Chapter Two

KELVIN: If you’d give me just a second—


KELVIN: If you’d give me just a minute.  


KELVIN: Just a moment to tell you about free-wifi.  

ASO INVERNESS: Free-wifi isn’t why you’re here.  

KELVIN: But free-wifi, you see, is the key.  

ASO INVERNESS: The key to Titanium Levitation?  

KELVIN: No, the key to the story.  Look, if you don’t get free-wifi you’re not going to get the key.  

ASO INVERNESS: So you do have the key?  

KELVIN: What I have is a story—if you’ll listen and not interrupt.  


KELVIN: To be detained is quite an inconvenience, as inconveniences go. 


KELVIN: Right up there with the inconvenience of an after-dinner mint.  


KELVIN: Or a second-fiddle when you’ve just bought your first.  


KELVIN: Or the inconvenience of—

ASO INVERNESS: No.  No, what was that about the dinner mint?  

KELVIN: Not a dinner mint—An after-dinner mint.  If I’ve spent all this effort on dinner, am I now going to pressure-wash the memory clean with a peanut-sized mint?  Or—worse—one of those sub-peanut-sized ones?  Are we to poison the flavor of a meal with mints so small you forget they even fill your pocket?  And your pocket they fill!  Oh how they accumulate!  Until you’re positively anchored to the floor by the weight of them.

ASO INVERNESS: Yes, yes I know what you mean.  

KELVIN: Do you?!

ASO INVERNESS: To a degree.  

KELVIN: It’s meaning well, the mint—the after-dinner mint.  But it’s more inconvenience than convenience, believe me. When it's erased the memory of everything savory and scoured it raw with that bleach of a pallet cleanser. As, I’m sorry to admit, this interrogation is an inconvenience when I’ve spent all this effort on another dinner, of sorts—one with chicken eggs—but you insist on poisoning my purpose with your minty-mannered questions!  

ASO INVERNESS: Three questions.  One was on the topic of dinner mints.  

KELVIN: And dinner mints I’ve been nothing but forthcoming about!  I’ll tell you everything you want to know about dinner mints—though, I must warn you that the knowledge weighs heavy on the soul.  And, at times, the pocket.  

ASO INVERNESS: What brought you to the airport, Mr. FCL?

KELVIN: Not dinner mints.  

ASO INVERNESS:  No.  Might it be this ticket?  

KELVIN: No tickets brought us here.  We stumbled into the airport.  Though there was a ticket designed to help us leave.  

ASO INVERNESS:  Is it this ticket?  

KELVIN:  Not likely.  

ASO INVERNESS:  Printed—and you can read the print yourself, can’t you, Mr. FCL?  Printed here is your name, is that right?  Kevin FCL.  

KELVIN:  It’s Kelvin.  Not Kevin.  I don’t know any Kevin.  I don’t like any Kevin.  

ASO INVERNESS:  Likely a typo, isn’t it?  

KELVIN: Unlikely.  But even if that were my ticket, it hasn’t brought me here and it’s unlikely to help me leave.  

ASO INVERNESS:  The destination is printed, I’ll read it for you: Leafless Lagoon, Bamboo Island.  That’s in the Zoicterranean Sea, is it not?  

KELVIN:  I hope it’s not in the sea.  Or I better pack a swimsuit.  It’s on an island.  

ASO INVERNESS:  Business or pleasure, Mr. FCL?  

KELVIN:  Is that a threat?  

ASO INVERNESS:  It’s a question.  Was your trip for business or pleasure?  

KELVIN: What business did I have to look for pleasure?  Of course it was for the pleasure of my business.  

ASO INVERNESS:  And what is your business, Mr. FCL?  

KELVIN:  I am secret attache to—I mean, I am not an attache to Lincylum.  I am something else very public.  

ASO INVERNESS:  You are Mappleton’s Minister of Ministration, isn’t that right, Mr. FCL?  

KELVIN: No.  I am…one moment here…would you…you took my wallet?


KELVIN:  And…you took my phone?  

ASO INVERNESS:  Standard procedure.  

KELVIN:  Procedure.  Yes!  I am Mappleton’s Parliamentary Minister of Procedure.  Or—it’s MP, not PM.  Mappleton’s MP of Procedural Manners.  Yes.  Yes.  Such a soufflé of acrimony—acronyms, I mean.  Mappleton’s MP of PM.  MP of PM.  Hard to say and hard to remember.  Makes for a marvelous logo, though.  You’ll have to let me show you the logo.  Very balanced, mirror-like thing.  Classic looking.  Just brilliant on a business card! 

ASO INVERNESS:  It certainly sounds that way.  And what was Mappleton’s MP of PM planning to do with his business cards on Bamboo Island—where business is banned?  

KELVIN:  Banned?  


KELVIN:  How can business be banned?

ASO INVERNESS:  It’s not my business to say, sir.  

KELVIN:  Or comment on?  Speculate about?  Confer with?  

ASO INVERNESS:  No.  But…if you were to answer, I might be able to ask you some…procedural questions.  

KELVIN:  How procedural?  

ASO INVERNESS:  Let’s start this way: in what manner might an MP of Procedural Manners proceed when confronted with an ambassador from Lincylum who, 10 years ago, while taking a stroll along the smelly beach of Leafless Lagoon sniffed out the idea that he might—by the annexation of Bamboo Island—become ambassador not only to its people, but to all of the people of Lincylum?

KELVIN:  Carefully.  

ASO INVERNESS:  In what manner might an MP of Procedural Manners proceed when appraised of a situation that situated the Ambassador of my last question in the capital city of Lincylum, in the capital building of that capital city, surrounded by all of the technology that all of that capital city’s capital expenses could buy—preparing to concoct out of the cockamamie crannies of his mind a security system so secure it could make all other security measures obsolete?  

KELVIN:  Surprisedly.  

ASO INVERNESS:  In what manner might an MP of Procedural Manners proceed when presented with the presence of a security system made up of—not titanium, but living, breathing security officers dedicated to cheaply securing targets of government interest like borders and airports, but more precisely sworn to protect the people of Lincylum, Bamboo Island, and Mappleton from an ambassador whose only form of diplomacy consists of ejecting everyone he disagrees with from the face of the Earth?  

KELVIN:  Decisively. 

ASO INVERNESS:  What have you decided, your Honorable MP of PM?  

KELVIN:  Well…I haven’t quite decided much more than you have.  I mean, have you been to Bamboo Island?  Have you walked across the bridge spanning that smelly lagoon where levitation had its first flight?  Have you tested the limits of the system—without a helmet?!  


KELVIN:  What did you make of it?  

ASO INVERNESS:  If you think eggs are the answer, you don’t know the question.