Alto Clef had been dealing with a lot of shit for the past week, but there was something about sitting on the toilet at 6:00 AM, reading his paper and drinking coffee as his aged bowels struggled to force another turd from his body that made things better. Marginally better.
He sighed and turned the page, reading about how Site-11 would—once again—be taking home the intersite softball championship. It was, of course, because O5-3 had money on Site-11 and got all the best players transferred there, but everyone thought that -3 was crazy, so he got away with it. He wasn’t really crazy. None of them were. But that didn’t stop the impression from reaching Clef as well.
He stood up, stretching and staring into the toilet. He nodded once in approval and flushed, folding the paper and putting it under his arm as he walked out into his quarters. It was a mess, of course. His most recent assistant wasn’t as proficient as the last one. He sighed, throwing the paper in the trash and pawing through piles of clothes until he found a pair of underwear that looked mostly clean, and pulling them on.
He went to his closet, getting out an older pair of slacks, sitting down on the bed to get them on, and then adding a sweat stained white shirt and lab coat to the mix. He sighed, pushing himself up from the bed and trundling out of the room, pushing his hair back from his forehead. ‘I’m going to get a haircut today,’ he thought, going to the door and opening it into the quiet corridor.
Seniority had its advantages, and one of them was calling your own projects. Clef had been without one for almost eight months, but no one said anything. Years of service were generally rewarded with placidity in the Foundation, until the shit hit the fan. Then, all the new kids would be running to him, to Gears, to Crow, all begging and pleading, telling them what stupid idea they tried and what moronic consequences it had.
He rounded the corner just in time to see his assistant cleaning dirt out from under her fingernails with a nail file. He’d chosen her for the massive tits she sported, but now… They just seemed like wasted space. He stared at them nonetheless.
“Morning, sir,” she said passively, pressing her breasts together slightly and raising them, believing that they—rather than boredom—were the source of his apathy toward her performance.
He stared for a few minutes more, going on past her, heading toward the site barber. It was the middle of the work day, so the room was mostly empty. “Hey, Ernie,” he said.
“Hey, Bert,” the barber replied. It was an old, tired joke—the kind that people still laughed at politely because the man was old and amicable. Clef did his duty, emitting a dry chuckle, and sat in a creaking chair off to the side. In a moment, the young agent in the chair stood, thanked the barber, and passed him a ten. He accepted it, smiled, and waved the young man on his way.
As Clef got up and headed to the chair, he cocked his eyebrow. “New kid doesn’t know not to pay you yet?” he asked, shifting himself into it.
“They never do,” Ernie replied.
Clef’s thinning hair made the job quick, and as the barber combed it, he said as much. Clef shrugged. “I’m getting old enough for it,” he said.
Ernie knocked the stray hair from the man’s shoulders, undoing the barber’s cape, and then holding out his hand. Clef smirked and shook his head, laughing genuinely as he left the room, his stomach rumbling slightly.
He made his way to the mess, entering it to no cheer or pomp, only to the occasional glance and nod from a friend or coworker. Those were both few. He entered the line, taking a roast beef sandwich and a bag of potato chips, as well as an extra pudding cup. It moved forward slowly, a couple of shuffling steps at a time. He yawned as he showed the woman his meal card; she nodded; and he headed to a quiet table.
He sat alone, eating the pudding cups first, then staring at the sandwich. He noted how dry the beef was as he bit into it, frowning slightly and realizing that he’d have to go through the whole line again to get a damned cola. He sat there instead, chewing, eating a dry sandwich and wishing—longing—for a containment breach, an assassination attempt, a god damned green. Anything, really.
But it never came. And as he finished chewing, he got up, threw his plate in the garbage, and headed back to his quarters for his bottle of scotch. Another exciting day ending at noon.
He passed Gears on the way out, nodding to him and the younger agent—who was hanging onto his every word, laughing and trying to joke unsuccessfully with the bald doctor—and decided for the tenth time to fire his assistant. But she really did have such lovely tits.