Friday, August 12, 2011

Front Page

7:48 AM

"That's a punch line. Everything on the front page is an end of a story. The real tragedy is in believing this is all there is to tell." George Papakonopilis' steady fingers pointed at the bold text that spelled out various headlines describing how many people were harmed by actions perpetrated by others. George was a subject matter expert, and was thus known in the department as The Wiz, or G-Wiz by confidants.
"There is no bad news in China," wheezed confidant 1.
"Censorship doesn't count, Hu. Muck raking requires the finally honed cynicism of a free mind," rebutted confidant 2.
G-Wiz handed Hu an asthma medicine pump in the off-handedness produced by familiarity. "Plus one for rattling Sinclair's bones, John," with a glance at confidant 2, "but let's go further back in time."
Hu and John looked at their watches strapped to different arms, Hu his right, John his left, and concluded simultaneously the group was reaching a delicate threshold.
"Tragic headlines are like the preludes to Hellenistic plays; they provide a synopsis of what the audience should expect." GWiz continued his exposition as the three carefully merged with the demoralized coffee machine line. A gallery of contemporary beverage containers modelled by the pouting tragically hip and self-absorbed, the procession was not unlike a catwalk. It was almost eight A.M., those workaholics who arrived early had already fought for their place in line not unlike Southwest Airline customers. The eight A.M. crowd hadn't arrived yet, or had decided to wait for the line to recede. There was a delicate point in time before the eight A.M.-ers put in their ante and when the go-getters decided going to meetings, writing reports, or delegating tasks was more important than their third cup of caffeine for the day. "You already knew how the plot would run, the play was about a finely crafted verse, emotion. News is similar, though not as elegant, but the flair for the dramatic is not lost. Somebody carved up his old lady and ate her grilled vagina? Great, which page can we read about his recipe."

Like the gusts of wind from a very large butterfly flapping its wings, the words of GWiz had subtle, and not so subtle, reverberations down the coffee line. Some shuffled showing doubt, others bolted immediately, then some were invigorated by the vacuum, still others felt they need to verbally transfer their discomfort to the work ahead or the coffee they were about to abandon. Chaos theory was a fully practiced discipline at OC Wen, Inc.

"You just pulled an Old Larry!" Hu exclaimed stepping aside giving obeisance and his place in line to GWiz. "Though you are more likely to get fired than become a New Lawrence."

"How is the Old L?" Inquired John.

"He is doing better than we are. He isn't here yet." Hu raised his volume and kept it there a little while after the coffee machine finished gurgling into his cup. "Probably realized the true perk of advancement is not having to impress with such mundane things as working extra hours."

"Good morning, Resources. Don't forget to get squirt of lemon in your morning cup of grog."

"My name is John, Portia. And..." An autonomic response in John pulled his attention from reinforcing the dyke around his self-esteem and focus on more bodily concerns.

"Sorry about the bump there, Resource John. Here, use these aloe infused towels. My kids are always getting burned, too." Portia patted the scorching liquid off John's hands, paused evaluating his choice of pants and decided against commenting. "Lemon satiates cravings for sweets and prolongs hunger. Keep up the good work, Resources."

"That's going to be a second degree burn. I know a good lawyer, John." Hu's inhaler exhaled punctuation.

GWiz handed John a plate. "Have a Boston Creme. I'll...I'll have some lemon. The saleswoman has sold it."

* * *

GWiz escorted John and Hu back to the pod of four cubicles of which two of which were theirs. Here there was much more natural light compared to George's single-serving closet, so he turned his eyes toward a more welcoming site, his cellphone screen.

"The amount of money that woman got for suing McDonald's was a lot lower in the end. The restaurant appealed and won a reduction to a hundredth of the original award." Said John trying to deflate any thought that the matter wasn't in the past.

"Portia was filling two cups at once, I'm sure there is a policy written at some time that prohibits that." Hu pushed.

"I think the other cup was for a shot of Earl Grey. Plus, she's nice."

"John, don't let the skirt blind you from cashing in on this serendipity. 'Shots' are definitely preceded in the handbook by 'prohibited.' I know." Hu stretched his arms and took a confidently wide, if sober, stance. "It is nice of everyone to stand by the windows. I feel like I can breathe again."

"Don't bother, John." GWiz warned in response to John's attempt to join the crowd of gawkers. "Just sit down in your comfy chair and enjoy the free coffee. Sip it slow."

Conceding, John adjusted the office chair and reclined. "Yes, let's be in a good frame of mind before work." Biting into the Boston Creme, "this certainly helps."

"Don't worry about work, John." GWiz said flatly, his face illuminated by the light of the screen. "We've just been fired."



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