The SHAFT

The Shaft.jpgArtie forked the last bite of mescaline salad into his mouth when his phone rang out an email notification. Chez Meurtrier was packed but he’d flipped the maitre ‘d a Benner and landed the window seat. It was pricey, but a pre-celebration was in order. He had a meeting with the boss next week. He was a shoe-in for the Hedgewood account. No one could touch Arto-the-Sharko. That promotion would put him on the map. Not that he wasn’t already freakin’ Magellan. Kapow!

Mr. Kemper had kept the meeting agenda low key. Artie asked around the office, but no one else was on the docket or even knew about the meeting. Smart man that Kemper—that’s why he’s the sales director. The jealousy would cause uproar amongst the sheep. They all wanted a piece of Hedgewood. His Hedgewood account. He couldn’t wait to say, ‘In yo face Marto! In yo face!’ Martin was his biggest competition; not that he really had any competition. He ran circles around those bozos.

The waiter cleared his salad plate and silverware and swept the table with a mini broom and dustpan in preparation for the entrée. Artie swiped a finger over the email-notification. Always a sale to be made—eat and sell—eat and sell! Kapow!

“Crap!” he blurted out. The email wasn’t a sale! It was a reminder from Kemper! The meeting was in ten minutes. Tonight—not next week!

The waiter arrived with Artie’s entrée. “Some freshly ground pepper sir?”

“Sorry buddy,” he said, standing up. “If there’s one thing Kemper can’t stand; it’s unpunctuality!” Artie tossed the napkin in the waiter’s face and sprinted for the door.

“But sir—the bill?”

“See the maitre ‘d!” he hollered back.

It was raining. Artie spotted a cab pulling up on the corner. “What luck! Can’t keep ole Arto-the-Sharko down! Kapow!” he hooted.

As he reached the corner, an old lady was caning it for the ride. His ride. “Sorry Granny! This boy is late!” he said, shoving past her, hopping in the cab. “Ten Lexington Ave! Chop—chop! There’s a fifty in it if I’m there in ten.” The cab lurched from the curb and delivered him with a minute to spare. He tossed the cabbie a Grant and went inside.

He saw Martin heading for the stairs. What was that loser doing here at this hour? The sheep must have gotten wind about the meeting and wanted to beat him to the punch. Nobody steals Arto-the-Sharko’s just deserve. As he walked past the elevator, he pulled the ‘out-of-order’ tape from the frame, crumpled it up and tossed it into the potted fern. “Hey Marto—whatcha’ doin’ here bud?”

Startled, he turned and said, “Oh—hey’a Artie! I forgot my briefcase,” sure you did, “in the office. You too?” Nice try.

“Yeah.” he said, hooking an arm around him, leading him from the stairs to the elevator.

“Isn’t that out order?”

“No, Harry fixed it today,” he said, punching the up-button.

“You mean Henry?”

“Yeah whatever. Beats the stairs. Ole’ legs ain’t what they used to be.” he said, eyeballing the numbers as they descended.

Three

“I know what you’re sayin’. Jenna and I’ve been talking about joining the gym. She’s all about the aerobics classes. Olivia Newton John? Spandex?—I don’t think so.”

Two

“You never know Marto!” he said, patting him on the back. “You might have missed your calling!”

One

The elevator doors opened like a gaping black hole. With the last pat on Martins back, Artie shoved him down the elevator shaft. He screamed and bumped his way down to the basement, landing with a thud. Kapow!

After the door closed, Artie hit the stairs running. Unlike his unfortunate coworker, he was Jack-Freakin-LaLane. A little tardiness is better than a no-show. With Marto out of the way, it was clear sailin’ for Arto-the-Sharko!

Mr. Kemper’s door was open. Artie gave a half knock when Mr. Kemper looked up and said, “Artie, you’re late. Have a seat my friend. This won’t take long.”

Artie sat down with a big smile, waiting for his just deserve.

“Arthur, we’ve had far too many complaints for me to keep looking the other way. Aggression in a salesperson is generally a good thing. But you’ve taken it way too far for me to ignore. HR has left me with no choice. I’m afraid I have to let you go, Artie.”

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