Five Minute Fiction is an ongoing experiment. The goal: To write as much as I can in five minutes, letting the fingers do the work, then go back and clean it up. Written quickly, these aren’t perfect stories, composed on the spur of the moment with little forethought and limited writing time. They’re nothing more than first drafts. Please consider these simple weekly exercises, with the singular hope that I don’t bore the reader.
This is a quick snippet of a slightly longer piece I wrote yesterday. It’s rough, but I wanted to get the idea down.
I like to use ledgers from Notary Rotes. They’re much easier to work with, have better organizational columns, and require fewer signatures than other books. This makes for an easier and less stressful experience for my clients. Others prefer working with Notary Plus, or even The Red Book, but for my clients Notary Rotes is the way to go.
“Alright then, Mr. Lewis,” I say, spinning my ledger around to face my client, “will you please verify your name, date of birth, driver license ID, date of expiration, and sign your initials in box twenty?”
Mr. Lewis – Daniel to his friends – gives the ledger nothing more than a cursory glance before picking up the Bic and scribbling his initials into the appropriate box. If I told you how many times clients initialed in the wrong location you simply wouldn’t believe me, but when big deals are on the line most people just aren’t thinking straight. They’re wild-eyed. Nervous. Sometimes even second guessing their agreements.
But oddly enough, they never back out.
Lucky for me, this guy seems to have his head on straight, which means less cleanup for me. Easy money, I think to myself as I pop open my inkless fingerprint pad and slide it in front of my client. “Now then, if you could place your right thumbprint next to your initials, we can move on to the packet,” I say, tapping a stack of forms with the soft padding of my palm.
With fingerprint collected, I close my ledger and slide between us a bundled copy of the forms we’re about to review. Already I can hear a disembodied voice in my head reciting the spiel I’ve given thousands of times in the past. I’m on cruise control as I leaf through the forms sitting in front of me. “Very good, Mr. Lewis. Here is a copy of the contract. You’ll notice that this contract covers all fees and dues, stipulations, timelines, compensations, and final payment at the end of the agreed upon terms. What I’ll need from you is to sign in each marked location with your full legal name, and I’ll require your initials at the bottom right corner of each sheet. The subsequent forms at the back of the packet goes into detail of the fees and charges. Please review this packet carefully,” I say, internally rolling my eyes knowing full well that most people are anxious to sign their lives away without so much as a glance at the forms in front of them, but my job requires that I ask my clients to take their time and read the contract thoroughly. “Per the laws of the state of California, you have a full three days to review this information. If you’re not satisfied with any of the terms or conditions you do have the right terminate the contract.”
But of course, the client is ready to sign. They always are.
Five minutes of shuffling paper and frantic scrawling, each signature more illegible than the last, and our business was done. “Congratulations, Mr. Lewis,” I say looking up at my client who returns my steady gaze with a dumb smile that I’m all too familiar with. It’s the smile that says yeah, I fucked up, but how could I pass on this? And as I pound the papers on the desk to even up the pile I catch a glimpse of the document title.
“Rock star, huh?” I say aloud.
“Yeah,” Mr. Lewis replies with a sheepish grin, “and all my manager wanted was my soul. You believe that shit? My soul. What a crock, huh?”
“Well, I’m sure Mr. Beherit will be pleased with your arrangement,” I say through my trained, deadpan grin, having learned eons ago not to get personally involved with my clients. Best to stay an arm’s length away rather than get burned. I’m here to do a job. Provide a service. Nothing more.
But that changed when I met Rose.
To Be Continued…