Francis Corolla has been put in charge of an impossible assignment. He has to find a way to make world peace.
He never expects to find the solution. When he does, it comes from the most unlikely source: Hollywood.
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Hollywood Brings World Peace
© Desmond Shepherd
Every day Francis Corolla went to his job. Despite the commission given to him by the president of the United States, the job carried very little stress.
That’s why, early every morning when he arrived at work, he would grab a fresh cup of black coffee from the kitchen just outside his office. He would pour it in a white mug with a giant number one on it and in very small letters “DAD” underneath. He would go to his office—a room with glass walls with a view to all the others below him who worked on a project that would never come to completion—and he would sit down in his plush, leather desk chair, lean back, and slowly sip his coffee.
A few minutes would pass. He would turn on his computer, call his wife on the webcam and talk to her and his kids—Sophie and Adam, ages three and five respectively—before they left for school. Thanks to a two hour drive he had to and from work, he saw them more then than at home.
Every day was uneventful, but the pay was great. The position was mandated by the president as part of a secret department determined to find the key to achieving world peace.
World peace? What a joke.
Everyone knew it was pointless. But if the government was willing to pay money for research that would never see its purpose, so be it. Francis couldn’t ask for a less stressful job.
The only thing better would be to have his family with him all the time, sitting comfortably on a boat, sailing on the ocean.
Even when the president would contact him on the bright red phone in his office every quarter to find out if any progress had been made, it didn’t bother him. The president knew the answer. But still, he allowed the organization to continue trying to find the solution.
Yes, his was the easiest job. The majority of those below him worked to find a solution. Every now and then, someone would think they found it. But others would disprove it. The chain of command called for it to come to Francis’s attention only after all those below him agreed a solution was found.
And that never happened.
Francis stepped away from the computer after talking to his kids and wife and leaned back in his chair. He took one last gulp of his coffee and set it down next to the tape dispenser on his desk.
He stood up, walking to the window to his left, acting like he was keeping an eye on everybody. A woman at a desk piled high with papers in the back of the room made eye contact with him. What was her name? He couldn’t remember. He nodded, giving her approval of her work and turned away from the window.
He went back to his desk, sat down, and brought solitaire up on his computer. An easy way as any to pass the time. He played it every day for 11 years and had yet to win a game. It used to frustrate him. But he realized if he mastered the game and finally won, what else would he do to pass the time at work?
Things on this day went differently. All the cards fell into place. He was almost there. As he went to place the last card on the pile, causing the decks of cards to jump around the screen, someone yelled his name.
“Mr. Corolla! Mr. Corolla!”
It had been so long since Francis had seen B.B. Abrams that he barely recognized him. B.B. was a tall, slender man with wire framed glasses and a bald head. He had a cream-colored folder in his hand. As he ran between the desks to Francis’s office, he slammed into one of them, pushing it a foot, and causing the computer monitor on the edge to tip off and slam on the ground.
“Sorry. We’ll replace it,” B.B. said. He turned to look at the destruction but continued moving forward quickly. He ran into someone carrying a folder of papers, knocking them to the ground, and causing a shower of papers to fly into the air and float to the ground like fake snow in a snowglobe.
Francis got up from his desk. He was concerned. He hadn’t seen B.B. for so long because the solution had never been found. B.B. was the last in the chain of command before Francis. Could it be possible?
He walked over to the door to open it for B.B., but before he could, B.B. reached it and glided in like he was on skis.
“Francis. Thank goodness.”
“B.B., what are you doing here? What is it?” Francis spoke slowly. He was curious. Maybe B.B. just wanted to catch up because they hadn’t seen each other in so long.
“You know why I’m here.” B.B. walked past Francis and slammed the cream-colored folder onto his barren desktop. “We found it!” He pointed a finger in the air.
“What?” Francis said in disbelief.
“The solution. It’s made it all the way to me. As absurd as it sounds, it looks like it will work.”
Impossible. All the years of sitting at a desk, waiting for the clock to hit 5 p.m. Never believing a solution was possible. No. Something’s wrong. Somebody missed something.
Francis walked to his desk and stared down at the folder. He reached out to open it, his hand trembling. He tried to calm it, but it wouldn’t stop. Why? This was what he was hired to find.
“You might want to sit down first, Francis.” B.B. said.
Francis shot him a look. He curled the left side of his cheek in irritation. “You might want to straighten your glasses.”
B.B. did as suggested and said, “There. Now it’s your turn.”
Reluctantly, Francis sat in his chair. He stared first at his monitor. One card to place in his game to win it. He looked to the folder.
And realized there was no way they found it. He’ll open it up, read it, dismiss it, and tell B.B. to get back to work.
He flipped the folder open. A single sheet of paper with four paragraphs typed out on it was inside.
Not much to the solution for world peace.
He picked up the paper and read it. B.B. watched him the entire time, rocking from side to side.
“Would you stop that?” Francis barked.
“Sorry.” B.B. stood still.
It took half a minute to read the solution, and Francis was in disbelief. It was the most absurd thing he had heard.
With his head turned down, he looked up to B.B. “You’ve verified this?”
“Yes. It’s a chain reaction. If we can set those two events in motion, everything else will fall into place.”
“Do you know how impossible it seems that these … people, for lack of a better word, are the key to making it happen?”
“I do. I thought the same thing. Everyone below me had the same response. But after running it through our systems, everything points to it being the catalyst.”
What could he say? All these years of never coming close to a solution and now there was one.
“Our computers tell us this?”
“To what degree of accuracy.”
“98.9 percent. Which is saying a lot. Any other solution before this carried a 12.1 percent probability at the highest.”
Francis looked from B.B. to the paper and back to B.B. He didn’t want to do it. He wanted to say forget it. A solution was impossible.
But at the same time, if it was correct it could mean a lot of things for him. He was in charge of the entire operation. Had been for three presidential terms. He would get the credit for world peace and live out the rest of his days like a king. No. Not a king. Something better. Something that had yet to be defined. He would define it. He would get that time with his family sailing on the ocean.
If it was wrong. Well … he wouldn’t allow that to happen. He would keep this under wraps until the time came. Only those who needed to know would know.
“Okay,” Francis said. “This doesn’t go beyond you and me. Everyone below will not be privy to us moving forward with it. That is until it is public.”
“Fine. What do you need me to do?”
“Gather our four people mentioned in the solution. We need to let them know they can bring about world peace.”
He grabbed the computer mouse, moved the pointer over the last card, clicked, held, and dragged it onto the final pile of cards.
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