by Laurie Martin-Gardner
This is it, Trent thought to himself. This is the moment that will change everything.
Trent let his eyes travel casually through the room, consciously trying to disguise his inner chaos. The architect in him silently made calculations and mental notes on the layout of the room. The dark blue walls were unusually tall and the ceiling was vaulted to dizzying heights, creating a feeling of majesty and power. The furnishings were minimal with the clean lines that Trent adored. Beautiful artwork adorned the walls, creating a splash of shadowed color in the room. Under normal circumstances, he would have been standing, trying to decipher the hidden meanings in the generic forms of the artwork.
Maybe I will get the chance to look at them closer after I get this job, Trent thought. If I get this job.
Across the room, a middle-aged man in a stuffy gray suit dropped his thick portfolio with a loud thud. Papers scuttled across the floor in every direction. Another man, in another gray suit, stooped to help the first man recover his dignity. They did not impress Trent, and his eyes were swept down to the beautiful hardwood floor of the room. The deep rose red color of the wood entranced him. It was almost the color of...
"Blood," Trent mumbled to himself.
"Excuse me?" the plain looking man to his left replied.
"Hmm? Oh, sorry, I must have been thinking out loud," Trent smiled at the man, "I was just musing to myself that bloodwood actually does have the same hue as blood."
"Bloodwood?" The man obviously had no idea what Trent was talking about.
"Yes, this floor. It is made of bloodwood. I believe it's the first time I've actually seen it."
The man looked at the floor intently as a wave of warmth spread over his face. It amused Trent tremendously.
"Oh yes, of course," the man stammered. He looked away hastily and pretended to be occupied by other thoughts.
Probably never even heard of bloodwood, Trent thought with a silent laugh. Nice to show up the old-timers on occasion.
From the far corner of the room, a great door swung open. Another middle-aged man, this one in a blue suit, stumbled out of the door. Trent watched as the man reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. He clumsily wiped it over his face as he crossed the room.
"How was it, Charles?" asked one of the gray suits.
"Terrible," Charles replied as he collapsed into the seat next to the gray suit, any trace of former dignity now a distant memory.
"That man, Mr. Maxwell, he is the coldest fella I have ever met. He just sat there and stared at me, with those cold green eyes. I swear it felt like he was looking straight into my soul!"
The other men in the room, all intently listening, laughed nervously.
"Oh, come on now Charles!" the man in the gray suit laughed, "It couldn't have been that bad!"
"Just you wait Carl," Charles said with a red face, "wait until you get in there! He's nothing like his father I tell you. I met Keith Maxwell once. Nicest guy you'd ever meet. He talked to me just like we were the best of friends. A good, warm man was Keith Maxwell. That man in there," Charles pointed a stubby finger toward the door, "that man in there is made of ice!"
The conversation continued, but Trent didn't hear it. He stared down at his leather portfolio and worried. He'd heard similar stories about Jason Maxwell. Sitting in the comfort of his own apartment, he had laughed at the rumors. But he was about to face the man himself, and things didn't seem quite so humorous.
On the receptionist's ornate desk, a phone rang. All conversation stopped in the room. The tension mounted while the pretty blonde woman spoke to the person on the other end of the line.
"Yes sir," she said cheerfully, "I'll send him right in." Trent watched her as she thumbed through a stack of papers and selected the next victim.
"Mr. Buckland?" she asked, her bright blue eyes sweeping around the room of waiting men. The man sitting next to Trent rose quickly.
"Yes?" he asked, the tremor in his voice obvious.
"Mr. Maxwell will see you now."
"Th...thank you," he murmured as he crossed the room. At the door he paused, took a deep breath, and turned the brass knob. Trent watched as he disappeared, the door clicking shut behind him.
Trent again let his eyes roam, this time across the faces that sat around him. Four men in their forties, another one a bit older. All in shades of gray and blue. They were just about the dreariest bunch that Trent had ever seen. None of them looked excited, or even happy, to be there. Not like Trent did.
He was a bundle of raw nerves and anticipation, but Trent was quite possibly the happiest man in the building. As a child, he had dreamed of this moment. He had imagined, again and again, walking across to that door and pulling it open. He had practiced every word that he would say. He had read every news article, every press release, every rumor filled blog that had contained the name of Maxwell Design and Construction.
Trent's mind flickered back to his earliest memory of the name. His father had taken Trent with him to work. Trent had stood in awe at the front of his father's building. The sweeping lines and ingenious design of the place had instantly captured his imagination. His father had watched him, smiling at the look of wonder on his son's face.
"Isn't it magnificent Trent?"
"It's perfect," Trent had managed to say. His father had laughed.
"It probably is. The man that designed the place, they say he's an architectural genius."
"He has to be," Trent's amazement replied.
"I hear he sometimes visits the places he's built. Maybe if he ever comes here, I can introduce you to him."
Trent's eyes had grown wide with amazement. "Really Dad?"
"Sure, I'll see what I can do. I hear he's got a son, just about your age."
The memory faded into a million others. Trent had never met Keith Maxwell. He had died just a few months after that fateful day. For Trent, every decision of his life stemmed from that one moment. He knew then, at the age of eight, that his destiny in life was to work for Maxwell Design. It was his one, and only, dream.
The big door swung open again, and the man in blue stumbled out. He didn't stop to talk to anyone like Charles had.
"Dear God," he was mumbling as he left, "cold, cold man."
The men in the room looked at each other, worry and nervousness obvious in every set of eyes. Every set but one. To the other men, Trent looked calm and confident. They were all slightly annoyed when they looked at him.
Too brash and arrogant, thought one of the men in gray. Maxwell will eat him alive.
He's the only competition here, thought another man enviously.
On the desk, the phone rang again.
"Yes," Trent replied as he stood up without hesitation.
"Mr. Maxwell will see you now."
"Thank you," Trent answered, smiling sweetly at the woman. She smiled back at him.
"Good luck in there," she said with a wink.
Trent nodded at the receptionist with another smile and took a deep breath.
This is it. Time to meet Destiny, face to face. Trent walked confidently to the door and turned the knob.
Jason was irritated. There were dozens of projects he should have been working on. Instead, he was sitting at his desk listening to men rattle on about their mediocre experience and petty accomplishments. He was tired of the constant noise, the silver rimmed glasses, and balding heads. He began to question his decision to personally oversee the hire.
Isn't there one decent architect under 35? he wondered to himself. His eyes slowly soaked in the view of the city that stretched out beyond the oversized window. Behind him, the gentle clicking of the door brought him harshly back to reality. He sighed, briefly closed his eyes, and turned around.
For a moment, Jason completely forgot the routine of welcoming in the next job candidate. He stared blankly at the young man standing in front of him.
"Mr. Maxwell?" the man asked. Jason noted immediately that there was no hesitation in the gentle voice.
"Ah yes, come in. Please have a seat." Jason motioned to the seat across from his desk. He watched the young man walk confidently across the room. Jason extended his hand toward the man and was pleasantly surprised with the firm grip he received.
This could get interesting, Jason thought as he settled into his seat.
“Mr. Chambers, correct?” Jason asked in his best authoritative voice.
“Yes, Trent Chambers sir. It's an honor to meet you.”
Jason watched the excitement dance in the clear blue eyes of the man in front of him. He was intrigued.
“May I?” he said coolly, pointing to the portfolio in Trent's hands.
“Of course,” Trent replied with a warm smile. Jason did not return the gesture, although he was finding it difficult to maintain his normal remoteness. Something about Trent pulled him in. He was reminded of a silly quote he'd once seen—Something about you feels like destiny.
Jason pushed the absurd thought from his mind and opened the portfolio. He could feel Trent's eager eyes watching his every move. At this point, all the others had begun stammering about their qualifications, dripping compliments and hoping to receive some in return. None had yet warranted any.
Jason flipped through the portfolio in awe. Trent Chambers possessed an amazing ability and a style not dissimilar to his own.
“I can assure you,” Jason finally said, “that I don't say this very often, but your portfolio and resume are impressive.”
“Thank you, sir,” Trent said calmly, beaming a radiant smile across to Jason.
“Tell me, why did you choose to become an architect?”
Trent's smiled broadened. “I was inspired as a child by a magnificent building. From the moment I saw it, I was mesmerized. Since then I have only ever wanted to be an architect.”
“That's quite an original answer,” Jason said, impressed already with Trent's calm manner. “Could I ask, who was the designer of the building that so inspired you?”
“Your father.” Trent watched as Jason's expression changed. “You see, my father was lucky enough to work in the Baymont building in Houston. When I was about eight years old, he took me there. I fell in love with the place and would beg him to take me to work with him. My affair with architecture began there.”
For a moment, Jason sat silently looking at Trent. The sincerity was obvious in his words. He spoke with a passion that Jason rarely, if ever, encountered.
“The Baymont is a masterpiece,” Jason finally said. “One of Dad's greatest achievements. It's nice to know that someone appreciates it.”
“It is absolutely incredible. I was so impressed by the attention to detail, the beauty of the lines, and the blending of styles. That building has shaped every aspect of my professional life.”
Jason sat back in his chair. His mind reeled. He felt an amazing attraction to the man that sat quietly waiting for his reply. He was talented, enthusiastic, and sincere. But there was something else.
“Normally,” Jason said slowly, “I would now ask why you want to work at Maxwell. But I think you have already answered that question.”
“Working here has been my life's ambition,” Trent laughed a bit, “in fact sir, you hold the only copy of both my portfolio and resume.”
“Why? A man of your talent has many options.”
“That may be true,” Trent's smile faded a bit and he peered deeply into Jason's eyes, “but my heart has only one.”
Jason was mesmerized. Trent's words had triggered something in his mind, but he wasn't certain what it was. But there was one thing he did know.
“I expect perfection, Mr. Chambers. I accept nothing less.” Jason paused, watching the excitement build in Trent's face. “But from you, I will expect much more. Much more.”
An immaculate smile swept across Trent's face. Jason couldn't help but smile back as Trent vigorously shook his outstretched hand.
He looks like an angel, Jason thought to himself.
“Thank you sir,” Trent beamed, “I will be the hardest working person here.”
“Good,” Jason replied, his voice slightly tinged with happiness. “Now, go out and see Stacy. She'll get all of the paperwork started. You start tomorrow.”
Jason watched as Trent strode across the room and disappeared behind the heavy door. He collapsed into his high-backed leather chair, slightly stunned. Trent's crystal blue eyes, so blue they were almost clear, were burnt into his memory. Again he was struck with the thought that Trent looked remarkably angelic—a trait he'd only assigned to one other person in his life.
Behind the safety of the closed door, Trent let out a sigh of relief. His mind was swimming with everything that had just happened. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that all of the staring men could hear it.
I didn't expect him to be so...The thought wouldn't form correctly in Trent's mind. He felt dazzled, almost intoxicated.
“Well,” one of the gray suits finally asked, “how was it?”
Trent smiled devilishly at the man.
“Go home boys. This one is all mine.”
The blonde behind the desk, Stacy, hung up the phone she'd been holding.
“Thank you gentlemen for your time, but Mr. Maxwell has made his decision. We do hope you'll all apply for the next available position. Good afternoon.”
The men in the suits stared blankly, first at Trent and then the woman. They were murmuring crossly as they gathered their things. Trent couldn't help but feel pleased with their reaction.
“Thought he was made of ice,” Carl grumbled as he hastily pulled on his coat.
“Well you know,” Trent replied as he walked over to Stacy's desk, “even the coldest glacier has a melting point.” He slyly winked at the old man and almost laughed out loud as the man's face flashed red.
This is it, Trent thought again as he smiled at the pretty receptionist. Nothing will ever be the same again.