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.
Friday, May 31, 2013
“You denounce our economic system for its inherent apathy,” John Q Public said.
“No. I denounce apathy,” said
“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
“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
“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.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
“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
with what it costs for just one glass of this stuff.” Jacob
Reluctantly, everyone drank.
Everyone except Corporate
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
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
“You’re doing these economically unhealthy
things.” Corporate Man.
“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
“I see a lot of excuses for bad behavior.” Corporate Man.
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.
“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
“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
“You mean, the dumb Americans we’ve been discussing?”
“Your term, not mine,” said
“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
“Not if they’re too stupid to notice,” said Senior Executive.
“Don’t you start, too,” said
“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
“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
“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
“Do you think that will help?” asked John Q Public.
“He’s infecting everyone.”
“With what? Himself?”
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
He stood up and marched toward the door. Corporate Man.
“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
“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
“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
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
“So you said.” Corporate Man.
“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,
I fear for you.” Corporate
“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,
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.” Corporate
“That’s bullshit,” said Senior Executive. “It’s bad out there, but the
Union is back and we’re changing
“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
“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
“Is this economics or politics?” Corporate Man.
“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
“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.
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
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
“”You’ve got a lot of explaining to do.” Corporate Man.
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
“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.”
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
“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
division of Incorporate Business Corporate Incorporated owns a majority of
everything on this planet.”
“Not for long, pal,” said
“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,
That’s why I woke you up.” Corporate Man.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The next staircase took up the entire side of the last tier of the pyramid structure. General Apathy stood on the third step and gestured upward.
“Right this way,” he said. “And congratulations on making it all the way to the top.”
“What’s up there?” asked Franklin Buck, his hair oddly misshapen from his recent encounter with the business end.
“Were you not paying attention?” said General Apathy. He pointed upward, flared his eyes in a manner that could be mistaken for nothing other than outright mocking, and said, “Up there is the top. The Big Bossman awaits. You should probably keep him from waiting any further. This has all gone on long enough, don’t you think?”
They walked up the stairs.
Their feet made hollow clacking noises on each step. The sound echoed back to them sounding of crystal, soft metal, and freshly minted paper currency. A chill air swept down as they approached the top of the rise. Each shivered as their flesh goosed.
When the last of the
Union stopped atop the platform, all sound went
out of the room. In front of them the diamond
shaped pit gaped, sidewalls dropping into the floor, meeting at a center point
“Okay, so now–” Business Woman started, but General Apathy held up a finger in front of his face to silence her. His hand moved with such speed and forceful command that it actually worked.
A low bass hum shook the room.
They could feel the vibration in the cloth of their pant legs and the short hairs on the backs of their necks. A futuristic, pneumatic, clunking hiss erupted from the great black diamond shape at the apex of the ceiling as it drifted downward at a slow, steady pace. Eventually, it seated in the diamond shaped pit in the top of the platform. A pleasurable sigh exhaled from the strange shape.
Nothing happened for a painfully long time.
Corporate Man glanced at Business Woman and then at Senior Executive. Franklin Buck glanced at no one and continued to stare at the black pyramid.
A noise shattered the pregnant silence. It sounded like a robotic samurai sword with a crystal blade being unsheathed from a dry ice. Lines of white light split the bottom corner of the pyramid.
Then it opened.
Two doors swung away from the corner like arms opening outward, readying for an embrace.
A man stood inside the pyramid, silhouetted by the intense light behind him. General Apathy rolled his eyes and glanced at his watch as the man walked forward.
“Welcome,” he said as the light of the room caught his features. “I’m glad you could make it.”
The man did not reply, but his grin widened.
“John? Who’s John?” said Franklin Buck.
“John Q Public,” said Business Woman. “He’s one of us.”
Corporate Man shook his head, “I… I thought you were dead.”
John Q Public, the Big Bossman, shrugged and said, “Well you never can tell. Can you?”
Monday, May 20, 2013
“This set of stairs will place us amongst the Shareholders. Trust me when I say, though I doubt you will heed my warning, you do not want to have anything to do with these creatures,” said General Apathy. “Move along at a quick, even pace. Avoid getting too close to them and never make eye contact or verbalize any sort of acknowledgment of their existence or your own.”
He turned and ascended the flight of stairs.
The floor was made of gold, hand wrought and hammered flat with jeweler’s mallets. The path was narrow, bejeweled with diamonds and sapphires, and hugged the exterior edge of the platform. There was no guard rail. A rusty chain-link fence separated the path from the space in which the Shareholders dwelt.
Large canopies obscured the Shareholder enclosure, billowing with silk and breathing out exotic incense smoke with a undercurrent of tangy body odor.
As they walked along the narrow path the
Union caught glimpses of movement in
the flowing silks. Shadowed forms that
stalked the periphery.
When they neared the first corner of the pyramid structure General Apathy paused and then whispered, “On this side there is a gap in the protective fence. This is where the Shareholders entertain the occasional, albeit very rare, visitor. Again, eye contact is to be avoided, and stay as close to the edge of the path as you can manage.”
And they continued their walk.
The rusty chain-link fence ended after a handful of steps and the silken canopy retreated into Shareholder territory revealing a satin-pillowed landscape. Clusters of low, lustrous tables pocked the terrain. Tawdry financial magazines spread themselves like dirty fans across their surfaces.
There were creatures gathered around the tables.
The faces of these things were nondescript and vacant. Their mouths hung agape; constantly salivating. They wore expensive, tailored suits which were pressed and immaculate. Except for the chest. Here the suits were pulled open, revealing bare flesh. I looked as if a cavernous wound had punctured the center of their naked torso and, left untreated, the cavity had healed into something dented and grotesque. Thick lines of scar tissue radiated from each wound which left their chests looking like giant, puckered assholes.
One of the Shareholder creatures stood at a table near the path, mouth breathing and swaying like a praying mantis. As the
approached he swiveled toward them in a slow, fluid movement. The pucker scar in the center of his chest
twitched in quivering spasms, like the ass of a dog about to shit.
The path widened into an oval at the center of the fence gap. The
instinctively hugged the exterior edge of the platform.
Franklin Buck glanced at the Shareholder.
The thing jerked into a crouch and flashed his teeth with a succession of quick, shuddering tugs of its upper lip. Franklin Buck flinched away, nearly topping from the platform edge. He overcorrected and veered toward the low set tables in a spastic stumble. When he caught his balance, he was less than five feet from the Shareholder, stuck in a crouching position.
There was a sound, like the inhalation of breath, almost like a lizard hiss.
The Shareholder sprang forward. Franklin Buck tried to run but was quickly overtaken. The Shareholder’s grappling arms wrestled
back down to his knees. Then it moved
in, pulling Franklin Buck toward its chest.
The puckered scar opened and the One Hundred Dollar Man’s head
disappeared into the pulsing chest-butthole.
“Back! Back!” General Apathy shouted. He smacked at the Shareholder’s face with a rolled up financial magazine and tugged at Franklin Buck’s suit collar. The Shareholder fought to maintain its grip and received another battery of disciplinary smacks.
There was a wet sucking sound, like the one that accompanies the loss of an expensive shoe in an unexpected patch of mud, and Franklin Buck’s head came free of the life draining orifice. General Apathy gave the Shareholder another solid whack and then dragged the One Hundred Dollar Man back to the path.
The Shareholder strode to one of the low lying tables and sulked on satin pillows.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Book Two of The Tragic Death of Corporate Man is available in print form (here https://www.createspace.com/4148636 to precise) and, like Book One (here https://www.createspace.com/3903289 if you somehow don't own a copy yet), I will be posting Satisfied Customer photos of those fortunate enough to own either of these (though both is best) books.
This time, I am issuing a challenge. Produce something incredible, a picture worth a thousand words, and to the most worthy image goes an unbelievably wonderful prize. Be creative. Everything will be taken into account. Unusual or apt settings, implausible poses or extreme circumstance (though I will not be held responsible for injuries obtained during attempts of corporate intensity), well composed and lit, or just out and out strange. The only real requirement is that the Corporate Man book (One or Two or both) must appear in the photo. No Photoshop please. Unless its really cool Photoshop. An automatic win of a secondary prize for anyone sneaking a copy of Corporate Man onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and capturing an pic.
Below are a couple of the more impressive photos from Book One.
First Prize: A copy of THESE ODD MORSELS. My forthcoming book of short stories.
Special NYSE Prize: Shhh. It's a surprise.
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Friday, May 17, 2013
The second level of the pyramid structure was significantly narrower than the first. The path hugged the inner wall and a rich velvet rope separated the walkway from the remaining space. In that remaining space, standing like androids, were rows and rows of men and women in expensive business attire. Next to each man and woman was a small wheeled cart. It held various electronic equipment and was laden with dials and blinking lights. Wires sprouted from these portable diagnostic machines and connected with the men and women somewhere around back.
“These are the most advanced, state of the art, high level CEOs in existence,” said General Apathy. “The rope is for your protection. Do not cross it, please.”
“Why?” asked Franklin Buck. “What happens?”
General Apathy sighed and said, “Yes. It’d be too much to ask you to just take my word on the subject. If you cross over, the CEOs will take that as an invitation to approach and sell you something. They will sell you until your ears bleed. Literally.”
There was a strange hum that resonated from the CEOs. Sort of like a beehive, a dentist drill, and a live microphone all luxuriating in a post coital spoon.
When they rounded the corner of the pyramid they were startled by a freestanding CEO. He was milling around by the velvet rope, almost halfway down the length of the path.
“Apparently we have a malfunctioning unit,” said General Apathy. “It would be best if you avoided eye contact and simply ignored him.”
As they approached, the CEO unit looked up and appeared pleasantly surprised. He said, “Hey. Any of you guys from the Mind Hive?”
Senior Executive’s jaw flexed. He stopped walking, but remained just out of the CEO’s reach.
“Oh, well don’t listen to me or anything, Junior,” said General Apathy, not turning back. “I wouldn’t know anything. Better to dismiss what I say.”
“Don’t sweat it. I’ve got this one,” said Business Woman. She slapped the CEO across the face.
“Care about the company and the company will take care of you,” the CEO said, his face flinching from a nervous eye tick.
“Try it. You’ll feel better,” said Business Woman.
Senior Executive slapped the CEO.
“Listen. I’ve got an idea that’s basically a license to print money,” the CEO said, leaning forward, whispering in a rushed hush. “Do you own a clinic?”
Senior Executive’s brow furrowed. “What?”
“A clinic, man. A place to treat sick people.”
“Well… get one. Then here’s what you do. Start running prostitutes as a side business. Encourage unprotected sex to boost business for the clinic. You with me so far?” the CEO said.
“You’re sick,” said Senior Executive. He turned to walk away and the CEO grabbed his arm.
“Don’t! You’ll be walking away from a fortune,” said the CEO.
Senior Executive yanked his arm free and said, “What? Treating STDs. The people frequenting your prostitutes won’t be from the same area so your clinic wouldn’t see the benefit.”
“You’re missing the point,” said the CEO. “You develop a strain of herpes which has as its primary side effect, nymphomania. Inject this super-herpes into your prostitutes. This has a two fold effect. It increases the frequency of the visits from your customers and spreads the disease much quicker. Then, having synthesized a treatment for your super-herpes, your clinic will be the only one armed with the necessary medications for the affliction. You patent the new herpes gene and start charging fees to all those people whose body it infects. If they don’t pay, you sue them for patent infringement, especially if they transmit it to someone else.”
A look of further disgust came over Senior Executive.
“Interesting,” said General Apathy. He tilted his head towards the militaryesque decorations on his chest. “Cancel tech squad order for CEO 5318008. Unit operations appear stable, possibly at peak. Prepare a field kit and place according to need. Recommendations include medical field and/or sex trade.”
He turned, glanced at the
Union, nodded, and they continued their
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
They moved across the carpeted runner, almost reverently, making their way along the perimeter. At the end of the walkway was a staircase that would take them up to the second level.
The featured of the executives gradually took on a more porcine appearance. Upturned noses and sweaty, slappy skin. The frequency of obesity and abundance of refuse collecting in office-sized wastebaskets was on the rise as well.
As they neared the stairs a group of portly men hovering around a snack filled table caught Corporate Man’s attention.
“So I drafted a report for all the major banks urging them to charge heavy service fees for cashing checks, even their own checks, from anyone who didn’t maintain an account with their establishment,” said a very generously proportioned man with quivering jowls, extra chins, and a piggish nose.
“Wait. Aren’t banks the place you’re supposed to go to cash your checks?” asked a smaller, but still body-mass-endowed man, his brow glistening with triglycerides.
“What? For Free?” asked the bejowled man. “Next you’ll be telling me that the banks should make change for people without getting some kind of cut.”
“Well of course,” said the small but body-mass-endowed man. “They’re banks. Isn’t that where the expression comes from?”
“You know. What do you think I am? A bank?”
The bejowled man shook his head, scowled fiercely, and said, “They’ve got to pay those tellers that are making all that change and cashing all those checks. Where do you think that money comes from?”
“Doesn’t all that interest they collect on loans pay for all that?”
“Look asshole, that money goes to the executives and the shareholders. What makes you think– Wait… Wait… You’re fucking with me, right?”
The small but body-mass endowed man grinned.
“Oh man. Good one!” said the bejowled man.
The rest of the gathered portly all broke into fits of raucous laughter.
“You know what?” said
“You greedy bastards need a good ass
kicking.” Corporate Man.
He left the carpet and marched over to the table of grease-sweating tycoons. He poked one in the chest, his finger sinking deeper into the swollen flesh than he thought it would.
“Where do you want it?” Corporate Man said.
The bejowled man rubbed at his chest, his face a swollen mix of offense and utter confusion.
“Where do I want what?” he said.
General Apathy set his hand on Corporate Man’s shoulder and said, “The bottles of champagne and the whale blubber hors d'oeuvres. My friend here has been inspired by your… accumulation and wishes to send along his compliments.”
“Oh,” said the bejowled man. “Thanks for the recognition. Just have it brought to the table.”
General Apathy nodded and gently escorted Corporate Man back to the carpet and to the next set of stairs where the rest of the
Union awaited him.
“How gallant,” said General Apathy. “How pointless and futile. I do recommend that you curb your antics and remember where you are. Violent confrontation is nearly non existent on the fifty-second floor and I doubt those on the upper levels will tolerate such an attack. Especially the shareholders on level three. Do we understand one another?”
He looked at
Corporate Man looked away, hissed out a breath, and then inhaled, deep
and slow. Corporate
“Great,” said General Apathy. “Please follow me.”
They ascended the next flight of steps.
Monday, May 13, 2013
The first level of the pyramid structure was wide and flat. A stubby guard rail ran along its edges, the chief function of which was to keep the furniture, various desks and tables, from toppling over the side. The floor was highly polished wood and a carpet runner divided the space unequally leaving twice the width toward the center as the area nearer the edge.
General Apathy led them down the carpeted path. He gestured half heartedly at the executives who sat comfortably behind their desks or gathered around tables, and said, “The aforementioned financial advisors and corporate strategists. Please do not pet or feed the animals.”
As they walked along the path, snatches of conversations drifted in the
direction. Corporate Man paused.
“Look,” a man at a desk said into a chrome plated phone, “it’s a surefire way to increase sales. Yeah. Change your label. Go with something simple. Lose the serifs on your font and do away with anything ornate. Customers are having a rough go out there and an expensive looking label with just make them think you’re flaunting your wealth in their face. No it’s true. Focus groups have proven it. I understand that you’ve had the same label for decades and that it’s considered iconic, but that’s going to work against you now. Customers will see the new label and know that you gave someone a job. You sacrificed your iconic branding to do this. Yes. Yes, exactly. No, you’re the first I’m sharing this with. Exactly. Alright.”
He hung up the phone, consulted a list on a chrome clipboard, and crossed off an entry on the fourth page with a chrome pen. He dialed a number from the next line down and after a moment he said, “Dick! How’s it hanging? Yeah, I’ll bet. Listen, I’ve got a line on something big. It’ll boost sales through the roof. Yep. No, it’s simple. Change your label.”
“Corporate Man,” General Apathy said. “Please. Let’s not delay too much, shall we. No need to steal industry secrets or anything. All will be available soon.”
They continued along the path.
More conversations wafted past them like rancid gas.
“…thinking? I told you– No. No! That whole ‘I can help you’ line is tired. Everyone is using it now. Same with the ‘is there anything else I can help you with?’ closing. From here forward…”
“…the next level. It’s time to add a big screen television on the sales floor to broadcast the game. Everyone’s wearing paraphernalia of the local team, the TV deepens your commitment in the customer’s eyes and they will shop longer because they’ll want to…”
“…solely black and white. No color unless it’s on a tie. Clean and clinical, that’s what we’re going for. Yes. Yes. I understand there’s an element of fashion to your industry, but try to think of your employees as displays upon which the fashionable eyewear is to…”
They turned the corner and walked down the next side of the pyramid. There was more milling around in this area. More tables, less desks. Executives grouped around each other like gossiping teenagers.
Near the guard rail, each indulging in fantastically small cups of Turkish coffee, were two executives. One said, “I told him, listen, outsourcing is good for
America. We save a ton of money by sending jobs to
foreign countries. This helps build up
those country’s economies, right? Then,
down the line, when those countries have amassed a measure of wealth, they’ll
want to cut some corners, save some cash, and they’ll outsource a bunch of
crappy jobs that no one living there wants anymore. And who do you think they’ll try first? Us, I say.
So really, outsourcing is a way of creating jobs for Americans. It’s an investment in our future.”
Corporate Man stopped again.
The callous, shortsighted greediness. He was about to step off the carpet and approach the two executives with his slapping hand when he felt a light touch on his wrist.
It was General Apathy.
“And what good would that do? What would you accomplish?” the General asked.
Corporate Man opened his mouth, ready to fire off a string of benefits that his actions might bring about.
Be he could think of nothing.
So they moved on.
Friday, May 10, 2013
decided to accept the offer of new clothes.
General Apathy spoke a command toward the decorations on his uniform and
a few moments later a small staff appeared with a rack of clothes and privacy
screens. The suits on the rack were
crisp clean replicas of the overworked clothing each member of the Union
When the rack was wheeled away, three suits, two of purple and mauve, one of brown, still hung from it, swaying slow and melancholy.
They stood, facing the General. An awkward silence hovering about them.
“Shall we?” said General Apathy after a painfully long time.
“What? Go to the meeting?” said
“Exactly. I’m sure the Big Bossman is eager to get things started.”
“Who’s this Big Bossman?” asked Business Woman.
General Apathy gestured toward the black diamond shape at the apex of the building and said, “Why the head of the company, of course. The man in charge of it all. Let’s not keep him waiting.”
The General turned abruptly and strolled toward the center of the fifty-second floor and the odd tiered pyramid that stood there. The
Union followed, though with noticeable
reluctance. When they were halfway
across the floor, the General tossed a look over his shoulder.
“Junior. You’ve been quiet this whole time,” he said.
“It’s Senior Executive now. And eat shit.”
“Hmm. What a remarkable financial recovery. Congratulations. As to you latter comment, I think I will politely decline,” said General Apathy. A moment later her cast another look back and added, “Do you think I could still call you Junior, just for old time’s sake?”
The resulting glare from Senior Executive bought a wry grin from the General. They continued the trek across the floor in silence and when they reached the base of the pyramid structure they halted at the bottom of a set of stairs.
The pyramid stood four stories high.
“Those steps will take us up to the first level,” said General Apathy. “A mix of top level financial advisors and corporate strategists are seated there. Please do not interrupt their work or encourage them in any way. It will only delay us.”
He turned, without much conviction, and walked up the steps.
Corporate Man and the rest of the
Union began to follow.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said General Apathy, turning back. “Commander Credit. You’re dismissed. Have some diagnostics–”
“Wait a second. What are you–” Senior Executive started.
General Apathy held up his hand and silenced him. “Did you think the Commander was your ally?”
“He doesn’t work for you,” Senior Executive shouted.
“Not exclusively, no,” General Apathy said. “Technically he’s a freelance agent, but who do you think pays the majority of his salary? Which agency was responsible for all of his repairs and upgrades?”
Senior Executive shot a look at Commander Credit. The Commander shrugged. Senior Executive reddened and started to shake.
“Why was he helping us then?” asked
“The Crash is your operative. He’d never–” Corporate Man.
“What? Work for those who employ The Crash?” General Apathy asked. “Think of it as a squabble between employees. Something that’s been escalating for a decade or two.”
“I took the job to get another crack at the bastard who took my arm.”
“Yeah. You did a bang up job getting your revenge,” said Franklin Buck.
“Beaten into unconsciousness. That’s quite the comeback,” Business Woman said.
“Doesn’t matter,” said Commander Credit. “My contract with Senior Executive ended on the twenty-sixth floor. Check the paperwork. I stuck with you because I knew what lay in wait on floor thirty-nine. Now… Now I’m done.”
Commander Credit walked off, strolling leisurely across the open floor. A team of tech boys appeared with diagnostic machines on wheeled carts and began attending him.
“Ah… Such a tricky, dangerous thing to manage that Commander Credit,” said General Apathy. “Oh well. Shall we?”
He turned and strode up the stairs.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The inner tube beneath Corporate Man shifted and his feet failed to find adequate purchase for the attacking leap he had intended. Instead, his arms flailed and his torso twisted in a manner that was far from heroic. His attempt to engage his necktie came a moment too late and he sputtered against the wall, pathetic, clumsy, and eventually submerged.
“I told you,” said the man in black. “I said, ‘Just wait and it would be a less awkward exit.’ For those of you still on your tubes I would urge you to look to Corporate Man as an example of the forewarned awkwardness.”
Corporate Man climbed back onto his inner tube and they waited for the water to finish filling the elevator shaft.
After forty seconds, or so, Franklin Buck asked, “Apathy? As in Captain Apathy? My father mentioned him.”
“Yes. But as some of you may recall. I was promoted. I’m a General,” said General Apathy. “How is your father these days, Franklin?”
Franklin Buck’s face darkened and his jaw flexed. “You know exactly what happened to my father,” he said.
General Apathy shrugged. “Quite true. More than you’d want to know I’d wager. But you exacted your revenge. Hopefully that takes some of the sting out of it.”
“What do you mean? What revenge?”
“Your performance on the thirteenth floor. The way you man-handled Professor Inflation. Quite poetic. Fit for a
movie,” said General Apathy. When
Franklin Buck looked away without responding, General Apathy continued, “You
mean you didn’t know? That’s rich. And here I get to be the bearer of such
wonderful news. Consider your father
avenged, One Hundred Dollar Man.”
The water level finally reached a point where the
Union could climb out
of the pool without much effort.
“And I see you’ve reclaimed his gold standard,” General Apathy said as Franklin Buck pulled himself from the water. “It would seem as though all wrongs done you have been righted. As for the rest of you, would you like to continue on in wet clothes or would you prefer a quick dry off? We can even have new suits here within the quarter hour.”
stood staring at General Apathy, filtered, geothermally-heated glacier water
dripping from their torn suits.
“Are we gonna do this?” Corporate
General Apathy’s face took on a confused but bemused expression.
“Do what?” he said. “Choose from the options I mentioned?”
“Then please explain.”
“Well, fight, I guess,” said
“You know… Attack each other. Corporate Man. Battle
to the death. That stuff.”
“Why?” asked General Apathy.
“Why what?” Corporate Man said.
“Why battle to the death?” said General Apathy.
“Well, isn’t that… I mean, I…” Corporate Man said. “It’s kind of how this whole place has worked so far.”
“Nonsense,” General Apathy said, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. “Who have you killed? Who’s dead?”
“How about Fair Wage? Supply and Demand?” said Business Woman.
“Unfortunate things occur during conflict, but the point of each exercise was not death,” said General Apathy.
Corporate Man cocked his head, narrowed his eyes, and said, “Are you saying that, after everything we’ve been through, all we’ve overcome, we’re not going to fight?”
“Precisely,” said General Apathy. “This floor is the executive suite for the entire company. You’ve made it to the top. And here at International Business Corporation Incorporated we don’t fight. We aren’t savages.”
“Then what do we do?” asked Business Woman.
“We have a meeting, of course.”
“That’s it? We have meeting?” said
“I believe my prior statement should have confirmed that,” said General Apathy.
“After all you put us through?” said Senior Executive.
“Oh, I’m sorry, but I don’t recall inviting you up to the office. You came of your own accord and if you encountered difficulties during your trespass I do apologize.”
“So there’s no else waiting to attack us? Mr. Unemployment isn’t going to crawl out from a floor panel when we least expect it?” said
“I should think not,” said General Apathy. “I wish I could accommodate your request but, like I said, we don’t operate in that manner on the top floor. And besides, Mr. Unemployment is a little busy right now don’t you think? I doubt we could get him here if we wanted to.”
Monday, May 6, 2013
A word on the fifty-second floor. It is massive. Nearly as tall as thirteen stories its single room comprises the entire width of the
building. In one corner is a small pool
which acts as an elevator. In the
opposite corner is another set of paneled doors which open into the floor. Jacob
That set of doors is only opened on very special occasions.
In the center of the fifty-second floor there is a tiered pyramid. Each tier houses desks or conference tables and is populated by a variety of high level executives; the upper echelon of their fields. In order to ascend from one tier to the next, one must walk a circuit around the entire level’s perimeter to the next set of ascending stairs. Getting to the top can be a tedious process.
The top of this pyramid is a flat area with a pyramid-shaped pit in the center. The reason for this pit hangs at the apex of the fifty-second floor. Suspended at the very pinnacle of the
is a diamond shaped
structure; two four-sided pyramids arranged base to base. Jacob Center
This diamond shape is usually obsidian black, but it’s constructed of a material that will shift to crystalline clear at the touch of a blinking red button somewhere inside.
But it’s almost always black.
Friday, May 3, 2013
“No you wouldn’t believe the things that exist in the bowels of this building,” Franklin Buck said as they slowly drifted up the elevator shaft on glacial blue water. “There’s a weightless room, big as football field, teaming with schools of Middle Men. I only survived cause this weird Siamese twin named Profit/Loss was in a positive mood and–”
“Was this after you escaped the boudoir of the provocative Pink Slip?” asked Commander Credit. A wry smile curling on his swollen lips.
“Hey, shut up about her. She had some sort of… power.”
“I’ll bet she did?” said Senior Executive.
“That’s called business acumen,” said
“Quit! Anyway, it doesn’t matter. She fired me. After that I found myself in a colony of mindless children. They’re forced to watch television ads all day long. Poor things walk around with this glazed look in their eyes and their mouths hanging open. The whole place is run by Baron Advertisement and The Duke of Marketing. Well, these bastards sent a whole legion of these kids after me, controlling them like drones using simple visual cues and jingling tones. They had me surrounded.”
“How’d you get out of that one?” Senior Executive asked.
“I just started punching them. They’re kids, you know, and kids hate getting punched.”
Business Woman shook her head and glared.
“What? What would you’ve done?” said Franklin Buck.
“Well, for starters, I wouldn’t–”
A hissing noise, followed by a metallic clunk, silenced the conversation.
They remained adrift on their float tubes. Each scanning the walls for a set of doors, but finding none. Then a seam opened in the ceiling and bright beam of light cut across the water. Two panels slid open above them, whisper quiet.
“This could get nasty,” Corporate Man hissed. “Be ready.”
They continued to float up to the edge of the shaft. The bright light stung their eyes and prevented them from seeing much of anything. A soft clicking, faint at first, grew steadily as they rose. Then, through the haze of the blinding light, a black form emerged. A man. He had pale skin and dark rings under his eyes. His hair was jet black, cropped short, and had a round shape.
As he approached they saw more of him. He dressed entirely in black. His attire looked like that of a military officer by way of goth obsessed designers. The stripes, insignias, and pinned on pendants were all black as well.
The man yawned and then polished his trim, black fingernails against his chest. He continued to stand there as they floated up toward him. Finally he said, in a low, disinterested voice, “That’s the problem with this pool elevator. It saps all the drama out of an otherwise intimidating entrance.”
Corporate Man shifted on his inner tube. There was no effective defensive position, bobbing in a small pool as they were.
“Please,” said the man in black. “Just wait for the water to rise. It’ll be much easier and less awkward in the end.”
“Wait. I know you,” said Senior Executive.
“Indeed,” said the man in black. “And I welcome you back into the fold. Junior.”
“Apathy!” Corporate Man shouted and leapt from his inner tube.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
It’s been long suspected by the poor that the super rich live for extravagance. This is mostly true. And in the cases where it proves false, those in the super rich majority believe that this financially humble minority suffer from an acute mental disorder of one variety or another.
In the case of the elevator connecting the thirty-ninth floor of the
to the fifty-second floor the theory upheld by the poor proves true. Instead of a common elevator, or even a
decadent lift, executives ride on float tubes made of walrus hide. Why walrus?
The mere whim of whichever big wig initially decided on float
tubes. And the float tubes? Also flights of fancy. A high powered CEO had lunch with a childhood
friend, remembered times spent floating around on a lake, then proposed a
pool-elevator design based on his noontime nostalgia. Jacob
The water in the pool is imported glacial run off, heated by a geothermal spring, filtered and piped across two states into this single chamber.