Corporate Man is called in to investigate reports of vile, unethical business practices at Great American Business Company. What he finds there just might destroy him (except we all know the ending to The Tragic Death of Corporate Man so it should be fairly obvious that it can't really destroy him, though it can come close).

Enslaved by the Bonus Whores is an all new Corporate Man Adventure Serial. Chapters will post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

After nearly a decade of imprisonment, Corporate Man returns to find the economy in ruins and his deadliest enemies in control of all but a fraction of society's wealth. He embarks upon a quest to set right the wrongs of the business world; a task that will ultimately destroy him.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chapter 107

The bossman finally relented and asked the receptionist to show Emily from Human Resources in.
He’d kept her waiting for over twenty-five minutes already.
Emily was a slim woman with short, pixie-like hair.  He distrusted slim corporate types.  Their physique conveyed a lack of greed and a surplus of principles that typically made them an irritant.  This stereotype was wholly untrue as he’d met a great deal of trim, narcissistic money-grubbers in his time, as well as some annoyingly honest, chubby angels, but the bossman still maintained his ill conceived wariness.
“You never called me back so I though an in person–”
“Yes, what is it, I’m very busy,” the bossman said.
“I’ve come across a payroll issue in regards to an employee’s salary,” she said.
“No what?”
“No raises.  Our hours-based, incremental wage increases are fair enough.  Too generous if you want my opinion,” the bossman said and then turned away as though the matter had been dealt with sufficiently.
“That’s not the issue at all,” said Emily, her voice betraying a certain level of frustration she would rather keep concealed from her boss.
“Explain,” said the bossman.
“I’m trying.”
“Then continue.”
Emily’s head shook of its own accord and her eyes threatened to roll.  She gritted her teeth and then said, “I was at an employee’s desk getting the incremental paperwork signed and he questioned me about the amount.”
“Tell him it’s a fair–”
Emily held up her hand and the bossman stopped talking.  He seemed a little surprised by his own compliance.
Emily continued, “According to the paperwork he had earned a level two status, but the wage increase put him at a level five.  He pointed this out to me and asked if the raise should be for a lower amount.  I looked into it.  He was a transfer from a different division and his previously logged hours were, for some reason, not factored in when he started here.  He was, therefore, given the entry level wage and the incremental status of level one.  He worked under the assumption that because he had entered a different division, his wage level started over.  But, since level one in our division had a higher wage than the level three of his former position, he hadn’t questioned the apparent loss of hours worked.  But his status should not have restarted and not only should he be given the incremental status of level five, he should also receive retro pay dating back to his transfer date.  I have all the paperwork here.  I just need your signature.”
The bossman narrowed his eyes.  This was just the sort of thing he didn’t want the Big Bossman seeing.  Approving large raises and forking over back pay.  He shook his head.
“No.  We keep him at level two and decrease the raise accordingly.”
“What?  That’s unethical.”
“That’s business.  The employee in question believes that his wage should be level two.  In fact, it’s what he was expecting so it’s not like he’ll miss those extra dollars that may or may not belong to him.”
“They do belong–”
This time it was the bossman who held up his hand and Emily exhibiting the compliant silence.  After allowing the pain in his ribs to subside he said, “Always pay your employees as little as they are willing to accept.  There is no reason to give them more money if they are willing to work for less.”
He waved Emily toward the door and, as soon as she was gone, he began calculating how much money he’d just saved the company and how much that savings would increase his next bonus.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chapter 106
I don’t understand,” said Business Woman, “this was his office.  I worked at the desk right out there.  He rarely left this wing of the building.  He should be here.”
Out in the reception area the entrance door opened. 
Business Woman shot Franklin Buck a glance and whispered a reminder to him about their cover story.  There was an uncomfortably long pause before a voice finally spoke from the front desk.
“Excuse me, is anybody in here?” asked Corporate Man.
Business Woman’s shoulders dropped and she breathed a relieved sigh.  Then she walked out into the reception area where Corporate Man, Senior Executive, and Fair Wage were standing. 
“He’s not here.  It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “What about the greed-pieces?  What do they indicate?”
Corporate Man pulled the greed-loaded space gun from his jacket, held it for a moment and then said, “Up.  I mean, they’re really bouncing around in this room, but the general direction is still upward.  How about we take the stairs and climb until these things start moving sideways?”
The five of them moved out into the hallway and found the stairs.  They left Fair Wage in the lobby, insisting that someone needed to wait for Supply and Demand.  Truthfully, they didn’t think the old man should climb so many steps. 
After three flights, the movement inside the greed-gun abruptly changed.
"This is the floor,” said Corporate Man.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapter 105

“They’re in,” Corporate Man whispered. 
He, Senior Executive, and Fair Wage had been in the building for nearly thirty minutes.  They’d swept into the lobby leading a group of Japanese businessmen, acting as if they’d courted the foreign tradesmen and were bringing them into the building for an important meeting.  They breezed right past the reception desk and into the elevators where they quickly separated themselves from the confused Asian entrepreneurs.
Their next step had been to gather at a water cooler.  This was most advantageous to their purpose as water coolers are out of bounds zones in the corporate world.  Milling about is expected here and almost always allowed, taking on an almost religious air.  A company dare not interfere with this important American institution. 
Especially since they could write it off on their taxes.
Supply and Demand were also inside.  To gain entrance they’d shown up as job applicants and were instructed to head over to Personnel.  No one noticed when they did not show up in that department.
Corporate Man checked his greed-filled ray gun.
“This thing is freaking out.  We’re definitely in the right place,” he said.  He loosened his grip on it, trying to decipher the dominant thrust of its movements.  “I think it’s trying to go up.”
“That’s where Business Woman is heading,” said Senior Executive.  “The twenty second floor.”
“Right.  Yeah, her cover job.  We should make our way there up there,” Corporate Man said, checking his tie and slipping the vibrating ray gun into his suit pocket.  Senior Executive smoothed the sleeves of his dark grey suit and adjusted Fair Wage’s collar before they strode into a nearby elevator.
Going up.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chapter 104

“So we’re going to just walk right in?” Franklin Buck asked.
“Yep,” said Business Woman.
“In through the front door?”
“Uh huh.”
“Of this building?” he said, gesturing toward the grey, nondescript building.  “Doesn’t look like much.”
“This is the Northside Branch of Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated.  The company that, we suspect, runs it all.  I’ve managed to locate all four branches of the main corporate structure, but there’s a head office somewhere.  I was working here, trying to discover its location.”
“Yes and then you abandoned the operation to rescue Corporate Man,” Franklin Buck said.  “Wait, won’t they recognize you?”
Business Woman shrugged and motioned Franklin Buck toward the entrance and said, “Doubt it.  I was wearing a wig.”
“A wig?”
“It’s a corporation.  That’s about all it takes.  Speaking of which,” she said as they walked into the lobby and approached the front desk, “watch and learn.”
Business Woman’s stride lengthened and her hips took on a swagger.  She tapped her fingers on the reception desk and when she spoke it was with a slight southern accent.
“Hi, we’re from out of town, just flew in to this fair city of yours.  We’re here about the merger.”
The receptionist nodded as though she was well aware of Business Woman’s needs. “Oh sure,” she said, “I’ll get you where you need to go. Which company are you with?”
Business Woman didn’t hesitate, “Well sweety, how many companies are finalizing mergers today?”
“Twelve?  Really?”
“Yeah, it’s kind of a slow day.  Who are you with?”
Business Woman leaned against the counter and said, “Well, since it’s slow, let’s play a little game.  Which outfit would you guess I was with?”
The receptionist shrugged.  “Well… I detect a slight accent and three of the companies are headquartered in the South.  From Alabama there’s Big Co. and Bigger Co.  Then from Kentucky we’ve got Impress Inc..  I’m gonna go with Bigger Co.”
“Oh, sorry dear.  I’m a Kentucky girl.  Better luck next time.”
“Fourth floor.  Conference room C.  Don’t forget your visitor’s badges,” the receptionist said, gesturing to a basket of plastic, clip-on cards on the edge of her desk.
Business Woman clipped a badge on her suit and then attached one to Franklin Buck.
“Oh.  Which way to the elevator?”
The receptionist pointed.
Business Woman thanked her for all the help.
“I assume you knew where the elevators were?” Franklin asked once they were out of earshot.
“Of course.  But little touches like that help avoid suspicion.  Asking for recommendations of good restaurants in the area is a good one too.”
“And how’d you know there would be a merger going on?”
“Weren’t you listening?  This is the corporation of corporations.  There’s always some sort of acquisition in the works meaning there’s always a merger going on.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chapter 103

Donkey was in his cramped office.  Sweating.  How pathetic.  Over the years he’d developed several nervous ticks, all of which were employed at present.  He was obsessed with the movements of The Elephant and tracked them incessantly, keeping tabs on many of The Elephant’s upper party members as well. 
Over the years Donkey had found himself on the losing end of more than one of their schemes.  This had shattered his self confidence.  Sadly, he had yet to understand that The Elephant blundered into success more often than not and that second guessing his own actions, and failing to act when necessary, had contributed to a large portion of the opposition’s victories as well.
And so here he was, huddled in this embarrassing office space, so consumed with his pachyderm nemesis that he’d failed to notice the figure in the doorway.
The Big Bossman was watching him, had been watching him for several minutes, allowing his disgust and contempt for the nervous ass to build.
He fingered the obsidian cufflink on his white suit jacket and then adjusted his black tie with his black gloved hands.
He should strangle Donkey.  Punch him in the face a couple of times, except that might get blood on his pristine white slacks.  He stroked his luscious moustache and considered all the sinister options.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chapter 102

They were all gathered together in the Break Room. 
It was called The Office, but did not actually contain an office, much less a proper conference room.  Corporate Man lamented this fact, but what could he do?  He was not about to hold the meeting in his bedroom.  And the lookout tower always derailed productivity due to the presence of that damnable copy machine.
He had hoped for a better turn out, but those who had come would work well together.  Donkey and The Elephant might have been appreciated, but their constant bickering would be just as counter productive as the copier upstairs.  Miss Pension responded but cited reasons of health for her non-appearance.  Commander Credit was always a pay-to-play member, a freelancer, and he’d phoned in with his current rates which were far too steep.
Fair Wage had come, shriveled and old, but wearing his signature brown-corduroy suit.  Ben Buck’s son, Franklin was a welcome surprise as was Senior Executive.
“Thank you all for coming,” said Corporate Man as they finished up with the prepared snacks and refilled their coffees.  “I know I’ve been out of commission for a long time and I know this past decade has been a trial for all of you, but if we work together I think we can set everything right and get this country back on track.”
There was a murmur of approval.  When it quieted down, Corporate Man continued.  He spoke little of specifics, the majority of his short speech outlining the business philosophies they should undertake and the opposition they were most likely to encounter.  Then he turned the floor over to Business Woman.
“We’ve already turned Dale Breaker the Deal Breaker and, more importantly, we met and bested The Greed managing to secure a sample of his mass which, Corporate Man assures me, will help us track down the roots of the economic evil.  I spent some time as an undercover secretary at a company called Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated.  My investigation was still in the primary stages when Corporate Man was located and I had to break cover.  This is where we will begin our search.  In front of you is a packet detailing the business plan Corporate Man and I have developed.  We’ll go over it point by point, make any necessary revisions, and then we’ll head out into the market place.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chapter 101

All was clear and vivid, but it seemed dark just the same.  It was as though the shadows were black ink and everything was outlined with the heavy weight of a broken quill pen or a thick brush.
The light behaved in strange way, refracting into small circles or prismatic stripes, and colors glowed and shimmered for no reason at all.
John Q Public’s face was sallow and hard.  He complained of feeling weary and anxious; that hope was failing.
“It’s Apathy,” Corporate Man told him.  “His presence is like a poison.”
“Is it just him?” John Q Public asked.  “I was out of action for awhile and it’s not just our enemies that seem more ruthless and harsh, but our country.  Today’s music is dark and depressing and people are so cynical.”
“Part of it is Apathy.  He’s been unleashed and his ideology has run rampant through Corporate America and popular culture.  We can take him though.  We’ve exposed Mr. Outsource thanks to you and have both The Greed and Professor Inflation in custody.  The country has turned around under the current administration.  We’ve just got to keep after our enemies and the new millennium will be a bright and prosperous place to live.”
John Q Public smiled and placed his hand on Corporate Man’s shoulder.
“Where would we be without you,” he said.  Then he stiffened and a stern look drew across his face.  “How long has he had Junior Executive?”
“About four months.  This is the third location we’ve tracked him to, Emperius Inc.  Home of DownLow Records.  Apparently, Captain Apathy owns this media giant and that could account for the darker trends in today’s music.”
John Q Public nodded and said, “How do we get in?”
“You could just call for an appointment.  Or knock perhaps,” a voice shouted down at them.  Standing behind a railing on the second floor of the imposing high rise was Junior Executive.  His hair was long and shaggy, his clothes looked deliberately threadbare and stained; sheik from a life of begging in the street.
“Junior, did you escape?  Are you alright?” Corporate Man shouted back his reply.  Junior Executive threw his head back and laughed.
“You stupid old has-been.  Can’t you see what’s going on?  I’m not a junior executive anymore.  I’m not even part of the job market.  I’m unemployed!”
“No!” Corporate Man yelled, his face losing all color.
“Why work?  Why do anything? What’s the point?”
“That’s not you talking, Junior.  That’s Captain Apathy,” said John Q Public.
“You may be right on that point,” a man said, moving out of the shadows to stand by the former Junior Executive.  “But I’m not longer a captain.  I’ve been promoted.  I’m a general now.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter 100

Senior Executive was still walking through the corridor that led from the entrance inside the rest stop vending machine to the stairwell at The Office.  The trek was over two miles.  In the old days there were bicycles for Union members or their guests.  In the eighties those bikes were replaced by a set of go-karts.  Unfortunately, the batteries of the karts had not survived the passage of the last decade and the bicycles had been removed from the corridor to make room for the go-karts.
And so he walked.
Perhaps he should’ve purchased a few snacks from the machine before climbing into it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chapter 99

The bossman was sweating.  His side ached and the over-the-counter pain killers were doing nothing to dampen the pain from his broken ribs even after he’d exceeded the daily limit by more than a few dosages.  Still, nothing.  He should have been at home in bed, recovering, but he knew that that East Side bitch never took days off, never slept, so he was determined to push through the pain and find a way to best her.
The sweat, however, was not a result of his physical discomfort.  Perspiration came because of the alert he’d received from the Big Bossman.  On a normal day he would have been unnerved by correspondence from the big guy, but contact so soon after his failure at the Price Killers Wholesale Superstore seemed far too coincidental.  He needed to be careful.  He was, most assuredly, being monitored.
There was a buzz from his intercom.  This had a three fold effect.  One, a yelp burst forth from the bossman’s lips.  Two, a close call as some pee tried to escape into his pants.  Three, a lurching jump that shifted his ribs and sent a fresh surge of pain through him. 
Also, there was an increase of sweat, but since he was already sweating, this did not count as four.
“Yes,” he spat into the machine.
“Emily from Human Resources is on line one.”
“Tell her I’ll have to call her back,” he said.  The bossman reached for some papers to shuffle in order to provide the illusion of industrious activity, but this was not his desk and so nothing was where he thought it ought to be.  This was not even his office.  His was still under repair due to his last rampage. 
The bossman scowled and considered damaging this office.  The effort would require a great deal of movement so he thought better of the idea.  And the receptionist on this floor seemed competent enough.
He wiped sweat from his brow then rose, gingerly, and shuffled into the private bathroom all upper level executives enjoyed.  He washed his hands and face and took another handful of pain pills.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chapter 98

Corporate Man sat at the console in The Office tower lost in thought and reminiscence.  Business Woman had gone back downstairs to arrange things before the others started showing up.  He stood and went to the half moon couch, sat, and stared at the wall of photographs nestled between the computer console and the bench seating.  There was FDR after his recovery and a rare snap shot of Jimmy Carter, barefoot, in overalls, wearing a straw hat.
A buzz from the console brought him back to the present, and back in front of the computer screen.  A green button flashed, signaling the incoming video transmission.
Corporate Man pressed the button.
“Hey!  See there?  I told you it was him.  Hey Corporate Man, it’s me.  Bill,” said Bill Clinton.  He wore a dark red, satiny robe.  It was open in the front and an ample amount of chest protruded, adorned with a heavy, gold chained necklace. 
“Gosh, you’re right,” said a man stepping into frame.  Corporate Man could not understand the man’s attire.
“Al, how’s it going?  And what are you wearing?” Corporate Man asked.
“Oh, it’s going alright,” Al Gore said.  “And this is an Earth friendly suit made of unbleached bamboo fibers with solar panel inlays.”
The off-white suit had dark shoulder pads made of tiny rectangles.  A chest-plate of the same material draped his upper torso.  He wore a pair of thick, white-rimmed glasses that seemed a little too large.  Light emanated from the frame, illuminating the lenses.
“The paneling powers these state of the art iGlasses.  I can access the internet and make calls and take pictures and face–”
“Al,” came another voice from off camera.
“Oh, sorry,” Al said.  “We got your alert and wanted to wish you luck.  Also, we though you’d like to meet the new Commander in Chief.  He’s a big fan of yours by the way.  This is President Obama.”
A man dressed in red white and blue basketball uniform, circa 1976, complete with headband and shorts that were far too short, walked into view on the screen.
“Call me Barack,” he said.  “I just want you to know that we support your efforts.  Any assistance you can offer the country at this point would be a big help.”
“Thank you, Mr. President.”
“Barack.  I’ll do my best.”
“That’s all any of us can do,” said the President.
Corporate Man spoke with the three men for a few more minutes, accepted Al Gore’s offer to update the computer equipment at The Office, and then signed off.
There was another beep from the console, this time the signal came from the rest stop vending machine.  He checked a number of security cameras to verify that no one else was within sight of the machine and then flipped the toggle to activate the vending machine’s intercom.
“Do you require some assistance with your snack purchase?” Corporate Man asked.
“Only that I wish for verification that no worker was exploited during the manufacturing of this product, the ingredients are–”
“Junior?  Is that you?” Corporate Man said, interrupting the sequence of the password verification.
“Affirmative.  But it’s Senior Executive now.  I’m reporting for my shift and ready to clock in sir.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chapter 97

She was tall and strong.
He was short and feeble.
For now at least.
“Hey, guess what?” she said, not really asking a question and not waiting for a reply.  “Our belt buckles have activated.  You know, our Union belt buckles.”
He looked up, his eyes sallow and tired though an ember of hope twinkled deep within them, and said, “Really?  After all this time?”
“Yep.  I think he’s finally come back.  In fact, I’m more than fairly certain because… Well because the message is from him.”
He turned away, a smile spreading across his face, and relaxed into his chair.
“Well then,” he said.  “We’ll have to get dressed up, won’t we?”
She clasped her hands and made excited, girlish noises.
“Yes, yes, yes,” she said.  Then she paused, a look of concern suddenly arresting her face.  “Do you remember how to get there?  The Office I mean.”
He nodded.
She relaxed.
The twins, Supply and Demand, would answer the call.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chapter 96

Donkey’s hands were shaking, even before the belt buckle had sounded.  He was always sick with nervous tremors theses days.  How had he come to this?  He used to be so strong, so cocksure.  Now he sat in cramped offices, feverishly tracking the movements of his opposition, always trying to anticipate their next scheme yet always taken off guard by the seemingly inept brilliance of their public forays and the utter incompetence of their constituents.
He had no time for the Union, did he?
The Elephant’s people were trying to shift blame for the economy onto his leader.  For eight years they ran this country into financial ruin and now they asserted that the new administration was not only at fault for failing to reverse the damage in a fraction of the time, but was actually to blame for the monumental deficit. 
And that red state, tea-bagging crowd was buying it.
No, he couldn’t abandon his post now.  He must wait and fend off whatever attacks the opposition launched.  Unless…
Perhaps Corporate Man could aid him in his endeavors.  Shouldn’t he at least read the alert?  Maybe The Union were assembling against The Elephant’s people. 
Yes, he should answer. 
Could this be The Elephant’s latest ruse?  A trick to divert Donkey’s attention?
It would be just like that big bastard.
Donkey would not be answering the call.
Would he?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chapter 95

The Elephant sat in a well cushioned chair in his office, eating his third pint of peanut caramel triple chocolate cluster ice-cream.  He sipped a diet cola from a crystal flute and watched pro-wrestling on the enormous flatscreen mounted on the wall.
His Union Belt buckle had, long ago, collapsed under the strain of his ever growing girth.  It now lay resting in a storage unit that rivaled The Elephant’s house in square footage.
He would not be answering the call. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chapter 94

Franklin Buck sat at a desk in the study of his five bedroom, two and a half bath, three car garage home, of which he was the sole occupant, and gazed out upon the bubbling water feature perched in the center of his richly green, obsessively manicured lawn.  In front of him was a laptop.  The screen displayed a document which was almost entirely white with the exception of one typed sentence.
My father was a business superhero named Ben Buck.
Franklin had rewritten the first line of his father’s biography many many times and after three years of grievous effort he had yet to attempt a second sentence.  He seemed to go catatonic whenever he tried to write about his father.
It was Franklin who had found the body.
A sudden beep and a clicking whir sounded from his belt buckle, snapping Franklin from his fugue.  He pushed himself away from his desk and examined the dollar bill shaped accessory.  A small green light was blinking from behind the serial number.  He looked closer and noticed that the number was positioned above a small window and that they green light was actually coming from text that scrolled across a miniature screen inside this window.
Franklin took off his belt and set it on the desk.  He watched the text display and began typing, transcribing the letters from the belt buckle screen onto his laptop.  Finally, after all this time, he had written more than one sentence.

Our economy is in ruins and our nation stands upon the brink of financial collapse.  It is time we stand up to those responsible.  I ask that you join me as I take up this task.  All members of The Union who are willing, please report to The Office immediately.  I understand that not all of us are alive or able so I extend this offer, this plea, to the descendants of our lost members or to anyone reading this transmission who is willing to assume the mantle and fight against The Great Recession that not only burdens our country but endangers the global economy.  Please answer the call. 
- Corporate Man

Franklin stood up, tall and proud.  He closed the laptop and went upstairs to his enormous walk in closet.  At the very back, that’s where it was.  The emerald-green suit of his father; the costume of Ben Buck The Dollar Man.
He would answer the call.