People here used to say: time is a commodity one should treasure, and so did Moe … or at least nod he did on several such occasions. Nevertheless he was, like many others, sweating periods of his life trying to align with the social order, or the social trends, or both if you can define them as distinct. But Moe, a random guy, though an important individual in his life story, did not think too much about the time passing – after all, he was just 26.
Eventually, the thought of his future demise flashed in the beginning of a day, scheduled to come because of man-made calendars.
He was going to the office on a cloudy morning of August. After the sporadic raining since the previous evening the air had a fragrance many would enjoy, him including, hadn’t it been for the many Septembers with similar weather when he had to go to school.
Actually, only he knew what he was thinking about that forenoon, but when he met his fellow workmate, who was slowly walking out of the parking lot, Moe encountered a blunt statement from Ted:
- “Soon I’m retiring – what happened!?”
- “You’re reti--?”
- “No! What happened with my life?”
Moe seemed clueless and confused on how to react – to bring some solace on his face? which he failed, so he smiled with an innocence he used to express frequently and get away with it.
- “You may now feel, like you have all of your life ahead of you,” continued his monologue Ted, “but a few days later you’re 46 …”
- “Unlike sixty …”
- “… This life … runs like a rabid alpine stream – too fast, too narrow to maneuver, and in ten days – boom! You’re an old trout! Well … you know what I mean, right? The brook I told you about? That fish, which was has been caught, by me. Yes, it was big, very. But who could have known?”
And Moe nodded in silence, although you could see on his face this was a discussion he would rather not have at all in the near future, maybe even decades. Life was so much of a mystery compared to the timeline of someone having an apparent midlife crisis. And last week he went with Cassie to some banks asking about mortgages. What should he have done with such “wisdom”? Spend all of his savings on crazy adventures? No thank you Ted!
Well, yesterday, when he was bending a deadline by one and a half days, Moe was lambasted for surfing ’70s Camaros under 10k on the web, which looked rather desperate anyways. Ted however jumped in with a tangential remark about Moe being only, young. Of course Mr. William, nicknamed “the [pig] iron man”, and “Willion [reasons to …]”, had almost raised his hand while pointing at him – that being a very “close one”, even in concept.
Ted was about ten years older than the “iron man”, and he basically spent all his adult life at Saturn Aemilia Inc. All along with William, Ted’s recent failed promotion, and many other factors, the depression of the second could be somewhat later explained. Ted, actually, could have headed this department, but according to accidental witnesses there were a few accounts of him fighting with the management board, over a project that eventually failed. Nobody wanted to take on the responsibility for it, so the division involved was scrapped, while Ted, being a threat to their future bonuses – got some leg irons. For all that, Edward emerged as the villain, in the common knowledge of the company’s cubical nation.
Despite his demotivating appearance in the morning Ted was an inspiring model for the swarm of juniors, and was the least favorite candidate in the run for the most ignored colleagues of the year. With no PhD, a career path drawn by the Cat of Destiny, along with obvious difficulties of reproducing comedy sketches, at Christmas parties, dared by no one, Ted was nonetheless a charismatic person.
He was after all a veteran sourcing-specialist who acquired a broad logistics experience in the field of mineral exploration. Fancying various diplomas on the walls of his royal-wide cubical opened to the parking lot panorama, along with Time-like field pictures shot all-around the globe, in another life, Ted sporadically cast business insights on the nearby workmates. And, Moe was the closest responsive or unaware recipient of this useful radiation.
- “So … how is that new project of cobalt exploration going on?” Moe tried some talking about the weather breaking the dull atmosphere in the circuit-maze of the parking lot.
- “Could be better. The reactor is barely making it though.”
Observing a suspicious facial expression, of Moe, like there was something he would disagree with, Ted continued on probably the same subject.
- “Well you know, the prospected underground uncovered a tougher rock, overclaiming too many drills. Unfortunately, the remote location is only making things worse – the erroneous exploration results now require a significant change to the plans. Weren’t you the one who handed me the updated geo survey? Can’t remember.”
The innocent small talk was about to bite back, but as Ted looked distracted enough from his earlier thoughts, Moe inadequately nodded and took some time looking for the new models in the parking area. Painfully searching for a new piece of mechanical art to surprise himself, he eventually joined Ted at staring in the direction of a distant bus stop where a promising argument-to-escalate-into-a-fight was unfolding. Parading aligned, they both walked into the building until the poorly placed load-bearing column blocked the street view, while John, asking them to scan the cards, scattered any hopes for another glance.
- “No worries, I’m following it on the security camera, and I, might, share the recorded resolution.”
- “Oh really?” Moe objected. “People hit by the bus sounds resolutish to you?”
- “Well guess what!? It’s not like they knew they were being filmed!”
- “Nobody wants to see so much gore, John! You had so many chances at providing quality content!”
- “One la-dy getting pepper-sprayed by another one is not a decent story for me, … eh, to story … that is, to narrate; and also pick a dub.”
- “That was a marvel: a designer’s bag got terminated with a butterfly? [Cough] heard the girls saying it was worth a ton of money. And that cab maneuvering on its lane, that was hit by another driver who was also following the scene thus victimizing the hydrant and have the two fashionistas brawl wet?”
- “Yea, and where were you?” quickly replied John.
- “What’s … that have to do with any of it?”
- “Loose it Moe – as pepper jets failed adding spices to the plot, the butterfly attacked synthetic leather. Where ist the drama? Where ist the drama … and the blood?” John grinned, revealing his content to a failing audience.
No further escalation as it was almost 9 in the morning.
After being played by the elevator, randomizing floor numbers in the eyes of the people getting late for work, the doors eventually opened for the frustrated mob to be lifted and distributed to various building levels.
Subsequently, people dispersed to their native departments and the situation gradually came under control. After all, it was time for showoffs: awoken from their free-time state much was starting to make sense in the familiar social competition – new outfits, gossips, debates among apparent professionals and a couple of nerds talking loud about an issue concerning everyone, but mostly the company, thus landing into the spotlight (rare moments of glory).
Nothing changed the Rubik’s cubicals since the day before, peaking the hierarchy system at the windows:
- “Hey, I didn’t see this picture before,” Moe, the mighty minion, pointing to the wall.
- “You mean the one visible only to the chosen ones. Yes, yes, good times with the Queen in her twenties,” replied Ted, drawing a last resort smile.
And the two gazed for a while at the indefinite spot, silently, until:
- “[You] stop looking at the two square fingers of empty wall and get to work!” Masta Will flashed in from nowhere. “Moe! You teleport to the parallel cubical. Now listen everyone: today’s major focus is work … again!”
The department naturally blended into a 19th century textile factory with sounds of harmony arranging keyboards and staplers at peak efficiency. Even the coffee machine was trying its best after the shadows of the 4 guys who pushed in some commands, vanished to their desks.
Eventually, William the Devourer, departed while scanning for any life-form tuned off the company’s critical chain, having the distant indoor plants revive their green.
- “Looks like Wootstrap is growing into this floor,” Ted whispered, forcing the neighborhood into a 5th grade snickering.
And snickered they did, again and again.
- “See Ted, some fates are somber, som-bri-ere, more somber than retiring,” Moe added ingeniously smiling.
But against the local mood Ted lost it, and rolled his chair deep in-between the fancy cubical walls, and so did Moe fearing the wrath of the other mates for upsetting their guru.
- “Hey M-o-e!”
- “Forget it Chuck. I’m busy.”
And … it started raining outside.
The department was soon overwhelmed by daily routines with phones, printers and copiers telling their own side of the story. Computers were machinating, user-obsequious, against virgin data tables and innocent report forms, with Moe, allegedly, trying to lead a rebellion against the complexity of a technical drawing.
His contribution was looking rather lucrative. He basically sunk into his work, detached from reality. The screen displayed an intense computer-assisted decision-making in relation to his task. From time to time, it was screening information one could find it harder to associate with his work. Then you could see again some computations. The study of the Battle of Actium followed, 15 adorable but deadly animals, autoimmunity, ancient aliens, wait … is this guy really trying to get the difference between string and superstring theories? But as you could see by his total focus and intensified nodding, when he was about to understand the second paragraph, the desk phone rang audaciously, recoiling him back: a genuine science shock!
- “Unit E2N02C5: at risk of disconnection …”
- “Cut it out John; people above are actually working!”
- “No way! That being said, it brings me no pleasure to substitute Emily and your mobile phone,” prompting Moe to look over and discover the dead battery, “but there’s a courier from an ‘affiliate company’ with a ‘sensitive’ package, according to his instructions.”
After a brief moment of silence John continued:
- “The package, is not, for me?!”
- “Is it for Ted?” Moe trying to shorten the dialog.
- “No, for your mother!” John hang up forcing Moe to succumb to a silent rage.
He mumbled a few obscene words in street French, with a clear confidence others wouldn’t understand and then walked away to the elevator casually looking for Ted. Upon reaching the lobby however, Moe electrocuted himself with a smile as he was facing Emily chatting with his girlfriend.
There stood Cassie. She was so beautiful, like that, first, crush, but of legal age, or that hot young lady you wanted to help in science class, although she was smarter. And the girl next door? hm, with grown up kids?
- “What are you stoned?” Cassie giggled innocently tickling Moe. “I was talking to Emily about the symptoms you are still joking about …”
But Moe interfered with a hand gesture for everyone to freeze as if he felt the presence, no, the discontentful apparition of Willdelmort. Yet seeing no one around Cassie broke the vigilance telling Moe:
- “You need some time off, to run some tests. Ahahaha, I meant: a medical checkup. Because I’m worried!” She glanced at the clock and confessed, “well, about the convention: the whole team is leaving today because ‘teambuilding!’ whatever.”
- “For a presentation?”
- “Yeah, tell me about it!” Cassie confused everyone, “so they changed the flights already and the booking at a 5-star hotel.”
- “Ah. Ok. I’ll take you to the Taxi,” he said, slowly moving to the lift.
- “Included: spa, sauna …”
- “Yeah, yeah, everyone hates you,” Moe ridiculed Cassie, smiling, as well as trying to look cool over the elevator timing.
Many floors below, the doors of the lift opened up revealing Cassie at first, and then Moe Patel confronting John Singh. The outstaring was so energy intensive that a fluorescent lamp began flickering. Moe, however, got the short end: unbalanced by the elevator doors closing he interrupted his death rays for safety reasons, like deflection and then self-mutilation by projecting his own image in the chrome doors sealing the lift. Thus, he sped up to Cassie who was just about to go through the optical turnstiles.
- “Heyyy!” John courting Cassie at his best.
- “[Go] Hey yourself!” Moe intervened. “Where’s the package?”
- “Let me check. You’re welcome!” showing Moe a piece of paper with an address. “Don’t know why he left. Oh, right, time is money.”
- “That’s what she said!” Moe nailed it … or not, as Cassie glanced over her shoulder.
They went out to the street and a Taxi appeared soon after a gracious hand raise. Cassie jumped in, but closed the door leaning out of the lowered window:
- “Need a ride?”
- “I don’t know. What car is it?” Moe replied.
- “It’s a plug-in-hybrid,” Cassie softened her tone.
- “Haha, nice try,” Moe leaned over and kissed her. “It’s only few blocks away. I’ll walk.”
- “5-star hotel, where’ you gonna sleep tonight?” Cassie yelled out of the Cab driving away.
- “Good Luck! I’ve got your wallet!” Moe shouted laughing, but then looked at the people around and added: “it’s ok; she didn’t believe it either,” and casually walked away.
The distance was short and the place was in sight, around a corner.
He looked again at the paper and was probably navigating, clueless, on the verge of using web mapping. It seemed he was studying the building façade, but the walls kept getting farther and farther up to the point where it got dark.
There, in the absence of light, rolling to a state of weightlessness, he probably transcended the limits of thought, until he was punched in the face, hands tied. A few dudes stood above, trying to keep balance in the overcrowded back space of some vehicle, accelerating. Then, one of them seemed to have said something but Moe reacted defiantly:
- “Don’t hit him in the ears!” the bearded guy informed the others, then he approached Moe and yelled: “where is the prototype?”
- “What prototype?” kaboom! received another hit.
- “The reactor, prototype!”
The time slowed down and the engine was revving to shift gears, reaching the story climax.
- “Edward?” Moe seeking another punch.
And so, the last one of them who didn’t hit anyone yet viciously jumped over Moe, apparently undecided which hand to extend first. They wrestled to a half-standing position until the thug considered a jab, but Moe sprung forward scoring a decisive headbutt. He was then immediately struck by another one, thus landing even farther in the back. Yet, as they approached him, Moe thrust his feet in some kind of a kick up and projected one of them all the way to the front hitting the driver with an elbow in the neck. The van sideswiped multiple vehicles parked on the right side and with steep left-right turns surprised another driver, braking right, into the rear of the overturning combat platform.
On the inside, Moe and the company, mingled around like a brotherhood of bouncing balls, in a centrifuge. He eventually landed on a body pillar snapping the cable tie holding his hands together and with another revolution – flew out of through the rear doors.
After a few seconds, he stood up and ran through the crowd.
He didn’t spare a single moment to recover, and ran, for had he stayed a little longer, compassion in the eyes of the people around would’ve softened him up. Who knows, maybe even somebody would’ve called for some help …
But he was visibly uncomfortable in that neighborhood full of people at restaurant terraces so he ran through narrow passes and alleys, to other streets he didn’t like either. He was soon short of breath, but that girl seemed strange, and that middle-aged man looked out of place, playing chess alone, or whatever, he might have been under surveillance. He moved on hastily, through the back entrance, into an art gallery and went out to the street where he jaywalked in front of a police car to another building.
Well, at least he felt accountable for it so he went straight into a Police Station.
There, after about 20 minutes, a kind police woman bandaged the hand he might have injured in the traffic accident and said a detective, Murphy, would be handling his case, pointing to his desk in the distance.
Some time passed.
Moe found relief, as a handcuffed person nearby was comforting him, storytelling his incredible feat to cheat the insurance company, by stealing a similar car to wreck it into a favorable condition. The plan was smooth. Well …
A moment later Moe was following, visually, two policemen running to an emergency, until a young woman appeared in his sight. She was really good looking, in a nice suit. When did they start hiring such beauties? I must’ve thought, definitely.
- “Follow me please,” she said gently. “Detective Standford has been briefed.”