I was interrupted from my musings by a beeping sound on my desk. “Mister Johnson, Mr. Stevens is here,” Wilma said. I nearly jumped out of my skin, but I quickly recovered from my shock. I pressed the button on the intercom.
“Send him in.” I said.
Jay Stevens was both tall and large, in every way. He wore one of those bright white shirts that was too big on the top and too small on the bottom, and it was covered by a suit jacket that looked like it wouldn’t button. His eyes sunk into the flab covering his face, and the ridiculously tiny glasses he wore were nearly absorbed in his large face. He was, at least, clean-shaven. And quite the antithesis of my young friend Alexandar.
“Roger, how are you,” he said in that deep, gravelly voice such large men usually have. “Listen, the Skenton International Fund is doing horribly. You said I’d make a killing on it. I want to see some better effort coming out of you. If I don’t see a turn-around, I’m going to need to see your own money going into my wallet, or your job going to somebody else.”
“Now Mr. Stevens, I never promised anything – I only said that it looked like the Skenton fund looked like it had definite potential, not that you should invest all of your money in it. In fact, you may remember that I said NOT to invest all your money in one place.”
Jay Stevens growled. “I pay your company good money for this service, and I want to see good money come into my pockets in return. If you can’t help me, I’ll find another stock brokerage.”
I leaned back in my chair, then, on a whim, leaned forward and picked up the sword Alexandar had left behind. I leaned back again and stared at the now obviously hammered work. It was very good, and somewhat heavy, too.
“Mister Stevens, you know well and good that our firm is the best in this city. You also know that none of the other firms will have you – nor would they, if you paid them double what you pay us. You refuse to do this online, and you wanted a consultant you could see. We are that consultant.” I turned the blade over and nearly cut my finger. I pondered what the name of this letter opener might be.
I spun the letter-opener-sword around on my finger, then, on a whim, held it up and pointed it down at the chair opposite my desk. “Have a seat, Mister Stevens. We can talk about your investments, if you’re ready to listen to me.” I dropped the blade onto the tablet on my desk.
Jay Stevens refused to sit down. His face, if possible, became redder than it was before. “Are you patronizing me?” he said, raising his voice. “I know when I’ve been insulted.”
“Very much like Lucy, from Peanuts,” I answered, throwing my head to one side.
His eyes got bigger, almost to the size of normal eyes under all that fat. He threw off his glasses, and his tie looked like it was choking him. He raised an enormous fist and slammed it down onto my desk, throwing up papers and everything else in a little mess. Just as he did this, though, I happened to be looking, not at him, but at the letter opener. Something mysterious happened to it. When it bounced, it glittered. Not in a glittery way that you would expect from something metal, but in a glittery way that you would expect from something magical, if in fact one believed in that sort of thing. I did not. Then.
Jay Stevens’ fat face was pressed right up to mine, and here I was thinking about a shiny letter opener. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” he thundered.
“Yeah, whatever,” I said. His face got even redder, but there was nothing he could do to me short of murder. If possible, he shouted louder before he walked out.
“I’LL HAVE YOUR JOB FOR THIS, JOHNSON!” Mr. Steven’s enormity half-plodded, half-stomped out my door, and a fat hand forced it shut with much force. It was a light door, and I thought I saw cracks in it. I didn’t really notice, because my eyes were still on the letter opener.
A curious thought occured to me. Maybe it was the sword. The sword Alexandar had left was not from here; it was from Heath. When it had bounced off my table, I had seen some of the same beauty in it this blade that I had seen in Yeisril. Not the obvious external beauty, but the character. The depth. Perhaps the other-world-ness of it.
I turned the blade over in my hand. Two fingers covered the entire hilt. A strange idea occured to me.
I held the hilt and spun the sword around my head. It was strange that I hadn’t noticed it before; sparks flew from the blade. Not physical sparks, but another kind altogether which I cannot describe. Suffice it to say that sparks flew.
I thought about Alexandar and what he had done, and I held the letter opener to my side. The intercom beeped again.
“Mister Johnson,” Wilma said. “Srothers would like to see you in his office. He seems a little upset.”
“I’ll be right there, Wilma,” I said. Still holding the letter opener to my side, I took a step forward. My office vanished. I was in Heath, and I knew it.
“So that’s how you get to Heath.”