Outside, it was raining pianos: anxiousfaced, tumbling steinways reflected in his mottled blue irises, the lenses of his spectacles twitching upon each explosion, inkblack hair sleeked down in a immaculate shell, a brown rep necktie fastened by a lopsided windsorknot strangulating his pate (his face puffing, somewhat rubefacting with stress), yet his windowpane pantlegs churning puissantly beneath his camelhair overcoat, a satchel of foilbound biscuits for lunch lodged in his alligatorskin portfolio clutched steadfastly in a firm left hand having bristlehairs upon the knuckles, Mr. Mercer Rook galloped heedfully as he could, which is to say he galloped wild and left his doom to providence, down the sidewalk adjacent to the thoroughfare known as Commerce Street, which the sky was busy vandalizing with pianos (which was an inconvenience, unless you were pulverized dead, in which case it was more), and it being very late in the month of March, no person so clairvoyant could have foreseen such meteorological conditions, so that were a heavenly-bodied host inclined to sunder the sky and scat-sing Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse,” they couldn’t, for even the birds refused to come out, including the very meanest of pigeons, and finally Mercer collapsed his way through the whirling revolving doors of the Economic Lustre Incorporated Building onto the Carrara marble floor of the lobby concourse, with its steel banquettes projecting from the Carrara marble walls, and sixty-six feet above, its looming chandelier resembling a gilded octopus, illuminating the lobby with a powerful saffron light. Mercer upraised himself from the floor, brushed the piano wire from his hair, and walked over to the elevators. Sitting on a banquette, a woman, attired in a pinstripe dress, devoured the guts of a marmoset. Mercer stepped into the chromium elevator and depressed the protuberant button number forty-eight.
The chromium chamber surged upwards, the conical elevator lights flashed irregularly in its violent ascent, the numbers corresponding to passed floors going bloog, bloog, bloog, Mercer standing rigidly straight with his alligatorskin portfolio still clutched steadfastly in a firm left hand having bristlehairs upon the knuckles, and the lights grew wan and Mercer could no longer tell if the elevator was ascending briskly or not ascending in the least, and then the chromium doors parted on floor forty-eight.
Mercer entered the corridor slowly. Embedded in the drop-ceiling were a series of lights which looked like ice cube trays emitting a bluish light, and the crevices between the cream walls and ceiling slanted gently down the very long length of the corridor until all of the lines met into an infinitesimal dot of whitish light a very, very long way off. Mercer slid his security pass through the slot of the office door of The Great Northern Doily Company and shuffled inside.
The receptionist’s antechamber was devoid of Mrs. Penelope C. Dumplebump, which means that there was no droll matronly figure with massive chignon to depress the button unlocking the second security door of the office, so Mercer inclined his body over her desk (the finest woodgrain formica on the office furniture market), felt his hand around the underside of it, and at last found the only security button. The door clicked, and Mercer exited the silent antechamber, and negotiated the writhing labyrinth of cubicles until he reached his corner office, slid his security pass through the slot of the office door, and went inside. Loosening the lopsided windsor knot of his brown rep tie, Mr. Mercer Rook seated himself in his plush leather swivel chair, typed his password into his limegreen computer, and then drafted the most efficient memo yet recorded in the history of human intercourse, ennobling the quotidian lives of people around the globe, including the most impoverished inhabitants of the lesser industrialized nations of the third world.