Mr. Bohr slumped onto a black leather armchair in K’s living room. With a satisfied sigh, he loosened his tie and lifted his other arm to greet K, who just then stepped in from the kitchen carrying a glass tumbler and a small bottle of sparkling water. “Son, I oughta hired you as a cook,” he shouted with a chuckle. “You’re wasting your skills.”
K set the glass and bottle on an end table next to Mr. Bohr, simultaneously glancing discreetly at the front his white dress shirt. Spotless, even after cooking. He flashed a toothy smile to his guest while unrolling his shirt sleeves. “But then you would be wasting a caretaker.” “That’s my problem with you,” Mr. Bohr said, making stabs towards K with his finger. “Whatever I have you do, it’ll always be a waste of something else.” K shook his head as he set the tumbler on a stainless steel coaster and poured it full of water. “I think not.”
Mr. Bohr slapped K on the shoulder. K winced. Lydia’s father had never quite understood how massive or strong he was. “You give yourself too little credit,” he said, his face now serious. He took the glass, which disappeared completely behind his palm, and took a sip. “Lime?” K asked. Mr. Bohr shook his head. He eyed the room he was sitting in, taking in the décor. A black-framed glass bookshelf with an assortment of literature. A white rectangular clock on the wall. Under the clock, a large flat-screen TV (he gave an approving nod at the brand) with a stereo system. A tall steel combined CD and DVD tower. A black leather sofa, obviously of the same collection as the chair he was sitting on. On the sofa, K cleaning his glasses on his shirt sleeve and the top button of his shirt undone.
“You redid the living room,” Mr. Bohr noted out loud without realizing it. K startled as the sudden voice tore his concentration away from his glasses. “Ah, yes sir, yes I did,” he stammered out, setting his glasses back on his face. “Last year, not too long after you visited last time. I got rid of the wall and…” Now it was Mr. Bohr who snapped back to reality as K went on a tirade on redecorating his house. Not quite sure what had brought on the younger man’s lecture, Mr. Bohr deemed it best to smile, nod politely, and hide most of his confusion by quickly draining his glass of water while K finished his speech.
“Yes, yes, quite excellent,” Mr. Bohr muttered, still smiling at K who looked extremely satisfied with himself. Mr. Bohr set his glass back on the coaster and reached into his breast pocket. “Say, where did my wife and Lydia go?”
K burst into desperate action as he realized what was about to unfold. Time seemed to slow down around him as he leapt off the sofa. He rushed to Mr. Bohr, pushed the empty glass aside and in one fluid motion pulled open the end table’s drawer, reached in and set a crystal ash tray where the glass of water had been just half a second ago. “I believe they are upstairs,” K said, smiling politely to Mr. Bohr. He was lighting a cigarette. “Lydia wanted to show your wife pictures she took in Chicago.”
“Well, she better be done soon,” Mr. Bohr muttered, watching as K cracked open on of the living room’s large windows. K turned back to face his guest and ran his hand through his hair. Mr. Bohr allowed a discreet grin to creep to his face as he noticed K was no longer smiling vacantly.
Inside, K was filled with joy. After the earlier fiasco with the man in the helicopter, everything had gone according to plan. The visit had proceeded as scheduled, pleasantly and efficiently. A light brunch over personal news. Taking the new car out for a test drive with Mr. Bohr while Mrs. Bohr and Lydia go for a walk. Mrs. Bohr’s interrogation about Lydia’s health, which was of course excellent. Mr. Bohr questioning (behind his wife’s back) how Lydia handles the job. The satisfaction he expresses upon hearing she is a quick learner and has a natural knack for the work. Preparing and consuming dinner. And now, the time had come for the main event. “Would you care for an after-dinner drink, sir?”
Mr. Bohr’s smile stretched across his face. He leaned back in his chair, throwing one of his legs over the other. “Yes, I should like one.” They had finally reached the same wavelength.
K begun a ritual the two of them had performed in the exact same way for years. He walked over to his bookshelf and, from a small cabinet on the middle shelves, pulled out two bottles. He spun around to face Mr. Bohr, leaning against the shelf with a bottle in each hand. “Whiskey or vodka, Mr. Bohr?” Mr. Bohr rubbed his chin in mock-contemplation. “Why, I could go for the whiskey.” K took two small glasses out of the same cabinet, set them on coasters and poured whiskey into one and vodka into one. “Ice?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder. Mr. Bohr shook his head. K picked up the glasses and walked over to him.
Mrs. Bohr and Lydia entered the living room as K handed the whiskey over to Mr. Bohr. “Dear, you must see these… Oh Lord.” Mrs. Bohr’s expression soured as soon as she saw the drinks. “Is something the matter, my love, light of my life?” Mr. Bohr asked, smiling to his wife. K averted his eyes from hers, taking a small sip from his glass. “You could warn me before you start your…” Mrs. Bohr attempted to come up with a word to use. “Business negotiations.” “Dad and K are talking business?” Lydia asked, her interest piqued, turning her head from one parent to another. “Yes we are, little one. You should sit down, this concerns you too,” her father said, pointing towards K’s sofa. K walked over to Lydia, looked at her mother apologetically and took Lydia’s hand. “Harold, must she…” “Yes she must,” Mr. Bohr said, suddenly serious. “You may be uncomfortable talking about it, but I’ve never heard you complain about the results.” Mrs. Bohr sighed, defeated, and sat down on the sofa next to Lydia. K ran his hand through his hair and returned to leaning against the bookshelf. Mr. Bohr turned his eyes, the same dark blue as Lydia’s, to K. “So,” he said. “I have work for you two.”
K fixed the position of his glasses. He kept his face straight, but inside he was rejoicing. Just as scheduled. “Who?” he asked. Mr. Bohr chuckled and nodded approvingly. “Straight to details. The CEO of a certain company. Upon his decision, they have recently been moving into a field where they would be in direct competition with my business.” K took a sip from his glass. He felt his palms beginning to sweat with excitement. “I see,” he said, with his glass still on his lips. “And you believe that, without him, they would cease these… Activities?” “I know the vice-CEO,” Mr. Bohr said quickly, waving his arm at K. “We are in mutual understanding.” Mr. Bohr watched K’s face out of the corner of his eye while sipping his whiskey. No one else probably would have noticed. Mr. Bohr did.
K set his half-empty glass down. “I see.” He ran his hand through his hair again. “Assuming you’re free,” Mr. Bohr said, raising his eyebrows. “The Alphabet hasn’t…” K quickly lifted a finger to his lips. Lowering his hand, he gave a reassuring smile to Mrs. Bohr and looked back to her husband. “We are available.”
K turned over to Lydia, who was listening intently. “So, my little helper,” he said, picking up his glass again. “We have a job.” “Yes!” she shouted excitedly. K smiled at her. “I’ll let you handle the rest of the negotiations.”
Lydia’s eyes widened as everyone in the room turned to her, her father jubilant and her mother worried. The sudden shift in responsibility seemed to paralyze her. Panicking, she looked at K, who, still smiling, made a small gesture with his hand.
“Oh!” Lydia snapped into attention and turned to her father. “Who’s the target?” Her father leaned back in his chair, taking a sip from his glass. “A certain Mr. Klingman, of Pirello Inc.” K choked on a mouthful of vodka. Lydia turned to K, her big eyes round with surprise. “That’s the Chicago man!” she shouted to K, who was coughing liquor out of his lungs. Lydia’s father also turned to K, with an equally surprised expression. “That’s right,” K said as he finally caught his breath. “He hired us for Chicago. Through the organization.” Mr. Bohr turned eyes to the floor and nodded slowly. “Dammit. I assume you will not be…” K cut Mr. Bohr off again. “No, I am. We are.” He stood up, straightening his back. “With enthusiasm,” he added. “The man in the chopper was from Pirello,” Lydia said to his father. “We blacklisted him.”
Mr. Bohr, smiling again, turned to K. “Breach of contract?” “Something like that,” K said. He had been happy earlier. Now he was ecstatic. Klingman had to go, he knew too much. What could’ve been better than disposing of him myself, K thought.
Mr. Bohr raised his glass at K. “Then we look forward to his wake with mutual excitement.” He emptied his glass and set it on the end table. K grimaced as he realized he had not given Mr. Bohr another coaster.
Mr. Bohr stood up, stretching out his back. “Klingman will be taking a one-week vacation at the end of this month,” he said, turning to K. “I believe that will be your best chance.” “Where will he be vacationing?” Lydia asked. Her father turned to her, tussling her hair. “In Las Vegas.” He laughed as he saw Lydia’s clueless expression. He knelt down in front of her. “It’s a gambling town, my love, and he’s a gambling man.” Mr. Bohr planted a kiss on Lydia’s forehead and got up. He noticed the frown on K’s face as he inspected the end table for scratches. “I’m sorry, son,” Mr. Bohr said, patting K on the back. “I know the man has no taste.”
The Bohrs’ car gleamed in the Swiss sunset as it appeared from behind the hill. Her mother was doing her best to fight back tears as she hugged her daughter goodbye. Mr. Bohr shook K’s hand, pulling him closer as he did. “Thank you for doing this,” he said with a stern face. “You’ll have the details of it within a week.” He attempted to let go, but K held onto his hand, pulling the surprised Mr. Bohr back. “My pleasure,” he said, smiling. “What’s the real reason you want this fuck to go down?” Mr. Bohr inhaled sharply. K let go of his hand and stepped back, lifting his hand up in the air. “I apologize.” The two men locked eyes. Finally, Mr. Bohr burst into laughter. “Still can’t hide a thing from you,” he roared, throwing his arm around K.
K and Lydia waved goodbye as the blue Mercedes carried the Bohrs away. Lydia was wiping tears from her eyes. “Did you have fun?” K asked, putting his hand on Lydia’s shoulder. “Yeah,” she said and smiled up to K through her tears. K smiled back at her. “Good. Now, let’s get you to bed.” Once more, he ran his hand through his hair. “We’ll begin preparations tomorrow.”