Andrew Davis awoke in slow and deliberate manner. His blinds were slatted, and the sunlight came through them like shafts of white glow piercing through the darkness of a tomb. He had awoken more than early enough to prepare for work, because he always did. It wasn’t really hard.

“Good morning!” he said brightly, sitting up in bed. “Yes, I had a good night’s sleep. A strange dream, but I barely remember it now. Something about some telephone call.” He pulled the covers off and crawled from bed, walking on his carpet to the bathroom.

There he relieved himself and brushed his teeth. He had a rapid shower, then he dried and did his hair into its usual, entirely regular part. He padded from the bathroom and emerged into his closet.

“Well, no, of course not. You know I don’t put too much stock in dreams.” He picked out his usual dress shirt and his gray tweed suit. Dressing in short order, he knotted up his tie. “Yes, I suppose if I get a telephone call at some point today, I’ll think about it. Hmm? No, I don’t think so. I’m not some weirdo.” He shined his shoes a little, then he grabbed his attaché and wandered through the house, which was a little messy to be fair, though it had been a busy week and he’d not had much time to clean; besides, it wasn’t like he had much company these days. So he hurried out the door and down the street into the subway station.

He liked the subway. He liked to save the money, he liked to see the people. He didn’t even mind today when the car he walked into possessed a homeless man, whose stench had driven off so many other passengers. Andrew sat down just one bench away. The homeless man stared vacantly across the white-walled brightly-lighted car. Andrew smiled gently as the train began to move.

“No, today’s a pretty normal day. Actually, it’s less than normal, since I don’t have any meetings today. You know, I really am going to have to speak to Micah about lunch hour. It needs to be staggered through the day for groups, or something like that. What? Yeah, I mean, when we all go at once, it’s awful. Way too crowded.”

“Could just designate multiple break rooms,” said the homeless man.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea, actually,” said Andrew. “What do you think?” The train hummed gently as it passed below the earth.

He reached his stop at last. The massive office building loomed above him, totally usual amid the towering geometry of New York City. It had some writing over the main entrance that he’d never bothered to read, and didn’t now as he walked through the spinning door. “I do have a lot of paperwork today. Hope you won’t be bored.”

The elevator to the top passed silently, save for Andrew smacking his lips. In his office at last, he quickly began going over the previous day’s reports. “No, not now,” he said. “In a little while.” He looked at his computer for a little while longer before sharply calling out, “I said not now!”

Priscilla came in, a few hours on. She was a slight thing with red hair. “Here are the notes from the meeting, Mr. Davis,” she said, laying a stack of papers on his desk.

“Are they codified?”

“Yes, and they’ve been transcribed from the shorthand.”

“Good girl. Are you having a good day, Priscilla?”

“I…” Soft green eyes were searching on his face. “I think I am, Mr. Davis. It hasn’t been a bad day so far, at least.”

“I think it’s good to have good days.”

“Well…yes, sir.”

“That’s a bit of a tautology though.”

“I don’t know about that, Mr. Davis.”

He smiled. “Go on, make sure nobody’s called me.” She left the room. “She’s nice, isn’t she?” He began to look through the notes. “No, of course not.”

A few hours later, all the notes were finished, so Andrew left his office and began to wander down the corridors. “Andrew!” a voice called out, so he turned. Tim was trundling up to him in all of his obesity. Andrew twitched his mouth at his approach. “Andrew, I have to tell you, I have to tell you.”


“You have to wait on the decision on the Masterson account.”

“Why? It’s incomplete and late. I’m closing it; that’s the final decision.”

“No, listen, I got a call from Brian today, he just needs more time.”

“I’ve given him half a year, how much more time could he possibly need?”

“Listen, Andrew,” Tim collected himself, drawing in an audible breath, “Mr. Davis, please, I’ve been speaking with Brian and his family. They just—they’re in a bad way, Mr. Davis. This latest market correction has almost ruined them. They’ll have the paperwork and the outlay, they promise, but they just need more time.”

Andrew’s face was solid, simple. For a while, he let nothing shatter his soft contemplation. While he was thinking more, however, a kind of pain was visible upon his face, and he slowly worked his mouth about into a “Maybe…” that he let hang, drifting in the air as though it were a sad and lonely cloud. But instantly, he seemed pulled back. He seemed to notice something, something that was hangng out of sight, but something that he saw with just a gentle turning of his head. Lines were on his face.  “No.”

“But Andrew—”

“I said no,” more firmly than before. “Brian has had every opportunity. I’ve given him chance after chance. There’s no more rope left, unless Brian wants a little more to hang himself.”


“They can go be ruined. I don’t care. The account is closed, as of right now.” He pushed past Tim’s large body and went stalking down the hall, into the darkness of the bend without any windows.

It was a jovial lunch; that was certain. He smiled and chuckled amid the executive boardroom, bonding superficially with peers for whom he little cared over a plate of lobster and some saffron rice. He murmured under his breath, but few were there to overhear.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in more deliberations on the notes and on the two accounts he had to align for proper cooperation with the larger firm. The sky outside was gray and pale, a kind of covering of clouds that left a smear like paint. “I’ll be done soon,” he said, some time around 4 PM. “I may leave early, if you’d like that.” A knocking came upon the door. “Come in.”

“Hey, Andrew,” said Sarah, stepping in. She was a little older than him, but not much. “Are you well?”

He looked up briefly, then deliberately returned to viewing his computer screen. “I’m okay.” He made a face that was directed somewhere just off to her left.

“I was wondering if you were thinking about what I said last Friday.” She smiled, brightening her somewhat pretty face.


“You know.” She made a face that faltered. “About us, you know?”

“I have thought…” he paused. He typed a little more on his computer. “Hmm.”

“Andrew,” she coughed, “Mr. Davis, I realize that Mr. Saul has that standing memo about…” she paused, in a way that was extremely awkward, “relationships at work, but I feel—”

“What do you feel?” He turned his head a little. “And how about you?  What do you feel?”

“Hmm?” Sarah made a face. “What?”

“You’re right.”


“Sarah, it won’t happen. Don’t ever try to make it happen.”


“Even if it were allowed, I have no interest in it at all.”


“I have no interest in you. That’s all.” He turned back to his computer and began to type. After a minute of uninterrupted typing, he looked out again. “You’re still here? Go away. Goodbye.”

Sarah hitched her breath. Her eyes grew tight. “Okay,” she said quietly. “Goodbye.” Then she turned and closed the door behind her as she left.

Andrew typed on the computer, going on. “Yes, I know,” he said. “I’m almost done.”

He finished up a little before formal closing time. With a nod somewhere off to his right, he packed his attaché and locked his office door behind him as he left. The gray of the sky had deepened to a dense and darkened charcoal. Rain threatened, but the forecast told him not to worry. He entered the bowels of the city, the subway, and was immersed in people, swelling every car in their escape back to their homes.

He emerged in darkness on his street. This far out from downtown there were stars above; the rain which had been threatening had blown away, revealing a clear sky that sparkled in the radiance of night. “Yeah, it is,” he said. He unlocked his front door and walked inside, where he set about making his dinner as he undid his tie and shuffled off his suit. “If you say so. I honestly just find her annoying, but she’s not that bad.” He put some extra mustard on the sandwich he was making. “I don’t know about that.”

It was a dinner quickly made and quickly eaten, washed down by some wine. Andrew sighed, sitting at the table. He reflected on the silence of the empty room.

“Do you ever miss company?” he asked. There was a silence from the house, as though it might have spoken but chose not to. “No, you’re right.” He smiled. “I’m glad you’re here. It’s really nice to have you around.” He pushed his chair out. He rose and walked around to his small backyard, where he entered through the door inside his family room.

The night was cool. The barest, faintest hint of breeze was on the air, but nothing even so disruptive as to mess his hair. He looked up, beyond the fence, beyond the row of houses that stood silent and substantial as a mess of broken towers. The lights of the city beyond must have been dim that night, or the heavens somehow more intense, for where he normally just saw a few he now beheld infinities of stars, swelling from the black sky, gleaming down from space and ages past. For all their brightness, though, their light was cold. They bathed the Earth in glow like ice, peering down upon the world and feeling nothing for it. Andrew looked up at them, but they did not look at him. They seemed beyond the world. They seemed to live off in a distant avenue of vastness from which there could be no coming and no going, and they sat, secure, time-biding, as the Earth they pitilessly gazed upon was slowly crumbled into everlasting dust.

Andrew went inside after a few more minutes. Pulling out a little whiskey, he meditated in the silence for a little while longer, sitting in a leather chair beneath a glowing golden lamp. “No,” he whispered. “No, that’s a bad idea.” He breathed out silently. “That’s a terrible idea. Yes, thank you. That’s what I’m saying.” So he finished his whiskey and put his dishes in the sink. Then he walked into his bedroom, where he noiselessly prepared for bed.

The bedroom was a little cold. He liked it that way. As he walked naked from showering, the steam was soft upon his bare body. Dressing in pajamas, he climbed into his bed and read a while. Then he said, “I need to start taking your advice more often. You’ve been right about almost everything so far.” He nodded distantly. He put his book down. Then he turned his bedside lamp off, plunging all the room into a dark that was complete. “Good night!”