Peter’s Glasses (Short Story)

Glasses
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.

 

Of all the days to break my glasses! Peter thought.

He fumbled for the intercom button. “Miss Wembly?”

“Yes sir?”

“What time is it?”

“It is a quarter to eight, Mr. Tumby.”

“Thank you.”

Peter sat back in his chair, swore under his breath. Even if he called his wife and asked her to bring his spare set, the teleconference with the C.E.O. would be over by the time she arrived.  Nor could he ask Wembly for help in reading off the figures.  Mr. Meminger was a notorious sexist and would make Wembly’s life miserable with snide remarks.

Peter leaned forward and squinted at his computer screen.  He could just make out the spreadsheet filled with projected advertising and overhead expenses, revenues, and gross and net earnings.  He tried to zoom in closer, but he still could not clearly make out the numbers.

Peter had a lot riding on this teleconference, His past projections had seldom been wrong, but he had recently experienced bad luck with them. The past two Black Friday sales for United Mart had been far short of his projections.  He had wracked his brains extra hard on his figures projections for this year.  ‘This year we will be finally out of thered, he’d thought with a smile as he’d driven into work while listening to AC-DC’s song “Back in Black.”

Then he had tried to adjust his glasses after opening the spreadsheet, only to accidentally bust them in two.

Peter sighed, thought, Crap, I have no choice but to wing it.

“Good morning Mr. Meminger,” Peter said when the C.E.O. called at eight sharp.

“Good morning, Tumby,” Meminger replied.  “Do you have your projections for me?”

“Yes I do sir. Um, I have it, uh… right here.”

For the next ten minutes Peter struggled to read his figures, punctuating every other word with “um,” “I think,” or “uh.”

“Tumby, are you drunk?” Meminger finally asked.

“No sir.”

“Then what is it?”

Peter froze.  He remembered when he had been late for a teleconference and candidly admitted it to Meminger, who had promptly scoffed and said, “I don’t give a flying fuck what the traffic was like!” and proceeded to dress Peter down for ten minutes.  His tirade has resulted in the infamous “Tardy Managers” memo sent out to all department heads.  Peter had gotten a stream of sarcastic e-mails from his colleagues as a result, the mildest of which asked, “When you next screw up, can you leave the rest of us out of it?”

Peter felt sweat beading on his forehead, thought, Oh fuck, if I tell him about my glasses, he is going to go nuclear.  He could see the memo now.

“Tumby!” Meminger shouted.

“Sir, I… I…uh…”

“Quit screwing around!” Meminger shouted.  “Speak now or get ready to start looking for a new job.”

“I broke my glasses,” Peter finally confessed. “I can’t read my report.”

“What?!  You  butterfingers… why didn’t you get another pair?” Meminger bellowed.

“Because of the meeting, sir. You always wanted us to be on time.”

“Why didn’t you ask your secretary for help?”

Peter snorted.  “I think you know why I didn’t, sir.”

Meminger sighed.  “Fair enough, but Tumby? I want you to quit trying to read your fucking spreadsheet and give me a plain and simple idea about how we can make this Black Friday a winner.”

Peter blinked.  “Well…”

An idea suddenly blossomed.

“…what if he had a sale on Thanksgiving as well as Black Friday?”

“Holy shit…” Meminger said.

Peter braced himself for another verbal depth charge attack.

“… Tumby, that is absofuckinglutely brilliant!” Meminger gushed.  “We can announce our Black Friday sales in advance, but as soon as Turkey Day nears, we will make a sudden announcement we will be open on Thanksgiving too! Our competitors will have to eat our dust.”  Meminger chuckled. “My boy, you just might have saved United Mart.  In fact, I think we should have a special sale on glasses to commemorate it.”

Peter’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious?”

He got a roar of laughter in reply.  “No Tumby,” Meminger finally said. “’I’m just kidding about that part.”

Very funny, Peter thought as he felt a wild urge to reach through the phone and strangle Meminger.

 

Dent’s Madness (Short Story)

Dent madness
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.

 

The door opened and chaos ensued; chaos sparked by a line of friends and relatives as they streamed out into the dining room and slammed pies into the face of the bride-to-be.  Roars of laughter swept through the room as each pie found its mark.

Dent stood in the kitchen with a pie in his hand, holding it as if he were a waiter about to deliver it.

Dent’s younger brother Ned and his bride-to-be, Joyce, were getting married after a whirlwind courtship.  Both families of the bride and groom were having their rehearsal dinner, which was to be climaxed by a jolly farce involving pies that was a silly tradition passed down from generation to generation in Dent’s family.

The placement of a pie in his hand had only snapped the fragile threads keeping Dent bound to reality, plunging him into a subconscious stream that began to carry him into his past.

The laughter in the dining room subsided.  “Where is my best man?” his brother Ned cried.  “Where are you, Dent?”

Dent’s eyes glazed over.

“Dent!” his brother began to chant. A smattering of voices joined in.  Dent still did not move.

The door to the kitchen crashed open.  Elthea, Dent’s short, gray haired mom, stormed in. Her eyes were hard as coals as she looked at her eldest son.  “There you are!” she exclaimed.  “What are you still doing here?”

Dent did not respond, stared past his mother’s shoulder at something only he could see: a photo of himself which had been taken when he was fourteen.  He was sitting on the top deck of a boat out on a cruise, staring dully into the camera.

“Dent!” his mother said, striding forward.  “Get out there!”

Dent remained in his trance as the memory of the photo faded, replaced by memories of a chill breeze caressing his cheeks and a burning pain from where he had been punched in the arm.

Laughter wafted into his ears from below decks as pies were slammed into the face of a bride-to-be.

“Dent!” Elthea shouted, now standing inches from him.

A strange glow appeared in Dent’s eyes.  “Mom?   I thought you were below decks.”

Elthea’s brow furrowed.  “What?”

Dent scowled.  “Why the fuck are you in my face? Where’s dad?  Where is that motherfucker?  He punched me, mom.  Want me to roll up my sleeve and show you the bruise?  He took me back to the car and punched me, said I was acting like a ‘pussy’ about being around the family again and that he needed to ‘man me up’.  That’s why we boarded last.”

Elthea looked at him closely, her expression softening.  “Dent?”

Dent scowled at her.  “Get out of my way! Where’s dad? I’ve got something for that prick.”

He shoved Elthea aside and stormed out into the dining room.

“Finally!” a guest shouted from a table near the kitchen entrance as Dent appeared.  “What kind of best man are you?”

Dent locked his eyes on the man.  He was fat with a round face and gray hair and a beard.

‘Dad!” he roared.  “There you are, you bastard!”

The man gave Ned a hard look.  “Hey buddy, settle down.  What were you doing back there, sipping vanil…”

Dent let out a feral roar, stormed forward.

“Stop him!” Elthea shouted as she burst out the door.  Nobody moved, so transfixed were they by the sight.

“This pie is for you, motherfucker!” Dent screamed as he drew closer.  The man’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. “Listen!” he shouted, but Dent ignored him.  “You think you can beat me, huh?  I’m gonna embarrass you in front of the whole family, you prick!”

Dent hurled the pie right into the fat man’s face.

“Fuck yeah!” Dent howled.  “Now I got this for you.”

He raised his fist.

The man cowered in his seat.

Ned appeared, slapped his brother hard across the face.   “Dent! Snap out of it.  Our father is dead!”  Dent looked at his brother, the mad light in his eyes suddenly replaced by a milky fog.  “What…?”