Logan threw his keys onto the coffee table where they landed with a clatter of metal and plastic, causing the table wobble. He sat down in his faded and frayed armchair then opened the newspaper he borrowed from his grandfather to the employment section. He flicked through the pages, trying to concentrate on the words, but not really taking in what he read as he was getting tired again.
Logan rubbed his bleary eyes and got up, setting the paper down on his wonky coffee table with a rustle. He got himself a glass of water and then came back to the table. As he took a mouthful of the cold liquid, he glanced down at the paper.
That’s when he saw it.
Fantastic employment opportunity.
No experience necessary.
Training provided to successful applicant.
Free food and board also provided.
If you are looking for a challenge in an exciting and active position, please phone...
Logan felt excitement well inside him and looked at the clock on his living room wall to see it was now after nine. Too late to call.
He looked back down at the advertisement and his fingers lightly touched the thin paper as he read it again. It didn’t actually say what the job was, but he would at least inquire further. Any position that provided free food, board, and training was worth a further look.
With a touch of optimism now filling him, Logan set his alarm so he would be up in time to call in the morning, then got ready for bed.
Logan yawned widely as he set down his chipped blue mug full of coffee, and then sleepily went in search of pen and paper. After a ten minute hunt, he returned to the table with an old takeout menu and a pen embossed with the words 3 P’s in a Pod Nursery that he must have accidentally stolen from his grandmother. He sat down and reached out to pick up the phone, but he changed direction and grabbed his mug of coffee instead. He needed to be as alert as possible for this phone call. Logan downed half the bitter black liquid and as the stimulant began to pump through his veins, he set down the mug and picked up his phone. He dialed the number in the job advertisement, and listened to the ringing sound as his heart thumped wildly.
After five rings a man’s voice crackled to life on the other end. “Harvey Vale speaking.”
“Umm...yes,” stuttered Logan, finding it hard to speak through nerves. “My name is Logan Gates. I’m calling about the job.”
Logan spoke to Harvey Vale for a few minutes and organized a time to come in for an initial interview that very afternoon. When he got off the phone, Logan remembered he should have asked what the job was actually for. It didn’t matter though; he would find out in a few hours.
Logan looked at the piece of paper he wrote the address on then glanced back up. A feeling of unease started to creep in as he took in the location of the interview. The place looked like an apartment building, and Logan was beginning to think he’d made a mistake, but it was the address he had been given.
Still flooded with apprehension, Logan pushed open the door and entered the dimly lit foyer of the building. The strong scent of floor polish immediately hit him and to his right, he found the staircase Harvey Vale instructed him to take.
Maybe the interview’s in someone’s apartment, thought Logan as he nervously started up the stairs. Each footstep he took sounding like that of a dinosaur in the silence.
At the top of the stairs, Logan emerged not into a corridor with doors leading to apartments, but into an open area with a reception desk, but no receptionist. He glanced around, unsure what to do, and his eyes caught on a bell sitting on top of the desk. Stepping forward, Logan dinged the bell. The chime echoed through the room as he waited.
A few seconds passed before he heard the sound of light footsteps. Logan looked up and found a pretty blonde woman wearing a navy skirt and white blouse, who was not much older than himself.
He felt his cheeks begin to heat. “Hi, I’m Logan Gates.” He coughed to clear his suddenly dry throat then added, “I have an appointment with Harvey...Mr. Vale.”
“Yes,” she said with a smile, before looking down at her appointment book. She then picked up a few pieces of paper and held them out to him. “Before seeing Mr. Vale, you need to fill out these forms. You can use that room there.”
She pointed out an open door to the right and handed over the forms and a pen.
He nodded and headed in the direction of the room, quickly glancing over his shoulder to catch another glimpse of the receptionist before he entered.
Logan sat down at the end of a long table and began to look over the forms. One was a personal details form, while the other two were filled with questions ranging from sports played to favorite movie.
Logan quickly completed the personal details form, but took a little longer on the other questions. He didn’t know why a potential employer would want to know if he believed in the supernatural, but he circled no. He didn’t want to come across as some crackpot.
When he finished, Logan headed back out to the reception area and the receptionist smiled at him from her desk.
“Yes.” Logan handed over the forms.
“Please take a seat and I’ll let you know when Mr. Vale is ready for you.”
Logan sat down in one of the red plastic chairs across from the desk and the receptionist left with his forms, returning within a minute. Five minutes later the phone rang.
“Yes,” answered the receptionist as she picked up the receiver. She listened for a few seconds then put it back down.
“Mr. Vale will see you now,” she told Logan. “Please follow me.”
She stood and started down the short hallway, Logan following behind. His nerves increased with each step and he couldn’t help but notice how bare the white walls were as he walked between them. The receptionist stopped, and Logan watched as she pushed open a door then directed him to enter.
Logan nodded at her in thanks and entered the room. The door closed with a click and he looked up to find a man sitting behind a large wood desk, who he assumed was Harvey Vale.
Harvey stood, and Logan was surprised, because there wasn’t much of a difference between Harvey’s height while he was sitting and when he stood. His round face shone with a light sheen of sweat and a kind smile filled his lips. Logan began to feel a bit more at ease and he watched as Harvey dabbed at his forehead and receding hairline with a handkerchief.
“Welcome, Logan,” he greeted as he shoved the handkerchief back in his pocket. “I’m Harvey Vale.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Vale,” said Logan, shaking his hand.
“Please, call me Harvey.” He motioned for Logan to sit.
Logan sat down in the black high-back chair in front of the desk and folded his hands in his lap to stop them from trembling.
Harvey picked up some papers from the desk. “I’ve read through your forms and I have a few follow up questions, if you don’t mind?”
Harvey shuffled through the forms, thumbing through each one quickly while he peeked over the desk at Logan curiously. “You live by yourself?”
“And your grandparents are your next of kin?”
Logan nodded. “They’re my closest family.”
“Your parents are no longer living?”
“Ah, no, they’re still around. We just don’t speak,” Logan told him, not wanting to go into the details of his family history.
Harvey nodded, one of his eyebrows arching a fraction. Logan thought Harvey was going to inquire further about his parents, but the man moved on.
“And you see your grandparents often?”
“Every Sunday for lunch. My grandmother would like me to come more often, but...” He trailed off, once again not wanting to say too much about his complicated family, and wondered why he was being asked such questions.
“The reason I ask,” said Harvey as if reading his mind, “is because this job is not ideal for people with strong family connections.”
“Can I ask what the job actually is?”
Harvey smiled almost mischievously, Logan thought, but this left him as Harvey continued.
“My employer requires people to help display his collection.”
Logan unclenched his now sweaty hands. He placed them on the plastic arms of the chair. “When you say collection, do you mean art or something?”
“It’s a very unique, one of a kind collection that my employer has collected over many years.”
Logan edged forward on his seat. “If I was given the position, what would I be expected to do?”
“You would be required to learn how to assist my employer with displaying his collection. It is quite a physical job and training is an ongoing task. Those employed are given a room at his estate and are expected to stay there for an extended period of time, which is why strong family connections aren’t desirable.”
Logan nodded, still slightly confused about what the job really entailed. From what he could work out, he would have to help display a unique collection, while he received ongoing training and free board. He wanted to ask more questions, but he also didn’t want to come across as an idiot.
“Do you have any more questions?”
“No, Mr. Vale - I mean, Harvey,” Logan replied, deciding to keep his mouth shut.
“I don’t want to give you any false hope, but I feel you’re the kind of person my employer is looking for, Logan. I still have further interviews, but I will give you a call in a few days to let you know if you’ve progressed further.”
Harvey stood and Logan followed. He subtly wiped his hands on the worn denim of his jeans as Harvey made his way around to the front of the desk. They shook hands and Logan couldn’t believe how short the interview was.
“One more thing before you go,” said Harvey, both his eyebrows raised. “For the question ‘do you believe in the supernatural,’ you circled no.”
Logan was confused for a second until he caught on that Harvey must be talking about the forms he filled out.
Before he got the chance to answer, Harvey went on. “So, you don’t believe in the supernatural?”
Logan didn’t respond for a moment, but decided on the truth. “I just didn’t want to circle yes and look like a crazy person.”
Harvey grinned broadly, all his stubby teeth on display. “I understand.”
Three days later, Logan was still waiting on a call. He became more disappointed by the second when his phone remained silent on his kitchen counter.
He knew he shouldn’t have got his hopes up, especially for a job he knew hardly anything about, but Logan had. He tried looking for other work, but there was nothing else in the employment section. The places he went into or called weren’t hiring either.
Tomorrow he would have to tell his landlord he only had part of this month’s rent. If he gave all of his final paycheck to his landlord, he wouldn’t have money for food. If it came to being homeless or starving, Logan chose to be homeless.
He was in the middle of packing his belongings when the phone rang.
Logan rushed from his bedroom to the kitchen. As the phone rang for a third time, he skidded to a stop beside the counter and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Hello, Logan, this is Harvey Vale. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner.”
Relief flooded through Logan. “That’s fine, it’s great to hear from you.”
“I’m glad to hear that. If you’re available, I would like you to come back for a final interview this afternoon.”
Logan leaned heavily against the kitchen counter. His shoulders sagged. “Yes, yes, I’m available. What time do you need me?”
Logan beamed in excitement. “I can be there.”
“I’ll see you then, Logan.”
When Logan got off the phone he actually did a little dance, but quickly stopped, feeling both embarrassed and as if he was counting his chickens before they hatched.
No, he wouldn’t expect too much, but it was a good sign he had got a call back.
Doing another little dance, Logan put aside his packing for the time being and went into the bathroom to have a quick shower before getting dressed.
“Good to see you again, Logan,” Harvey said as they shook hands.
“You too,” Logan replied before sitting in the same chair he had three days before. He genuinely meant it, considering not many other jobs gave opportunities like this one.
“Now this interview is a bit of a formality,” Harvey began as he sat behind the desk, “but it needs to be done. As I said in your original interview, I believed you to be the type of person my employer was looking for, and he agreed. Now all that is left to find out is if you really want the job.”
Harvey said this inquiringly, with a kind expression on his face. For a moment, Logan didn’t know what to say.
“Of course I want the job,” he said finally. “It would be a really good opportunity for me...and...I really need this.”
The last of his sentence came out between almost clenched teeth. He really didn’t want to sound desperate.
“You need this job enough to be away from your grandparents for an unknowable amount of time?” Harvey pressed as he leaned forward. “Because that’s what will have to happen. As I’ve already told you, this job isn’t suited for a person with strong family connections.”
Logan thought for a second. He would miss his grandparents and he knew they would miss him, but it would be for the best. He would have a secure job and his parents would be happy that he was out of his grandparents’ life.
“Yes, I need this job,” Logan told him after a moment then added, “I want this job.”
Harvey grinned widely. “Good. It’s yours then.”
“Seriously?” asked Logan, not quite believing his ears.
“Yes. My employer just needed me to make sure of your commitment before letting you know. If you hadn’t been very dedicated, we would have needed to select someone else.”
“Oh,” breathed Logan with relief. He was glad he hadn’t waivered.
“My employer is very private about his business affairs, so he needs to be sure his employees are just as committed as he is.”
“And who exactly is your...my employer?”
Harvey smiled and picked up some papers from his desk. “Before I tell you, I will need you to sign these.” He held out the papers to Logan. “They are a confidentiality agreement and a contract of employment.”
Logan took the documents and glanced briefly at them, seeing they were what Harvey said.
“Feel free to read through them before signing,” Harvey told him before handing over a pen.
Logan looked back to the papers and began to read. He skimmed through most of the pages, but got the gist of what each entailed. One focused on the conditions of his employment, and the other basically stated that if he revealed any private information about his employer’s business, he would be in big trouble. For an instant Logan had an uneasy feeling, but he brushed it aside, picked up the pen and signed both documents.
“Excellent,” grinned Harvey, taking the papers and pen from Logan. “With that out the way, I can let you in on a few details. Firstly, your new employer is a man named Thomas Gerard. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he is a very wealthy man, who has made a business from displaying his unique collection. A business that is only known by those who can afford to view the collection, and by those who help display it.”
Harvey paused for a moment, letting Logan take in what he just said before he continued.
“The collection is displayed the first Saturday night of every month at Mr. Gerard’s estate, where you will also be living. Initially you will not be helping display the collection, as you will need to be trained first. Once you are ready, it will be a requirement. Training is very physical and you will need to attend sessions Monday through Friday and also Saturday mornings, with Sunday being your day off. Once you are trained enough to help with the display, you will be needed for those. You will receive your own room and all food will be provided, as well as any items or belongings that you need as shopping opportunities are not available. On your arrival at the estate, you will receive a schedule and any extra information you will require.” Harvey finished with his explanation, looking at Logan expectantly. His grin was so large, Logan thought Harvey was going to pull a muscle.
“Are the extra items and belongings paid for from my wage?” Logan asked, not wanting to straight out ask how much he would be getting paid.
“Yes, they are,” answered Harvey. “You will receive $200 a week and anything apart from food and board will need to be purchased from this. When you start helping with the display, you will receive a bonus.”
“That sounds extremely reasonable,” murmured Logan, wondering if this was all too good to be true.
“Do you have anything else you wish to know?”
Logan thought for a minute as the information swirled around in his head, but he did manage to land on a question. “Exactly how physical will the training be? Will there be lots of lifting?”
“Some, most likely.” Harvey paused as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe the perspiration from his forehead. “Weight lifting and such will be implemented to build your strength up. But most of the physicality will come from the various fighting arts you will have to learn.”
Logan sat there stunned, barely breathing with his mouth hanging open slightly. Had he really heard what he thought he did?
“Fighting arts?” he asked, his voice squeaking a little.
“Yes,” Harvey replied casually with a wave of his hand, his handkerchief sailing through the air. “You will need to learn them in order to display the collection.”
“And how will that work?” The thump of Logan’s heart was beginning to hurt his ribs. “Am I supposed to fight the collection?”
“Yes,” answered Harvey, just as casually as before.
Logan stared at the other man for a moment, knowing there was a look of horror on his face. And even though he didn’t want to ask another question, Logan knew he had to.
“What exactly is the collection?”
The question hung in the air for what seemed like minutes, but finally Harvey answered. When he did, Logan wished very much he hadn’t.
“All types of supernatural creatures, of course.”
© 2012 Jade Fowler