It was quiet in the office, though the shuffling of papers and light clacking of keys could be heard down the hall. He used to love coming to work, kibitzing with his colleagues, chatting about the latest movie or bestseller, but all of them moved on to new jobs or retired. Now most of the employees were half his age. He hadn’t been asked to a party in at least five years.
He thought he was going to be canned; but it turned out he knew how to effectively manage the client lists, so he was retained. Many said they would drop the company if he was gone, and not a few insisted on speaking with only him. It made him feel important, still.
His secretary barely spoke to him. He communicated needs via sticky note or short email, and only occasionally when she forwarded a call. She was young and stylish, and not a few males found reasons to hang around her desk, but he didn’t interfere or find additional work. She was efficient enough and he didn’t want to break in another. No doubt she disliked his old-fashioned ways, or simply didn’t care to know more about him. A job was a job, right? She was the first of his secretaries for whom he had not chosen a personalized Christmas gift, instead filling a chintzy envelope with a few bills.
He only had a year to go before he retired. Widowed, childless, and without any strong passions, he wondered where he would spend his future years. The beach would be nice, even with the sand. Maybe farther south, where there was no snow and he could sit on seaside benches. Golf was out, but perhaps he could take up painting.
Suddenly he wondered if it were true that hearing was the last thing to go. He couldn’t remember anyone standing at his door before and saying, “Mr. Roberts? Mr. Roberts? Oh my God.”