Only one more episode after this:

Also, please be aware that after the last installment (the one after this one) or even before, I’ll be looking for suggestions as to where this should lead, either vaguely or specifically. It’s up to you because if I come to a dead end with them, their literary life could be in severe jeopardy: they could be forever retired (or worse).


After the movie was over, they went downstairs and had coffee; Sarah had hot chocolate. She remembered:

“Guess who’s coming to school on Friday! Senator Shaw! I thought that was great! A bunch of the kids are on a field trip that day, and it’s hilarious that everyone’s sitting in traffic fighting and fussing to get a glimpse of him, and all I have to do is go to school. He’s going to spend lunch with us and everything. It’ll be neat.”

Sarah was class president in eighth grade and had always enjoyed politics, not so much the title or idea of politics itself, but the effort to do it and glory involved once at the top, since she could always do it. It was a hobby for her, but to meet the presidential candidate was a big deal, maybe even for the wrong reasons, but needless to say, she was excited.

“That’ll be very nice,” said Mom, without really thinking about it. “Daddy, didn’t you meet him once? You can see if he remembers your dad, sweetie. I’m sure he does.”

* * * * *

He got out of his car in the parking lot of his office building, opened the trunk and stared inside blankly. Somewhere along the line, his wife’s familiar down-home feeling got to him. He loved his job, but he suddenly realized that it was taking more time away from being with his family than was giving him other happiness; the consequences began to outweigh the benefits.

Staring at his trunk, he thought of a time when his trunk, the trunk of a beat-up car-lot sale piece, was filled with old athletic equipment from the gym that he was taking home. He was very excited to take it home and use some of it, for he was in high school now and had never really done anything athletic. It would bring him friends, and he was very excited. Now, however, it was full of toys that belonged to an old office: briefcases, manila folders, binders, phone cords, and an occasional necktie.

Some time later, he found himself behind his desk. There was only one other person in the office that day, Pam Martin. Pam Martin was the secretary for the southeast corporate branch, which Williams ran. She was fresh out of college with a degree in bean counting and needed a job. Somehow she found her way into a job that really didn’t exist until she got there; she didn’t do much of anything, but she was nice, and a pleasure to be around.

“‘Morning, Mr. Williams! Can I get you anything?”

“No, thank you.”

In his pensive state of mind, he wondered what Pam’s lot in high school was and whether she enjoyed it. He obviously couldn’t compare his high-school success with hers, but she probably had brothers or something. His parents were very concerned about his high school education, and he believed it stemmed from the fact that they, as post-depression era adults, were incredibly worried about the future: financial future, medical future, family future. In their opinion, having a good strong education backed by a solid personality and good character was the makeup of champions, and having a solid job with the same company for thirty years would not only secure one’s future, but would solidify his well-being now with all sorts of benefits. He had heard this for some time growing up, and at a very young age felt that it was his responsibility as their child to fulfill, (or assuage) their dreams (or nightmares) for the future of their offspring. He reasoned that if he did not, they would not live a happy life, and he would be responsible for it; so, as their flesh and blood, he resigned himself to doing their will, making his life theirs, and only looking at what he was told was the big picture.

The office was no busier than usual, and it was, in fact, somewhat slower. With a spring of sorts in his step for which he could not account, he walked into the building, pulling the heavy stainless steel doors open and walking inside, straight ahead as if he were on a mission, very confident as he could hear the clack of his shoes on the marble tile below them. He pushed the elevator with his knuckle and waited but a moment, and walked inside the elevator. He heard someone open the lobby door, but it took at least eight or nine seconds to get to the elevators, so he punched his floor button and the doors closed. He did not wait; on his way up, he looked at himself in the one-inch margins between the oak panels, where lay clean stainless steel, and he looked good. It wasn’t until he reached his floor and approached the doors did he realize they were completely open, and he saw all of himself; he still looked good.

Once on his floor, he looked around, and there weren’t that many people in the office. He decided he would clean some. There was a clutter in his office and in some of the public domain places, the printer, the fax machine, where some of the obscure office supplies were. He began with his office, and although a thorough cleaning did not involve scrubbing in torn jeans, it was still refreshing. He sat in his desk as usual, but the gratification was the same. He stacked papers, shredded papers, crumpled papers, moved boxes, rolled across the room to replace things, and slowly but surely more desk space began to appear. He felt better and better, and it wasn’t long before lunch rolled around. He went up to the seventh floor, where there was a small food court. He grabbed a green lunch, a chicken Caesar salad and some Ritz crackers. He wasn’t too hungry anyway. Eager to get back to work, he sat back down in his office. He didn’t eat lunch there for fear he may muss the carpet or leave the trash there, so he came back after he was finished. As he was finishing his cleaning his phone rang. It was a number he did not recognize, but he knew where the area code was from and started thinking of whom he knew in Maryland. He answered. After a few minutes of introduction, the caller was in no danger of losing Mr. Williams on the line, for he sat down to listen attentively. He pulled out his notepad and began to ask a few questions and make notes. They talked a while longer and Mr. Williams said he would be in touch with the caller.

 There wasn’t much left to do, and he decided to take the rest of the day off after he got another thing or two finished. He got some phone calls about some odd pickups on a run, and was unconcerned; he wasn’t uptight, but gave the word to do with it what they felt right.  He handled a few other duties and was out for the day.


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