The Board – Part 2
“Mr. Varick,” Horatio bellowed, hand out ready to shake. “So glad to see you again. I see you have all of your paperwork. We will have Susan take this down to HR. Susan, have them set up Mr. Varick for payroll immediately and get his email account up and running, will you? He’s going to be with us a long time.”
The pretty blonde took the packet from Aidan’s hand, barely making eye contact with either man, then headed toward the elevators. Aidan watched her scurry away as if she wanted to run but knew she shouldn’t.
Horatio walked Aidan toward the main corridor, where offices lined the hallway on both sides. One office was almost the entire length of the corridor, with cubicle after cubicle decorating the inside like a train track. There were two doors on each end of the office and one long window that gave an open view of employees making phone calls, organizing paperwork, and bustling around busily. Horatio nodded and told Aidan that’s where the insurance agents sat. “Ground floor,” he explained.
They turned a corner, and the hallway opened up to four elevators. Horatio walked over toward the farthest one and pushed the “up” button. He looked over at Aidan with a smirk, the same one he had that day at the gas station.
“The boardroom and our offices are on the sixty-sixth floor,” he explained. “Great view, lots of windows.” Aidan nodded without thinking. He was afraid to speak. He wasn’t even sure what he had gotten himself into.
Both men were silent in the elevator, which seemed to take an eternity to reach the sixty-sixth floor. When the doors finally opened, they revealed a large hallway decorated in dark woods and tapestries. It almost looked as if it were from another century. The paintings on the wall were of unnamed, stern men and women with serious expressions on their faces. Were these former board members?
“To the left is my private office,” Horatio explained. “This way, you will see the other board members’ offices. Everyone has their own, including you. The conference room is at the end of the hall. But let’s get you settled at your desk first.”
Aidan’s new office was enormous. The rich dark woods and deep maroons and greens of the hallway extended into the space. There was an immense picture window behind the large mahogany desk. His chair was oversized, made of dark red leather, and resembled a throne with a high back and large armrests. Across on the other side of the desk were two dark red leather guest chairs that matched his, but of course, were smaller in scale. There was a small bar along the far left wall and a mini-fridge underneath. Over the bar was a painting that jarred Aidan’s memory. Was that the fourth circle of Hell, Greed, from Dante’s Inferno? Aidan remembered reading a version that had painted illustrations of each of the nine circles. This painting was very similar, if not identical.
On the other side of the office were various cabinets and lateral files. Horatio was prattling on about supplies and where he could find folders and pens. He also named Susan from downstairs as the administrative assistant for all nine board members. If he needed anything, Susan was the girl to ask.
“Get settled in,” Horatio said. “Meet us in the conference room in twenty minutes. It’s straight down the end of the hall. You can’t miss it.” He smiled, and Aidan felt suddenly guilty and wondered if this was the right thing to do.
The conference room was just as Aidan had pictured it would be—dark wood and upholstered chairs of maroons, greens, and browns. A giant round mahogany table in the center was surrounded on three sides by enormous double-paned windows that looked down on the city below. There was no need to turn on any lights as the natural sunlight was enough.
Horatio was looking out one window, waiting for everyone to arrive and sit in their designated chairs. Without turning his back, he told Aidan, “Fourth chair in, counter-clockwise of course.”
Aidan found his seat, the fourth chair on the left side of the round table. To his left, in the third chair, was a pretty brunette, maybe a handful of years older than he was. She kept her eyes down on the table and seemed to be thinking of other things. She was sad, and Aidan was immediately curious about her. What could she have done to get herself here?
“Welcome, everyone,” Horatio said as he took his chair on the other side of the table, seat seven if Aidan counted correctly. “We have a new member today. We have finally found someone to fill Pamela’s spot. Such a crucial spot seat four is.”
Aidan swallowed hard and forced a smile as the rest of The Board stared at him.