Shawn turned off his car. A Nissan Versa rental. He took the keys out of the ignition with a sigh. He re-adjusted his rear-view mirror and saw something in the car behind him that made his eyes open wide. A topless woman was straddling a guy and the car was rocking back and forth. Shawn looked away and stepped out of his car. He fixed his tie and brushed off his suit with both hands. The suit had been tailored for his awkward body, but it still felt loose in places. It would have to do for today.
He looked up at the building- an airplane made its way gently across the sky spewing hot mess in a straight line into the horizon. Shawn yawned and walked towards the entrance. There was a trash can at the end of the parking lot overflowing with coffee cups and trash. Shawn looked at it and kept walking.
It was eight in the morning and it was opening time at the firm. Employees were coming in and Shawn made his way with them. He saw two men walk with a woman in front of him and they were all wearing skirts and holding hands and walking in unison. There was a big meaty fellow with arms that stretched out like T-rex arms. His gait rocked back and forth, and he walked with a mousy looking guy with a black dyed beard and bald head. There was a guy whose face was more nose than face and there was also a demonic looking woman with the lower body of a man.
At the entrance there was a guard whose shirt tucked in made his stomach overhang like the Niagara Falls. Shawn greeted him and received a nod in return. There was a guy sitting down on a lounge chair resting his legs and his bare feet on an ottoman. The guy was poking his nose and flicking his findings in the air. The lounge had a bar, and employees on break were drinking. They called it the Watering Hole. He overheard the loudest cackling and clapping come from there as he walked into the elevator. The buttons on the elevator were faded and the numbers were indiscernible. He pressed the seventh number down remembering that he was to report to the seventh floor. A muscular man in only Calvin Klein underwear poked himself in the butt and smelled his hand. Shawn started to wonder exactly where he ended up.
The elevator door opened, and he was greeted by the smell of feet, like when you walk into a Karate Dojo. A tall woman passed by and Shawn asked where Lydia the manager might be. He immediately regretted asking when the stench of onions made its way into his nose from her. He desperately tried not to grimace. The tall woman told him to make his way to the back of the floor and make a right turn at the end. He thanked her and ran away. He felt the urge to drink water after that but there was coffee grounds and gum and ice and spit bubbles making a strange concoction at the fountain that he jumped off and made his way to the manager’s office.
The office had tinted windows and he wasn’t able to see if anyone was inside. It did say Operations Manager on the nameplate as well as Lydia Strong. He was at the right place. He knocked on the door and heard a raspy voice say to come in. He opened the door and there was a woman bending over a filing cabinet desperately trying to close it. It banged loudly and it finally closed. The woman must have been in her fifties and she was wearing a dress with a zebra print pattern. She had pointy ears and buck teeth when she turned around to see him.
“And you are?” She said.
“Shawn. Shawn. Shawn. Yeah that’s right, our new hire. Looking sharp. That’s what we want here. Here hold on.”
The woman stepped over to her desk and dialed a button on her phone.
“Cray do me a favor and tell Robinson to come here please, our new hire is here.”
She hung up the phone and looked intently at Shawn. She licked her lips constantly and they were all chapped and unbearable to look at.
“Have a seat Shawn. Mr. Kibbles get off from there.”
There was a black cat lying on the chair in front of Lydia’s desk. The cat would not budge so Lydia got up to shoo the cat away. Mr. Kibbles hissed at Shawn.
She said, “Quiet you mangy cat. You’re lucky I don’t eat you.”
Shawn waited for Lydia to finish with her cat. And she said,
“Sit. Sit. Please.”
Shawn sat down.
“Robinson will be here soon. In the meantime, why don’t you tell me where you got that suit. It is fabulous.”
Shawn looked at his suit.
“I got it on sale at Kohls.” He said.
“Oh well it’s nice. So Shawn, you come from South Africa. Where did you study engineering?”
Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in.” She said.
It was Robinson.
“Oh Robinson. Look who’s here.’
Robinson was a tall lanky man with a big head.
“You must be Shawn.” The lanky man said.
Shawn got up to greet him.
“No, no – sit.”
“You guys may use my office.” Lydia said. “I will go take a coffee break.” She left.
Robinson sat down at her chair. Mr. Kibbles was fast asleep on top of the windowsill.
“Welcome to Tech Safety Analysis. I’m James Robinson, head of the Development Team and assistant director here. I’m glad you made it here and earlier than expected. Out of all the candidates from across the world- your resume was the only one to make me laugh.”
Shawn was confused.
“Was that not your intention?”
Shawn thought about it and didn’t know what to respond. He was about to say something before Robinson interrupted him.
“Either way, it made me laugh. I told my staff to hire you on the spot. I said here’s a guy with the attitude we need around here. Here’s the deal. There’s another thing that grabbed my attention from your resume. You come from a world known well to our ancestors. We have developed new technology and according to the DNA sample we took from the residue you left on your paper- you are the perfect candidate to test it out.”
Shawn was still confused. Up until now the place had been a complete zoo. Robinson had a serious look on his face and his tie kept getting stuck between the desk and his body and he kept shuffling it out of the way.
“So, you see,” He continued. “Here let me start from the beginning. I can tell by the way you’re looking at me that you’re confused. We should have been called Tech Weapon Development Headquarters or something along those lines because as far as safety and analysis goes, well we research and develop weapons for safety and analyze the best way to use them. Our name though, Tech Safety Analysis makes it seem less threatening. It was the only way to stay in business. I’m getting a little sidetracked here. We developed a machine that is supposed to transform your brain into the next level machine. Think station wagon to Lamborghini. And from your resume, we see that you are by far the most intelligent being in this planet right now. With our techs and staff here we have gotten better results in our testing but I don’t know if you noticed,” and here Robinson whispered as he looked around, “Our testing has turned many of them to complete morons.” He continued in a normal voice, “And worse, some people, like our late Eddy actually jumped off the rooftop. I can’t fire any of them without being harassed about compensation, so I let them stick around but hey it’s not coming out of my pocket so it’s all good. For now. Once again, getting sidetracked. So, our team figured out that normal humans can’t evolve their brain without something collapsing and revealing some secret part of themselves, some primal need and not only that but they have difficulty suppressing it or acting it out. But here’s where you come in Shawn. You’re not a normal human! And we would like to use you to figure out how to suppress and work out our kinks without going into much detail here because it’s confidential, but we need it as soon as possible. Imagine if we could use it here at the firm. We would all be smarter and imagine the possibility of using our available resources with all that brain power, and all thanks to you.”
Shawn asked for a cigarette.
“Sure, here’s a lighter too.” Robinson handed him a cigarette and a lighter and continued, “Of course there’s always risks with these things you know. The worse that can happen is that you will die but it will not be in vain. Plus, we are prepared to sign a blank check. You know what? Why don’t you take a moment to take all this in. Room the grounds. Smoke, eat. It’s your house.”
Lydia walked in. “How’d it go? Is he in? She smiled and hiccupped.
“Shawn is going to go to lunch and think about my proposition. And Shawn when you’re ready- come to my office on the twelfth floor.”
Shawn nodded. Robinson patted Shawn on the shoulder and walked out.
Lydia said, “See that Cray gives you a temporary ID on your way out.”
Shawn picked up his temporary ID and headed to the restroom. He went to the sink and placed his palms firmly on the cabinet. He looked at the hair on the top of his hands and at the suit he was wearing and then looked in the mirror. For a chimpanzee 10 years young, he thought, I have come a long way from home.