Boston Solutions Incorporated
Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac
Magus clicked his pen in staccato bursts while waiting for his visitor to reply. The pen produced a very irritating sound that appeared to distract the young man. Getting tired of waiting for an answer, Magus said, “If you cannot afford my fee, I must ask that you leave.”
“I’m sorry. I just don’t have ten dollars,” the young man said. He did his best to look miserable in the hope that Magus would let him pay for his services at a later date. One glance at Magus let him know that it wasn’t working.
“I’m sorry, too,” Magus said.
“I’m really desperate.”
“Too bad. Now go.”
“Can’t we work something out?”
Magus answered, “No.”
The young man rose and shuffled towards the office door. Magus said, “There’s a guy by the name of Phil in the office next to ours — Paladin Incorporated. I heard him talking the other day about how poorly his computer is performing. You might go over there and see if you can be of help.”
“Thanks,” the young man said. It didn’t dawn on him to wonder how Magus knew that he could help someone with computer problems.
Magus waited until he heard the front door close before he shouted, “Claudia. Call Igor and tell him to boot up that piece of crap computer he has over in his office. He’s going to have company any minute now.”
“Your bellow is my command,” Claudia said while reaching for the phone.
“Just keep remembering that and we’ll get along fine,” Magus said. He ignored Claudia’s heckling laughter.
Discouraged by his visit to Solutions Incorporated, Jake was ready to head back to campus. He wondered why his professor recommended that he visit that place anyway. If it wasn’t for bad luck; he would have no luck at all. At the last minute, he decided to check out the company that Magus had suggested. He returned down the hallway checking the signs on the doors.
Not quite believing his eyes, Jake stared at the door of Paladin Incorporated. He stepped back and looked at the doors of the other offices along the hallway. The other doors were standard office doors. None of them looked like they had come off of the vault of a bank. He looked at the monster dial and wondered what the combination was to unlock the door. He knocked on the door while mumbling, “I guess they take their security seriously.”
He tried knocking on the door a second time. He could barely hear it. He was about to give up when he noticed a plate affixed to the wall three feet from the door. Across the top of the plate were the words, Paladin Incorporated. The metal plate had a small lens near the top, four small holes in the middle, and a button near the bottom. Below the button were the words, Press Button. He pressed the button and waited for something to happen.
“Who is it?”
Jake stared at the metal plate. Finally, he answered, “Jake Dunhill.”
“You can enter,” was announced over the speaker.
Jake looked over at the huge door. It started swinging open. He muttered, “That’s a really big assed door.”
Jake walked over to the open door and watched as the door continued to swing inwards to the office. There was a metal desk with a very large man seated behind it. He stepped into the office. The man stared at him for a second and then in a gravelly voice asked, “What do you want?”
“I heard that you had a computer problem. I know a bit about computers,” Jake answered intimidated by the large man. Childhood memories of getting stuffed in trash cans by members of the football team came rushing back.
“Where did you hear about my computer problems?” the man asked. His question sounded like an accusation.
“I heard it from the guy over in Solutions Incorporated. He said he heard it from Phil.”
“I’m Phil. I guess you heard it from Magus,” the man said. He sat there and growled for a second. He said, “I’ll pay you ten dollars if you can tell me what is wrong with it.”
“Okay,” Jake said. “Where is it?”
Easing out from behind the desk, Phil answered, “It is under the desk here.”
Jake went behind the desk and looked at the computer. He got down on his knees to better examine it. He frowned upon seeing the two slots for old five and a quarter inch floppy diskettes. He examined the slots a little more carefully. It looked like someone had shoved a CD inside one of them. The hard drive was making a weird squealing sound that was remarkably similar to a Jimmy Hendrix song. Something, he didn’t know what, was making a clanging sound inside the case.
He then looked over at the monitor. It took him a second to realize why the image on the monitor looked odd. The top half of the screen was at the bottom of the display and the bottom half was at the top. It wasn’t that the image was upside down either. He stabbed a couple of keys on the keyboard but nothing happened. He moved the mouse and watched the arrow move across the screen long after he had let go of the mouse. The letters that he had typed earlier finally showed up on the screen.
Phil asked, “So what’s the verdict?”
Standing up, Jake said, “There’s only one thing wrong with it.”
“What’s that?” Phil asked.
“It is a piece of garbage,” Jake said.
“Can it be fixed?”
Jake said, “Easily.”
“How?” Phil asked.
“Just replace everything on this side of the electrical socket,” Jake answered.
Phil laughed and said, “Okay. I get the picture. I should just throw it out and get a new one.”
“Got it in one,” Jake said.
Phil pulled out a ten dollar bill and said, “I said that I would pay you ten dollars if you could tell me what was wrong with it. I guess you did. Here you go.”
“Thanks,” Jake said taking the ten dollar bill. Hoping that he could earn some more money, he asked, “What are you going to do about replacing it?”
“I’ll keep using it,” Phil answered. He grinned at the expression on Jake’s face. “I figure it has a few good years left in it.”
Jake looked at the computer and shivered in disgust at the idea of using it for anything except perhaps a boat anchor.
Jake took the receipt from Magus and then asked, “So are you ready to hear my problem now?”
“Of course,” Magus answered.
“I’m broke and I can’t afford to continue going to school,” Jake said.
“You’ve considered student loans?” Magus asked.
“I have already borrowed money from a bank and I can’t get another loan. My parents took a second mortgage against their house. Even if I could get another loan, it won’t cover all of the expenses of going to school,” Jake answered.
“What other expenses do you have beside tuition and books?” Magus asked.
Jake answered, “Look at my clothes. I look like a homeless bum. I’ve got two pairs of pants left and I’ve had them for four years. You can see my underwear through the holes that I’ve worn out in them. I’ve got four tee-shirts, one of which is ripped. A student loan won’t pay for new clothes.”
“What about asking your parents for a bit of spending money?” Magus asked.
“My dad lost his job. They are about to lose their house because of the second mortgage that they had to take out on it to pay for my education so far,” Jake said.
“I haven’t found one.”
“I haven’t found one of those either.”
“How about a job?” Magus asked.