Monday, 8:30. Job interview number three.

The first bit of weirdness Gary Bellamy encountered was the two men who pushed their way into the elevator he’d entered to take him up to the Palantine & Co. offices on the fourteenth floor of the Giesbrecht Building. Right after he’d stepped into the elevator, the two older men, a tall balding white guy with a goatee wearing glasses and a shorter heavier Asian, maybe Chinese or Vietnamese wearing what could only be described as business casual made their way in through the closing doors. They both looked like they were in their forties, the Chinese with gray in his mop of hair and the paunchy white guy with the grey in the  goatee. They were talking rapidly to each other, without even looking at each other. The other two in the elevator, a young woman and an older executive in a pin-striped suit shifted to the other side of the car. It sounded like they were continuing a conversation, or at least some kind of bizarre list of seemingly barely unconnected items.

“Bin Laden,” the Chinese guy one said.

“The Lusitania,” the other replied.

“Foxes.”

“Mrs. Marple.”

“Cliffs of Dover.”

“Cliff Richard.

“Pork!”

The white guy let out a breath. The other two passengers shifted a bit. Whatever was going on, it seemed they’d had to put up with it before.

The woman got off on the seventh floor. On the thirteenth floor, the two men bumped into him as they all exited.

“Sorry,” Gary offered.

“All’s forgiven,” the white guy replied. The Asian slipped around, and was in front of them before Gary had a chance to orient himself, glancing around, then spotting the door to Palantine and Co. By the time he reached the frosted glass double doors, the Asian was pulling one open, smirking at his co-worker, Gary assumed.

“Next time,” Mr. Goatee offered.

“It’s always next time Frank,” the Chinese guy stated with a smile. “You should stop making bets.”

Then, the Asian noticed Gary stepping up. The man could be his future co-worker too, so Gary offered a smile. No sense in putting people off from the get go.

“Have an appointment?” the man asked.

Gary glanced at him, then the man he’d called Frank. Nodded.

“This is Palantine and Co., right,” Gary asked.

“That’s what the sign on the door says,” Frank said, eyeing him from speculatively. “You’re meeting Flores, right?”

“In twenty minutes,” he agreed.

Frank smiled.

“Good luck, man,” he said, extended a hand for Gary to shake. Gary took it. The man’s grip was a little soft. “The interview is easier than it look. Just don’t let them see the fear in your eyes.”

The man chortled, then nodded at his co-worker.

“That’s Benny Wong,” he said. “I’m Frank Chisholm. Welcome to the mission.”

Gary heard Benny sigh, glanced over at him.

The mission?

“Don’t pay attention to him,” Benny offered as he started to open the frosted glass door. “For the rest of us, it’s just a job. You’ll do fine.”

Gary followed Frank into the reception area with Benny following suit. That was the second bit of weirdness. They were acting casual, familiar, like he was already their co-worker. He guessed that was a good sign. The last couple place had seemed like a waste of time, really.

“What’s your name?” Frank asked.

“Gary,” Gary replied. “Gary Bellamy.”

“Good to meet you,” the man said, then pointed at the reception desk. “Just come over here and speak to Angela. She’ll get you all set up for your interview. Oh, you might want to straighten your tie and brush that cat hair off your left shoulder.”

Gary did as directed self-consciously as he followed Frank to the reception desk and the attractive woman in her mid-thirties with wavy read hair hanging down past her shoulders. She’d been concentrating on her computer screen, but looked up and smiled when Frank knocked on high counter. Her face was full of freckles. Pretty, though, she made them work.

Frank then leaned against the reception desk.

“Old man be in today?” he was asking her.

Angela glanced over to him, shook her head.

“Sent a message saying he’d be gone for the week,” she offered. “Apparently a new client has him all tied up.”

Go to Chapter One

Go to Chapter Three

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