The sounds of conversation drew Hagen’s attention to the conference room, a little section of the office where Albert held informal court with some of the executives and advisors of the various enterprises that he had interests in. The informal nature of the location left most executives either profoundly uncomfortable or overly at ease, either one left Albert with an advantage. The board room was as much a battlefield as any place where armies might meet and Albert was a general of unparalleled ability. He knew exactly how to create an environment that gave him every advantage and left his opponents with none.
Albert’s public office took up an entire third of the top floor of Archimedes Tower. It was a sprawling space filled with conference tables, a bar, flat screen televisions scattered about the room on every wall (and occasionally the floor and ceiling as well), and two large desks that sat near the corner where the floor to ceiling windows of the two exterior walls met. The entire space screamed wealthy, powerful, adventurous and successful; the exact image that Albert wanted the public to see and what they expected from him. Details were critical and Hagen was there to keep Albert’s details in order.
Hagen pushed open the door and stepped through, allowing the heavy iron to swing shut behind him disappearing into the cool granite behind him. The door was a portal similar to the one in the lobby, but required less power to operate and was really just a simpler form of the same application. Still no physical mechanics, but it looked like it as a matter of preference. For all of his otherworldly power Albert still preferred the conventions of using an actual door, so Hagen tried to accommodate him as much as he could.
I wish I could find a way to express my gratitude for Roy Norman Thompson. He is the father of my wife and the grandfather to my children. I have known Roy for about thirteen years now. I say I know him but the reality is that I know about him. My wife loves her father very much and spent a considerable amount of time telling me about him. She shares stories of their times together, of his past before her and the parts of him that made him unique. He was a good man with an excess of flaws that gave him character and added to his likability. Roy and I never lived near each other, so I never got to spend much time with him one on one, but I do have a few favorite memories of him that I would like to share.
When my son was a year old we went down to Arizona and stayed with Tracy’s parents for a week. On one of the days when Roy wasn’t working we went to the driving range to hit a couple buckets of balls. I had to use Roy’s clubs because I hadn’t brought my own. We talked and hit balls for a good part of the afternoon, right up until I broke his driver. Yeah, snapped the head right off. I didn’t duff it or anything, the damn thing just broke. Now some men might have been pissed, but Roy just looked at it and said, “I never used it much anyways.” I felt horrible, but he put me at ease and I’ve never forgotten that.
On that same trip on the we sat out on the back patio of their condo and talked politics and socio-economics. Boring to most people, but I was fresh out of school and full of ideals. We argued back and forth, him on the conservative side and me on the uber-liberal. Roy was respectful and listened to both sides of the argument just the way I try to and I imagine we would have kept at it for a long time if his wife hadn’t reigned us in. This is one of my favorite memories. I love a good, friendly debate and it was a lot of fun getting to do that with Roy.
The final memory I want to share is more recent. There are others and I could continue to go on, but I don’t want to ramble. A couple of weeks ago I set up my in-laws with a web cam. We hopped on Skype and they got to see my wife and the boys (I was a bit crowded out of the picture). Roy was becoming frustrated because he couldn’t hear us (we found out later their sound had been turned off), but he still spoke with the boys and for one brief moment I saw him smile. It was not a fake smile used when on camera, it was an honest to goodness, felt from the heart, light up his face, sort of smile. I wish I could have captured it in that moment. He was tired and the medication had him a little loopy, so the call was a short one, but it was magic.
Early this morning we got the call we had been dreading for days. Roy had passed away. He had lost the fight with cancer that he had been fighting for three years and was finally at peace. Roy was a miracle. His life should have ended decades ago when my wife was a teenager, but he always managed to pull through no matter the odds. Even a year and a half ago when the doctors were certain of his death he managed to beat off their predictions and lived for another 18 months.
Thank you Roy for being the father of my wife. She is the light that brightens my day and I have you to thank for that. I will do my best to honor your memory by being there for your daughter while she cries for you and in the many days that come after when she misses her daddy. Your memory will live on through her and her children and I am glad you will hurt no more. God Bless you Roy.
The night had been exhausting for Hagen, causing his thoughts to wander even more than usual. Chasing after Albert’s playthings had been little more than a distraction, but it had been time consuming. Finding out that one of the blessed was involved had certainly made the night more interesting, even if it was only one of the Light’s lesser servants. Why it would send someone so weak to the lower realm was a mystery, but they do say he works in mysterious ways. He laughed at his own little joke before heading to an iron door built into one of the walls.
Rematerializing in the middle of his hidden room on the thirtieth floor was always a little disconcerting, but that was a small price to pay for security. His sudden presence caused the candles of the room to flair to life before Hagen consciously willed the flames lower. The room was as attuned to him as any mortal space could be, but even here he had to attune his aura to avoid nature’s reaction to his decidedly unnatural presence. Food, animals, plants and fire all reacted noticeably to his presence unless he wished it otherwise, but even then there were exceptions.
Hagen had always found it amusing the way movies portrayed hidden portals as being purely mechanical and usually hidden by some facade of interior design. While it was entirely possible, even probable, that such entrances existed, he thought it was particularly simplistic to think that would be the only means of hiding a doorway in plain sight. What sort of idiot would hide a room in such a way that someone could accidentally open the door just by leaning against something or pulling a book from a shelf? Fiction or not it was simply sloppy thinking of the worst kind.