"Can I help you?" he asked.
"I have governmental authority to search your records," the man said.
"Certainly," Danilo said. "Can I see your forms?"
The man raised his eyebrows. "Are you going to be difficult, Mr. Etzioni?"
"Of course not," Danilo said equitably. "But I'd rather be safe than sorry. Would you rather I gave this information out to anyone who came in claiming to be from the government?"
"A sensible precaution, I suppose." He dug some documents out of his pocket and set them on the counter. Danilo picked them up and looked them over. Everything, unfortunately, seemed to be in order.
"Well, Mr. Sanderson, what can I do for you?"
Sanderson pulled a photo out of another pocket. "I want to see if you have a database for this man."
Danilo inserted the picture into his image-matcher without more than glancing at it. He'd known, though, who it would be. Tretiak. He'd said he was onto some big scheme, that couldn't miss. Probably over his head, as usual. What had he gotten himself into this time?
The matcher beeped. "Apparently I do," Danilo said. "Ident-card said Avery Tretiak."
Sanderson gave up trying to peer around Danilo's counter at the screen and said, "Do you have a wall-display?"
"Oh. Yes, I do. I use it for a mirror, most of the time." Danilo tapped a few keys and their reflections turned into an array of text and pictures.
"Controller?" Sanderson asked peremptorily, without even trying to make out the tiny scaled print.
"Oh, yes. Where did I put that?" Danilo made a show of searching through the cluttered drawers packed full of shampoo and scissors before finding the controller buried deeply in the bottommost one. He didn't see the need to mention that he had one in a more accessible, if less evident to even moderately arduous searches, and that it had more than the usual array of functions.
Danilo went back to what he had been doing--double-checking the account books, making sure that nothing improper had crept into the publicly-accessible ones--while Sanderson went over the voluminous, and poorly-indexed, data. It took him longer than Danilo would have expected to stumble onto the information he was looking for.
"So this Tretiak was here three weeks ago. Do you still have visual records?"
"Of course." Danilo smiled. "You never know when these might come in handy. Some of my clients pay me very well to make sure that they have exactly the same haircut they had on various other occasions. I keep complete documentation." And others paid very well to make sure they did not resemble, stylistically or in any other way, what they had looked like before. "Just select the appointment, and hit playback." It wasn't quite that simple, but Sanderson was apparently damned if he was going to admit that to Danilo.
Eventually he found the right combination of buttons, and Danilo and Tretiak's images appeared in what once again looked like a mirror. His brow furrowed, and he tilted his head around a few times before he said, "Is there a soundtrack?"
Danilo raised an eyebrow. "Why would I need a soundtrack? I may be forced to make polite conversation because of my profession, but very little of it would be of the slightest use to me afterwards. And, quite frankly, most of it is content-free."
Sanderson sighed heavily and turned back. Obviously his lip-reading wasn't very good, and there was definite blurring in that area, caused of course by a faulty camera lens, and a judicious amount of post- processing. "I'll need a copy of this," he said eventually.
"Hmmm. I hope you brought some disks or wafers with you, because I'm afraid I don't keep any here."
"I can get some," he growled as he watched Tretiak get up, his nondescript formerly shaggy head now in a postpunk buzzcut, and head for the door.
"I'll keep this in the cache for you, then. There's a good store on the next level down, Bytes 'N' Blocks." Actually, they had execrable service, and even worse selection, but he might luck out. "I'm afraid I have an urgent appointment in about half an hour, and I'm not good at reconfiguring my security system on such short notice, so it might be safer for you to come back tomorrow if you think it'll take longer."
Sanderson just grunted in reply as he left.
He knew he could count on the Bytes 'N' Blocks folks to inconvenience Mr. Sanderson for amply long enough, so he didn't waste any time in closing up. After all, Edwin was as involved in the Tretiak thing as he was--he'd generated the new ident-cards after Danilo was finished remodeling his face. Obviously it was time to check his mailbox in the Swiss AZ to find out how much his cut came to.
Still, they'd actually gone so far as to visit him this time. He might have to cool things off for a while. He was really overdue for a holiday--Italy was a bit hot, in both senses, right now, but perhaps he should check out his atoll in the Azores. He could provide a good referral to another lab, which should tide them over until he could set up again, but not so good that they wouldn't welcome him back. He'd gotten his start that way, before Orly had the sense to retire and save Danilo the trouble of hacking his will.
Maybe it was time for a new front. He was getting godawful tired of cutting hair.
Jacob Haller <ST102315@BROWNVM.brown.edu> gave me the assignment
Pack haircut documentation stylistically
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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey / firstname.lastname@example.org