Wednesday, December 31, 2008

John Mozeliak takes a break from shopping

John Mozeliak sat alone in his dark office, his face illuminated by the desk lamp, staring intently at the papers in his hands. The ringing of the phone startled him out of his daze, and he closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he imagined who could be calling him at this hour. 

It was late indeed, almost a quarter past three in the morning. The street outside was silent, but John wouldn't have heard anything anyway. His office had been soundproofed at the same time he had decided to have the windows tinted and anti-bugging devices placed strategically throughout the room. They could call him paranoid if they wanted, but that didn't mean there wasn't someone following him. 

He laid the papers down before reaching for the phone. A rustling sound from the hallway caught his attention and his hand froze in midair just above the receiver. He'd left the office door open to let in some air, but maybe that had been a mistake. He slowly turned the chair, careful not to make a noise, and craned his neck toward the doorway to see if anyone was there. But there was no one, not even a shadow. Must have been my imagination, he thought to himself with a small tingling of relief. 

The phone had stopped ringing, so he returned his attention to the papers. Just as he was beginning to relax again, his cell phone vibrated inside his pocket. He quickly pulled it out and flipped it open. No need to check the caller ID, because only one person on earth had his private number and would dare call in the middle of the night. 

"Hello. Good to hear from you." John spoke casually, careful not to use the man's name. 

"Hope I didn't wake ya, boss." The voice on the other end was scratchy, as though he had smoked one too many cigarettes in his life. 

"No. What news have you?" John was anxious to hear how things were coming along, but kept his voice even. 

The man cleared his throat, then said, "Just thought you'd wanna know everything's goin' accordin' to plan. No kinks, as you'd say. The deal today went as smooth as, well, somethin' real smooth, and nobody suspects nothin'. We're clearin' out merchandise quick. And pretty soon, the real fun'll start." 

"Wonderful," John answered. "Keep me updated." He pressed the end button and pushed the phone back into his pocket. Yes, wonderful. His plan was working, alright, and soon everyone would understand.


Tony burst into John's office bright and early that morning, a look of determination and disgust on his face. There was no need for John to ask what the problem was. And even if he hadn't known, Tony was obviously not going to mince many words. 

"Are you out of your mind?" Tony wasn't exactly yelling, but certainly made sure he was heard. 

John looked past Tony at the secretary standing in the doorway, "Daisy, grab us some coffee and give us a minute, alright?" Then he gestured toward the chair across from his desk as he took his own seat. "Make yourself comfortable, Tony." 

"I will not sit down and I sure as sugar don't want any of your dog-gone coffee! Now tell me what in the sam hell you think you're doing to my roster!" Tony clenched and unclenched his fists as he spoke, and his face grew redder with every syllable. 

"Now, Tony, I understand that you're upset. But please sit down so we can talk about this and I can explain the situation." John tried to sound reassuring, but he knew that nothing he was going to say would actually make Tony feel any better. Tony stood--nostrils flaring, breathing deeply--for another minute before finally consenting to John's request. He still did not look happy, however. 

"So explain," he prompted. 

John pressed his fingertips to his temples as if searching for the just the right words to make the whole thing sound overblown. "It's the econo--" 

"NO!" Tony cut him off before he could even finish his thought, and leapt out of his chair. "Don't you dare start with that nonsense. I won't hear it." Tony growled as he leaned over John's desk, practically breathing fire on John's face. 

John put his hands up and tried to interject. "Now just--," but Tony wasn't finished. 

"This is NOT about the economy or the thinning market or the super-duper prospects we have waiting in the wings." Tony flapped his arms wildly, and the sarcasm was evident in his voice. "I am sick and tired of hearing about how poor every other flipping person is around here, and if you don't do something soon to make sure I have more than just my own family jewels to play with next year, well, then, I'll, I'll... I'll make sure you regret it! I promise you that!" 

Tony pointed at John to emphasize his last point, then slapped the neatly stacked papers onto the floor. He kicked the door open as he left, and nearly ran into Daisy on his way out. She stumbled, but managed to recover the two cups of coffee she was carrying. She stared blankly after him, then turned to face her boss who was standing just inside the door. He watched Tony leave before returning to his desk. This was going to be more difficult than he thought, and it was only going to get worse.