(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/11/11/argent-on-a-bend-azure/)
“Claw?” Siddhartha Huff ejaculated interrogatively to his unpeopled hermetic chamber. On his screen he could see Claw’s pancake cracking as if he were modeling the facial contortion he solicited from the Posse of Matrons.
Claw’s first words after the permission incantation had been, “Now say cheese!” With a slightly panicked tone he followed with, “Grin like fucking hyenas, excellencies.” Goddamn it, he was improvising!
A hush enveloped the palatial hall; every eye was on the figure in brocade doublet, a dead ringer for the sanctified Shootist, aiming the antique device at the worthies of the ball. Astrid’s thunderstruck visage was self-explanatory.
Sidd had no idea where Claw had dredged up this gibberish — what the hell was “cheese”? Had Claw’s ardor to carry off his Sidd-simulation led him to stray from the script? And with a scrap of ancient jargon gleaned, perhaps, from his exposure to archival footage of primitive “photography” rites? The etiology of the ominous breach of protocol hardly mattered now.
Sidd watched numbly as Claw raised the Polaroid and snapped. Simultaneously, a uniformed dais attendant seized his arm as if by reflex. Sidd twitched violently as the audio after-image of Claw’s expletives lingered in his earbuds.
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