The Mold of Yancy
Leon Sipling groaned and pushed away his work papers. In an organization of thousands he was the only employee not putting out. Probably he was the only yance-man on Callisto not doing his job. Fear, and the quick pluckings of desperation, made him reach up and wave on the audio circuit to Babson, the over-all office controller.
“Say,” Sipling said hoarsely, “I think I’m stuck, Bab. How about running the gestalt through, up to my spot? Maybe I can pick up the rhythm…” He grinned weakly. “The hum of other creative minds.”
After a speculative moment, Babson reached for the impulse synapsis, his massive face unsympathetic. “You holding up progress, Sip? This has to be integrated with the daily by six tonight. The schedule calls for the works to be on the vidlines during the dinner-hour stretch.”
The visual side of the gestalt had already begun to form on the wall screen; Sipling turned
his attention to it, grateful of a chance to escape Babson’s cold glare.
The screen showed a 3-D of Yancy, the usual three quarter view, from the waist up. John Edward Yancy in his faded workshirt, sleeves rolled up, arms brown and furry. A middle-aged man in his late fifties, his face sunburned, neck slightly red, a good-natured smile on his face, squinting because he was looking into the sun. Behind Yancy was a still of his yard, his garage, his flower garden, lawn, the back of his neat little white plastic house. Yancy grinned at Sipling: a neighbor pausing in the middle of a summer day, perspiring from the heat and the exertion of mowing his lawn, about to launch into a few harmless remarks about the weather, the state of the planet, the condition of the neighborhood.
“Say,” Yancy said, in the audio phones propped up on Sipling’s desk. His voice was low, personal. “The darndest thing happened to my grandson Ralf, the other morning. You know how Ralf is; he’s always getting to school half an hour early… says he likes to be in his seat before anybody else.”
“That eager-beaver,” Joe Pines, at the next desk, cat-called.
From the screen, Yancy’s voice rolled on, confident, amiable, undisturbed. “Well, Ralf saw this squirrel; it was just sitting there on the sidewalk. He stopped for a minute and watched.” The look on Yancy’s face was so real that Sipling almost believed him. He could, almost, see the squirrel and the tow-headed youngest grandson of the Yancy family, the familiar child of the familiar son of the planet’s most familiar – and beloved – person.
“This squirrel,” Yancy explained, in his homey way, “was collecting nuts. And by golly, this was just the other day, only the middle of June. And here was this little squirrel – ” with his hands he indicated the size, “collecting these nuts and carrying them off for winter.”
And then, the amused, anecdote-look on Yancy’s face faded. A serious, thoughtful look replaced it: the meaningful-look. His blue eyes darkened (good color work). His jaw became more square, more imposing (good dummy-switch by the android crew). Yancy seemed older, more solemn and mature, more impressive. Behind him, the garden-scene had been jerked and a slightly different backdrop filtered in; Yancy now stood firmly planted in a cosmic landscape, among mountains and winds and huge old forests.
“I got to thinking,” Yancy said, and his voice was deeper, slower. “There was that little squirrel. How did he know winter was coming? There he was, working away, getting prepared for it.” Yancy’s voice rose.