The Tennis Museum had been built in New York City in 2015. Through the years, its constant renovations had seen a tentacle-like expanse that incorporated every corner of Tennis history.
There were large rooms for every era and each was accompanied by several walled monitors of video footage designed to transport its visitors to those respective eras.
Among those many rooms was a long dimly lit hall which was grounded with a solid grey marble floor. Aptly entitled "The Gallery Of Fame," the incredible length of the hall meant that the wide immaculate marble narrowed almost to nothing as far as the eye could see.
On either side of the walls were larger than life portraits of the various legends that played the game. Each portrait was infused with powerful lighting that breathed the essence into each of its stilled subjects.
It was an ordinary day in October 2044. The Gallery had been closed for a few hours. Each portrait nestled in darkness with just a faint hum of the emergency lights. The eerie quiet was interrupted by the creaks of the entrance door.
Two janitorial figures came through. Skip Blake, 65, was a long-time caretaker of this room. His assistant was Joe Watson, a young man, fresh out of high school.
The two slowly wheeled in their cart of cleaning supplies and Skip flicked on a switch which brought the room to a life of living color.
Skip let out a sigh as if met by a long lost friend. Joe was perplexed. He was just curious about the work that had to be done.
Skip must have noticed as the spell had been momentarily broken. His being brought back to reality lead him to give the instructions to his new apprentice.
"Floors need to be swept and mopped. Floor waxing is once every Sunday and the portraits need a light dusting," he said.
Almost as soon as he had finished. Joe had the broom out and was sweeping at light speed while applying to each portrait as he went. Skip watched in silence, his arms folded.
Though the hallway was long, Skip was amazed at the speed in which Joe returned. He grabbed his mop and was about to take off when Skip grabbed his arm.
Joe: No? What do you mean?
Joe (Perplexed): But....I don't hear anything.
Skip: Exactly. You have to embrace that as you work otherwise you won't hear them.
Joe: Hear whom?
Skip: Them. (Pointing to the portraits) Give me the mop and walk with me.
They walked slowly as Skip eased the mop on the floor. The first portrait they came to was Andy Murray.
Skip: Andy does not like it when you scurry by him. You need to comfort him because he never feels comfortable in his own skin. Be respectful of him or he will curse you and that stays with you a long time. I know.
Skip: Next we have Pete Sampras. Pete is a fierce competitor but a real warm gentleman. You need to give him a wink to let him know that everything is all right and he is in good hands under care.
Joe: Are you serious? These are portraits.
Skip: They could become more if you allow them to. Over here we have Andre Agassi blowing kisses to the crowd. Blow him a kiss and you will feel his charm.
Joe: This is crazy.
Skip: Maybe but there is much method to this madness. Now over here, the great Rafael Nadal doing a fist pumping action. A simple "Vamos" keeps him from furrowing his eyebrows.
Skip: Ahh..Andy Roddick complete with puffed cheeks as he prepares to serve. If you have a smart-ass comment, Andy would love to hear it and sometimes he will even reply.
Joe: Wait a minute. Back up you missed a portrait. This one is of....James Blake.
Skip: I skipped him because it is not time. (He stares for a bit, a tear or two threatening to fall) . However, for you, you should chat him up for a bit. I think he would like that very much.
Joe: You know he looks like.....
Skip: Moving on, we have John McEnroe. Don't let him fool you. He is a grouch on the outside but inside he is a softy. We had to move his neighbour down one because they could not get along.
Joe: Who was that?
Skip: You'll see. His new neighbour is none other than Bjorn Borg. Borg is quiet but he always comes out to watch you if you are good at what you do. Our next portrait is Ivan Lendl.
Joe: So this guy and John...
Skip: Yes they had an unfriendly rivalry so a little distance is good. Over here we have Lleyton Hewitt. Once in a while if you hear "Come On" with an Aussie accent, Lleyton is your man.
Joe: G'dai Mate..
Skip: No fake Aussie accents..he really does not take kindly to that. Next up, Roger Federer. I usually take my bic lighter and light it up for Roger but I never bring it anywhere near his portrait.
Joe: Why do you do that?
Skip: It is a sixties and seventies tradition that has carried on...obviously not to your generation. This is a portrait of Novak Djokovic. Novak is special. He will mimic you when you are not looking so try not to do anything silly.
Skip: Well we have reached the end. Remember what I have told you and they will treat you well and maybe let you in on a few of their secrets.
As Joe is about to leave, he hears a voice. "You cannot be serious!" Joe turns around and finds the hall as empty as he left it.
Joe: Did you hear that?
Skip: Hear what?
Joe shakes his head and then leaves. Skip watches him closely as he goes.
Skip: You will be just fine my friend.
He turns to the empty hall of portraits.
Skip: My friends, my time with you has come to an end. You were in good hands under my care and you will continue to be in good hands well into the future. Rest well for you know I will be among you.
As Skip closed the door, he heard a strong "Vamos!" and chuckled quietly to himself. He went on to live the rest of natural life in peace knowing that "The Gallery Of Fame" would continue to live on.