Getting in to see Mr. Bob was surprisingly uncomplicated. That evening, I made my way to the house we had passed through on the previous evening. I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed, so I decided to take the benignly normal approach and knock on the door.
About ten seconds after I knocked, the door was opened by Sherraine. “Come in,” she said, to my surprise. Tentatively, I entered the house. “Mr. Bob has been expecting you,” she explained as she closed the door. “Come this way.”
I followed where she led, and soon we were in the elevator, going down. Neither of us spoke. For my part, I was too busy thinking. Being welcomed into the headquarters of Mr. Bob was the last thing I had expected. As a result, I was completely unprepared for what was happening. I used the time in the elevator to get my bearings and calm down.
The elevator stopped and the door opened into a lobby that I had not seen before. It was lushly appointed and furnished, and I surmised that it was Mr. Bob’s true headquarters. At the far end of the room, there was a large set of double doors. In front of them sat a desk complete with receptionist. This particular receptionist was a reptilian humanoid creature of indeterminate gender, but it had a lovely speaking voice.
“Welcome, Mr. Millik,” it said, standing up and walking around the desk towards us. The soft lighting glinted off its shiny black and green mottled scales as it moved. The three of us met in the center of the room.
“With your permission,” said the receptionist, “I will conduct you to Mr. Bob. May I take your coat? Would you care for some refreshment?”
“No thanks to both,” I said, trying not to sound rude. “Let’s just go in. If that’s okay.”
“Of course, sir,” said the reptilian receptionist smoothly. “Right this way.” I followed it towards the double doors. Sherraine moved to sit in one of the chairs that were tastefully arranged about the room.
The receptionist opened the double doors, each hand pushing a portal inwards. “Mr. Millik to see you, sir,” said the receptionist. It stood aside and I entered a room that was jaw-dropping in its urbanity. In the center of the room sat an enormous desk, behind which Mr. Bob had arranged himself.
“Ah, Andrew,” said Mr. Bob. “Come in, come in. Have a seat. Cigar?” A large green hand fished a huge cigar from a polished wooden humidor and brandished it in my direction.
I moved into the room warily. I heard the doors click to behind me. Mr. Bob and I were alone in the room. “No thanks,” I said. “I don’t smoke.”
“Neither do I,” said Mr. Bob, puffing on an enormous cigar of his own. “Cigars don’t count.”
By then I had reached the desk, and I stopped in front of it. Mr. Bob looked up at me for a moment, then said, “Well, are you going to sit, or are you going to make me crane my neck the whole time you’re here?”
I considered for a moment and decided to opt for politeness. I took a seat in one of the armchairs that were arranged near the desk. “Alright, I’m seated,” I said. “Now suppose you tell me what this is about.”
Mr. Bob gave a short croak of laughter. “Me tell you? You’re the one who came to see me, aren’t you?” I was about to make a retort, but Mr. Bob held up his hand. “Easy now, Millik. I think you already know what this is about. You’ve got business with me, and it just so happens I’ve got some business with you.”
“How did you know I was coming?” I demanded.
Mr. Bob snorted. “Of course I knew you were coming. I’m Mr. Bob.”
That, I had to admit, was a fair point. “Alright,” I said. “Who’s going first?”
“Nice of you to ask,” said Mr. Bob, flicking cigar ash into a tray on the desk. “I think I’ll go first. Got a proposition for you.”
“That’s right. I want to offer you a job.”