Clipped

Oscar sighed as he returned. Arthur had gone; he had eaten most of his entree and had left what seemed like enough money to cover the lunch and the tip, neatly arranged within a simple, chrome-plated money clip. Was he supposed to keep the clip? He wondered. No use complaining to himself, he figured as he sat down to finish his own meal.

“Oh, your friend left?” the server asked as she went over to their booth. Oscar nodded at her. He was chewing his food, so he didn’t say anything. She smiled and removed Arthur’s eating utensils, including the mortar and his glass. Oscar couldn’t help but glance at the money in the clip. How much did Arthur leave? Does it cover everything? Far as he could tell, the clip housed nothing but twenty-dollar bills. The guy was probably stacked! The server hadn’t taken the money yet so he should really peek into it. He swallowed and looked to his left, where the wall was, and then to his right. There was no way anyone would see him. He looked up and noticed one of the many security cameras that adorned the ceiling. Well, they didn’t know anything about his relationship with Arthur anyway, so him peeking into the clip wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing anyway, he thought to himself. He also needed to know if there was enough money in there to cover everything. After all, that may not be enough after all and he may have to make up the difference with his own bank account. Oh no. That set off a panic. Did he even have enough money to make up the difference if necessary? First things first, Oscar.

He started going through everything that was ordered in his mind and the prices as he remembered them from the menu. There were the beverages, of course. About eight dollars from those, good. The appetizer; about thirteen dollars. He was rounding up in his mind. His own meal should be about eighteen dollars if he recalled right. Darn this place is expensive. Then Arthur’s meal was about five dollars more expensive. About sixty-two dollars without tip and tax. The clip did seem to have multiple twenties, so maybe it was good to go. He took a deep breath and took the clip. He half expected someone to scold him as he did, then laughed out loud. Not my finest moment. He pulled the money from the clip: two-hundred dollars! Is this a mistake? Did he really mean to tip more than the value of the meal? Oscar was confused. His hands trembled as he placed the money back in the clip and set it back where it was at the table. Should I take some of it? He shifted his gaze left to right, then up and down. He wasn’t moving his head, just his eyes. I could leave one-hundred dollars to cover the lunch, taxes, a good tip, and still keep a cool hundred. It was a tempting thought. Regardless, he went back to his food and kept an eye on that clip. It was certainly delicious, but he couldn’t really enjoy the flavor because of that wad of cash. He kept chewing. Slowly. Looking at the money. Chewing. Swallowing.

That took longer than I planned. He found himself facing the elevator at his office building’s lobby. He looked at his watch. Oh right, it doesn’t work. He sighed and pulled his smartphone out, clicked on the side button to wake it up, and took note of the time. Ding! The elevator’s bell ringed out and he found himself staring at one of his co-workers.

“Executive lunch today?” the short, thin man asked him. “You don’t tend to take this long,” he added as he exited the elevator. Oscar shrugged and shook his head at him.

“I know,” Oscar replied as he went into the elevator. “Talk to you at the office!” he shouted as he pressed the button labeled with an 8, then promptly pressed the Door Close button. It was a bit of a bumpy ride as the elevator seemed to rattle every time it reached a new floor on its way up. Bump, bump, bump it went a few times until it stopped on the sixth floor. Oscar groaned. His co-worker in the black blazer with white stripes got in.

“Oh, Oscar. Fancy meeting you again,” she said as she peeked from her phone’s screen. He nodded at her. “Did you give up on your watch?”

“I had actually forgotten about it,” Oscar said as he looked at the stopped watch. “Funny that,” he added.

“I didn’t know you were carrying cash. That’s odd,” she said as she noticed the chrome-plated money clip fastened to the front pocket on his polo shirt. He gasped and placed it in the front right pocket of his jeans. “Oh, it was empty. Anyway, it was a good idea to move it into your jeans pocket. I wouldn’t carry it in my shirt’s pocket either; that’s too obvious. You really should get out more, get some street smarts.” The elevator stopped moving, its bell dinged, and the shutters opened as they reached the eighth floor. “Well, see you later,” she said as she scanned her keycard at the terminal next to the front double doors.”

“Yea, see you later D,” Oscar said as he turned left and followed the hallway, past one door, and then scanned his own keycard at the terminal by the next door, going in. His co-workers looked in his direction as the door to their suite opened and then quickly went back to whatever they were doing. Oscar shook his head and went inside. He pulled a chair on the middle cubicle by the wall to the right and sat down. He felt the money clip in his pocket, bringing him a bit of discomfort in there with his wallet, so he placed it to the left of his keyboard. He then brought his laptop up from sleep mode, took a pair of large open-back headphones from a shelf atop his cubicle, hooked it up to a chrome-plated device to his right, and browsed his playlist on a music application on his laptop. “Instrumental today,” he whispered as he pressed play. He then opened a web browser, which pointed to an internal network address, and a colorful application came into the screen. Finally, he pulled a large binder and opened it up to a bookmarked page. “This UAT is going to kill me,” he said as he reviewed the mock screenshots in the application against the garish screens in front of him. “At least these ugly screens will keep the users focused on the colors instead of the functionality,” he said aloud. He heard a few chuckles from his co-workers.

“I think Nate was having a bad day when she designed these,” one of them said.

“She’s not gonna be happy if she hears you called her Nate!” another exclaimed.

Oscar sighed, then opened a drawer and pulled out a green-tinted see-through fountain pen with a thick, broad nib and a full tank of a deep green opaque ink. He used it as a highlighter to mark several sections in the document as he went through the pages. He also made some annotations on the corners with the stainless steel pen he had been discussing with Arthur. He didn’t wait for the ink to dry, as usual, and smudged the page with it. “Oh darn it,” he complained and then started to blow at the page to try to aid it in drying faster. He then looked at the side of his fist, sighing as he noticed the blue ink he was using for notes between his pinky and the side of the palm of his hand.

“Cool clip,” he heard to his left. Oscar moved his headphones’ left cup outside of his ear to pay better attention, then turned and found himself facing one of his co-workers. While most of them were about the same age, somewhere in their 30’s, Oscar was facing their most senior team member.

“Hey Alex,” Oscar said, then looked at the money clip. “Oh! I had forgotten I put that there,” he added.

“They’re rather practical,” Alexander said. “How do you like that one? I’m looking to buy one, see if I can force myself not to carry this huge clunker with me,” he said as he produced his overstuffed wallet and set it down on the table with a chunky thud.

“I just got it,” Oscar said and chuckled. “Not sure if I’ll be keeping it though,” he said as he scratched the back of his neck. “It’s not actually mine, but I’m not sure if I’ll see the owner again,” he added.

“So how come you have it then?”

“That’s a good question. Anyway, can we discuss these screens?” Oscar asked. “I think I’ll be needing your expertise.” Alexander nodded at him.

“Let me call the receptionist to see if there’s a conference room available.”

Business Analyst, Systems Engineer, Aspiring Writer. Check out my Quora page: https://www.quora.com/profile/Antonio-Rodr%C3%ADguez-9

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