“But, why me?”, asks Bixby.
“Because, Mr. Hermann, we need a man to do an impossible job.”
“Yes. We need a man with NO pretensions. Do you understand me?”
“But sir,” Bixby quivers. “I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think anyone can – ”
“Hermann stop it. Stop. Listen to me. Look at me. Are you looking at me?”
“We need a man like you. You’re the man we need. And anyway there’s no time for discussion, see. These cards must be shuffled. The top men here have studied it. Meetings. Experiments. Do you know about the experiments?”
“Well. Believe me. We don’t do things willy nilly around here.”
“But Mr. Anderson, sir. Uh, General Anderson – I’m not even in the, uh… service. You know? I’m just a dentist.”
“Exactly! Now you’ve got it. Just the man we need – and no pretensions. Ahh, Bixby!” General Anderson smiles broadly, “I admit, I had my doubts, but now I see HRC was right. Couldn’t be righter!”
“Now then. Take these,” Anderson says, handing Bixby a set of playing cards. “I want you to shuffle them, see? And then starting walking thataway.” General Anderson lifts his right arm and points, squinting.
“When you can’t go any further, well, you just turn around.” Anderson mumbles, looking off in a different direction. Then he snaps back toward Bixby, leveling his gaze. “And always shuffling! Shuffling that deck!”
The sky is a flat, washed gray screen. The road rolls gently and rises, a faint line of wire fencing beside it.
Bixby looks down at his hands. Then he lifts his head and looks east, into the distance.