The Brotherhood #28
By Mark W. Meier
Windowed The Soul
“Human refuse, each and every one of them.”
A ceiling or wall tile finishing material with an inherent property to absorb sound.
In the space between spaces a pair of beings met. They had no bodies, but material existence wasn’t possible in a place without matter.
The lesser of the two had been most recently known as Jeff Woods. The other hadn’t been called by name in hundreds of years. At that time he’d been known as Chamos.
Though sound didn’t exist, conversation – of sorts – could take place.
“That imbecile nearly ruined my plans.” Had Woods been corporeal, he’d have stomped in frustration. “He kept having that patsy’s equipment make noises.”
Chamos would have nodded, if he could manifest a body. “Nobody told Pop he was a part of a team. He was assigned merely to annoy your subject. ‘Never reveal to your underlings anything you don’t have to.’” The aphorism had been repeated so often it could be considered a rule.
Woods nearly ignited into flames. “Like telling me ahead of time an overgrown imp was supposedly helping me.”
A hint of humor came from Chamos. “Exactly. You had the authority to dismiss Pop at any moment. That you didn’t tells me what you’re capable of.”
“What did some poverty-stricken astrologer have to do with the overall plan?” Woods asked.
“‘Never reveal to your underlings anything you don’t have to.’”
Incrementalism is one of my favorite tools. I’ve used it for millennia, and it works nearly every time. You were a joy to use it on.
Most of my Brothers tried to be genteel, or at least fake it. You were a prime example of fakery, using your wealth and position as a bludgeon disguised as refined values.
The top floor of Grambic Tower held your office – and only your office. Ranked as the sixth tallest building in Savannah, Georgia, it actually should have been listed a bit lower. The construction only held twelve floors, but the spire reached to a little more than a hundred and fifty feet above ground level.
Can you say “compensating”? I knew you could.
Four blocks of tenement housing had been plowed under to make room for your Monument to Self. The city council overrode the planning department because of the tax base gained. That year benefited my Brothers in more ways than one.
You sat behind your massive polished snakewood desk and stared out your window. An expert at delegation, you had no duties other than to make sure others did their jobs. The inbox on your desk hadn’t seen a single page of paper in nearly a year, and your email inbox remained likewise empty – thanks to your very capable IT department filtering junk mail.
Across the thousand-square-foot room your executive assistant was nearly as idle. He’d been hired only to be the final gatekeeper. He controlled elevator access to your floor, read your correspondence, and screened your calls.
Day after day, week after week, your worldwide empire of acoustical tile manufacturing hummed along without need of your input. You didn’t draw a salary, but stock dividends alone pushed your income into eight figures. Owning nearly eighty percent of Grambic Tiles had its benefits.
And your life was empty.
You had no wife, no friends, and no willingness to socialize with the other members of your exclusive yachting club. Outside of household staff, the only people you saw on a daily basis were your assistant and your chauffeur. Both of them were so far beneath your economic stratum they didn’t even try to interact with you beyond the minimum for employment.
When Chamos assigned your fate to me I relished the challenge. You were so inaccessible to the outside world, your case wasn’t one for the lower levels of The Brotherhood. Certainly Pop wasn’t capable.
Nor, for that matter, was Woods.
The nineteenth century mahogany grandfather clock on the northwestern wall chimed 5:00, and you turned away from the floor-to-ceiling ballistic armored windows. “That finishes another Friday, Victor.”
Your assistant’s desk faced yours from the opposite corner of the room. He turned a control on his desk and the windows fogged. Another dial and half of the overhead LED lights switched off; the other half dimmed to one-third brightness. “Yes, Mr. Grambic.”
“Is my car ready?” Your Allen Edmonds clacked on the Katalox wood floor as you made your way around a small conference table in the middle of the room. Over the years the dark brown flooring had deepened to a near black.
“Schwartz is waiting in the garage, sir.”
Victor Howe had called the elevator five minutes earlier. The software in the controls defaulted to “express” when the destination or originating position was the top floor. You wouldn’t have to speak with anyone on your way to the basement parking area. Certainly Howe wouldn’t be sharing a ride with you.
I would be there, but I wouldn’t be speaking with you.
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