"Zorikh?" the confused voice on the other end of the line was not his tormentor's. Not the rich, full voice with the slight Teutonic glaze. It was instead the practiced-mellow partly nasal definitely Brooklyn voice of his art agent Stanley Lee (no relation to the comic book icon) "Zorikh, what's the matter over there? You freaking out or what?"
"Stan." Zorikh's upper body pitched forward slightly, as if he had run his lower half into something solid. "Stan." He said again, in lieu of anything lucid.
"What the heck's going on over there? You all right buddy? How's it going?"
"Uh..." Zorikh thought out his reply for a brief moment then said, "just watching the remainder of the Superbowl, fixing buckles. All that good stuff." What could he say? That he had been talking to his television and had spent the last quarter playing phone siege with a woman whom he didn't know, who had an enchanting way of speaking by the way? "Did the Giants lose yet?"
There was a short pause on the line. "I thought you were watching the game!"
"I uh," what would he believe? "I stepped into the kitchen to make apple snacks."
"Right, munchies, well you gotta love 'em. Listen, Zorikh," Stan's mellow-voice kicked into mellow-turbo, warning Zorikh that the business talk was about to commence. "I wanted to talk to you about the pieces you gave me for the Griffin Game project."
Griffin Games was an up and coming role playing game company. Zorikh had met the creators last week to show them his portfolio and some concept sketches. They had expressed some interest in his work for their "Mere Mystic" handbook. They had told Zorikh that they liked his style, the sensitivity of the facial expressions, the detail of his costumes and his aura. Zorikh had thought that they all laughed funny. "The wanabee Gygaxes, right." Zorikh said in is I-should-have-left-this-as-an-unspoken-thought voice.
"That's them." Stan laughed. "Anyway buddy, I'd like to get together with you sometime this week to go over these rough sketches you gave them."
"They didn't like them?" It was more of a statement than a question. Zorikh had discovered all too soon that being good and being marketable were two different floating islands in the vast commercial art sewer. There seemed to always be a reason that his work was less than acceptable; sometimes there was no reason at all.
"Zorikh, buddy, they loved them." Stan's voice was in true mellow smooth gear now. "We just need to get together and hammer out some details, and get some of their expectations straight. Listen bud, this feels like a good one. I mean, they like your stuff. They really like it! Let's just get on the same page as these guys so we can move from here. So when's a good time to get together?"
A traditional moment of stalling was necessary before Zorikh told Stan, "Tomorrow after work, around seven." He didn't really know why he always did that to Stan. It was probably done in an old movie somewhere.
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