Borrowed Time

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Borrowed Time Page 8

by Antonio D. Sommerio

  Sweaty and tired he crept to his door and slithered in. So, this is what it’s like to be a hero? he thought. “Kind of lonely but still rewarding nevertheless,” he said smiling. He took the watch off his wrist tempted to place it on his other wrist just for a moment. But he didn’t, he would figure out that mystery another time. So after plugging his cell phone into the charger Jacob decided, no tea, no shower, no time…just sleep!

  This morning Jacob woke with a feeling of fulfillment and completeness. He chuckled as he relived some of the more memorable moments of his expedition. What he’d said to the highway patrolman. The fact that he’d saved Rebecca with a rock, now how archaic was that? Two stretches and a yawn later Jacob really had no idea what to do next. He took a quick shower and shaved finding himself hungry in front of the television. That was until his phone rang.

  “Good morning sir, wonderful to hear from you again.” Jacob announced after examining the cell’s caller ID.

  “Jacob, I wanted to catch you as early as I could. I have scheduled an emergency meeting with you for this morning. Do you think you can be here in the next hour or so?” Mr. Pinkerton’s voice sounded desperate and uneasy.

  “Of course sir, might I ask what’s wrong? You sound a little perturbed.”

  “I will explain everything when you get here but I want you dressed for a serious business meeting, game face included, understood?” Jacob nodded inadvertently while answering, “Yes sir.”

  Jacob sat for a moment trying to figure out what was going on with Mr. Pinkerton and why he was acting so formal? The only time that man speaks just an ounce off tune, is when something big is happening within the company. Was it a shareholder issue, a new client maybe? At this point it really didn’t matter, Jacob was just pleased at the notion of returning to his place of employment. “I guess it’s time to break out the ‘Big Guns’!” Jacob said grinning. He got up and moved the normal apparel to the side in his closet and opened another door in the back. There it was, freshly pressed and yet to be worn, Jacob grabbed the smoke gray Italian suit and a silver-pearl silk tie. Hand-tailored perfection it was, nothing less. After Jacob got dressed, he stood in the bathroom a moment grinning arrogantly in the mirror. He just couldn’t shake this sense of euphoria. Today was his day, he just felt it. And so, with his tie tied sharply, shoes gleaming and cologne performing, Jacob grabbed his watch and briefcase heading out. Even his walk was different today, his confidence at its peak. Hell, if bad news was the news from Pinkerton, at least he would feel and look good while taking it. But for now, Jacob was a sight to marvel, just like he used to be. Nearly color coordinated with his car’s interior Jacob sped out of the driveway smiling at a young blonde at the transit stop, as she admired from afar.

  He never really liked driving to work but today was just different. The combination of the past night’s events coupled with his short but much needed break from Pinkerton Industries had Jacob both refreshed and rejuvenated.

  “Good morning sir can I see your I.D. please?” The parking attendant displayed a wide and plenteous smile while sitting in her booth hand extended. Jacob showed her his I.D. with which she looked at both him and the plastic card back and forth a couple of times before letting him through. “Thank you Mr. Parnell, have a wonderful morning sir,” she said with plenty of smiles and lip gloss to spare. Three floors later, Jacob found a space to tuck his car in amidst the others as he exhaled deeply preparing himself for what was to come. He reached in his pocket and took out his watch holding it in his left hand. He traced the circumference of the device staring at it with a blank expression. How amazing this newly found ability was and what a great responsibility it had bestowed upon him. But was what he was doing considered right? Was it disturbing the laws of nature? Jacob never believed in the fact that men had a predetermined path. He figured his fate was what he made it and at any time he had the power to change it. Was this proof of his theory? Or was he still riding the rails of destiny and actually doing what was ultimately written as well? Deep in thought Jacob rubbed his chin with his other hand. It was still smooth to the touch from his fresh shave. He then remembered what happened the last time he put on his watch in front of large groups of people. One way or another he would have to find a way to see through the numeric clutter that plagued his vision when there were crowds. Although a little uncertain of what he would see when he walked through the doors of his workplace, Jacob decided that wearing the watch was the appropriate thing to do.

  “Welcome back Jacob!” Jacob smiled and thanked the numerous individuals and their gracious welcomes. Numbers…numbers were everywhere but Jacob stayed steady as he walked toward Mr. Pinkerton’s office. He tried to separate the numeric entities to whom they belonged to and making sure they were plentiful. All seemed in order when…out of nowhere Jacob is grabbed by two arms and held tightly.

  “Welcome back buddy!” It was Stanley, who now had finally released Jacob and placed his arm around him while whispering in his ear. “So, what did you do? The old man has been pretty worked up all morning. I can’t really tell whether it’s good or bad though so spill it Jakey, what’s going on?” Stanley turned toward Jacob who had now turned ghastly pale and stood staring above his head. “Geez this is a nice fucking suit and you smell great! Man, if I was a homo…Jake?” Stanley’s attention was now drawn to Jacob’s vacant expression as Jacob continued staring above his head in disbelief and mumbling what seemed to be numbers as if performing some sort of calculation to himself.

  “Thr—thr—three weeks!” Jacob finally said stumbling over his words. “What are you doing three weeks from now?” Jacob’s voice became loud and upset.

  “Dude I don’t know, what the hell are you talking about and what are you looking at?” Stanley replied now confused. “You’ve been here all but five minutes and now you’re freaking out, are you ok? I would hate to think—”

  “Jacob you’re here!” interrupted Mr. Pinkerton in a pleasing but surprised voice as he came out of his office. Stanley looked at Jacob and then at Mr. Pinkerton.

  “Go get em tiger, and try to relax for Pete’s sake, we’ll talk later.” With that Stanley gave Jacob a pat on the back and Jacob released the clip to his watch and nodded. He had become nauseous and jittery, his hands shaking vigorously. But at least he had time, so for now he could concentrate on the meeting and later he would deal with Stanley. Jacob then proceeded slowly into Pinkerton’s office and closed the door behind him.

  “I need to get some things together so have a seat and I will explain everything in a moment when I return,” said Pinkerton. He smiled, then headed to an adjacent room of his office. Jacob nodded giving a half smile while trying to calm down. Before Pinkerton left, he grabbed a small white remote from his desk and with the press of a button all of the office blinds closed simultaneously, making things appear as though secrecy had been initiated.

  Jacob looked around the office studying his surroundings carefully. While it wasn’t his first time in Pinkerton’s office by any means, a lot had changed for what he could see. Numerous awards hung behind the CEO’s desk some from his company and others he’d achieved before his entrepreneurship. But what stood out most was a small manila file with Jacob’s name on it lying perfectly in the middle of Pinkerton’s desk. At first thought, Jacob was tempted to open it but for the sake of not giving irony a fighting chance and being caught with his “hand in the cookie jar,” he decided otherwise. Still it was a grand place to be in and for some reason no matter how many times Jacob had frequented his mentor’s office, everything still looked and smelled new. From the leather chairs to the finely carpeted floors, everything was kept in excellent condition exhibiting little to no ware. Even his magnificent handcrafted desk still gave the faint but distinct aroma of fresh oak as though it had been carved and placed there just recently.

  “Now first of all I don’t want you to get startled, the company is doing just fine. I also would like to apologi
ze for sending you on vacation and then ending it early.” Mr. Pinkerton spoke in a compassionate voice, accompanied by intermittent smiles as he sat on the edge of his desk and handed Jacob a different folder he’d returned with. Jacob looked at Pinkerton and skimmed through the various documents giving nods in agreement with what he was reading. “You know why this is all possible?” asked Pinkerton. “We’ll get to that later, but first I want to ask you a more important question, and I want you to take some time giving it plenty of thought before you answer. Jacob, how do you think innovation can be introduced or implemented within a company like this? If you believe it to be possible, then let me know your views and the approach you would take.” Pinkerton’s voice changed to that of a demanding college professor. He finally walked behind the desk and sat in his chair staring at Jacob awaiting his reply. The last time Jacob could remember his boss exhibiting such behavior was years ago, to be more specific when he was first interviewed by Pinkerton for his job.

  “Can I speak freely?” asked Jacob.

  “I wouldn’t have it any other way son,” replied Pinkerton smiling once again.

  “I have always admired your approach with Pinkerton Industries and the way you operate. If prompted, most would probably consider your style of leadership to be safe so to speak. Although it works, ‘safe’ sometimes has its limits.” Jacob paused in disbelief of what he’d just said, yet Pinkerton remained grinning as if now entertained. The old man then leaned forward crossing his hands as if beckoning Jacob to continue. “I think what I’m trying to say is with the right system, innovation along with fresh concepts and ideas could literally push this company forward and beyond for years to come. I believe the introduction of such innovation would be possible following a ‘pyramid blueprint’ or cycle so to speak. Allow me to elaborate.” Jacob said, now excitedly sitting up in his chair as well.

  “Three key factors must be understood if the implementation of innovation is to be successful (or fail with minor loss). First and foremost, the company must be ready for said changes. From financial planning and organizing to marketing and preparation, a company has to have the resources to carry out agendas accordingly, which then leads to the second factor. If timing is right and the company is well prepared its then up to the staffing ability to perform the functions needed to introduce these new ideas to its clientele. Ask yourself a few questions regarding your employees. Are they knowledgeable enough to perform what is needed? Is staffing adequate? Finally, is the end result of the caliber that your clients expect or exceed their expectations even? If so, then of course that brings us to our last element, which is simply a quality service or product. If this final product is a success, then the cycle starts over again thus the company finding even more intuitive and innovative ways to improve again on its services or may implement new services altogether. I guess sir what it all boils down to is, no one wants to continuously try to improve a failed or unsuccessful concept. Yet a company can find it very profitable to improve an already successful idea and find new and innovative ways to make it even better. For example, take today’s cellphone technology and compare that in retrospect to the three elements. Either way you look at it with that system you pretty much have a winner,” and then that was it, silence.

  Pinkerton looked at Jacob giving a slow nod. “I used to wonder what it would be like,” he started. “I often pondered if it would be difficult. And although I had made my decision years before this date, your rebuttal has only proven that what I’d foreseen was in fact the future of this company. It’s been a long and hard ride Jacob and I have taken much time and given much thought to my decision.”

  “Decision?” Jacob queried politely.

  “I just need you to say yes Jacob. I really need for you to do this for me. We have worked side by side for years and you can’t sit there and tell me for your remaining time with this company you just want to stay CFO. You know this the ins and outs of Pinkerton Industries and its operations better than any other employee, second only to me.” Jacob closed the file (completely confused at this point).

  “With all due respect sir, I haven’t the slightest idea w—”

  “As of today…” interrupted Pinkerton. “I am announcing my retirement and extending an offer to you to become the new CEO of Pinkerton Industries.” and again there was silence.

  Jacob was floored. “I…I don’t know what to say,” he stuttered nervously.

  “Well I was hoping for yes.” Pinkerton approached Jacob and placed his hand on his shoulder. “Now I’m not saying tomorrow Jacob, as safe as you say my approach is you should know I have planned everything ahead of time. For three months you will work alongside me before I turn you loose. From then you will be acting CEO and I will help you operate behind the scenes so to speak. I’m sure you know where it goes from there.” Jacob’s nervous state had now been upgraded to fear. When Pinkerton said three months Jacob was brought back to the terrifying realization that at this point he had even less to live according to what the watch had revealed. “Jacob…so what do you say?” Jacob couldn’t really hear anything else but the sound of his heart pounding. So, on nothing but pure instinct Jacob blurted out a simple, “Sure,” then stood up and excused himself. He then slipped quietly out of the office and went into the washroom.

  Locking the door and looking into the mirror Jacob placed the watch about his right wrist and closed his eyes tightly. “Please God.” he pleaded and with a snap that seemed to echo throughout the facility, his watch was in place. He slowly opened his eyes, his vision blurred but for a moment as he tried to focus. But his ritual was a failure, having no adverse effect his time was indeed—wait, just then Jacob stepped even closer to the mirror. This had to be wrong, what he was seeing had to be wrong! He quickly took his calculator out of his pocket pecking at the rubber pad frantically. “Wha…almost two weeks just gone! How…what happened?” Jacob had previously calculated his time to expiration to the millisecond and he knew how much time he was supposed to have left. However now his time was yet another two weeks short of what is was before. The time just seemed to have been erased. Evil, right down to the last fucking second this whole thing was evil, Jacob thought to himself. Irony, now laughing hysterically had managed to barge its way into Jacob’s life for what seemed the millionth time. He had just been given the opportunity of a lifetime. It would have been perfect for him. Theresa and his father would be so proud. Unfortunately, by the time he is actually given the throne, Jacob would be nothing more than a memory.

  Jacob’s attention was diverted from his misery by the sound of someone knocking on the washroom door. He first washed his hands and face trying to regain his composure before unlocking it. The man quickly stepped in hunched over holding his side and quickly darted around Jacob to the nearest stall. Jacob released the watch from around his wrist placing it back in his pocket and returned to Pinkerton’s office.

  He stepped in to find Pinkerton typing away diligently on his laptop. “Welcome back! Had to take a quick breather after the news huh? I need you to make a quick appearance and then you can have time to go home and deliberate before making a final decision, sound good?” Jacob nodded. “Look alive son, this is the beginning of a bright and fruitful future! Shall we then?” asked Pinkerton closing his laptop and exiting the office.

  As the two entered the elevator, Jacob tried to calm down. If he could alter or fix the cycle of others, there had to be way to save his own life as well. With a dull “ding,” the elevator opened revealing a huge conference room. Men and women alike all sat patiently, some pouring water others whispering to one another while covering the microphones in front of them. “Stand next to me and don’t say anything.” Mr. Pinkerton whispered in Jacobs’s ear as he took his seat at the end of the conference table.

  Jacob had never seen this place first hand. He had only been allowed to participate by video conference before now. Pinkerton Industries had plenty of sister (or brother) compan
ies they partnered with globally. This very meeting was only arranged once annually giving the partners a chance to discuss numbers and request or supply the others with resources as needed. Jacob often referred to these as “UN Meetings” with Pinkerton Industries being the US. From France to Britain, the diversity in this room was vast. But one question still remained…why was he here?

  “My colleagues, I would like to start by thanking you all for the exuberant amount of patience displayed today. In front of you, you all should have Mr. Parnell’s file to look over and if readied we can make our decision.” Some fumbled through the numerous pages while others sat attentively ready to give their verdict. Jacob stood quietly giving occasional smiles when making actual eye contact. Only after everyone remained silent and the folders were rested did Mr. Pinkerton continue. “So, you have all heard the conversation between Mr. Parnell and myself. Giving his admission to the topic of our meeting today coupled with his experience, I would like to know if anyone objects to my protégé being promoted to CEO of Pinkerton Industries? And for the third time today…there was silence. “Then it’s unanimous! Congratulations Jacob you’re excused for now.” With that Mr. Pinkerton shook his hand and pointed to the rest of the committee who now had their hands extended awaiting a firm shake as well. Jacob gave his thanks and exited via elevator. He was still in disbelief. How could he get the best and worst news of his life in one day? He was now on his way to being CEO of one of the most successful companies in the United States. It was regrettable however, that he’d be dead before he would actually have a chance to settle into his new position.

  When the elevator door opened Jacob was greeted with a curious and eager Stanley Burgress standing directly in front of him.

  “So, what’s the deal?” he politely demanded. Jacob said nothing at first. “Well?” Stanley pleaded.


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