Joe Kerson sat behind his desk at work hating everything around him. His mind drifted towards his marriage. “She doesn’t put out anymore, and even if she did, I wouldn’t want any,” he would say to anyone at the bar who sat close enough to listen. Along with this, Joe hadn’t anticipated just how much of a drain on his income his two teenage children would be. Not to mention the fact that the company he worked for, the Soren Agency, had sealed him off from any chance of being promoted. The folks at the top of the company had done this because they knew promoting him would put the well-being of the company in serious danger. They were right about that. Joe had utter contempt for everything about the company, from the people who ran it, to his fellow employees, to the products and services that it sold.
Drinking eased Joe’s pain some of the time; however, as the years went on more and more drinks per sitting were required to do it effectively, and the result was a liver that was becoming more damaged with every drop of alcohol he ingested. Joe’s wife, Heidi often told him he’d die young if he didn’t stop drinking soon. “Good!” he always replied.
Little did Joe know as he sat behind his desk that day that in a couple of hours, his screws would loosen, the stars would align the right way, and the laws of physics would make a couple of exemptions specifically for him. Soon, he would embark on a crazy adventure that would change his life, the lives of his family, the lives of some of his most faithful pals, the lives of the organized crime community, and the international political order at large
Joe was distracting himself at his desk by twirling a pencil around when he saw his boss, Mr. Soren, walking toward the door. Dear God, here he comes, Joe thought, as his hands clenched into fists. This is all I need. I wish I could hide from this guy. He looked down at the area under his desk and wondered, Can I get under there before he sees me?
Mr. Soren knocked a couple of times on Joe’s open door, then stepped inside. “Hey Joe, are you busy?”
Dear God, it’s too late to hide… Or is it? Joe thought, as he looked down again at the space under his desk. Maybe I could hide under the desk anyway. How would he react to that? Would he just walk away? Would he come over here and ask me why I’d gone under there? If he did ask me, would it be out of confusion, or would it be out of anger? I wonder…
It’s too late, damn. Joe looked up. “Hello Dave, what’s going on?”
Mr. Soren took a sip from the cup of coffee he was holding. “It’s been a solid day so far. The Ellison deal closed after all.”
Joe forced a wide smile. “You closed the Ellison deal? That’s great.”
Mr. Soren frowned. “You didn’t see my email this morning? I sent one to our entire team announcing that the deal had closed.”
“Oh, uh… sorry about that. I haven’t checked my email yet.” Immediately, Joe felt a stinging pain in his gut and began screaming at himself in his mind. You idiot, you should have lied to him! He never follows up with anything when you lie. It’s when you tell the truth that you get in trouble. Why the hell did you have to tell him the truth?
Mr. Soren’s frown became more pronounced. “I see. Joe, I’ve asked you before to check your email at least once an hour during work hours. It’s the same thing I request from everyone else. I hope I don’t have to ask you again.”
Joe nodded, doing his best to look sorry. “Don’t worry, Mr. Soren, you won’t have to.” He looked intently at Mr. Soren’s forehead. He must have looked at it thousands of times before, but it occurred to him for the first time that his boss didn’t have any wrinkles. Him and I are the same age and this bastard doesn’t have a single wrinkle on his face, but I have tons, he silently realized. He looks ten years younger than me; yet, he gets to be on top. God damn it.
Mr. Soren scratched above his eyebrow and continued, “Anyway, Joe, I was wondering, are you too busy right now to make a trip for me?”
Once again, Joe’s instinct was to lie and say that he had tons of paperwork to fill out. He hated driving, after all. However, he once again told Mr. Soren the truth. “Nope, there’s nothing here that I can’t finish later.”
“Good. I want you to meet with a new client.”
You rat bastard, Joe admonished himself. You just set yourself up for more work.
“Think you could handle that, Joe?” Mr. Soren inquired.
“I could definitely do that. Where’s his office?”
“Things are a bit different with this guy; he said he wants to meet at his yacht.”
“Really? His yacht?” Joe had never met a client on a yacht before. In fact, he’d never been on a yacht in his life. Maybe, for once, I made the right decision by telling the truth.
Mr. Soren walked over to Joe’s desk and placed a piece of paper on it. “The address is on here. It’s roughly a fifteen-minute drive.”
“Sounds good. What’s his name?”
“Galdonchino. Luciano Galdonchino. From what I hear, the line of work he’s in isn’t exactly legitimate, if you catch my drift.”
Joe didn’t catch his drift. He rarely caught drifts of any kind. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, it’s…well, you’ll figure it out. Just get going. His information is all on the paper.”
Joe picked up the paper and nodded. “Alright then.”
“Good.” Mr. Soren walked back toward the door before stopping and turning around. “Oh, and Joe?”
“This guy could be worth a lot of money for us. So, make sure this works out. Understand?”
“Yes, Mr. Soren.”
“He seems like a sure thing, but don’t treat him that way.”
“I never take potential clients for granted, Mr. Soren.”
“I know, Joe. See you soon.” Mr. Soren walked out the door.
After Mr. Soren was gone, Joe experienced a fantasy in which he strangled Mr. Soren and dumped his body into a river. He’d had the same fantasy several times before. Every time the fantasy was over, he would immediately think of all the reasons why he couldn’t go through with it. “They’d find out it was me in about two days, and I’d get life in prison,” was always the biggest reason.
In no hurry to leave, Joe played a few rounds of solitaire on his computer. When he got tired of that, he picked up his keys, got up, and walked out the door.