The streets were busy when Grenshaw got on his bike at 11:00 to head for the office. Sidewalk pedestrians were spilling onto the street; people were gushing out of the subway stations like ants on an anthill. It was overwhelming. And on top of it all, he had to weave around hordes of slow bikes, all the while, keeping an eye out for flying ads. Those things were getting dangerous.
As he turned onto 3rd Avenue, a small ad whizzed by his head. “Watch it!” he screamed.
“Get your life right,” the ad replied. Get your life right? Where had he heard that?
“The computer!” he said out loud. He felt the base of his neck; sure enough, it was there -barely distinguishable, but there nonetheless. He decided to stop by the shop on the way to the office. “GCF Computers,” he muttered. “Wonder what that stands for.”
As he wove in and out of traffic, he pondered some possibilities – Gullible Customers Forget, Giant Computer Fluke, General Confusion Formula – but just as he was coming up with “Getting Customers Fleeced,” he passed the Marigold CafÃ© and saw a sign posted to the front which read, “Out of Business.”
He screeched to a stop, nearly causing a pile-up behind him, and got off his bike. As he was running toward the Marigold, he called the office. Tommy answered.
“Tommy, what the hell happened?”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“The Marigold CafÃ©. It’s closed. For good.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I have no idea what happened.”
“We only survive if they survive, Tommy.”
Tommy chuckled. “Really, sir?”
“Yes!” Grenshaw shouted. “We can’t afford to lose this account.” As soon as he said it, Grenshaw knew how ridiculous he must have sounded. Of course they could lose the account. They were Grenshaw Juices. They didn’t need the Marigold CafÃ©. They could have lost every single one of their smaller accounts and still be in the black. “Listen, Tommy, I need you to look into the Marigold for me. Find out why they went under.”
“Alright,” Tommy said, hesitantly.
Clearly, Tommy thought Grenshaw was nuts. And hell, he might have been. It really was irrational – all this fussing over some small diner on 3rd Avenue. He was acting like his father had when the Revolution began. Still, he needed this. “Look, Tommy. Just do it for me, okay?”
“I’ll get right on it, chief.”
Chief? “What did you say?”
There was no answer.
He’d hung up.
to be continued . . .