The Extraordinarily Ordinary Businessman And His Great-Grandfathers Briefcas
Mr Warby was an extraordinarily ordinary businessman. He met all of the criteria he’d read about on the Internet and in magazines. He possessed only two suits that he alternated between weekly and two pairs of matching shoes. He owned an expensive looking analogue watch that he secretly purchased in the John Lewis sale on Boxing Day for only £19.99. He owned a mobile phone but was filled with jealousy when he saw his fellow colleagues fiddling on their modern iPad’s and blackberry’s. He smiled often but made sure that it wasn’t the kind of smile that showed he had something to hide – which of course he did, as he’d purchased a rip-off analogue watch on Boxing Day from the John Lewis sale. He had a company car that he pretended was his own - a BMW from six years ago. “At least its better than a VW camper van,” he thought. He spoke with confidence but his voice often cracked up when under pressure. He was trying to learn how to play golf but struggled immensely and often lied that he had a cold when invited for a monthly game. He could be seen regularly at the driving range late at night, incredibly frustrated as balls flew into all directions.
Yet, of all his businesslike attributes and attire, he was most proud of his astonishingly beautiful briefcase. Although a hand-me-down from his grandfather, it withheld an aura of timeless style and a vintage quality that never failed to receive a compliment or two in board meetings. “Oh John, it simply can’t be…an astonishingly ordinary man like you, with such a…such an astonishingly beautiful briefcase.”
Oh, John’s briefcase. Unique, stylish, robust. John treasured his briefcase. Every day he looked forward to the moments when he opened and closed its lid, the lid that snapped open and clicked shut. He relished these sounds and found that of all the music, of all the birds that sing in the trees and of all the rain showers that pitter pattered against the windows of his rented one bedroom flat, nothing was more beautiful than the snap and click of his old briefcase.
John was divorced after a mere two years of marriage and most people believed they had simply fallen out of love. It was even rumoured for a time that John had found another lover and in some respects, I suppose he had.
Happily married John and happily married Margery awoke on a clear summer Sunday morning that happened to be John’s 36th birthday. As she did for every birthday, Margery had made a perfectly stacked pile of gifts at the bottom of their ordinary double bed. Under this pile of gifts from family and friends sat a rather intriguingly large box wrapped in brown paper and string. Very classic, very traditional and John knew this could only be from his great-grandfather. John began to slowly unwrap the gift and soon grew to realise that his great-grandfather had very kindly passed down his old briefcase to John. The briefcase he had always admired as a child. John was so elated that he packed it there and then for the following Monday morning.
That Monday morning, as John started his ordinary six-year-old BMW, he felt a new sense of importance as though the briefcase that sat proudly in the back seat had changed something in John. At work, John found that people had begun to treat him differently. He gained a new found respect, people opened doors for him and for the first time in the eight years he had worked in the sales team he received compliments (and yes, only about the briefcase but compliments all the same!). John soon latched onto the idea that his great-grandfathers briefcase was the reason for his newly found happiness.
John became obsessed with this idea and it began to flourish into some strange fetishism inside him. John would use the case as a dinner table, a chair, a footrest, a pillow and even a prop during the rare occasion he and Margery would make love. Between John, you and I, it wasn’t a rumour because he truly had found another love.
Margery not only felt cheated and insignificant, she was also incredibly disturbed by the fact his new love was not a woman with curves, breasts, heels and handbags…it was an inanimate briefcase. A ‘unique, stylish, robust,’ briefcase. For he showed more love towards that briefcase than he had ever shown towards his wife. The briefcase never left John’s sight and after two years of dissatisfying marriage, she simply could not take it any longer. “JOHN!” she screamed. “I’ve had just about enough of this awful…awful fetishism you have for that god damn briefcase.” She choked. “In fact, I’d go as far as saying that you love that thing more than you love me. I’m leaving you for an…object. It’s laughable!” and with that she stormed out of their rented one bedroom flat and John never heard or saw of her again. Rumour has it that she has now emigrated the Australia and suffers from night trauma.
One ordinary working day, four months after Margery had left, John woke up after a series of extremely vivid dreams regarding him and a giant dragon that had threatened him about something that John could not remember but he knew it was significant. Something about his wife. Something about his briefcase and the land of fairytale. Something about betrayal and how ‘what goes around comes around.’ He shook his head and turned over and there it was, his astonishingly beautiful briefcase and reached out to stroke its hard back. He soon forgot about his dream and began to get ready for work.
When he was about to leave his one bed roomed flat, he realised that his shoelaces looked as though a small animal had happily chewed on them throughout the night. Strange, he thought and put on his other pair of brogues with un-chewed shoelaces and decided that he would buy another pair of shoelaces and a mousetrap today. Anxious about his telephone wires and TV cables, he went about the flat before leaving for work to ensure no other small rodents could snack on his belongings. For he presumed that there was no other explanation for it…his flat was clearly infested with mice. After he felt satisfied that all was in order, he rushed towards the front door – now 5 minutes behind schedule – the first time in two years…since purchasing his John Lewis analogue watch.
John sat in traffic, cursing. He noticed a small boy walking along the pavement. He was reminded of himself at that age. It was about that age when John would enviously watch his great-grandfather waltz into his parents’ living room with his old briefcase, as John sat playing Lego. Where had the years gone?
After what had felt like a lifetime, John finally arrived at work with only two minutes to spare. He swiftly parked his six-year-old BMW, grabbed his astonishingly beautiful briefcase and jumped out of his threaded seat and promptly locked his door and jogged along to the office. The stale, air-conditioned, claustrophobic office.
As usual, John took the lift to the fourth floor. He pressed the silver button with the barely visible black fourth digit and sighed as the lift doors closed. With sleepy, glazed eyes he peered at his briefcase, looked away and suddenly, his eyes reverted back. Just as the lift pinged open as he arrived at the fourth floor he realised that the side of his briefcase had been carefully burnt from the inside out and was now left with a 4by4cm hole. John felt his heart begin to palpitate and was overwhelmed with irritation and betrayal.
“John! Mr Warby, wake up!”
John felt an almighty throbbing in the right hand side of his head. Nausea. A dull ache in his stomach. He prized open his sore eyes. He saw the flickering light that had needed repairing for the best part of 4 months and then before him, as his eyes fell into focus, was the face of his plump secretary, Linda - who he had once made love to on his briefcase after work hours some months ago.
“Yes, quite fine. Help me up will you? What happened?” John cried, as he attempted to clamber up from the soiled, germ-ridden lino floor of the office. He smelt a strange scent of melted leather and smoke.
“John, it was terrible,” wailed Linda. By this point John was up on his feet and realised all of the usual faces from the office were staring at him. Most looked extraordinarily pale but John guessed this could just be that usual Monday morning appearance.
“Linda, what happened?” he repeated, with a sense of urgency this time, his head still throbbing. He turned around and saw the most horrific sight his queer, grey eyes ever had seen. He fell to his knees.
“Your briefcase, John. It rattled from your hand. We heard roaring, ogre like roaring. We heard howling, wolf-like howling. Laughter and cackling, goblin like laughter and cackling, but most of all, John…we heard crackling fire and we smelt burning. Fire, Mr Warby. Fire! As we heard this, John, we saw you levitating and flying higher and higher until suddenly, your briefcase threw itself into the air and exploded into flames until there was nothing left of it and some of the office staff say they even saw the wings of a dragon and it could have been an angel John! We’re just not sure!”
It is rumoured that John is now a recluse and has been mourning for his briefcase for the past ten months. More dragons have appeared in his dreams.