet. “I’m one man, Russ.”
“But you’re my man.” Russ Tyler smirked. The matter was settled. He turned back to the CAD program he’d designed, leaving his lover to figure out how they could market Tyler’s discoveries without getting assassinated or worse. Captured would be worse. Much worse.
Spurning the use of a computer, Tom Alexander made notes on a sketch pad with a gel pen plus a variety of colored pencils. They couldn’t just hide in a cave and make this work; a lot of their success–if indeed fate allowed any success at all–would have to come from hiding in plain sight.
It was some time before he realized what song he was humming. The Things We Do For Love, by 10cc.