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April 15, 2024

Gamble 05

By Sailor Jim Johnston

I goggled at him. After all the incredible events of the past hour . . . He honestly believed that I was some sort of business superman, unable to make a bad decision or choice, on the strength of which he was willing to make my life a Cinderella story, all the way to moving me practically into his own home, free of charge or rent.

But he was going to play hardball on the decor of my office?

"Well . . . " I stalled, doing my level best not to laugh. I walked into the middle of the office, slowly turning and making a small production. The walls were one shade of teal, the carpet another and the drapes a third. All the furniture, with the exception of the executive chair behind the desk and the desk, itself, were a fourth shade of teal. The modern art on the walls were exclusively in complimentary shades of teal to the walls.

Heck, the door to the bathroom was carefully blended into the teal of the wall and the teal of the stained wainscoting. Only the doorknob was exempt, and it was cloud white. All in all, this was, without exception, one of the ugliest offices I'd ever seen.

On the other hand, cover anything with enough money and it begins to take on a rustic charm all its own.

"Okay," I agreed, walking back to the desk and signing the contract with a flourish, then flashing him a grin. "No problem; if I need a break, I can always wear blue tinted glasses from time to time."

He nodded, then stood, walked over, and countersigned the contract. Then he dropped the boss attitude and shrugged, "Sorry about that, but it sorta went against the grain to play Daddy Warbucks, give you your heart's desire and not make at least one contractual stand." He fingered the brim of his fedora and sheepishly grinned. "Knee jerk reaction, I guess. Plus I have this thing about teal. All of the executive offices are done in teal . . . I suppose my shrink would be able to tell me why I really needed to do that, but I really like teal. Except for my own office, of course . . . or Debra's . . . or anywhere I have to spend a lot of time . . . odd, that." He finally shrugged and spread his hands. "Like I said, a 'thing.' Anyhow, when you decide what color you want your office (a blue motif would go very well with your secretaries office, by the way), go ahead and paint it, but the redecorating cost will have to come from your own pocket, or else all my executives will want their offices repainted, too. Fair enough?"

I shook my head, grinning. "You are a very strange man, Pol."

He barked a laugh and flipped his hat back onto his head. "You don't know the half of it, Ruck."

We walked back to his office and he briefly outlined what time he wanted me in (at least a half hour before him), how late I'd work (at least a half hour later than him), and what we'd be working on tomorrow (turns out that someone really was embezzling at the Cleveland office). We walked back into his lobby and he paused, frowned, in front of Debra's desk. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and, after a second, made a slight shrug. My apparent single bad judgment call was still bothering the people expert in him.

"Debra will give you the name of my tailor and arrange for an appointment tomorrow morning, then take you around to meet the president and vice presidents as soon as you're properly attired, which should be in a day or two after that. She'll also show you the way to the executive dining room, gym, and so forth. By the end of the tomorrow, you'll have all your official executive bric-a-brac; cell phone, pager, mobile fax, suicide pill, light saber, jet pack, or whatever else an executive assistant needs to be saddled with, nowadays." He brought both hands up to cover a massive yawn and took the opportunity to stretch. "Sorry," he chuckled, "but I was in London yesterday and I'm still fighting to catch up. I'm going to call it a day and see if I can sleep my way back to the correct time zone." He sailed his fedora onto an antique hat stand in the corner of the office with a practiced flip of his wrist, adding, "Debra, please have Raul meet me downstairs, then see to Ruck." Apparently the hat was only part of his office persona . . . interesting.

I wished him a good nights' sleep and walked him to the elevator. He smiled and shook my hand warmly, saying, "Remember, tomorrow is the beginning of what fate had in store for you from the beginning. Try not to be late, okay?"

After he left, I walked back to Debra's desk and told her what computer gear I'd need. She wrote it all down, then frowned and asked me why I was willing to settle for an eighteen-inch monitor? I frowned back at her, then remembered that I was - for the moment - Aladdin, turned loose with a very deep-pocketed genii. I told her to tear up the first list and gave her my Christmas wish list, stopping short of asking for a Cray supercomputer and virtual reality gear.

She reviewed my list and made a few suggestions, which I happily accepted. She then picked up her phone and told the tech boys what to deliver tomorrow, then called the company movers and gave them the green light to move me, then called and made an appointment for me with someone called Antonio for ten the next morning. Finally, after hanging up her phone, she asked me if I wanted my ten thousand dollar bonus in cash or as a check.

I studied her for a moment and, making up my mind, told her it depended. If she was willing to help me spend it that evening, I wanted it in cash. If not, a check would be fine. She cocked her head and studied me back, coolly.

After dinner and a show (abusing Pol's name and power to get last second reservations to the best of both), we ended up at my new digs. We both walked around, letting our collective gasts get good and flabbered. It was so amazing that I didn't even notice that my own furniture was missing until we found it, all crammed into a guest bedroom. With room to spare, I might note. Fine enough, I'd call Goodwill in the morning.

We ended up in the living room, a nice conversation pit with its own wet bar. We faced a wall long window/balcony, one with the curtains open and with an incredible view of the city twinkling in front of us. I walked over to the bar and asked Debra if there was anything she'd like, during which, a memory rose and was too good to ignore. "Perhaps a glass of water, cup of coffee, oral sex, soft drink . . . ?" I turned in time to see her color. "Or would you rather have a glass of wine? Looks like we have a pretty good choice in both red or white."

She asked for a French merlot and I poured two, and then joined her on the sofa. We sipped our drinks in companionable silence, enjoying the view. After a bit, I asked the obvious question.

She leaned back and regarded me with both eyebrows raised before replying. "Because most executives are sexist egotists, just horny gender bigots in tailored suits. It tickles me to toss the invitation out, knowing that none of them would ever dare accept. In your case, it was just habit . . . but you should have seen your face when your brain finally caught up." She started to giggle. "It was absolutely priceless. You were so cute, doing your best to ask and being too nice to ask.

"So, did I prove that I'm not one of those sexist egotists, then?" She smiled and came into my arms. I stopped short of kissing her, having to make sure she knew the straight story. "Listen; you know that I'm not really some sort of magical business mystic, don't you? All this," I nodded my head in the general direction of the window, "is mine only until your boss realizes that I'm just a regular guy who got lucky a few times and sic's his corporate lawyers on me. This time next week, we would be sitting on that old green couch you saw in the spare room."

She didn't draw back, but she looked into my eyes for a moment, then smiled and kissed me. After we broke for air, I asked the other question that had been bugging me. "What would have happened if I'd caught it and accepted?"

She looked deeply into my eyes and said, with conviction, "Absolutely nothing . . . ever."

I awoke at my usual time, five a.m., almost waking Debby (nicknames were now permitted) where she laid on my arm. After a moments disorientation, I realized where I was and that I no longer had to make a three-hour commute to work, so I relaxed and just watched Debby sleep, feeling like the luckiest man on Earth . . . then it dawned on me.

If I'd taken her up on her . . . and she was as much business related as that psycho Shirley in Accounting . . . and . . . damn.

My first realization was: I had made the right choice!

My second was: Maybe Pol wasn't a loony after all.

I laid back and smiled into the opulence of the room. I think I could really learn to enjoy being a successful man. Debby made a little happy sound in her sleep, almost an unconscious agreement, and opened her eyes.

"Good morning, Toddy." Okay, we'd deal with appropriate nicknames later. "What are you smiling about?"

I kissed the tip of her nose and pulled her closer to me. Maybe sometimes it doesn't take years of hard work and sacrifice to become a success. Maybe sometimes it just takes surviving a lot of bad luck and making a few good decisions.

"Oh, I was just thinking about having the place painted, sweetheart. What do you think about teal?"

The End

Article © Sailor Jim Johnston. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-09-11
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