“I was making one-twenty a week in my last position,” Miss McCall said.
“You’re worth more’n that, just to jazz up the decor,” Mr. Wanji said. “What you say we pass you a cee-and-a-half a week. Okay?” He caught Orison’s look of 佛山桑拿一条龙多少钱 bewilderment. “One each, a Franklin and a Grant,” he explained further. She still looked blank. “Sister, you gonna work in a bank, you gotta know who’s picture’s on the paper. That’s a hunnerd-fifty a week, doll.”
“That will be most satisfactory, Mr. Wanji,” Orison said. It was indeed.
“Crazy!” Mr. Wanji grabbed Orison’s right hand and shook it with athletic vigor. “You just now joined up with our herd. I wanna tell you, chick, it’s none too soon we got some decent scenery around this tomb, girlwise.” He took her arm and led her toward the bank of elevators. The uniformed operator nodded to Mr. Wanji, bowed slightly to Orison. He, too, she observed, wore earmuffs. His were more formal than Mr. Wanji’s, being midnight blue in color. “Lift us to five, Mac,” Mr. Wanji said. As the elevator door shut he explained to Orison, “You can 佛山桑拿报告 make the Taft Bank scene anywhere between the street floor and floor five. Basement and everything higher’n fifth floor is Iron Curtain Country far’s you’re concerned. Dig, baby?”
“Yes, sir,” Orison said. She was wondering if she’d be issued earmuffs, now that she’d become an employee of this most peculiar bank.
The elevator opened on five to a tiny office, just large enough to hold a single desk and two chairs. On the desk were a telephone and a microphone. Beside them was a double-decked “In” and “Out” basket. “Here’s where you’ll do your nine-to-five, honey,” Mr. Wanji said.
“What will I be doing, Mr. Wanji?” Orison asked.
The Vice-President pointed to the newspaper folded in the “In” basket. “Flip on the microphone and read the paper to it,” he said. “When you get done reading the paper, someone will run you up something 佛山桑拿网 new to read. Okay?”
“It seems a rather peculiar job,” Orison said. “After all, I’m a secretary. Is reading the newspaper aloud supposed to familiarize me with the Bank’s operation?”
“Don’t bug me, kid,” Mr. Wanji said. “All you gotta do is read that there paper into this here microphone. Can do?”
“Yes, sir,” Orison said. “While you’re here, Mr. Wanji, I’d like to ask you about my withholding tax, social security, credit union, coffee-breaks, union membership, lunch hour and the like. Shall we take care of these details now? Or would you—”
“You just take care of that chicken-flickin’ kinda stuff any way seems best to you, kid,” Mr. Wanji said.
“Yes, sir,” Orison said. This laissez-faire policy of Taft Bank’s might explain why she’d been selected from the Treasury Department’s secretarial pool to apply for work here, she thought.佛山桑拿按摩价格 Orison McCall, girl Government spy. She picked up the newspaper from the “In” basket, unfolded it to discover the day’s Wall Street Journal, and began at the top of column one to read it aloud. Wanji stood before the desk, nodding his head as he listened. “You blowing real good, kid,” he said. “The boss is gonna dig you the most.”
Orison nodded. Holding her newspaper and her microphone, she read the one into the other. Mr. Wanji flicked his fingers in a good-by, then took off upstairs in the elevator.
By lunchtime Orison had finished the Wall Street Journal and had begun reading a book an earmuffed page had brought her. The book was a fantastic novel of some sort, named The Hobbit. Reading this peculiar fare into the microphone before her, Miss McCall was more certain than ever that the Taft Bank was, as her boss in Washington had told her, the front for some highly irregular goings-on. An odd business for a Federal Mata Hari, Orison thought, reading a nonsense story into a microphone for an invisible audience.
Orison switched off her microphone at noon, marked her place in the book and took the elevator down to the ground floor. The operator was a new man, ears concealed behind scarlet earmuffs. In the car, coming down from the interdicted upper floors, were several gentlemen with briefcases. As though they were members of a ballet-troupe, these gentlemen whipped off their hats with a single motion as Orison stepped aboard the elevator. Each of the chivalrous men, hat pressed to his heart, wore a pair of earmuffs. Orison
nodded bemused acknowledgment of their gesture, and got off in the lobby vowing never to put a penny into this curiousest of banks.
Lunch at the stand-up counter down the street was a normal interlude. Girls from the ground-floor offices of Taft Bank chattered together, eyed Orison with the coolness due so attractive a competitor, and favored her with no gambit to enter their conversations. Orison sighed, finished her tuna salad on whole-wheat, then went back upstairs to her lonely desk and her microphone. By five, Orison had finished the book, reading rapidly and becoming despite herself engrossed in the saga of Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit. She switched off the microphone, put on her light coat, and rode downstairs in an elevator filled with earmuffed, silent, hat-clasping gentlemen.
What I need, Orison thought, walking rapidly to the busline, is a double Scotch, followed by a double Scotch. And what the William Howard Taft National Bank and Trust Company needs is a joint raid by forces of the U.S. Treasury Department and the American Psychiatric Association. Earmuffs, indeed. Fairy-tales read into a microphone. A Vice-President with the vocabulary of a racetrack tout. And what goes on in those upper floors? Orison stopped in at the restaurant nearest her apartment house—the Windsor Arms—and ordered a meal and a single Martini. Her boss in Washington had told her that this job of hers, spying on Taft Bank from within, might prove dangerous. Indeed it was, she thought. She was in danger of becoming a solitary drinker.
Home in her apartment, Orison set the notes of her first day’s observations in order. Presumably Washington would call tonight for her initial report. Item: some of the men at the Bank wore earmuffs, several didn’t. Item: the Vice-President’s name was Mr. Wanji: Oriental? Item: the top eight floors of the Taft Bank Building seemed to be off-limits to all personnel not wearing earmuffs. Item: she was being employed at a very respectable salary to read newsprint and nonsense into a microphone. Let Washington make sense of that, she thought.
In a gloomy mood, Orison McCall showered and dressed for bed. Eleven o’clock. Washington should be calling soon, inquiring after the results of her first day’s spying.
No call. Orison slipped between the sheets at eleven-thirty. The clock was set; the lights were out. Wasn’t Washington going to call her? Perhaps, she thought, the Department had discovered that the Earmuffs had her phone tapped.
“Testing,” a baritone voice muttered.
Orison sat up, clutching the sheet around her throat. “Beg pardon?” she said.
“Testing,” the male voice repeated. “One, two, three; three, two, one. Do you read me? Over.”
Orison reached under the bed for a shoe. Gripping it like a Scout-ax, she reached for the light cord with her free hand and tugged at it.
The room was empty.
“Testing,” the voice repeated.
“What you’re testing,” Orison said in a firm voice, “is my patience. Who are you?”
“Department of Treasury Monitor J-12,” the male voice said. “Do you have anything to report, Miss McCall?”
“Where are you, Monitor?” she demanded.
“That’s classified information,” the voice said. “Please speak directly to your pillow, Miss McCall.”
Orison lay down cautiously. “All right,” she whispered to her pillow.
“Over here,” the voice instructed her, coming from the unruffled pillow beside her.
Orison transferred her head to the pillow to her left. “A radio?” she asked.
“Of a sort,” Monitor J-12 agreed. “We have to maintain communications security. Have you anything to report?”
“I got the job,” Orison said. “Are you … in that pillow … all the time?”
“No, Miss McCall,” the voice said. “Only at report times. Shall we establish our rendezvous here at eleven-fifteen, Central Standard Time, every day?”
“You make it sound so improper,” Orison said.
“I’m far enough away to do you no harm, Miss McCall,” the monitor said. “Now, tell me what happened at the bank today.”
Orison briefed her pillow on the Earmuffs, on her task of reading to a microphone, and on the generally mimsy tone of the William Howard Taft National Bank and Trust Company. “That’s about it, so far,” she said.
“Good report,” J-12 said from the pillow. “Sounds like you’ve dropped into a real snakepit, beautiful.”
“How do you know … why do you think I’m beautiful?” Orison asked.
“Native optimism,” the voice said. “Good night.” J-12 signed off with a peculiar electronic pop that puzzled Orison for a moment. Then she placed the sound: J-12 had kissed his microphone.
Orison flung the shoe and the pillow under her bed, and resolved to write Washington for permission to make her future reports by registered mail.
At ten o’clock the next morning, reading page four of the current Wall Street Journal, Orison was interrupted by the click of a pair of leather heels. The gentleman whose heels had just slammed together was bowing. And she saw with some gratification that he was not wearing earmuffs. “My name,” the stranger said, “is Dink Gerding. I am President of this bank, and wish at this time to welcome you to our little family.”
“I’m Orison McCall,” she said. A handsome man, she mused. Twenty-eight? So tall. Could he ever be interested in a girl just five-foot-three? Maybe higher heels?
“We’re pleased with your work, Miss McCall,” Dink Gerding said. He took the chair to the right of her desk.
“It’s nothing,” Orison said, switching off the microphone.
“On the contrary, Miss McCall. Your duties are most important,” he said.
“Reading papers and fairy-tales into this microphone is nothing any reasonably astute sixth-grader couldn’t do as well,” Orison said.
“You’ll be reading silently before long,” Mr. Gerding said. He smiled, as though this explained everything. “By the way, your official designation is Confidential Secretary. It’s me whose confidences you’re to keep secret. If I ever need a letter written, may I stop down here and dictate it?”
“Please do,” Orison said. This bank president, for all his grace and presence, was obviously as kookie as his bank.
“Have you ever worked in a bank before, Miss McCall?” Mr. Gerding asked, as though following her train of thought.
“No, sir,” she said. “Though I’ve been associated with a rather large financial organization.”
“You may find some of our methods a little strange, but you’ll get used to them,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’d be most grateful if you’d dispense with calling me ‘sir.’ My name is Dink. It is ridiculous, but I’d enjoy your using it.”
“Dink?” she asked. “And I suppose you’re to call me Orison?”
“That’s the drill,” he said. “One more question, Orison. Dinner this evening?”
Direct, she thought. Perhaps that’s why he’s president of a bank, and still so young. “We’ve hardly met,” she said.
“But we’re on a first-name basis already,” he pointed out. “Dance?”
“I’d love to,” Orison said, half expecting an orchestra to march, playing, from the elevator.
“Then I’ll pick you up at seven. Windsor Arms, if I remember your personnel form correctly.” He stood, lean, all bone and muscle, and bowed slightly. West Point? Hardly. His manners were European. Sandhurst, perhaps, or Saint Cyr. Was she supposed to reply with a curtsy? Orison wondered.
“Thank you,” she said.
He was a soldier, or had been: the way, when he turned, his shoulders stayed square. The crisp clicking of his steps, a military metronome, to the elevator. When the door slicked open Orison, staring after Dink, saw that each of the half-dozen men aboard snapped off their hats (but not their earmuffs) and bowed, the earmuffed operator bowing with them. Small bows, true; just head-and-neck. But not to her. To Dink Gerding.
Orison finished the Wall Street Journal by early afternoon. A page came up a moment later with fresh reading-matter: a copy of yesterday’s Congressional Record. She launched into the Record, thinking as she read of meeting again this evening that handsome madman, that splendid lunatic, that unlikely bank-president. “You read so well, darling,” someone said across the desk.
Orison looked up. “Oh, hello,” she said. “I didn’t hear you come up.”
“I walk ever so lightly,” the woman said, standing hip-shot in front of the desk, “and pounce ever so hard.” She smiled. Opulent, Orison thought. Built like a burlesque queen. No, she thought, I don’t like her. Can’t. Wouldn’t if I could. Never cared for cats.
“I’m Orison McCall,” she said, and tried to smile back without showing teeth.
“Delighted,” the visitor said, handing over an undelighted palm. “I’m Auga Vingt. Auga, to my friends.”
“Won’t you sit down, Miss Vingt?”
“So kind of you, darling,” Auga Vingt said, “but I shan’t have time to visit. I just wanted to stop and welcome you as a Taft Bank co-worker. One for all, all for one. Yea, Team. You know.”
“Thanks,” Orison said.
“Common courtesy,” Miss Vingt explained. “Also, darling, I’d like to draw your attention to one little point. Dink Gerding—you know, the shoulders and muscles and crewcut? Well, he’s posted property. Should you throw your starveling charms at my Dink, you’d only get your little eyes scratched out. Word to the wise, n’est-ce pas?”
“Sorry you have to leave so suddenly,” Orison said, rolling her Wall Street Journal into a club and standing. “Darling.”
“So remember, Tiny, Dink Gerding is mine. You’re all alone up here. You could get broken nails, fall down the elevator shaft, all sorts of annoyance. Understand me, darling?”
“You make it very clear,” Orison said. “Now you’d best hurry back to your stanchion, Bossy, before the hay’s all gone.”
“Isn’t it lovely, the way you and I 佛山桑拿0757nreached an understanding right off?” Auga asked. “Well, ta-ta.” She turned and walked to the elevator, displaying, Orison thought, a disgraceful amount of ungirdled rhumba motion.
The elevator stopped to pick up the odious Auga. A passenger, male, stepped off. “Good morning, Mr. Gerding,” Miss Vingt said, bowing.
“Carry on, Colonel,” the stranger replied. As the elevator door closed, he stepped up to Orison’s desk. “Good morning. Miss McCall,” he said.
“What is this?” Orison demanded. “Visiting-day at the zoo?” She paused and shook her head. “Excuse me, sir,” she said. “It’s just that … Vingt thing….”