Solutions Incorporated
Chapter 7

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

David Marks shifted nervously in his chair. The large man was studying him like he was a fish inside a fishbowl. It made him very uneasy. Unable to take the focused attention any longer, he blurted out, “My grandmother died. I’m so unhappy that I don’t know what to do.”

Magus continued studying the boy. He was four feet six inches tall, with short blond hair that appeared to resist the best efforts of brush or comb to tame. His sneakers were worn from daily use but weren’t filthy from playing extensively in the dirt. His clothes were generic mass market brands, but were clean and well fitting. All in all, the boy looked like a typical Midwestern boy except for the sadness that etched his young face, making him look older than his actual age.

Magus said, “Before I help you with your problem there is a matter of payment.”

“I don’t have much money, just my allowance,” David said with a worried expression on his face.

“How old are you?” Magus asked.

“Nine,” David answered.

“Hmm,” Magus said, “The fee for your first solution is one dollar and a favor.”

“I think I have that,” David said while reaching into his pocket. He hoped that this was going to be worth his money. Everyone else with whom he had discussed his problems had dismissed them out of hand or had told him that time would lessen his pain.

Magus watched patiently while the boy counted out a dollar’s worth of change. When the boy placed the change on the desk, Magus swept the coins over to the side of his desk. He then made a large production of writing a receipt and handing it to the boy.

Once that was done, he said, “Tell me about your problem.”

“I already told you. My grandmother died and I’m very sad,” David answered.

“Let me rephrase what you’ve told me, so that we can focus on your problem. You are sad because your grandmother died. Your problem is that you don’t want to be sad any longer,” Magus said.

“Yeah, I guess so,” David said. It seemed to him that Magus was actually listening to him.

“You are afraid that the only way to get past your sadness is to forget your grandmother,” Magus said.

“Exactly,” David said relieved that someone finally understood his problem.

“Before we can figure out how to deal with your sadness, I have a few questions to ask you,” Magus said.

“Okay,” David said.

Magus asked, “Does your mother know you are here?”

“No.”

“Why not?” Magus asked.

“She’s at work and I’m supposed to be at home alone,” David answered.

Magus asked, “Have you always stayed at home alone?”

“I used to stay with my grandmother,” David answered.

Magus nodded his head thoughtfully. He said, “I see. Now that your grandmother has passed away, you have no one to stay with. Is that right?”

“Right. I’m at home all alone until Mom comes home from work,” David said.

“Tell me about your grandmother,” Magus said.

“I loved my grandmother.”

“She was a nice lady?” Magus asked.

David smiled and answered, “She was the nicest and greatest grandmother in the whole world.”

“That special, huh?” Magus said with a smile.

“Very special,” David said. He sank into his chair thinking about his loss.

“That’s very nice,” Magus said. Pursing his lips he looked as if he was deep in thought. Startling David, he shouted, “Stephen! Get in here. I need you to give something to Claudia.”

Claudia marched into his office and said, “I’m right here.”

“Keep your distance,” Magus said holding up a hand. She rolled her eyes.

“What do you want?” Claudia asked.

Magus wrote a quick note and handed it over to David. He said, “Give that to the lady.”

Puzzled by the request, David handed the note to the woman. Claudia glanced down at the note and said, “This is a telephone number.”

“Yes. Call Mrs. Marks and let her know that David will be spending his after school hours with us,” Magus said.

“Anything else?” Claudia asked.

“After you’ve made the call send Stephen in here,” Magus answered.

“There’s no reason to involve Stephen. Just tell me what you need,” Claudia said.

“I have an assignment for Stephen,” Magus said. “Now get out of my office. You’re standing too close to me and it is making me uncomfortable.”

“Yes, Magus,” Claudia said before turning and leaving the office.

“I’ll be right back, David,” Magus said getting up from behind his desk.

“Okay,” David said. He watched Magus disappear into the room behind his desk. He was still waiting for Magus to solve his problem.

Magus returned carrying a notepad and a pencil. He handed the items to David and said, “I need you to do something for me.”

“What?” David asked looking at the notepad.

“I need you to write down everything that you can remember about your grandmother. I want you to tell me every important thing that she did for you. I want you to write down the little things that she did that made you feel special. I need to know everything that you can remember,” Magus said.

“That will take me a long time,” David said. He had once had to write a one hundred word story in school. He had struggled with it for a whole evening. Getting it to one hundred words had been torture. He had counted each word making sure that it was exactly the right length.

Magus said, “You’ll be coming here every afternoon after school. You can work on it while you are here. I imagine that you’ll need more than that one little notebook.”

Looking at the notebook, David couldn’t imagine filling it up with words. He said, “That’s a big notebook.”

“You said that your grandmother was a special person,” Magus said with a smile.

“She was!”

Magus said, “Special people have long stories.”

“You’re right,” David said.

Stephen entered the room and said, “Claudia told me that you have another assignment for me.”

“That is correct,” Magus said.

“I still haven’t finished the report on environmentally friendly practices in the chemical industry,” Stephen said. Magus had assigned the topic and then told him to go forth and get the information necessary to complete the assignment.

“I’m expecting that report Thursday,” Magus said.

“It has stopped being a report and has become a book,” Stephen said.

“Excellent. That tells me that you are doing the assignment correctly!”

“I need more time,” Stephen said.

“Nonsense. It sounds to me like you are making adequate progress,” Magus said.

“What is this other assignment?” Stephen asked.

“I want you to work with Mr. David Marks here. He’s writing a biography about his grandmother. Please help him with this extremely important project,” Magus said.

“A biography?” Stephen asked.

“What’s a biography?” David asked looking at Magus with a confused expression on his face.

“It is the story of a person’s life,” Stephen answered.

“Oh,” David said. “That’s what I’m doing.”

Magus said, “David will need your help for the basic facts of her life: when she was born, where she lived, who she married, when she married, and all that stuff. You’ll also need to help him organize the material and clean up his writing. I’m sure that you can handle that.”

 
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