Everyone in the office had been acting strangely ever since Steve entered one morning wearing nothing but penny loafers and an AK-47 and yelling about how he was the one who killed Sal Mineo. Martha corrected him, saying that it was Mark David Chapman who killed Sal Mineo. Barry put the disagreement to rest by saying that Chapman killed John Lennon and it was Lionel Ray Williams who killed Mineo. None of this mattered, because Steve shot them both dead right there by the copy machine. Never say “Xerox machine.” This was one of things that set Steve off in the first place.
Suzie in HR came in, asking Steve what his demands were.
“A chocolate fountain and a water slide,” Steve screamed. Apparently these demands weren’t very important, because he immediately shot Suzie as well.
This tragedy freaked us all out at the Free Press Newspaper Company. The climate in the sales and advertising department, where the incidents took place, had long been rough. Things only became worse after the shootings. Anyone could go off the deep end. So, in addition to trying to beat each other for promotions and bonuses, workers watched out for their lives.
The person everyone started worrying about was Robert Tandy. He was a good employee, but something changed. His behavior had become quite puzzling, especially considering how self-destructive it seemed. What no one knew was that Rob was being set up. The true mastermind behind his trouble was me, Basil Marx.
You had to be aggressive. Not “shoot up the office” aggressive, but there’s a happy medium. Tandy was too nice and too good. He was my chief competition for every sale, bonus or word of praise from Advertising Editor Frederick Brewster. I needed him out and I wasn’t about to kill him. I watch Court TV. They always catch you. What I could do was capitalize on everyone’s paranoia.
I knew my plan wasn’t going to be easy, what with Tandy being such a good worker and Brewster being oblivious and a tad insane himself. The plan involved company-wide e-mails, but I started with simply planting ideas here and there.
I was sitting in my cubicle putting my plan into motion when Crazy Veronica snuck up behind me. She had all these tattoos and dressed real provocatively. She thought the cooks in the cafeteria were trying to poison her. Yet she still ate there.
“I have a secret,” Crazy Veronica whispered to me.
“Oh, yeah?” I replied. “I had a secret once. No, wait. That was herpes.”
“You know Mr. Brewster?”
“Not the evil genius Mr. Brewster?”
“No, our boss. He’s cheating on his wife.” I didn’t know from where she cooked up this information, but it was certainly good.
“Veronica,” I said. “Mr. Brewster is gay.”
“He is? Does anyone else in the office know about this?”
“Nope. I made it up just now.”
“Wow, I’m gonna go tell everyone.” She skipped away, happy as a penguin.
“Excuse me, Tandy,” a voice said from behind me.
“Oh, Mr. Brewster,” I replied. “I’m Marx, sir. Tandy is the guy over by the copier making personal calls and downloading porn.”
“Oh, right, right. Listen, there seems to be a rumor going around that I’m gay. Have you heard about this?”
“You’re the most festive man I know, sir. Now, let’s go fire Tandy.”
“No, no. They’re saying I’m gay. A homosexual.”
“Homosexual? Nope, I don’t know what that is.”
“Of course, you do. It’s a man who prefers the companionship of other men.”
“Oh, homosexual. Yes, well, I didn’t know that about you, sir.”
“I’m not a homosexual, Marx. I’m married. How did this rumor get started?”
“You know, I’ll bet it was Tandy. I thought I saw him talking to a reporter from The Globe, and the reporter handed him money.”
“Is that so?”
“Well, I really must have a talk with him, shouldn’t I?
“Talk, fist fight, whatever.”
“Tandy!” Brewster shouted, approaching Rob as I followed.
“Yes, sir,” Rob said.
“What’s this about you telling people I’m gay?”
“Keep it up and I’ll have your ass.” Brewster walked away and I again followed. I turned around to see Tandy acting all confused. I gave him an “I don’t know” gesture and continued walking.
My plan was quite complicated and certainly not foolproof, but I started taking computer classes specifically to figure out how to hack into Rob’s e-mail, as well as general company-wide ones. If I could somehow get the e-mail before it went out, change the wording, sign Rob’s name, and forward it to the entire company, he’d be screwed.
My first opportunity came when they sent an e-mail about some idiot’s promotion. I intercepted it, changed some words here and there, and signed Tandy’s name. Off it went. There was hardly a better way for an employee to get into trouble. And my first one was a doozy.
To: All Central employees
From: Robert Tandy, FPNC’s Man of the Night
Re: Peter Vaughn, King of FPNC
We are pleased to announce that Peter Vaughn has accepted the position of East Sales Manager for the Central group, a position he was never actually offered, but we’re happy to have him.
Peter is 5’9”, has blue eyes, blonde hair and enjoys scuba diving, sodomy and setting black churches on fire. He has held positions in quality control and promotions, as well as several other positions with some of our male employees. In the promotions department he was Promotions Director, and most recently he was a conspirator in the murders of some of our sales staff. I am completely in love with this man.
Peter will bring his diverse and versatile background (male prostitution, gay porn, country’s most wanted pedophile) with FPNC sales training and leadership skills (former satanic cult leader) and enthusiasm (really enjoys torturing small animals) to his new position. He also brings his severe body odor problem and head lice. Please join us in congratulating Peter in his new position.
Hugs and kisses,
Robert “Dr. Sexy” Tandy
Brewster had to be told about this because he doesn’t check his own e-mail. Can you believe that? I needed him to see these. But he really laid into Rob, who denied, denied, denied. Ecch. Jerk. Because he was such a good little worker it would take more to get him fired. I knew this and I was fine with it because I was quite enjoying myself. I loved it so much I focused some of my attention on the temporary data entry staff. I hate temps, with their youthful go-getterness. If I could get Tandy fired and take a couple of these little pukes out in the process, it would be all the better.
There was James, the balding sociopath, who had attended MIT, from what I was told. That he was now doing data entry for a third-rate newspaper company could be explained by his total lack of communication skills. Get him going on politics or hockey, however, and he’ll talk to you until you slice your own ears off.
He collected empty soda cans and old newspapers like a deranged homeless person. The money from the cans possibly went to his diet of supermarket brand potato chips and frozen hot dogs. As for the newspapers, I figured he had an equally scary pet bird in whatever 10×12 cabin he lived in. He drank coffee like a fiend. He made it in his cubicle constantly. He also used the words “Damn it” and “Christ” quite a lot. He was the perfect victim.
Nick was another fun one. Based on the sniffling and breathing, he probably had a cold for the entire five months he worked in the office. And the used tissues spread about his cubicle served as hideous proof of this. From his obnoxious stumbling around the place to his having an opinion on absolutely every topic that came up, he should have been the first victim of anyone’s office shooting spree.
I kept this one simple and sent it just to Brewster. No need to go into too much detail about the temps:
Dear Mr. Brewster,
Please fire James Finch and Nick Barr. They freak me out. James smells funny and has a bad temper. Nick is from another planet. I’m convinced. If you need me I’ll be in my cube masturbating.
Oh, this was fun. The temps stayed, but Brewster started walking back and forth past Tandy’s cube, trying to catch him literally with his pants down. It was then that I began tacking graphic nude photographs of men and women into Tandy’s workspace. Meanwhile, Tandy had to keep telling everyone he hadn’t written the e-mails that had his name on them and came from his address.
Tandy was becoming a pariah within the company, but Brewster was stubborn and a bit thick. Tandy would go onto Brewster’s computer and try to delete them before he could see them. He even went to tech support to see how this could be happening. I decided to increase the intensity. When they circulated an e-mail about the increase in price for the newspapers, I did my magic.
From: Cocksman Robert Tandy
To: Every one of you sons of bitches
Subject: Transcript/Tribune price increase
For your amusement the following was published in FPNC publications:
Due to the increasing costs of hookers and booze, the retail rate for home delivery of the Daily Pedophile/Gay News Tribune is increasing from $2.00 to $22.25. This new rate will be effective Monday, but we will be sending our customers a bill for the difference over the course of the last five years. A portion ($.25) of the increase will be passed along to our youth carriers, including the six-year-olds who write most of the stories. The price of purchase in store will not change, but the papers in stores will be completely blank from now on. The Daily Pedophile/Gay News Tribune is committed to providing you with the most homosexual and kiddie coverage available while offering the home delivered subscriber the biggest pain-in-the-ass service that we can.
Any calls regarding price increases should be directed to someone who gives a rat’s ass. Our Service Reps have been trained to fetch, roll over, beg and shake hands, but not to actually be of any usable service to our customers. We will be running this announcement in the papers; it will of course include numerous misspellings, grammatical errors and an abundance of vulgarities.
I hate Mexicans,
This was a bad one. Everyone told Brewster about this, to the point that I think he actually read it himself. But I could never tell which ones he actually read. I thought it was working because Brewster began testing Tandy’s workmanship, sanity and urine. He made him see the company’s psychiatrist, and even made him do story problems from his son’s math textbook.
When Tandy wasn’t fired for this, I started freaking out. I started wondering what he had to do to be fired. Despite these e-mails, Rob had a reputation for having good personal skills and contacts. So I had to start messing with that. For one of the big Friday meetings Rob got Arthur Jacoby, features writer for the big city paper, to speak. Holy fuck, I had to do something about this! This could ruin all of my work thus far. When Jacoby arrived I was there to tell him he wasn’t needed, and, boy, was he pissed. I escorted him back to his car to make sure he was gone. I had someone else in mind. Mr. Brewster would have to be insane to keep Rob around after this.
When Arthur Jacoby was introduced, a fuzzy-haired clown entered the auditorium and walked to the podium to a round of applause. He was my neighbor’s pathetic son who worked as a clown and was probably a pedophile. I mean, you should see him. I gave him twenty dollars and told him to just talk about his problems.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Arthur Jacoby,” some dickhead announced, and up went the freak.
“Hello, folks,” the clown said. “Sorry I’m late. My name is Senor Fuzzy-Haired Bubblehead, the bedwetting clown. I’m here to talk to you about nocturnal enuresis. Now, nocturnal enuresis is a medical problem than can affect children and adults alike. I have had…”
“What is he doing?” Brewster said. I sat myself right next to him for this. “He’s supposed to be speaking about why he has a big frigging bubble head, and he’s up there going on about bed wetting.”
“Actually, sir. I think the topic is supposed to have something to do with advertising.”
“Eh, why me,” Brewster said, taking a swig from a bottle he produced from his coat pocket.
“Sure it’s warm for a minute,” the clown continued. “But it gets cold and it stinks. And, as Roman Polanski once said, ‘There’s nothing worse than waking up cold, wet and stinky.’”
“Why’d we get this guy again?” Brewster said.
“He’s just a freak,” I replied.
“Well, yes, but enuresis or bubblehead, we’re a newspaper company. Why is he here?”
“You know what? You’re right. Boo! Boo!” I shouted, and began throwing tomatoes at the guy.
“Where did you get all those tomatoes?”
“My wife packs my lunches. She’s not quite fit mentally. Yesterday she packed a bottle of Windex and the dog. Boo!” I yelled again, throwing more tomatoes.
“You know who was a bed wetter?” the clown continued. “Hitler. Ultimately it’s what made Eva Longoria kill Kennedy.”
“Boy, this guy deserves the Pee Pulitzer for this speech. Get off the stage, freak!” Brewster shouted.
“This is Tandy’s fault, sir,” I said.
“Well, that boy is in for it. That’s it. I’m getting the hook for this bed-wetting loon.”
“In closing,” the clown went on, trying to avoid the giant hook. “I must be going. I just had an accident.”
The crowd applauded nervously, as the same dickhead from before went back to the podium.
“Arthur Jacoby, ladies and gentlemen.”
I followed Brewster as he got up and went straight to the back to find Rob leaning against the wall, covering his face.
“Tandy!” Brewster shouted. “I know it’s you, you frigging carnival barker. Where’s the feature writer? Why was there a clown up there?”
“I really don’t know, sir,” Rob said. “I can’t seem to find Mr. Jacoby.”
“Thin ice, my boy,” Brewster said. “Thin ice. People have been telling me things and I’ve been brushing it off. You are going to force me to start reading my own e-mails.”
“I’d fire him, sir,” I said.
“Who’s the boss, Marx?” Brewster said.
“Mr. Brewster,” Tandy said. “I have no idea…”
“Silence!” Brewster said, and he stormed away. Tandy looked at me in a way that made me wonder if he knew it was me who was doing this to him. Of course, I had just recommended he get shit-canned. Nonetheless his job was still safe, the fucker. But I had plenty more non-email-related ideas.
The following week, Rob and I, and a few others sat in a meeting room with Brewster to go over new advertisements we may run in the coming weeks. As I often do in these meetings, I pitched a movie idea. It was a different one every month. Brewster enjoyed pretending he was the head of a movie studio. In this one the main character was a New York cop, played by maybe Roddy Piper or Huey Lewis. His partner would be played by Joe Pesci or Carrot Top. The main character is in trouble with the mob, Rastafarians or NAMBLA. On top of all this, his wife is close to finding out about his mistress (Pia Zadora), he has a terrible drinking problem, and his boss in constantly down his throat. The film would be called Terminal Inconvenience.
“I don’t like Pia Zadora as the mistress,” a man named Stan said. “What about Paul Lynde?”
“Stan,” I said, “Paul Lynde is dead.”
“Oh,” Stan said. “Because I always liked her in ‘Star 80.’”
“That was Mariel Hemingway.”
“We go through this every meeting,” Tandy said. “We’re not a movie studio.”
“But I love Huey Lewis,” Stan said. “That Sports album is fantastic.”
“That’s it, Stan,” Brewster said. “Go stand in the corner.”
Stan walked dejectedly to a corner of the room and stood facing it.
“Now,” Brewster continued. “The title, Terminal Inconvenience. Does it have anything to do with the plot?”
“Oh, of course,” I said. “The main character faces a major inconvenience.”
“Good,” Brewster said. “Good.”
“I think,” another man, Simms, said. “People may be a little mobbed out, and to cast Rastafarians as the villains may seem a malenky bit racist.”
“Malenky, Simms?” Brewster asked.
“Yeah, it’s from A Clockwork Orange,” Simms replied. “Got a malenky bit of a pain in the ole gulliver, sir. Real horrowshow.”
“All right,” Brewster said. “You go stand in the corner too.”
Simms went and stood right behind Stan.
“Not the same corner, pervert,” Brewster said.
“May I remind all of you,” Tandy said, “that we’re here to discuss ads for the paper.”
“Right,” Brewster said. “Well, Tandy, since you’re so interested, I have with me your folder. Let’s see what you have for us: Cocaine is back. With a photo of a black guy holding a big bag of blow. Rob, this isn’t really our style, is it?”
“That’s not mine,” Rob protested.
“Here’s another one: Get your abortion today,” Brewster said, reading from another ad sheet.
“I don’t know where those came from, sir,” Rob said.
“Hire a sex offender? Rob,” Brewster said, “I know for a fact that Marx gets these calls all the time and he hangs up. That’s what you do. You hang up. We can’t advertise coke, abortion or sex offenders in our newspapers. Or this one: Help population control – kill yourself. That’s not very nice.”
“Where did those come from?” Rob demanded.
“Are you all right, Tandy?” Brewster asked him. “You need a vacation?”
“Whoever is doing this to me,” Rob said as he stormed out of the room, “I will find out.”
There was a brief silence as everyone looked through their notes and Brewster took a swig from his liquor bottle.
“Can we play Duck Duck Goose?” Simms asked.
“Simms,” Brewster said, “You’re fired.”
He fired Simms! The loon! This was no joke. Simms packed up his shit! This Brewster was unpredictable. Maybe, just maybe, I was almost there with Tandy. Although Simms was undoubtedly a completely incompetent horse’s ass, Brewster was in firing mode now. I had to work hard. I had to step it.
So, as summer approached, everyone was looking forward to the company softball league. That is, until Tandy got a hold of the e-mail.
From: Master Tandy
To: All my subjects
Would you like to play? If you didn’t know, FPNC fields (no pun intended, nyuk-nyuk) a team which plays against handicapped children, schools for the blind, and inanimate objects. And we would love to have you on the team even if you’re a big sally-ass. In fact, because so many of us are flamboyant homosexuals, we suck.
Our next game is tomorrow at Brighton Field, near Johnson’s, the team’s favorite gay bar. We’ll be playing a team of paranoids from the mental institution. The games are always on Wednesday and usually end in players running away in tears or sneaking off in pairs to the backseats of cars.
To play call me at x8229 or come on down here and give me a massage. Extra gloves and jock straps are available, so come and play, Goddamnit!
Fuck you all!
Greatest Lay Ever
I was going for it. The e-mail appeared the same day Brewster was supposed to speak in front of the entire company. The president and owner of FPNC, Russell Gilmore, was there. This was huge. Brewster asked Tandy, of all people, to write his speech for him. Was he insane? This son of a bitch, after all that Tandy has done, asks him to write his speech. He was going to pay for that.
I was able to get another speech to Brewster. That part was easy. Just distract him with candy or stupid tales of fishing. This was it, I thought. If Tandy makes Brewster look foolish he has to be fired. Brewster was like those robotic news anchors reading from Teleprompters. He would surely read whatever I provided. And there were no e-mails. No, “Oh, it’s only someone else who was made to look a fool.” This would be the shit. The president and vice-president of the company were sitting in the front, despite the president’s recent loss of his mother in an auto accident, which was nothing compared to what this was going to be.
I sat as close to the front as possible to witness the inevitable carnage. I mean, even if Brewster didn’t read it, he’d see it and fire Tandy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Frederick Brewster,” some jackass said, and Brewster walked nonchalantly to the podium.
“Thank you,” he said, taking my speech out of his coat pocket. “Facing the Ghost, a Christmas sonnet by Frederick Brewster.” This already caused a stir of confusion among the crowd. “Mothers,” he continued. “They’re as uniquely American as Tim McViegh, child pornography, and animal necrophilia. Our incontinent boss, Mr. Gilmore, the president of this ridiculous company, just lost his mommy in a tragic car accident. She will surely haunt us from the grave as she roasts in hell. And, like Harold Ramis, Lou Costello, and Scooby-Doo, we must all face the ghost.”
I looked at both Mr. Gilmore and Rob and loved every minute of what was transpiring.
“Uh,” Brewster continued, apparently skipping ahead. “In closing, I’d like to say: car accidents are cool, Bob in Accounting has AIDS, and, in the words of Princess Grace, ‘Ahhhh!!!’”
He didn’t hit the “Ahhh!!!” the way I wanted him to, but, otherwise, it was a wonderful read. Tandy was finally fired after this display and Brewster had a lot of explaining to do himself. I, meanwhile, released one last e-mail in Rob’s honor.
From: the guy who will make everyone pay dearly To: all you bastards Subject: breast cancer walk
The 5th annual breast cancer walk is on Sunday along some river somewhere. Lisa from promotions has asked me to become the team captain. She has always admired my boobies.
If you would like to join us please contact me by Wednesday. I will need to have a final list of people so we can order t-shirts for all with our logo: a giant pair of hooters.
I also have sponsor sheets available. Please stop by to get you walking papers. All who do not sponsor will be fired. I am located outside the conference center and I will be nude.
If you have any questions or just want to touch my breasts, please contact me at x6715
Screw everyone at FPNC (Fucking Pussies and Cunts),
Robert Ignacious Tandy
p.s. All female participants must walk topless.
This one assured people that firing Tandy was the right move. Tandy was out, and I was being promoted. I could feel it.
The following week I was called into Brewster’s office and told it was top secret. When I got there, Brewster was just outside the door stapling mistletoe to the ceiling and throwing shredded cheese on a little Christmas tree.
“Ah, Tyrone,” he said, greeting me, apparently. “Thank you for coming.”
“My name is Basil, sir.”
“Whatever,” he said. “Step into my office, Sunshine. There’s work afoot.”
“Good day, Ms. John-leib-o-stein,” he said to his assistant, who grunted a reply. “Please have a seat,” he told me. “Any messages, Ms. Thang?”
“A Mr. Todd Carson sent an e-mail saying he found a green barrette in the cafeteria.”
“I see,” Brewster said. “Write a reply, secretary. Dearest boy, Todd, I’ve been looking for that barrette for days. I’ll come over and give you a big Christmas goose for being such a little Sherlock Holmes. Are you familiar with Mr. Holmes? Would you like to be? Hugs and kisses, and then sign Frank Miller in Accounting’s name. P.S. You haven’t found my nylons, have you, dear? Send that right away.”
Brewster began stapling Christmas stockings around his office.
“Right,” he replied. “Ice cream. Big day Thursday. It’s ice cream day.”
“Ice cream day, sir?” I said.
“Are you going to repeat everything I say, little brother? I’ll give you such a slap. Now, Miss Note Taker, the ice cream memo. To all employees: There will be a truck full of ice cream on Thursday at 11:30 for all employees. It will be parked in the front lot in one of the handicapped spots. As some of you know, Monday will be humus and grits day. And, on Tuesday, a man from Pete’s Gym will be here giving free kicks to the groin to all our male and hermaphrodite employees.”
“Uh, sir…” I tried to interrupt.
“There will be a mandatory meeting regarding the ice cream on tomorrow at 2 p.m. Anyone absent from the meeting will be thrown to the floor in the middle of the lobby and raped.”
“Sir, I don’t think you want to send that,” I said.
“It’s Basil. And it’s June, sir. Why the Christmas decorations? It’s not Christmas.”
“Oh?” he said, pacing. “Oh, it’s not, is it? Well. You can just get out of my office with that kind of talk, you heathen. You pagan! You slut! Oh, this is the worst Christmas ever.”
“Mr. Brewster, I…”
“Oh, stop,” he said. “You come in here all helter skelter, going ballistic on your boss. Persnickety ole Steve, acting all brave in lieu of cowardly like the other dogs out there. Well, shiver me timbers, it’s Salvador Dali fighting the evil Huguenots!”
“Sir, I don’t…”
“No ice cream for you, Mr. Satan Worshipper! Go sacrifice squirrels and plant pork chops in quicksand, ‘cause you’re not wanted in this town! I hired you out of nowhere! You were selling fruit pies out of a Nissan when I found you!”
“I was not. I…”
“I picked you up off the street whoring your body around for nickels and this is the thanks I get. You want ice cream? Well, guess what? The Good Ship Chocolate Swirl has just left port, and you’re left on the island chasing a guy who looks like a hamburger around.”
“Go back to China with the Grinch and Mr. Scrooge, you Christmas hating fascist!”
Brewster then stapled a red “I” to my chest, which I imagine stood for ice cream, and literally kicked me out of his office. For that moment on, no grocery store or restaurant in town would sell ice cream to Basil Marx.
Michael Frissore has a new poetry chapbook called Long Blue Boomerang, available at lulu.com. He also likes Chinese food.