Frame of Mind
The story that got me into BVM’s literature team.
I was in the college’s Literature Team for most part of my undergraduate study at Birla Vishvakarma Mahavidyalaya , Vallabh Vidyanagar. Today, I remember the day when it all started.
For the try-outs, we were given a cue and were asked to write something (— anything!) in the following thirty minutes. Some people chose to write informative pieces and some indulged in poetry; I decided to write a short-story; here is my recollected version of the same!
“It is over ten-thousand tonnes of iron! The scrape-value of the metal alone is worth in the millions.” Louie whispered. Across the table, he found a sharply dressed man in his mid-thirties: James, the shot-caller at one of the largest French ship-makers chose to remain silent but nodded in politeness.
Louie had sensed the air of suspicion that had accompanied the gentleman into the room. However, being the seasoned veteran he was, Louie was anything but unhappy about this inclination of James. “You see…”, he spoke to himself, “…Given that he has agreed to meet me in my chambers at my appointment, proves his interest in the deal. Yes, he is suspicious. After all it is not every day that one is met with the prospect of buying the Eiffel Tower from the government!”
Just then, one of the kind women employed by the building asked permission to enter the room. She had brought with herself a piping-hot cup of coffee for the visitor and some routine medicines for the aging host. While James started sipping at his drink, Louie offered the explanation that he had denied James for so long.
“The Eiffel tower…”, he began ,“… has served as the crown-jewel of Paris and her citizens ever since it was built in 1889. For that reason, I too feel it is rather harsh for the state to decide to scrape it but as they say… desperate times call for desperate measures… The city of Paris simply cannot afford to feed the elephant anymore. Ever since the war ended, the new government has been in tremendous shortage of essential resources and the great rationalization is something of a necessity. You see, James, instead of witnessing the decay of a former jewel, the city would prefer that the tower be sold for parts. Of course, they tried to lease it to the private enterprises but ,in the present economy, nobody is ready to invest in the leisure businesses.”
“The sad truth is…”, he went on, “…that in the present predicament France finds herself in, there is simply no room for the Eiffel tower.”
James’ eyes appeared to be fixated northwards at the tower as he processed the information had just been divulged to him from the man who claimed to be the special representative of the city of Paris. Almost convinced about the purchase, James started thinking of ways to avoid the bad image his company would earn if they were seen as “the ones who tore down the Eiffel Tower”. Louie knew this, in fact through-out his career, his skill to be able to answer the buyer’s questions before they could ask was what made him the successful salesman he was before retirement. He offered to setup a shell company to complete the tear-down which could be later bought by James’ company along with their inventory so that the later would be viewed as saviors of a broken-business. James appeared to be convinced and they agreed on the terms before they retired for the day.
It was not before evening set in that Louie* began reflecting on the events of the day. He still had it! He had just managed to sell the Eiffel Tower without the French government having a clue. All through his career as a con-man, he dreamed of doing something of this magnitude. What he couldn’t do in his career, it seemed, he had accomplished in retirement!
Presently, he is sitting in front of a painting of the Eiffel tower thinking it to be the real thing as seen from an imaginary window, deciding how to talk to James tomorrow. The nurses at the old-age center always knew his eyes had lost sensitivity to detail but today as they watched him talk to an empty chair, they worry about him having hallucinations as well. For now all they can hope is James does show up tomorrow..
Hii! Good to see you here. I realize that perhaps this is not the best piece you read today, but I felt editing the work would spoil the charm. For that reason, I tried to keep the it as close to the original as possible.