Third Floor Suite
Looking sharp! Arthur Griffen was looking at himself in the mirror. He opened his right eye wide as he got closer to his reflection, then held his chin and cheeks in his left hand as he rubbed the fingers up and down. No prickly feeling, just how I like it. He opened his mouth and inspected his teeth. He took out one of those little toothpick brush things from a pocket in his jeans and took the cap off. He used it to dislodge little pieces of food from between his teeth and then took some water in his mouth and swished it around, spitting on the sink. Afterward, he took a little container out, took the cap off, and dropped a little bit of the liquid on his mouth. He exhaled loudly then smiled. Minty!
He rinsed the toothpick brush thing and placed the cap back on it, then back to the pocket it went. He also replaced the cap on the small container and also placed it in a pocket. He looked at the mirror again, offered it a wink and a smile, and turned around. He grabbed a piece of sanitary paper from the dispenser and grabbed the washroom’s door handle with it, opening the heavy wooden door, and then he placed his impeccably shined black leather shoe in front of him to hold the door open. He threw the paper into the wastebasket and went out of the washroom, doing a little twirl to release the door and set it back in place.
With a swagger in his step, he went through the hallway, past several locked doors, and turned left at the bend. He extended the proximity card held in a loop close to his belt and placed it next to the terminal outside the large office. With the sound of a click, the double glass doors opened and he stepped inside. The young receptionist stood up from behind the marble desk, smiled, and nodded at him and he smiled back. “Any calls for me?” he asked.
“None today, sir. I do need you to sign these documents before I ship them out though,” the young woman added as she handed him a clipboard with several documents in it. He grabbed the clipboard and paged through the documents and sighed.
“The AXIS Statement of Work right? Why now of all times?” he asked under his breath. He raised his head and faced her, then smiled. “I’ll look it over in my office and give it, signed, to Operations if everything looks in order,” he said.
“Excellent sir,” she said in a cheerful tone as she sat back and stroke through an entry in a small yellow notebook she kept on her side of the desk. There were still several entries that had apparently not been acted upon yet but she pulled her smartphone out and booted up the latest Sims game as Arthur turned to the right, through a large conference room and a door at the end of the hallway.
He took a deep breath as he emerged through the door that separated the lobby from the inner office space and groaned. “I’d rather play the market than work,” he whined as his swagger diminished and he walked towards the end of the corridor, past a door to his left, then another after a few feet. He found himself before another door. He could have turned right, towards several cubicles but instead chose to open the door in front of him; it wasn’t locked. He went into the large corner office and the blue ceiling lights automatically turned on as he stepped in. He sat behind a large mahogany desk where six monitors were set up with a complicated arrangement of hydraulic arms. He set the clipboard with all the documents to his left and woke up the computer system by pressing the left button on a bulbous black mouse that immediately sprang to life, multiple colored LED’s turning on and matching the colors cycling on the large tower PC under the desk.
He looked at the clipboard, his face illuminated by all six monitors from various angles as they all turned on. “All work and no play makes Arthur a dull boy,” he said out loud as his eyes scanned the monitors. The middle bottom monitor, which could be considered the main one as it was directly in front of his field of view without shifting his gaze, contained multiple a screen divided into multiple spreadsheets and several other forms with times, stock symbols, prices, and different numbers. Some were in red, others in green. All other monitors were full of charts for some of those same symbols, set to display with some filled red bars and other hollow green bars, with lines stretching from the tops and bottoms of some of the bars. There didn’t seem to be a pattern to them, at least not to the uneducated on the subject. Sometimes the red bars seemed to be up higher than the green ones, and at other times it was the other way around. There were multiple wavy lines and dots following the bars, smoothing out their movement in various ways, and long bars at the bottom, each matching the color of the corresponding bar above.
He went to the upper right monitor, selected the lowest point on a filled-out red bar that was at the bottom, and clicked to draw a straight line from it, connecting to a thin green line that extended from one of the hollow green bars, a few bars to the right of it. He then pressed a key combination on his keyboard and the bar extended up and to the right, all subsequent bars following above this new line. A few touched it but seemed to rebound on it, with none of the bars going below it. “Trend confirmed,” he said out loud with a grin. He went to his smartphone and in a few taps placed an order for that stock symbol. He also made a few extra taps to set some parameters within that order, tapped confirmed, and leaned back on his chair. He looked at the clipboard again and groaned.
“AXIS e-Learning Development,” he read out loud. He took the document out of the clipboard and went through its pages. “Blah blah blah. Deliverables, estimates, pretty colored timelines,” he said. He took out a generic blue ballpoint pen with a rubber grip at the front of the barrel and drew a stylized AG on the left margin of every page with it. He stopped at one of the pages, the one describing the personnel that his company would offer. “Hmm,” he said out loud. “Meh, we can wing it,” he said as he saw the hours that needed to be devoted to the Quality Assurance and Testing section. He was about to sign when his phone started vibrating. He went back to the document again and the phone did its buzzing thing again. He turned to look at the upper right monitor and opened his eyes wide as a very large green bar was forming on the chart. Up, up, up, and up it kept going. He hadn’t seen the formation of those large bars in at least three days! He picked up his phone immediately and tapped frantically, then let out a sigh and a smile. Good, it hasn’t hit my selling limit yet. I can increase it. He did a few more taps and leaned back on the leather office chair. He turned his face and saw the clipboard again. He groaned while rolling his eyes. “Yes, the Statement of Work,” he said. He sat forward, back arched unnaturally, and went back to the documents. All of the initials were there, so it was time to sign, but then his tranquility was disturbed.
“Bright light, bright light!” Arthur exclaimed with a hiss as he exaggeratedly covered his face from invading sun rays. The man who opened the blinds turned around to face him. He was wearing a fine, fitted gray suit with horse-shaped cufflinks.
“How can you work from this blue cave?” asked the man that opened the blinds. He walked towards Arthur, ripped the generic blue gel pen from his fingers, and handed him an elegant black pen with a silver clip. Its barrel had a sort of fibrous look to it, with thin transparent windows to verify if it had any ink. Arthur looked at him and shook his head.
“I am very happy working from my blue cave, thank you very much,” Arthur retorted. “And try as you may, you won’t convince me to become a fountain pen user,” Arthur said as he pulled on the cap, feeling the resistance from the thin metal clips that kept it in place. He exposed the nib, an extra-fine 14k gold nib with an iridium tip, as was common in luxury pens. This particular nib was partially hidden by the section though, which gave the pen a very distinctive look. “It does look nice though. If Darth Vader ever used a fountain pen, he’d probably choose this one,” Arthur added in jest.
“Just sign the document. We’re itching to get to work,” the man said. “And stop gambling on options like that. You have a company to run now,” he added with a smile.
“Yes, Mr. Ramos,” Arthur said in a mocking, sing-songy tone. “You’re as good at nagging as my mother was. Or maybe that should be as bad as nagging? Either way, it’s getting done,” Arthur said as he glided the smooth, flexible nib over the signature line in the final document. He added the date on the line right below it, in his usual 3-letter-month, calendar day, year method. “March seven 2018,” he said aloud. “I have to admit that I do enjoy using that pen. It almost makes it seem like I have penmanship skills!”
“I’ll be taking that then!” the man said as he swiped the documents from Arthur. “The pen as well,” he added as he extended his free hand. Arthur promptly returned the writing instrument after replacing the cap with a satisfying snap. “And that’s Dr. Ramos,” he added coyly.
“Can I go back to my trading now?” Arthur asked as his eyes went over the multiple screens once more. “I see three white knights on one of my screens and I really want to exploit that!”
“Sure, sure, sure. Have your fun. Just accept the meeting request I sent you an hour ago. It’s really important, especially now that you signed the documents.”
“A meeting request? Let me check,” Arthur replied. He opened the calendar application on his PC, which opened in the middle bottom screen. The calendar immediately pointed out the meeting request, which will happen on Friday, March 9, 2018. “How many times have I told you, Victor? No meetings between nine-thirty and four-thirty. You’re going to ruin my winning streak.”
Victor shook his head. “The AXIS CEO is only available at ten-thirty. If we don’t do this meeting, the next available slot is two months away. We can’t wait that long,” he added. “It will also do you good to actually perform your official duties for once,” he added with a smile. Arthur groaned but nodded at him.
“Friday at ten-thirty it is then,” Arthur confirmed while shaking his head. “You really suck sometimes.” Victor Ramos bowed at Arthur as a butler would and left his office. Arthur went back to his chair and looked at a gray cube to his right. It displayed the time in dim white text. Almost lunchtime.