I leaned against the desk and leafed through the folder. “So, I have a lot of information about you here, David. I think we’ll have to talk about it. I have some concerns.” I kept my voice friendly, but when I looked up at him, I saw that his smile suddenly looked fake and his eyes were wider. That was good.
I took a sharpie marker off the desk and held it open over the top of the folder. “I still need to assign you a number, David.” I tried to write on the folder. The marker wouldn’t write. I sighed and shook it and tried to write again. No ink.
“This sharpie doesn’t work!” I announced. I made it sound like I was irritated. “Go get me a new one.”
“What..?” he stood there and blinked, confused and startled, like a mole thrust suddenly into sunlight.
“Go get me a sharpie. I need a new sharpie.” I waved the pen in front of him. “Like this one!”
After a pause, he asked, “Where…?” as if I’d asked him to fetch me something totally bizarre and arcane, like an autographed photo of Vladimir Putin. I could practically see his brain emptying out in panic and confusion, which was exactly what I wanted.
“Well, Mr. Engineering Degree, this is Manhattan, so there is a Duane Reade every other city block. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure something out.”
He paused and for a moment I thought that I was going to have to bark at him, but finally he turned to go. When he opened the door, I called his name and he looked back at me over his shoulder. I removed a silver-plated pocket watch from my front trousers and opened it in front of him. The face was big and there were two chronographs on the dial. It made a faint clicking noise, although I doubted that he could hear it from where he stood. I’d discovered that if I held it in my hand in a perfectly still room, I could feel it vibrate in my hand, as if it was a living creature.
I set the watch and pressed the button. “I’m timing you, David.”
His mouth dropped open and then he ran out the door. I shouted at him not to kill himself on the stairs. I heard him running quickly down two flights of stairs, and then it was silent again.