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, June 14, 2013
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
subject yourself not to financial slavery
rebel, revolt, rebel
hold accountable the fiscal tyrants
demand reparation with intelligent
“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?”
“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.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
A final word on the fifty-second floor. Particularly as it relates to the four corners of the
. 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. Jacob
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
“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.
“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
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,
We need someone to blame for our financial
misfortunes and naturally tear down anyone who presumes to be better than us.” Corporate Man.
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.”
“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
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!” Corporate
“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
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,
I don’t think your business will work.” Corporate Man.
“I can make any business successful. I’m
“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
“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.
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
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.”
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.
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
“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.”
“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
“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
“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.” Corporate Man.
“Mike?” asked John Q Public. “Can we have your decision, please?”