My initial Panflick novel — Panflick: The Boston Car Wars — (short at about 80 pages) will appear within a few months. This is the start of a second. I see no reason not to publish it here. It will change and grow. Life goes on. Panflick Novels are weeks in the life of Adam Panflick.
Adam Panflick figured it was time to leave the windowless enclosure he had been given high above New York’s East Side to perform the noxious tasks related to the publication of the Agency’s Flagship Magazine.
It will be shunted off soon, he reflected. Cost-cutting will finish it off, if coddled psychotic Nobel-winners do not do the job first.
His “office” had one advantage. No one ever came here. Adam was safe from the surveillance of the strange lot upon his floor, the 47th, high enough to make each elevator journey an invitation to death fantasies. Around the edges were the windowed offices of the privileged. Some of them simply sat immobile at their desks all day staring ahead. Others were rarely if ever to be found.
There was a small meeting room with several entrances. There was also a sea of internal cubicles that had the look of a crossword puzzle. There were a few odd-shaped spaces that bore some relationship to the odd shape of the modern structure in which the Agency was housed.
There is no more noxious indication of the despicable state of humankind than the willingness of the developing nations to emulate every disastrous mistake of the so called first world, Adam thought, each time he ascended in the horrendobox known as the elevator.
The phone rang. It was Adam’s putative boss, Parwandichar Singalong, a personage whose gender Panflick had long since given up on determining. The voice had a Julia Child pitch but an accent common to the precincts of this international conglomerate.
“Adam, are you there?”
“Of course I am here,” Panflick held the receiver out and looked at it malevolently.
“Have you completed the captions?”
Panflick hung up.
I will do captions in a pig’s eye, he reflected. He knew the end was at hand. He was no more an editor than he had a voice in anything. The whole thing was nonsensical. Where had life gone?
In the hall, tall, angled forms moved past his open door. There was another door a few feet down that led to some other area of the floor and the hall was a favored shortcut. This continual flow accentuated even more the absurdity of his situation. One needed, in a place like the Agency, to discuss what was to be done. Here discussion was itself a project of several month’s devising.
The phone rang again.
Adam had not mastered the phone. The black and gray device had the capacity to indicate who the caller was, to enable sharing of calls, forwarding of calls, switching of modes and a whole list of other things Adam had no interest in even knowing.
“Hullo,” he barked.
It was the secretary of the Head Man on the floor.
In a few words Adam agreed to go to the fellow’s office — one with windows on both exposed sides, a corner, looking down on First Avenue and across, uptown, toward yet another Trump Excrescence. Across First, somewhat to the right, stood the asbestos-infused Secretariat.
Head Man was another international of indeterminate identity clad in robes that would have seemed resplendent if they did not so contrast with the garb of every other person on the floor that they came off as an affectation, at least to Panflick’s jaundiced eye.
But as Adam stirred to wander over to the HM’s office, Wanda happened in. Adam got up and nodded and locked the door from the inside. Silently and with a good deal of interesting eye contact, they prepared to have yet another of what had become almost daily laisons. It was a testimony to Adam’s secluded situation that it was possible to have such satisfaction in the very maw of the workplace, as it were. When it was over, Wanda unlocked the door and disappeared.
It was a wonderful aspect of the Agency that its facilities were cleaned regularly and spacious enough to enable such operations as sponge baths, a fact which assisted Adam and Wanda in their odd and spontaneous ministrations. Spiffy, Panflick made his way from said facility to the corner area where the Head Man could be seen sitting at his spacious desk with a cell phone pressed to his ear. He held his hand up peremptorily when Adam appeared at the door and then gestured him in. Adam sat and watched the Head Man complete his call, which had to do with some international meeting that was in the offing. There were always international meetings in the offing. Without them there would be no agency.
With a flourish and no speech the Head Man swished up and pointedly closed the door.Then he moved back to his desk and settled in and regarded Panflick with something like interest combined with a trace of sympathy.
“Do you want to comment on your issues with, ah, Singalong?”
“I am a thinker and an editor and a writer,” Adam said with remarkable restraint. “I do not do captions.”
“I didn’t want to say this. But I think you should know that your relationship with Andrea Belknap was certainly a major factor in our choosing you to edit ONWARD.”
Adam regarded the Head Man’s mein with veiled scorn and did not reply. Ms. Belknap was the venerable and highly intelligent correspondent for a venerable and once intelligent paper that owed its continued gravitas precisely to persons like herself. And that Adam was her friend and confidant was indeed a plus when it came to having something of cache around the various branches of the Agency. This despicable and unsubtle dissing effort by the Head Man would get nowhere. Adam had long ago learned to use silence as a weapon of choice.
However, another look into the ambition-laden face of the Head Man and another second’s reflection on his tenure in these precincts served to stimulate the following response.
“ONWARD will last only so long as money is available to keep ten underworked souls occupied in various phases of its low-key existence,” Adam said matter of factly. “You have not taken my advice to place it in every international plane populated by know-nothing corporate sorts — to at least educate them in the fact that there are indeed a few projects out there that work. There are people who actually do things out there. The notion of a publication having actual success is presumably foreign to the culture of the Agency. I will last through the next issue. And I do not wish to hear captions referred to again.”
Adam got up. The Head Man seemed to be off in some other world. He walked out and caught the elevator up to the cafeteria.