Story by
Robert Winter

“What kind of loan was it you wanted to apply for again, sir?”

The young woman with sleek pulled-back hair leaned over her desk toward him, as if her comprehension might increase with physical proximity.
Willis McGinty wished he hadn’t come.
“It would be a business loan.  But secured by my house, of course.”

He squirmed in a stylish chair that hadn’t really been built for his large frame.  He had envisioned this conversation taking place with a man, probably middle-aged, and in a private office—not this open collection of desks, which was distinguished from the rest of the bank only by a change in floor covering.   Glancing out the broad plate glass windows at a parking lot ringed by convenience businesses flanking a supermarket, he imagined neighbors running casual errands looking in and seeing him in his earnest discomfiture.

“Mm-hmmm.  And what type of business are you in?”

“Well, I'm a retired—but that's beside the point.  It's a new business.   It's a—well, it's this.”

Thrusting his hand into a rustling paper bag, McGinty produced a glass cologne spray bottle filled with a greenish liquid.
The young woman stared dubiously at it.  “Oh, so you've, uh, come up with some sort of new, ah, fragrance?”

“Well, not exactly.  But take a whiff, anyway.”

Before her look of wariness could translate itself into actual evasive action, McGinty pumped out a small cloud of mist.

Almost at once, her expression changed to one of simple puzzlement and curiosity.

“What is that?”

“I don't know exactly what to call it,” said McGinty, “but it makes people be nice to you.”