by Randolph O. Mann
Linda snarled, “Ok, there! You can just have it, two thousand dollars! And tell William that I hope the Shipping Department chokes on it.”
Randy smoothed, “Hey, hey, Linda! I don’t want our affiliation to end badly, and when all is said and done you must admit we had a great ride AND with everything we have been through together I am NOT going to lose the friendship of a ‘Trusted’ partner over a couple of ‘Grover’s.’ Here, take the money back. Your friendship is worth more to me than this money, honey.”
“No, you and your buddies in the Freight Division made the offer and Karen and I were dumb enough to put our hard earned money where your dirty little perverted minds are. The two of us were the first victims of a ‘skinning’ this year by arriving at the New Year Gala al natural at the very stroke of midnight."
“You ladies are making me feel guilty. Because having the two of you run naked into my waiting arms should be reward enough. We have all heard the old saying how ‘a fool and his money, or a trollop and her threads, are easily parted’.”
Karen urged, “Quick Linda, take back the money! And then count your fingers before we run for it!”
Randy said, “Now, Ms. Pettybone’s friendship on the other hand is fickle and isn’t worth the time of day I spent cultivating it, but I would happily trade a pair of ‘Benjamin’s’ for another gander at her naked behind.”
“No, I got the two hundred ‘clams’ right here, Karen. Just drop your strides and show me your ‘clam’ and the money is all yours, Sweet-cheeks.”
“That is it, I am going to kick your smart ass, once and for all!”
Linda asked, “Am I going to have to separate you two?”
In unison they replied, “No, Ms. Browne. We’ll be good.”
“Good, because with my promotion I will be moving my office upstairs and most of my time will be spent commuting cross country, forcing me to place both of you two upon your honor to work together with this department’s new supervisor."
Karen answered, “Yes Ms. Browne.”
“Depends? It depends upon what?”
“It depends on if the new boss is willing to ‘play nice.’ Then I am willing give her the shirt off my back. But if she insists upon playing ‘hard ball’ then I am afraid I will just have to take much more than the shirt off her back.”
“Randy, at least give me your promise that you will NOT fire the first salvo.”
“You have my word, Boss. But at the first veiled threat or any naked disrespect the war is on and more than gloves will be dropping.”
“That is all I will ask. Now, I have spent the whole morning clearing out this office for your new supervisor and as my last duty here I intend to change out of these work clothes and into something homogeneous to the Executive Management Area. Karen, could you bring over the welcoming spray of flowers while I have Randolph provide one final inspection to the podium he was tasked to have installed for this occasion. Come on kids, we are burning daylight here! After all we have been through the last thing we need is to be caught with our pants down on your new boss’s first day at the helm!"
Karen exclaimed, “Excuse us for even breathing!”
Randy muttered, “AND everyone at T. Winston, INC knows Ms. Linda Browne is our resident burlesque authority."
Randy spoke audibly, “Remember Linda, The first rule of corporate ladder climbing is to always be nice to the little people you step over on your way up, because you just might need us to break your fall on the way down. And if you don’t believe me ask Courtney, because she is celebrated company wide for her corporate ladder mountaineering exploits.”
“Good point! Start some coffee, Karen. I am expecting Leslie any minute. Now both of you back to your workstations! And look busy for a change.”
SHE appeared from on high, clad in a pair of red stiletto Christian-Louboutin heels and wearing seamed charcoal stockings while assertively descending from the heavens. (Well, to be perfectly candid, from the iniquitous annex Uncle Thurgood calls Managerial Headquarters), offering a delicious foretaste of this thorny piece of eye-candy as she accomplished her majestic debut. Her shadowy silk ‘fuck-me’ leggings disappeared under a ‘work environment appropriate,’ Erin Fetherston Flutter skirt that was adorning the lower portion of this salient trollop being conveyed down the nomadic stairs. Her tiny waist contrasting with the mass of the surgically enhanced ‘chesticles’ that she keeps lackadaisically harnessed together with a barely-there lace balconette obligingly identified with a tattletale silhouette clearly observable beneath her matching Roberto Cavalli diaphanous top. This whole sexy fashion plate was topped off with angelic facial features expertly highlighted with professionally applied cosmetics. She stepped off the escalator and adjusted her thought provoking ensemble before sashaying toward the outer office and directly into The Randy’s cross hairs.
Leslie asked majestically, “Excuse me, could you please direct me? I am looking for the office of Ms. Linda Browne.”
Randy smirked, “This would be the place, darling. How may I help you?”
“You may start by wiping that wolfish grin off your face before notifying Ms. Brown that it is ten o'clock sharp and Ms. Leslie Kirkelmier, her proxy and your new boss, is here to preside over Ms. Browne’s Exiting Event and to conduct the staff’s orientation assembly.”
The daunting smirk faded but not the impish twinkle in Randy’s eye, and a quick flip of the outer office intercom toggle activated the inner office buzzer of Linda Browne’s private office, indicating her Personal Assistant was entertaining a visitor.
“Lind-, Ms. Browne, there is a Mrs. Kirkel here to see you.
Leslie huffed, “MISS. Kirkel-MIER!”
“Excuse me, a Ms. Kiekelmier is here for a prearranged conference.”
“Thank you Randy, tell Leslie I will be right with her.”
“Ms. Browne will be right with you, Ms. Kirkelmier. I can offer you seating accommodations against the far wall and I will bring a cup of freshly brewed coffee for you to enjoy while you wait. Do you use cream or sugar?”
“Really? While. I. wait? I don’t think so!”
Assertively, Leslie pushed right past the smug male clerical sentry, stepped up to Linda’s solid oak privacy cordon, flung it open and gasped out loud as Ms. Kirkelmier encountered a similarly flabbergasted Ms. Browne. Linda was presented in all her naked glory, framed by the office doorframe as she selected her ‘getaway attire’ from a portable wardrobe. Thunderstruck, amazed, taken aback and dumbfounded, Linda’s questioning glances bounced from Randolph to Leslie and back again as her awkward publicity slowly but surely registered. Naked head to heels, Manolo Blahnik heels, Linda crossed her legs in a self-conscious reflex and franticly covered her attention grabbing breasts with her left arm while instinctively she rolled the moveable dresser into the line of sight of her ever vigilant staff. Then shouting from behind the rolling closet Linda made her first Executive Proclamation.
“Leslie, shut that door! And Randolph! We need to talk about this!”
Slamming the oak door in a response to Linda’s urgent command sent a crash reverberating around the office, arresting the focused interest of all the ‘bogusly busy’ employees in the immediate area. Everyone present stopped what they were pretending to be doing and just stared open mouthed at the oak paneled door where only seconds earlier had stood their undressed supervisor. Some of the onlookers pinched themselves to certify the stripped down reality of the occasion, but not one could drag their eyes away from the door. Nobody spoke a word as they all were riveted in the direction of Linda’s office entry and they stayed spellbound by the drama unveiled before one and all, from the very second Leslie had approached the door and flung it open until their pregnant pause approached full term with the breaking of water. The office coffee maker broadcasting the conclusion of the brewing process ended the stillness of their fascination. With all eyes still permanently riveted upon the outer office privacy door casual conversation gradually returned.
Leslie commanded, “Randolph, for future reference, note that I do not drink coffee; I drink tea. Darjeeling if you have it. If not Darjeeling I will settle for Dragon Phoenix Pearl Tea.”
“Let us not be depreciatory, in such a depressed economy everyone must make sacrifices, Mister Mann.”
“Earl Gray it is then, courtesy of the present administration.”
“Sarcasm becomes you, Mr. Mann.”
“And you, Ms. Kirkelmier.”
With every staff member’s eyes still monitoring the office door Linda’s ultimate appearance was gauche to say the least and awkwardly enhanced the moment by graphically symbolizing the changing of the guard. All interested employees followed Linda and Leslie to the Information Kiosk, conveniently located near the escalators, as Linda embraced the ceremony and stepped up to the microphone.
“As we all know, The Fashion Industry is one very big ‘roller coaster’ and T. Winston, INC is the front car of this E Ticket ride. Together WE have celebrated fashion sensations and unfortunately endured fashion malfunctions. And it is because of these shared associations that I have accepted my new promotion bitter-sweetly due to OUR passed history. In short, ...I love you guys!"
“Fine Linda, but you can’t have our Bud Light!”
“I do not want your beer, Randolph! What I want is to introduce a new member to the Sales and Merchandising Team. Leslie Kirkelmier, our new Team Leader for this Department!"
Tactlessly Ms. Kirkelmier snatched the microphone from Linda’s grip as she abruptly shouldered Linda into the crowd before stepping behind the dais. “Thank you Linda, I will now take this opportunity to introduce MYself and MY management style. I want all of you to understand that with Ms. Browne’s reassignment it will be MY objective to turn the page and write a new chapter in this Department. From this moment on there is a new sheriff in town and I am placing all of you on notice the shenanigans in this Division will stop, now! I am throwing out the gauntlet, the ‘skinning’ of T. Winston, INC employees will stop! Nepotism at T. Winston, INC is ancient history! And all of the fashion models are off limits! So if any of you, including Mr. Randolph O. Mann, might be questioning MY authority or MY resolve let me assure each of you that I arrive at work every morning wearing MY ‘big-girl-panties’! So do yourself a favor, don’t make ME prove it!”
Enough was enough. Randy glanced toward Linda, shrugged his shoulders, and simply pressed the ‘send’ key on his ‘blackberry’. Instantaneously a text message was sent to a patiently waiting engineer in the basement of the North Campus Office Structure, signaling to him that all was ready. He simply pushed the green button on the diesel powered generator control panel, allowing the dusty generator to cough into action and forcing compressed air through a system of pneumatic hoses connecting the basement with a floor level nozzle located between the floorboards of the Information Kiosk podium, where eventually pressurized air escaped from a strategically positioned hypodermic aperture, shooting directly up Ms. Kirkelmier’s flutter skirt, inverting her pricey designer kilt, and exhibiting her retro-style charcoal hosiery, her fashionably daring stocking suspenders, and a scandalous view of the naked area where a pair of big-girl-panties should have been. Leslie franticly danced about the plinth squealing while she searched for less blustery surroundings.
“Game On!” said Randy.