Chapter Five: New Office

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The warmth from the sun sneaked in through the gap between my curtains and caressed my cheek. I imagined this was how cats feel when they are petted, but I also wondered if they ever grew tired of it like I tired of the sun. I turned around to try and avoid the heat, but three minutes into my new dream my alarm clock went off and I woke. I hadn’t used the clock in weeks and the sound had regained it’s annoying nature. After I turned it off I tried to review the dream I had for Cat’s research, but the dream had long faded away. I would have to tell her the one I had while I was knocked out last night.

It was eight in the morning and it felt too early. I chose a cold shower instead of a hot one to wash down the warmth the sun left on my skin. Dressing up took longer as everything in my closed felt inappropriate for the ambiance I’d be working in. After managing as sophisticated a look as was available to me I turned on my computer, while it started up I got a pot of coffee going and I gazed at my pantry searching for something to eat. Cereal? Cereal.

Coffee cup on one side, computer to the other and cereal in the middle, I proceeded to write up my dream in a long detailed email for Cat. While I was here I tried researching about Durant & Dietrich again, but the few companies that did match the name where either in a completely different city or didn’t exist anymore. I tried searching ‘Adele Durant’ and ‘Luc Durant’ in the news section, but came out empty handed. As possible as it was that zero information about their business existed online, it was impossible that any information about them not be published by a third party anywhere. Right?

My phone rang and I ran to my room to answer. It was Chloe.

“Abby! Hey, did you get the job?”

“Good morning to you too, Chloe! Yeah, kind of.”

“What do you mean? How does ‘kind of’ work out for you?”

“I mean, I said yes, and I guess I have to sign some sort of contract and maybe, you know, wait for a trial period and see if they’re happy with me. But so far, all seems to point in the direction of ‘solid employment’.”

As much of a best friend as Chloe was, she was always concerned for me. Still, I didn’t want to worry her with what happened last night as she had a history of over-exaggerating and rushing to my defense when it was normally un-needed.

“Awesome! Four down, two to go!”

“Eli didn’t get the job?”

“No, he didn’t get called in again, and when he asked what happened they told him they had settled for someone else. Their loss!”

“Shit.”

Eli wasn’t the brightest of the group and he did have a history of struggling with any job that was given to him, but we were all constantly hoping he’d eventually settle on something.

“So… when can we celebrate your success?”

There was an abundance of joy in her voice. I always wondered how she managed to be happy in spite of everything in the world.

“Let me get payed first, then I’ll let you know.”

“Lovely! Let me know, okay? See you later, baby!”

It was barely ten thirty, and I had little else to do without it taking up most of my day, so I decided to play punctual and leave the house a little earlier than necessary.

Two buses and forty minutes later I was walking through the victorian neighborhood again, this time it seemed a little livelier than it was yesterday afternoon. Shops were open, signs where out, pets were being walked, and people of diverse ages were going into the shops or coming out. I had honestly assumed that most of the businesses had long been closed, but it seemed as though their aged appearance was part of the appeal. It was eleven fifteen, and while I was almost tempted to go into the shops themselves and take a look, in case I would want to take anything home with me, but I had a history of drifting endlessly in shops. So I stood loyal to my punctuality and went to Durant & Dietrich’s.

I wasn’t sure I had permission to enter and leave as I pleased, so I knocked loudly. Edith answered almost immediately this time, surprisingly.

“Miss Gladstone, very happy to see you. Please come in.”

I went into the hall and Edith guided me to a small room between the front parlor and the library. I felt I must have been very distracted yesterday, for I had somehow completely missed the door to this room. In fact, it looked like it hadn’t been opened in what I assumed was a long time.

“Ridiculous, I can’t find the right key. Give me a moment, dear.”

Edith was struggling with finding the right key, but four keys later she turned the knob and was able to push the door open.

“There we go! Here, miss Gladstone, from now on you shall keep this key very close, understood?”

“Yes, understood.”

Equally turquoise, the room had definitely been neglected for some time. The drapes where closed, the furniture was all piled up in a corner, the bookcase was empty, and there was a light coating of dust decorating the room. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to clean and organize the room myself, but I hoped I wouldn’t have to.

“Oh dear, I forgot we hadn’t actually organized the room before we closed it up for good. Dear, oh dear. Right, I’ll take care of the cleaning, and you’ll help me organize the furniture. You’ll be occupying this room anyhow and we might as well make it comfortable for you to use.”

“Right… so, how will we do that?”

She crossed the room and opened the drapes, letting in a wave of sunshine that brought the room to evidence of all it offered. It seemed bigger, actually, and there was a door there which looked like it would lead to the front parlor, but I was almost sure there had been no other door in the front parlor yesterday. I was skeptical, so I went ahead and opened the door. It did actually lead to the front parlor.

“Well… I’ll start cleaning things up, and you can move the furniture where you would like it all to go.”

She left the room and came back with a bucket of cleaning materials, so I started moving the desk, tables and chairs around. The desk I placed to face the door to the front parlor.  There was no sofa, and I was thankful that I would not have to move it, but I was also slightly disappointed. Twenty minutes later we were done and I took a seat behind my new desk.

“Lovely, there we go. Now all we need are some flowers to brighten up the room.”

“Um, Miss Durant told me over the phone last night that a Mister Schreiber would give me instructions on what I’m supposed to do?”

“Mister S, of course. He should arrive in a bit, dear. He’s never late. Would you like something to drink?”

“Water, please.”

“I’ll be back, then.”

While none of the furniture was particularly new, my chair swiveled and that made me very happy, but there was nothing in this room that made it feel like an office yet and that made me a little bit anxious. I wondered if the office supplies would be provided for me or if I would need to buy some, I honestly hoped for the former. Edith came back with my water in one hand and a vase with lilies on the other, she handed me the water and as she placed the vase on the table by the window there was a loud knock on the door.

“That’ll be mister S!”

Edith walked back into the hall. I heard the door open and someone rush in, a very loud voice started echoing through the hall, getting closer and closer to my office.

Guten tag, sweet Edith! How are you? How is Adele? How is Luc? I heard you people had a scare last night? How careless of the Durant’s. Schande über sie!”

“All very well, Mister S, thank you.”

“Help me out with those boxes, won’t you? Danke, danke. Where is the new office? Did they move the blasted room again? Left or right? Please tell me it’s bigger this time. Mein Gott…

“Right here, Mister S.”

A short and colorful man burst into the room carrying two boxes with him, Edith close behind with two more boxes. I stood up and walked toward them with my arms ready to help.

“Nevermind, young lady, we’ll place them right here. My man servant will help me bring the rest. Rüdiger!!”

“Mister S, please, Miss and Mister D are sleeping at the moment, would you mind keeping your voice down?”

Entschuldigung, sweet Edith. I’ll keep my voice as low as possible.”

Edith raised an eyebrow at Mister Schreiber, and then left the room.

Guten tag, Miss. My name is Hugo Schreiber, the official and enduring archivist, chronicler, historian, and overall supervisor of the documentation and record-keeping of everything that we in this marvelous organization carry out and strive to achieve. Pleasure to meet you.”

It all sounded very impressive and intimidating, but at the same time it told me nothing of what this “organization” did. I was starting to suspect that nobody would tell it to me straight.

“Aberdeen Gladstone, um, new secretary for Miss Durant.”

“What a funny name… shall I address you as Miss Gladstone, or do you have a nickname of your predilection that you would like me to use?”

“Well, everyone calls me Abby, except my mother. So I guess either Abby or Miss Abby is fine, thank you.”

“Miss Abby it is, that’s got a better ring to it, doesn’t it?”

A tall, lean and bald man came in through the door carrying three more boxes.

Dankeschön, Rüdiger. Do we still have more boxes? Right, we’ll wait here, then.”

Rüdiger went and came three more times until we had about fifteen boxes in the office, most of them on the floor. I was beyond intimidated at the work ahead of me, but also very excited to be able to read it all. Mister Schreiber’s title implicated too be a job within a job, after all. I could feel I sneaking my way into a secret society I was not yet part of. Definitely better than my many daydreams.


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