When he got to the office, he parked his bike next to a newsstand, where some guy was selling daily downloads and stock reports. Grenshaw bought a stock report and scanned it on the elevator. Orange juice was doing well. Which meant the company was doing well, and he was doing well.
And so, Grenshaw had a smile on his face when he stepped through his office door and found Tommy standing at the window. “Tommy,” he said, wondering what the intern was doing in his office. He couldn’t imagine that Mary would have allowed him to just walk in. “What are you doing here?” he asked, not bothering to hide his annoyance.
“Hi, sir. I just wanted to talk with you quickly before I go.”
“Go?” Was Tommy quitting?
“Yes, sir, to the Marigold CafÃ©?”
“Oh, right.” Grenshaw pulled out a chair and motioned for Tommy to sit in it.
“Is this about adding the cafÃ© to our account?”
“Look, Tommy, I know this sort of thing may seem a little, I don’t know, ruthless?” He looked at Tommy to register his reaction. He couldn’t discern much. Tommy’s expression was blank. Grenshaw decided to change his strategy. “Tommy, back in the day, when my dad was working in plastics.”
“Your dad worked in plastics?” Most people were impressed by this fact.
“Yes.” Grenshaw took a second to soak up the admiration. “When he was working in plastics, it was everywhere. There was plastic in computers, there was plastic in shoes. It was in bikes, in chairs, in pencils. You’d buy a meal and you’d get plastic utensils and plastic dishes. You’d buy a toy for your nephew; it would be plastic, and it would come in a plastic container. In fact, everything came in plastic containers: candy, paper, clean water. And after you opened it up, you’d throw away the plastic.”
Tommy was listening intently.
“You’d throw the plastic away, and then you’d put it into a plastic bag in a plastic trash can.” Grenshaw walked to the window and peered down at the streets below. “You could really make some money back then.” Behind him, Grenshaw heard a woman clearing her throat. It was Mary.
She was standing in the doorway. “Everything alright, Mr. Grenshaw?”
“Of course,” he said, wondering why she was asking.
“Okay.” She looked perplexed.
Grenshaw tried to regain his train of thought as he turned toward Tommy, but when he discovered his office empty, he completely lost track of what he’d been saying. “Tommy?” he said quietly.
Outside his window, a video advertisement floated by. He heard a woman’s voice saying, “Have you been experiencing mood swings? Find yourself confused recently?” Alarmed, Grenshaw gazed at the ad. Tommy’s disappearance, the eyes in the alley, and now this ad, pinpointing his exact emotions – it was all too coincidental.
The woman winked. “Get your life right.” She smiled. “GCF Computers. Powered by the state of your mind.”
to be continued . . .