The Emporium Gazette
Issue 49 -- May 2003
by Bob Nailor
The executive's office was plain, in fact, sterile, including the simple large wooden desk. Paul sat behind the desk and stared while the defeated man departed. The executive fumed as he remembered the conversation. 'How arrogant of Dennis. To think that I am here because he deemed it so.' He thrummed his fingers in agitation on the desktop and glared at the closing door. 'Absolute arrogance.'
Paul slowly faded to nothingness. The door clicked shut.
* * * * *
Dennis turned left as he passed through the doorway from the CEO's office and continued down the hallway. 'Out of sight, out of mind' he thought.
He shook his head and glanced about his world: dimly lit corridor, dirty tan walls of peeling paint, out-of-date pictures in ugly frames. 'I should be able to prove my point. All appears as it is because I say it is. What a terrible portrait!' It faded and changed from a black and white non-descript picture of a person to a colorful oil of mountains, a river valley and pines. 'Much better.' Dennis then grabbed the doorknob to his office. 'See? Here's my office. How else could it be? I decided that it was here.' He turned the knob and pushed the frosted glass door inward.
Miss Hinsley looked up from her typing, a lone gray lock of hair straying down over her eyebrow. The faux pearl necklace gave little color to the drab brown dress that she wore.
"Oh, you're back." She scurried to retrieve the pink phone message slips. "There was a call from Mr. Bartlow wanting to know the final details of the shipment. A Miss Evelyn Parker of Parker Employment called about placing a student during the summer." She looked up from the messages to watch him. "Are you okay?" she asked as she caught the errant hairs and finger combed them back into her tresses.
"Fine, Jean. I'm just fine." He took the messages proffered then started to his office. 'She works so hard. Maybe I should consider a student to assist her.'
"Jean, do you think we should hire a student, say part-time, to help out around here?" He turned to face her again. A young man started to shimmer into existence near the file cabinet.
"Oh, Mr. Miller." She tittered as she spoke. "Having some young person in here would surely be nice, but I fear it would slow me up. I'd always be checking to... Well, I think you understand." She smiled innocently, almost erasing the sixty plus years of lines from her face.
"Just a thought, Jean. Just a thought." Dennis stepped into his office and the faint image of the man near the files faded. 'If she was younger,' he thought.
He could feel Miss Hinsley watch him; her thoughts came to him. 'He certainly was pale. I do hope that he's not catching something.' She again started typing. The tapping of the manual typewriter keys increased in tempo as her wrinkled hands softened and the age spots disappeared. The lines at the corner of her eyes blended away and the gray in her hair deepened to a lustrous black as a youthfulness was restored to her. This was the image Dennis carried for the next few seconds. The typing ended and a more youthful Miss Hinsley dissipated from existence.
* * * * *
Not one person is able to understand what I'm saying. Even my secretary thinks I'm catching something.' He looked out his big office window at the busy street thirty-three floors below. The building on the opposite side of the street had just been built, blocking the skyline view he had enjoyed a mere two months ago. 'There seems to be more and more people. Just look at them down there.' He watched the small dots move then turned back to his metal gray desk shaking his head with disgust.
'If only one person. Ah, but who? They are all of my making and that's the catch.' Dennis looked at a blank sheet of paper. 'Interesting. If I am the only one, then who else could understand?'
"They." The uttered word shattered the silence as his arm swept an arbitrary arc to indicate the all-encompassing 'they'. "They would never understand since I am." He slammed his clenched hand onto his now wooden desk. 'Wood has a better tone for fist-banging on desks, it resonates better. Metal is cold,' he thought. 'What I need is some solitude.'
Dennis turned and looked out the window. He watched the birds as they flitted from tree to tree. White cottony clouds filled a sky of perfect blue. A light breeze carried the scent of spring flowers in through the open window and a screen warded the pesky insects outside.
"Miss Hinsley, could you come in and take some dictation?"
She appeared at the door in a pink ruffled blouse and white skirt; her raven colored hair held back with a thin matching pink headband. She carried a steno pad in her right hand, pens in the left; the dark plum nail polish accented the long nails.
"Oh, what a glorious day. We're certainly fortunate that our office is in a small community on the edge of town. Is that lilac I smell?" she said.
He watched as she walked to the chair near the window, sat down and crossed her shapely legs.
"Please forgive me, Miss Hinsley, but I have a strange question to ask." Dennis suddenly turned and looked again out the window, dreaming.
"A question, Mr. Miller?" she said, waiting and fidgeting with her pad and pencils.
"Oh," he said and looked at her. "Ah, tell me, do you enjoy fishing?"
"I... I used to go fishing with my father when I was a little girl. I'd collect flowers." She looked up at Dennis, a spark within her deep emerald green eyes. She remembered her childhood and the fun.
"I was just thinking," he began. "Wouldn't it be fun to go fishing."
The room shimmered and disappeared.
* * * * *
The water moved slowly by him; the line snapped in the air as the fly rod whipped back and forth. A little girl sat on the bank watching, smiling, holding flowers. The river was clear and cold. It rippled quietly around and between his waders. The mountains in the distance still had a small amount of snow on them.
'I don't know what to do. Whatever I want, it is,' he thought as he beheld his latest achievement. "I am, therefore it exists for me," he yelled and listened to it echo away.
He flicked the line and a trout snapped at the fly. The struggle began.
'I just know Paul is going to have a fit when he finds me gone.' The stream and fish faded.
* * * * *
Beyond Paul, outside the window on the opposite side of the street, a new building stood soaring a multitude of floors above them, and a milling populace below, to hide the distant skyline.
"I've given thought to your idea, Dennis." Paul whirled about in his plain wooden chair. "I really feel that we need to discuss this issue." He folded his hands together then placed them firmly in front of him on the desk. "It needs to be resolved."
'I don't need to do anything with you, Paul. I am, therefore you are. Just the same as everything else, you are my creation, made for me by me.' Dennis thought as he casually stared out the window beyond Paul. 'I am, therefore it exists for me.'
"Dennis, I'm concerned. It seems that you might be headed..." He stopped abruptly and ceased to exist, as did the room.
Dennis' thoughts ended as he grabbed his chest in the throes of a seizure and died.
* * * * *
There was a void and it would remain until there was a thought.
Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at www.bobnailor.com
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