The Surgical Assistant · 01

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Capital Sam is in his quarters at the bottom of the ocean, stretched out on his fainting couch, starting the first pipe of the day. His room is easily the most cluttered in Feddema HQ, piled high with books, maps, swords and pistols, antique jewelry, a gigantic mirror in a black rococo frame, erotic lithographs taking up most of the south wall, mounted animal heads taking up most of the north, fragments of harps or lutes, a birdcage, a bamboo opium pipe, a sextant, an astrolabe, an armillary sphere, a fucking orrery, &c.

When the wall intercom buzzes, it takes him a few moments to navigate the clutter. He presses the button and says: “Ahoy.”

“Sam,” Margaret Feddema says, her voice crackling with distortion. “I assume you’re familiar with the White Clinic.”

“I am familiar with every brothel in the region,” Sam says, “though I assure you I have never paid coin for a lady’s company.”

“Is that so,” Margaret says. “Your file says otherwise.”

“My file?”

“Mm. I may or may not have someone on the payroll whose full-time job is documenting the activities of my little family here. I think your file is the largest.”

“You make me blush.”

“Some evenings I like to unwind with a glass of wine and a writeup of one of your whoring binges.”

“When my time comes, I trust you will pass those along to my heirs,” Sam says. “It will fill their eyes with tears of pride.”

“Maybe you’ll run into a couple of them when you head over to the Clinic today.”

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The Estuary Branch

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