Category: Stories

An Exciting Presentation

Walter Weaks joined the other staff members in the conference room, to watch the presentation they had been told would be “exciting.” The presenter was a corporate skirt from higher up. He recognized the plastic woman as Susie Cherub from Marketing. He walled his eyes. Ho-hum. Weren’t there better things everyone could be doing right now?

Susie was busy screeving something on the whiteboard. Then she turned around and began her presentation.

“Good morning everyone!” she put on her best cheerleader plastic smile. A few harrumphs were returned. “I’m really excited to tell you about our new business plan for your department.”

Walter Weaks’ thoughts: Really excited? Sure you’re really excited. Who wouldn’t be really excited about some bureaucratic bafflegab in outline form, copied and stapled together as handouts? ‘Really excited’ is doublespeak for, ‘I’m trying my best to get you all really excited, because I really want this plan to work.’ What would really excite this skirt is if the plan actually did work and she got a bonus for it.

Susie Cherub: “We learned a lot from our last business plan, and we’ve put those exciting lessons into our new plan.”

Walter Weaks: That last plan was a real flop. Just admit it woman, and give us some honest information. If you’ve really learned, then it’s from the college of hard knocks. Don’t ever try a plan like that again. It’s a wonder we didn’t all get laid off because of you and the other educated idiots who came up with that stupid plan. I surely hope you’ve learned something.

Susie Cherub: “What we need is teamwork to make this plan work. So let’s get all excited for our team!”

Walter Weaks: Teamwork! Yay team!!! If I hear the teamwork word again I’m gonna puke. Is that all you are, just a corporate cheerleader? But I know what you mean by teamwork. You really mean that you want cooperation and obedience. Don’t anyone dare step out of line and think for themselves.

Susie Cherub: “But no business plan is perfect. So think outside the box and come up with some good ideas, yourself. Let me know about those ideas. I’m really excited to hear them.”

Walter Weaks: Think outside the box and tell you?! Not on my life! What you really want is a scapegoat. If this plan fails, you want to point at someone and say that he didn’t like the plan and wasn’t following it. That poor bastard will be accused of not being part of the team and will get his ass canned. I’ll think outside the box alright, and continue to do my own thing. But I sure as hell am not telling you about it.

The “exciting” presentation ended and everyone shuffled back to their cubicles. And Walter Weaks continued the soliloquy in his mind: Susie Cherub, you are just loaded up the ass with clichés and bromides, aren’t you? Well I’ve got a few for you. I’m not going to stick my neck out with suggestions on how to improve your dumbass plan. No, I won’t take one for the team. Instead, I’ll keep a low profile. I’ll stay in my cubicle and keep my nose to the grindstone and mind my own business.And I’ll hope and pray that your snakebitten plan works, so that my department will survive and I won’t get laid off.

And if my job lasts long enough for me to retire with a nice pension, then on my retirement day I will feel really excited.

Eye Almost Succeeded

“It will be an eye for an eye,” the translator told me, with a sincere look of worry, and terrible tremble in his throat.

All I could think of was that old saw. It was something Gandhi said that went something like, “When it’s an eye for an eye, the whole world will go blind.”

But Sharia law prevails here, and no one gives a damn about Gandhi in these parts. They led me past the evil-eyed, bearded judge, through the chamber halls, and eventually to my cell. The sentence would be carried out in just a few days. I would lose one of my eyes.

I had time to ponder and plan. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do, though. Stuck in a foreign land, working as a roughneck in the Iranian oil fields, didn’t leave me too many options. But I had one option. And I guessed I had about a 50/50 chance of succeeding.

The evening before the sentence would be carried out, two men visited me in my cell. One was a grim looking Persian whom I’d never seen before. The other was my translator. My translator quickly solved the mystery. He explained that this man who accompanied him would be carrying out the sentence. He was some sort of doctor. Oh, yes, an eye doctor. His name was Snela, Sneli, Snelean? Or, something like Snellen.

Anyway, the translator told me that the eye doctor needed to know which eye I would choose to have evulsed from its socket. Which organ of sight would be plucked away, never to enrich my life with the visual beauty of the world again. Which? Which?! Which door of darkness would I choose? Oh, humanity!

I rued the day I sneaked the BB gun to Iran in my luggage. My mother had always warned me I could put an eye out with it. It was a childhood Christmas present that I’d nostalgically treasured for more than 20 years.

It was an accident. I swear, I did not see that Persian skulking about behind the tin cans I was target practicing with. He startled me when he cried out, “Allah hara! Allah hara!” And when I saw him move his hand from his bloody face, with his eyeball cupped in the palm, I passed out from the shock and horror. When I awoke I was being arrested by a Persian policeman.

And now I had to choose which eye I would lose, for the sin of this accident. My translator asked me again, “Do you want it to be your left eye, or your right?”

“Aye,” I said.

My translator seemed confused. “Eye, yes. Which eye?”

“Aye,” was all I could say. I wasn’t trying to be cute. I was voting, and when you vote you’re supposed to say “aye.” But then I realized I hadn’t chosen which eye.

“So, your left eye?” my translator ventured.

“Aye.” That seemed like a good choice for me. Yes. Definitely. That was my bad eye. Take the left one, you Iranian devils!

“Eye. Yes. We know this,” my translator moved in closer to me. “So which eye? Your left eye?”

“Aye!” Perhaps he hadn’t heard me clearly.

My translator looked around the cell, slowly, muttering something unintelligible. He looked down at my shoes. He looked back up.

“So which eye? We must know. Please, make up your mind. Should we take the left one?”

“Aye! Aye!” Now I was getting upset. He’s a translator, goddamnit it. Doesn’t he understand English?

“Okay, okay, well, it will just be your left eye I guess.” He spoke something in Farsi to the eye doctor. The eye doctor nodded grimly and looked directly at me with a gimlet stare.

The next morning they led me in shackles to a dimly lit room. They laid me upon an operating table and tied me in with restraints. The eye doctor stood over me, holding a shiny scalpel in his hand. A black cup descended upon my face and I fell unconscious from a general anesthetic.

I woke up in my cell. I opened my eyes. I could see. I could see! I could still see! My plan had worked. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. The right eye felt semi-solid and normal, like eyeballs are supposed to feel. But at the left was a hole. A vacant lacuna. I inserted my finger into the socket. I chuckled. Triumph! What fools I’d made of these Persian pricks.

I heard footsteps. The grim eye doctor and the translator were at my cell door. The eye doctor seemed angry. The translator gave me his message.

“Why didn’t you tell us you had a glass eye? You think you made fools of us? This matter has been brought to the judge. There is a new order from the court. Tomorrow your right eye will be removed.”

I guess the Iranians weren’t so stupid after all. Tomorrow I will lose my right eye. I will become completely blind. There is no escaping the Sharia system of justice in Iran. My good eye will go.

It’s the only eye I had left after that accident so long ago. No one warned me when I was a kid, to never look down the barrel of a loaded BB gun.


She’d been saving some of these treasures for thirty years, and now it was time to cash in. What would she do with all the money? she mused. She wanted to travel. She was retired now, and on a fixed income. She couldn’t afford a very long trip on her meager little Social Security check. But after she cashed these coins in, wow what a long journey she planned!

“May I help you, ma’am,” asked a kind-faced elderly man behind the counter.

“You sure can! I have some very rare coins here. I want a fair appraisal, and then I want to sell them to you,” she beamed proudly as she fished a pile of glinting specie from her purse and dumped it onto the counter.

The coin man furrowed his brow and picked up each coin, one by one, clink by clink, and studied them with an illuminated magnifying glass. Occasionally he glanced up at her expectant face. He cleared his throat as he continued, coin by coin.

The treasure laid out between them consisted of three Eisenhower silver dollars, four Susan B. Anthony silver dollars, three Sacajawea copper-colored silver dollars, and twelve John F. Kennedy half dollars. This was sixteen dollars in all, at face value. But the mystery for the lady who had been hoarding and collecting these minted coins, was not their face value, but rather their collector’s value. The premium.

Finally the old man set down his magnifier. He looked up at this innocent customer very seriously and respectfully. “Ma’am, these are beautiful coins. Yes ma’am, they sure are. Almost as beautiful as your eyes, if you’ll excuse me for saying.”

She blushed. She was five years a widow, and this was the first time any man had flirted with her since her husband had passed. She kind of stammered and smiled a little. “Well, thank you, but what are my beautiful eyes, I mean coins, worth, sir?”

“Well, ma’am,” he appeared a little embarrassed. “You see, ma’am. Well, not much beyond their face value, ma’am. These Eisenhower silver dollars are all post-1970. And they’ve been circulated. And these Kennedy half dollars the same. No real silver in them. And the Sue B’s and Sac Dollars are always face value if they’ve been circulated.”

Her smile dropped. There went her world cruise. She felt a little stupid. “I see. Well, what would you be willing to give me for them?”

He paused and pondered and scratched his head. Finally he spoke, with a sly look in his eyes. “I tell you what ma’am, how about if you let me treat you to dinner at a nice restaurant. And you can keep the coins. They’re nice coins and a joy to hold. They have a nice solid weight to them.”

She studied his face. He had a kind look to him. He seemed about her age. She detected no dishonesty in his demeanor. She scooped up the coins and dropped them clinkety-clink back into her purse. She pulled a pen out of her purse and asked him for a piece of paper. She wrote her phone number down.

The next evening they enjoyed fine dining together. Within a few months they had moved in together. Within a year the elderly proprietor at the coin store sold out and retired. He used some of the proceeds from the sale to take his new wife on a long journey to the exotic island of Tahiti for a romantic honeymoon.

Her coins had truly paid off.


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