1987: A Short Story


2350 HOURS

He pushed the door open, jolting the rubber stopper out of place.
Back in the corridor, a flickering light bulb had its beams of light dancing on the shards of broken glass on the floor.
Clearing his desk of all the stray papers with one swift move, he dropped the brown, premium leather briefcase on the desk with a thud, oblivious to the small tiny troupe of ants feasting on a crumb of a leftover doughnut from earlier. 1987 – the combination that was clicked into the briefcase. An inbuilt light illuminated the contents. Busy looking for something while wiping the sweat off his neck, the buzzing of his phone went unnoticed, as did the focusing laser beam in the centre of his forehead. However, the silhouette in the corridor did not. The man said something indecipherable, perhaps commenting on the silhouette’s appearance, or on his current predicament. Nonetheless, the bullet that found its way into his skull a moment later, had an altogether different message to convey.

0915 HOURS, THE NEXT MORNING

In a messy back alley in the city’s most affluent commercial district sat a big blue dumpster. A dump truck rolled up, stopped by the sidewalk leading to the alley and a man got off the truck and walked up to the dumpster.
Among the assorted items of the city’s filth accumulated in the dumpster, was a middle-aged man’s body, an iPhone X with 3 missed calls, and a brown, leather briefcase, empty. The man found the briefcase, thought it was good reward for his probing around in the garbage, and kept it for himself.
An expansive glass-top desk stood out, in the lush corner office on the 47th floor of the 70-something storey office space not four blocks from the dumpster. Embellishing the desk were some quaintly elegant showpieces, a large computer with an important-looking function running on-screen, and the day’s newspaper. As the man sat on the chair, perusing through the happenings of the previous day, sipping coffee, his eyes flitted onto the screen every few seconds, almost impatiently.
“Sir, Mack’s here,” announced the lady on the line, in a grimly cautious tone.
“Let him in,” said the man, setting the paper down. “What do you have for me?” he enquired, as Mack walked in.
“This,” declared Mack, setting down a phone on the man’s desk. An iPhone X, with a slightly cracked screen, dried drops of blood, and the screen declaring 3 missed calls.
“The gunner you hired? He’s dead. His body was found swimming in the same trashcan as this phone. Pulled some strings to get this away from the hands of the FBI. You have twelve hours with it till I have to return it to evidence. I’ll be back.” Mack turned to walk out of the door he’d come in through.
“The briefcase?” asked the man.
“Gone.” Mack pushed the door open. “What the hell happened last night?”

“Evidently, the briefcase is of importance to someone else too.” The man rose from his seat and turned around, looking out through the large windows, at the sprawling city skyline.

“And had you done your job,” he continued, “I’d have known this before we lost a man, and not after.”

“Hey, I -”

“Close the door on your way out.”

Mack left in a huff, as the man continued looking out at the glass – buildings, as he prepared to decipher what went wrong in the shadows. He could look into so many lives simultaneously, so many plots unfolding in every glass facade. An equal number of eyes peering into his day. Which pair was the one he was looking for?

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