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Dijkstra Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich.It's a hot summer Tuesday, and he's standing in the plaza in front of the Centraal Station with his eyeballs powered up and the sunlight jangling off the canal, motor scooters and kamikaze cyclists whizzing past and tourists chattering on every side.The square smells of water and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background, and birds flock overhead.He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he's arrived.This is getting weird enough to trip his weird-out meter, and that takes some doing.
A couple of punks – maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar – are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far corner.
Manfred is waiting for an invite to a party where he's going to meet a man he can talk to about trading energy for space, twenty-first-century style, and forget about his personal problems. He wraps his throat mike around the cheap black plastic casing, pipes the input to a simple listener process.
He's ignoring the instant messenger boxes, enjoying some low-bandwidth, high-sensation time with his beer and the pigeons, when a woman walks up to him, and says his name: "Manfred Macx? The courier is an Effective Cyclist, all wind-burned smooth-running muscles clad in a paean to polymer technology: electric blue lycra and wasp yellow carbonate with a light speckling of anti collision LEDs and tight-packed air bags. He pauses a moment, struck by the degree to which she resembles Pam, his ex-fiance. She dumps the box in his lap, then she's back over the low wall and onto her bicycle with her phone already chirping, disappearing in a cloud of spread-spectrum emissions. "Are you saying you taught yourself the language just so you could talk to me?
You are human, you must not worry cereal company repossess your small intestine because digest unlicensed food with it, right? Am wishing to defect." Manfred stops dead in the street. State Department is not help us." This is getting just too bizarre.
"Oh man, you've got the wrong free enterprise broker here. I'm strictly private." A rogue advertisement sneaks through his junkbuster proxy and spams glowing fifties kitsch across his navigation window – which is blinking – for a moment before a phage process kills it and spawns a new filter. Manfred's never been too clear on new-old old-new European metapolitics: Just dodging the crumbling bureaucracy of his old-old American heritage gives him headaches.
The bandwidth is good here, he realizes; and it's not just the bandwidth, it's the whole scene.