by Paul Beckman
I wear hearing aids even though my hearing is perfect. I wear them to keep from hearing all the sounds, voices, animal noises and whispers that fight each other for my attention. Four grand per ear is all it took.
It was the concussion — my first and only — that I believe gave me what I call my super hearing powers. After I got back to work I began to notice I could hear people who were three and four cubicles away — sometimes further. The interference from other sounds was the hang-up and thus the newest thing in hearing aids, and I can, with the help of an app on my iPhone, point my hearing in specific directions which, while not totally knocking out other sounds, reduces them enough so I can hear what I’m aiming at.
My wife’s away for the weekend. Would you like to spend it at the beach house with me?
“You know it. Do I have to bring more than my bikini?”
“Just something to throw over it to go out for dinner.”
That was my office manager, a family values Republican with three kids and another on the way, talking with our marketing director. Money in the bank.
I tested it out on our AA Lena, and heard her tell the receptionist she would have gladly nursed me back to health. Later on I saw her going to the office lounge and followed her. “That’s a gorgeous blouse,” I said. “It brings out the blue in your eyes more so than usual.”
That landed me a weekend of loving and a new lady in my life. That was only the beginning. Sex has always been my raison d’être but now has been supplanted with lucre.
I work on the banking side of our office and the rest of the floor is taken by our stock trading division. When I notice the conference room being set up for a heavy hitter I position myself away from, but at a direct angle to, the room. I’ve picked up great gossip, sure-fire tips and pre-public notices on bank expansions and sales. At times they’ve had one of the top trader VPs meet with their client and they’d leave and give them privacy. Those talks earned me major dollars and made me realize I had to get in to the trading area.
I was never too greedy with these riches of info but I was amassing a mid-six-figure nest egg. Lena wanted to know how I could afford to take her to such expensive restaurants and vacation spots and I told her I had gotten a nice inheritance from a distant uncle.
I was called into the manager’s office and told that I’d been under surveillance for some time and would have to meet with the FBI the following day.
“That’s fine,” I said. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
He closed his office door and suggested we have a heart to heart.
“Sure,” I said. “Whose heart goes first?”
“Tell me about your trading. The FBI gave me a list of your stock activity and you seem to do a lot of option trading at just the right time. Where are you getting your information?”
A tip came through faintly and I took out my hearing aids and adjusted them and then continued. “It’s in the air,” I said. “Working in a financial atmosphere a person can get hunches and I play my hunches and as you can tell, they all don’t work out.”
“We’ve given all of the interior video surveillance to the FBI and I’m sure they’ll talk about it with you. Is there anything you’d like to tell me before you meet with them tomorrow?”
“No, I have nothing to ‘confess’ if that’s what you mean, but I would like to bring up the fact that I have not had a raise in almost two years and my performance reports are all at least a B. I’d like you to think about moving me out of this junior accountant position and up the ladder. It seems like it’s time. What do you think?”
“I think I’d like to talk about your association with Lena and if there’s anything not kosher going on vis-à-vis inside business information hearsay she feeds to you.”
“Fine and then you can take your turn in this heart to heart and tell me how things are going with you and our marketing director.”
Paul Beckman’s story Healing Time was one of the winners in the 2016 Best of the Small Fictions. His stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines among others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, and Thrice Fiction. His latest collection, Peek, weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. His published story website is at www.paulbeckmanstories.com and his blog is at www.pincusb.com. Paul hosts the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB in New York.