Josh chuckled at his joke. The men remained stone faced.
"T. P. as in toilet paper?"
"T. P. stands for Thought Police, sir."
Both men took out their credentials. Joshua casually glanced at them. He still had his lazy Sunday afternoon smile on his face and was not taking this seriously. He stepped forward and peered up and down the quiet street. No one else was around.
"All right, guys, I give up. What's the gag? Is this Candid Camera, some wacky new reality show, or what?"
"No gag, Mr. Adams. We're federal agents."
Josh's smile faded.
"Let me see those credentials again."
Josh stuck out his hand. The men offered them and this time he studied them, comparing them with their photographs and asking the man on the left to spell his eastern European surname composed almost entirely of consonants. Beneath Thought Police was a phone number and email address but no street address.
"Good job, guys. These things look real. Someone went to a lot of trouble to mock these up, but I guess with Photo Shop and all that stuff you can pretty much-"
"Mr. Adams, they are real. May we come in?"
"No, Mr. Meriwether, or whoever you are, you may not come in."
Meriwether looked at the man on the left, who took a pen and notepad out of his jacket packet and jotted something in it.
"So how long have you two been on the job? I never heard of the T. P. before."
"Congress authorized our charter and appropriations last year and we've been on active duty for three months."
"That's odd. I watch the news, read the papers, and I don't recall hearing one word about this being discussed or approved by Congress."