Hart gathered what he needed and walked out into the hallway closing and locking the mahogany doors behind him.
As he walked down the corridor he started to notice the obscenely expensive light fixtures, the beautiful decorative finishes on the walls; soft brown Venetian plaster on the top half with scattered windows of lace, and a dark whisk-broomed bottom half separated by a large 4 inch mahogany molding.
This was not him; Hart had spent his whole life with dreams of a beautiful calm farm in the country, miles away from the nearest neighbour. And here he was pushing the lobby button to descend 29 floors and walk across 38 feet of marble to exit through 11 foot high glass doors into Toronto, the largest city in Canada.
He poured himself out the doors and the bright sun broke him out of his careful contemplation by reminding him of the alcohol and lack of sleep that had briefly slipped his mind.
In light of this reminder he uttered, “I think I’ll take a cab” and briskly waved his arm at the black and yellow Crown Victoria approaching. He jumped in the back seat and uttered “Corporate Plaza please”
The man in the front of the taxi was a large Caucasian man that almost reminded him of Santa Clause, rosy cheeks and the whole package. He started to take a deep breath hoping for silence which seldom happens in a Toronto Cab. Hart heard the man take a breath in and knew his expectations were about to be met.
“Well sir you are up early on a Saturday, I guess I am not the only one suckered into working the weekend” he laughed a jolly laugh
“I don’t mind though, I much prefer to work mornings and weekends, keeps me away from the crazies……at least it’s a gorgeous day, isn’t it sir”
“That it is” Hart replied, hoping that his short answer would clue the driver in to the fact that he did not want to engage in conversation.
“So what do you do?”
Hart quickly realized that this man probably doesn’t make small talk to increase the possibility of receiving a tip, but simply to escape from his drab life and explore another if even for a moment, who was Hart to deprive him of such a simple pleasure?
“I am a Psychologist, I have a meeting this morning about some research I have been doing” He said this with great reserve because as soon as he mentioned Psychologist in the past, out would pour the problems. People had a tendency to believe that spending a couple of moments with a Psychologist would fix their whole life.
Not this man! to Harts’ surprise the man just smiled and enthusiastically replied, “that’s great, I have a son that is studying psychology now, he’s a very bright boy and has always been full of great new ideas. I think he would rather be a teacher than a psychologist though”
Then it hit him! What he needed was a young new perspective! Someone who wasn’t corrupted by all the politics and stress that accompanied him to work every day.
When Hart was younger, the whole reason for going to University was to work on this research. All his growth and advancement was before he got his grant and all the expectations and stress that went with it. He needed to get back and find the person that he used to be, here would be a fresh start, a place where all the labels, attachments and pressure would fall away because they hadn’t been conditioned there yet.
This was the answer! He was sure of it!
They pulled up onto a driveway composed of expensive interlocking stone and circled the small courtyard in the middle until they were presented with a series of tall glass doors, not unlike the ones at his apartment.
“Corporate Plaza sir” the Santa Clause looking gentleman said with his hand slightly raised for payment. “Hope your meeting goes well.”
Hart sensed the sincerity in the man’s words and retaliated with a rather large tip. “Thank you and you have an absolutely spectacular day sir”
The man responded with a genuine smile and drove off leaving Hart with a little bounce in his step despite where he was about to go.
Hart was reminded that he was once the one that left others with a bounce in there step by meeting even the most detrimental moments with the utmost enthusiasm, and here he was carrying around this vampiric negativity skewing even the simplest relationships such as with a taxi driver.
Nevertheless he was never the kind to run from confrontation “just like a Band-aid” he grunted to himself as he turned and made his way through the gates and towards the lions den.
He waded his way through the many plants, beautiful flowers, and Victorian park benches that strategically filled the lobby giving everyone a sense of peace and tranquility before the corporate lions ripped them apart and feasted on their innards.
Harts thoughts were interrupted by a familiar sound coming from the front desk “Hello Mr. Hart, a pleasure to see you today”
It was the soothing voice of Robert Iggleton greeting him.
Robert was the head of security at Corporate Plaza for what seemed to be a hundred years. He was slender elderly gentleman with short silver hair and a big bushy mustache.
He reminded Hart of an old friend the way he talked through his nose and in the back of his throat, his voice was always a welcome sound because he always knew the disposition of the gentlemen Hart was about to meet and would warn him of any danger so he could mentally prepare before he threw himself in to the lions den.
“The boys are waiting upstairs for you and are in an unusually foul mood today Mr. Hart; I hope your magic works today”
“Robert, my magic always works, could you be angry at a face like this?”
They both chuckled knowing that Hart usually came out ahead in these situations, but today was different. Today he didn’t know if he could pull it off like usual, he didn’t have any answers this time only questions.
“See you in a couple of hours Robert, wish me luck”
“Yes sir but I am sure you won’t need it” Robert’s laughter faded as Hart made his way towards the elevator.
He pressed the button for the elevator when suddenly something caught his attention. There was a man in the coffee shop the struck him as very familiar, he had an eerie feeling come over him. The man glanced back making eye contact and raising his coffee as if to acknowledge him. The elevator bell rang the doors opened and Hart entered.
Where did he recognize this man from? Hart always paid close attention to these things as these little feelings are just like déjà-vu. It may be symbolic of something that leads to a piece of the puzzle that he has been putting together for years. Paying attention to all these little things is what got Hart to where he was in his research and his life.
But no time for that now as there were bigger problems to deal with at the present time.
Robert must have alerted the vultures upstairs because as soon as the doors opened on the 38th floor Hart was greeted by Mr. Thomas Talbot.
Tom Talbot was a short stocky German man that spent a lot of time in the gym. He was also the major shareholder in Talbot holdings, the parent company to many companies that range from construction to administrative services. Talbot was also a long time friend of Hart’s.
“Geoff, please tell me some good news. I have been side stepping the board for weeks now telling them that I know you and that you will come through for us. I can only hold them off so long before my head gets put on the block. I hope you can dazzle us…. at least 2 million dollars worth of dazzle”
Hart reluctantly put his comfort face on “We have been friends now Tom for almost 11 years, I have never lied to you nor let you down. Sometimes things got hairy but it always worked out in the end didn’t it?”
“Unfortunately it is not just me any more, it is a vicious group of vultures that want to turn a profit, and just to warn you, we have had offers from two different pharmaceutical companies for your research. They offered more than double what we put into it. You’re almost out of time”
“Yes but all these companies want to do Tom is suppress any way of dealing with a problem that doesn’t include drugs, this does nothing for anyone but their Bottom line. This is not what we’re about, we are about to virtually eliminate drugs all together!”
“I know that and you know that but unless we can find a way to profit from this research ourselves then we are just dumping money into a hole, and the board is simply about making money, you know that as well as I do Geoff. Anyway this doesn’t matter, we are going to get through this as originally planned, and we just need more time”.
Tom quietly led Hart down the hallway and into the boardroom as he forced a smile and sat down.
Two grueling hours past before the boardroom emptied, not but one smile exited and that was of Geoffrey Hart who had just bought himself 90 days of refuge, with the tremendous help of Mr. Talbot.
“Don’t know how you do it Geoff, you manage to make hope appear out of thin air while never uttering one untruth, it’s certainly a gift”
Tom had felt a little relieved that things had gone the way they did but that relief was wrapped with a little uncertainty as Tom without Harts knowledge said to the board that he would personally cover any losses generated over the next ninety days. He believed in the research, and certainly believed in Hart but he had very little to gain from this and a lot to lose.
Tom had been the guardian angel the entire time as his company does not usually invest in things that are so out of character of the their activities, but with the possibility of permanently curing over 70% of psychological disorders and possibly just as many physical ailments, it had great appeal and the research and development department quickly started to include psychology.
“I can’t thank you enough for your help in there Tom, I know you have your doubts and I just wanted to ease your mind that I have just had a bit of a break through. I think that if it pans out it will change our entire direction and these stressful encounters will be reduced to friendly banter, just like the old days”
Hart had a hard time stringing together these words of encouragement because although he thoroughly believed it, he recognized these words as well as Tom’s reaction. This conversation had happened before, and the only way to make things right was to focus on the goals.
Goals were important but so were friendships “So Tommy, where we going?”
“Going….” Tom rolled his eyes and started to smile “….. You’re a funny man, your thinking about Karaoke after our professional lives were, and are, flashing before our eyes”
“Why not? It always makes us feel better” Hart said with an excitable glare
“You need your head examined… I will check with the wife and get back to you. Now get out of here, I know you definitely have work to do”
Tom gave Hart a friendly shove and turned to walk back towards his office.
“I’ll phone you, tonight…..the Waltzing Weasel? See you there!”
Hart let out a big sigh of relief and moved briskly towards the elevator. This is definitely a break, but in the world of psychological research, ninety days isn’t very much time. There was a lot of work to be done so the idea of bringing someone else into the mix sounded all the better, but tonight he was going to cut loose a little and relax.
Hart decided to walk home, it was a little chilly but the sky was clear blue and the air was crisp. He loved to walk by himself; a lot of the pieces seemed to come together on these walks. There was time for everything because time stood still if only for a short while. This gave him the ability to take fragments of his thoughts and couple them with others to try and work out and make sense of the infinite number of concepts and ideas that float around aimlessly in his head waiting to be solidified in some life-altering epiphany.
Among the thoughts dancing in his head was that of the man sitting in the coffee shop at Corporate Plaza, what was so familiar about the man and why did he look as though he knew Hart? That was a silly question everyone in that building knew him. But the feeling of familiarity was too strong to ignore.
Time… it all comes in time he thought.
An incredible calm came over him as he walked through the door of his apartment building. He always had this feeling of calm come over him when things had progressed as they should. He would then spend the following few hours in deep meditation. This day was no different.
Hart made his way up to his apartment and went straight into his meditation room. The room was completely empty except for a thick reddish brown carpet placed in the middle of a hardwood floor. He quickly sat on the soft comfortable carpet, assumed the position and began to breathe…