. 6 .


“Vive la Revolution de Lambert”


Lisa left Shannon plenty of work for the rest of the day after picking up her parcel.  As she skimmed over more reports, Shannon wondered if Lisa was receiving some special message from Bryan inside the package.  Or maybe that bogus ZIP code was really a location in the building for them to meet, like one of the teaming rooms or an executive lounge.  It had to be some place out of the way, where no one would come upon them accidentally.  Or on purpose, as surely if Morgan became suspicious, he may visit the office and look for her.

Would that be part of Shannon’s job description, to cover for her boss?  Even if she didn’t know what was going on?  Lisa never left any special instructions like that.  She only went back and forth from her office and meetings.  Shannon knew her schedule so intimately that none of those meetings could be fake.  No, she wasn’t having an affair with Bryan, or anybody else at work.

Unless she was meeting Bryan after work.  Morgan often had late hours or had to go out of town for several days at a time.  Of course!  The packages contained keys to different hotel suites for Lisa to visit once Morgan’s plane was in the air.  A simple plan, but effective.  Everything would be charged to Bryan’s account, since even renting top Manhattan suites for the week would be no big expense for him.

Not even 2:00 yet and Shannon was already on her fourth theory.  Her rational conscience told her that these were just fantasies, and she was free to admit that to herself, but these fantasies were all that was holding her together through the day.  She had no idea when she would see Bryan again, or what she would say when he came back.  Sure, they were “old friends”, as he said, but does that mean he has no romantic interest in her?  Maybe that was his way of casual flirting?

Her conscience found this to be serious analysis for once, but reminded her that she did have a job to do, no matter how tedious it was.  Her lack of ambition kept her in the place of an assistant and not the one being assisted.  Not that she envied Lisa—her day seemed just as tedious.  None of the jobs at the bank seemed very glamorous.  No “dream jobs” there, just positions with higher pay and more underlings.

Being something like a movie star or an artist was where the real glamour was.  Or just being a socialite, the wife of an heir with a bicycling hobby.  Marrying well didn’t seem like the ambition that Shannon’s mother wanted for her, but she probably wouldn’t be disappointed.

“Mother, this is Bryan, my intended.  Oh yes, he comes from a very good family.  Old money, of course.  And he has this ingenious way of keeping in shape.”

She mouthed the introduction to her reflection in the monitor, which could pass for her mother, especially when filled with lines of text.

“But Shannon, dear, is he really what he says he is?”

Such was the response that came back from the reflection, mouthed by her surrogate mother in the screen.  He didn’t really say, she thought.  Despite this elaborate fantasy, she really knows nothing about him, other than his first name and his occupation, which may or may not be full time.  Chances are, he delivers pizza or has some other less glamorous job in the evening to make ends meet.  He probably shares a small apartment in Brooklyn with a friend from high school.  He may have attended community college, but never got a degree, preferring to make money rather than spend it on a useless education.  Who needs to study literature or history to deliver packages?

He probably lives in Jersey City and rides the same PATH train into the city every day, taking his bike along.  He probably grew up in Hoboken and lived two blocks away but was a couple of years ahead of her.  He probably visits his mother every Sunday in Hoboken, without his usual costume of bicycle, blending into the background.  He probably lives in the same building and hears her footsteps everyday.

She probably saw him everyday on the train.  There were always a few people with bikes on the train, but she never looked at their faces.  She never looked at any of the other passengers’ faces, instead keeping her nose buried in a newspaper or a magazine.  If she forgot reading material, she would concentrate on the ads above the other passengers heads.  If there was somebody standing, blocking her view, she would feign sleep.  Making it through the tube without making eye contact was the goal.  If she was making eye contact at the moment the tube finally burst, drowning them all, she would die not knowing the last person with whom she had made a connection, and that was not a fate she was going to accept.

From now on, she thought, she will look out for him on the train.  She had no interest in actually scanning faces, but rather to look for bicycle wheels and check out the legs they are near.  If any resemble Bryan’s tights, then it may be him, and she will continue to the face to make the identification.  Quite simple.

Maybe now that they have been introduced, he’ll make the effort to greet her.  That would be the gentlemanly thing to do, and he seemed like, if anything, a gentleman in manners at least.

The reports!  They still lay unread, but a glance at the clock revealed that it was still only 2:15.  Never had a day passed by so slowly, she thought.  Is this how things are going to be now?

No more drifting, she told herself.  It must stop.

The new reports were much like the old reports, only with different acronyms, and more figures that were ridiculously high.  Billions of dollars were passed around like plastic poker chips.  Thousands of accounts, from basic checking to tax-free international money markets all adding up to massive amounts of  money being invested and loaned out on credit cards and mortgages, which bring back compound interest.  It was a better hustle than running a casino, as the bank always wins.  Somewhere in Hong Kong, all this money is finding its final destination in a few hands that take a little from every transaction.  A much smaller portion ends up in Shannon’s paycheck, which gets automatically deposited into her account, where it earns interest for those same executives and a pittance for her, if she can keep the money in the account long enough.

She knew it wasn’t fair, but she didn’t bring her politics to work.  This is the way capitalism worked, and she got her piece, which was sufficient.  Many more people in the world didn’t get anything like she had, and for this she was thankful.  She never had a lot of money, but she never knew true poverty, not even what passed for it in college.  There was always enough money to take care of the basics.

Another billion to Hong Kong, to be invested in oil, agriculture, urban development, mining, electronics, anything and everything Mitsubishi has a hand in, and whatever else is left in the world to buy and sell.

One country’s economy succeeds while another collapses, but either way more money is to be made.  The money never stops existing.  It may stop flowing and expanding, but it’s always there.  Shannon just lets her eyes glide over it all, not letting her mind ponder the repercussions of it all.  She just needs to summarize them, to break down the aggregate success of billions of people into a few bullet points.  Things are going well here for these people, but not so well over there.

Lisa did not want a political analysis, and she was not going to receive one.  This summary would be just like the ones before.  The details of Shannon’s work were not going to change as long as she had this same job.  There would be no revolution from within the palace.  Shannon, new or old, was not a freedom fighter.

The only revolution on this day was a personal one.  Nobody else had to hear about it, or read about it, or even think it besides Shannon.  This was just another day at the office.