Monday, October 30, 2006

Becoming Salvish Theander, pt 4

Simply looking like Salvish was not enough to be convincing. Harris had to learn how to walk hunched over with that slow, lurching limp. He had to practice the vocal pitch, accent and speech mannerisms of his master until they became second nature to him. "And, most importantly," Salvish had reminded him, "remember that Harris Oldman is dead! Do not betray your old life to those around you!"
The first tasks had been simple--tests really. Buying a loaf of bread at the market. Delivering legal papers to attorneys. Taking a walk down the street and greeting people. Always there was the quiet voice of Salvish in his ear, guiding him, sounding like he was right behind him, whispering over his shoulder.
It was when he attended a meeting of the town council that things began to unravel. He walked into the room in far too effortless a manner.
"Why, Mr. Theander!" exclaimed Doctor Forrest, "You're walking with much less pain today, I see!"
There was an audible crack, like the snapping of a branch, but Dr Forrest seemed not to notice. "Yes, the pain has been less today," Harris replied.
When he reported home to his master, he asked about the noise. "When your imitation of me fails, my image does not fit you so well," Salvish explained, "and it cracks. But don't worry. You did not mean for this to happen, and we can certainly repair the damage."
It had been a very close call when he was to visit a construction site for a building that Theander was paying for. In asking questions about materials and changes to the blueprints, he spotted his old friend Ed McCulsky among the workers. Completely forgetting himself, he blurted out, “Hey, Big Ed! Good to see you working again!” Crack! Snap! Hairline fissures appeared in his forehead and one corner of his mouth!
Big Ed stopped and looked at the man who had spoken to him. “Harry Oldman?”
Harry panicked. Regaining his composure, he affected the voice and accent once more. “N-no. Of course not. Harris Oldman is dead.”
The cracks in his features from this last incident were more noticeable this time, and they were much more difficult to repair. But they could be fixed. So why all this struggle to imitate his master so closely, if the damage could always be repaired? And so what if Salvish's voice in his ear was becoming more faint? The old guy was becoming so demanding lately that it wouldn't really be a burden to not always hear his instructions!

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