No one's called me that in a long time.

Yeah. We know. How does it make you feel to hear it?

It's another man's name. Listen, friend, if you want to ask me about enrolment do it now. My office hours are for students.

You know that's not why I'm here. There's an election coming up. You know what that means.

Yeah. Too much empty commentary. Too many wasted words.

This isn't a job for Instapundit. “Heh” won't cut it. You're a maverick, Pooter. You always were. We need someone to go in quiet, make 'em laugh, then hit them with the killer blow. Don't you sometimes wonder if you've still got it?

Not while I'm conscious, buster.

Remember when you took down Mr Dave without a shot being fired? I bet you do. They still talk about it back at the academy. I bet you remember the sweet taste of victory. I bet it tasted sweeter than those post-seminar vodkas you're having one too many of these days.

And I remember when it all went wrong. I remember when the comments and emails came in so fast I didn't know where to start. I remember when I lost her to that, that keyboard.

close up of Counsell's face—computer cooling fan blades cast spinning shadows across his sweating brow—the tumbling digits of a Webpage hit counter fade in—the sound of computer keys tapping grows louder and louder—we hear the phrase “you've got mail” repeated ever more rapidly, delivered by a female voice rising in pitch and menace—cut back to university office where Counsell grips desk and wipes forehead

I've got a life now, Mister, and I'm not exchanging it for some transient online celebrity.

We've got the old team back together. Berlinski's in. Levy's on board. Garrard. Kingston. Duff. Timbeaux. Reel. Maoi. You're the last piece of the puzzle.

I don't care if you've got Norman goddamn Geras riding shotgun. I remember when he started to ask questions. I remember when the burnout did for Anthony… Every hour of every day they're clicking, all over the World—content, content, content. All they want is content. It never stops…

Scared you can't cut it any more? Scared there might be a young pretender out there, with a faster quip, a faster argument, scared there might be a faster googler? It's nothing to be ashamed of.

Your time is up, my friend. I've got business to attend to.

That's my card. Keep it next to the Stolichnya, old timer. You never know when it might come in handy.

Get out of my office. Now.

[Picks up business card. Taps it against fist. Tosses it in bin.]