This One Time, 8

This one time me and the boys were sitting around the boardroom table pretending to be important at one another, gauging the uniform subtle shininess of cloth and width of lapels and weaponized neckwear and cufflinks and all the usual bullshit to cover for the fact that we’ve all seen each other naked at any of a number of those parties, each of those parties being an expression of the risk of doing business with partners overseas who have successfully been sold on the idea that they can launder all the money they like by buying consulting through us and letting us write checks back to their favorite projects and lobbying firms and influence outlets and scholarship funds for their children and the usual whatnot. Those parties being the places where we are generally photographed covertly in the presence of enough hookers and blow to make sure we know we face jail time if any of us ever decides to get too greedy or schedule sneaky interviews with certain individuals at the Department of Justice — and in truth it’s all bullshit, because the fact is almost none of the money is dirty by US standards, the stuff that is is dropped into the accounts of people we don’t particularly like, at least half of us work for the Department of Justice anyway at at least one or two removes, and, at the very bottom, Aaron’s uncle owns a country-club minimum security prison in New England with better facilities than any of us are willing to buy in Manhattan because it would attract too much attention. That’s the only place on earth in which any of us would ever have to, at the risk of sounding like someone from a bad cop show, do time.

None of us are particularly good at what we do except look good in suits and have firm, trustworthy handshakes and look just enough dumber than the other guy that they think they can bend you over a barrel. One or two of us go for a subtle stain on the tie or a carefully cultivated pudge as a kind of a “Persian flaw” to avoid that too-good-to-be-true impression. Kind of like deliberate typos in a menu to make a customer feel superior and less likely to notice prices somewhat higher than they deserve to be. Typically the ones of us that do the “Persian flaw” thing really shouldn’t bother, not actually being such hot shit as we think.

The real purpose we serve is to waste our time and our health with bullshit stuff like this so that none of us turns into any form of the inspired monsters that any of us could become with proper encouragement.

And so, this one time, we’re sitting posed around the table, playing the game, when Smiley stands up suddenly, leans forward on the table propped up with both sets of knuckles, and opens his mouth. He blinks ten or twenty times in rapid succession and looks like he can’t get a good breath. His eyes look all wild, like someone just slid a knife into his kidney and he’s waiting to feel it. His arms tremble and shake and his pushing-fifty jowls wobble a bit. He lets out this fairly quiet yet unmistakable stinky fart and a belch loud enough to make the chandelier shake and rain dust.

For another lengthy moment, he just stood there, propped up and wobbling like any second he was going to collapse on the table, and then his eyes went back to normal. He stood up straight, forehead wrinkled with confusion. And then he said, “… and that’s what I think of the lot of you.”

Then he sat down.

I’m no doctor, but that looked a hell of a lot like some kind of seizure. And maybe that was, but I’ve never heard of anyone who could cover enough for it afterward to make it look like a joke, no matter how out of character it is. You can guess about now that Smiley’s name is ironic, because to the best of my knowledge he’s never cracked a joke in his life, especially as crude as the exhibition we just witnessed.

Some of us cracked up laughing. A couple of us sat smirking to cover our shock. But ten minutes later we were back to normal, talking about ongoing projects and potential snags and who was hosting the next poker game.

I don’t know what Smiley had been eating, though, because the boardroom never smelled the same again. And to tell the truth I don’t know whether I’d recommend fumigation or an exorcism.


January 8, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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