A Man Called Norse

GARY GLAUBER

I was in the conference room, reading over my notes. This was our big shot at the entire Freyja beauty and cosmetics line, including its hair products division. With this flagging economy, we needed large clients with big budgets. Freyja could be our salvation.

Being as how we got this last-minute idea together with no time to rehearse beforehand, I was anxious and distracted. As such, I didn't see her walk in. It was as though I'd blinked, then she appeared.

She was outstanding. Long, straight, blonde hair braided on one side, and possessed of blue eyes with an intensity that could scratch glass. There was a sense of confident fight about her, as if ready to take on any argument.  Her smart business suit seemed custom-made for her ample curves, though as she moved, the micro-fiber material seemed to reflect the light in strange ways. The flickering was akin to witnessing the Northern Lights; I figured this was the start of one nasty migraine.

Stress didn't prevent my noticing the short skirt or the smooth shapely treat it held. Her legs were nothing short of perfection. Having dealt with Freyja before, I knew the company reps slated to attend our little presentation. No one on that list had her type of instant allure. As I looked at this stranger, I realized she could be the perfect spokesmodel for our client. But I could see she was likely above that.

"Hello," I said, trying to strike a balance in tone that was friendly yet authoritative. "May I help you?"

"I am here for you. Others might not see it, but I do. You are very brave to be presenting so weak a campaign in such a way today."

"Excuse me, but who are you?"

"I am called many names.  They are unimportant. My job is to exercise precise judgment in locating heroes."

"Heroes?"

"Brave souls — men who stand above the fray. That is why you have been chosen."

I didn't see myself as brave.  I did what I had to do to survive, nothing more. And chosen? I'd given up on magazine sweepstakes and lotteries long ago. There were no contests about to proclaim me a winner.

"Look, miss, I'm flattered. But really, what's this all about?"

"After you are slain in heroic battle, I shall escort you to Valhalla."

"Slain in battle? Say again?"

"Let me put it in modern terms: You'll bungle this presentation badly. You'll lose the account, your job, your livelihood. Following this, you will accompany me to the great feasting hall. We'll take Metro North."

"You must be joking."

"No. Odin will receive us there."

"Who is this Odin?"

"Odin is the source of all life, the giver of soul. He keeps well-informed at his palatial estate, watching the ways of this world. Are you familiar with the news show Hugin and Munin?"

"That's on Fox, right?"

"They're best known for their daily editorial commentary Thought and Memory. Odin gave them their start."

"Impressive. But you must have the wrong guy. I don't fit into that scene."

"But you do. I am one of Odin's messengers, entrusted to make such choices, to find the noble heroes. Know me now for what I am: a Valkyrie."

She looked so winsome and appealing, and yet I had the battle of my advertising life starting in just a few minutes time.

"Look, maybe we could kick this around a bit over some lunch?"

"There is nothing to discuss. We will go to Valhalla. I'll be waiting in the lobby."

Just as I espied the oversized coterie of my demanding client making their noisy way through the glass doors of reception, she vanished.

I shook my head, gulped down three Advil with some strong coffee, and tried to steady my nerves. The flickering lights subsided in her absence. Who was that oddly fetching woman? Was I losing my mind? Were the slides in the proper order?  Were the new packaging comps ready to show? Had the storyboards been re-done as instructed?

As the well-dressed suits began to take their seats around the inlaid cherry wood table, I could taste the excitement. This was going to be quite a Wednesday.

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