Short Tales

Jewish World Review/ July 28, 1998 / 5 Av 5758

Faygie Borchardt

Roses at rush-hour

"EXCUSE ME, SIR. Would you happen to know where the home of Bartholomew Hoffenmeyer is?"

"Well, I wouldn't say that. I've heard a lot about him, though. They say he's practically tops on the financial ladder in this city."

"Practically? Friend, let me tell you! Did you ever hear of someone who was up before six every morning to run for the first train and be at his office early enough to do advance work on his accounts; then come home at seven, gulp down a five-minute supper and work until midnight, planning, speaking to clients, checking records ... Do you know any executives who make a clean ten million during a recession!? How many people did you come across whose brains are constantly ticking away, their blood tingling with business schemes --- and whose hands are constantly picking up the golden fruits of their toil?"

"Remarkable! But how does a man like that have time for his family and friends?"

"Hoffenmeyer? Ha! He always looked at socializing as the lazy man's copping-out security blanket. As for his family, well, who can complain when the breadwinner always brings home the baker's finest!

"Getting ahead and not letting precious time slip away was his goal. And he pursued it as the young pursue dreams. Despite terrible migraines and extreme nervous tension --- he was constantly going. Sort of like the Energizer Bunny. "

"Incredible. Well, I wish we could talk more, but I have to take the subway back and don't wanna get caught in rush hour. So would you show me where this Mr. Hoffenmeyer lives? I'd like to present him with a proposition and---"

"I beg your pardon! Did you mean you intended to visit him personally? I thought you wanted to pay your respects to his family, or see where the great man had lived ..."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't see how you possibly couldn't have heard. Bart Hoffenmeyer died last night. Some say it was a case of severe migraine. On Wall Street, we call it plain-and-simple, a heart-attack.'"

"I --- I can't believe it! He died in a hospital?"

"No, at home. Almost immediately after the attack. Strange, within an instant a human being like that should cease to exist. But do you know what's even stranger?"


"The last words he said while he lay dying. I simply don't understand it."

"Mr. Bartholomew Hoffenmeyer Industries looked around him, as the newspapers tell it, and whispered: 'l wish I had just once seen a flower."

"Why is that so hard to understand?"

"There were a dozen beautiful, long-stemmed roses on his desk every single day."


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