Henry climbed out of his van, hitched up his toolbelt, and looked around the office park. Shiny black box buildings with vast parking lots grew out of the flat prairie. Pathetic trees swayed in oases of green along the asphalt desert.
The secretary in the building directed Henry to the eighth floor. As he left the elevator, he heard the shouts of voices. Since nobody met him at the elevator, he went towards the voices.
A tremendous clamor came from behind a closed door. The office staff stood around on this side of it, staring at each other.
"Fucking shit, let me out of here!"
Henry recognized the voice. It was his twin brother's voice.
"What's going on here?" he asked.
A woman peeled off from the group.
"We're, um, having a bit of trouble with our copier."
"Let me guess, you called Larry's Printer Repair."
The woman looked shocked.
"Why, yes. Did you see their truck outside?"
"No, but Larry's my brother and I heard his voice."
"Well, there's something else..." the woman began, but Henry shook his head and held up a hand to silence her.
"He's jammed that room full of duplicates of himself. I already know. He's been doing that to copiers since he was two. Twins were enough of a surprise to my poor mama and papa, and suddenly having six mouths to feed was even more of a shock."
"But, how? Why? I mean, we didn't see the duplicates but we heard them talking in there."
"Because he's a fuck-up, if you'll pardon my language, but the family is decidedly sick of his shit, if you'll pardon my language, and he can very well go take a long fuck off of a short pier, if you'll pardon my language."
Henry walked up to the door and rapped on it.
"Listen up, Larrys, it's Henry."
The commotion stopped. "Why did you say 'Larrys?' There's only one of us in here," came a voice through the door.
"Who was just talking?" Henry asked.
"I was...talking to myself."
"So you won't mind me coming in?" Henry asked.
"There's no room," came the reply.
Then a pause.
"Well, you really fucked that one up."
"Hey, you're the one who was elbowing me in the ribs."
"You started it."
"Shut up!" Henry yelled through the door. "I'm going to clean up your mess and fix the customer's copier, but you have to promise me something."
"Stop trying to fix copiers. How many of you are running around now?"
"I did stop! The other Larrys haven't, though, and I'm not going to stay retired if they won't!"
"Open the door," Henry said.
The lock clicked and he pressed on it.
"There's no room for it to swing open! You just jabbed Larry in the ribs!"
Henry leaned his forehead against the door and sighed.
"This is exactly how you put mama and papa in the grave," Henry said. "And I'm through feeling bad for you. I'm leaving. Sort this out yourself."
Henry spun on his heel to leave.
"I put mama and papa in the grave? No way! I may have put a little more strain on the household than you, but you're the one that put them in the grave. You poisoned them and made it look like stress-related heart attacks. After you got me declared insane and unable to receive any inheritance because I claimed that I could make copies of myself. And then after you lost your medical license you decided to follow me in my career choice!"
Henry stared straight into the flourescent light fixture. The assembled crowd backed away.
"I was young and stupid, okay? Look, Larry, I don't know what to say."
He was greeted with silence.
"Larry, can we talk about this?"
No reply came from behind the door.
"So you're just going to gie me the silent treatment. Fine, then I'll do the same," Henry said, and walked out of the office.
"Wait! What about the copier?"
"You'll have to see what you can do, I'm done," Henry said, as the elevator doors closed.
Henry left the building and went home.
Later that night, a knock came on Henry's apartment door. He opened it and welcomed in two Larrys, one of whom was actually named Frank.
"How did your escape go?" Henry asked, opening up beers for the three of them.
"Great," Frank said. "We managed to get on the network and got plenty of documents for our client. There was also a cache in the machine that held all of the documents that they'd copied since they bought the damn thing. Nobody knew it was there."
"Sneaking in wasn't too hard?"
"No. The vent was plenty easy to use, it tied into a utility room on that floor with access to the main stairs, which as we determined were completely unused. All in all, a great haul of information. We'll be able to demand top dollar from our client."
The Moral: if you don't exercise by taking the stairs then you may as well be handing over all of your industrial secrets to spies.