Evan’s head throbs and his vision blurs. He feels disoriented for a moment. When his eyes focus, Evan is in a large, crowded room. He looks around but does not see the conductor. The room, he realizes, is too large to be a railcar.
A thousand soft glowing lights sparkle across the ceiling like stars. A huge chandelier hangs at the center of the room. The crystals sparkle as they reflect the warm light.
The males are all dressed in dark suits. The females are wearing black, silver and red evening gowns. He steps backward and bumps into the closed door, remembering he is wearing a white strap shirt and PJ pants. His breathing becomes rapid and the room spins. He squeezes his eyes shut to calm himself.
Moments later, he reaches to open the door. He stops with his arm outstretched when he sees he is wearing a dark jacket.
“What the —?” He looks down and sees himself dressed in a dark blue suit and pointed brown leather shoes.
“It has been a long time since I have been in a suit,” he says.
“I beg your pardon, sir?” a server asks, smiling.
“I was saying how I missed wearing a nice suit.”
“Well, sir, I have to admit it looks good on you,” she says. She looks at him up and down with a twinkle in her eyes.
He smiles and takes a glass of wine from her tray.
She turns and walks toward the center of the room, her hips swaying. She looks back over her shoulder before disappearing into the crowd.
Evan then looks out through an enormous window and sees a full, bright moon. The window overlooks a cliff, and Evan notices how the moonlight reflects on the water beneath.
“Can I have your attention, please?” comes a voice from somewhere within the room. A man with greying hair, a grey well-trimmed beard and wearing round frame glasses steps to the middle of the crowd. He is holding a glass of amber liquid in his right hand and what looks like a large plaque in his left. The crowd quiets and Evan turns around.
“For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Gerard Black. I am the CEO of Black Horse Industries.”
Evan feels a twinge of recognition.
“This gathering is to recognize, and reward, one of our most valued employees. His program, called Chain Master, is the most sought-after program in the manufacturing sector in North America. Using a sophisticated inventory management system, it streamlines the tracking of both raw materials and finished products for our partner companies. By optimizing warehouse and distribution operations, and providing real-time data analytics, management can make quick and informed business decisions.”
Mr. Black takes a sip of his drink and smiles. “Unlike that well-rehearsed description, the program is easy to understand and use.”
The crowd laughs. All but Evan. He tries to remember where he heard the name Black before.
“Seriously though, folks,” Mr. Black continues. “It is now implemented across three hundred companies. There are hundreds more interested in purchasing. Chain Master is the largest software release we have had in our twenty-year history.”
The room explodes into a loud raucous cheer and clapping. The CEO waits a minute before raising his hands to quiet the crowd.
“This guy needs no introduction. It is my pleasure, and my honor, to present this award to — Paul Lush!”
At the sound of the name, Evan grabs for the wall as the room spins again.
Two young men, both well-groomed and handsome, step next to Mr. Black. Both men hug, and the taller guy raises the right hand of the other.
Evan swoons and tries to catch his breath.
Mr. Black steps up and shakes Paul’s hand.
“Please accept this small token of our appreciation.”
The crowd erupts into whistles and cheers.
Evan drops his glass. Nobody hears the shattering of the glass over the boisterous room.
Paul and the taller man embrace again, and this time they kiss before separating. Again, his partner raises Paul’s hand as the unrelenting crowd celebrates.
“Oh, and by the way, there is a sizeable bonus cheque on its way to you as well,” says Mr. Black, smiling.
Paul then hugs Mr. Black and kisses him on the cheek, to the delight of his peers.
Seeing his ex is too much for Evan. His knees finally give out and the room goes black.
To be continued...