Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 15: The Corner Office
The prompt this week was as follows: 'You arrange for a weekend getaway at a friend's cabin in the country, but Mother Nature decides to extend your stay with a blizzard. You're trapped. Tell us what happens.' My snowstorm caused a bit more of a problem than just drifts. I hope you enjoy.
The Corner Office
Here we go again on that same old merry-go-round. I’ve worked my fingers to the bone for this firm for some 20 odd years, and when an opportunity opens up, they bring someone in from the outside. Getting that corner office has been my dream ever since my first day on the job. You see, it isn’t just the office I want; it’s the glory that goes with it. That particular office has a door inside that connects it to the office of the company’s president. The position it represents is that of Executive Vice President, and in addition to having all the ad men report to him, he’s also responsible for all the marketing campaigns of our biggest clients.
Word around the office is that whoever holds that position has the option to delegate some of their accounts if they choose to do so. That’s where I come in. I belong in that office – I always have, but if it’s not meant to be, if I suck up and get close to whoever holds that position, he would be agreeable to assigning some those big commission accounts to me. I know what you’re thinking. Suck up and be a phony-bologna just to get a bigger check at the end of the month? You betcha. I have no scruples or sense of fair play. I’m in advertising. Enough said.
Jasper Sterner had been the Executive VP since the firm was started. The man was older than dirt, and finally retired. I had high hopes for that promotion, but it never came to pass. They brought in a joker named Stanley Carver. Everyone tried to get close to him, but he was cold as ice to all. Except me, that is. One day while he was passing the coffee kiosk in the building’s lobby, I made sure he heard me tell the girl behind the counter about my friend’s cabin in the woods and how anxious I was for a few days of R&R. Stanley paid a visit to my cubicle later that afternoon to ask me for more information about my plans for the weekend. I told him all about the cabin, the lakes, the fishing, the hunting, and the general overall calmness of the place.
My friend bought that place mostly as an investment and isn’t really the outdoor type, and he lets me use it whenever I’d like. It turns out our boy Stanley loves all that fishing crap and would love a few days away from the hustle and bustle before he digs his heels into his new job. I knew he wasn’t married, so he’d be able to take off at a moment’s notice. I told him I’d pick him up at his front door and we’d head out. I also suggested he leave no word as to where he would be so the peons who worked Saturday and Sunday wouldn’t pester him. He thanked me for my consideration. That’s me; always looking out for the other guy.
On the drive up, he opened a discussion about our firm and his new job. I expressed concern over his having to manage all the other consultants as well as our biggest clients. He thanked me, but said worry was not necessary. He already had his eye on the consultant in the cube next to me, an arrogant young techie with no people skills named Jeffrey Baily. An up n’ comer, he told me, and definitely his go-to-guy when he needed assistance. So much for sucking up. When we arrived at the cabin, before we settled in, he walked to the edge of the lake to check it out. He was very anxious to get a bit of fishing in before the sun set.
I retrieved the shovel I kept outside against the wall by the door and hit him on the head. After dropping his suitcases into the lake, I buried him in a shallow grave. I’d be sound asleep in the cabin before the bears showed up looking for their dinner. When Stanley didn’t show up for work Monday morning, I started the rumor that he decided the job was too much for him with his failing health. No one at the firm knew he was ill and they ate up the story. People do so love drama.
The next candidate they brought in, Harold Fitzhugh, had the same misguided goal of reaching out to that backstabber, Jeffrey. Harry was easily disposed of once I learned he couldn’t swim. A quick row out to the center of the lake to check out the view and…well, you get the picture. I spread it around that he ran off with one of the secretaries. People will believe anything as long as it’s juicy.
So, after all that, I got the corner office, right? Wrong. They didn’t go outside the company that time. They gave the job to Jeffrey. Yes. You heard me correctly. So, I decided to invite Jeff for the weekend. I was not beneath sucking up to him to try to share some of his accounts. Surprised? I thought I’d made it clear there’s no limit to how low I will sink. He was hesitant being so late in the year and the weather being so unpredictable, but I managed to convince him the break would be good for him. Fresh start on the new job and all.
It began to snow about halfway to the cabin, and by the time we arrived, it was coming down so hard and fast, the road we came in on had been covered in drifts. Jeffrey began to panic, but I told him there was plenty of food and water, a generator to keep the lights on and a fireplace to keep us warm. We could barely open the door to get in and when we closed it, snow from the roof fell in front of the door. When we tried to open it, there was nothing but a wall of snow. We were trapped – for how long, we didn’t know. I didn’t care because this would give me the opportunity to butter him up before he took over as VP. Little did I know he’d go full Postal.
He started pacing and mumbling something about Donner Pass. I wasn’t familiar with the reference so I suggested having a drink.
“A drink?” Jeffrey gasped. “I know what you’re planning. You want to drug me so you can dismember me, cook me and eat off me until the snow melts.”
“What?” I was horrified. “Jeffrey, I don’t want to cook you. The cupboards are full of Spaghetti-O’s and tuna. What’s the matter with you?”
“I can’t stand it,” he started crying. “I can’t breathe. The walls are closing in. You won’t get me. I won’t let you.”
“Jeff,” I tried to reason with him. “We’ve been here less than half an hour. There’s no need to pan…”
That’s when he sucker punched me. When I came to, my hands were tied behind my back and my feet were tied together. Two lamps were next to me. He had tied me with lamp cords.
“Jeff, listen to me,” I said quietly. “We’re going to be fine. There’s plenty of food and water for both of us. The storm will subside, and the county will clear the roads. I was snowed in here last year for a few days, but it all worked out. Take a deep breath and relax. Please untie me, Jeff. I’ll make us some dinner and hot chocolate. Do you like hot chocolate?”
I hoped I was getting through.
“I’m sorry,” Jeff said, drying the tears from his eyes. “It’s just that I don’t do well in tight spaces. I know we’re in a cabin, but we’re surrounded by snow drifts and we can’t get out. Perhaps I overreacted a little.”
Overreacted a little? Okay. Untie me, you loon.
“Untie me, Jeff, will you?”
“Sure, Todd. Again, I’m so sorry. Guess I came down with a case of cabin fever, huh?”
Yeah. Cabin Fever. Not even an hour in.
I heated up some canned beef stew and got us a couple of beers. I stirred several sleeping pills into Jeff’s so we wouldn’t have another episode of cabin fever. I plan to keep him unconscious until the roads clear. Once I can leave, I’m going to dispose of him too. Forget sucking up. He’s not worth the effort; I mean, he tied me up with lamp cords.
With him finally out of the way, the corner office has to be mine. I can’t keep this up, you know. The way I figure it, sooner or later the local wildlife are going to lose their taste for shills in suits.