A visitor from overseas had arrived at the offices of BradParksBooks.com, receiving the warmest welcome from an unlikely source.
Peter, the slothful intern, had slicked down his normally unruly hair and tucked in his shirt, which he had actually ironed for the first time in months. He was taking a break from his legendary lethargy to give the visitor an energetic tour.
"This is where we keep the colored pencils," Peter said, pointing into the supply closet. "If you find yourself thinking of a rainbow, it's because I've arranged them by the wavelength of light they emit, from short to long."
He gestured toward a table that had a postage meter next to several stacks of paper.
"Here is our newly established direct mail station," he continued. "The tri-fold on the letters has been measured by lasers so that it's perfect thirds. This saves an average of point-two seconds per insertion, which reduces the time to assemble larger mailings by several valuable minutes."
Next it was onto the filing cabinet.
"The master index of contents is located here," he said, pulling out the first drawer. "And then within each folder, there is a sub-index. It's all alphabetized, except when it's more appropriate—as in the case of certain dated materials—to be ordered chronologically. Nothing goes in here without being properly catalogued."
Zach, the silly intern, was watching the entire spectacle from afar. It took him a few minutes before he could overcome his shock and sidle up next to Sarah, the smart intern.
"Okay, what is going on?" Zach asked under his breath. "Is this body snatchers or just end of days?"
"No, it's Greta," Sarah replied.
"Greta, the German intern," Sarah said. "She's here as part of an intern exchange program."
"Okay. Why Germany?"
"Haven't you heard? Say Nothing, which the Germans know as Nicht Ein Wort, spent six weeks on Der Spiegel Buchreport. That's the German equivalent of the New York Times bestseller list. Brad is now, officially, an international bestselling author. Weren't you here when he made us change the bio?"
"Yeah, but what's come over Peter?"
"He believes in the stereotype that Germans only care about efficiency and organization," Sarah explained. "He pulled an all-nighter reorganizing everything in an attempt to impress Greta."
"That's stupid even by my standards. And my standards are low," Zach said. He paused before asking, "Is it actually working?"
Sarah just shook her head.
Meanwhile, in news from the English-speaking world, Closer Than You Know is now in its second month post-release, and it continues to be the book no one can put down.
The Sunday Times of London called it "gripping" and "Grisham-like." The Star-Ledger declared it "spellbinding." The Virginian-Pilot deemed it a "blockbuster."
The Richmond Times-Dispatch said it was, "a top-notch thriller (with) clever storytelling, pitch-perfect dialogue. . . (Parks') latest work reaffirms his stature as an adroit and accomplished author whose abilities shine brighter with each novel."
Closer Than You Know's launch—and associated publicity—also resulted in Brad officially being recognized as Hardee's writer in residence. The corporate office even took out a beautiful full-page ad in Brad's local paper to celebrate.
The story about the relationship between the writer and the restaurant received national attention in the food trade press, including Franchise Times, Nation's Restaurant News, and Genius Kitchen.
It was all quite a ride. And it kept the interns busy, fielding requests for Brad to appear on TV.
Still, nothing they did quite compared to the effort Peter was extending in his attempts to woo Greta—who, as Sarah correctly surmised, seemed distinctly unimpressed.
Which was only causing Peter to grow more desperate.
"Would you like to see our publicity materials?" he asked. "I've annotated all our press releases going back to 2009. Or, or. . . we can arrange Brad's backlist by page length. Or—"
"Actually," Greta said. "I am what you call, ehh. . . müde."
Peter, who didn't speak German, looked at Greta expectantly while she groped for the word.
"It's, ehh, 'tired.' Yes. That's it, tired," she said, then lowered her tone. "Sometimes, when I'm at work, I like to sneak off for a nap. Do you know a place where I can do that?"
Peter got a wicked grin on his face.
"I don't know a place," he said. "I know five. Let's go."
Yours in Indolence,
The BradParksBooks.com Interns