I was surprised to find the guards still carrying out their guard duty when I arrived at Achilles’ building, immediately stopping my horse carriage upon sighting it. I informed the guard, “I am Achilles’ friend. Before he passed away, he left his assets in my care. This is proof.”
Surprise crept into the guard’s gaze on me. He checked the evidence and let me in. I didn’t head straight in, though. I, instead, turned toward the building and asked the guard, “Is there still anyone in the building, or did everyone quit after hearing news of Achilles death?”
“Everyone is present… Sorry, I should not have used such absolute speech. Everyone I recognise is inside. We did consider things for ourselves as none of us knew what would become of the building or our fates after Mr. Achilles passed away. We are grateful for everything he has done, which is why we decided that, unless the new owner says something, we will continue to protect his assets no matter what.”
I took a moment to process what he said and smiled: “I guess we’re in the same boat, then. You’re all protecting his assets, while I’ve also come to protect the assets he left behind. Achilles was a good friend to me. I’ll take care of what he entrusted me with, and I’ll treat you all the same way he did.”
“Sir, if you are Mr. Achilles’ friend, we will also trust you.”
“I reckon some of you may recognise me.” After all, I once lived in the building where Achilles received guests.
The first floor was the same as other hotels by my standards. That said, there was nobody drinking during the day. The bartender cleaned his counter, while two young men carried in a large barrel of wine that looked heavy. The tables had been pushed aside. Several maids were down on the ground scrubbing it. Everyone stopped as I made my entrance. The bartender set down the cup in his hand to address, “Sorry, Mister, we are not open for business in the morning. Are you looking for someone?”
“Could you… please call your manager? I’m Achilles’ friend. Henceforward, I will be the owner of this place. That is why I’ve come to finalise the paperwork for the handover. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to change the place or sack you. I know that you’re emotionally attached to Achilles and this place. I came to protect his assets, not destroy them.”
The employees regarded each other, excitement and hope blooming on their faces. A maid frantically ran upstairs. A middle-aged man, who was somewhat bald and dressed in formal clothing, came running downstairs. I noticed red flushes by the corner of his eyes. Was he heartbroken by Achilles obituary? That was beyond me. Panting gently, he expressed, “Sir, you are Sir Achilles friend, are you? We know that Sir Achilles does not have any relatives or friends. We were worried about what would happen to the building. As you are his trusted friend, however, we will trust you.”
I nodded. I had no intention of changing the place in any shape or form. I didn’t know what to do with such a big building myself. Achilles’ building’s planning was quite good. Using the building to offer them merchants who came to deliver and pick up goods would allow them to save money. There was no excusable reason to waste such a nice building.
I followed the man upstairs and finished the handover paperwork; I only needed to prove that Achilles’ will and evidence was correct. The man gave me a tour of the building and showed me the list of employees. In essence, he was the building’s manager. After our tour, he nervously stared at the list of employees and inquired, “Sir, do you have any other plans for the building?”
“As I said, I have no intention of changing anything. I don’t have any ambitions. Given that you are all maintaining the buildings normal functioning, I have nothing to add or subtract. You just need to continue with your jobs. You’ll be paid according to how you were. Everything will remain normal. There will be guests to come, too. It’s just the owner that’s changing.”
I regarded the relieved manager with a nod and departed. I wasn’t interested in the building and didn’t plan to look around any further. If it operated as per usual without me, I wouldn’t need to worry about the building.
When I reached the corner of the stairs, I noticed a group of male and female employees, all of whom looked to be ordinary folks, standing in the main hall on the first floor sullied with mud stains. Nevertheless, their gazes for me contained anticipation and nervous, which led to me feeling a tad nervous.
Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe Achilles was an amazing owner. Or maybe I should say he was a dutiful owner. The people before me didn’t initiate the conversation with me. I was nervous enough to begin suspecting if I could do as well as Achilles did with all the things he left in my care. I had never had to manage so many people. I sure as anything never managed a factory before.
“Achilles could run the company, building and factory well. Can I?” I asked myself.
I never considered Achilles to be outstanding. Standing there, nevertheless, I instantly understood why Sisi trusted him so much. If I was a schemer, Achilles was an excellent manager. Perhaps I could hatch treacherous ploys, but there was no guarantee I could manage so many jobs in an orderly fashion.
I asked myself, “It sure isn’t easy being Achilles, huh? What should I say to these people to reassure them? How should I reassure them?” I kept silent until I suddenly realised that I didn’t need to waste words on speeches when face to face with their gazes of hope. I, therefore, said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please begin work.”
That was good enough.
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