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

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

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

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chapter 224

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.