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Episode 15

"And this is... uh... where I work >click<" the PFY says, opening the door briefly before closing it again and walking off.

Curious...

Moments later, the PFY is back and the door opens again briefly with a quick, "Ahh, my desk is the one over there. >click<"

Curiouser...

A short time later the door reopens once more and the PFY enters leading an elderly lady into the room.

"Goodness, this is spacious isn't it?" she exclaims. "Although a little bit cluttered don't you think?"

"Yes mum," the PFY says, bowing his head slightly.

"Why do you need such a big space for the two of you?" she asks.

"It's a technical support environment," I proffer, reeling off the excuse that has maintained the highest floor space-to-employee ratio in the building for many years. "And as such we often need room to set up testbench hardware as proof of concept trials - or simply to diagnose tricky computing problems. So... you'd be... my assistant's… older sister?"

"Mother," she responds, not indulging the obvious lie too much.

"Pleased to meet you," I say, offering my hand in welcome – much to the PFY's discomfort. "Here, have a seat – would you like a nice cup of tea?"

"Yes, that would be nice," she replies, easing herself into the PFY's chair. "Milk, one sugar please dear."

"And an espresso for me, thanks," I add, opting for a drink best suited for saliva detection.

A few minutes later the PFY's back with our drinks while I'm stepping the PFY's mum through a tour of the PFY’s desktop icons.

"And this file here is a movie about a young woman called Amber who, because of the foibles of the 80s job market, is unable to pay her many bills and has to devise alternative methods to do so."

"Like raffles?"

"Yes, like raffles, cake stalls and suchlike," I say, giving the PFY a couple of moments as the colour returns to his cheeks.

"I’ve never heard of it," his mum replies.

"No, it was a bit of an... arthouse movie, with a cult following."

"Like Rocky Horror?"

"Not so much."

"Your tea," the PFY interrupts, before I can continue, passing the cup over while "accidentally" standing on the power cord to his monitor.

I grab my coffee and examine it closely for foreign bodies, sniff it for the presence of undiluted industrial cleanser and take a small precautionary sip. Lovely. As I'm taking a larger sip it occurs to me that the PFY's demeanour is that of a completely changed man. Gone is the ruthless technical professional with a penchant for petty larceny and mindless violence and in its place is a... a... nice person?!

Could it be that the PFY's mum is some form of.. PFY Kryptonite?

?!

But then I realise that if this were truly the case and the PFY was some form of alternative IT superman, struck down by his proximity to his weakening agent, then surely at this juncture he would encounter his arch-enem...

"Who sent this?!" the Head Beancounter says, storming into Mission Control waving a piece of paper about angrily.

"What's that?" the PFY asks, oozing helpfulness like one of those nice people you see on bank commercials

"One of you sent me this reply to my request for administrative control of the financials server!"

"Really? Do you mind if I have a look at that?" the PFY asks, taking the page "Hmmm. It does seem to be rather inflammatory – and that bit implying that your early family history was a experiment in recursion is particularly unkind – but neither of us would have written such a thing. Are you sure it wasn't one of your own people doing this as some form of bad joke?"

"Are you suggesting that this wasn’t your doing?" "It doesn't sound like us," I respond. "And besides – it's been sent from your email address."

"Everyone knows you sent it!" he responds. "And I can prove it! Our consultant has pointed out that the company's SMTP host adds an extra header line of the sending host – THAT address," he snaps, pointing to a sticky label on the side of the PFY's machine. "You're for the high jump now."

"I..." the PFY’s mum says, the excitement a bit much for her as she swoons back into the PFY's chair – illusions of her offspring shattered. "M... My handbag please."

"Are you alright?" the Head Beancounter asks, handing over the requested item to the PFY's mum as he mentally contemplates his liability for her attack.

"I'll be fine once I get my angina tablets," she says, reaching into her bag and retrieving...

>KZERRRTT!<

"Now THAT's what the doctor ordered!" she says, sitting back up again. "How many times have I told you about leaving paper trails?"

"Yes Mum," the PFY says, downcast.

!

"Tell me," I say, addressing myself to the septuagenarian with the unlicensed stunner. "One thing I've always wanted to know... Is everyone on your home planet a psychopath?"

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