Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Conflict of Interest

The hand on the clock assaulted gravity once more, pulling itself upward with a tired, trembling arm. Damian imagined he could see the hidden gears flexing like muscles beneath the smooth, white surface. The ticks marking the passing seconds were teeth, poised to chomp down on his neck and trap him here, forever.

"I was only on the phone for a mo-" Damian blurted, stopping when The Boss raised his meaty hand.

"That's not why you're here," The Boss said, jowls trembling.

Damian's eyes darted around the small office, searching for an escape.  If the denizens of the world were strictly divided into "fight" or "flight," he was most assuredly a bird.  Even now he was envious of the crow taking wing outside, having pecked his fill of corn off the ripened stalks that filled the window view.

Wood paneling hemmed him in as effectively as any metal cage, however.  The menacing fluorescent tubes above chased away all trace of friendly shadow.  Behind him, the closed door might as well have been on the other side of a gator-filled moat for all the chance of passage it might offer Damian.

"Um, sir?" he stammered.

The leather executive chair protested The Boss's shifting weight.  "Our customer has requested your presence in an off-site meeting."  The sentence seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth.  His lips smacked before he continued with, "So, I'll need you to go ahead and drive yourself to the airport tomorrow night.  See my secretary on your way out.  She's already booked your flight."

"Did you say tomorrow, sir?" Damian asked.

"Yes."  His cheeks jiggled with the nod.  "The first flight we could book you on is an early one.  You should consider yourself lucky, since the airport is on the other side of the city, your trip qualifies you for an overnight stay.  Five miles closer and you'd have had to drive through traffic in the morning.  Your hotel is booked as well."

Damian was sure that the "first" flight was really cheapest, it's bargain only rivaled by that of the certainly flea-ridden hotel.  It was the implication that concerned him most.  "Overnight?" he squeaked.

The Boss shrugged.  "I don't make the rules.  Have a nice flight."

And then he turned around and began pounding away at his keyboard.  Damian stood to leave.  He had obviously been dismissed.

You already have made plans, Inigo reminded him.  Tell this thing to your boss.  He cannot simply expect you to be available whenever he requires it.

Yes, he can, Damian replied.  That's sort of how it works.

You do not even try! Inigo said disgustedly.

Fine.  Damian turned back.  As he opened his mouth, the phone rang.  His boss revolved and shooed him out. 

"Hello?  Yes, Sherry.  Put him through."

Damian closed his mouth.  Who was he kidding?  He draped himself in defeat and left.

Coward, Inigo heaped on.

I'll just have to reschedule, Damian replied.  Surely, she'll understand.

She would have to, wouldn't she?


Nadja Notariani said...

Matt - After this short intro, I want more Inigo. I'm imagining all sorts of possibilities.....he's the guardian angel sent to help Damian find his confidence....he's a devilish imp playing a tune that will lead Damian to certain misfortune.......he's Damian's 'fight-club' alter-ego.......
Good stuff.
~ Nadja

Matt said...

Thanks! I definitely have plans for Inigo in the near future. You've almost hit on it, but not quite ;-).

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