A simple building. To anyone else perhaps, but not Arthur Lock Harris, who had no time to analyze the structure of its audacity, and there was no necessity. Working when he was only eighteen here, his first and only job, he could know every nook and cranny about the structure: its white popcorn walls always a bump and pain to run into as it runs four stories high with windows on each floor, multiple on the sides. Yet, Arthur paused to look directly up before walking through the tinted door inside the lobby, and he noticed the dark, graying sky. It reminded him of his own life, just a bunch of floating pieces of himself covering up the happiness within his life, the sun that was the light to everyone else in miserable London of the early 1900s. Just as he had no need to look at the building, he didn’t need to look back on his past.
Slowly opening the doors with a tight fist, he could hear the building’s sounds come to life on both sides of his head. Even though directly in front of him was the lobby and the receptionist, the noise around her was simply chaotic. Employees had desperation for her to apply herself to more than ten men standing around her oval counter, yet when her eyes glanced up she blocked them out.
“Morning Mr. Harris,” Nancy smiled unenthusiastically, her brown bangs covering the tops of her eyes, and her tan rimmed glasses larger than her eyes. Her small face and high pitched voice made anyone reluctant to try and receive something from her. Happily married and secure place at this firm, she didn’t give a damn. “Mr. Warwick requests you into his office immediately.” By then her smile had faded, and even though the men still chanting and yelling loudly, they heard it pass their ears. Anyone going to Mr. Warwick could either go two ways, and no in-between: a greater favor or a name upon the unemployment line. Arthur knew he didn’t have time to even make a slight remark through his words or face. He simply nodded straightaway and made a sharp turn right to venture up the stairs. He happened to pass fellow employees; some he may have not been acquainted with, but had no time to be! Wanted by your boss, and arriving late to work, he didn’t have time to waste knowing those two things are something horrible coming up in the industrial air as he ascended.
Reaching the doomed destination, a mirror would’ve sufficed to look presentable. It didn’t matter perhaps. He rubbed his coarse hands in his coal black hair, and then took a giant breath. Turning the knob and walking inside his hands drenched in sweat, adding discomfort to him and a nervous factor as to why it was, he visibly saw the small, small room. He configured it was the amount of heat fluttering in the small office of Mr. Warwick. Each table had a clean, artless chassis to itself, and at the main desk was himself, his attention fully dedicated to the wide newspaper which covered his face. Arthur, sitting down, noticed the window to which he could see the brown Big Ben and the crowds of people amongst the streets. He was disinclined Mr. Warwick had not sensed his presence.
“Mr. Warwick,” said Arthur, his hands now folded in front of him, and his brown leather suitcase at his side upon the carpet. His sweat had now transported to his chest, causing it to soak in. Arthur forgot his jacket, was late to work and wanted by Mr. Warwick, but was able to say that the idea of having none of those items at all was simply possible. Yet because his voice didn’t seem to travel so far, or on the other hand his boss was to ignore him, made Arthur question the true reason he was in the small office in London Firm.
“Mr. Warwick,” he enunciated with a clear, deeper voice than his first round about. The newspaper slowly descended onto the dark brown smooth table, and when his eyes met Arthur’s greens, his expression was not indifferent. His intimidation wasn’t used mildly, and surrounding London knew well of it. The stout of a figure Mr. Warwick was a factor that added to thought of his loud, threatening vociferations, and the brown, neatly square cut moustache was firmly official and with a depleting hairline, Arthur could easily see that perhaps the man was unnerving to be around; he was under stress. Even when applying to the job eighteen years ago after finishing his short studies with law and public affairs, the sight of the middle-aged man had made his skin crawl…but it was enough money to support the dole needed for his family. Yet, with new studies and a enlightenment on the education of law and firm studies, Arthur could see the new replace the “exceptional”. When Mr. Warwick folded his hands and looked at him with his brown eyes, he was unsure where his position lay.
“You are late,” Mr. Warwick grunted.
“My apologies, sir,” Arthur replied quickly, yet with an enough pause to make sure he wasn’t to interrupt.
“It’s been consistent Arthur…too consistent for my liking,” he remarked, then downing the glass of brandy which sat flatly upon the desk. It was only eleven when he had arrived, and it made Arthur assume time had flown to fast being in such a small small room. “Yet, I am inquiring if your reasons for being occasionally late still remain intact.”
“Yes,” nodded Arthur, “my son has remained a priority with the bearing he brings.” There was a small pause as to which Mr. Warwick studied the truth within what his employee was speaking, and with a sudden realization, he knew it didn’t matter. Arthur Harris would even be late to his own funeral.
“Now, Arthur, I know you are very devoted to this firm.” Arthur Harris didn’t have to look into Mr. Warwick’s eyes to see where this was going, even though perhaps he already was. His stomach seemed to drop, and he pondered if it would ever return.
“But your last case brings disfavor with me.”
That was no surprise, Arthur thought. A sudden murder within Manchester brought him and his partner down to settle down the priorities of distribution. Downfalls were the divided families and divorcees, and the lack of a will. Without any control over the grieving family, the fights, finally the issue was directed to the court. With a firm, if the case is directed to a court, the results are only two, crushing falls: No income, and an immense waste of time.
“Sir, I have done cases for the Firm beyond imaginable to anyone here, along with the support of my partner,” Arthur desperately tried to explain, but to not look eager…just vulnerable to Mr. Warwick’s options.
“Yes, it is true,” he replied, rubbing the missing hair on his head. “Carter with you has done extraordinary cases…” He could see Arthur trying to become casual, yet his raising chest showed the amount of breaths and heart beats per second; “I do understand the necessity for your income funds.” He began, after eighteen long years, to take a good look at Arthur, just to make sure this was who he hired. At age thirty-six, Arthur had the visage of a modern Englishman, and the messiness of hair Mr. Warwick admits if he himself had any it would be in much better shape. Yet, Arthur had a spark of ingenuity about him, and certainly it would attract anyone, especially a woman. Now and then, he has to consider his options. Support to Harris’ son would be tremendous with more income, yet Mr. Warwick was a man of facts and percentage. The chance Arthur Harris would find a woman with enough money was slim, and zero if Arthur had lost his place in the firm. Finding a woman at Arthur’s age as well was out of possiblility, and the fact he is a divorcee. Mr. Warwick was unsure of why he even brought Arthur near the brink on this, the last case-oh yes! However, Arthur was desperate, he could see, and a firm worker. As a business man and a strong willed person, he was to do the best he could.
“Mr. Harris, my deal with you is lucky,” he coughed. “Within my reach, I have two tickets to a small town outside of London. Glane is harmoniously quant and quite old-fashioned, but you shall arrive by train within a day, and with my resourcements you should have a room and a drive to your destination.” Arthur eased back into his seat, and let the breath he had been holding release into the heating circulation. Within his mind he could sense this was something of a last chance.
“There is a woman, Isle Revland who lived in an estate within Glane, just a mile from the main town. She died years ago, an uncertain amount to be sure, yet the proclamation has been made now. A firm receiving something this late is surely conspicuous and can be seen to not be efficient. We need this done as quickly as possible, but still with the right amount of effort. Local help will not be provided due to the lack of propriety around, and with a substantial amount of papers within the house, I wish for you to return to me the final copy of the stated will.”
After a paused moment and nod, Arthur agreed, putting his hands on the arm chair to help him onto his feet. Mr. Warwick smiled with the smallest amount possible to be visible.
“Good lad,” he said, shaking his hand firmly. Arthur could see their term was finished, a new assignment at hand, and was successful. He picked up his suitcase from the ground, and then traveled his way to the door before realizing a detail given to him.
“Sir…you mentioned two tickets. Will I be accompanied by Carter…or someone else?” He asked just before putting his hand upon the fake golden knob.
“I am still puzzled by that myself,” he replied. “Good day.” Arthur nodded slightly, and departed from the small heated room of an office. He turned to descend the stairs, one more level to his own office, which was slightly larger from which Carter was shared. He waltzed to the door, finding nobody outside to talk to, and opened it to find the room as normal. The window on the far side, taking up most of the space on the wall was shut for quiet, and Arthur dumped his suitcase on his desk, which was kept neat. Glancing at Carters side, he could no longer grimace at his monstrosity because it had been four years with it.
Carter, the opposite of his desk’s monstrosity and grotesque, he sat in his chair uncomfortably and informal with a mirror in one hand and a small comb digging through his soft brown hair. His nose was slanted with small freckles visible, and his blue eyes were captivating enough. His sharp qualities once made Arthur quite jealous, until he learned of Carter’s abuse of them. Although, he never had favor for Carter, and perhaps being with him as a partner was a higher sign, but fighting with him for any reason was beyond possible. Mr. Warwick, possibly seeing Carter has himself younger, had a strange adoration towards him, and trouble with Carter meant trouble with Warwick.
Yet, Arthur could never seem to stop criticizing Carter, of course within his own mind. As egoistic as he was, he was also unreliable, lethargic, and had no responsibility towards any of his actions. The paperwork mostly belonged to Arthur, and was cooked only by him. Either the fellow shows up to work unnoticeably drunk to Nancy yet obvious to Arthur working on a case, or Carter sneaks a lady friend to begin an additional scandal.
“Another case I have heard,” groaned Carter, putting the mirror on the papers and rubbing his tired forehead.
“It is unknown whether you are a part,” Arthur replied simply, looking at the clock. Assigned a case and not wanting to be in the company of Carter, he pondered whether he should return home. He’d need rest for the journey tomorrow anyways, even though it was only the afternoon. Arthur had no reason to stay.
“Well I better not,” muttered Carter. “I have somebody to show around the firm, today.”
“I thought you loathed showing new people around,” Arthur mentioned quizzically.
“Not when they’re a damn good sight,” Carter smiled and winked. A woman is something Carter didn’t need as a distraction at the moment, especially if the case needed him. It made Arthur seem guilty though; only because of his wife…She was never a distraction to him. Rose was a simple…gone lady…
What woman would be persuasive enough?
“In this building?” he asked.
“I agree, my boy,” said Carter, fixing his tan vest over his white shirt. “A woman working in firm and not at a reception desk is just outrageous…if that pretty face has brains then she’s not worth my time.” He sighed softly, and then grabbed his keys. “Wish my luck, ol’ chump!” He waltzed out the door, and Arthur didn’t have time or desire to wish him luck. It didn’t matter; Carter was born with it.
Arthur climbed his last stairs for the day, and his legs were about ready to give out on the creaking brown steps that seemed ready to collapse like his feet. His well sized apartment was on the second to last floor, almost like a small house to him…larger than the house he had grown up in. It was just surrounded by people who could care less about his life and remark about his son.
As he began to put the key into the lock, he heard the familiar “Daddy!” rush through the door to him. Pushing the door open, his son ran into his arms with full arms and a bare hug. He looked up at his father with his blonde hair and deep eyes, his freckles rubbing off on Arthur’s business pants.
“Hello Bruno, father needs rest,” he replied, patting him smoothly upon the back. His son nodded at him, and Arthur made his way to his resting chair and sighed with relief.
“Welcome back,” said Marie, walking towards him with a cup of warm tea. Her small face and graying hair made her seem older than forty years, yet a maid had much to stress and fret over. She wore the occasional blue shirt and skirt, just to keep within the boundaries of being a maid.
“Thank you,” he said, taking the cup. “I’ll need you to pack my bags as well. I have a case outside of London tomorrow.” Bruno, who was now planted among the floor with coloring sheets and solid hues, looked up at his father.
“How long shall you be gone?”
“A couple days, at most a week I suppose,” he replied, sipping the tea which soothed his sore and worried throat. Marie had left to his room, and after having her around since Bruno was born, he knew that packing for him wouldn’t be a problem. His lack of clothing and occasional style was kept simple. He looked down upon his son on the light blue dirty carpet.
“How are you Bruno?” He asked.
“Fine...” he said, focusing upon the drawing. Arthur sensed no further conversation, and with a finished tea he walked towards his room to find Marie closing his suitcase and placed it neatly upon the bed. He placed his work case on the empty chair besides his wardrobe.
“How was he today?” He asked her.
“Pretty quiet…and the same with the medication,” she replied with a soft sigh in her eyes. Arthur had no further reply…
Oncogene was prescribed to Arthur as what is simply different about Bruno. It has the ability to sink into his proteins, and eventually after a certain events which Arthur made no ability to remember, it would lead to a larger disease that couldn’t be cured. It’s within his head, and if you were to look at him with a normal glance he could pass. After seeing the side effects, and truly knowing Bruno, it could manage. Yet, the medication every day, as simple as it is has been difficult.
“Watch over him for me,” he said, knowing she already does it enough for him everyday. She gently smiled with a nod, and departed from his room with a closed, reserved space for Arthur to configure. He rubbed his head from frustration, fear, and fatigue. He decided to lie on his bed, and look at the ceiling until his eyes began to slowly close.
Within his mind he transformed Rose beside him, her blonde curls touching his cheek with a softness touch, flirtatious giggle within her tongue and a warm kiss upon his lips. He could almost feel her finger grasping his, the metal ring around was missing. He didn’t want to wake up and face the fact she had left, yet he knew he had to. She wasn’t coming back, and he had to keep telling himself that while his eyes thrusted together to stay shut.
His thoughts were interrupted by Bruno, who stood beside him as his hand tapped Arthur’s knuckles. Arthur forced the thoughts away, and sat up to see what Bruno had come in for. Bruno with his small bony hands gave Arthur the piece of tan paper with colors amongst the surface. “For you,” he smiled.
Arthur examined the paper, seeing it as a drawing of figures. There was one of himself that didn’t wear an expression, one of Marie making tea, and Bruno himself drawing. Towards the top was a woman in white with wings and…blonde hair. Rosalie.
“I’m sure she’s a pleasant to the Lord and is safe, Father,” he whispered. He kissed Arthurs forehead as Arthur managed to hide the guilt coming up his throat and forced it down with a loud gulp. He hugged Bruno before hearing the door behind him open.
“Bruno, your father has had an engaging day,” Marie said, guiding Bruno to depart.
“I love you Daddy,” he said, grasping Marie’s hand.
“I love you as well.”
The door shut, and once again he was left alone to his travelling thoughts. As he looked around the room, he realized just how empty it was: white barren walls and one wardrobe and one mirror above it, and an old wooden chair beside it. In that single moment, he never felt more alone.
Returning to the comfort of his bed, the thoughts came flooding into his mind as he closed his eyes. Yet, this time he wasn’t thinking about Rosalie. He pondered about the woman in the firm, questioning her choice of occupations. She must be bright enough for Warwick to like her, he assumed, yet it was enough to have Carter away. Meeting her before his departure was out of the question, and either she’d made new friends and not need any more, or be taking a slow path towards the top. Either way, he now couldn’t get the thought of her out. What was her visage like? Where did she get her studies?
A sense of adventure rose into his heart about her mysteriousness, and the case itself. Yet, he feared Carter was to be a part of the case, and Arthur almost wanted to cry in anguish from his loathe.
“If the Good Lord does protect,” he whispered, “anyone but Carter for this…anyone but him.” While his mind drifted towards possible companions, or the idea of being alone in an unknown location, he somehow came back to the woman at the firm. He wondered…. If she was an adventure herself.
© Copyright 2017 Kote. All rights reserved.
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