Saturday, September 12, 2009

LAST RESORT - short fiction

This short story is in response to
Click on the above link to join in or read other entries.

How it works: Raven supplies two sets of words (or phrases) to use in a piece of writing. One can choose the ten- or five-word challenge ---or combine both into a fifteen word mega-challenge.

Mega challenge:charitable, alligator, tribute, drunk, slave, preparation, carrots, mountainside, propeller, lark, chisel, worship, suicide, organic, plus

(Words from the challenge are in bold face in the story.)

Celia was tired of being a slave to her job and she was especially tired of Mr. Hollinger’s acting all ethical, then taking credit for her work and especially for her ideas. He was always quoting the Bible, then stabbing his staff in the back.
From the time she was a teenager, Celia had given people secret names. She had nicknamed her boss Mr. Holier-than-Thou.
On a lark, Celia marched to the scheduling department late Friday afternoon to see if, by chance, she could take a week’s vacation starting Monday. There was one opening because ---of all people ---Holier had canceled his vacation for the coming week. Poetic justice, thought Celia.
She didn’t plan on informing Holier that she would be gone. As usual, he had already skipped out at 2:00 on Friday, so he wouldn’t know until Monday morning. That was when the regional director of ADvanced ADvertising was going to pay tribute to Holier-Than-Thou’s twenty-five years of service to the company with a ceremony and a plaque. Obviously, that was why Holier had canceled his vacation. Headquarters could chisel his name in stone for all Celia cared. Everyone else could worship him, but that wouldn’t elevate him in her esteem.
Her coworkers had collected money to buy him an alligator briefcase. Celia, not feeling in the least charitable toward the man, refused to contribute toward an item he would never use. Why would he? She did all his work, plus her own.
She was supposed to arrive at work early Monday in preparation for the presentation. Holier-Than-Thou expected her to explain to the manager how the last six months of advertising campaigns had been developed and executed. Holier had assigned her to do it for him because he didn’t have a clue how they came about. She would love to be a fly on the wall watching him try.
Taking vacation now might be corporate suicide, but in addition to her 401k, Celia had squirreled away a year’s worth of take-home pay. If she lost her job, her savings would see her through to her next one.
On Saturday morning, Celia left the city. At a roadside rest, she sat at a picnic table overlooking a mountainside, drinking bottled water and nibbling a sandwich and raw carrots from her cooler. She sucked in the organic scents of the early fall grass, trees, and mountain air, reprimanding herself for not getting away more often.
Celia followed signs to Pineynook Mountain Resort. There, she stepped into a steaming shower that pelted her with a dozen massaging shower heads. She dried her hair, added a touch of blush to her cheeks and gloss to her lips, and donned her casual denim dress. Admiring eyes followed her to a table in the restaurant.
Celia spent Saturday and most of Sunday reading novels, hiking, and swimming laps in the heated pool. The lake was too cold for swimming, but she enjoyed wading near the shore. Her stress was slowly seeping away.
On Sunday night, Celia accepted a drink from a handsome hunk of a New Yorker named Justin, then joined him for dinner on the portico overlooking the shimmering lake. After two martinis and several glasses of wine, Celia’s work-related problems poured out. After a few stressless days, she could actually laugh at herself and Justin laughed with her. He didn’t seem to mind listening to her woes. She wouldn’t tell him the name of her employer, but he asked many questions about the ad campaigns she had developed. He probably thought if he came off as a good listener, he could get her into his bed.
But after dinner and a platonic walk on the beach, Celia headed to her room alone. It was just as well, she thought. Justin hadn’t put her in the awkward position of having to refuse him and, besides, he was leaving Monday morning, so she’d never see him again. However, she was embarrassed that she had talked so much about herself. She hadn’t discovered enough about Justin to give him a nickname.

On Friday Celia rented a boat. She sped through the water as fast as the propeller would take her, hoping to outrun her problems. Instead, she decided she would assert herself, ask for a promotion, and demand the credit she deserved for her work. Holier would look so bad without her that he might agree. And if he didn’t, she would search for another job, do freelance work, or start her own business.
On Saturday morning before heading home, Celia grabbed her Blackberry from the dresser in her room. She hadn't turned it on in over a week. She checked her voicemail and e-mail over breakfast on the portico. Amongst the spam, there was an e-mail from corporate headquarters in New York. Uh, oh, she thought. Holier had probably fired her.
To her surprise, the message notified her that Holier was being transferred to another department. The next paragraph explained her promotion to Holier’s position including a bonus and a raise, effective immediately.
Celia was stunned. Then she looked at the sender’s name, Justin Angelou.
Could it be that he was the Justin she had met here? Unlikely, she thought.
Whether he was the same person or not, she had just chosen her secret name for ADvanced ADvertising’s CEO: Just-An-Angel.
(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)


Prayer Girl said...

Wonderful story. What a gift of writing this was. Couldn't sleep and I enjoyed this in the middle of the night.


Raven said...

Sounds like much of my work experience except that I never found my Just an Angel. Great job. You always find such clever ways to use the words. Well done.

SouthLakesMom said...

Good story. The word list fit in very naturally. We all need an just-angel-ou.

It makes my eyes tired to read the white on black though.

Argent said...

I always look forward to your stories and am not disoppointed this week. Your description of the holiday was dreamy and the words just fit so nicely. We could all do with a Just-an-angel in our lives.

Stephen said...

I liked your story. I'm glad that Celia's problem was solved, and she got the promotion she wanted, all without having to ask for it. She did tell her problems to a stranger, though, and that may have made all the difference. Sometimes we do meet an "angel" unawares.

Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA