The sky was overcast on what was otherwise a sunny type of day. The birds were singing and he felt content.
If you know what
To do in life
You shall be cool
And you are great
And now you know of what to do
Of now and other times that concern you
Cover image courtesy of Kody Evans
Tim was happy to visit his friend, Frank, in New York.
Tim lived in Antioch, California where that town’s biggest attraction was the parking lot where Food Maxx had originally been the one guaranteed store in which people could shop for more than dollar items. When Food Maxx moved from its location on Buchanan Road, perhaps it was now on Lone Tree Way. However, the people who lived on Buchanan Road were mostly older folks who could not drive or did not choose to do so.
They continued shopping for less nutritional canned foods at the Ninety Nine Cents Only store. But the memory of Food Maxx continued on, especially to the drunkards who spent their afternoons hanging out in the parking lot next to the old Food Maxx building.
Occasionally, a person might walk up to it and look in the window, with a glimmer of hope a few items were still on the otherwise empty shelves. There was hope for the possibility that one of the attractive female cashiers would suddenly show up, unlock the front door and walk inside with the intention of bringing the few items to the newer location. She would hopefully be one of the cashiers who wore her shirts tucked in tight with belted pants. She would be a breath of fresh air from the monotonous fashion repetition of loose and sloppy sweatshirts as applied by the majority of the regular population of Antioch. Such hopes would never be fulfilled.
The drunkards knew that. However, they convened around the building, on the bench by the parking lot, drinking and talking, not happily per se but content enough with knowing they had their memories of when times were more promising.
When Tim visited Frank, who lived on Amsterdam Avenue at Harlem in New York, close by Columbia University, he had no idea how different that part of the United States was as opposed to the small and secluded environment of his home town. The students at Columbia were young and attractive and a good number of them wore their shirts tucked in.
For Tim to see a woman with her shirt tucked in was like him seeing a celebrity because, as shallow as fashion appearances were, they shaped the surface of a neighborhood in the same way an opinion of a painting could change the art movement. It had its importance. In the grand scheme of things, everything had an equal amount of importance because it existed. Significance was a man-made concept allowing people to form opinions. Tim’s family helped him form opinions on appearances because of their examples of what not to do, according to his mental concept of sanity.
His mother was not married when was pregnant with him and he never knew his father. His uncle was four hundred pounds and he had dogs who chewed holes in his clothing. His uncle’s wife was a regular healthy weight but she wore dresses only. Their daughter was almost as heavy as her father and she wore the type of loose sweatshirts dominating the Antioch trend. Tim’s mother, who was not slim but far from weighing as much as his uncle and cousin, was usually wearing dresses also. However, the dresses were old and faded. Nobody in the family, other than Tim, thought much about what to wear.
His family ate mostly canned raviolis or cheap lunchmeat and processed cheese food. When they made sandwiches, they used white bread only. Their favorite lunchmeat was bologna. They did not even fry the bologna, which would have made it taste a little better and remotely like salami. His mother did not even put mayonnaise or mustard on her sandwiches. On the very few occasions they ate more usual types of food like chicken and vegetables, they used no salt or any other flavorings and they boiled the vegetables until no life nutrients were left.
They did not go out much to do anything, with the exception of his uncle who would walk to the Ninety Nine Cents Only store and back, sometimes without buying anything. He did not want to pay five cents extra on something when the sale on that item was over. He could have one hundred dollars in which he could part with an extra nickel but he preferred to spend his big money on appliances he found at his neighbors’ garage sales. They would sell him tools that were faulty; tools he did not need and never intended to use even if they did work. He would never complain to his neighbors and they knew that.
For Tim to now visit Frank was amazing. Tim felt like he was in Europe. He saw more street traffic and restaurants than ever before. Frank was glad to invite Tim for a week. Frank wrote a play that was going to be performed by a small independent theater company. The play would be held in a cleared-out storage room of a building that used to be a department store. A large audience attendance was estimated to be between five and ten people. Aside from that, Frank was enthusiastic because he felt incredibly lucky to have his play performed at all. He wanted his best friend to share in the experience.
Frank used to live on Contra Loma Boulevard, next door to Tim, in Antioch. Six months ago, he inherited an extremely large amount of money from an eccentric uncle who left it to Frank only but with the condition Frank would have to move to New York and live in his late uncle’s apartment. Frank had been conditioned by the isolated non-culture of Antioch and understood later, after moving to New York, exactly why his uncle made that condition. He was happy the situation happened and he felt that the least he could do for Tim was let him see the greatness of New York also.
Tim had spent two days with Frank so far and the play would be tomorrow night. Now, around five o’clock p.m., Frank had cooked a vegetarian meal for Tim who liked it a lot. Tim was not sure if he would be able to finish a dish that did not have meat on it but, as they were enjoying the meal, he realized there were many experiences and points of view he had yet to encounter, in the same way a person who previously thought tucked-in shirts looked nerdy had changed his or her opinion and it became his or her favorite fashion style.
After dinner concluded, Frank asked, “Would you like to take a walk to Riverside Park?”
Tim sat on a recliner in the living room. Frank had already showed him various places in the neighborhood and Tim wanted to have a few moments to digest everything and rest. He said, “Maybe we could do that tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is the night of the play.”
“We could go earlier in the afternoon. I appreciate what you’ve shown me so far but I’m tired.”
“Are you really that tired or are you regressing to your old Antioch behavior of staying home all day and doing nothing? You can do that in a few days when you return home. I would actually not mind having you as a housemate if you ever decided to live here. Anyway, after tonight I won’t bother you about going to a lot of places with me. You can have the morning and afternoon to rest. But tonight I just would like to show you Riverside Park. It’s the perfect night for that. It’s cool out and the view of the place will really make a lasting impression on you. I have this feeling you might also see one of those good looking ladies who tuck in their shirts like you’ve been telling me you’re so happy to see here.”
Tim agreed to go to the park with Frank. He was not sure exactly if he would be able to do a lot more walking but Frank’s idea concerning good looking women made Tim feel more energetic.
The walk was not extremely long but not short either. However, the view of the park was gorgeous. The breeze was just right. Tim had yet another experience he would not have previously known was possible. As they sat at a bench and looked at the trees, Tim noticed a good looking red-haired woman wearing sunglasses. She had an aura that seemed to indicate she would be the type of person he would like to know if such a situation was possible. He had automatically assumed she was a shirt tucker before he noticed her black T-shirt was tucked into her black pants. In New York, he noticed that if someone appeared to be possibly a certain way, proof showed it was true. In Antioch, a woman’s face might make her look like a shirt tucker but her appearance contradicted that. He was happy to find a place with a synchronicity congruous with his preferences. He felt validated for his opinions.
Suddenly, the woman approached them. She smiled and said, “Hello, Frank. Isn’t this a lovely night?”
Frank nodded. “Hello, Susan. I’d like you to meet a friend of mine, Tim Dyer. Tim, this is Susan Marcus.”
Susan nodded. “I am happy to meet you, Tim. Frank, I’m thinking of selling some CDs to the record store tomorrow. Is there any way you could tell me which artists might sell more?”
Frank said, “Tim is the expert on music. I’m better at literature. Maybe he can go to your place and look at your CDs and tell you which ones to keep and which ones to sell.” He winked at her.
She winked, also. “That’s a great idea. It’s almost like I thought of it.”
Frank said, “Tim, she lives about a two minute walk from here in one of the student apartments. I think it would be good for you to help Susan. Will you be only a few minutes?”
She shrugged. “I might want him to stick around. You never know.”
Frank laughed. “Tim, I’m sure you can tell me if Susan wants you to stay. She has a car if she decides to drive you back to my place. I’ll be here a while longer, anyway. It’s no big deal.”
Susan looked flirtatiously at Tim. “Did you hear that? What do you think?”
Tim was glad merely to walk with a woman like Susan. He would not assume there would be any more to the situation than his looking at CDs and picking choices for her to sell. He said, “It sounds fine.”
They walked for a couple of minutes and then she stopped. “I have a confession to make. I don’t really have CDs I want to sell. I’m a practical joker and I just wanted to have you walk with me so I could interrupt your time with Frank.”
Tim shrugged. “I understand.” He was confused but he was not upset. She did look good.
“We can get married.”
She laughed. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Let’s start over. Here, let’s shake on it.” She extended her hand.
They shook hands. She continued shaking on and on for what seemed like more than two minutes. Tim felt strange. He was experiencing something else for the first time. No woman had ever acted like that to him in the past. The situation was creepy. He tried pulling his hand free but she smiled mischievously and squeezed tighter. He kept pulling for what seemed like another few minutes while she laughed in a strange menacing way.
Suddenly, Frank appeared. He shook his head. As he walked towards them, he said, “Are you up to your pranks again, Susan.”
She widened her eyes. “Please let us alone.”
Frank sighed. He put his grabbed Susan’s and Tim’s joined hands and pulled them apart.
Tim said, “Thanks.”
Susan shook her head. “I don’t know why you’d say thanks. That’s really rude.”
Frank walked and gestured for Tim to join him. Tim did so.
Susan said, “Come back!”
Tim asked, “How long do you think she would have held on if you didn’t show up?”
Frank shrugged. “I have no idea. She’s the queen of awkward, though. I wish she hadn’t done that to you.”
Tim knew that Susan would have eventually let go but, because he had no real proof of that, he had to feel unresolved on that issue. As to whether or not he enjoyed the experience, that was also a mystery.
Cover image courtesy of Feni Rathod
Cover image courtesy of Feni Rathod
In New York, between 117th and 120th Streets, the pedestrian traffic is more conducive towards creativity and image. People are generally students whose families are wealthy enough to send their children to Columbia University. When Geoff McCarthy was invited to visit his childhood friend, Stan James, who lived on Morningside Drive by 120th Street, the view of the trees and apartments was much different than his place in Oakland, California.
Geoff lived on Alice Street, one third of a block away from 14th Street in Oakland. The neighborhood was usually fine, except for the occasional drunkard who wanted to cause trouble, but the main difference, in his opinion, was how college students dressed. In New York there were more examples of people wearing their shirts tucked in. He liked that look on women and he was enthusiastic about engaging in people watching.
Since he arrived in New York, close to five o’clock p.m. in the evening, he spent most of that night talking with Stan in Stan’s apartment. Stan had an extra bedroom where Geoffrey could sleep.
Stan asked, “How was your flight?”
Geoffrey answered, “Tiring. Am I feeling jet lag? I don’t know.”
“Yes. I can make a small dinner for you. I have homemade chicken soup or I could do an egg dish with tofu and broccoli. Would you like some coffee or tea or sparkling water?”
“I can’t say I’m all that hungry. But I could take some herbal tea.”
“I know why you’re not hungry. You probably ate a lot of snacks while you were on the plane.”
“I admit it. They taste so good but then later I feel drained.”
“That’s because there’s not much nutrition in those snacks. Some real food would do you well.”
Geoffrey wanted to disagree but he felt too exhausted to waste his breath on arguing. The plane trip seemed like ten hours and the cab drive to Stan’s apartment was about two hours. Neither the plane or cab seats were comfortable. If not for the cool weather and good looking people on 120th Street, he would have automatically deemed the trip to be a failure. When Stan went in the kitchen and prepared food, Geoffrey stayed quiet.
After Geoffrey ate the egg dish with tofu and broccoli, he could not believe how much better he felt. The food was mild and easy on his stomach. He was still not at one hundred percent of his full energy capacity but any amount more was gladly welcomed.
He said, “Thank you again for inviting me.”
Stan smiled. “Of course; my first novel is getting released tomorrow and I wanted you to be a part of the celebration.”
“I remember you wrote stories when we were growing up. In junior high school, we had our school paper in which you were able to place some of your writing.”
“You also wrote some things, Geoffrey. Did you ever get anything in the paper?”
“I did but I was covering sports events and biographies of teachers. My name wasn’t credited on anything. The stuff I did was more technical. You were the creative one.”
“You wrote stories too.”
“Yes, Stan. I did. But I wrote mostly for my own entertainment. I didn’t care about being published.”
“You’re still my best literary friend and that’s why I wanted you to go to my party.”
“While we’re there, you can talk to some other writers. Most of them are up and coming but maybe a few big names will show up.”
The next day, Geoffrey assumed the book party would be later in the evening but it was happening in the early afternoon. He slept until nine o’clock. Stan did not awaken him. Geoffrey still had five percent jet lag to conquer but he was close enough to full energy capacity. He looked forward to strolling with Stan through the streets of New York.
After they ate more of the eggs and broccoli and tofu scramble from last night, Stan took a multi-vitamin and gave one to Geoffrey. He said, “This part of the United States is best observed with a clear and alert state of mind. We are not in our thirties anymore and the days when we thought drinking whey powder and going on hikes are no longer enough. Eating good meals and taking vitamins are on-going daily processes. Agreed?”
Geoffrey nodded because he agreed in principle but, when he was home in Oakland, he ate a lot of fast food and stayed indoors. He would not tell that to Stan. The point was he could agree even if he did not practice that lifestyle.
Stan said, “Okay, we’re on our way.”
They walked at a pace not too fast. Geoffrey was relieved. From how Stan talked about nutrition, there was a possibility he would run down the street like a decathlon champion.
Geoffrey looked at the women, especially those dressed attractively according to his preference. As they passed a French restaurant, he noticed a long haired brunette sitting at an outside table, wearing a black sweatshirt with her sleeves pushed up. When he noticed her sweatshirt was tucked into blue jeans with a brown belt, he was surprised in a good way. He wanted to notice what she was eating, in case he later decided to go there and order the same thing so he could experience a little bit of her world.
Stan pointed to a building. “This is where the party is being presented.”
Geoffrey did not have enough time to look at the woman’s plate since his first priority was to walk with Stan. He felt some irritation even though he knew Stan’s distracting him was not intentional.
When they arrived at the party, Geoffrey noticed the men were dressed fashionably in suits and they acted cordially as if they had gone to other book parties and were clued in on the right outfits and behavior. All of the women, according to his observation, were wearing loose blouses that almost flagged upward like flying carpets as the women walked quickly past people. They talked loudly and gestured with their hands and Geoffrey wanted nothing to do with any of them.
Stan waved and said, “Ella, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.”
A woman, with so much makeup on there was no area for real skin to be seen, marched excitedly towards them. Her hands and arms were seemingly imitating a bird’s wings flapping and she was breathing out of her mouth similar to a person playing a tuba. She had on a bright yellow loose flying-carpet-type of blouse and a wrap-around brown skirt that looked like she preferred clothing that did not work well together. If she was Stan’s idea of a compatible partner for Geoffrey, he needed more information.
Ella said, “Hello, Stan. Are you ready for your big moment?” Her voice was not loud so Geoffrey was relieved.
Stan said, “I don’t know how prepared I am but I brought my friend Geoffrey. I’ve known him since grammar school.”
Ella nodded. “Hello, Geoffrey. Are you the friend from California? Stan said he wanted you to go to this with him.”
Geoffrey smiled. He did not want to encourage much conversation from her but he did not want to let her know that was the case. He said, “I’m him.”
“That’s wonderful. Do you write fiction, also?”
“I’ve written some fiction.”
“Okay. Is there anything I would recognize?”
“If you know the alphabet, you’d recognize I write in the English language.”
Ella frowned as if she knew Geoffrey meant to be rude but then she nodded to overlook it. Apparently, she figured he wanted to be left alone and she was not going to leave. She said, “What I meant to ask was whether or not you have written for any major publications.”
“I’ve written many things for major publications. Almost everything I’ve written in the last ten years has been for popular magazines.”
“Wow. You must be a successful writer.”
“I am a very successful writer.”
“I’d love to read your work, sometime. Which magazines should I look for?”
“None of them; I said I wrote for major publications but I always get rejected.”
“So, you don’t really write for them, do you?”
“I do write with them in mind but they turn me down.”
“How can you be a successful writer, then, if that’s the case?”
“I’m successful at my craft. I’m just not successful at getting my work placed.”
Ella looked at him as if she had quickly figured out he was trying his best to fit in and also be a comedian. She laughed. “I like you.”
He did not acknowledge her compliment. He looked around the room to see if there was any other area in which he could situate as a means of escape. Suddenly, he noticed the woman from the French restaurant. He became nervous. How would he be able to tell Ella he had to leave? She would follow him with her eyes and know he wanted to talk with somebody else.”
If he imagined a predicament, it was prevented by an announcement. One man, a member of the fashionable set, stood on stage and said, “The featured authors, Stan James and Adra Berman, are coming out with their newest works. In the case of Stan, his first novel is called A Search. For Adra, this is her second book, a collection of short stories called Welcoming. Since this is a party and not a lecture, we will not go the traditional route of having our authors speak for an hour on things meant to be in the book. They will be available for conversation. If you spot Stan or Adra and want to ask them questions in a more relaxed and less stressful atmosphere, there is food and there are refreshments. Feel free to partake of some juice and cheese and talk with Stan or Adra. It is true they independently told me they preferred this being done that way. But at least a few words from each can be a good thing. So let me bring up Stan James. Come on up here, Stan.”
People clapped as Stan walked on stage. He said, “I’m best at short stories. My mind tends to wander. I can’t structure a conventional novel but I was able to overcome my obstacle and write a great many more pages than I ordinarily would do. When I was finished, I thought to myself I had something inconsistent but then I put in random paragraphs about a man searching for something and not knowing what it could be. I sent it to Isaac Watkins, the published of TLB Publications. TLB stands for Tremendous Literary Books. He’s been a good personal friend of a few years. I just wanted his feedback. When he told me it was brilliant and it would be published by TLB, I didn’t ask any questions. Sometimes the author is his own worst critic. I trusted his judgment and I hope to gain a large readership for this. Thank you so much.”
He walked off stage. Isaac returned to the microphone and said, “Please welcome Adra Burman. Adra, would you like to say a few words?”
The woman from the restaurant went on stage. Geoffrey had not heard her speak yet but he knew already he would like what she had to impart. She said, “You are asking for a few words? How about a collection with a few words in each piece? I am also like Stan in the sense that I aspire to write a novel. I have not done so yet but I welcome each story I complete. I write all these stories with the yearning for receiving further inspiration. I believe in energy. I am willing to connect to consistency when the perfect energy comes. I hope my stories can serve as my welcoming you to me. I hope we can inspire each other.”
She walked off stage. Gregory wanted to approach her but he had to first think of what to say. However, she glanced at him and walked towards his destination. When she was right next to him, she smiled and said, “Hello. So, I understand you are Stan’s friend? Your name is Gregory, correct?”
He was so surprised she knew anything about him, he forgot to say yes. He asked, “Were you eating at a French restaurant before you came here?”
“I had artichoke risotto with pistou butter, mint, parmesan and anise.”
“Thanks. Now, I know.”
“Hmm. Why do you say it like that? Why did you feel you needed to know?”
“I’ll tell you because you asked but I hope you don’t think it’s strange.”
“The writer’s life is very strange. I might think what you say will be strange but I will be happy you told me.”
“I saw you at the restaurant and I thought about going there and trying that food myself.”
She nodded. “I live three blocks away. I feel you are incompatible with the people here. Would you like to talk privately with me so we can help each other?”
A part of him did not know whether or not he should accompany her because Stan might wonder where he went. However, he could call Stan later. If she lived three blocks away from where the party was hosted, the entire walk back to Morningside Drive was no more than fifteen minutes. Plus, the time was early afternoon. As long as he arrived at Stan’s apartment before dark, there should be no problem. He nodded as his answer.
They walked to her apartment. Most of the women he walked with in the past were family members and that did not count. He certainly did not remember previously walking with a woman who tucked in her shirt, let alone a sweatshirt. He said, “Thanks for inviting me over, Adra.”
She smiled. “My real first name is Feni. Adra is my pen name. When we see each other at literary events you can call me Adra but when we’re alone together, I am Feni.”
“Okay. Well, my real name is Geoffrey so you don’t have to change what you call me.”
They entered her apartment. She asked, “Would you like to take a look around?”
He looked at the living room with a large television and fireplace. There were paintings of flowers on the walls and various shelves storing a lot of books.
She said, “Feel free to look in the bedroom. If you are curious as to the person I am, you might as well see the room in which I do most of my writing.”
He noticed the bedroom had a nightstand and a lamp and a bed and a closet. The closet door was shut. He did not feel the need to open it. However, he walked around the bed so he could have a sense of why she did most of her writing in that room. He was appreciative of knowing more than what she ate at the restaurant.
She extended her hand. “Here’s to our getting to know each other.”
He gave her his hand. “Cheers.”
“Cheers indeed. Good times and positive vibes are at work now.” She gave his hand a few shakes and then stopped the shaking motion but kept holding on.
He was not sure whether or not she wanted him to let go first but he did not want the situation to be awkward. He tried letting go but she held on tighter. He said, “I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “There’s no reason to be sorry. You thought I would want you to let go. It was a natural mistake. I can put your mind at ease. I will never let go.”
That made him more nervous. She must not be serious. He said, “I do have to go to Stan’s place tonight. I hope you understand.”
She nodded slowly. “Yes. I understand perfectly. You want to help him with his creativity more than you can help me.”
He was confused. “That’s not true. I think you are very attractive and I would love to help you with your creativity.”
“Then why are you trying to break the energy portal? You know that I needed inspiration for my next project. I called my book Welcoming so I could welcome you to be connected to me.”
“You didn’t know who I was before you met me tonight.”
She sighed. “On the contrary, I imagined you in my meditations and saw you in my dreams. I had trouble finishing novels because I could think only of you. I mentioned that to Stan and that’s how he came up with the idea for his novel The Search. He took the idea from me. I would have attached myself to him except his energy was not correct.”
“So, you’re telling me you know I was his friend and you knew my name during your meditations and dreams?”
“I did not know your name nor whether or not you were his friend but I sensed he knew someone more creative than himself because, when he talked about his friend from grammar school, the energy felt right. When you saw me at the restaurant, did the energy seem right?”
“I have to admit my favorite fashion style on women is tucked in shirts. You’re wearing a tucked in sweatshirt which is more of a rarity and I was delightfully surprised at what you did.”
“That proves attraction is essential. You have a positive outlook on me and that’s why our energy portal will help heal us.”
“I don’t live in New York. I’m just visiting. How can I possibly live here with you permanently attached to my hand?”
“It can happen the same way any invention can happen. Back during the years of the dinosaurs, no one would have thought we would have rocket ships allowing us to travel to the skies. But we have them now. We will find a way to be physically attached.”
He did not know what more to say. He pulled as hard as possible while her grip stayed secure. Finally, after several minutes, there was a knock on her door.
She walked towards the door, pulling him with her. When she opened it, she saw Stan. She asked, “What do you want?”
Stan said, “I’m curious how long you’ll be using Geoffrey?”
She said, “Forever.”
He said, “Fine with me.”
Geoffrey asked, “Are you going to help me?”
Stan said, “No.”
Anthony notó el edificio era más alto que cualquier en su barrio. Una sensación de alivio se hundió. Él estaría lejos de su familia durante varias horas. Su tío, James, organizó todo. Anthony no estaba en contacto con nadie del mundo laboral pero asumió su nuevo jefe, el Sr. Wilson, sería alguien con quien podía llegar a lo largo de.
El bufete de abogados de Mitchell, Dickey & Burgess parecía imponer inicialmente a Anthony cuando anteriormente había pasado mientras camina, pero ahora, cuando entró a la puerta delantera, los alrededores eran humildes. Él podía entender cómo David Wilson habían sido amigos de James Morris, Anthony’s tío. Las paredes blancas, sin pintura, y varios escritorios hechos del ambiente. Quizás la empresa no hacen un montón de negocios. Quizás el Sr. Wilson’s renta era mejor que James’ por unos pocos dólares solamente.
El Sr. Wilson se levantó de su asiento en el escritorio, se acercó a Anthony, y extendió su mano. El apretón de manos no era más que un segundo, pero había una impresión duradera. Anthony reevaluó su opinión. Su nuevo jefe había una confianza rayana en la espeluznante. Él asintió con la cabeza. “Anthony Morris, supongo.”
Anthony dijo que sí.
“Tú eres el sobrino de James Morris?”
“ya sabes que soy. ¿Por qué estás actuando como soy un extraño.”
El Sr. Wilson frunció el ceño y levantó su voz. “Esta es una entrevista de trabajo. Pido a las preguntas y respuestas. Es inadecuado para usted que me corrija. Si no he prometido su tío le daría una oportunidad, usted estaría en su camino ahora, guiados por la seguridad. ¿Entiendes?”
“Sí. Pido disculpas. Nunca he tenido un trabajo antes y nunca estuve en una entrevista de trabajo.”
“En ese caso, entiendo. Vamos a ir a mi escritorio. Voy a sentarme en mi asiento y usted puede sentarse en el otro asiento. Voy a estar haciéndole preguntas y usted me proveerá las respuestas apropiadas para cada pregunta. Estaba claro?”
“Usted dio una respuesta adecuada. Si le pregunto acerca de tus hobbies favoritos y responder por decirme qué hora es, que será una respuesta inadecuada. Es claro que, también?”
Anthony retienen su irritación. “Esto es claro, el Sr. Wilson.”
“Bien.” El Sr. Wilson sonrió. “Me gusta la perspectiva de ustedes trabajan para mí. Tal como yo lo entiendo, James me dijo que necesitaba orientación.”
Anthony mantuvo la calma.
“He oído que tu madre, María, y su otro tío, Kevin, tienen muy poca fe en usted como una persona que vale la pena. Usted les molestan en diversos momentos durante el día y se niegan a hacer cualquiera de los pequeños quehaceres que pedirte. James es el único miembro de su familia que piensa que usted merece más de un centavo. Dijo que necesitaba para inculcar disciplina en la forma que usted podría dejar de ser un estúpido mocoso y convertirse en una persona respetable.” Él miró, fruncir el ceño.
Anthony asintió con la cabeza. “Voy a hacer cualquier trabajo que preguntarme, señor.”
“Hmm. Usted no dar una refutación. Que me desconcierta. Cuando alguien te insulta como ese, debe defenderse. Estoy correcto?”
“Por otro lado, es una buena cosa que no supieron decirme. Realmente me hubiera tenido la seguridad enviarle embalaje y yo les habría dicho a usar la fuerza bruta. Pero, basta con los preliminares. Ha superado la prueba. Por el camino, su familia no tenía realmente dime esas opiniones. Quería observar su respuesta. Usted hizo bien. El trabajo que voy a tener que hacer es simple. Hay otros abogados aquí y algunos secretarios y necesitarán ayuda. Si alguien le pide que busque un determinado documento o cruzar la calle y comprar a él o a ella una taza de café, podrá hacerlo. No tendrás que limpiar los retretes porque tenemos gente que trabaja para la ciudad. Este es un edificio de propiedad de la ciudad.”
“te mostraré todo.” Ambos se levantó. El Sr. Wilson caminó rápidamente por el pasillo. Anthony siguió. Una mujer pasó, desde la dirección opuesta. Anthony notó que ella llevaba su blazer escondido en su pantalón. Su corazón lata más rápido. Él recordaba diciéndole a su familia prefiere el aspecto de un metido en camisa con una mujer si ella y él estaban en una fecha. Su razón era tan su familia entendería apariencia importaba. Si ellos nunca entendió su punto, ellos no dicen ni actuar así. Nunca le hacían creer que si él dijo una mujer escondida en una Blazer.
Entraron en una habitación con fregadero y frigorífico. Una cafetera estaba sobre una mesita de noche. Hubo una mesa en el centro de la sala, con cuatro sillas que la rodean. Otro hombre que estaba sentado en una silla y leer un libro.
El Sr. Wilson dijo, “Antonio, este es el Sr. Karr. Él es uno de los abogados de aquí. Mitchell, Dickey y Burgess no entran en la construcción de más a menos para una ocasión extremadamente raro. Si conocer a nadie aquí con uno de los apellidos, las ocasiones son usted han cumplido uno de sus sobrinos o hijos que podría dejar de informar cómo va todo. De todas formas, el Sr. Karr es uno de nuestros mejores abogados. Si se le pide que haga algo, deberás detener cualquier otra tarea y asistir a él.”
Anthony dijo, “Yo entiendo.”
“Tengo un negocio urgente situación que ocupará el resto de mis días. Usted puede pedir al Sr. Karr si hay algo de lo que él necesita hacer. Si él dice que no, puede dejar para el día. Usted puede considerar mañana será tu primer día oficial. Pero si se necesita hacer algo, entonces hoy es tu primer día. Adiós.” se marchó.
El Sr. Karr dijo, “Yo quiero que usted mire en el refrigerador”
Anthony preguntó, “¿Qué le gustaría?”
“Yo quiero que usted mire en el refrigerador. Eso es autoexplicativo.”
Anthony abrió el refrigerador. Miró en su interior. “Okay. ¿Quieres algo de aquí?”
“Si yo quería algo de él, me lo han dicho. Usted puede cerrar.”
Durante los próximos 20 minutos, el Sr. Karr dijo a Anthony para hacer varias cosas como la pared hasta arriba y abajo del pasillo y mirar en diferentes gabinetes de archivo en la oficina. Anthony cree que el Sr. Karr quería mostrar su poder sobre el nuevo chico. Sin embargo, él no podría quejarme. Su trabajo era sólo a tiempo parcial, dos horas al día, cinco días a la semana. Si el trabajo ha sido a tiempo completo, él no habría considerado en absoluto.
Por último, el Sr. Karr dijo, “voy a volver a la oficina. Tengo que hacer una llamada de teléfono. Si necesito más tarde, voy a tener que hacer algo.”
“Estoy aquí por sólo dos horas de hoy.”
“Si te necesito antes de su camisa es más, voy a tener que hacer algo. No sé cómo se podría pensar que yo no hablaba inglés.” salió de la habitación.
Anthony imaginé que, por ahora, él estaba en un descanso. Él hubiera preferido sentado en la sala de la oficina pero quería evitar el Sr. Karr. El hombre puede pensar en algo más de sentido para él. Anthony miró de nuevo en el refrigerador. Él notó una pequeña botella de agua mineral. Él pensó que él podría tomar ese. No quiso tomar jugo o alguien de la comida pero el agua era sustituible, especialmente en una habitación con lavabo.
La mujer que él había visto anteriormente ha regresado. Ella entró en la habitación y dijo, “Hola. Soy Belinda.” Ella blazer negro, con un escote muy bajo, y botón amarillo camiseta debajo, felicitó a su apariencia. La blazer estaba escondido en los pantalones gris con un cinturón marrón y las mangas de la camisa y blazer fueron enrolladas. Ella era alguien que se tomó su tiempo para lucir bien, en contraposición a la familia de Anthony, todos los cuales eran extremadamente sobrepeso y llevaban sweatclothes suelto con manchas en los agujeros en todas sus obras. Sus amigos, vecinos y muchos cajeros de la tienda parecía similar. Belinda era un refrescante cambio de ritmo. Ella era tan singular como una celebridad avistamiento.
Anthony le dijo su nombre.
Ella le miró por un rato. Ella sonrió como si estuviera tratando de ocultar la sonrisa. Entonces, ella dijo, “no he visto aquí antes. Yo podría haber visto en alguna otra parte, pero no en este edificio. Este es su primer día?”
“Sí. No he tenido un trabajo antes. Me imaginé que haría algo de tiempo parcial para que yo pudiera salir de la casa y lejos de mi familia por un par de horas.”
“Yo veo. Por lo tanto, no eres un abogado, supongo. Yo podría decirle por qué no estás vistiendo un traje”
“Yo soy sólo un asistente. Supongo que podría llevar traje si se me pidió hacerlo.”
“Usted podría hacer eso.”
Él dijo, “Me gusta tu traje. Me gusta cómo usarlo.” Él no estaba seguro si él debería haber dicho eso, pero él tuvo la oportunidad de todos modos.
“Me gusta hacer sin errores de protocolo uniforme. Yo siempre de meter las Blazer. La camisa siempre está metido. Eso es un hecho. Pero la mayoría de la gente termina allí. Si un blazer puede ser metido, me dicen que debería ser. En casa, una vez en poco tiempo, voy a llevar una camiseta holgada y jeans, pero no en público. Estoy muy preocupada por la apariencia.”
Anthony sorprendió mencionó tanto acerca de su filosofía de la moda para él. No le importaba, pero él nunca conoció a alguien que hablaba como ella.
Ella asintió con la cabeza. “Tengo la sensación de que hará bien aquí. Si el Sr. Wilson le dice el Sr. Karr es un hombre más importante aquí, yo no le daría demasiada credibilidad, si yo fuera usted. El Sr. Karr es el nieto de Jonathan Dickey. El Sr. Dickey paga el Sr. Wilson a dejarle trabajar aquí pero no realmente hacer cualquier trabajo. Él llama a la gente en el teléfono o permanece en esta sala. Pero creo que le guste aquí. Enhorabuena por ser uno de los miembros del equipo.” Ella extendió su mano.
Le dio la mano y procedió a agitarlo durante unos segundos y, a continuación, unos segundos más y, a continuación, por lo que parecía un minuto y ella estaba todavía se agita su mano. Que oculta la sonrisa regresó a su rostro. Él estaba nervioso. Él intentó tirando de su mano en la suya, pero ella aprieta su agarre. Ella dejó de sacudir pero mantenido explotación. Se preguntó, “¿Qué está pasando?”
Ella asintió con la cabeza. “Vamos a trabajar bien juntos. Hay un montón de cosas que necesito hacer para mí y estaré con usted para asegurarse de que se realicen correctamente.”
“Mi turno termina a las 12.00 horas.”
“El tiempo no significa nada.”
Este era un sueño? ¿Cuánto tiempo nos espera en ella? Él intentó tirando libre de nuevo, con toda su fuerza y con su otra mano para intentar apalancar su agarre abierto pero usó su otra mano para empujar su otra mano de distancia. De alguna manera, él estaba en una realidad alternativa donde todo lo que él creía que era cierto resultó fluido y cambiante.
Desde la oficina, el Sr. Karr gritó, “Anthony, venir aquí!”
Anthony no pudieron escapar de Belinda pero él no quiere ignorar el Sr. Karr. Independientemente de lo que ella dice, Anthony’s boss le dijo a nadie para hacer lo que se le pide. Empezó a caminar y Belinda lo acompañó. Por ahora, el orador se centrará en su trabajo. Cuando entraron en la oficina, Anthony preguntó, “¿Qué te gustaría para mí?”
El Sr. Karr se encogieron de hombros. “Estoy intentando pensar en algo. Se supone que tienes que mantener ocupado. Me imagino que podrías estar gastando todas sus horas de vigilia con Belinda en su lugar de trabajo. Tenemos que arreglar eso.”
Belinda dice, “Yo trabajo aquí también. Lo necesito para algo.”
“Usted no es el jefe. El jefe dijo a Anthony para hacer lo que yo le diga si necesito hacer algo. Si interfieren, obtendré Anthony dispararon y tendrás la culpa.”
“Usted no será capaz de disparar Anthony y el Sr. Wilson realmente no lo escuchan. Él es un juego y tratando de hacerte sentir que estás más que una aparición ocupando espacio destinado a alguien que podría hacer algún trabajo real.”
“Yo puedo conseguir despedido, usted sabe.”
Ella sacudió la cabeza. “Usted no puede conseguir a nadie disparó. Tu abuelo está pagando para estar aquí. Si no fuera por él, no estaríamos aquí. Usted no quisiera llevar traje y tendrías miedo a entrar en el edificio. Sólo puede venir aquí, porque su padre le necesita salir de la casa para que no esté comiendo en Cotton Candy todo el día y Viendo viejas películas en la televisión.”
Anthony dijo, “que parece mucho a mi familia.”
Belinda dice, “No puedo ayudarle a librarse de su familia.”
El Sr. Karr dijo, “obtendrá él libre de su familia pero no dejarlo libre de usted.”
Ella dijo, “usted no entiende la conexión universal más allá del tiempo actual. No estás en el siguiente nivel. Esto es sólo el comienzo de algo más grande. Esto no tiene un final. Esto es infinita.”
“Sé lo que tengo que hacer, Anthony. Necesito que me consigue una taza de café. No me importa si le necesitan para acompañar su perezoso culo, pero usted necesita para hacerme llegar mi café ahora.”
Anthony dijo, “Qué tamaño de café y ¿Desea regular o descafeinado?”
“Dame un café mediano. Grande es demasiado grande y yo lo beba enseguida y después lo lamentamos, y pequeña me hace querer obtener otra taza así que puedes darme media y si puede decirles a hacer la mitad y mitad regular descafeinado que sería genial. Necesito un poco de impulso para que yo pueda continuar haciendo mi trabajo. Independientemente de qué Belinda dice, yo trabajo aquí. Tengo que estar alerta, pero no de manera totalmente zumbido que me convierta en una obsesión. Me gusta canela encima y, en lugar de crema regular, me gusta no lácteos con sabor a vainilla creamer. Yo no estoy en contra de Dairy pero me gusta el sabor de vainilla.”
Belinda dijo, “Vas a darle el dinero para conseguir el café?”
El Sr. Karr se encogieron de hombros. “Yo podría si eso era lo que quería hacer, pero estoy pensando que prefiero que él utilice su propio dinero.”
“no es correcto”
“Sr. Wilson va a pagarle la labor de hoy de todos modos. Él puede darle dos dólares extra por gastos de trabajo.”
“Yo todavía no creo que sea justo.”
Anthony suspiró. “Ahora, siento que tengo la necesidad de una taza de café yo mismo. No hay café en la habitación trasera con la cafetera?”
El Sr. Karr dijo, “Hay pero estoy pidiéndole a tomar café en el café cruzando la calle.”
“Bien. Sólo quiero salir de aquí.” Él caminó rápidamente fuera, acompañado de Belinda.
Cover image courtesy of Belinda: http://www.fiverr.com/belchis
Anthony noticed the building was taller than any in his neighborhood. A sense of relief sank in. He would be away from his family for several hours. His uncle, James, arranged everything. Anthony was not in acquaintance with anybody from the working world but he assumed his new boss, Mr. Wilson, would be someone with whom he could get along.
The law firm of Mitchell, Dickey & Burgess seemed initially imposing to Anthony when he had previously passed it while walking but now, as he entered the front door, the surroundings were humble. He could understand how David Wilson had been friends with James Morris, Anthony’s uncle. White walls, with no paintings, and several desks made the ambiance. Perhaps the firm did not do a lot of business. Maybe Mr. Wilson’s income was better than James’ by a few dollars only.
Mr. Wilson stood up from his seat at a desk, approached Anthony, and extended his hand. The handshake was not more than one second but had a lasting impression. Anthony reassessed his opinion. His new boss had a confidence bordering on creepy. He nodded. “Anthony Morris, I presume.”
Anthony said yes.
“Are you the nephew of James Morris?”
“You already know I am. Why are you acting like I’m a stranger.”
Mr. Wilson frowned and raised his voice. “This is a job interview. I ask the questions and you answer. It’s inappropriate for you to correct me. If I did not promise your uncle I would give you a chance, you would be on your way out now, guided by security. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I apologize. I have never had a job before and I never was in a job interview either.”
“In that case, I understand. We’ll go to my desk. I’ll sit at my seat and you can sit at the other seat. I will be asking you questions and you will provide me with the answers appropriate to each question. Was that clear?”
“You gave an appropriate answer that time. If I ask you about your favorite hobbies and you respond by telling me what time it is, that will be an inappropriate answer. Is that clear, also?”
Anthony held back his irritation. “That is clear, Mr. Wilson.”
“Okay.” Mr. Wilson smiled. “I like the prospect of you working for me. As I understand, James told me you needed guidance.”
Anthony kept quiet.
“I hear that your mother, Mary, and your other uncle, Kevin, have very little faith in you as a worthwhile person. You bother them at various times during the day and you refuse to do any of the small chores they ask of you. James is the only member of your family who thinks that you are worth more than a penny. He said I needed to instill discipline in you so you could stop being a stupid brat and become a respectable individual.” He stared, frowning.
Anthony nodded. “I will do whatever job you ask of me, sir.”
“Hmm. You did not give a rebuttal. That puzzles me. When someone insults you like that, You ought to defend yourself. Am I correct?”
“On the other hand, it’s a good thing you did not tell me off. I really would have had security send you packing and I would have told them to use brute force. But, enough with the preliminaries. You passed the test. By the way, your family did not really tell me those opinions. I wanted to observe your response. You did well. The job I’ll have you do is simple. There are other lawyers here and some secretaries and they will need help. If someone asks you to look for a certain document or go across the street and buy him or her a cup of coffee, you’ll do it. You won’t need to clean the toilets because we have people who work for the city to do them. This is a city owned building.”
“I’ll show you around.” They both stood up. Mr. Wilson walked quickly through the hallway. Anthony followed. A woman passed, from the opposite direction. Anthony noticed she wore her blazer tucked into her trousers. His heart beat faster. He remembered telling his family he preferred the look of a tucked in shirt on a woman if she and he were on a date. His reason was so his family would understand appearance mattered. If they ever understood his point, they did not say or act so. They would never believe him if he said a woman tucked in a blazer.
They entered a room with a sink and refrigerator in it. A coffee maker was on a nightstand. There was a table in the middle of the room, with four chairs surrounding it. Another man was sitting on a chair and reading a book.
Mr. Wilson said, “Anthony, this is Mr. Karr. He is one of the lawyers here. Mitchell, Dickey and Burgess don’t come into the building anymore unless for an extremely rare occasion. If you meet anybody here with one of those last names, chances are you have met one of their nephews or sons who might stop by to report how everything is going. Anyway, Mr. Karr is one of our best lawyers. If he asks you to do something, you’ll need to stop any other task and attend to him.”
Anthony said, “I understand.”
“I have an urgent business situation which will take up the rest of my day. You can ask Mr. Karr if there’s anything he needs you to do. If he says no, you can leave for the day. You can consider tomorrow to be your official first day. But if he needs you to do something, then today is your first day. Goodbye.” He walked away.
Mr. Karr said, “I want you to look in the refrigerator.”
Anthony asked, “What would you like?”
“I would like you to look in the refrigerator. That’s self explanatory.”
Anthony opened the refrigerator. He looked inside. “Okay. Do you want anything from here?”
“If I wanted something from it, I would have said so. You may shut it.”
During the next twenty minutes, Mr. Karr told Anthony to do various things like wall up and down the hallway and look in various file cabinets in the office. Anthony thought that Mr. Karr wanted to show his power over the new guy. However, he would not complain. His job was only part-time, two hours a day, five days a week. If the job had been full time, he would not have considered it at all.
Finally, Mr. Karr said, “I’m going back in the office. I need to make a phone call. If I need you later, I’ll have you do something.”
“I’m only here for two hours today.”
“If I need you before your shirt is over, I’ll have you do something. I don’t know how you could think I wasn’t speaking English.” He walked out of the room.
Anthony figured that, for now, he was on a break. He would have preferred sitting in the office room but he wanted to avoid Mr. Karr. The man might think of something else meaningless for him to do. Anthony looked again in the refrigerator. He noticed a small bottle of mineral water. He figured he could take that. He would not take juice or someone’s lunch but water was replaceable, especially in a room with a sink.
The woman he had seen earlier now returned. She entered the room and said, “Hello. I’m Belinda.” Her black blazer, with a very low neckline, and yellow button shirt underneath, complimented her appearance. The blazer was tucked into gray pants with a brown belt and the sleeves of the shirt and blazer were rolled up. She was someone who took her time to look good, as opposed to Anthony’s family, all of whom were extremely overweight and wore loose sweatclothes with stains on holes in all their pieces. Their friends, neighbors and many of the store cashiers looked similar. Belinda was a refreshing change of pace. She was as unique as a celebrity sighting.
Anthony told her his name.
She looked at him for a while. She smiled as if she was trying to hide the smile. Then, she said, “I haven’t seen you here before. I might have seen you somewhere else but not in this building. Is this your first day?”
“Yes. I haven’t had a job before. I figured I would do something part-time so I could get out of the house and away from my family for a couple of hours.”
“I see. So, you’re not a lawyer, I gather. I could tell by how you’re not wearing a suit.”
“I’m just an assistant. I guess I could wear a suit if I was asked to do so.”
“You could do that.”
He said, “I like your suit. I like how you wear it.” He was not sure if he should have said that but he took the chance anyway.
“I like to make no mistakes in uniform protocol. I always tuck in the blazer. The shirt is always tucked in. That’s a given. But most people stop there. If a blazer can be tucked in, I say it should be. At home, once in a rare while, I’ll wear a loose T-shirt and jeans but not in public. I am very much concerned with appearance.”
Anthony was surprised she mentioned so much about her fashion philosophy to him. He did not mind it but he never met anyone else who talked like her.
She nodded. “I have a feeling you will do well here. If Mr. Wilson tells you Mr. Karr is an important man here, I would not give it too much credibility, if I were you. Mr. Karr is the grandson of Jonathan Dickey. Mr. Dickey pays Mr. Wilson to let him work here but he does not really do any work. He calls people on the phone or he stays in this room. But I think you will like it here. Congratulations on being one of the team.” She extended her hand.
He gave her his hand and she proceeded to shake it for a few seconds and then a few seconds longer and then for what seemed like a minute and she was still shaking his hand. That hidden smile returned to her face. He was nervous. He tried pulling his hand out of hers but she tightened her grip. She stopped shaking but kept holding on. He asked, “What is happening?”
She nodded. “We will work well together. There’s a lot of things I need you to do for me and I’ll be right with you to make sure you do them properly.”
“My shift ends at noon.”
“Time doesn’t mean anything.”
Was this a dream? How long would she hold on? He tried pulling free again, using all of his strength and using his other hand to try prying her grip open but she used her other hand to push his other hand away. Somehow, he was in an alternative reality where everything he thought was true proved fluid and changing.
From the office, Mr. Karr yelled, “Anthony, come here!”
Anthony could not escape Belinda but he did not want to ignore Mr. Karr. Regardless of what she said, Anthony’s boss told him to do whatever anybody requested of him. He started walking and Belinda accompanied him. For now, he would focus on his job. When they entered the office, Anthony asked, “What would you like for me to do?”
Mr. Karr shrugged. “I’m trying to think of something. You’re supposed to keep busy. I figure that you’d be spending all your waking hours with Belinda instead of working. We need to fix that.”
Belinda said, “I work here too. I need him for something.”
“You’re not the boss. The boss told Anthony to do as I say if I need him to do something. If you interfere, I’ll get Anthony fired and you’ll be to blame.”
“You won’t be able to fire Anthony and Mr. Wilson won’t really listen to you. He’s playing a game and trying to make you feel like you’re more than just an apparition taking up space meant for someone who could do some real work.”
“I can get you fired, you know.”
She shook her head. “You cannot get anybody fired. Your grandfather is paying for you to be here. If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be here at all. You wouldn’t wear a suit and you’d be scared to enter the building. You only come in here because your father needs you out of the house so you won’t be munching on cotton candy all day and watching old movies on television.”
Anthony said, “That sounds a lot like my family.”
Belinda said, “I can help you get free of your family.”
Mr. Karr said, “You’ll get him free of his family but you won’t let him free of you.”
She said, “You don’t understand the universal connection existing beyond time. You’re not on the next level. This is just the beginning of something bigger. This does not have an ending. This is infinite.”
“I know what I need for you to do, Anthony. I need you to get me a cup of coffee. I don’t care if you need her to accompany your lazy ass but you need to get me my coffee now.”
Anthony said, “What size coffee and do you want regular or decaffeinated?”
“Give me a medium coffee. Large is too large and I drink it right away and regret it later and small makes me want to get another cup so you might as well give me medium and if you can tell them to make it half regular and half decaffeinated that would be great. I need a little bit of a boost so I can continue doing my work. Regardless of what Belinda says, I do work here. I need to be alert but not so completely buzzing that I become manic. I like cinnamon on top and, instead of regular cream, I like vanilla flavored non dairy creamer. I’m not against dairy but I like the flavor of vanilla.”
Belinda said, “Are you going to give him the money to get the coffee?”
Mr. Karr shrugged. “I could if that was what I wanted to do but I’m thinking I’d prefer that he use his own money.”
“That’s not right.”
“Mr. Wilson is going to pay him for today’s work anyway. He can give him two dollars extra for work expenses.”
“I still don’t think it’s right.”
Anthony sighed. “Right now, I feel like I need a cup of coffee myself. Isn’t there coffee in the back room with the coffee maker?”
Mr. Karr said, “There is but I am asking you to get coffee at the café across the street.”
“Fine. I just want to get out of here.” He walked quickly outside, accompanied by Belinda.