I went to work for Ruskin House, a philanthropic organization that has been around for ages and hasn't seemed to change much with the times.
And I'm beginning to doubt why I'm here.
There's something spooky about the place—there's a silent partner secreted behind a closed door whom I've never met and a beautiful secretary I'd like to meet but who seems more remote than the mountains of the moon.
To add to my angst, Mr. New, the man who brought me into the firm, has suddenly decided to retire and has informed me he expects me to take his place.
I feel incredible lost and inadequate to the task.
To tell the truth, I'm not even sure of my job description or why I feel drawn to be affiliated with a quaint organization that seems completely out of step with the times—and the only thing that seems to be keeping me here is a strong attraction to Jeannie Church, the beautiful secretary.
Too bad the feeling's not mutual.
But despite all my misgivings I reluctantly soldier on. I've always had a strong commitment to do my duty and finish a task even when it seems as futile as Sisyphus rolling a huge boulder up a hill.
I have a feeling I could spend the rest of my life here rolling great stones and asking overwhelming questions and watching them crash to the ground.
It seems absurd but I feel I'm being called to do this, and face it—my motto has always been, who am I to disturb the universe?
Yeah, pathetic—I know.
The next week is incredibly awkward. I ask Jeannie, the secretary, a question only to get a short, staccato response. Hours go by and the only sound I hear is the ticking of the Regulator wall clock and the interminable clacking of her typewriter keys.
I suppose there are no computers in limbo.
I get to the point where I can take it no longer. I resolve to hand in my notice at the end of the day. No sooner do I resolve the matter in my head, then I hear the door to Anthony’s office click open.
Jeannie’s at my door. “Mr. Ashley Cooper would like a word with you, Mr. Preston.”
“And I with him,” I growl, thinking it the perfect time to vent my frustrations.
Her eyes grow huge, but she says nothing.
I stride out of my office and enter the partner’s den—and stop dead in my tracks.
The office is an elegant oak panelled study with bookshelves lining one wall and a magnificent fireplace occupying the other. Anthony is sitting in a high-backed leather wing chair by the fire.
“Sit down, Grant,” he smiles and motions me to another high-backed chair facing his.
I’m taken aback and sit down in a daze.
“I’m sorry to see you’re disconsolate and ready to leave, Grant—Alfred would be sad to hear that.”
I'm totally taken aback.
“How do you know that?” I croak. It’s odd, but I feel intimidated by his presence.
“Oh, I know a lot of things about you, Grant—in mid-sentence, he breaks off and calls out, “that will be all, Jeannie.” The door clicks shut and merges seamlessly with the oak paneling.
Fear crawls up my spine. I feel I've entered a dead zone.