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.
The Tragic Death of Corporate Man
a hero for capitalism;
champion of the working class
by Tom Landaluce
Pee Pee Pants, Deal Breakers, and Well Dressed Presidents.
A long strand of spittle dangled from his gaping mouth, dancing like a marionette, its movements a slave to his labored breathing. He was quite fond of the spittle. It was so sparkly and stretchy. So bouncy and jiggly. It was his friend. A constant companion. A partner in the daily operations of his life.
If the spittle was his friend, then it stood to reason that the urine was his lover. She didn’t visit often, not daily anyway, but when she did come around, a sudden warmth would spread across a certain place in his pants. The place where his dormant happy parts lived.
It was ecstasy.
It was also about the only thing he felt anymore.
Everything else was numb.
The day seemed like every other day to the man, though he hardly recognized one day from the next. Someone had turned the light on in his room, approached his bed in a gait intended to avoid startling, spoke in soothing tones, removed his diaper, and cleaned the feces from his ass and crotch. The man did not feel embarrassment, instead he felt pleased that the diaper, his night time helper, had been removed since the gathering around his legs always felt pinchy.
Once he was clean he was moved from his bed to a wheel chair and rolled to the common room to await breakfast. It was here that Mr. Spittle usually popped by for a visit. Today had been no exception. After about forty five minutes, when Mr. Spittle was good and dangly, an orderly arrived to take the man to the cafeteria for breakfast.
“Boy, that’s a good, long one, Mr. Smith,” the orderly said.
Mr. Smith did not recognize his name, nor did he recognize what names were. The orderly wiped the drool from Mr. Smith’s chin.
Ooh… bye bye, Mr. Smith thought.
The orderly pushed the wheel chair towards the door and Mr. Smith felt a rush of warm delight spread over his lap.
“Pee pee Pants,” Mr. Smith said. He often thought this when she came to visit, but did not know why. This was the first time he’d actually spoken the thought aloud.
Two thoughts went through the orderly’s mind in rapid-fire succession. The first one was, “Uggh! You dirty, sick vegetable.” The second was, “Holy hell. Mr. Smith just said something.”
The thrill of being present at such a momentous event almost caused a lapse in the orderly’s own bladder control. But, instead of peeing his pants, he let out a few excited whoops and flailed his hands near his face. Then he sprinted off toward the administration office.
Mr. Smith was left, sitting in the warmth of his lover, muttering away in a tone that may have been considered sexy by some. But not many.
“Pee pee… pants.”
His vision shifted and he no longer saw the hospital. He saw two men talking. He didn’t comprehend what he was seeing though, just that the colors were loud; neon and fluorescent.
“Georgie we can’t lose sight of the prize,” Ronald Regan said. He wore a powder blue sweater-vest over a bright-yellow collared shirt with a hot-pink neck tie. He had no pants on. His briefs were white. And a little snug.
“I know, I know. Trickle down. Let it trickle down,” George Bush said, wiggling his fingers and pantomiming rain. His tone and his gesture left no doubt in Ronald Regan’s mind that he was being mocked. He did not appreciate the tone, nor did he appreciate George Bush’s navy blue suit, though the zebra print tie was nice.
“It works,” Regan said.
“Yes it does. We trickle down just enough to keep them alive but leave them hungry so they’ll have something to focus their attention on.”
“Can you put some pants on?”
Ronald Regan shrugged and said, “Guess so.”
“Well, please do. Press ever got a shot of this they’d call us fags.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s difficult. There are so many options for color combinations these days. Do I go with pink to match the tie, yellow for the shirt, or maybe mix it up with some lime green?”
“Yes,” said George Bush.
“Doesn’t seem too safe?”
“White pants. White shoes. White belt. And hurry up.”
“Okay, okay,” Ronald Regan said. He pulled on a pair of gleaming white slacks.
“Finally,” Corporate Man called out, jumping down from above. “I hate fighting half naked men. The papers always skew the story when that happens.”
The two politicians nodded in agreement.
“Yes. I’ve seen the shots of you and FDR,” George Bush said, his hands held in front of him in a pseudo-karate style.
“That was a more innocent time,” said Corporate Man, adjusting his tie.
“How did you get in here anyway? There’s only one door and plenty of secret service. And where were you hiding?”
“I snuck in,” said Corporate Man, his tone slightly defensive.
“And where were you hiding?” George Bush asked again.
“Up there.” Corporate Man pointing in a vague, upward direction.
“But there are no rafters up there. No places to–”
Corporate Man punched George Bush in the face, turned toward Ronald Regan, and said, “So Ronnie, shall we do this the easy–”
But Ronald Regan was already upon him, also dropping down from a vague upward direction, calling out, “Trickle down! Trickle down!” and wiggling his fingers as he fell. Small bursts of light flashed at his finger tips, blinding Corporate Man with a glaring yellow radiance.
Mr. Smith’s vision came back to him, easing from a brilliant yellow-white to the dull antiseptic tones of the hospital.
“Hmmmm. Sparkly,” he said.
“You see that, sir?” the orderly said. “He’s talking.”
“Yes, I hear it, Jimmy. I’m not deaf,” said the important looking man standing next to the orderly.
“Well, what should we do?”
“We? I have to make a phone call,” said the important looking man. He enjoyed injecting his speech with italicized words. It made him feel intellectually superior. “You will do your job. Which I believe involves changing this man’s urine stained clothing. That’s what we pay you for, is it not?”
The orderly sighed. “You know what… I get minimum wage–”
“Which means you’re probably overpaid.”
“Am no longer necessary,” said the important looking man as he turned and walked out of the room.
Jimmy yelled, tossed his name badge into Mr. Smith’s lap, and stormed off. He returned a few moments later, picked up his badge, and wheeled Mr. Smith away.
“Pee pee pants. Pee pee pants!” said Mr. Smith.
“Yeah. I got it. And you can stew in them for all I care.”
The small, spherical button on her office phone was blinking. It never blinked. Perhaps something was wrong with it. She would have to call tech support. Maybe they’d send out that cute techie again.
The phone chirped. It was an impatient sort of noise, and familiar; occurring whenever she left someone on hold for too long. She looked at the phone, puzzled. Then she shrugged and pushed the spherical button. To her surprise it depressed. She was so enchanted at her cleverness that she nearly forgot announce her greeting.
“Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated.”
“The bull is at the china shop,” a distorted, growling voice said from the other end of the phone line.
“I’m sorry sir, what was that?”
“The bull is at the china shop.”
“I don’t understand. How may I direct your call?”
“Just tell him.”
“Who? The boss.”
“And tell him what? That thing about the bull and the china shop?”
“Now was the bull in the china shop because that’s how that saying actually goes?”
“At the shop.”
“The one in
“No. Not in
“Nowhere, just a china shop.”
“Hmmm. Maybe you should start over.”
“Damn it to hell!”
“Ooooh. Is Satan involved then?”
She shrugged, pressed another, more familiar button on her phone and said, “Sir? That marble looking button on my phone blinked and I spoke to a spooky voiced man who had a message for you.”
“What’s the message?”
“Oh, well it was all very exiting. The devil, who may or may not be Chinese, is concerned with the whereabouts of a bull. Funny, I’d think a Spanish matador would be more appropriate.”
“Ms. Adams. To preserve your position with this company it would be wise of you to state only that which the man actually said. Are we clear?”
“So what did he say?”
“The first thing he said was, ‘the bull is at the china shop.’ Puzzled, I said, ‘I’m sorry sir, I–’”
“And he used the word at, correct?” said the bossman.
“Yes. I questioned him about this as well and he–”
“Thank you Ms. Adams.”
There was a click. Ms. Adams frowned. Two hang ups in a row. She shrugged and then tried to look busy.
So… The bull was back, the bossman thought. This was not good. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bad, he told himself in case there was any question. His ass puckered. Nothing pleasant ever followed an ass pucker. He would have to end this quickly.
The bossman fingered the touchpad on his laptop, opened a chat window, and typed, <WTF?>
Though he loathed instant messaging, which was the corporation’s preferred method of communicating these days, he did enjoy a good abbreviated swear.
<what?> came the reply from username: subordinate1.
<the gd bull and the mf china shop> typed username: bossman.
<i’ll look into it>
That was bullshit, subordinate1 already knew what was going on and the bossman knew it, but since there had been no denial of knowledge a “bs” in the reply would seem forced. Don’t bs me, perhaps? No, that wouldn’t do.
<you’ll tell me now> was the best he could come up with.
<well, it seems that the budget cuts at the hospital called for a reexamination of all patient care and an elimination of extraneous treatments and since no one on the staff could recall exactly why the bull was receiving daily dosages of ferdinandicil or what the medication was exactly, they eliminated it from his drug regimen>
Many parts of this reply pissed the bossman off. Most of all was the use of the word extraneous.
<how could you let this happen?>
<not my department>
<what kind of bs answer is that?> The bossman smiled, pleased that he’d found a way to work “bs” in after all.
<you know how this works, different divisions work independently from each other and often arrive at contradictory policy decisions, completely dicking over the other department>
Yes. He did know this. This was how corporate
functioned, creating wonderful areas of inefficiency to exploit. America
<what is your recommendation?> the bossman typed.
<i think this is a deal breaker>
The bossman gasped. They had worked on the china-shop-bull project for nearly a decade now. Was it really time to step away and cut their losses? But, were there, in fact, any losses? He hesitated for a moment, and then, positive in his decision and confident that there was no organic was to work in another abbreviated swear, he simply typed <done>
When Dale picked up the phone a robotic voice politely asked him to hold. His jaw flexed, grinding his teeth together. The hold music started. Poppy, boy-band drivel. A grunting sound escaped through his nostrils and his eyes flared.
“Thank you for holding. We do appreciate your patience and will be with you shortly. Your approximate hold time is four minutes.”
Dale considered smashing the phone against the wall. Repeatedly.
After two minutes, the message repeated. His expected hold time was now two minutes.
Another two minutes passed.
“Thank you for holding. I am Lisa with Type-N-Talk relay service. May I have your name please?”
“Thank you Dale. Would you please verify your last name for me?”
Again his jaw flexed.
He hated that name. The corporation had decided that his name should reflect his position. This brilliant decision came about after a public opinion survey discovered that 72% of those polled enjoyed it when a person’s name matched his or her occupation. His real name was Donald but thanks to public opinion he was forced to change it to Dale Breaker, The Deal Breaker.
“Thank you Mr. Breaker. Have you ever used relay before?”
“Yeah, I think so. This is where someone on the other line is deaf, or maybe a lazy computer geek with no social skills, right?”
“Pretty much. Just pretend I’m not here and speak as though your are talking directly to the person on the other end and say the word ‘over’ where you’ve finished. Do you understand?”
“Mr. Breaker, we are in need of your services. Over.”
“What’s the job? Over.” Dale could hear a flurry of keystrokes on the other end of the line.
“The bull has been spotted outside the china shop. It is time to break this deal. Over.”
“How did this happen? Over.”
“Irrelevant. But if you must know, there were some unforeseen budget cuts at his corral. Over.”
“Maybe if you didn’t waste time and money with this relay service crap and called me directly, the budget would not have been compromised.”
Keyboard clacking sounds, followed by a long pause. Then the operator said, “Is that an over?”
“Were you finished? You need to say ‘over.’”
“Uh, yeah. Over.”
A few more keystrokes.
“I’ll assemble a committee to look over your proposal. Meanwhile, keep me informed. I want to know when the deal is broken.”
Dale winced at the blatant corporate jargon.
“The caller has disconnected,” Lisa said.
The pee pee in Mr. Smith’s pants was no longer a comfort. It had been left unattended in all the commotion that resulted from Mr. Smith’s outburst. He had declared the current status of his lower region in clear and certain terms, the response to which had been quite overwhelming, however the wet crotch which had nabbed such attention had not yet been attended.
The irony was lost on Mr. Smith.
He growled and then glared at his lap. Then he growled some more. He employed this tactic several times without success. When the effort failed once again he let out a whine, much like a dog with a full bladder crying out for a master long overdue for return. Unlike the anxious dog the contents of Mr. Smith’s bladder, long since released, were a problem only because it was cold and soggy around his thighs at present.
Mr. Smith was also hungry. He had not been wheeled to breakfast but was, instead, returned to his room amidst a crowd of shouting hospital administrators and doctors. The clamor eventually died down with only the occasional raised voice passing by his door.
Mr. Smith wished Mr. Spittle would come by for visit. But, with all the growling and urine, Mr. Spittle had stayed away.
There were voices outside his door again.
“No. I’m sorry. No one is allowed to see Mr. Smith.”
“And why not?”
“Ma’am I don’t make policy. I just do what they tell me.”
“I’m a close personal friend.”
“You could be his mother and I still couldn’t allow you inside.”
“Is this a question of money?”
“No Ma’am. And you best be on your way.”
“Is it sex? Will sex get me in?”
“Bitch you’re crazy.”
“Come on. Just let me in.”
“No unauthorized personnel to see Mr. Smith. Period.”
Mr. Smith. That was him, Mr. Smith thought. At least that’s what everyone was calling him. He didn’t feel like a Smith though. And why was he now comprehending himself as a named entity? And just why was he in this hospital? And for that matter, why–
“Oh oh oh,” Mr. Smith said at the sudden, and very distracting, appearance of Mr. Spittle.
“You’re not on the list of authorized personnel, lady. So you are not getting in.”
“Are you sure I’m not on there? Can I see the list?” she said.
“Only authorized personnel may see the Authorized Personnel List.”
“Would you please stop quoting corporate policy to me?”
The security guard cocked his head and said, “Would you please get yourself out of my face and move along?”
“Check the list. My name is Ms. Adams.”
She was stalling. The money and the sex tactic had not worked. It always worked in the white collar world. The security guard glared at her and lifted his radio phone to his mouth.
“Need an authorized personnel check for a Ms. Adams. Person in question is requesting entrance to Mr. Smith’s room.”
“Mike? You still at your post?” a voice came back.
“Of course. This lady’s been–”
“Your lunch started seven minutes ago. Go clock out.”
“No one’s come to relieve me yet, sir. And we have an unauthorized–”
“Ramon called out so there’s no coverage. Take your break. Right now.”
“But sir, there’s an unauthor–”
“My job is to make sure you clock milkers take your breaks on time so we don’t go over on hours. Are you trying to get me fired?”
The security guard flexed his jaw. “No, sir.”
“Are you now, presently, walking away from your post toward the time clock?
Mike shook his head. After a moment he said, “Yes, sir.” Then he shrugged, motioned Ms. Adams toward the door, and stormed off down the hallway.
Ms. Adams smirked and went into the room.
Mr. Spittle was so long and dangly that Mr. Smith didn’t notice the tall, dark woman enter the room. Normally, he wouldn’t notice someone catching fire but he seemed oddly perceptive today.
“So. Mr. Smith, is it?”
The voice startled Mr. Smith and his sudden jerking motion sent Mr. Spittle flying.
“Oh. Bye, bye,” Mr. Smith said, forgetting about the woman.
Ms. Adams looked perplexed. After a moment she said, “What would you say if I told you that ‘Mr. Smith’ wasn’t your real name?”
There was no response.
“What would you say if I told you that we already know one another?”
“What if I could help you escape?” What if I could restore your memory? And what… What is that awful smell? It’s like a hamster cage… and fried eggs.”
“Oh. Oh no. Mr. Poopy,” said Mr. Smith.
“No. You can’t be serious,” said Ms. Adams.
“Hate Mr. Poopy.”
“You’re worse off than I thought. We need to get you out of here.” She stifled a gag. “Oh god, we need to change your pants.”
Ms. Adams explained that they had less than thirty minutes to make their escape as she wheeled Mr. Smith into the bathroom and pried off his sticky pants. She hosed him down with the shower’s detachable head, patted him dry, and then asked him to dress.
Mr. Smith had never been asked to do this and failed in the endeavor. Ms. Adams then assisted him.
“Look,” she said, grabbing his shoulders, “I need you to come back to me. I need you to remember. Your name is not Smith. It’s Jones. Don Jones.”
There was a flicker in his mind.
“And my name is Tanya Jefferson,” said the woman previously known as Ms. Adams. “The world calls me Business Woman. You are also know by another title.”
It was as if a damp cloth was swiped across the dusty surface of his mind. Sharp wood grains and a gleaming brown veneer appeared where once resided a gray, powdery haze.
“I’m… I’m Corporate Man,” he said.
Business Woman smiled. “Yes you are. Now come with me. There is much to be done. The economy needs you.”
Dale arrived at the hospital in a good mood. This job felt important and he hoped there would be a substantial bonus in it. Maybe enough to buy a guitar or some really nice bongo drums.
He opened the door of the designated annex and walked toward the counter. A woman in starched, white linens perched on the opposite side; a sour look on her face.
“Please state you business,” the woman said from behind a panel of Plexiglas.
“I’m here to see a patient,” Dale said.
“Please refrain from using nicknames.”
The woman scowled. “Name?”
“There’s nothing there?” Dale asked. “The Bull? No mention?”
There was a long pause in which she simply glared at Dale, her head cocked ever so slightly to one side. Then she resumed whatever task had occupied her prior to Dale’s arrival.
“Oh. I know this. Oh god. Shit.”
“Please refrain from the use of blasphemies and obscenities.” She glanced up from her work. “Or obscene blasphemies.”
“Right. Sorry.” Dale tapped his foot and leaned his head back, hoping that him memory would jar.
“Loitering is also frowned upon.”
“Hold on. It will come to me.”
“Smith. Mr. Smith.”
Her eyes narrowed.
An obnoxious alarm blared and the locking mechanism on the door chunked open.
“Please report to desk three. Have your credentials ready and in order.”
Dale strolled through the door, smirking. He considered asking the woman what credentials he might need, but he winked at her instead, figuring he would deal with the paperwork when he got the desk three.
He would end up visiting four departments, a total of seven desks, and talk/argue/debate/yell/plead with nineteen different hospital employees while filling out ten forms, making six phone calls, requesting two facsimile documents, and providing his three forms of identification eight times in order to obtain three pages of credentials deemed necessary to enter the wing of the annex building where Mr. Smith was being held.
To say that Dale was unhappy when he entered the annex would be like saying the
a couple of bucks. He was very much
looking forward to breaking this deal. China
“We’ve tried that,” Tanya Jefferson – aka Business Woman – said to the man behind the desk. “We followed the signs with the ‘red fives’ but ended up in a gift shop instead of at an exit.”
“I’m so sorry,” the man said, lightly brushing the ginger colored fuzz of his upper lip with his middle finger. The woman was quite attractive and he hoped she might notice his thickening moustache and pay him a much deserved compliment. “There was a changeover in hallway labeling recently, but I’ve managed to get the current key-code listing e-mailed to me. So exits, once marked with a green letter E, changed last week to the red five. It appears as though the designation has changed again, this time to a brown two.”
“So we follow the brown number twos?”
This was the third time the woman had visited his desk today. She was obviously into him, and he’d always had a thing for black girls. Why hadn’t she mentioned his ‘stache yet?
“That’s what it says, but if you run into trouble again… just come back here and find me.”
He leaned forward and flashed his eyes in what he hoped was an attractive way. The woman smiled. Was this approval of his eye flash or did the light suddenly glint off his facial hair, capturing her gaze with its lustrous twinkle?
“Thank you… Roger,” she said, glancing at his name badge during the pause between the thank you and his name. Then she turned to her companion –a male companion he noted, surprised by the jealousy– and motioned toward the brown twos.
Roger was delighted when the woman returned twenty minutes later. She was scowling. He found the severe expression very seductive.
“Brown two,” she said, pausing long enough for him to nod an enthusiastic gesture of understanding, “marks pathways to several restroom locations.”
“I’m so sorry, Miss…” he figured that it was time he knew her name.
“Not that it matters, but you can call me Ms. Adams,” Tanya Jefferson said.
“Ms. Adams,” he said, a shiver running through him. “I apologize. Let me find out what’s going on. I’m not supposed to do this, but for you,” he winked, “I’m going to break protocol and phone upper management.”
Roger pressed and held a bottom on his head-set and said, “Code 58008… Yes, this is Roger at Help Desk Nine. I have a guest here who is having trouble finding an exit… Oh no, red five was replaced with brown two according to this morning’s e-mail, however, brown two seems to mark restroom locations… Oh… yeah, very funny. Right. I know. I think someone in corporate is being cute and paying themselves a lot of money to come up with all these changes. I know. Yeah, and how much extra money do I get for all the extra work their on-a-whim changes create at my level?”
“Roger?” Tanya said.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, clearing his throat. “So yeah. Where does the guest need to go to get out of this place? Uh huh… Oh, okay… And you’re sure about this? Thanks.”
Roger released the button on his head set and said, “So as a result of follow up surveys and comment cards, corporate has discovered that numerical labels were confusing to our guests and even illegal according to certain building codes which require that exits be clearly marked in specific ways. Maintenance is, at this very moment, installing exit signs over all exit doors and convenient exits signs with arrows to lead guests to those previously referenced final exit signs.”
Tanya leaned forward, her lips trembling –from repressed passion Roger assumed– as she tried to smile, and said, “Could you kindly point us toward any one of these numerous exit signs?
Roger winked and lifted his hand slightly, gesturing toward an overall-clad maintenance man perched atop an aluminum ladder, leisurely installing an exit sign.
He had been following this woman, this Tanya Jefferson, for what seemed like hours. Maybe it was. He wasn’t quite sure. He had not only accepted her claim that his name was Don Jones, but he thought he could recall some moments of Don Jones life as well.
“Look, I know this is only the first of many exit signs that you will be installing today, but I need to know the location of the actual exit, the one that all these signs eventually lead to,” Tanya said to the maintenance man.
“I don’t know. I guess you could follow me as I work and we’d get there eventually.”
“You don’t know where the exit is?”
“There’s the employee exit, but that’s through a restricted, ‘employee’s only’ area.”
“Take us there, then.”
“Can’t. Employees only.”
“Come on. We’ve been trying to leave for–”
“Does he have a schematic or something?” Mr. Jones asked. He was shocked by the sudden appearance of the intelligent thought.
“All I got is this Plan-O-Gram and I’m not supposed to skip ahead. These things are rarely correct, but if I get the pages out of order I could never hope to get the job done right,” the maintenance man said.
“What’s your name?” Tanya asked.
“Look, Jed. We really need to get out of this building. So please, give me the Plan-O-Gram. Just for a second.”
“I know it makes you nervous,” Tanya continued, her voice velvet and honeyed, “but I used to create Plan-O-Grams for a multi-million dollar corporation so I know what I’m doing.
Tanya smiled, pleasant and reassuring.
Jed handed her the small stack of unstapled papers. He bit his lip and asked, “So when those things are being drawn up, are the people actually on site?”
“You’ve probably seen dozens of these things, Jed. I think you know the answer to that question.”
“Yeah. I always pictured a room with a bunch of suits sweating it out over some graph paper, chewing on the erasers of number two pencils. Never once having been at the location they were planning out.”
“Oh Jed. It’s worse than that. Computers. We plugged numbers into a computer and the computer calculated where things ought to go. We didn’t even double check the figures before we sent the plans off to the printer and I think the measurements came from early blueprints, nothing from the actual site.”
Tanya nodded. “And we always held back the final copies as long as we could so it would appear as though we spent a great deal of time and effort working out every last detail.”
“I knew it!” Jed shouted. “Always knew it was some sort of bullshit like that.”
Tanya passed the Plan-O-Gram back to Jed then grabbed Mr. Jones by the wrist and dragged him down the hallway.
“It’s just up ahead,” she said. “Right around the corner.”
Mr. Jones’s felt a stabbing pain in his temple and his vision flickered between color and black and white. The familiar face of Franklin D. Roosevelt replaced the image of the hospital corridor as the color disappeared.
Seconds later he saw the hallway and Tanya again.
Then black and white. FDR in a large office.
Color. Tanya in front of him pointing toward a door.
Black and white. A man in tights, his briefs on the outside and a domino mask obscuring his face.
“Ew,” Mr. Jones said.
Color. Tanya opening the door.
Natural light surged into the corridor and a silhouetted form stepped forward; the piercing light unable to illuminate his obscured, shadowy features. Tanya jumped back, narrowly avoiding a roundhouse kick from the shadowy man. The exit door closed and the man’s face became discernable in the antiseptic glow of the hospital fluorescents.
Mr. Jones’s vision strobed between color and black and white but the face he saw remained the same in both fields of perception. Somehow he recognized the man.
Dan? Was that it? Deal Breaker Dan?
Then Mr. Jones was completely overtaken by black and white imagery.
“Your country needs you, Corporate Man,” Franklin D. Roosevelt said. “I have a plan that will get us out of this Great Depression, but there is some opposition.”
Corporate Man adjusted his tie and slid a hand over his head to make sure his perfectly parted hair was still lying flat.
FDR continued, “The Greed is still out there. He’s recruited some heavyweight players. Political Indifference. Captain Apathy. I can’t prove it, but I suspect he’s got his hooks into Elephant Man and Donkey Lass, too. And he did something unnatural to Bull Market. Turned him against us. They call him Bear Market now.”
“No, I don’t think He’s involved, though we could sure use His help right now. Our top priority, though, is Deal Breaker Dan. Word is that The Greed put him onto us because of the proposal I’m about to unveil. It’s called The New Deal. Corporate Man, I can’t have this deal broken.”
“Don’t worry,” Corporate Man said with a wink. “You can count on me, Frank.”
Color returned to Mr. Jones’s vision.
Tanya dodged a punch from Deal Breaker and then countered with a back-hand slap. This seemed to irritate Deal Breaker more than hurt him.
“You’re not getting him, Dale,” Tanya said. She dodged another punch and brought her knee up into Deal Breaker’s chest. The wind gushed from his lungs and he made a grunting noise. Tanya grabbed his hair, yanked his head back, and chopped at his throat, but Deal Breaker brought his forearm up in time to block. He shifted his weight, wrapped his leg around Tanya’s knee, and rolled. They tumbled to the floor, Deal Breaker coming out in a dominant position; striking.
“Dan?” Mr. Jones called out.
Deal Breaker froze in mid punch. Then he whipped around, his eyes full of fury.
“She called you Dale. Why am I remembering Dan?” Mr. Jones said, rubbing his eyes.
“That was my grandpa. Deal Breaker Dan.”
Dale Breaker stood. Tanya’s limp form slumped against the linoleum as he advanced on Mr. Jones.
“Do you recall what you did to him you son of bitch?”
“I… No. All I remember is, Dan.”
“You don’t even remember!” Deal Breaker roared and lunged forward. He clamped his hands around Mr. Jones’s neck and squeezed.
Once again, color vision gave way to black and white.
FDR leapt over the banister, his eyes wild; teeth bared like a feral dog. It was a three story drop to the lobby where a group of, what he called, “goons” were amassed. A moment before he landed on top of them, he screamed. The goons had time enough to glance upward before the collision. They did not have a chance to understand what it was that they saw before unconsciousness claimed them.
Franklin Roosevelt in a dark, formfitting singlet stretched over a bulging pair of light colored tights. His face was hidden behind a black domino mask. The letters FDR were stitched across his chest and a metallic half-cape clung to his shoulders and draped to the small of his back. His feet were bare.
“Corporate Man,” he yelled, his booming voice echoing throughout the corridors of the hotel.
“I’m here, Frank. Got a bullet in my side but I’ll make it.”
“Where’s Deal Breaker Dan?”
“Don’t know. I lost him in the scuffle. Could be anywhere,” Corporate Man said.
“We have to stop him this time. The people need the New Deal. Our country’s future–”
Two gunshot blasts cut FDR short and dropped him to the floor. Meaty wounds in his upper thighs spurted
juice all over the polished floor.
squirmed across the lobby tile, seeking cover, leaving a ragged gash of dark
across the white surface. Franklin
“Frank!” Corporate Man screamed. He winced and clutched his bleeding side.
“Oh I’m afraid Mr. New Deal is in a bit of pain right now, Corporate Man,” Deal Breaker Dan said, stepping out from the shadows of his hiding place. “Don’t worry, though. He won’t suffer long. You hear that,
Roosevelt? Your time has come. We’ve reached an impasse here. A deal breaker.”
Deal Breaker Dan followed the bloody trail to the courtesy desk where it led behind the long counter. Then it vanished.
“What the–” Deal Breaker Dan said, snapping his head back and forth. A drop of blood struck his face and he looked up just as FDR scurried over the banister above him. “How did you…”
FDR thudded against the floor of the upper level. He called down, “I have tremendous upper body strength.”
“Won’t change the outcome of this,
. The country won’t get a New Deal. The Great Depression’s reign will continue,”
Deal Breaker Dan shouted. Then he turned
toward the elevators and walked right into Delano Corporate
“People like you are bad for business,” Corporate Man said delivering a viscous head butt. He lifted Deal Breaker Dan above his head and then brought him down over his knee. Deal Breaker’s spine cracked. Grunts and wheezes struggled to escape his throat.
Bright yellow stars burned through the black and white.
Dale Breaker The Deal Breaker was choking him. Mr. Jones struggled to get free but could not dislodge his attacker’s hands. He tried to speak but talking was impossible while his larynx was being crushed. Mr. Jones bucked and thrashed but Deal Breaker held on tight.
“Oh, I’m afraid this is it,
Do you even know you’re Corporate Man? Doesn’t matter. I’m about to break this deal and–” Corporate Man.
Tanya boxed Dale’s ears and kneed him in the face. One of her eyes was swelling shut and blood from her nose smeared her mouth and chin.
“You all right?” she asked, though she didn’t actually risk a glance in Mr. Jones’s direction. She pounced on Deal Breaker and elbowed him in the back of his head. His teeth and tongue scraped against the floor. She slipped a knife from her boot and brought it to his throat.
“No,” Mr. Jones said, his voice raspy and strained.
“We have to end this,” she said.
“You’re right. But not this way.”
Tanya reluctantly removed the knife from Dale’s throat.
Mr. Jones leaned down in front of Deal Breaker. The man’s eyes were rolling around but he was conscious.
“I broke your grandfather’s back, didn’t I?” Mr. Jones said.
“You crippled him,” Deal Breaker said. The words stumbled from his mouth over a swollen tongue, two broken teeth, and a lot of blood. “He couldn’t shit on his own because of you.”
“You’re sorry? That’s it?”
“I can’t change the past,” Mr. Jones said.
“Yeah?” Dale said. “Well I can fix the future. I’m gonna break this deal.”
“What deal is that? There’s no deal, Dale.”
Deal Breaker narrowed his eyes and bit his lip. He winced as the jagged points of his broken teeth punctured through. “But I… you know, the deal. I’m here to break the deal.”
“Dale, if there’s a deal, I’m not part of it,” Mr. Jones said.
Dale’s head sagged to the floor. “But what about the bull? The china shop?”
Mr. Jones shrugged. “Couldn’t tell you. It was only a few short hours ago that I rejoiced in the company of spit and my world revolved around the pleasures of urination. The only contract I can see in this situation is the one your grandfather accepted when he signed on as the original Deal Breaker. You could fulfill his function and break that.”
Deal Breaker lifted his head and his eyes widened. “Yeah. I… I guess I could break that deal. That would be the ultimate deal to break, wouldn’t it?”
“I think so, Dale,” said Mr. Jones.
“Then call me Donald. That’s my real name. And as of this moment the Deal Breaker deal is off.”
The chat window on the bossman’s computer was open. The bossman sat before the screen, breathing deep and slow. He counted backwards from ten. His office phone lay in pieces on the floor. When he reached the count of one, the bossman set his fingers on the keyboard and typed.
<he’s in, gd IN!>
<the mf bull is in the gd mf china shop>