Beneath the Loveliest Tints of Azure
by Jeff Samson
“You sure picked a hell of a day to start.”
The guard stared up at Ted with a look somewhere between aggravation and indifference. He slouched over his desk, his belly spilling over a portion of its tidy surface. His chair creaked in protest as he swiveled lazily.
“I’m sorry?” Ted said, deepening his voice to match the guard’s husky bass.
The guard wiped a hand over his head, polished bald but for a faint horseshoe of salt and pepper hair buzzed to the same length as the patchy stubble on his face. He pushed himself away from his desk, growling as he rose.
“Ken Allen,” he said, enveloping Ted’s comparably slight hand in a powerful grip.
“Ted Kirsch.” Ted stifled an urge to wince.
“I know–Hurrel’s replacement. Been expecting you.” Ken pursed his lips. “Sorry if I seem a bit gruff. It’s just, well, visiting days aren’t exactly best for breaking in fresh meat. Know what I mean?”
Ted nodded that he did. Then quickly realized that he didn’t.