All was…reasonably normal up until Ebern led Malcolm to that hatch in the floor at the bottom of the staircase leading straight down from the back door of the fourth floor in the Liberty Building. The first few steps down the staircase on the fourth floor of the Liberty Building were smooth and as cheerful as a four-plus story staircase can be. But as the stairs went down, deeper and deeper into the ground, more and more people would be sitting idly on the steps, likely tired or generally defeated at the attempt at climbing down the seemingly endless stairs.
Ebern wasn’t much help, not answering in detail any questions about who these people were or why they were there. He told Mal each time that they just wandered around, appearing randomly and at strange times in hopes of finding the place that Ebern was taking Mal.
Ebern was taking Mal to a place that “only a few,” knew of. It was apparently a place of fellowship and meeting, fraternizing and planning. “Strategically putting together the pieces,” Ebern said, only confusing Malcolm further.
Planning, Malcolm thought. What would this fellow be planning? He was partially ashamed to admit that he was particularly excited. The chance that such an exhilarating event would take place during his time at work, would be positively nil. He was happy, yet a part of him did loathe checking his mailbox, finding a letter informing him of his malfeasance and probable termination…but it was for three-million dollars…apparently.
“Not far,” Ebern said. “Are ya excited er what?”
“I-uh…I guess so.”
“No one enjoys a stammerin’ lil’ bitch!” Ebern barked. “Ball up, Malcolm. You’ll need to do it sooner than ya think.”
“Ask me again without the stammerin’!”
Malcolm took more than one moment to compose himself. He breathed. He breathed again. And one more time. “Why?” His effort was apparent.
“Because yer important, my friend! Ya’r about to play a very important role in helping a whole bunch of folks. Ya should be happy. Very, very happy. I’ve been watchin’ ya these past few months while you sat idly on that spot by the river. I like ya, I must admit, and the others will too.”
“Ebern,” Malcolm began, “I must say that I am confused. What, others?“
“A few friends, an enemy or two, family. Ya know…others. You’ll see what I mean soon enough.”
“When’s soon? I don’t see an end to this staircase.”
“Recall what I said ’bout ballin’ up?”
“Good. Do that, and then shut up.”
Malcolm shut up…after rolling his eyes, of course. He was like that at times; whiny. And he was okay with that, probably because he was so tolerant of nonsense. Quite sad, really.