Dale yawned, scanning the files splayed out in front of him: foreign military operations, politically-motivated assassinations, and the ever so common infidelity. Keeping secrets wasn’t as glamorous a job as one might think, mainly because the fun of secrets was divulging them. Dale, on the other hand, had never crossed a client– in this business reputation was everything.
He was sipping his room-temperature morning coffee when the bell above his office door chimed. Now this was quite a change of pace. Most of Dale’s clients held high offices and adorned themselves with military medals. Not her though. She was as plain as a Jane could get. Auburn hair, glasses awkwardly shaped for her face, long black sleeves, and acid washed jeans.
Dale cleared his throat. “Er, can I help you miss…”
“Evelyn. Just Evelyn.” She said, straining to overcome her small voice.
“Miss Evelyn.” Dale nodded. “Are you in the right place?” Dale cleared his desk of folders and brought his clasped hands to kiss the underside of his chin.
She stood behind the chair opposite of Dale, afraid to look him in the eye. He motioned Evelyn to take the seat. She did. “I hope so. You’re Mr. Carnegie. Dale Carnegie?”
Dale smiled reassuringly. The first step of secret keeping was building a rapport with the client. “That I am. Dale Carnegie, keeper of secrets. At your service.” He extended a hand and Evelyn took it meekly. “Nice to meet you Evelyn.”
“Now Evelyn, what secrets can I keep for you today? Personal, political, sexual? Whatever it is, it’ll be safe with me.”
Evelyn shifted in her seat and picked at the skin of her left thumb. “Er, personal, I guess.”
Dale opened the metal cabinet at his side and thumbed through manila folders until he reached “personal.” He reached in, grabbed some paperwork, and handed it to Evelyn following it up with a pen.
“Here,” Dale said, pointing with his pen. “And here, are my privacy statements and rates. You’ll just want to read those over quickly and sign at the bottom. Then we can get started.”
Evelyn took the paper, wordlessly. Her eyes darted across the page and after a moment scribbled a signature and initials at the bottom of the page. “Okay,” she said, handing back the page. Next she produced a checkbook and made one out to Dale’s Keepers LLC. for $2,000. He took both and scanned each.
“Okay,” Dale began. “Now that the paper works done, in record time I might add,” he added as an afterthought. Evelyn’s icey stare didn’t change. “We can get started.”
Dale pressed a button underneath his desk parting the top. The transfer machine, Dale’s name for it, extended from the belly of the desk with a mechanical hum. Four diodes extended from the machine, two red, two black. Dale took his, one of each, licked the plastic, and stuck them to his temples. Evelyn followed along, preferring to exhale on the plastic instead of licking.
Dale looked at Evelyn, wires dangling. “Ready?” He asked. She nodded. “Alright, Evelyn. Now, when I flip this switch,” Dale pointed at the red switch at the base of the machine. “Just think of the secret you wish for me to keep and let go. Got it.”
She nodded. “Mhmm.”
He flipped the switch and the two sat staring at eachother for what seemed like hours. Evelyn’s face slowly drained of her nervous tension while Dale’s filled with horror. When the transfer completed, Dale ripped the diodes off, and dove to his wastebasket, choking back vomit. Evelyn sat on the other side of the desk, contented. An almost morphine-like calmness had washed over her.
Dale pulled himself back to his chair. There were tears in his eyes and specks of vomit on his tye. “Please…please don’t.” He pleaded with Evelyn.
She turned to look at Dale, her eyes half shut. “I’m sorry.” She stood, gathered her checkbook and briskly walked out of his office.
Dale scrambled for his phone and dialed home. After the first two rings his wife answered– a momentary lapse in his panic. “Honey, listen, listen,” he said sinking to the fetal position on the floor. “I love you. I love you. Tell Danny I love him. No. No. I have to go now.”