Acevedo checked Park’s office, just in case the man was ignoring his telephone. But no; he wasn’t there. Acevedo sighed and picked up the phone himself and made a call to building security.
“The atrium. Thank you.”
He shook his head as he walked down the hall to the elevator. He got out on the 70th floor and walked down another hall; it broadened into a large, open public space enclosed in glass. Various employees were taking their break there, looking out at the city or enjoying the numerous plants and trees that made the area a garden spot.
Acevedo quickly found Park; he was the only one not wearing correct business attire. Instead, he wore a black T-shirt with a wide red stripe across the chest, blue jeans, and yellow tennis shoes. He faced the center of the room and leaned back comfortably against the glass wall. Acevedo suppressed a shudder.
“Mr. Barlow asked me to check on your progress.”
“That’s very kind of Mr. Barlow. Please convey my appreciation for his interest.” Park looked away, indicating the conversation was over. Acevedo utterly declined to take the hint.
“Mr. Park, you know I must convey something far more concrete than that. What may I tell him?”
“Tell him … I am awaiting my muse.”
“Yes. My muse. Inspiration, divine or otherwise. Whatever you wish to call it.”
“Then … you have not begun your work.”
Park huffed slightly. “How could I?”
Acevedo gently but firmly took hold of Park’s right arm and steered him toward a bank of chairs and away from the all-too-grand view of the city. Park permitted this with only a frown.
“Mr. Park,” Acevedo said as they sat, “I understand that you are a creative man and that inspiration is important to you. But you must understand that we are running up against a deadline.”
“I’ve never missed a deadline for one of Mr. Barlow’s projects.”
“True, but there is a first time for everything. Especially with the deadline looming so prominently. The curtain is going to go up quite soon and we need those pages.”
“Mr. Acevedo, you are a professional worrier, and I have no doubt you’re the best in the business or Mr. Barlow wouldn’t keep you on. Kindly be courteous enough to believe in my professionalism. I know you think I’m largely a glorified typist, but what I do takes far more creativity than you give me lip service for.”
“Creativity is a wonderful thing, Mr. Park. But being done is better than being creative.” Park rolled his eyes, annoying Acevedo. “Frankly, Mr. Park, I am ready to recommend to Mr. Barlow that he give the project to Mr. Gauthier.”
Park’s head pivoted and he goggled at Acevedo. “You can’t possibly be serious.”
Acevedo gave Park his best serious look, the one that generally got his children’s attention.
“Gauthier is an absolute hack. He has no style, no feeling, no … no music in his work.”
“Perhaps not, Mr. Park, but he does have a wonderfully workmanlike way of sitting down to a task and completing it. I will see progress and I will have this task completed, Mr. Park, whether by you or by Mr. Gauthier.”
Park stared hatefully at Acevedo. He spun his head away and huffed again. “Artists are always surrounded by philistines.”
“Philistines who pay the artists’ expenses, Mr. Park. I am going to Mr. Barlow’s office now. What shall I tell him?”
Park fumed silently. Acevedo let him for a moment, then stood up. He sighed slightly and took a step.
“You may tell Mr. Barlow that I am in my office, working diligently, and he need have no fear of getting the pages late or of receiving substandard work.”
“Thank you, Mr. Park. Congratulations on finding your muse.”
Park launched himself from his chair and stormed out of the atrium. Acevedo let the younger man get a good head start.
He sighed once more. All this effort to get a temperamental numbers wizard to cook the company’s books.
But then, as Mr. Barlow had said, the annual audit was the company’s version of live theater.
“And my job, as always, is to get the play written and keep the drama offstage,” he told himself as he walked back toward the elevator.