Consequences Part 4

September 16th, 2011 by Wordsman

Some time later, Mr. Victorino got off the elevator.  At first it seemed like he might have simply pushed the wrong button; other than Mr. Abrahamson, the only partner who ever came to the clerk cage was Mr. Brandon, who used to have an office on the 12th floor and had trouble remembering that he was now on 10.

But Mr. Victorino, it seemed, was in the right place after all.  Rather than staring around in bewilderment for a few seconds before turning right around and hitting the elevator button, he began examining the cubicles, hunting for whatever clerks might happen to be around.  There was only one for him to find.

“Peter!” he exclaimed, trying to look as much like Santa Claus holding a sackful of toys as a lawyer can.  “How would you like to sit in on a drafting meeting?”

Bum ba da da dee ba buuum

Actually, Peter understood him perfectly well.  Having failed in every attempt to rid his mind of the offensive noise, he had spent the previous hour or so watching subtitled videos on YouTube in the hope of teaching himself how to read lips.  He was pleased—and, frankly, a little startled—at his success, but his excitement was significantly dampened by the fact that, unless he could find some way to get the tune out of his head, this could be the only way he would ever be able to understand anyone again.

Speaking of dampened spirits, a drafting meeting is not the kind of treat you would like to wake up to on Christmas morning.  It’s not even something you’d like to have at the end of a long Thanksgiving, simply as a break from watching football and eating turkey and playing football and eating more turkey and watching more football.  Every job has many aspects that may seem boring to people who don’t understand them, and every job usually has at least one thing that’s a little boring even when you know what’s going on.  Drafting meetings had been known to put to sleep people who were dosed up on speed.

Then again, Peter had already tried the interesting stuff, the things that are supposed to distract you, the things that are designed to make you forget what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about, and which decade it is.  None of it had helped to get the song out of his head.  He didn’t really think it would work, but without any better ideas, he decided to give extreme tedium a shot.

“Sure,” he said, lying through his teeth.  “Sounds like fun.”

Bum ba da da dee ba buuum

The elevator ride was awkward, but only a bit.  Peter’s newfound lip-reading talent was next to useless when he wasn’t looking at the person head-on, so Victorino’s explanation of the brief they were going to be drafting was lost on him.  But Mr. Victorino, like most of the partners, was perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation all by himself, so at least it was only awkward for one of them.

For Peter it was just painful.  He didn’t care much for the elevator music.

Bum ba da da dee ba buuum

They got off on 19, and Peter, who was starting to feel disoriented and could barely keep putting one foot in front of the other, followed Mr. Victorino to a large conference room.  All the bigwigs were there: Abrahamson and his all-penetrating gaze, Wachowsky and his prodigious mustache, Brandon and his deer-in-the-headlights look.  Fortunately they were all focused on a screen, half of which was displaying a document and the other half the just slightly too-close-for-comfort image of the face of one of their associates from another branch.  They hardly even noticed Peter and Victorino’s entrance, which Peter appreciated, especially when he tried to sit down in his chair and missed.


There was no mistaking the fact that the tune was now louder than ever.  Peter felt like his whole body was vibrating, as though he were sitting a few inches away from a speaker at a heavy metal concert.  He kept reaching up to touch his ears, certain that they were going to start bleeding at any second.  Even if the brief they were discussing had been the most fascinating document in the history of the legal profession, Peter would not have been able to pay attention; you might as well have asked him to listen to their conversation from the far side of the moon.


Eventually a sensation got through to him.  One of the lawyers was tapping him on the shoulder.  He looked up.  Victorino appeared to be asking his opinion on something.  He had no idea what.  He was too far gone to try to read lips.  He didn’t even think he could read period.

Peter tried to come up with some plausible response, but he just couldn’t overcome the noise.


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