Author : David E Hoffee

T. Claudius Swifford sipped arabica from the back of his vintage, metal-colored, chauffeur-driven Triton Mercedes as it swooped to meet the maglev. He briefly recalled the scone and juice he’d been served for breakfast as he perused the Singapore vids. In the tiniest moment reserved for himself, he thought, am I eclectic, or eccentric? And as the chauffeur attended his door at the parking level of Swifford Industries, Mr. Swifford couldn’t help but pause for a moment to honor the economic masters who’d come before him. This was the top of the world–a fine place to be.

Mr. Swifford could afford very large, very thick glass doors at the entrance to his office. He could also afford someone to open them. That someone was Reginald Tolucci, or just “Reggie.” For seventeen years, Reggie opened and closed and polished and secured for Swifford Industries, while he lost four kids and a wife to the water. “Not covered,” they told him, and he had to watch them slip away, while he opened–closed.

In the office, Mr. Swifford’s stock vids hovered in their places. Elsewhere, Mark Yager’s double-toast tried to return, as the never-on-time transit careened and rattled. Swifford Industries swallowed Yager in white, as he assumed the team-leader position, floor seventeen, area three, or just 17/3. Yager’s numbers had been incredibly good during the first two quarters, but the fourth-quarter projections were harpooning third-quarter business. Yager’s team saw confidence, not the toast, trying to escape. Upstairs, the weather had left a fine mist on the Triton Mercedes. Yager’s brow was shiny, as he felt the absence of numbers echo through his brain.

Team 17/3 could barely contain themselves during a brief spike at 1400 hours; but alas, the toothpick economy didn’t last, and by 1630 hours, comm wanted Yager at the top of the building, floor 1, level 1. That would be Swifford’s office.

Yager adjusted his posture, dredged up confidence to argue for his team. Mr. Swifford waved his hand, and a screen disappeared. Yager smiled his winner’s smile.

“Mr., um, Yager, is it–yes,” Swifford droned, “where, sir, are your numbers?” He shifted left in his massive leather seat.

“We bring you here, teach you, give you water, juice, and FOR WHAT? How many times has this been?” And Yager unconsciously stepped back, off-posture, off-smile, and Swifford lept up and drew in a single, fluid motion, center-mass, dead on, one shot from the company-issue pearl-handled .45 in another tribute to the mighty business integrity gone by.

The glistening, metal-colored Triton Mercedes hums at 1700.

“How was your day, sir?” Reggie asked, as Mr. Swifford approached the door.

And, as T. Claudius Swifford always replied, “Reggie–it was a fine day for business.”

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