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I look at the grey heart-shaped clock on the wall in front of me. The time is 1:20pm. The black tie is getting too tight on my neck. I release the knot a bit. My palms are clammy and sweaty. My forehead must be beaded with sweat.

I stare at the receptionist to distract myself, she's light-skinned with really long artificial weavon and bleached skin of about six colours. She has been on a phone call for more than fifteen minutes. I hadn't noticed her chipped tooth until she laughed out at the other person's joke. She is telling this person on the other end of the line that her birthday is coming up the following weekend and she would want a grand birthday bash.

I return my gaze to the documents on my lap. It's a copy of my CV and my testimonials. I look down, at the brogues Harry lent me yesterday. It has the look of a shoe that has over lived and over served. I sigh. I can smell the stink from my socks. I haven't washed it in weeks, I think honesty,  I haven't washed it since I bought it.

The bleached receptionist picks up the receiver, listens, nods and gestures to me saying something I can't hear clearly. "Pardon?", I say and in an obviously practiced tone, she says, " Mr. Richard, the panel is ready to see you now. Take this elevator to the third floor, take the hallway on the left, walk all the way to the end and enter the last room on the right." I stand transfixed on the spot. "Mr. Richard?" she says in a slightly high-pitched voice that seems to be saying, " scared already?"

I brace myself and walk past her to the elevator door. I walk back to the receptionist who is now filing her nails. She raises her thickly penciled brows, "ehee how can l help you?"
"I... I cannot use The elevator please", I splutter.
She laughs, sighs and walks with me to the elevator door.
"Listen carefully..." she starts,
"...when you get into the elevator, there are lots of buttons on the left. Press the  button with "close" inscribed on it and then the button with number 3  to take you to the third floor. It'll open automatically when you're there. Okay?"
I thank her with a smile of relief. She presses a green button on the steel hedges of the elevator door and it opens with a click sound. As I step into the elevator, she walks back to her desk still filing her nails. I press the buttons as instructed and I feel the elevator move.
The hallway outdoes itself indeed I say to myself as the elevator door opens with a click on the third floor.

The hallway stretches far beyond the eyes can see, it is high roofed and dimly lit as if the contractor was instructed to create an air of gloom and tension with the lighting. I take a deep breathe. I see two rooms at the end of the hall facing each other, I walk on. The room on the right is closed but I can feel the tension from within.

I stand in front of the the door of the room at the right, hesitate few seconds, readjust my tie and rap on the door thrice. I wait. A shrill voice asks me to come in. There's a narrow corridor leading to the desk. I stand in front of the desk facing a panel. I force a curt smile that should suggest I'm confident and comfortable but not too comfortable.

They all remain grim. The panel consists of four persons, a man and woman on either side of the room. I'm standing in the middle with the desk in front of me and a seat beside it. The bald man, on the right, with wrinkled up face asks me to be seated. I gratefully walk to the seat in front of me, trying my best to appear graceful. I sit and square my shoulder.
The smiling woman on the left, scribbles something down on a paper, looks up, smiles cockily, and asks,
  " Now tell us why we should hire you for this job?"



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