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.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Edition Stock

Look!  Real books.  Made of paper!    


For those analog-souls out there, I have paperback editions of both volumes of The Tragic Death of Corporate Man (a hero for capitalism; champion of the working class) and a brand new short story collection called These Odd Morsels.  If you’d like to read one (or all) of these wonderful books I would be happy to act as your supplier.  Of course, if you don’t live in the vicinity of ME and find yourself shy of vacation hours with which to visit ME, you can always order copies from these links: 


There is an added benefit when you buy directly from me, though.  I know the author personally and I’ve convinced myself to sign copies and provide bookmarks to those who put cash (checks if I know you well enough) in my hand.  Just $5.00 for either Corporate Man book and only $7.50 for These Odd Morsels.  Quite a bargain.  For those of you looking for unique Christmas presents (no, it’s not took early to mention Christmas.  I think winter holiday displays are edging out the Halloween merchandise already) I have a deal for you.  Buy five copies of any one book and get a fifth copy (presumably for yourself) at no additional charge. 
For those of you who believe that books are what happen to other people, I have another freebie just for you: an all encompassing guilt trip.  Five bucks ($17.50 for the set!) is not that much when you think of all the good it will do.  Not only will your money support independent artists, but it will join in the battle against illiteracy and combat the stranglehold that large corporate conglomerates have over the publishing industry.  And if you know me personally, or even if you are just a casual acquaintance, then you should buy multiple copies simply because I asked and you love me.
If that doesn’t convince you, then you should buy my books to make this little girl happy.  


If you have a hard time doing anything for other people, then think of yourself.  If you take a picture of yourself with either (or both) of my Corporate Man books and send it to me, I will post it on the Corporate Man blog where you will be immortalized on the internet forever.  Just ask these satisfied customers.



LOOK! IT'S CORPORATE MAN!










And remember, the person who submits the best picture will win a copy of These Odd Morsels; the very first edition, provable by the print date in the back.
Lastly, for those of you who like to stir up trouble I have a job for you.  Contact your local booksellers and demand that they stock their shelves with fine Tom Landaluce written goodies.  Make a nuisance of yourself, you know you want to.  Boise area troublemakers, I provide you with this list to get started.  Feel free to add other locations.  For those of you outside of Boise but still up for a bit of mischief, check the listings for your area (though you can call Boise stores as well if you want to).

Rediscovered Books - (208) 376-4229
Barnes and Noble - 375-4454
Trip Taylor Bookseller - 344-3311 
Hyde Park Books - 429-8220
Hastings - 375-3151

And let's not forget about the Library!  Tell them that you heard about this book (or books) by a local author and you were wondering if they had it (or them) and if not, would they please, please purchase it (or them).  Be sure to provide the title (or titles) and my name.  If you are one of those really helpful sorts, you could even pass along ISBN numbers (9781477626023, 9781482087291, and 9781482619539). Just remember, be nice to these people, they work hard and they let me borrow audio books all the time.

Main Library! - (208) 384-4076
Library! at Cole & Ustick - (208) 570-6900
Library! at Collister - (208) 562-4995
Library! at Hillcrest - (208) 562-4996

Let me know how your efforts are progressing.  If you get some entertaining feedback I will share it on this blog.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Touch of the Lebowski

Walter Sobchak.  Walkter-frickin-Sobchak internet-spoke to me about article in the Idaho Statesmen.  Can you believe it?  I was certainly shocked so it’s okay if you find yourself a bit too stunned breathe right now.   

For those of you, and let me assure you that you are a minority, who don’t know who Walter Sobchak is, I will provide a brief explanation.  He’s the very honorable Vietnam Vet depicted in the wildly successful bowling/kidnap/ransom documentary The Big Lebowski.  I highly recommend it.  Especially now that Walter and I are buds.  

Anyway, below is the transcript.  It originally appeared in the venerable comments page of the Idaho Statesman’s website at the end of June.  Unfortunately, I waited too long to post this and the comments for that period of time are no longer available as far as I can tell.  Luckily, I enshrined them in a word file on my computer so I can still share them with all of you.  If you are ever slumming it in the comments section of the Idaho Statesman website and you run across good old Walter, ruffle him up a bit for me.  He likes it.

Walter Sobchak You are entering a world of pain. (this was his cute little tag line)
Tommy, if you have to nominate yourself for an award then your greatness is all in your head.

TomLandaluce
I agree.  True greatness always resides within the recesses of one's own mind.

Walter Sobchak You are entering a world of pain.
Keep telling yourself that Tommy Boy.

TomLandaluce
Thank you, I intend to.  If you'd like to experience my brilliance, you can make a purchase at https://www.createspace.com/39... or https://www.createspace.com/41...
If you prefer to read your books for free I completely support that and advise you to follow this link instead http://deathofcorporateman.blo...
And to thank you for all of your support and kind words I intend to watch The Big Lebowski tonight and cheer you on as you bowl.

Walter Sobchak You are entering a world of pain.
I honestly tried to experience your brilliance, but I got caught up by some cat videos on the internets.  Although John Q. Public seems like an interesting charachter.......NOT!  

TomLandaluce
Thanks again, Walter.  John Q Public is indeed an interesting character.  Though I think you'd appreciate him even more if you started at the beginning of the story.  The chapter posts on the blog have the latest at the top meaning that the final chapter is presented first. I thought that the "Chapter 227" might be an indicator of this, but I can see how it might be confusing.  What you'll want to do is click on Section 1, just beneath the name plate of the blog, and begin there.  Just in case you're still baffled by the numerical sequence, follow this link http://deathofcorporateman.blo... and start reading. I am confident that you will enjoy the Corporate Man experience. And if I come across any really cute cat videos today, I'll send them your way.


There were a couple more comments after this, but it must have slipped my mind and I forgot to go back and save them.  I think I can recap though.  Something about 'Nam, something about Donny that wasn't altogether very nice, and whole lot of fawning and slavering over my genius.  Oh, and bowling.  I complimented him on his bowling and he really seemed to appreciate that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Newspaper Write Up!

Check it out.  My Mom laminated my Letter to the Editor.



            And why not?  It’s an important piece.  I can now make statements like, “I was referred to as The Treasure Valley’s Best Author in the Idaho Statesmen.”  This is going to completely change the way I query literary agents.  Or publishers.  I can just include a copy of the article, and I’ll refer to it as an article, it will laminated of course so it looks more professional, and let the bidding wars commence.  And you would not believe the responses I got from this little write up.  Someone very well known had much to say about the article (see how I used it already).  I’ll post a transcript of the conversation soon.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chapter 227


8.u.
John Q Public sat in his office.  The walls were once again black and all the lights were off except for the malicious red glow of the console buttons at the desk.  A low hum buzzed and he took a deep breath.
“Come in,” he said.
A door slid open, white light poured in, and a man strode into the room.
“I have the samples,” the man said.
“Ah… Wonderful.  Let’s see them,” said John Q Public.
The man held up a t-shirt.  On it was a slogan. 
Light ‘Em Up Then Light ‘Em Up.
“The crosshairs are a nice touch,” said John Q Public.  “But don’t you think the pot leaf cheapens it?”
The man shrugged and said, “Focus groups show a twenty percent higher return on drug related merchandise and the pot leaf–”
“Yes, yes.  I know all about focus groups,” said John Q Public.  He continued to scrutinize the shirt.  “Is there any news?”
“Yes,” the man said, apparently understanding his boss’s vagaries.  “Senior Executive, as you know, has accepted and is settling in quite well.  He and General Apathy appear to have patched things up.  Business Woman has declined.  She has convinced Franklin Buck to do the same and has taken on the girl, Molly, as an apprentice of sorts dubbing her, Junior Partner.  They are currently in the old Union headquarters by the river.”
“As expected,” said John Q Public.  “No doubt working in secret with Senior Executive.  Acquire majority shares in any businesses investing in her enterprise.  Offer direct funding as well.”
“Already implemented,” said the man.
“You have my approval on the shirt.”
“Of course, sir.”
John Q Public sighed and then said, “Well then.  On to business.  New t-shirt design.  Possible poster offering.  A headstone with glasses and a tie.  Epitaph reads, “Here lies Corporate Man, the unbearable dream.  Subheading, lower case, in quotes and fancy script, to read:

      do not succumb to death, oh dream
      rebel
      subject yourself not to financial slavery
      rebel, revolt, rebel
      hold accountable the fiscal tyrants
      demand reparation with intelligent 
      revolution
                                                        
-Don Jones

“Seems a bit long for a t-shirt,” said the man.
“Yes.  Also, spread rumors to insinuate that the previously mentioned quotation was Corporate Man’s final words,” said John Q Public.
“Is this true?”
“Undoubtedly.”
“Then you’re positive that we should proceed with this?” the man asked.
John Q Public stroked his luscious moustache, but said nothing.
“Sir?  Shall I place the order?”
Again, the Big Bossman made no response.
“Sir?”



THE END

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chapter 226


8.t.
A final word on the fifty-second floor.  Particularly as it relates to the four corners of the Jacob Center Tower.  It has been established previously that four elevator shafts exist in the four corners of the building.  Two with secret entrances, one for service deliveries, and the final one for executives.  Likewise, it has also been established that there are only two access panels on the fifty-second floor, each on opposite sides of the building, one of which houses the pool elevator.  Those paying attention will have noted that the executive elevator does no exit onto the fifty-second floor.  Instead, it crests on the fifty-first floor, opening onto a secret passage that leads to a secret lift in the center of the building which grants the executive access to the black pyramid office, provided that the black pyramid office is in its lowered position.
The service elevator has no connection, directly or indirectly, to the fifty-second floor.
As for the second access panel in the floor opposite the pool elevator, it has been mentioned previously that it is only opened on special occasions.  Beneath this set of doors, rumor and corporate myth tell us, exists a giant, shaft-sized shredder for discreet elimination of substantial material that may be considered incriminating.  Beneath this high capacity shredder, it stands to reason, is an industrial incinerator to further assure that the incriminating material vanish in a very permanent manner.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chapter 225


8.s.
“So what now?” Business Woman asked.
“Now?  Nothing,” said John Q Public.  “You’re free to go if you wish.”
“I feel dirty and useless,” she said.  “And a little sick.”
“That’s business,” said General Apathy.
“Did we seriously just watch him die?” asked Franklin Buck.
“Yeah.  And we didn’t do anything.  We let it happen,” said Senior Executive.
“That’s usually how these things go,” said John Q Public.
No one said anything for a long while.
 “Well now,” said General Apathy, breaking the silence.  “This is getting morose.  And boring.  Let’s all remember, nothing personal in business.”
“Shut up asshole,” said Business Woman.  She looked at John Q Public and said, “So how do we get out of here?”
“Oh.  Well… I was sort of hoping you’d stay.  I mean…  Do you like this building?  This office?  Cause I’m giving it to you,” said John Q Public.
“What?”
“Yeah.  This black diamond room is actually an elevator that will take you anywhere in the building.  And, up to now, I’ve pushed all the buttons.  Except one.  This one,” he said, striding over to a large, blinking, white button.  “Go on.  You push it.”
Business Woman looked at Senior Executive and Franklin Buck.  Each of their faces a mirror of similar confusion.
“Up and out,” said John Q Public.
“Are you… What?  Really?”
“No.  Of course not,” John Q Public said, pressing the white button.  All the walls on the black diamond office went clear.  “Fantasy.  You see?  All that goody good be good crap will never get you a chocolate factory.  Only in books and musicals.”
“You know,” Business Woman said.  “People may not give a crap about helping others, but stunts like that will piss them off and then you’ll get a reaction.”
“A reaction?  What?  Like a revolution?” John Q Public asked.  “This is a generation of sugar fattened pussies who we’ve retarded with mass media.  No, I’m afraid it will take decades of living like paupers to affect any kid of change.”
John Q Public stroked his luscious moustache with his gloved hand.  Then the Big Bossman turned and strode through a side door, out of the conference room.
“Wait.  What about him?” Business Woman asked.
“You mean his body?  My minions will attend to it,” said John Q Public.  He stood in the doorway for a moment and then said, “Listen.  You’re all free to work for me.  I have high level positions that would benefit from your particular skills.”
“I accept.  I don’t care what the job is,” Roger said.
“Not you, you’re due back at the help desk in the morning.  Business Woman, Senior Executive, Franklin Buck the One Hundred Dollar Man.  Regardless of your decision, you are free to go and my building will remain open to you.  If you choose to decline my offer and start a competing enterprise, you have my blessings.  I’ll even invest if you wish.  There’s no need to decide yet.  Confer amongst yourselves and get back to me.”
John Q Public nodded and left them to their decision.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chapter 224


8.r.
Corporate Man’s fists were shaking and his jaw was clenched so hard that his face mimicked his hands.  He turned to the gathered group of onlookers and held his palm toward one of them. 
When he spoke, his voice was monotone and even.
“Roger.  From the hospital desk.  Daily hours at the gym for social interaction and eye candy.  Porn at night.  Margaret from Jolene’s.  Crafting supplies and home gardening magazines to occupy your mind so you don’t think about how your family never visits you.  Tina from Jolene’s.  Alcohol, violent movies, and aftermarket auto parts to furious up your fast car.  Sally from Waldo’s.  Incessant television, crime shows mostly, fast food, and the latest in home security systems.  Molly from Jolene’s.  Video games, online poke, and pills.”
Corporate Man’s head slumped and his shoulders sagged.
“None of you,” he said after a long silence.  “None of you would be willing to side with me and make a change to benefit everyone.”
After a tense moment, Molly said, “Hey, why would I have to work for you?  Can’t I work for her?”  She pointed at Business Woman.
“Interesting,” said John Q Public.  “Of course, she’s young and hasn’t had all of the fight driven from her yet.”
Business Woman stood up and said, “Would you?  Would you follow me into a shaky financial venture?”
“Well… maybe.  More so than him,” Molly said.
Business Woman held her fingers to her temples as though fighting a migraine. Then she pinched the bridge of her nose and said, “What’s… I can’t think of…”
“See!  It’s him,” Corporate Man said, thrusting a finger once again at General Apathy.
“Of course it is,” said John Q Public.  “I told you he’s a part of all business.  And she’s next in line so a great deal of his influence would be working on her.”
“What’s that mean?” said Business Woman.
“It’s like this.  More and more women are, or at least will be, achieving upper level positions in the corporate structure. Eventually they’ll be running the whole show.  I know it’s hard to see now with the male presence still so overwhelmingly strong but we, the extremely successful, and forgive me for returning to the sexual metaphor we established earlier in our discussion, are now at our most erect.”  A hologram appeared with an arrow so rigid and penis-like that any tycoon would shout “profits are up.”  “In order to get to an ultimate state of fiscal arousal the hetero male needs women and the more aroused we get the closer we come to spending ourselves.  And then it’s downhill for a while after that.  In the past we’ve had a chance to recover and reestablish ourselves, but one day women, with all their damned multiples, will move in and capture it all.”
“I think you guys spent your load in 2008,” Molly said.
“Ah yes.  We sure did.  It’ll be interesting to see if something comes of it.  Doubtful, but you never know,” said John Q Public.  He turned to Business Woman and said, “She’s a bright one.  You might want to take her on as your Junior Executive.”
“Stop!  Just stop already.  I’ve had enough of this,” Corporate Man said.  “What’s wrong with all of you?  Can’t you see the benefits of doing business in a different way?  A decent way?  My way?”
“They don’t believe in you,” said John Q Public.
“Why?  I don’t get it.  I talk common sense and prosperity for all.”
“You’re a little hard to swallow,” said General Apathy.
“You shut your tainted mouth and stay out of this!”
“Come now, Corporate Man,” John Q Public said.  “Think about it.  Who would ever believe that a man at a corporate level would ever be benevolent, generous, or fair?  If you cornered someone on the street and forced them to decide who was real, Santa or Satan, only the fools would maintain it was Santa.  A jolly old fat man giving out presents to all the good little boys and girls or a selfish prick who’s the root of all the evil that men do?  Well, we can see the constant evil everyday so Satan is the likelier candidate, wouldn’t you say?  The truth is, we can’t tolerate a selfless hero, Corporate Man.  We need someone to blame for our financial misfortunes and naturally tear down anyone who presumes to be better than us.”
Corporate Man stumbled and fell against the table.  He clutched at his chest.
“What is this pain?  Is that my heart?  Am I having a heart attack?”
“No,” said General Apathy.  “I believe that’s your spirit in the throws of a death spasm.”
“No.  No!”
“I’m sorry, but it’s true,” said John Q Public.  “You are a fiction that no one is buying.”
Corporate Man slumped across the white tabletop and pounded his fists against the cold surface.  Spasms wracked his body and miniscule moans of pain escaped the back of his throat.  He rolled on to his back, his body softening into acquiescence.  When he spoke he sounded like a hopeless prophet; a priest in crisis.
“Where are the noble business men?  What happened to the gold-hearted CEO?  The one who sold off his estate to save his subordinates from layoffs?”
“He strip-mined his heart years ago and gilt his toilet with the gold,” General Apathy said.
“No.  In my mind I see them,” said Corporate Man.  He raised his head.  “Banding together.”  His voice gained a hint of resolve as he slid off the table onto staggering legs.  “Announcing their intentions to work for minimum wage for the year.  Dividing their bloated salaries amongst their workforce.  Avoiding layoffs.  Saving jobs!”
“Fantasy, Corporate Man,” said John Q Public.  “No one would believe it.  They’d think it was some sort of stunt.  And entrepreneurs, like myself, would leak all kinds of false information to the press to advance those negative opinions.”
“This… This can’t–” Corporate Man started. Then his knees buckled and he dropped to the floor.
“Quit fighting,” said John Q Public.  “It’s a done deal.  There’s nothing you, or anyone, can do that will change anything.”
“There… is always… hope.”
“No.  There never was.  I’ve got cannons, literally, cannons full of lawyers and lobbyists, mounted on this building that I can aim at any opposition.  And the people of this country wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Corporate Man shook his head, fell on to his side, and whispered, “No.”
“You can’t deny it.  I’m John Q Public.  I am the American people.”
Business Woman rushed over to Corporate Man and scooped his head in her arms.
“Jonesy!  Come one Jonesy.  Don’t lose consciousness here.  Keep fighting.”
“Why?” Corporate Man asked.  “Do you think we can prevail?”
Business Woman hesitated and then bit her lip and looked away.
“Then it’s true.  He’s got all of you,” Corporate Man said.  He pushed her away and then struggled to sit up, wincing and gasping.  “Fine, John.  You win.  But deep down you know you this isn’t finished.  These people here are not only contributors to my demise, but witnesses to my life, my existence.  A seed has been planted in each of them.  A seed of hope.  A hope of something better.”
John Q Public kneeled next to Corporate Man, placing his hand behind the dying man’s head, lowering it gently to the floor.  He pat Corporate Man’s forehead in a dainty, patronizing manner.  Then he leaned down and whispered something.  Corporate Man smiled as though relieved.
His gaze went blank.
And he stopped breathing.
John Q Public brushed his hand tenderly over Corporate Man’s eyes, closing the lids.  He stood up, shoulders slumping, and exhaled long, deep, and slow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chapter 223


8.q.
Mike took a deep breath, exhaled, shook his head and shrugged and said, “I think I’ll just take my old job back.”
“What?” Corporate Man shouted.  “How can you opt for a corporation that has proven it will treat you like shit?”
“It’s like this, Corporate Man.  I don’t think your business will work.”
“I can make any business successful.  I’m Corporate Man.
“And that’s the other thing.  If I work for you, will all kinds of weirdos with capes and underwear come gunning for you?  A guard post would put me in the line of fire for all that,” Mike said.
“Don’t you want to make a difference?  Don’t you want to change things for the better?” asked Corporate Man.
“You already know the answer to that,” said John Q Public.  “Look into his finances and tell me what he values most.”
Corporate Man’s brow furrowed. 
“Go on.”
He held out his hand, trying to get a sense of how Mike spent his money; the direction of the flow.
“Sports package.  Sunday ticket and college ball.  Big screen TV.  Team jerseys and autographed balls,” Corporate Man said in a low monotone.  His hand dropped to his side and he shook his head.  “Really, Mike?” he asked.  “You’d sell your future down the river to watch millionaires play games?”
“It’s what gets me through the week,” Mike admitted.
“But Mike, if we changed things you wouldn’t need to ‘get through your week,’ you’d be free to enjoy it fully.  All it takes is some effort up front.”
“Look Corporate Man,” Mike said, “that sounds nice, but how many games, how many seasons, do I need to miss to realize your dream?”
“That’s irrelevant to the big picture, Mike.  I’m not asking you to miss anything, but if you’re not willing to sacrifice some trivial pleasures to better yourself and your fellow countrymen then how can you feel entitled to anything more than the scraps the corporations let fall from their plates?”
“You can’t really blame him,” said John Q Public.  “It’s the conditioning.”
“No!  I refuse to buy that!  It’s all excuses for lazy, apathetic behavior.  And why is this asshole still in the room?  I want him gone!” Corporate Man shouted, thrusting a finger toward General Apathy.
“I’m sure you’re causing more of a scene than I am,” said General Apathy.  “Deep down these people care and would like to see something done.  They just want others to do it.  If you think about it, people really are of two minds.  The individual and the group.  Usually, what one mind is willing to do, the other is not.”
Corporate Man strode toward General Apathy and threw a wild punch.  General Apathy side stepped and used Corporate Man’s momentum to fling the economic superhero to the floor.
“Stop this!  I won’t have it!” John Q Public yelled.  “Childish violence has no place in this office.  Don’t make me call in my minions.”
“He punched.  I merely dodged,” said General Apathy.
“Accept this, Corporate Man, the people you champion want their vices and nothing more.  They want the fast foods that poison their bodies so they can have more time to watch their police dramas and desensitize themselves to the suffering of others while simultaneously reinforcing their fears that violent criminals are everywhere so we better hide inside and order that fast food and… I think you can see the cycle.  And that’s just one of them.  There’s a complimentary loop with the medical industry that–”
“No.  I refuse to believe–”
“What?  That we’ve grown complacent and lazy?  That we feel entitled to our pleasures while expecting others to bring about any change that might be needed?  That we’re afraid to even try for fear of ridicule?”
“It can’t be true.  Not for all them!” Corporate Man yelled, gesturing toward the amphitheatre.
“Then search them,” said John Q Public.  “Look inside each and everyone one of them.  Tell me what you see.”

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chapter 222


8.p.
Corporate Man leapt to his feet and took up a defensive position, raising his fists and flipping his necktie over his shoulder.  The seams of his power suit blazing bright.  He lowered his voice and said, “Alright, John.  Make your move.”
John Q Public sighed and shook his head.
“Again with the violence?” he said.  “This is high finance, not a cage in an abandoned subway station.”
“Yeah, I’ve been in that one,” said Franklin Buck.  “On one of the basement floors.”
“No, Corporate Man.  I’ve invited a few guests to our little gathering.  They’ve been listening in and I think you’ll find their opinions rather shocking.”
John Q Public held up a small white remote control and pressed the single black button that festered in its center.  The controller went red and an entire wall of the office began to rise.
“Recognize anybody?”
Behind the wall, in amphitheatre style seating, sat a group of people which, at first, Corporate Man did not recognize.  Slowly, as he studied their faces, familiar features began to emerge.
“You… You’re…. Felix?” he said, a little unsure.  “The jeweler.  And you three work at Jolene’s, right?”
“Yes.  That would be Margaret, Molly, and Tina,” said John Q Public.  “You may also remember Sally and Matt from Waldo’s.  Jed and Roger from the hospital where you were in residence.  Well, perhaps not.  And many others.”
“Why are they here?” asked Corporate Man.
“They are all individuals you encountered on your journey.  Most of whom you helped along the way.  I thought it fitting if they acted as your executioners,” John Q Public said.  He nodded toward the group with an eager, almost innocent smile.  Then he stood and walked over to the panel of guests and said, “How are you enjoying the show?”
“You’re an asshole,” said Molly, the young girl from Jolene’s.
“I know,” John Q Public said enthusiastically.  “Focus groups show that people really like assholes.  You can’t have a successful reality television show these days without a know-it-all prick.  Preferable a British one. But I make due.”
“John.  What are they doing here?” Corporate Man said, loud and stern.
“I though I covered that already.  But if you need me to prod this along…” he paused briefly, “I thought it necessary that you bear witness to all the good your labors have produced.”
Corporate Man narrowed his eyes and then, after a long moment, he nodded his head slowly and said, “Okay.  I think I see where you’re going with this now.  Though I doubt it’ll go the way you intend.  These people here have all been victims of callous, corporate greed.  They won’t side with you.”
“Oh,” said John Q Public.  “Then I guess that’s that.  You were right and I was wrong.  I’ll reform.  Maybe even start a non-profit charity or an organic farm to feed the hungry.”
Corporate Man’s face pinched into a sour, confused expression.
“What?  Just like that?”
“Sure.  Why not?” said John Q Public.  “Although… perhaps you’re right.  We should at least check with these fine folks first.  Since we brought them all the way up here.  Let’s start with Mike.  He was a security guard where you were being held.  You never encountered him, but he had dialogue with a certain lady of business calling herself Ms. Adams.  He was forced away from his post by a supervisor due to bureaucratic policy.  This allowed Business Woman access to your room.  Mike was fired.”
John Q Public strolled toward Mike and said, “So… Michael.”
“I prefer, Mike.”
“Yes, Michael, I’m sure you do.  As I was saying, do you feel slighted by the company that terminated your employment?”
“Yeah.  They bent me over for something someone else did.”
“Isn’t that always the way,” said John Q Public.  “And I understand that you’re still unemployed at this time.”
“Yeah.”
“I’m going to make you a proposition.  You can have your old job back.  You’ll get a twenty five cent increase but your vacation hours will start over as will your retirement since that was cashed out when you left.” John Q Public held up his hand before Mike could speak.  “Before you respond.  I would like Corporate Man to make a counter proposal.  Let it be reiterated that Michael, and all those seated with him, have been privy to the entire meeting thus far.  Corporate Man.
“Uh, um…” Corporate Man stammered.  “I wasn’t expecting… but…  Okay.  Come be a part of a start up business venture where employees are treated well and given a fair wage, excellent medical coverage, and a secure retirement plan.  You’ll start at twenty five percent over what you were earning before with three weeks of paid vacation.  The company will be employee owned so you’ll also receive stock benefits.”
“What’s the job,” Mike asked.
“Security.  The same position as the preceding offer, but within six months you will be in charge of your own team.”
“My!  That’s exciting,” said John Q Public.  “What will he do?  Well, Mike… What’s it going to be?”
“What’s this company you’re starting?” Mike asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” said Corporate Man.  “I have several avenues I’m going to explore once the business here is concluded.  The main goal will be to show that the wealth of a company can be more evenly distributed without sacrificing the health of the company.”
“Mike?” asked John Q Public.  “Can we have your decision, please?”

Friday, May 31, 2013

Chapter 221


8.o.
“You denounce our economic system for its inherent apathy,” John Q Public said.
“No.  I denounce apathy,” said Corporate Man.
“And like I said, the two are inseparable.  And it’s not just Big Business, it’s the consumers as well.  They don’t care about sustainable commodities or fair trade.  They want the most product they can get for the least amount of cost and those who suffer to make those savings possible be damned.”
“I think what he’s saying,” Franklin Buck said, “is have you ever seen a mall at Christmas time?  On Black Friday?”
“Stop supporting him,” Corporate Man said.  “That’s the problem.  People wouldn’t behave that way if we stop those that perpetuate the myth.”
“It’s not a myth.  It’s a fact,” said John Q Public.
“No!” Corporate Man shouted.  “I refuse to believe that.  If people understood they would rise up–”
“Never,” said John Q Public.  “It would never happen.”
“Oh you hope that it–”
“I could tell everyone everything.  Maybe send out one of those ‘pass it along to twenty people and it will spread across the country in three days’ e-mails detailing what’s precisely going on and pleading with everyone to do something about it.  To make and difference.  And it would do nothing.”
“I believe it would.  I have faith in the inherent good of people.”
“Faith is a concept invented to keep the ignorant blind and blissful,” said John Q Public.
“You’re wrong,” Corporate Man said, his jaw clenching.
“Fine.  How about this then?” John Q Public said, fingering an imperceptible button on the arm of his chair and stroking his luscious moustache.  “I’m sending out one of those e-mails right now.  Complete with the details of the economic rogering we’ve given the public.  And I’ll include a plea, urging them to take up arms against the financial establishment.  Let’s even set a date.  How about April 16th?  The day after taxes are due.  On that day I propose that we murder all the top CEOs of the most successful corporations.  There.  Sent.”
“You didn’t do it,” said Corporate Man.
“I did.  And you know what?  Even though a large portion of our middle to lower class citizens will be keyed up and overly stressed about getting taxes done on time and even though their anger toward the tax dodging rich will be at a feverish height and even though we American’s love our guns and our right to use them… Not a single shot will be fired.”
“You’re serious?  You sent that out?” asked Franklin Buck.
“I’ve given the order.”
“When?  I didn’t see–” Corporate Man started.
“I speak it.  It happens,” John Q Public said.  Then his eyes flared with a startled excitement.  “I’ve got it.  Amend e-mail message.  The call will be for a four day killing spree from the 16th to the 19th.  Then, on the 20th, everyone can sit back and get high and mellow out.  You know.  Tie it in to the ever present 4-20 non holiday.  We need a catchy slogan for this.  Oh.  Got it.  Light ‘em up then light ‘em up.  Have some t-shirts made.”
“You’re sick,” said Corporate Man.
“Oh it won’t happen.  So don’t worry.”
“Then why do it?”
“Well, I’d say ‘to illustrate my point,’ but I doubt you’ll be around next tax season,” said John Q Public.  “But the merchandise sales from a catchy, irreverent slogan are quite lucrative.  Note.  Cancel that order for the ‘let’s fist big business the way they fisted us’ t-shirt.  I don’t think we’ll need them now.  But save the illustration.  It’s too good to waste.”
“Aren’t any of you concerned that some maniac will take this seriously and kill someone?” Corporate Man said, standing up and glaring at his colleagues.
“He’s right,” said Senior Executive.  “Nothing will happen.”
“And if some fat cat takes a bullet I doubt many tears will be shed,” Business Woman said.
“Besides,” said John Q Public, “if someone actually killed someone we’d flood the press with stories about the evils of marijuana and pull more funding for the war on drugs.  An increased level of fear would follow, which is always good for business.  Especially advertising.  Or, if there happened to be some squeaky clean CEO calling attention to his or her charitable donations and the generous wages being paid to employees at his/her company, it might be advantageous to have him/her shot, discrediting the movement but buying it a level of infamy that would sell slogan plastered merchandise for decades.”
“This is insane!  I refuse to buy in to your insanity,” Corporate Man said.  He pulled out his PDA.  “If you can send an e-mail, then so can I.”
“And what would this precious e-mail state?” asked John Q Public.
“I’m calling upon the American people.  Anyone whose even been taken advantage of by Big Business.  All those whose money you’ve stolen.  And I’m asking them to come here.  To storm this building and tear down your financial empire.”
“Then at last we come to it,” said John Q Public.
Corporate Man stopped typing and looked at John Q Public, the Big Bossman.
“Come to what?”
“The finale of our meeting.  The reason you are here.”
John Q Public narrowed his eyes and grinned.
“Your death.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chapter 220


8.n.
“Is anyone thirsty?” asked John Q Public.  Without waiting for an answer he gestured and an apparatus dropped from the ceiling.  It set out crystal flutes and filled them with a sparkling, faintly bluish water.  John Q Public lifted one of the flutes to his nose, inhaled deeply, and then drank the contents in a single swallow.
“Water.  Trapped inside veins of sapphire.  I could build three Jacob Center Towers with what it costs for just one glass of this stuff.”
Reluctantly, everyone drank.
Everyone except Corporate Man.
John Q Public’s grin widened and then he gestured toward a blank wall.  A holographic image appeared in front of it displaying a graph featuring a thick, up thrusting arrow.
“Note the chart,” said John Q Public.  “In the past ten years the increase of wealth for the rich in this country has made a steady climb.”
He gestured again and another arrow appeared next to the first.  This one sagged downward, sad and emasculated.
“This graph depicts the financial standing of the middle class during the same length of time.  What do you notice?”
“Two dicks,” said Business Woman.
“High returns are erect and obviously virile.  Diminishing yields are flaccid and underdeveloped,” John Q Public said.  “And yes, this is intentional.  Not just for the inherent humor, but subconsciously it preys upon the fears of male board members and executives.  Particularly those related to inadequacy and impotence.  In other words, if you don’t show large returns you have a small penis.”
John Q Public paused and stared directly at Franklin Buck.
“What?” Franklin Buck said.  “I don’t have… diminishing yields.”
“And there you have it,” John Q Public continued.  “This is the basic primal level of thinking that the Union has been up against all these years.  That initial drive for alpha male status.”
“What about all the women coming into high level positions?” asked Business Woman.
John Q Public laughed.  “Yes.  It’s a big problem.  Now, I suppose most of you are aware of a popular cry that is being voiced these days, calling for the deregulation of business.  It’s being pushed by us, of course, but middle class Americans are really eating up this line of thinking, saying crap like, ‘Oh, those big, greedy corporations will do right by us.  Let ‘em run fast and loose.  They’ll fix things up for us little guys.’  Sure.  How quickly they forget the prime mortgage disaster and other wonderful gifts from the deregulated sect.  They buy in deeply to the propaganda that regulated businesses are automatically stunted whereas deregulated ones will grow and prosper.  Why yes, they do grow and prosper.  At the expense of the little guy.  Pushing beyond the limits of sustainable greed at the detriment of economic health.  Worried only about the big dick on the graph.”
“But that’s you,” said Corporate Man.  “You’re doing these economically unhealthy things.”
“True.”
“So what is this?  What are you doing?  Bragging about how you put one over on the rubes?  What?”
“Illustrating a point,” John Q Public said.
“I see no point,” said Corporate Man.  “I see a lot of excuses for bad behavior.”
“Exactly.”
Corporate Man’s face pinched, “What?  Make sense!”
“Let’s look at it this way.  Deregulation of business is like a man not wanting to wear a condom.  Sure, the business is better without the hindrance of protective regulation.  But then what happens?  Oh no!  And STD or an unexpected pregnancy.  That diseased and potent business splits leaving behind an infected wreck of an economy with a huge poop machine to take care of.”
“And that poor economy used to be a sought after, hot piece of ass, too,” said Business Woman.
“Right, and Big Business is just a dirty-dick man with a dishonest tongue, hiding behind a pleasant face, maybe a sixer in the abs department, and nice twinkly eyes.”
 “And now has his eyes on some perkier, Asian fair,” said Business Woman.
“Exactly.”
“Hey!  Don’t start agreeing with him,” Corporate Man shouted.  “He’s the dirty-dick man in this situation.”
“I’m not denying it,” said John Q Public.
“Then what are you doing?”  Why are we here?” asked Corporate Man.
“Well, it seems to me that you’re wasting your time trying to stop dirty-dicked men,” said John Q Public.  “But then, what can you really do?”
“When you can’t change the pig-animals you have to protect and educate those they prey on,” said Corporate Man.
“You mean, the dumb Americans we’ve been discussing?”
“Your term, not mine,” said Corporate Man.
“And by the time you educate them, they are old and invalid.  Indoctrinated with the message that old is weak and dumb and youth is to be forever worshipped.  An entire crop of eager-beavered bimbo children conveniently awaits our harvesting.  The cycle repeats.  Maintains.”
“No!  People will only take so much,” said Corporate Man.
“Not if they’re too stupid to notice,” said Senior Executive.
“Don’t you start, too,” said Corporate Man.
“What?  It’s true.  People don’t even question anything anymore,” said Senior Executive. “Genetically modified foods.  Vaccines for anything and everything, needed or not.  Pills to counter the negative effect of other pills.  They think its good because it medical science when it’s actually shady business.  The populace at large doesn’t know how the foods we’re being served have been modified and what the resulting product might do to a person’s body.  Science magic did it.  And it’s cheap so that’s good too.”
“You know who you sound like?” asked Corporate Man.
“Who?  John?”
“No. Him,” Corporate Man said, pointing at General Apathy.  “You were under his sway once before.”
“That was different.”
“And you,” Corporate Man said, turning toward the General, “You’ve been suspiciously quiet during all of this.”
“I’m just here for ambience,” said General Apathy.
“And to distort the mental state of everyone gathered around this table,” said Corporate Man.
“I’m a part of every corporate transaction.  The phrase, ‘it’s just business,’ is rooted in apathy.  Capitalism and I are indistinguishable.”
“I want his out of here,” said Corporate Man.
“Do you think that will help?” asked John Q Public.
“He’s infecting everyone.”
“With what?  Himself?”
“Yes.”
John Q Public cocked his head slightly and said, “Two things.  One.  As he said, all business is infected with him.  Two.  This is my meeting and he stays.”
“Then I’m leaving,” said Corporate Man.  He stood up and marched toward the door.
“You’re as free to go as you were free to come,” said John Q Public.  Corporate Man halted, mid step, and then turned back toward the table.  John Q Public continued, “Yes.  I see the dilemma.  What would all of the effort have been for then?  What of the sacrifices?  The colleagues lost?”
“I should kick your ass,” said Corporate Man.
“Ah yes.  Might make right, does it?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“I am.  Isn’t that what we were already discussing?  Except financial might as opposed to the physical,” John Q Public said.  He smiled without sneering.
Corporate Man sat down.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chapter 219


8.m.
“I assume, from your statement,” said Corporate Man, glaring at the man in the white suit and black tie, “that you’re the one who put me in that hospital and kept me an invalid for a decade.”
“Guilty,” said John Q Public.  “It’s too bad we don’t have time to go over the particulars of the Florida campaign.  I think you’d appreciate the genius of it.  But we have an agenda and I’d like to remain focused on that.”
“The future of the economy,” said Corporate Man.  “So you said.”
“Yes.  Well it’s a bit about that, but mostly it’s about your future.  Your immediate future.  And the limitations thereof.”
“Are you threatening us, John?” Corporate Man said and stood up.  His lapel seams casting a harsh glow on his face.  “I knew this was going to turn into a fight. What?  Is this office some sort of death trap?”
John Q Public held up a gloved hand and said, “Please.  Sit down.  You misunderstand me.  I am not threatening you.  When an economic forecaster predicts a price drop in a certain commodity is he or she threatening that commodity?  No.  Merely reading the signs.  And I’m not referring to the whole Union.  I’m confident that these three,” he gestured to Business Woman, Senior Executive, and Franklin Buck, “will survive this meeting and make it into that future in one capacity or another.  It’s just you, Corporate Man.  I fear for you.”
“I’m sorry.  That still sounds like a threat to me,” said Business Woman.
“The sands in the hourglass are almost spent,” said John Q Public.  “Am I at fault for noticing the impending fall of the final grain?”
“Get on with it then,” said Corporate Man.  “Say what you have to say.”
John Q Public too a deep breath and said, “You’re a fairytale, Corporate Man.  A figment of a naïve imagination.  There is no place in the world economy where you fit.  By the end of this meeting you will concede that point.  And you will cease to be.”
“That’s bullshit,” said Senior Executive.  “It’s bad out there, but the Union is back and we’re changing things.”
“No.  You aren’t.  You’re simply a colorful distraction.  Nothing more.  At most you’re something to give a small amount of hope to an ignorant populace so they’ll take comfort knowing that someone else is fixing their problems and will turn a blind eye and let us resume our financial pillaging.”
“You don’t believe that, John,” said Corporate Man.
“Don’t I?”
“No.  I know you.  This isn’t you.  It’s that asshole.  He’s influencing you,” Corporate Man said, pointing at General Apathy.  “Throw his ass out of here and lets all work together to fix this mess.”
“Fix it?  It is what it is.  You can no more fix the ocean from being wet than you can make our financial system into anything that benefits anyone except a select few.”
“I don’t buy that,” said Senior Executive.
“Really?  Everyone else seems to,” said John Q Public.
“I doubt it,” said Business Woman.
“Let me illustrate.  Everyone has deep seeded dreams of becoming one of the elite.  It’s not only inborn, but we foster this through various media channels.  Deep down, subconsciously, they are aware that if they fight to create or support a system which equalizes everyone then they effectively kill any chance for that dream of possible future success to ever materialize.  They cannot become rich and powerful if everyone is the same.”
“That’s irrational,” said Franklin Buck.
“It sure is,” John Q Public said.  “Let’s review a recent political conflict over a proposal to raise income tax for those earning over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  How many people in this country exist at an income level well below that mark?  How many of those people’s yearly income would have to more than quadruple to gain that plateau?  If your response was ‘the bulk of the work force’ then you’d be correct.  Now, in a logical world, those people would realize that if their income somehow quadrupled, taking home the higher taxed, quadruple amount would leave them far better off than hanging on to that lower taxed, meager pittance of what they currently earn.  But, oh no, in their minds, they will be rich some day and no way is the government going to take a bigger chunk of their money.  The public only considers themselves, and its not even themselves as they currently exist, but an idealized fantasy version of what they hope to become.”
For a long while, no one said anything.
“We’ve been dumbing down the populace for years,” said John Q Public.  “In an age of information you’d expect an increase in intelligence, but we flood the culture with mindless entertainments, blind them with shiny celebrities and easy to follow programming.  Children are trained to be consumers, practically from infancy.  Aggressive advertisements bombard them between television shows and those shows feature spoiled, self entitled kids whose only function is outsmart dumb adults.  The messages are clear.  Buy stuff.  The world revolves around you.  Adults are stupid and have nothing to teach you.  And, most importantly, you will be stupid when you grow up.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Franklin Buck.
“I agree,” said John Q Public.  “But that’s what we peddle and that’s what Americans buy.  We can sell them anything.  Just recently we convinced them that the word ‘retarded’ is a bad word.  And do you know why they bought it?  Not because of any serious offense that the word incites.  Any word that separates out one group of people from another will inevitably be seen as offensive simply because of its implications of difference and the unavoidable debasement involved at labeling one group normal while forcing the other to accept the inference of abnormality.  Retarded is offensive because Americans are sensing how stupid they have become and they subconsciously fear that they, in fact, are retarded.  Instead of exerting energy toward increasing their mental faculties they choose to erase a word that they perceive as a disparaging to their ignorance when it has no relation whatsoever.”
“People are not so blind,” said Senior Executive.
“Some.  I’ll give you that.  But on a whole they are willing to accept the state of cultivated ignorance,” said John Q Public.  When his statement was met with a round of head shakes he continued.  “If you’d like further proof, let’s talk immigration.”
“What is this?” said Corporate Man.  “Is this economics or politics?”
“Isn’t it all one in the same?”
“Let’s talk about us.  Let’s get to the part where we hold you accountable for the things you’ve done.”
“Oh, yes.  Let us,” said John Q Public.
“You don’t think we can?” said Corporate Man.
“Old friend.  Please.  Until we clearly define the canvas upon which I have been painting, the brushes and pigments at my disposal, I don’t think that we can judge method or technique.”
“I think we can judge effect of action.  Death of colleagues.”
“If you think you must,” said John Q Public.  “But who is to be the judge? Who is to sit on my jury if I am on trial?  I merely wish to define the pool from which we would draw.  The public.  I cite immigration as an example of the ineptitude of that public.  It’s an argument continually cropping up amongst our fellow Americans and we generally see two camps form about the issue.  Those who wish to accept border jumpers with open arms and those who fear that foreigners, Mexicans in particular, are scaling a big fence and coming up here to steal jobs from us hard working Americans.”
“That’s not exactly the–” Senior Executive started.
“Yes it is.  Because that’s the line of thinking that we’ve sold them.  The reactionaries want all the illegal Mexicans deported to protect good honest Americans yet they fail to realize the irony of the situation.  America was founded by foreign immigrants who invaded the country and stole land from the populace already living here.”
“Yeah…  I guess if you really think about it, the most American people today are the Mexicans,” said Franklin Buck.
“Precisely,” John Q Public said, “Now, if Americans are so intelligent and not the manufactured retards I claim them to be, then how come the outcry in regards to the immigration issue isn’t about the shady businesses hiring, or more accurately, actively recruiting illegal workers?  Jobs aren’t being stolen by illegals.  The good ole American entrepreneur is offering them up willingly and the dumb American public is blaming the guy who’s just grateful to have the opportunity for a decent wage.  Comparatively anyway.  We don’t stop to think or ask ‘why are all these people coming here?’  We’ve already been sold the ‘stealing our jobs’ line.  And some of the most anti-immigrant morons out there are the same dirt-bag business owners that hire illegals to pad their bottom line.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chapter 218


8.l.
For a long while no one said anything.
Then a bored sigh slipped from General Apathy and he said, “A most riveting dialogue.  I can’t seem to tear myself away.”
He glanced around at everyone for a brief second, shrugged, and then walked into the black pyramid office.
John Q Public stroked his luscious mustache with his black gloved hand and said, “Join me in the conference room and we’ll get under way.”
“Wait a second,” said Corporate Man.  “”You’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”
John Q Public grinned and said, “Actually, I don’t.  There’s no one on this planet that I need to explain anything to.  But, if we considered your assertion in hypothetical terms, wouldn’t a conference room be an ideal location in which to do the explaining?”
With reluctance, they walked into the black pyramid.  The corner doors sealed behind them.  It was dim except for a faint red glow emanating from several scattered console buttons.
“Set lighting.  Conference,” said John Q Public.
The office flared a brilliant, clean white though no discernable light source could be identified. 
“Through here,” said John Q Public.  He gestured to a set of heavy looking, glossy black doors with white ivory handles.
The doors opened automatically.
The room inside was black with white framed photos of blackness.  The table gleamed its own white light and black chairs huddled around it, perched on bleach white carpeting.
“Hmm.  Blatant color scheme?” said Business Woman.
John Q Public nodded and said, “Yes.  Now, please sit down and let’s discuss your future.”
“No.  How about we discuss what you did to Supply and Demand.  To Fair Wage,” said Corporate Man.
“To you,” said John Q Public.
“That’s… That’s right.  What you did to me, too.”
“Join me at the conference table and we’ll address whatever we wish.”
The Union eventually sat down.  Business Woman and Corporate Man on one side, Senior Executive and Franklin Buck on the other.  John Q Public took a seat at the head of the table.  General Apathy remained standing, towards the back wall, on John Q Public’s right.
“The future of the economy,” said John Q Public, “is fairly dismal.”
“Thanks largely to you,” said Business Woman.
“Agreed.  But now is not the time to point fingers or credit or praise.”
“Praise?  Are you nuts?” said Senior Executive.
“I assure you, I am in control of all my faculties,” said John Q Public.  “In fact, I could simply end that sentence at control.  Wait, I’m forgetting something.”
“Added nostalgia and visual drama,” said General Apathy.
“Oh yes,” John Q Public said, eyebrows lifting in allusion to some impending greatness.
An electronic strum sounded as light flared from everyone’s suits.  The flash diminished, but the seams lines on all of their clothes remained white and glowing.
“Are… Are these our old power suits?” asked Corporate Man.
“Reasonable facsimiles,” said John Q Public.
“These would have come in handy against Bear Market and The Crash,” said Business Woman.
“They aren’t functional.  Merely aesthetic for the final meeting,” John Q Public said and tossed out a wink.  “One of the reasons your clothes were stolen on the 26th floor was so these could be made.”
“That must have cost a pretty penny,” said Franklin Buck.
John Q Public shrugged and said, “Like I said, I am in complete control.  I’m the head of this global business empire.  The U.S. division of Incorporate Business Corporate Incorporated owns a majority of everything on this planet.”
“Not for long, pal,” said Corporate Man.
“Good.  Then we’re on the same page,” said John Q Public.
The Union members threw each other confused glances.
“You see,” continued John Q Public, “I’ve grown bored.  I claimed lordship over not just this company, and not simply this country, but over the world economy at the turn of the century and it’s been far too easy ever since.  I miss the old days.  The financial crime fighting.  The excitement.  That’s why I cancelled funding for the medications that kept you comatose, Corporate Man.  That’s why I woke you up.”