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At a large brokerage house in that fair city along the Atlantic coast in a tall building where every one screamed to buy stocks and bonds labored a clerk that everyone either assumed he was nothing or thought so. He had nothing so to speak, neither a good woman nor a loving child, but only an inherited gabled house from a favorite uncle filled with artifacts, and paper shaped and filled with mathematics of all sorts. He had practically nothing, so to speak, until that day a dream came into his mind that saw fulfillment over the ensuing weeks and months into a cornucopia of wealth and belated youth.

His name was Stanley, nothing else, who worked as an assistant bookkeeper laboring eight hours day balancing figures into debit and credit columns for that astute firm; but hardly anyone in that vast merchant bank knew his name only by sight when he submitted the daily report on the business of the day to his boss’s secretary. No one knew him because he never did anything to gain any notice as his cubicle of employment was somewhere between the basement and top floors, not even near the men’s of ladies’ rest rooms. Only one creature noticed him: Clara, his non-descript secretary that tapped on the computer keys and shared the limited working space. She looked upon him as imposing figure; in fact she idolized him, as she had nobody to share in her shy, lonely life.

Stanley was neither a manager, a seller of financial certificates, nor was he a lawyer or banker. He was simply one of the caretakers of the finances of that brokerage office; he was one of those unknown minions of clerks that were under the head wizard of facts and figures. The top man had an expansive office on the top floor who busied himself by kowtowing to the head honchos and in between chasing his secretary for amorous delights. But Stanley was neither a talker, a toady nor one who pursued secretaries for sexual favors. He wasn't anything but a loyal and diligent worker with his nose to the grindstone, promoted to head the assistants to the chief wizard of finance.

Stanley, the man who was consider to be of nothing of importance to most of his fellow workers happened one day to have a good look at himself in the mirror in the men’s washroom far from the cubicle where he labored. The poor man was quite shocked when he saw the figure facing him. Stanley saw a thin little man of growing middle age dressed in the mandatory dress of a dark suit, white shirt and tie, but the balding head was equally thin with a worrisome look. Stanley looked closer and saw a grim countenance of deep wrinkles that etched the brow, around the dull gray eyes, and the grave thin lips.

Stanley’s sad disposition was disturbed when he noticed a two pamphlets lying on the long glass shelf above the washbasins. Curiosity got the better of himself and he picked them up and somehow he was delighted what he saw. The leaflets were an advertisement for travel to the warmer climes depicting muscular men and curvaceous young ladies in the glories of tanned health. He opened one of the leaflets and envy crept into his mind when his mind pictured cool beaches with lovely ladies dressed in legal strips of cloth throwing beach balls at equally abbreviated dressed young men. The other leaflet was also quite tempting with pictures of happy young men and ladies frolicking in the surf, with big headlines above telling of the wonders that await one in the tropics.

Poor Stanley sighed as he said to him, “I would like to take a vacation to that paradise. I could show of my tanned figure to all the lovely and charming ladies.” But he turned and walked away from the mirror, “I don’t know how to swim. And I don’t know how to catch beach balls! “It was true. Stanley knew nothing of swimming or catching beach balls; he also doubted that charming young ladies would be interested in a tanned figure nearing the elder years. He shrugged his shoulders sadly and walked away from the lavatory still clutching the leaflets.

Stanley returned to his sparse working cubicle, plopped down upon his office chair without wheels and just sat and stared at the pamphlets. He turned the slim pages of one of the leaflets and saw a picture of an astute gentleman, more like a successful business man in older years dressed in abbreviate bathing suit and surrounded by lovelies clad in tiny strips of cloth called a bikini. Looking at the photo with it caption of enticement, he sighed and whispered quietly, “I would like to be like that gentleman, but how!”

And it was true that Stanley couldn’t imagine himself as that well-fed gentleman and be surrounded by beauties whose shapely figures were barely covered by the strips of diaphanous cloth. Stanley was neither an important businessman nor a man with monies to spare. So he continued to sigh as the man everyone considered to be nothing thought of the almost nothing in his bank account, which amounted to the grand sum of two hundred and eighty dollars and fourteen cents.

Stanley looked once more at the leaflets. The pictures depicted the day to be sunny and mild and the sky was perfectly blue. The water of the beach sparkled in the bright afternoon sun, and it sang its watery songs about inland seas, and oceans far, far away. The water's song began to make Stanley sleepy and quite drowsy. So he settled himself down and went into a dreamy sleep on the hard office chair with no wheels.

A few moments went by, and then the working day seemed to go too. Nobody bothered to disturb the man whom almost everyone thought was least important. And then the time slipped by and Stanley was being soothed in his dreams by the sweet songs of voluptuous creatures in their all-together. Then Stanley suddenly woke up. "Yes, I will fulfill this dream,”I will do it!" he said aloud, startling his mousy secretary, the only one who considered Stanley to be more than nothing. He looked at his owl-eyed, colorless co-worker and exclaimed aloud, “Yes, my dear Clara we will have this dream.”

Clara was thrilled at the news, but she was a bit confused as to what Stanley was talking about. The man who was considered nothing important saw the confusion in her face, apologized and proceeded to reveal all. He showed the leaflets to her and explained that they will have the dream of being in skimpy bathing attire and regaling along the white sands in that warmer clime. Then, slowly but surely, he unraveled his plans to cook the books.

Stanley formed the plans of operation and Clara dutifully noted it down, later the notes to be filed down a latrine. Stanley understood that he alone had the keys to the kingdom of bookkeeping in that business enterprise, as no one bothered to check the balances of the books. The headmen of this notable firm were quite satisfied when the books on profits and loss were penned in blue. Over the years the bi-yearly checks on the ledgers by a top accounting firm was cursory, as they put trust into the hands of the man whom almost everyone thought was of no importance except in the tending of the ledgers.

And that's when things began to change and the following days and weeks, even months Stanley busied himself to fulfill this dream, by simply cooking the books with the aid of his eager secretary. Twenty dollars here ten dollars there were deleted from the accounts in the ledgers of profit and loss and entered into his bank account. Small sums, which were neither noticed nor given any attention, but these small sums, increased through sound investment slowly but slowly in his bank account to figures of hundreds, then thousands.

The man who was nothing appreciated the help he received from his faithful secretary. Upon his instructions of her idol she tripped the keys to her computer to render the accounting to be correct and official. She delighted in being of help Stanley in realizing his desired wishes, as one promise appealed to her, being his faithful companion in his dream. She helped him all that day, and she helped the next day, all the next week and the next few months. The secretary’s day were now always full of new things, learning and doing all sorts of things like searching through old books of profit and loss in the depth of the dusty basement and recording the deduction of twenty or ten dollars in her computer. It was great fun for her as she too dreamt in being in skimpy strips of cloth in a warm clime serving her man Stanley.

Old records and ledgers were found in the all around the dusty confines of the basement. Through the dust and cobwebs at that lower floor they found the accounts of clients long gone with the mention of their heirs to their still active accounts. Ten dollars, twenty dollars, here and there were deleted from the books and added to the growing firms of Stanley Incorporated, Stanley Investments Ltd., and Stanley Business Associates registered in an offshore island. But Stanley together with his mousy secretary had cooked the books quite properly; a sum of money from his offshore enterprise was also diverted for negotiable stocks and bonds for the newly formed business of Clara and Company, a registered Swiss investment company.

The basement floor was the scene of activity as the twosome busied themselves in finding the correct ledgers with reductions to the firm tapped on the Clara’s computer in their office cubicle. The work there entailed an hour or two at the most. Caution was the word, but nobody but nobody questioned the man who they considered not of importance; Stanley saw to the usual daily figures were brought at the end of day to the head wizard.

Overtime was required and approved. Both Stanley and Clara zealously coveted the approved bit of overtime in the late afternoons. Dust and cobwebs of a small section of the basement were cleared, and after a bit of busy investigation, both Stanley and Clara played in the imagination of their dream. They danced and pranced, hugged and kissed. Stanley fantasized he was that tanned figure of man shown in the leaflets and Clara, who looked quite delectable didn’t have to pretend.

After a year or so the man who was nothing was becoming the man in great demand, as there was no money in the coffers of the brokerage house to buy a tin of coffee, a tea bag or even a lump of sugar. Stanley’s boss, the wizard of finance was unable to detect the leakage and he called upon the man whom he thought was no importance for help. Stanley pretended and labored over the books and admitted failure with a false tongue. The ten dollar and twenty dollar reductions were quite impossible to detect; even their legal accountants for the bi-yearly checkups were befuddled. Tumult reined for days even weeks in that business establishment before they went belly up.

***

Everyone knew Stanley now living a life of leisure on that island in the warm clime. Everyone always greeted the elder whenever they saw his rather runty tanned body in his legal thongs. The young ladies of the village noticed him as much as anyone else did and maybe a little more as he was considered a wealthy and successful business entrepreneur.

One of them, Clara, now in her display of her well filled curvaceous body legally dressed in tiny strips of cloth, noticed him most of all. And before long, the two of them moved into a nice house that Stanley had built by the best contractors and furnished by the best money can buy; off course, the pool in back of the house was at most times the scene of near naked young men, women and occasionally an elder or two in the enjoyment of their lives.

Stanley was never again thought as a man who was nothing. He learned to bounce a beach ball and swim within the tides of beach, always in the company of his lovely and wealthy secretary Clara, a tanned beauty.




------
Norman A. Rubin


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by Norman A. Rubin





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