A Performance Review Compromise

“Robert, could you come in here please?” Frank said.

Robert pushed his chair away from his desk and his mind went wild with what a sudden discussion with his boss could mean.  “What’s up, Frank?” He asked, stepping into the office.

“Have a seat and shut the door if you would. Thanks.”  The two took their seats.  “Just a quick performance review.  Have to say, you’re doing great work.  I do want to discuss one little issue though.”

The two real estate developers stared at each other a moment.  Robert was pretty sure he knew what was coming.

“Your development name ideas during project proposals have some of our other developers concerned,” Frank said.

“Oh come on. They’re proposals,” Robert retorted.

“For example.  The golf course anchored development on 51st was pitched with Loch Luster.  During the pitch you kept insisting it would be called lackluster.”

Robert laughed.

“Or the gated community called HDOTU.  After hours of chit chat it was revealed that this meant Heat Death of the Universe.  You laughed and changed the name to Duckberg when you noticed people didn’t like that.” Frank said.

“And now Duckberg is a well loved community.  It worked out,” Robert said, stifling a laugh.

“I’ll just read some of these names here.  Zombie Proof Acres, Apocalypse Ranch, Totally Haunted Patio Homes at Dove Ridge, Acid Rain Ranch, Martian Landing Site Ranch, Cracked Concrete Ranch, really just a bunch of Ranch names for the next, uh,” Frank flipped through a stack of papers, “next seven pages.”

“That’s seven pages of project proposals though. Good year for the company!” Robert said.  Frank did not enjoy the sarcastic tone.

“You know what, let’s compromise here.  Could you name each proposal Duckberg 2, 3, 4 and so on.  Like a horror movie franchise.  I’ll even allow three ‘Duckberg 2 v Duckberg 3 in Space’ titles over the next 12 months.  We just need fewer end of times ranches and more marketing flyer friendly names, okay?” Frank pleaded.

“I will try my best.  But there is a pitch for High Noon Duel Community coming across your desk shortly.” Robert said.

“Last one, kid. Last one.”

The Five Secrets of Harold Cape

Harold Cape was a simple man.  Described most often as honest, loyal and even tempered, he would have made a good mayor or barber.  He craved not the power of local government or the comradeship of a barber shop, though, and instead opted for a career as a craftsman putting together perfectly constructed fishing poles.

His poles were displayed in the dens of wealthy men and women who had never sat at a lake’s shore, but that did not bother him in the slightest.  He took their money and bought himself the boat of his dreams so he could catch a fish or two.  He was a simple man.

Even simple men can be complex at times.  For example, Harold Cape had never told anyone that he had memorized the words of Green Day’s American Idiot.  He was well outside of that album’s target demographic when it was released, but he knew good music when he heard it and now whistles the melody of St. Jimmy while sailing his dream boat and catching fish.

He was no fan of puns.  He once punched a stranger in a bar for making a crude play of words involving the free peanuts.  When his wife picked him up at the police station following a brief holding period, he told her there was an unpaid parking ticket under with his name attached that caused the trouble.  No one, not even fishing buddies, would believe that he once punched a man for something so trivial.

He hated lying about that.  He hated lying in general.  Harold Cape feared lies.  He felt he was too dumb to keep track of the truths he said, how in the world could he keep up with the lies?  This fear made him an incredibly honest person, but he likes to make others believe he is capable of lies.  Usually this amounts to little more than ending a statement with “or is it?” Followed soon with a dramatic ‘bum bum bum.”

His fondness for cake once cost him a winning lottery ticket.  He told the story once to his oldest son and made him promise to never tell his mother.  As he told the story, he was standing in line a gas station when he saw a flash of light from the corner of his eye.  He over reacted initially, thinking the light was sourced at an incoming squirrel or other threat, but when he looked quickly to his right he saw a display of cake and other sugary treats.  His stomach roared and his brained pleaded for the dopamine rush of a sugar binge.  He left the line and went to stare at the desserts for a solid fifteen minutes.

The store sold a winning lottery ticket that weekend at 3:58 pm, exactly one minute after Harold had left the line.  The man behind him had taken home 3.5 million dollars lump sum.  Harold was furious.

It was in his anger that Harold did something he promised himself he would keep secret beyond the grave.  The Monday after he discovered what happened with the lottery ticket, he donned a mask and grabbed a bat.  He ran, he was younger then and still believed running was a thing people should do, to the gas station and robbed the store.  He took a stack of scratch tickets, five Slim-Jims, a pack of M&Ms and a cigar he did not intend on smoking.  Then he ran off to the night.  He was upset with how good he felt after the robbery.

When he was far enough from the scene, he began scratching off the lottery tickets to see what he had won.  He never claimed the seven dollars that showed up over the 200 tickets.

Harold Cape makes fishing poles.  He’s honest, loyal and even tempered.  He put a lot of effort in making sure this is what people think of him.  If his secrets got out, well, by golly that would be devastating.

Jenkins Gets the Joke

“Knock knock.”  Old Man McClure said from behind his drink.

The joke portion of the dinner had begun.  Jenkins was displeased.

“Who’s there, sir?” Jenkins asked.  When Old Man McClure had had two or more drinks, the knock knock jokes began to make less sense.

“A livid duck.”

Jenkins had not heard this one before.  Perhaps his boss had learned a new one.

“A livid duck who?” Jenkins followed format.

“A livid duck who can’t open a door.”  Old Man McClure erupted in laughter.

“We have to finish these contracts before market open, sir.” Jenkins tried to refocus the night.

 

No Go

“That’s the place, huh?” Wel asked.  It was his first visit to Fort Wayland.

“That the place,” Cacee confirmed as the car sped by a site only called “No Go.”

No Go was a six acre patch of earth surrounded by a barbed wire fence.  A regular patrol duty walked the perimeter.  The patrol was present for the expressed purpose of keeping people out of No Go, but every one knew the real reason was to keep whatever it was at the center of No Go in No Go.

Thankfully, that was an incredibly easy job.

“Why don’t they just blow the creature up and be done with it?” Wel pondered.

“That’s a ballot issue every single year.  The cult that brought it here from wherever it was now has it classified as an endangered species.  They did an environmental study and everything.  Thank goodness those laws exists, don’t get me wrong, but for the reals.  Protecting an Kaiju beast from another dimension is so far from the intent.  So issue never actually gets to be voted on.” Cacee said, unable to hide his annoyance with the annual tradition.

“It still can’t move?” Wel had read that somewhere.  He claimed to have read it in a newspaper, but no one believed him.

“Still trapped in our oxygen rich air like it’s a grape in those weird jello molds full of fruit,” Cacee answered.

“Those poor cultists must have been so upset.” Wel kept his gaze on No Go.

“Yes and no.  Certainly had to be vindicating to be right.  The end goal was the end of the world though.  Now they spend their days in court rooms swimming in litigation.  Which is about the worst end of the world possible.” Cacee said.

 

 

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Marshall’s Change of Course

“Alrighty, change of plans, kiddos.  We’re playing inside!” Marshall informed his now quite disappointed children.

“Dad! Come on!” The two siblings pleaded in creepy unison.

“Now, now. It’ll be fun.  We can play board games, color, not be eaten by giant menacing birds, and eat junk food!” Marshall said.

“What was that third thing?” Louisa, the oldest asked.

“Coloring books!” Marshall replied, knowing full well he had slipped.

“I don’t think that was i-” Louisa began.

“No, no. It was. Really. Let’s just get away from the door, okay?” Marshall shooed the children away, keeping one eye on the bird.

Home Court

“17, the up and comer from Indiana, La Hoy is moving fast! Moves by the defenders. They can’t stop this kid!”

Stuart La Hoy heard the play by play being shouted by the announcers from a booth above the stadium’s bleachers.  They were far enough away to make the clarity of their voices reason for concern.  If they could be heard on the court, over the screaming fans and defensive players, certainly they were inflicting hearing damage on the poor ticket holders near the booth.  Stuart was not sure why he was so concerned for the health of the opposing team’s fans, but he plotted scheduling audiograms for the whole crowd should his big contract ever materialize. Continue reading

Two Truths and a Lie

Oran loathed ice breakers.

“Okay, gang, now let’s try for a fun one two truths and a lie!” The leader of this little workplace team builder event said.  For some reason the words received a round of applause.  Oran understood so little of the office he spent so much time with.  He tuned out as the rules were explained and the first few coworkers told blatant lies as truths.

Oran noticed his turn was quickly approaching.  He racked his brain for a lie.  He was no good at lying.  He pondered a soap pun for a moment, but bailed on the idea as too meta for the crowd.

“Oran, you’re turn! Try to stump us, ye the master of the purchasing department.” The leader said, pointing an open palm at Oran to somehow indicate it was his turn.

Nervous laughter started Oran’s speech.

“Well, let’s see here.  Two truth and a lie.  This is tougher than it seemed at first!  Okay, okay.  I grew up in Nebraska. I am the herald of the intergalactic emperor T’Li the Crusher of Weakness, bound to destroy all those who oppose his rule, and my favorite movie is West Side Story.”

Laughter erupted from the crowd.

“Well, that lie was pretty easy to spot! Thanks for showing us your poker face, Oran! Let’s move right along then.”

The excursion’s leader had skipped the rest of Oran’s turn entirely.  To this point, the vanguard of T’Li’s galactic army had been waffling on sparing Earth and it’s inhabitants from destruction.  This ice breaker event had sent his opinion moving in one very certain direction now.  He had never even seen Nebraska, and now his coworkers would not know such a tidbit.

 

 

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