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The Interpreter

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I hurried into the conference room, only to find both the manager and the client already seated. "Sorry sir, I'm late."

The manager smiled and waved the matter away. He was always easy-going, and that's exactly why I loved working for him. I took a seat and fished out a notepad and a pencil from my briefcase.

I've been working here as an interpreter for 15 years now. I was like all the others when I first arrived: penniless, and with all hopes abandoned. It was the manager who discovered my potentials and took me in. As the head of a very large business, he was too busy to learn English, the international language of the day, and that's why he needed me.

The client was a tall white man wearing black suits and an expensive-looking necktie. His appearance and mannerism spoke of years of experience as a professional businessman--someone who was accustomed to bargaining. But there would be no room for bargaining here. Not before the manager.

"My request is simple," the client said quickly. "The price is not an issue. All I want is to get the job done."

The manager smiled as he took a cigar from the box, lit it, and placed it between his lips. I waited for him to speak, and then interpreted what he said into English.

"Mr. Smith, we may discuss the price later. Now would you please reaffirm the service which you require...?"

Mr. Smith, our client, fished out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face with it. It was an all-too-obvious attempt to conceal his nervousness, and the smile on the manager's face widened noticeably.

"I want you to save my company. It's my life's work," Mr. Smith said at last.

I interpreted what he said to the letter.

The manager raised his eyebrows, and said--

"Mr. Smith," I went on with the interpretation, "We understand your difficulties. However, as far as I know, your company had been banned by the government for illegal conducts. It would be hard--though certainly not impossible--to change the situation."

"As I said, price is not an issue." Mr. Smith looked a bit uneasy. He was leaning towards the manager with both of his hands gripping the edge of the table.

The manager nodded slowly. He removed the cigar from his lips, puffed out a swirl of blue smoke, and then stubbed out the remaining butt in an golden ashtray. I knew he was stalling--a technique meant to force Mr. Smith into taking the deal.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he spoke.

"Mr. Smith," I translated, "we would have to charge additional fee due to the unusual nature of this transaction."

"Sure, sure, " Mr. Smith mumbled. "I've got all the money in the world. So what's your price tag? 100 million? 200?"

The manager laughed and shook his head.

"No, no," I said, trying to imitate his tone. "I'm not talking about money. The nature of our fee is constant, Mr. Smith."

Mr. Smith looked puzzled. "But...wait...I've got only one..."

"No, you have more. Your son."

Mr. Smith grew red with rage. "This has nothing to do with him! I founded this company--it is mine and only mine--I..." his voice trailed off.

"Indeed. But think about it! What's your motive for saving this company? As you've just said, money is not an issue for you, and there's certainly more to it than concerns for your own reputation. You're planning to let your son inherit the business. You've been training him on the art of management for years, just for that purpose."

"But...how did you know--" (What a foolish question to ask!)

"We are professionals, Mr. Smith."

Mr. Smith slumped into his chair, defeated. He was shivering like a scared child. "I...I don't know. I don't know if I had the right to..."

"Every father must consider the future of his children, Mr. Smith. Your son, if you'll excuse my frankness, is not as hard-working as you are. Should you leave him to his own devices, it is very likely that he would end up poor and miserable. But by signing our contract, you could secure for him a massive international business and a life of happiness and wealth. As for payment--well, let's just say that would be a long time afterward. Live now, pay later--isn't that what you Americans love to say?"

Mr. Smith nodded weakly. "Alright. I'll sign it. Just give me the contract,"

He said in a feeble voice.

The manager handed him a sheet of parchment and a pen.

The deal was made.

After Mr. Smith left the chamber, I turned to the manager. "Tsyam nuushilutitli atsa tiemosu, qa'ha mo nuutiekila atsa?"

It was Enochian, the manager's mother tone--"Why do they still come, knowing that they'll lose one way or the other?"

The manager shrugged. "Towu tuluto nawiemin sonh."

It's just human nature.

And thus concluded the morning's work. The manager stood up and stretched his massive wings, the long crooked horns on his head almost touching the ceiling. As I hurried forth to open the door for him. He laughed heartily and patted my shoulder with his huge red hands. He was genuinely pleased.

One contract, two souls--talk about good business!

Together, we boarded the ship back to Pandemonium.

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