As soon as the light emitted by the orange moon came through the window of Homar’s apartment, he put on his suit, took his tool bag and walked out the door. No one requested him to be at work at an exact time, but he liked to build his own rituals which he followed strictly. “I cannot control how the moon will rise tomorrow, but I can control my actions,” thought Homar as he waited for the bus. In the deserted station the burgundians were keeping him company. Burgundians were a type of bird adapted to city life, feeding on scraps thrown by passers. They had white feathers, long necks and thin beaks. They were docile and easy to pick up and they would wrap their neck around your arm, if you let them. Homar starts searching his pockets and finds some food crumbs. As soon as the bus arrives in the station, he climbs the stairs at the bus entrance and throws the crumbs towards the birds before the door closes. The Burgundians rushed so violently for the food that their necks began to cling to each other like hooks.
Inside the bus, Homar chooses a seat next to a window and gazes at the round glass. Because of the lack of visibility and the bright light inside, he could perfectly see the reflection of his face. He had a pale, wrinkled skin, as an elephant, but in a light yellow color, with a white mustache and white eyebrows. He was wearing a purple suit, soft to the touch but made of a waterproof material. The color and shape of the suit indicated his age and profession, in case someone needed his services and wanted to approach him directly. After the 10th station, which he had meticulously counted, he exited the bus, and approached a 42-storey building. As he stepped inside, the floor lighted automatically, indicating the route to the elevator. His office was on the top floor, giving him the panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately, he could not enjoy the view, because of the strong illumination of the room, which started automatically when he stepped inside. Near the window there were two working tables, full of tools of various shapes, next to a monitor screen supported on 2 legs. There were many screws and electric pads on the ground.
After a long and deep sigh, he pulls out a box with many compartments and starts to place the pieces by category.”X2c2 screw goes to x2c2 compartment, key m34c goes to m34c, 4kxc screw goes to 4kxc … piece 2b6a goes to …
Suddenly a silly loud voice interrupts him:
“Heeeeeey partner! How are you, how’s it goin’?”
“Hello…can you guess what I’m doing?”
“I know, I know … forgive me. I left them like that. The good news is I’ve discovered the cause of the erroneous display. It was code 2555! No, no … 2556 … No … 2555.”
“As usual, I’m going to write in the inventory 2555 with inclusion of 2556.”
“Perfect! What would I do without you?”
Homar takes a deep breath and continues to place all of the pieces in the specific order.
“Part 2b6a goes to 2b6a. Key 27fv goes to 27fv. Xc90 board goes to …”
After a long pause in which he gazed at the floor, Homar addresses his partner in a shaky tone.
“Peridot, in what quadrant are we in?”
“Are you serious Homar? How should I know? I do not even know what a quadrant is .. but no worries, I will find out right away. As he had finished talking, Peridot pulls out an electronic device from his pocket, chained to his belt. By a simple vertical move in the air, the device screen lights up, and starts beeping. Peridot approaches it with his mouth, and addresses it, in a serious and deep tone: “Define Quadrant !”
“Beep Beep Beep…Quadrant … element of measurement of the intergalactic rotation versus temporal space. We are in quadrant 2, limit 3.”
“Homar, did you understand what it said?”
“No no no no…”
“Yeah I knew it! Me neither.”
“No, that’s not good! No, no … quadrant 2, limit 3 … it’s the date of our assessment … we have to go to the councils headquarters!”
“Ok, no problem. We can do that. But why are you so agitated? You are scaring me..”
“Don’t you understand Peridot? I have calculated the galactic calendar wrongly! Me of all people ! I thought we were in the 2.77 limit, not 3. I am not ready for this evaluation … and it’s all your fault !!”
“My fault? Why?”
“Oh … because I always have to take care of everything … remember the important data!”
“But Homar, no one forces you to do that.”
“I don’t have time for this. Let’s go!”
Peridot shrugged, took his bag and followed Homar to the elevator. Inside the elevator there was a green-tinted mirror. Homar looked frowning at Peridot’s reflection, which had the habit of straying in the mirror. Besides the difference in expression of the face, the difference in stature was evident between the two, Peridot being twice as small in stature and two times bigger in weight. He was wearing the same purple suit, and due to the thickness of his limbs, the costume made squishy noises at every step. The whole body had a short greenish fur, and sharp ears like a cat.
“What’s wrong with you Peridot?” asked Homar in an angry tone.
“These are my facial beauty exercises. Keeps the fur smooth and the face glossy. Every time I see a mirror, I remember I have to do it. Do you want to try?”
“No thank you. I just hope from all my heart that the council doesn’t have mirrors .”
“Don’t worry Homar, there are no mirrors there.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, after visiting it about 100 times, I think I would have remembered seeing one.”
“100 times ??? You’re joking, right? That would mean you are over 50,00 orange moon periods.”
“I did not count them, but it seems plausible.”
“But how? Does that mean you’re older than me? 1000 times older than me ???”
“Maybe even more Homar. On my home planet we measure the age in red moon periods.”
7 bus stations later, the two arrive at the council. They were welcomed by a creature with 20 arms, which scans a code on their costume and sends them to a waiting room, at the end of a long corridor, 3 floors above.
“I have to admit Peridot, I am very nervous. I did not prepare at all. What if I mess up a mission? I usually memorize all the error codes, but what if I miss a code? What If I miss a code, Peridot? Tell me quickly, which code will they ask me???”
“I do not remember Homar asking any code. At least 1000 orange moon periods passed since then. Besides, you know I never remember data like you do.”
“Hmm..I am now realizing that maybe the reason why you never know anything is not because you are unfocused, but because you are just incredibly old!”
Homer yelled the word “old” so loud that the long corridor produced a long echo. In a few moments an individual walks into the room and pulls a chair, sitting in front of the two. He was wearing goggles with thick, black frames and he had a giant hump in the back like a turtle.
“And you are ?” the turtle like creature asks Homar, looking aggressively at him over his glasses and with his chin inside his neck.
“Homar is my name, sir.”
“Alright … I’m Brascov. I already know Mr. Peridot . Yeah. Let’s start the evaluation. Peridot … what’s code 555?”
“I do not know!” said Peridot, with a naive smile on his face and gloomy eyes.
“If you allow me Mr. Brascov, code 555 means …”
“I was not talking to you, Homar!”
A deep tranquility takes over the room. Then Brascov continues:
“Homar … imagine the following situation: You get to the office, and find the room very messy with multiple pieces on the floor and on the tables. At the same time, a fellow citizen walks over and asks a technical question. What problem do you solve first?”
Homar parallelizes , and begins to feel a drop of sweat on his neck. He holds his hands tightly together, feeling them very cold. He knew it was more important to deal with the fellow citizens’ questions, but the thought of a messy office was eating him inside. After a long pause, and with an empty gaze at the floor, he says softly:
“I put the pieces in order first, sir.”
“Mhmm … well. I’m done here. Please go back to the post gentlemen,” said Brascov in a harsh tone as he stamped some documents.
“That’s all? Are you sure …”
“Please, Mr. Homar, don’t make this difficult and let this OLD body rest. Goodbye!
On the way back , Homar choses a seat in the bus next to a window, staring blankly, sighing and almost with tears in his eyes.
“I don’t understand Peridot, how did he know I had a problem with clutter? How did he know you are bad with codes? You may be a bit forgetful, but you are one of the best electronics technician I’ve ever met.”
“Thank you partner. And you are the most organized and diligent electronics-robotic analyst I’ve ever met. But do not worry. It’s their job to look for our weaknesses. No matter how hard you try, they will still find in you an error. But still, they trust to send you back to the post.”
“But what about a bit of gratitude? Does anyone care that I’m trying to do a good job? It makes sense to come every day …”
Suddenly Homar’s emotional speech was interrupted gently by a feminine voice:
“Sorry to bother you..”
“Yes, madame,” said Peridot, with a calm smile on his face.
“Your costumes suggests that you take care of data maintenance.”
“Yes madame! At duty. How can we help?”
“In the building where I live, the downstairs screen shows that I need 5000 energy follicles for the current month when I consume only 3000 on average. What happened?”
‘Allow me to scan your suit, and we’ll handle your problem as soon as we can.”
By the time his partner searched for the scanning device, Homar had time to observe the lady’s appearance. She had short, brown hair, and light blue skin. The arms were so short that the sleeves of the green suit covered half the palms. Judging by the stature and color of the costume, Homar assumed she was of average age in orange moon periods, and serves food in public places.
“Very well madame, the costume is scanned.”
“Thanks a lot!”
“With pleasure! We will see you soon! “
“I hope so,” said the lady with a strange glow in her eyes.
After the 7th station, the two exit the bus and head for the elevator of the 42-storey building. Peridot turns to Homar and yells at him enthusiastically:
“I think the lady on the bus answered your question!”
“What do you mean?”
“For them you come to the post Homar! For the fellow citizens!“
Homar looks at Peridot approvingly and smiles under his thick moustache. He suddenly feels like a stone is lifted from his chest, and the assessment suddenly becomes just an unpleasant memory.
To be continued….