by James R. Tomlinson
That bastard Gerard made corporate. Two decades campaigning. No lab experience. No exposure. If I had hair I’d pull it out. The shareholders are grooming him for a take over. Call it “preferential downsizing.” He’s seated next to Colonel Drakeford, CEO of Geo Chemicals, Inc.
“Pass the shrimp,” Drakeford says.
The shrimp-platter-express moves from executive to executive with one final hurdle: Gerard. He speaks, his voice amplified, “We need more cutbacks in Research & Development.”
That’s my department. “The best defense,” I advised Drakeford, “is a slow, time-releasing agent. Believe me, I know.” He agrees, yet his sustenance comes first. He reaches for the shrimp but Gerard pulls away.
“Now now,” Drakeford says into the microphone.
Is he placating Gerard or cueing me?
“Members of the Board, Shareholders, Employees …”
“…I’d like to present one last Geo Award.”
I carry a crystal egg down the aisle and place it on the table under the soft lights. The crimson cut alloy shimmers.
The whole damn thing is staged. How ironic: an award for longevity. Gerard’s flabbergasted. He relinquishes the shrimp platter and cradles the egg. Drakeford starts chomping shrimp and dropping tails.
“I’m speechless,” Gerard says. He inspects the egg. “I think there’s a hairline fracture in this.” He leans into Drakeford whose face reddens. It’s at this moment that Drakeford realizes I’ve deviated from the plan.
I tell them both about the cost of extracting airborne radioactive Polonium-210. I remove my hat.
(James R. Tomlinson, author of “Adopted Behaviors” (Motor City Burning Press, 2010), has cautiously returned to blogging. Look for his flash-memoir at Sleet Magazine this Fall.)