Skyscraper

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Short story by Josef Fišer

Big round room in the 65th floor of a monumental glass building owned by company celebrating its 65th year. About 65 people in that room. Including him. He was just 65 and not only for that reason was it a right place for him to be. He spent there 45 years and let his father’s child to successes the old man never dreamt of. In spite of his position or maybe just because of his position there were 64 people and him. He was standing opposite a big window gazing at it. He was to far from it to see through but he surely didn’t want to see through. This was good. Good enough.
‘What are you looking at, George?’
‘Nothing’
‘I can see that. Come on, you should join us. It’s your party, isn’t it? Big boss.
We’ve got a surprise for you.’
Great, surprise… It’s either hooker or… it’s definitely a hooker. It was no emotive
thought, it was just a statement. He liked them, almost all of them, well, he spend
most of his life with them. But it didn’t change the fact that they had no imagination.
Why should they need any? It is a good habit to make expectable surprises. So it was
a hooker then. He said what he supposed to say and she gave him a professional
smile. It was always an easy job those old rich men celebrating their retirement in
such a decent way. You were just shown to prove his friends had a sense of humour
and then you had a night off at one of those boring parties laded with food, drink and
hungry eyes. Next time she’d wear a soutane. She liked this one though but it wasn’t
her task to make him do what she was already paid for.
They made a toast. Almost everyone said a few nice things he’d been supposed
to do for them. He smiled, said it was nothing. Usually it really was nothing, nothing
which never happened. But they made up stories because of him, not because of
obligations. So it was nice, it was warm. ‘It should be over any minute’ sounded in his
head. In those remote corners of his head he’d never listened to.
Then came hand shakings, kisses, hugs and all that stuff around saying goodbye.
He had a speech. He said thanks to them, he said thanks to his father who made him
one of them, who funded this company for him as he’d used to say. It was a great
speech, honest, full of tears on both sides. And then the party continued, happiness,
laughs, little bit of jealousy of course, few regrets.
His ex-secretary disappeared with his successor. His almost-successor was
loaded in half an hour. He tried to take advantage of the presence of that gift-lady. She
knew those types, those bossy losers he clearly represented. They were often violent
but she knew they just want someone to talk to. He sure wanted to but he was not yet
ready to admit that to himself and she didn’t handled the situation as easy as she’d
thought. Few minutes later he was the first one who left the party.
Others followed him soon saying their last goodbyes, thanks, ‘you’ve done a
great job here,’ ‘your father would be proud.’ He knew he would. He surely would.
He was again gazing at the window. Last ones left, his successor expressed his
thanks and followed the secretary who left before trying not to get her ex-boss’s
attention. But he didn’t care, it was everything behind him. All those successful years.
Time for earned retirement came.
‘What are you gazing at?’
‘Nothing.’
She came slowly to him looking professionally again although there were some
things beyond repair spoiling that impression.
‘I can see that.’
He looked at her and gave her a sad smile. She didn’t react.
‘I’ll get him fired.’
‘You’re not The Boss anymore, are you?’
‘No, I’m not.’
She came toward the window, he stayed still. She looked back at him.
‘Where is the switch?’
He shoved her and the room sank into the darkness in a moment. She came to
window asking him to come as well, wondering about the view. He hesitated but then
he followed. He stared at the sea in front of them, dark water twinkling in the light of
the moon.
‘I always wanted to have a house on the shore,’ she said.
He asked her whether she does; his voice was trembling a little. She answered no
with a bitter flavour of misery.
‘You might have one someday. You’re still young.’
‘I’m older than you think. Than you are.’
‘You’re not.’
She wanted to answer immediately but his voice made that comforting phrase
sound strange.
‘I wanted to be an accountant. I know it sounds funny but it was my dream. But
my father… he had just me. And no money. And he needed me to take care of him.
Dream was gone. Life was gone. I’ve been dead for fifteen years.’
He closed his eyes; he still heard his father’s voice saying he couldn’t show his
feelings.
‘Do you hate him?’ asked her calmly.
‘My father? No. It wasn’t his fault. Not only his fault. No.’
‘I wanted to be a sailor. And diver.’
‘Guess your father had a better yob for you,’ she smiled.
‘Yeah, he did.’ He answered silently. Than he looked at the sea again trying to
make himself say no more. But he couldn’t.
‘He did. I wanted to be a diver. I’ve been dead for 45 years… And I do hate him
for it.’

She looked at him. One single tear was running down his face. He stared at the sea and let others follow.


Short story written in homonymous course at University of Portsmouth.