Quick Stories #1 Wrong Agenda

Boardroom photograph by S O C I A L . C U T Brisbane based creative agency specialising in a social media first approach Unsplash image

Ten Days Ten Short Stories

One a day for ten days. I write when I can, do the best I can, and I am willing to put my work out there! My thoughts are Don’t Be Embarrassed, Don’t Make Excuses, Don’t Stop Writing.

Recently I completed a 10-week term on Fridays with U3A Brisbane Creative Writing Group on Zoom and enjoyed the prompts, feedback and general literary discussions.  The writers in the group are quite diverse in style and writing content.

The wordcount limit is 500 words and while I found their prompts were ‘forcing’ me to come up with something different each week, I really enjoyed doing it.  I was quickly learning how to keep them short and sweet.  Edit, edit, edit.

My characters are good, bad and ugly and the majority of the time I had no idea where they came from!

I say write for yourself first and don’t be precious about your words.  For better or worse, here are mine—the prompt was three names Beverley, Johnno and Smith.

Wrong Agenda

When Smith, the Big Boss, walked into the boardroom everyone was stunned. Beverley, Sales Manager, and the assembled staff hardly knew where to look.

A business man at the wrong end of his fifties, who wears a suit on his day off and never drinks coffee, is not the sort of person you would expect to walk into an annual general meeting with purple hair.

Branch Accountant, Johnno, was the first to recover.

“What the hell happened to your hair, Smith?”

Air was suspended in several lungs, waiting for the backlash, as Smith placed his sleek laptop on the wide polished table. He unbuttoned his charcoal grey suit jacket.  He shook it carefully and placed it on the back of his executive chair before sitting down to adjust his brilliant white cuffs.

By now a modicum of control was coming back into the astonished and amused faces around the room.

Strangely, Johnno appeared to be unconcerned at possible retaliation. He was already tapping his keyboard and pretending to shuffle through notes.

Beverley peered sideways and surmised that Johnno was on social media. She watched his keystrokes and smothered a sly grin. Publicly admiring Johnno for his clever mind and ruthless behaviour at tax time, privately she loathed his unpleasant temperament.

Stealthily, Johnno began to manoeuvre his laptop into a position where he could take a snapshot of the boss.

“Two important words,” boomed Smith, “Fundraising for charity.”

The staff blinked as one.

“Three words,” corrected Johnno.

Smith raised his eyebrows, fortunately their natural grey, as Johnno back-peddled a little too elaborately.

“And those three words are Well Done, Smithy.”

“Give him enough rope…” thought Beverley, and said out loud “Which charity benefited from your rather colourful transformation, sir?”

Smith was about to reply when Johnno, being the accountant that he was, asked “How much did you raise?”

Beverley thought this was rather blunt from a contender for the new State Manager position.

Ignoring Johnno, Smith cast his eyes around the room.

“I raised $2,450.35. My hairdo is the result of my granddaughter’s first attempt at up-styling.”

The boardroom tittered in response; Johnno was busy texting under the table.

Beverley received a subject heading Purple People Eater and another Sure Looks Strange To Me.

Smith continued “She needed a volunteer so I put my hand up, more’s the pity.” Polite throat-clearing emanated from the executives, many of whom had encountered his granddaughter and her office décor ideas.

“Two good deeds then!” exclaimed Beverley, giving a rousing wave of her arm. Johnno quoted her on Twitter with a photo of a chimpanzee offering a high five.

“Buckle up, guys,” rumbled Smith, “this session is going to go off with a bang.”

During lunch, Johnno found out his photo of Smith’s hair had gone viral. Next day he received his notice of termination and discovered the new State Manager, the only person he’d ever liked, was Beverley.

Maybe she didn’t like chimpanzees.  

——© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021——

“Generally, emerging writers don’t write every day; some writers don’t stretch themselves; some writers don’t share their work; some writers fear feedback; just do it!” Gretchen Bernet-Ward