The public administrator’s office, the place where the unknown and indigent dead’s estates were tracked down and disposed of, was an unlikely customer for cutting-edge technologies. Yet when a body was discovered, there was so much that the public administrator needed to know: the names of next of kin, terms of a will (if any), assets and debts. Investigations tended to be long and expensive.

With the introduction of cerebral synergy units, that all became much easier. The raw contents of a mind dumped at the coroner’s office, turned over to whoever needed it.

“All right,” said Calvin, speaking into a recorder built into his headset. “This is Calvin Matthews, an investigator working for the City of Hopewell public administrator’s office. My subject today is one Mr. Joseph Devine, born January 9, 1950 and found dead of natural causes in his home on November 19, 2015. In accordance with a warrant issued by the City of Hopewell circuit court, I am now going to attempt recovery of information and assets through cerebral synergy.”

There was no switch to throw, no button to press. All it took was a thought.

Calvin was Joseph Devine.

There was dancing. So much dancing! Joseph had, in the words of his neighbors, been a man who kept to himself, a man who never went out. But the memories that animated his life, that took up the greatest portion of his being, were of dancing and lights, laughter and the pungent odors of bodies in motion.

The Speakeasy on West State soon after it opened in ’67. Long hours of gyrating in blinding smoke to jazz players up from Chicago, down from Detroit. That disco joint on Division, what had it been called? Zucker’s. It had burned down in ’78, never rebuilt. But every nut and bolt of the place was laid out in Joseph’s mind.

His partners were blurry, indistinct, unimportant. All that mattered was the experience, music on the keen cutting edge of the world, and the motion. And then it had all come to an abrupt halt.

Inspired by the song ‘Joe 90’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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