OUR STORY TAKES PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY. AS WITH MOST NEW YORK DRAMAS, THE PLOT REVOLVES around real estate.
The main character is an office building in Lower Manhattan, a bland 12-story box constructed soon after World War II whose afternoon sunlight was eclipsed a quarter century later by the towers of the World Trade Center. The building has the honor of being the only authentic, intact, and unadulterated element of this pseudomemoir. Lawyers and colleagues please take note: all else (the company, the people, the events, the narrator) is a collage of facts which individually are true but collectively are fictional.
I first laid eyes on the building during my job interview at Pharaoh Investment Guides, Inc. I was applying for a position as a software tester, and as soon as I walked in the door, I liked the feel of the place. Although Pharaoh was a world-class publishing company specializing in financial news and analysis, an international dynamo with offices around the globe, its headquarters seemed serene and friendly. The outside of the building might have been plain, but the inside was tastefully decorated, the lobby resplendent with gilt and marble architectural detail. People smiled and greeted each other in the hallways like residents of a small town.
The hiring manager, Jacob, was a thin, scholarly, nervous man who supervised the development on Pharaoh's book-formatting system.
"We don't have any full-time testers now," ...