“A Mr. Craig to see you, sir.”
“That’s just fine, Ms. Chase. Send him right in.”
“He will see you now, sir. Right this way.”
As the very tall and slender beauty stood up, I could see she was older than I thought but her great looks made any judgment of just how much almost impossible to tell. She was impeccably dressed and save for a heart-shaped locket, she wasn’t wearing any jewelry.
“That’s a nice locket”, I said.
“Thank you. I wish I could say it was unique”, as she gave me a weary grin and ushered me through the door.
The office was quite large and ornate as I expected. But what I wasn’t prepared for were the ceiling to floor windows that created a half-circle around the room looking out on the wastelands below. There were two lounge chairs in front of a very stately-looking desk, the requisite bookshelves adorning the walls on both sides, and a large broad-shouldered man standing behind the desk backward as he looked out on the horizon.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
I heard what he said, but I didn’t quite understand why he said it.
“The view. It’s like a blank canvas just waiting for an artist to start creating a masterpiece.”
“If you say so, sir”, as I slid into one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in before.
“Do you know why you’re here, son?”
“Sir, I don’t even know where I am.”
“Don’t you?”, he remarked as he tilted his head slightly in my direction but not enough to give me a full profile of his face. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“A bright light.”
No, son. What do you remember before that?”, he insisted.
I thought hard for a moment. There was a searing pain to go along with that light, but only for a quick second. Thinking back to what happened before evoked images of large metal containers…and the ocean! At least, I’m pretty sure it was the ocean because there were very large ships moving along the water with dozens of those containers on them. A dock, that’s where and I had a clipboard in my hand.
“I was working on a dock?”
“That’s right, my boy!”, he said as he placed his thumbs under his suspenders as if he were actually proud of what I just said.
“So, I was a dockworker?”
At this point, he turned to face me. I should have been afraid of what I was seeing, of the face that was standing not five feet in front of me. But the smile that was carved into the bust of this monstrosity was so soothing as it beamed at me like I was a favored child, gave me a sense of calm I hadn’t felt.
“Son, saying you were just a dockworker is like saying Gacy was just a clown!”, as he bellowed this horrifically loud laugh that shook the windows. “My boy, what you pulled off on that dock is nothing short of magical!”
As he spoke, I began to remember small flashes of moments in my brain. But to my chagrin, it was not necessary because the windows were now filled with videos of me on the docks.
“Take a look at this! Here you are smuggling in a shipment of pure heroin, over here it’s refugees with a dozen terrorists thrown in for good measure, and here you are signing off on a shipment of young boys and girls bound for destinations unknown! Son, while working on that dock as ‘just a dockworker’, you single-handedly did more in one week than most evil bastards would ever do in a lifetime! I loved it!”
“Well, if I did such a great job, then how did I get here?”
Just then the windows went back to showing the ground below us spanning out as far as the eye could see with devastation and smoldering buildings that showed not one bit of life anywhere along the way.
“Bad luck, son. I mean, sooner or later you had to know it was going to come back to bite you in the ass! I mean, how could you have known that the last container you would ever sign for was filled with dirty bombs? Ironically, it was them terrorists you brought in that was supposed to get ‘em. But when that crane cable snapped…”
“So, I died?”
“Son, you didn’t just die. You set off World War 3! When that dock went up in smoke with most of San Francisco with it, your President bombed the Arabs that were backed by the Russians, who were backed by the Chinese, and HOO BOY! We had a party!”
Looking out now on the view, I could only imagine the millions that were dead because of me.
At this point, I just bowed my head into my hands. “So, what now?”
“What now?! Well, Hell! I want you to come work for me! But all official-like this time. Got your contract right there in front of you. It’s pretty straightforward language. No need for a lawyer, but I got plenty of ‘em I could refer to you if you like?”
“Work for you? What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to be one of my top Account Managers! I mean, if anyone can influence a few wayward souls on the easier path to take, it’d be you! Now all you have to do is place your right thumb down on that tiny little needle there on the desk. You gon’ feel a small piece of pain, but just for a sec. Hell, you’ve felt worse. Am I right?! Then, just press that thumb down on the bottom of that piece of paper and you and I will have a deal!”
“Do I have a choice?”, I asked already knowing that I wasn’t going to like the answer.
“Son, everybody has a choice. You chose many times to look the other way and line your pockets. All I’m asking you now is to choose to lead more my way or you could choose to spend the rest of your time with me regretting the choice you make now. What’s it going to be?”
Of course, I didn’t take too long to make up my mind. Better them than me, right? As I placed my thumb down on the pin, a stream of blood pooled into the silver receptacle attached to it. I then pressed my thumb onto the bottom of the long document in front of me that I was very sure was not in my favor in the long run.
Just then, he walked over and shook my hand.
“I’m proud of you, boy. And here, just as a token of my appreciation, I want you to have this to commemorate this occasion.”
As he reached down to the desk, he picked up the silver receptacle that I had just impaled my digit upon to seal this deal. He clasped it within his hands and as he opened them, there was an exact duplicate of the object that received a compliment for Ms. Chase. A silver heart-shaped locket.
“A Mr. Craig to see you, sir.”