Prompts courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.
It was one of those days were his pants always felt like they were twisted and not settling right. He was in the middle of a meeting and some robot from the head office was walking back and forth in front of a white board, all fake tan and fresh haircut and too-white teeth talking about investment and synergy and sales.
Duck’s stomach churned as he sipped his fourth coffee of the day. The paper cup was disintegrating in his fingers; burnt, watery, brown liquid seeped from the seam running down the side.
Someone sitting behind him asked a question and Captain Teeth answered with a flourish of jargon and business speak and the crowd murmured in awed approval. There was more talk and then the door behind them opened and closed and the hurried click of high heels moved through the chairs semi-circle of plastic chairs. The receptionist, gray hut, cut in a short bob, brown shirt and jacket, thin lips drawn in a permanent scowl handed pretty boy a folder, and he flipped it open and started calling out names. He asked those called to stand and Duck was the last name on the list. He stood, shaking out his pants, trying to make them a little less uncomfortable. Eight or so other of his colleagues, stripped shirts straining over potbellies and beer guts and stained ties looked from one side of the room to the other under heavy-lidded eyes, at the four who remained seated.
Mr. Plastic from the head office holstered his smile and tried to look serious. Nothing personal he said, and started called the standing men to the front one by one. He gave them each and envelope and an apology and his eyes said no hard feelings, it’s not you it’s us, it’s the markets, recession, we all need to tighten our belts, find new opportunities, so good luck and don’t dawdle or security will escort you out.
Duck stood there, coffee dripping through his fingers, transfixed on the trees swaying in the breeze, the fall winds stripped most of the yellow-brown leaves from the branches but a few of the more stubborn clung tight in the wind. He must have been lost in thought, because when he came to they were repeating his name and everyone was staring at him. He blushed and tucked his chin down and walked to the front of the room for his envelope.
Sorry about this, you know how it is, no reflection on you, I’m sure your supervisor will provide a glowing letter of reference, thanks for the hard work, those weekends you came in, those baseball games and birthday parties and dinners you missed while hunched over your desk under the buzzing, blue-white fluorescent lights.
Duck looked at the man’s outstretched hand. His right fist balled up, and his shoulder dropped and he swung, connected with the dimpled chin. The man wobbled and crumpled and fell. Duck dropped his empty paper cup and left.