It’s been a while since I made a true short story. –Enjoy
Hanzo squirmed in poorly crafted wooden chair placed in the center of the interrogation room. Cool air poured through a tidy vent just above him. That’s my best escape route.
The only entrance to the room, a flimsy wooden door, was out of the question. It would be too messy of an exit and he’d rouse too much attention. He straightened, adjusted the fabric of his finest hakama robe and sat up straight.
Relax. Everything is under control, they don’t suspect anything.
The door creaked open and balding man stepped in. He wore a well-fitting powder blue suit, a matching tie and carried a simple wooden clipboard. “Mr. Itoi, I presume.”
Hanzo stood, bowed and offered a hand in greeting.
“My name is Mr. Jones.” He took Hanzo’s hand and shook. His grip was flimsy and weak.
They both sat. Moving air rustled the pages on his clipboard. Hanzo flinched at every turn of the page. Mr. Jones was a lanky older man with heavy gout and piercing blue eyes. His hair had turned grey with hints of the blonde it used to be. Her reviewed the documentation with a straight face. He pushed it aside, folded his hands and locked his gaze on Hanzo.
“Mr. Itoi, can you tell me in your words, why you think yourself a good fit for our company?”
Hanzo swallowed back a lump in his throat. “Well, I think I am well qualified for the dangers of the business world.”
Mr. Jones raised an eyebrow.
“I mean,” Hanzo went on, “it’s easy enough to think you’re safe in an air conditioned office, but the reality is not so pretty.”
Mr. Jones leaned closer, lacing his fingers together. “Are you saying the office isn’t safe?”
Hanzo nodded. “Your security guards carry pistols, well suited for open environs but in these cramped little halls they’re a liability.”
“We are looking for an office accountant, not head of security.”
“That’s exactly the point,” Hanzo said. “Your guards are uniformed, too obvious to stop a real threat. The job of an accountant is to identify threats and sort them out before anyone really notices, right?”
“That’s… one way of looking at it.”
Hanzo leaned back in his chair. He slowly crept towards his comfort zone. “In that light, I am the only one qualified for the position. I took it upon myself to investigate the other candidates. They all lack combat training and one lied about playing American Football in high school.”
“That is all well and good, Mr. Itoi, but do you have any accounting experience?”
“I do,” Hanzo said. “I’m looking for office work because of tightened tax requirements. ‘Other’ isn’t an acceptable primary income, starting this year. I’ve handled all my finances since my arrival in the states and even got a few choice deductions.”
“Your work history section is blank. Would this be your first job?”
Hanzo shook his head. “I have worked since fifteen, it’s just my clients tend to value their privacy—or they’ve… moved on.”
Mr. Jones stared with his mouth hung open.
“Well,” Hanzo went on, “I suppose those ones weren’t clients per say. If you don’t pay you’re not really a client are you?”
“I suppose not.” Mr. Jones dragged over the clipboard. “So you were born in Japan?”
Hanzo placed a green card on the table. “Born and raised in Tokyo. I came to the states seven years ago. Everything checks out.”
Mr. Jones took the identification card, scrutinized it briefly and handed it back. “Here at Global Corp. we value diversity, I want you to know that any decision we make will be based on qualification. Did you have anything to add before we conclude the interview?”
“Conclude?” Hanzo said. “Does that mean I got the job?”
Mr. Jones raised a hand. “That is not my place to say. I can only offer my opinion on the prospect of your employment.”
“What is your personal opinion on the matter?”
“I think you are… overqualified for the positon.”
“That’s fine. Pay isn’t that important to me. You can promote me later as needed.”
Mr. Jones fell silent, drumming his fingers on the desk. “Listen, Mr. Itoi, perhaps for now you could leave and we could… consider your qualifications?”
“I need an immediate answer,” Hanzo said. “It’s in your best interest as well.”
“What do you mean?
“Well, I need to know if you need an antidote for one.”
Mr. Jones gave him an incredulous look.
“I studied up on you Mr. Jones,” Hanzo went on. “You take your coffee with three creams and four sugars—it makes it easy to hide the poison.”
“Relax, it is nothing fatal. but without it you will fall asleep and forget everything you’ve done for the past eight hours.” He pulled out a small scroll. “Lucky for you I documented everything you need to know to avoid missing out on productivity.”
Mr. Jones accepted the scroll, opened it and read in silence.
Hanzo folded his hands. “For the record, you don’t strike me as a ‘Lucky Charms’ guy.”
Jones set down the scroll and calmly reached for the phone on the desk.
“I wouldn’t bother, it doesn’t work. Also, the three guards scheduled to patrol this floor are tied up in the broom closet. You should promote the young woman of the three. She thought to search me.” He put a Tantō, a Japanese short blade, onto the table. “If not for her I would have easily snuck this into the building without incident.”
“How did you get this past the metal detectors?”
Hanzo shrugged. “It’s made of bone.”
“You do realize, all this is illegal? You poisoned me, assaulted my staff—”
“All of which prove my point. I mean well. Imagine if I had been a hired assassin?”
“You are an assassin!” Jones slapped the clipboard with the back of his hand. “This resume reads like a murder list.”
“I prefer the term Shinobi.”
“Semantic nonsense!” Jones stood quickly. “Please, Mr. Itoi, give me the antidote and leave.” He staggered, putting a hand on his forehead.
“Easy now, getting riled up will accelerate the effects,” Hanzo said disarmingly. “If you’re not interested in hiring me I need to get to your Human Resources department and delete my files.”
“You are a mad man! If you think I’m going to stand here and listen to this, you have another coming. In fact, I think you’re bluffing. You had no opportunity to access my morning drink and I drank Tea today, so ha!”
Mr. Jones fell face first onto the desk, asleep.
Hanzo sighed. “Well, that could’ve gone better. Maybe I should have went for the ‘Customer Service’ angle.”