Five Minute Fiction 83
An ongoing weekly experiment where I give myself five minutes to write something. Don’t think about anything. Just write. When done, walk away, coming back later to correct any glaring errors.
This week continues where we last left off.
Mather, Corey, Toothaker: 7
Toothaker’s phone rang once. Twice. On the third ring Toothaker finally tore himself from his laptop screen and pressed the speaker button. “Yes?”
“Mr. Toothaker?” the disembodied voice of his assistant sounding like a tunnel echo, “I have a Mr. Garnet here for you.”
Finally, he thought. “Please, Charlene, send him in,” he said. “Oh, and do have Mr. Geist stop in as well.”
Saving his work, Toothaker closed the active spreadsheet on his computer and opened up the file named ‘Charlie Garnet / ChemGlobe’, scrolled through the forms until he came upon the terms and conditions clauses, then settled back into his cushioned leather seat with his chin resting on hands clasped together like overlapping tentacles.
The door opened, and Charlie slid through the crack, unsure what to expect. Upon seeing Toothaker behind his desk eyeing him in an impassive, detached way, a sudden shiver when up his spine. “Mr. Garnet,” Toothaker said, lower his hands and smiling, his immaculate teeth gleaming as if glowing from an internal light. “Please, won’t you have a seat,” he said motioning with a soft, open palm towards the chairs in front of his desk.
“Thank you, Mr. Toothaker,” Charlie said, surprising himself that he didn’t trip over his own words, and started walking with uneasy steps over the soft, arterial-red carpet towards Toothaker, whose desk seemed an absurdly long distance away from the doors. Counting twenty steps, Charlie found himself in front of Toothaker, and took a seat in one of the chairs whose red leather was so supple that it didn’t squeak in protest as it took his weight.
The grin on Toothaker’s face never wavered as Charlie fidgeted uncomfortably. “If you don’t mind,” he said, re-clasping his hands in their serpentine grip, “I’m waiting for my associate to arrive…”
Before he could complete his sentence, Mr. Geist materialized in the room in his customary spot just behind the chair in which Charlie sat. “Sorry to keep you waiting, sir,” Geist said, his voice strengthening like a faint signal being tuned in, “but I had another matter which required my attention.”
“Not at all, Mr. Geist,” Toothaker replied, his grin now so unnaturally wide that Charlie was amazed that his lips weren’t cracking at the strain. It was unnerving, and he forced himself to look away. “Mr. Garnet had just arrived. I’ve pulled his file and wished for a witness before proceeding with the final paperwork.” Toothaker pressed a button on his laptop, and a printer on the far side of the room hummed to life and spit out a thick stack of collated paper. Geist retrieved the papers and placed them on the large leather desk pad on Toothaker’s desk.
Toothaker picked up the printout and flipped through it, the silver cufflinks on his sleeves throwing sharp daggers of light on the walls. “Ah, here it is,” he said, folding the paper over a staple and withdrawing a pen from an inside pocket of his pinstripe suit. “As per our agreement, your safety has been guaranteed and all future recourse against you from parties both known and unknown in regards to the security breach at ChemGlobe will be dealt with on an ongoing, automated basis. I’m sure you’d agree, Mr. Garnet, that your best interests have been protected?”
“Yes, but that’s something I’d like to ask you about,” Charlie said, his face becoming flush with anger and fear. “You took out not only the people after me, but some of my friends as well. Was that part of the agreement?”
“Our agreement, Mr. Garnet,” Toothaker said, his grin now a thin paper cut on his face, “was that you would be protected in exchange for certain data you obtained from an outside source. You signed to this, Mr. Garnet. We agreed to assist you with your matter utilizing our resources, which are quite considerable, and typically well beyond the availability of people such as yourself, with the express written promise of delivery of any and all data you currently possess that was once the sole property of ChemGlobe. Now, Mr. Garnet, do you or do you not have this data in your possession and on your person?”
“Yes, Mr. Toothaker, I do.” Charlie said, reaching into his pants pocket and producing a small, black thumb drive, which he tossed in a high arc towards Toothaker. It landed on the desk with a thin clattering like a plastic spoon striking concrete. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to get out of here.”
Charlie stood up, flattened his shirt with his sweaty palms, and turned towards the door.
“Mr. Garnet,” Toothaker said, smiling once again at this arrogant display, “we have final papers to sign.”
“Send them to my home,” Charlie said, not bothering to turn around, all of his efforts being used to force himself not to shake like a frightened rabbit, “After all, you know where I live.”
“That we do, Mr. Garnet,” Toothaker said as Charlie closed the door behind him. “That we do. Mr. Geist?”
“Sir,” Geist said, the tips of his steepled fingers pressing against his furrowed forehead.
“If you would be so kind, please verify the integrity of the data.”
“Certainly, sir. And Mr. Garnet?”
“Once the data has been confirmed, please make plans to reach out and…take care of our client,” Toothaker said in a dry tone as he sat down behind his laptop.
“Of course, sir,” Geist said, reaching over to retrieve the thumb drive before fading away like spilled water in a parched desert.