It was announced on the classic rock station that everyone listened to when they were supposed to be listening to adult contemp rock. Of course, this particular 'classic rock' station was more Phil Collins and the mellow side of Supertramp than AC/DC, but the office as a whole deemed it to be the third bowl of oatmeal (just right, that is, and that's just the kind of joke the office folk would love). Somewhere between a Journey ballad and Get Back the raspy-voiced favorite, DJ Frankie Callens, gave his listeners the head's-up about the whales.

"One interesting thing," he said, " looks like... due to some collision or something with a... a ship or something like that, we don't really know why yet, this Whale is injured, and uh, beached down on Silver Bank since this morning. They're saying it's huge- these babies don't wash up on our shores every day, folks, you know?"

Everyone in the office of Portman Braff took an interest.


Portman-Braff was, in its prime, a pretty glorious office. In the 1960s it buzzed from within like a hive of bees. All of the secretaries were glamorous, like the ones you see on television; perfectly groomed and capable of multitasking the punching of numbers, the working of typewriter keys, and the monotony of gracefully avoiding- or attracting- the attention of the office gentlemen. Back in he day the attention wasn't so bad, either- the men with their names on the door had a certain air to them, their collars smelled fresh and their hair never moved. Even the clerks were swell guys, even if they really weren't. Or that's how Richard remembered it.

Richard sits now in the biggest office- which is not really very big- and spends a lot of time thinking about his days in the mailroom. His hours spent in front of the mirror, shaking his head in order to count and root out the hairs that dare stray from their collective. Richard wonders often, as he sifts through these papers that seem to diminish more and more day by day but never quite vanish from his desk, when it was exactly that he stopped devoting hours of each day to dreaming of the future, and when it was that he started dreaming of the past. Richard will probably never figure that out, though the answer is clear that it was about the time he earned his office. Almost precisely the day that the paint on his glass door dried. Now, instead of paint there is a plaque that slides into a metal slot on the new, heavy wood that seperates him now from the bustle of outside. These new generation doors seem very ominous, and bring a certain darkness to the office, Richard thinks, but what seems to him most ominous of all is the non-permanence of that plaque. To one who can remember when this entire building was Portman-Braff, before the business was marginalized to one floor and then one office, a removable plaque bearing his name is the most terrifying thought of all. Richard keeps this to himself.