“You’re the only person up here now?”
“I’ve had the security guards here at the office. It’s the only way, and
being the only one has been a real problem for people of my age.”
“I’m doing a lot of things, and I’ve been working with the security guards
to make them understand, I guess. But they don’t appreciate me, and they don’t
know what I’m doing,” he told Martin, a bit defensively.
“I don’t know much about how people do business,” Martin replied, in a
“No, you’re right,” Chris said easily, the casualness not quite masking the
fear. “I’m glad to see you.”
Martin stepped away, and Chris closed the door. He thought, “It takes a man
to appreciate a woman.” If Martin saw that, he didn’t show it. He only saw
Chris as a man who needed help with his work and needed to be put at ease.
Chris had been looking forward to this day all week. He had set the
schedule for Monday with his staff: start on Monday morning, work all day and
then take Sunday off to spend time with Glenn.
Chris stood at the same computer screen where he’d had his morning coffee
last night before the long drive. Now, his first thought was “where can I
find anything to eat?” and he knew without looking that Martin had already
left the office. And in the old office, there were no vending machines in the
way, no quick convenience store in the hallway.
The answer was in the small kitchen. Chris had to get past the two-sided
closet, and then through the small office next to the dining room and through
the kitchen, where there wasn’t a single item on the shelves he could use as a
plate or a cup.
Chris thought, “I’ve been here for years, and I’ve had a kitchenette and a
small refrigerator and one small plate and one small cup.”
And he hadn’t needed to go to a fast-food restaurant for the last few years.
He had simply opened the refrigerator and brought in a few eggs, as that was
his favorite way to cook them, along with a can of cream of mushroom soup. He
also grabbed a loaf of bread from the shelf near the door, and a couple of
tins of tuna. He had a package of tortilla chips on the floor beside the
refrigerator from the last time he ate here.
Chris carried the food into the dining room and into the large kitchen. He
had his coffee with milk and sugar. He grabbed his bag and put the sandwich in
the fridge for later. He set the tuna on a plate and filled the microwave
with water from the tap, adding a packet of dry milk.
He took off his shoes now and opened the oven door. He took out the egg and
placed it on the stove to poach. Then he opened the bread and toasted one side
of it, then opened the toaster oven, and placed the tortillas on the hot
oven. He took the fresh tuna out and put it on the plate, along with the
egg and the tuna on the tortilla. He added the can of cream of mushroom
soup, along with a container of the sour cream and a small jar of salsa.
“Oh! Martin, I’ve used a lot of things this morning,” he said to the empty
kitchen. “I hadn’t even thought of all of them,” he said. “Your lunch must be
good. The egg and the tuna, which I’ve never had here before, the cream of
mushroom soup, it all tastes good.” He wondered if Martin thought he was a
bad cook or just an easygoing man.
He walked around the dining room to the small office and opened the door.
It was a small and plain room, and he’d never thought of going into one of
the rooms here. Then he saw a stack of legal books on the far side of the
room. He sat down at his desk and ran his fingers through his hair. He picked
up one of the books: a thick, hard volume bound in blue lined paper with
black letters on the title page. He skimmed through a few pages, then put it
down and grabbed another book. The third book was a thick folder, old and
heavy, with the same blue paper with black words printed on the binding.
He opened the folder, and his finger landed on a name:
He looked at the name in the middle of the page before beginning to read
along with the pages. The letters slowly made their way to the top of the
page, until they were in a bold black font. Each letter was three inches tall
and an inch and a half wide.
“Chris!” he shouted across the room.
He looked up, and again he saw the door to his office open. He saw little
Glenn standing in the doorway, smiling at him. Chris looked at him, then he
smiled and said, “I’m glad to see you. Glenn, how’s it going?”
“Not so good,” he said. Then he told Chris how everything had gone
down, and Chris listened without interrupting. He told Glenn all he could, and
when the old lawyer stopped talking, Chris could see the fear in Glenn’s eyes
and the desperation in Glenn’s voice.
He stood up and walked over to Glenn. He leaned over and hugged Glenn, and
then he told him why he’d been so afraid. Glenn hugged him back.