Flash Fiction – Day Three

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I wanted to take a minute to thank my usual readers for sticking with me through this week of a bit different sort of blog post.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this challenge has been a lot harder than I expected. I compete in contests where we have 48 hours to write a thousand word story, and even then, the time feels tight. I’ve been producing the stories this week in around five to six hours.

I’m pretty pleased so far. They all could do with more time and distance to allow for extra editing, but I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written so far.

I hope at least a few of you are enjoying reading them as much as I am writing them.

My goal for this week has worked. I needed to shake things up to get back into my blogging head and it’s working. I’m looking forward to getting back into my groove next week.

For now, here’s Day Three’s story.

Today’s randomly generated is: representation

Top O’ The World, Ma!

by Karen Fayeth

Alex was on top of the world. Six months ago, he’d been promoted to Senior Director of Sales and he was rolling. He was the fair-haired boy employed at one of the fastest growing companies just shy of Fortune’s top 100.

Yesterday the Executive VP of Sales had called Alex personally to congratulate him on landing the biggest client in the history of Jackflash Software. The ink was barely dry on the deal.

Alex and his boys had properly celebrated the victory.

After just two hours of sleep, Alex now looked at himself up and down in the mirror because he knew he looked good. Not just “hey, that’s a nice suit” but “damn! You look GOOD in that Prada suit” sort of good.

Even his hair looked good and his eyes weren’t the slightest bit puffy. A little chin stubble told the tale, but hell, that would just make him look a little rugged today.

If asked, he could say he was up all night on an overseas call. They’d buy that.

This morning he had a date with the CEO of Jackflash, Bob Jackson. The invitation had come quite a few days before the new contract had settled and had been somewhat vague as to the agenda.

Jackflash was still a pretty small company, so meeting with the CEO wasn’t entirely unusual. Maybe there was another big deal in the works? Or maybe there was even a big bonus coming his way. He smiled at the thought. Oh so many toys like boats and cars he would buy…

Alex looked at himself in the mirror. “God, it’s a great day to be me,” he said to his reflection.

Turning from the mirror and picking up his car keys, he felt the burn from lack of sleep around his eyes. Unacceptable, he told his wavering body.

Revving the engine of his brighter-than-the-sun yellow Porsche, his first stop on the way into work was a 7-Eleven. Two Rockstar energy drinks should do the trick.

Alex was guzzling the second Rockstar when he parked and walked into the office. Burping loudly from the fizzy drink and tossing the can in the trash, he put on his winningest smile when he saw people in the lobby turn to look at him with nods and waves.

News must be out, he thought. But not everyone was smiling. Jealous, probably, he thought to himself.

He smiled and made like a politician. If there was a baby in the room, he would have kissed it.

After all the schmoozing and stopping by to talk to friends along the way, it took him a half hour to get from the front door to his office. His heart was trip hammering in his chest from all the caffeine and he couldn’t sit still. He glanced briefly at email and ignored the flashing message light on his phone.

A note was taped to his monitor. Terry, his boss, wanted to see him as soon as he came in. He checked his watch, 9:45. Terry was probably already in the day’s meetings, but he figured he’d give it a try.

Alex walked so fast to the elevators, the back of his jacket trailed out behind him like a little woolen cape.

“Hey Susan! Is she in?” Alex said, putting on his charming voice for Terry’s admin. Susan wielded all the power in the organization, including whether or not Alex flew first class, so he treaded lightly.

Susan looked at Alex with a face drained of blood. “No, Alex. She’s gone.”

“Gone? You mean meetings?

“No. I mean gone. Fired.” Susan whispered the last word.

“Fired? What the hell?”

Susan shrugged.

Alex checked the Rolex on his right wrist and noted he had five minutes to get upstairs to meet Bob.

“Ok, I’m going up,” Alex said, pointing toward the ceiling, the company recognized gesture to indicate Bob’s office on the top floor.

Susan was VP of Sales. If she was gone, and with Alex coming off such a huge victory…well, the writing was on the wall. He was going to get promoted again.

Alone in the elevator, he did a little “yes!” fist pump dance/jig sort of a move.

When the elevator doors opened, he was met by Bob’s Admin, Charlene. “He’s here,” she said into her boss’ open office door, then with an out of character syrupy voice, “I believe Bob is ready for you. Go on in.”

Alex walked into the office with his head high, but faltered when he saw Ellen Banks, VP of Human Resources and Stan Ingersol, Jackflash General Counsel already seated at the conference table.

“Hello Stan,” he said, shaking the man’s hand, “Ellen,” he said, nodding. “Bob, how great to see you! You heard about the Techtron Telco deal, I assume?” Alex said, all smiles and sales training in his demeanor.

“Yes, I’ve heard. But that’s not what we’re here for. Alex, why don’t you have a seat?”

Alex was still grinning ear to ear when he sat down at the head of the table.

Alex drummed his fingers on the table impatiently and looked at Bob who turned instead to Stan. “How about you take the lead on this meeting?”

Stan cleared his throat and shuffled through the stack of paperwork in front of him. He found the page he needed and held it up.

“Alex, this is a copy of the resume you submitted when you applied to Jackflash.”

Alex leaned forward to squint at the document, then nodded.

“It was your representation at the time you were hired that you both attended and graduated from Yale School of Management. Your hiring manager failed to do a background check before extending the very generous offer. During a routine audit, Ellen’s team found the lapse in procedure and conducted the appropriate check.”

Alex swallowed. He knew what was coming next.

“Son, you never even graduated high school.”

Alex closed his eyes.

Visions of Masaratis stopped dancing in his head.

Creative Commons License
“Top O’ The World, Ma!” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

I have a conflicted

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This whole social networking thing, I’ve been reticent about it. Then on further examination, I acquiesced a bit.

But I have a reticent again.

As you may know, I’ve joined the folks who are using Twitter. Sure, yes, I tweet.

Banal stuff I tweet, I admit. But I enjoy the challenge of 140 characters. Plus it’s fun to see what other’s can cram into such a small space.

Often I read stuff on there makes me sigh and shake my head. Example: a local sports broadcaster takes to Twitter to describe the quality of his bowel movements. A regular man, seems to hit him daily about eleven a.m.

*sigh*

Then there’s some good stuff, too. Local SanFran author Christopher Moore has the best tweets of my follow list, bar none. Example: “Steve Jobs had liver transplant. Glad he finally acknowledged the value of cut and paste.”

So okay, there’s fun stuff out there, it’s not all bad. I rather enjoy tweeting, heck, as you know, I even recently participated in a twitter story writing contest. So I’m on board!

Only, this weekend, I might have hit a wall.

I follow Ann Curry on Twitter. She’s been Tweeting pretty hard about what’s going on in Iran. I personally have tried very hard to keep a distance from all that. It’s horrible, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families, but I have a neurotic worry gene (thanks, Mom) and if I let myself follow what’s happening, I will lose my grip.

So, yeah, I have been reading Ann’s tweets, even though I’m not sure this is the best way for the news to travel, I read them to keep up to speed, a little, on the progress.

That said, on Saturday, Ann tweeted quite a bit about the escalation of the protests in Iran. Scary stuff, here’s some examples:

“Credible source was eyewittness (sic) to pepper spraying of about 100 protestors #iranelection”

“Iran state tv claims explosion at tomb of revered Ayatollah Khomeini. Would incite anger against protesters. Is it true? #iranelection”

“More reports of police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands #iranelection”

Yikes. I was taking all of this in, feeling that familiar fear and dread…and then moved on to read more tweets on the same page by other twitter folks that I follow.

Here’s where my train derailed.

Along with scary stuff from Iran, here’s what else I found on the same page:

“just getting up, still drunk I think.” (from a local journalist for the SF Chronicle and a prolific author)

“Destroyed by dim sum and good friends.” (from the rather successful owner of a small business)

“I’m thinking of something like this for (my second house), so perhaps I’ll go to C&B and see how it looks in person. (furniture item, link redacted).” (from a blogger and editorial writer for one of Seattle’s independent newspapers).

So, look, I’m not following Buffy the Wonder Ditz on Twitter, I have thoughtfully chosen which tweets I see, but still, I was startled by the juxtaposition of the uses of Twitter.

Actually, The Good Man pointed it out as he read over my shoulder. I didn’t even see it. Perhaps I’m so twitterheaded it didn’t look strange.

I think Twitter can be used pretty well as a marketing tool. Heck, when I tweet a link to my blog, I can count on about 10 to 15 extra eyeballs that day. So that’s good, right? Blog traffic is really nice.

But is all this self-focused, self-absorbed social networking really meaningful? (asks the self-focused, self-absorbed blogger)

I don’t know, something changed for me on Saturday. I like Twitter, enjoy using it, but then think…what am I *doing*?!

I don’t have the answers, I’m really just talking it out here. But last week, I was kind of into Twitter and enjoying it. Now, I’m not so sure.

Anyhow…just some pondering for a Monday.

I doubt your bumper sticker, sir.

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Last evening, while out running errands, I found myself at a stoplight behind a shiny new black Cadillac Escalade EXT (the one that’s sorta kinda a pickup, but not really).

It was a nice ride, tricked out with big fat shiny chrome custom wheels, all the expensive add ons, and a sticker on the back window that said “Cowboy Up.”

Oh really? Cowboy up? Is that your philosophy on life? Are you sure, Mr. Driving a Luxury Vehicle in the Suburbs, that you are, in fact, ready to cowboy up?

Are you prepared to lose a thumb as you throw a loop around the head of a recalcitrant steer, dally up around the saddle horn and whoops, get a digit caught in the turn?

Are you ready to try to throw a calf while you currently nurse a broken rib, courtesy of the back forty of the calf that came down the chute just before?

Are you all set to trim a budding horn from a young cow only to hit the artery, thus shooting blood straight into your eye with force and velocity? And are you further ready to then take a hot branding iron and sear that bloody mess, leaving the smell and taste of burning flesh and blood lingering in the air?

Are you man enough to sink your arm up to the shoulder inside the back of a birthing cow to assist that mama with a backwards facing baby, and when that same mama cow prolapses her uterus out onto the ground, are you ready to shove that bloody mess back inside and stitch her up? (if you don’t know what I mean, I suggest you do a search on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, she even posted photos of this horrifying event)

And are you ready to be bitten, kicked and thrown off a horse all in one day? Are you ready the haul hay? Are you ready to pray for rain and curse the wind? Are you ready to turn your hands to hamburger from stringing barbwire? Are you ready to face birth and death and life and manure and blood and saliva and the unpredictability of the life of a cowboy?

Are ya?

Cause you know what? I betcha you aren’t, actually, ready to Cowboy Up.

I might know a thing or two about it, and even I’m not really ready to Cowboy Up.

Not even in the suburbs.