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, September 28, 2012

Chapter 119

“But sir, there was gunfire,” the security officer said, telephone receiver in one hand, the other one pressing the earpiece of his headset closer as though he was having difficulty understanding the noises coming through it and they might possibly orientate themselves to something more comprehensive if he just pushed hard enough.
“No sir.  Yes.  Yes.  Yeah I know I don’t own the building but– 
“That’s not–
“That’s not–
“That’s for the police to decide, sir.”
At this point the security officer pulled the earpiece away from his head.  A garbled string of very irate words roared our, small and metallic.
“No sir, I wasn’t threatening–
“Yes I under–
“Yes.  Yes.
“I know that’s why you get the big bucks, sir.
“I will, sir.
“Thank you, sir.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chapter 118

Donkey charged forward and punched Demand in the back of the neck.  The man in the dark purple suit and mauve necktie crumpled and released his grip on the bossman’s wrist.  Supply tightened her hold on the bossman’s other arm, jerked him in front of her, and used him as a shield against Donkey’s attack.  Donkey used the bossman as a punching bag.  He wondered vaguely who it was that he was hitting and why a member of the Union would stoop to using a human shield.  Mostly, he was reveling in the tortured sounds the man made when he worked the body instead of the face.
Senior Executive reached into the inner pockets of his grey suit and rapidly flung a series of business cards at Donkey.  They flew like ninja stars and stung with all the power of a well designed business tool.  The aim was precise, connecting with pressure points and nerve clusters.  Donkey jerked and spasmed.  Supply whipped the bossman around, leveling Donkey with her improvised administrative bludgeon.  The bossman’s howls turned to gasping seal barks.  Supply dropped him and he rolled away, unsure of which injury to grope at first.  Supply then brought a hammering fist down on Donkey, dropping him like a freight container of weighty overstock.
The sound that popped from Donkey’s throat was indeed something that real braying jackasses have made before, though only in severe circumstances.
“Now that’s was a real ass sounds–” The Elephant grunted and clutched his balls.  When he tried to push himself up but Business Woman landed a knee in the small of his back.  She struggled to pin him, twisting his arm until his wrist touched his shoulder blades.
“You two better explain,” Corporate Man started, but the report of a large caliber handgun exploded through the lobby.
The woman with more teeth than the average person advanced on Corporate Man, firing shot after shot from her gleaming, silver revolvers.  The bullets made strange, high-pitched, zipping sounds as the screamed from the barrels. 
A vase behind Corporate Man shattered.  A tile on the floor beside him blew apart.  Another bullet ripped through The Elephant’s shoulder and another took out his knee.  The bossman caught a round in his chest, then his inner thigh, then his cheek.  A lamp exploded near Franklin Buck and Donkey grunted as a slug pierced his gut.
The woman with more teeth than the average person stopped, fifteen feet from Corporate Man, and said, “I know what you’re thinking.  Did she fire six shots or only five?  In all the excitement I–”
“Nine,” Corporate Man said.  “You have two guns.”
The woman with more teeth than the average person looked at her guns, puzzled.
“And you’re misquoting,” said Business Woman.  “It goes–”
“Who cares how it goes!  Somebody take her out!” Franklin Buck screamed from behind the heavy lobby furniture thirty yards away.
Senior Executive stepped forward, chopped her wrists, and knocked the guns to the floor.  He narrowed his eyes and said, “I remember you.  I never forget a cattle prod.”
The woman with more teeth than the average person howled with rage and kicked at him.  Senior Executive dodged the kick, elbowed her in the stomach.  As she doubled over, Business Woman brought a knee up into her toothsome face.  A tinkling sound danced across the glossy tiles as the woman with more teeth than the average person fell back and found herself in a familiar, unconscious state.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chapter 117

The woman with more teeth than the average person rushed up the steps toward the doors of The Jacob Center Tower.  She had seen Corporate Man going into the building from her seat on the bus.  It had taken a great deal of floundering hysterics to get the bus driver to stop, her swollen mouth hindering communication.  That they were not at a prescheduled bus stop location added to the difficulty.
Luckily, the bus driver put on the brakes and opened the door before she had to jam her gun in his face.
When she got to the door she peered in through the glass just in time to see a sweaty, fat man with rolled up shirt sleeves and slicked down hair lunge at Corporate Man.  The woman in the dark blue suit, standing next to Corporate Man, dipped low, her face almost touching the ground, her leg fully extended in the opposite direction, her foot catching the lunging fat man in his sack of peanuts.
The woman with more teeth than the average person crept into the building.  Bellows from the fat man echoed through the lobby.  She tried to suppress a grin.  The big man hit the polished lobby floor with a meaty slap.  Corporate Man and the woman in blue fanned out, signaling to the others who were standing nearby.  The woman with more teeth than the average person then noticed a woman in a mauve skirt and jacket with a dark purple blouse gripping the wrist of a haggard looking man.  The woman with more teeth than the average person recognized this man.  She’d met him at corporate functions.  He was the head of the Northside branch of IBC Inc.
Others in various colored suits sprang into action when the timid man with the royal blue necktie shouted something about being sorry, that they’d gotten to him first, and donkey punch.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chapter 116

“My old friends.  My brothers and sisters in arms.  It is so good to see you,” The Elephant said, his hands wringing together in greedy, sausage sweat undulations.
“The Elephant!” Corporate Man called out in an exuberant whisper.  “I didn’t think you got the alert.  I’m so glad you made it.”
“The… alert… Yes, well it’s good to be needed.”
“How did you know we were coming here?” asked Business Woman, her hands on her hips.
“Well it’s rather complicated,” said The Elephant.
“Why don’t you explain it to–”
“Donkey!” Corporate Man gleefully whisper-shouted as Donkey drifted toward the group.  “This is most fortunate.  Did you two come together?”
Donkey’s face wrinkled into a very sour expression.  “Him?  No thank you.  In fact, I was–”
“Doesn’t matter.  I’m glad to see you both,” Corporate Man said.  “And we could use the additional man power.”
Business Woman scowled and grabbed Corporate Man’s arm.  When she spoke her voice was low and cold and hissing.  “Are you out of your mind?  These two fools don’t show up at The Office but they turn up here?  Like everyone knows this is the place the bastards we’re looking for are holed up?  It’s fishy.”
Corporate Man bit his lip, the joy falling from his face.  He turned toward The Elephant and took a long, slow, deep breath before he spoke.  “Members of the Union.  I would like to apologize for my momentary loss of practical perspective.  It was a misjudgment on my part at seeing two old colleagues of whom I’d previously thought lost to us.  Now, let’s proceed with professionalism and retain a cordial demeanor as we examine the situation.  We’ve established that our old acquaintances arrived at this particular location separately from us and independent of our information.  So… friends… please explain.”
The Elephant grinned.  “Thank you Corporate Man.  Old friends.  I appreciate the need for caution in this matter and assure you that my presence at this site of business and commerce is in keeping with strict adherence to the principles set for by myself and those I represent and I should–”
“He’s not saying anything,” Donkey said.  “He’s just trying to talk around the subject.  God!  So typical!”
“Really?  Well then, in the interest of fair play,” The Elephant said, “I would like to offer my counterpart an opportunity to illuminate those present as to his position in this matter.  Donkey?”
Donkey stood, mouth agape, not moving a muscle except for his eyes, which darted back and forth between his former compatriots.
“Well… I, I, I, I–”
“Come now Donkey, that’s not a proper bray, is it?” The Elephant said.  His voice was a cocktail of venom and melted lard.
“Just shut your mouth you… bureaucrat,” Donkey said.
“Oh Donkey, with retorts like that perhaps you should apply that gag order to yourself,” said The Elephant.  Donkey huffed and readied himself to spit out something barbed and juvenile but The Elephant waved him off dismissively and continued, “What my lesser counterpart is trying to say is that in the interest of this nation, or more succinctly this nation’s interests, we have been approached by the powers that be and formerly requested to attend to a growing situation that seems likely to threaten those previously mentioned interests and negatively impact the economic prosperity of those in power.”
“They’ve been compromised,” Corporate Man said, taking a step back and assuming a defensive stance.
“Well compensated would probably describe it more precisely.  Though, when I consider the situation, I doubt if Donkey had the presence of mind to negotiate for financial benefits, and simply rolled over when confronted.”
“Donkey, tell me this isn’t true,” Business Woman said as she backed toward Corporate Man.
Donkey’s head drooped and he exhaled dramatically.  “They didn’t tell me it would be like this,” he said, “didn’t say he was going to be involved.”
“Oh my poor, pathetic little burro-buddy, don’t feign naiveté.  You crossed a line.  Revel in it,” The Elephant said, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his cuffs.  “Anyway, this is getting all too boring,” he continued, rolling up his sleeves, “and I can’t believe I’m the one who’s pressing for the physical exertion but… well there you have it.”
The Elephant sprang toward Corporate Man, calling out his pachyderm punch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chapter 115

“Oh god.  Here they come,” Donkey muttered to himself.  He sat on a couch in the Jacob Center Tower lobby, positioned so he could monitor both entrances.  The lobby, being situated at one of the building’s four corners, had two doorways at right angles to each other.
His underarms were swampy and his palms were clammy.  Why was he doing this?  Were the imminent gains so beneficial that loyalties to his friends, pledges taken, and oaths of economy sworn, had become valueless?  Or was he just a big pussy cowering under the might of this huge corporation?
It will be worth it he told himself.  To finally make some strides, build a foundation for future reform, be at the helm of recovery, strengthen his position in the party.  To best that goddamned pachyderm.
The Elephant.
That gigantic prick of a man had undermined Donkey far too often.  That egotistical, callous lump of fat.  That money glutton.  Once this deed was done then Donkey would have the upper hand and–
Oh god no.  What was he doing here?  This wasn’t part of the plan.
Across the lobby The Elephant struggled to heft his bulk from his seat.  He adjusted his belt somewhere beneath his swollen sagging belly and lumbered toward Corporate Man and the rest of the Union.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chapter 114

“I can’t believe we’re just walking in,” said Business Woman.
“I’m tired of the games.  And besides, not only is this the simplest, most expedient solution, but it’s also the most unexpected,” Corporate Man said.
“Is that because we just performed similar maneuvers at their north side office and they wouldn’t expect us to try it twice in one day?” Business Woman asked. 
Corporate Man did not reply.
Business Woman shook her head and said, “These are the same people that left you mindless and pooping yourself in a hospital for a decade.”
“A decade?” Franklin Buck asked.  “And wait, wasn’t his awakening a recent thing?  How are you even walking?  Your legs should be atrophied and you–”
“Well put, Business Woman,” Corporate Man said quickly, raising his voice.  “That they did.  And I would like some vengeance for that, but this is less about me and more about saving the economy.  Let’s go.”
They climbed out of the conveniently acquired van and marched across Jacob Center Plaza toward the tower.  Supply and Demand stood on either side of the bossman, each gripping one of his wrists.  Senior Executive and Fair Wage followed closely behind.  Franklin Buck the Dollar Man and Business Woman flanked Corporate Man who was at the lead.
Franklin Buck felt a bit queasy being in such company.  He wondered if he had what it took to stand with heroes like these.  Heroes he’d idolized as a kid.  He wondered if his father would have been proud.  He wondered who they would cast as him if they ever made a movie about these events.  And then he pictured them all walking together toward the tower, up against the mighty corporate conglomerate, odds stacked against them.
This would be shot in slow motion.  He was quite certain of that.  And in the movie there would be a strong breeze and, Hollywoodized as it would undoubtedly be, they would all have capes and masks and those capes would billow about while the music swelled.
And then they were climbing the steps up to the lobby entrance and Franklin Buck the Dollar Man wondered if all of those heroic types in all of those movies also fought triumphantly to keep the contents of their stomachs stationary and squeezed like crazy to keep their bladders from dousing the crotch of their suits.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter 113

He should have chessboard up here.  Something symbolic like that; borderline metaphoric.  With huge gothic pieces made of obsidian and quartz.  At present, the obsidian pieces should have taken many of the quartz crystals.  Not so many as to look unbalanced though.  It should appear as though white still had a chance to overcome the black forces.  They wouldn’t, of course, but a glimmer of hope for that possible victory must be present or else why continue to play the game?
Yes, ivory.  Not quartz.  Fashioned from the tusks of endangered elephants.  How’s that for symbolic?
The Big Bossman turned from his triangular office window and strode to the desk.  He pressed a button.  It blinked red a few times and then glowed continuously.
“One chessboard.  Large.  Etched titanium.  Kings nine inches tall.  Obsidian.  Ivory from endangered elephants.”
He pressed the button again and the red glow faded.  He walked back toward the window, paused, and then returned to his desk and pressed the red button again.
“Book.  Audio version.  Performed by someone British.  Subject: chess strategies and tactics.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chapter 112

The Tragic Death of Corporate Man
a hero for capitalism;
champion of the working class

by Tom Landaluce

Section 4:
Collision Looming in the Corporate Ladder Lobby.

It was called Jacob Center for reasons lost to reams of misfiled or boxed up paperwork, changes in management, alterations to corporate strategy, and/or heavily over-calculated positions of denial. 
At the center was a structure one might call dark, sleek, ominous, foreboding, and whatever fashionable terms of power and dominance happened to be in vogue at the time of description.  Yet its design was unassuming enough to be casually overlooked or forgotten whenever a list was made of noteworthy architecture in the downtown area or when one was desperately searching for the home base of the very paradigm of evil corporations, Incorporated Business Corporate Incorporated.
The Jacob Center Tower stood fifty-two stories high, and it was capped by a large pyramid which comprised the entirety of the fifty-second floor.  Curiously absent, along with the traditionally omitted thirteenth floor, were those of the twenty-six and thirty-ninth.  The facade of the building was smooth, paneled glass with solid black corner walls and no apparent ledges or overhangs.  The only significantly unique element in its appearance were three, wide, windowless bands, the same black as the corner structures, which broke the building’s height into four separate sections like a stack of blocks.
As with most buildings, the tower had its own share of rumors and urban myths hanging about it.  Most of these were circulated by the janitorial staff, however, and were ignored by the predominantly white-collar population that frequented the inner corridors.  Not surprisingly, most of these rumors revolved around the buildings architectural oddities; the aforementioned absent floors being a large draw.  The three dark bands that wrapped its exterior were another area of interest.  Curiously, those bands began, respectively, above floors twelve, twenty-five, and thirty-eight, and terminated below floors fourteen, twenty-seven, and forty leading those nosey custodial types to suspect the secret existence of floors thirteen, twenty-six, and thirty-nine.  The bands were, in height, comparable to that of three standard floors. 
What was going on in all of that space?
Another feature that was of some concern to our inquisitive cleaning crew was that of the building’s corners.  Being solid black, they outlined the building, but they were not merely paneled facades, they had depth.  The front corner of the tower housed the executive elevator; used only by big wigs, head honchos, or various branch managers of the four corner locations of Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated.  The opposite corner also contained an elevator.  The service elevator.  None of this was unusual, but the remaining two pillar-like corners of the building boasted no usage whatsoever
One would suspect that elevators for the staff or outside visitors would occupy these remaining areas, but a central bank of elevators located beyond the front lobby served this purpose. 
It was a commonly held belief among the janitorial staff that these two, apparently unused, columns were fit with hidden doors which led to secret entrances for the suspiciously absent floors thirteen, twenty-six, and thirty-nine.  It should also be mentioned that one noticed, should one be paying attention, a strange sensation when riding the staff elevators which occurred between floors twelve and fourteen, twenty-five and twenty-seven, and thirty-eight and forty.  No, it didn’t take longer for the elevator pass between these floors, but there was a sense of falling, or accelerated lift when in these zones.
As for the pyramid crowning the ominous, though often overlooked, structure of the Jacob Center Tower…  No one spoke of it.  Those that dared had the unfortunate habit of disappearing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chapter 111

“Ah, Miss Adams.  I was hoping to see you again,” the bossman said, glaring at Business Woman.  His chest was pinned against his desk and his arm was barred behind his back by Corporate Man.  “So I could have the pleasure of firing you myself.”
He gave a low, almost inaudible, chuckle and held his stare for a long moment.  Then, with an air of smug righteousness, he said, “You’re fired.  Now get out of my office.  I’ve got business to attend to.”
Senior Executive took a step forward, leaned toward the bossman and whispered, “Yes, that’s all well and good, but Miss Adams is actually Business Woman, and she’s with us.”
Showing no sign of shock or revelation or even embarrassment, the bossman said, “Business Woman, huh.  In the future, Miss Adams, it would serve you well to include such information on your personnel sheet.”
“Would it?” said Business Woman, not really fighting off the urge to grin.
“I know I would have avoided much inconvenience had you been forthright,” he replied.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said. “Now, shall we get down to business?”
“Let’s,” said the bossman, retaining his overconfident glare.
Corporate Man released the arm bar and shoved the bossman into the office chair.  The bossman winced but did not clutch his side.  Corporate Man held the vibrating, greed-filled ray gun to the bossman’s chin and said, “This little device, which we’ll call our corporate analyst, has reported that you are the top executive of this establishment.  We know, however, that you are not the head of the empire.  Our reports indicate that you are one or four limbs in the Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated enterprise, merely an arm or a leg.  Where’s the head?”
The bossman shrugged, “Your information is not only incorrect, it is confidential.”
“If it’s incorrect, there would be no reason to assert that it is, likewise, confidential,” said Senior Executive.
“Yes,” said the bossman.  Then he sat, motionless.
Business Woman slapped him and, almost as an afterthought, she said, “I personally scouted the west and south side branches and, as you know, I infiltrated this north side location whereby I ascertained the location of the east side facility.  We’ve pinpointed the four corners.  All signs indicate a central office.  Where is it?”
“I would assume that your ‘corporate analyst’ would be able to advise you of the central office location,” said the bossman, gesturing flippantly to the greed-filled ray gun.  “Provided that the assumption of the existence of a central office is conceded to.”
“This is pointless,” said Business Woman.  “We’ll never get anything out of him.  I once listened to this prick pull crap like this on a conference call for an entire afternoon.”
“Then why can’t we use that corporate analyst gun thing to find it?” Franklin Buck asked.
“We could, but the process would take a long time and lead us through an endless succession of greedy companies and people until we were close enough to the central figure head for it to lock on to that signal through all the greedy corporate interference,” said Corporate Man.
Senior Executive tapped Corporate Man on the shoulder and signaled him into a huddle with himself and Business Woman.  In a hushed tone he said, “We need to get some financial records.  There’s going to be an ass-load of paperwork flowing from this place to that.  Invoices, expenses, shipping records, something will point us there.”
“But won’t we need data from all the other branches to find the intersecting location?” Business Woman asked.
“Yeah, we’ll have to go break into one of the other three, access their files, and from there–”
“Uh guys,” said Franklin Buck, “this may seem stupid, but what about this?”  He was pointing to a framed, poster-sized map, hanging on the wall. “Here’s us, right?” he said, tapping the map.  Then he grabbed a black marker from the bossman’s desk and circled the location.
“Hey!  You can’t vandalize company property!” the bossman shouted.
They all ignored his protests.
“Now,” said Franklin Buck, “circle the locations of the other branches.”
He handed the marker to Business Woman and while she circled the locations on the map, Franklin Buck removed an oversized calendar from the wall.  He returned to the map and used the calendar like a straight edge, drawing a black line connecting the north and south locations.  Then he did the same for the east and west branches.
“There.  The lines intersect at… Jacob Center.  I bet that’s the central office,” Franklin said and turned to face the others.  No one said anything.  Then, after a painfully long moment, they all turned toward the bossman as if his expression might reveal something.
Finally, the bossman spoke, “Are you currently seeking gainful employment?  Because we could always use a good man.  Of course we’ll have to garnish your first paycheck to pay for the map vandalism, but the–”
“No freaking way,” Business Woman said.  “Can’t be that simple.”
“Yeah, how stupid can these corporate types really be?” asked Senior Executive.
They all paused again and looked at each other, and then at the bossman.  He was busy digging out a form from a set of files in his desk drawer.
“Of course, you’ll need to fill out this application.  Is your resume up to date? Oh, and references.  We’ll need references,” said the bossman.  He glanced back and forth between the others in the room, eyeing them with suspicion.  “It would probably be best if your references did not include the names of those in our company at present.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chapter 110

Merlton had trouble understanding most city folk.  Their patterns of speech and clipped accents always required extra attention on his part.  Understanding the woman in his shop right now was worse than normal.  Maybe it was because she had more teeth than the average person.  It was also quite possible that she had a case of mumps.  Did people still get mumps these days?
There she went again, saying something.  What was that?
She’d come in before with a bag full of teeth and a note asking him to make the things into bullets.  Mighty strange.  In seventeen years of running this gun shop, Merlton had never heard that particular request.  Sure, he’d been asked to make all kinds of custom crap for hot headed militia types, but teeth?
He told her that he could encase a tooth in the lead of each bullet, but that she would need a large enough caliber weapon – he pointed to the Chiappa Rhino .357 magnums and the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454 caliber – to accommodate them.  She liked the idea, but wrote down a strange request.  She wanted to be able to see the teeth in the final product.  Sort of a tooth capped bullet or something.  He warned that an irregular tooth shape could screw up the aim and damage her gun barrel.  She wrote that she didn’t care.
Now, here she was again, chewing her words with all them teeth, eager to pick up her merchandise.  Along with the custom bullets, she’d gone with a pair of the chrome plated Rugers with the 2½ inch barrels. 
Merlton threw his hands up, confused at her muttered speech.  The woman with more teeth than the average person scribbled a note on her receipt.  It read: Thank you for the quick turn around time.  And the necessary discretion.
Merlton nodded.  All the words after “thank you” were unnecessary.  He always got things done quick and he never spoke of one’s business to another.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chapter 109

The bossman felt great, despite his aching ribs.  Nothing beat the high one got from leveraging another human being and profiting from it so quickly.  The bonus numbers were looking good.  He was almost giddy.  In fact, he hadn’t felt this elated since the whole Corporate Man affair had started.
He should fire someone.
He opened a program on his desk top. 
Seedy lounge music seeped from his speakers as a title screen for Subordinate Roulette popped up on his monitor.  The bossman selected “Continue Saved Game” from the options and a roulette wheel appeared, dominating most of the screen.  Ugly, sad looking people squat in the outer pockets where the red and black numbers should have been.  A heaving chested blonde in minimal attire smiled cheerfully next to the wheel, gesturing toward it like a game-show-prize model.
The bossman clicked a drop down menu and selected “Update Employee Directory.”  This imported a list of current employees into the game and avatars of randomly selected workers materialized on the roulette wheel.  He clicked another button and the cheerful blonde bent over the wheel revealing her every asset as she rolled a chrome ball into the spinning apparatus.
There was a pleasant clacking sound as the ball bounced around.  The employee avatars shrieked and shuddered when it struck nearby.  And then, with a satisfying plunking splut, the ball crushed a man with short, banker hair and glasses.
The bossman fingered the intercom and said, “Bring me employee #8008, Mr. Stanley Curtsfield.  And have security escort him up here so he’ll suspect what’s going on.”
“That’s reprehensible,” a booming voice sounded from somewhere in the room.  The bossman jumped up from his desk, winced, and clutched his side, stymieing a whimper.
Corporate Man dropped into the room from a vague upward direction.  The bossman looked around, confused and slightly panicked.  Before he could speak, Corporate Man surged forward, grabbed the bossman by the shirt collar and said, “No.  I don’t have an appointment.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chapter 108

“That one there,” said Business Woman.  “That’s his office.”
The four of them were scouting the area from the relative safe zone of the water cooler.
“How can you tell?” asked Senior Executive.
“I used to work for him.  Did you see how that woman came storming out just now?”
“Yeah,” said Franklin Buck.  “She looked pissed.”
Business Woman nodded.  “I saw that look on more than one person every single day I worked here.”
“Let’s pay him a visit, shall we,” said Corporate Man, striding into the reception area.  Seated behind the desk was a plump woman with hair like steel wool.  Her eyes lifted from her work as Corporate Man approached.
“I assume you have an appointment,” she said.
“Of course.”
“Uh… Jones.  Smithy Jones,” said Corporate Man.
“Yes, he’s expecting you,” she said. 
Her voice sounded like a duck.
“Oh,” said Corporate Man, his posture of confidence fracturing as a bolt of panic streaked through him.  “Really?”
“Oh yeah.  We let random people with really lame fake names in to see our corporate executives all the time.”
Corporate Man leaned forward and spoke in a softer, more humble tone.  “So I take it, and let me know if I’m mistaken, that you aren’t going to let us in to see him.”
“You can always sit and wait for him to come out,” the receptionist said.
Corporate Man smiled and returned to the others.  They seemed eager for information even though they had all heard the conversation.
“Did we have a plan for getting past the receptionist?” asked Franklin Buck. 
Everyone glanced around at everyone else.
Finally, Corporate Man’s grin widened and he said, “I think I know how to get inside.  He reached into his suit jacket and removed his PDA.
“Let’s hope my stocks are up,” he said.