Open Door policies meant what they stood for; come on in if you ever needed anything from your boss. At High Speed Marketing, there was a pecking order required to follow before conversing with the head-honcho himself, and Casper Graves knew this better than anyone else, but the man in the ruby tie and purple eyes reassured that it was ‘quite alright for an exception every now and then’.
Who could say no to that?
The strangers charisma rivaled that of a young Elvis resurrected from the grave only to sing him a fresh tune meant for the Gods and Casper didn’t even know his name, let alone what he wanted. He ignored the primal pleading that whispered from somewhere deep in his subconscious mind and rushed through the executive archway like a man attempting to flee the Devil himself.
He’d find out later that this stranger was far beyond the mortal grasp of his redundant logic, and the Devil was the least of worries now.
Icicles clung from the secretary’s avoidance and the tapping of her keyboard increased with an annoyed ferocity.
“Does Mr. McFayden have you down to speak with the Mr. Cornwell?”
“No, but this is important,” said Casper.
Her eyes sliced like heated daggers towards Casper. He didn’t mind, as everyone knew in the office that she was a self-entitled curmudgeon who little power and more bark than an ailing poodle on its way to an overpaid, weekly grooming session.
“I’d expect the head of Human Resources to know that you need to clear with your boss before you disturb everyone’s boss. Let me shoot Mr. McFayden a quick e-mail to let him know that you’re here unannounced before we get ahead of ourselves.”
“That’s not necessary,” said a smooth drawl from the executive entrance. “Why don’t you just let old James know I’m here. He should be expecting me.”
Casper sighed with deep relief at the sound of the stranger’s voice. He strutted with a nonchalant gait, tapping his midnight wingtips across buffed tile the color of fresh cream in a comforting cadence that brought an otherworldly tranquility to the atmosphere.
“What’s your name, sugar?” Asked the stranger.
Those who were intended company of the stranger knew to fear his purpose; those along the way could only revel in awe at his grandeur.
“Kathy,” she said. “And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?”
She raised from behind the crescent desk and beamed with a lustful glee to the stranger who rested his elbows atop the finished surface. The suit he wore was a blue closer to ebony, and his hair was a trimmed, burnt umber like waning foliage of deciduous sentinels in the north. Kathy’s crimson lips sucked-in and she bit down with a playful nibble. Her cheeks flushed, bringing about a color brighter than her strawberry shoulder-length hair.
“Certainly sir, I will let him know.”
“Thank ‘ya kindly, hon,” he said. “Casper, come here a minute, I gotta talk to you—lean in close.”
He wants to talk to me? Casper thought to himself I don’t know if I am worthy of his company; I better not screw this up.
“Yes sir, what can I do for you?”
“See now, I’ve come to collect what’s owed from James. Him and I go way back and I want you to sit in with us and watch how I work,” he paused, and pulled a Kleenex from Kathy’s desk and handed it to Casper. “Now git-a-hold of yourself, son. No need to be blubbering up a fit before we get to it.”
Casper sniffled and nodded with silent admiration for the gesture. The suit was a tattered tweed of fossil grey and his stubble crept upon like gluttonous Kudzu.
“Excuse me, sir, what is it that you actually do?”
“Well… how do I put it: I’m an independent contractor of sorts. I come in, make a deal that we all can profit from, and then I collect when its time. Sometimes I am later than I intend, but I always collect. Simple enough, right?”
“Right—I mean, yes sir.”
“No need for strict formalities, son. You can call me Carter, or, if you’re so inclined to maintain these courtesies of yours, I imagine I’d be able to settle on Mr. Goodhue. That work for you?”
“Yes, Mr. Goodhue.”
Kathy emerged from the stained double-doors handcrafted from custom oak and pressed her skirt flat before she approached Mr. Goodhue.
“He said that he didn’t have time to meet with anybody,” her grin was sly and provocative. “But, we do have an Opened Door policy here, and as you can see, the doors are wide open.”
“You’re a charm, hon. Here,” he handed her a folded piece of paper. “Write a company wide e-mail and let these folks know that the new Chief Operations Officer Casper Graves demands they all come on up and give a visit. Gonna be a busy day for us, I imagine.”
She stammered an obligatory confirmation and sauntered to her seat and Mr. Goodhue continued his nonchalant gait through the double doors, with Casper at his heels.
“James! Sorry I’m here later than I meant,” said Mr. Goodhue. “Now where the hell you going; sit your ass down.”
He was not a small man by any sorts. James Cornwell stood nearly six-three and weighed closer to two-sixty, and his body crashed into his seat like the roars of a thunderclap ten-feet above their heads.
“Looking for this?”
Mr. Goodhue held a chrome revolver in his hands when James opened his top draw of his L-shaped, mahogany desk. The fluorescent glow radiated from the ceiling’s circular fixtures and the seventy-two-inch flat screen silenced with a snap of Mr. Goodhue’s fingers. Visible sweat cascaded from the top of James’s bald head, making his stern, muscular face resembled a pale balloon caught in a Sun shower.
“You bastard,” he spat.
“Now that isn’t nice, is it? Hold on a second,” he turned to Casper. “Take a seat over yonder on that couch and just watch. Now where was I… yes, that’s right. Name calling to the one who gifted your success is a little childish. Honestly, I feel that it’s downright despicable. Don’t you think, Casper?”
“Yes Mr. Goodhue, very despicable.”
“He’s a smart one, he is. Think I’ll keep him along for a bit and show him the ropes. Kid has a good soul, he does… heh, now speaking of that. It’s time for me to reap what is owed, James.”
The flash a deafening light was gone before Casper knew it, and Mr. Goodhue plopped down in the leather high-back office chair.
“I’ll have someone come for this later,” he kicked the body clear across the room and the lifeless husk of James Cornwell rested in the corner like soiled linen. “We got some work to do today and then we’ll fly through the stars of twilight together with a few friends of mine. Does that sound good?”
Casper had only taken a few flights in his life, and he thought that’d he’d like nothing more than to embark around the world, and possibly, beyond.
“Yes Mr. Goodhue, I’d like that very much.”
“Excellent! You’re a Yes Man and that’s what I want. Now I think our next appointment is here. If you’d be so kind and get the door, son.”
I can relate to Mr. Goodhue. I’ve worked in a plethora of fields and most jobs had been independent gigs; to an extent. I certainly didn’t barter with the universal currency that are Souls, nor did I have this aura of radiating charisma that stopped others dead in their tracks.
The one team orientated job I did have was in restaurants. It was easily the funnest and most grueling position I’ve ever had. I mostly ran a broiler–steaks, chicken, ribs, seafood. I enjoy grilling and I loved the intensity of fast paced cooking.
I have yet to embrace myself in a writing community or group. I think that is going to be a realistic step in the future for myself. Writing is a solo gig, but I am learning that my input–and my opinions–alone may hinder my progress.
Thoughts on Mr. Goodhue? He is a long running antagonist of mine that will be showing up from time to time.
Women in Horror Month is upon us friends! Make sure to show your love and support on the Book of Faces and Twitter.
I read Mercedes M. Yardley’s “Little Dead Read” last night, and I have to say,
“Dammmmnnnnnnnn that was fucking awesome!”
It really was.
Not only did she win a well-deserved Bram Stoker for her novella adaption of this classic tale, but she also solidified her spot as an elite addition to the ranks of modern horror writers. She has other books and short stories that I can only imagine are as magical and frightening and raw like this tale. I certainly look forward to reading more of her work.
Back to writing independently….
Working on your own is mentally taxing, and between self-promotion, finding suitable publishers, engaging in a community and editing on your own can seem like a mountain at times, right?
It’s a fucking unreachable peak sometimes, and all we can strive for is ascension beyond those seemingly endless plateaus along the way.
But when you pace yourself, juggle the workload, and utilize the right tools available, you can ease some of those anxieties and gain ground towards the end goal of self-publishing or becoming published in the traditional sense.
I created a new page on this site for anyone to use. It is a growing Resource! that I will be adding to that gives a bevy of information and links to a number of things and stuff, like:
- Publishers in short fiction.
- Writing communities.
- Social media aides for the shameless (like me!).
- Formatting for proper manuscripts.
Ghoul is hitting up the slopes tomorrow. I’m undecided if he is going to ski or board, but I am sure it will be silly nonetheless.
Thanks for reading friends, I hope you have a good one,
John Potts Jr