Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)
TITLE: Tomorrow, I'll Send Flowers
By Gail Burks
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“Definitely worth the long hours and hard work I put in these last thirty years” he thought proudly. “That's right, I deserve the $2.5 mill this year, just like Pritzker, Wrigley, and Gordon.” He still tried to convince himself that the numerous Board and stakeholder complaints meant nothing.
Jim entered the lobby and saw the open elevator. He ran for it, breathing heavily.
“Hold the door,” he demanded, stepping into the car surrounded by Windom employees.
“Good Morning, Mr. Burns,” said the young intern cheerfully, stepping back to allow enough room for the top exec. The others neglected to speak at all.
Burns didn't feel necessary to answer subordinates. That was his standard practice for years. When they spoke, he rarely responded. Only if absolutely necessary. He initiated the conversation; and that was that!
The young intern remained undaunted proclaiming, “Have a nice day,” as he reached his floor and disembarked along with several co-workers.
Burns was relieved everyone had left. “Too much friendliness in the morning,” he silently murmured.
Walking past his Secretary's desk, he muttered a “Morning.., what do you have for me?”
Dutifully, Ms. Simmons, followed her boss into his office.
“Good Morning, sir! How are you today?”
“Fine. Now, let's see those reports.”
As he perused the Production figures, Ms. Simmons wondered how Mr. Burns behaved at home. His wife was always so pleasant on the telephone, and his grown son and daughter were respectful and friendly.
But, not Mr. Burns. He had clearly alienated many employees, including some of his Leadership team. She thought, “That is so odd because he calls himself a.....”
“Ms. Simmons”, Mr. Burns loudly called her name, disrupting her train of thought. “Where are the comparisons from Chicago & Atlanta?”
“The morning email said by noon, sir.”
“That is clearly UNACCEPTABLE!”, as he pounded his fist on the huge cherry wood desk, his face turning crimson.
“Find out what's going on!”
“Yes, Sir. I will contact Mr. Benton. He is always helpful in these situations.”
As Ms. Simmons walked back to her desk, she took a deep breath and prayed. “Please, Lord, help Mr. Burns. I have never seen him so agitated. I am worried about him.”
Burns tried to settle himself, but could not. He murmured, “we are suppose to have the best workers and nobody does the job!! I have to do everything myself. Now, that's exactly why I deserve my paycheck, my bonus and everything else.”
At day's end, Ms. Simmons stepped back into the grandiose office. We have updated reports from Mr. Benton. He's worked on this all day.”
“Okay, thanks,” Burns grumbled. “I'm leaving for the day. Feeling a little tired. Tell Jones to call me on any new developments in the Cirrus project.”
“Yes, Mr. Burns. Please get some rest. I will see you in the morning.”
Walking back to the elevator slowly, Burns contemplated,“I need to spend more time reading my bible. I haven't studied or prayed in a while and I really shouldn't keep blowing up like that. Tomorrow, I'll send flowers to Ms. Simmons --- kind of an apology.”
After dinner, Burns sat in front of the fire with his bible. “Well, at least I got saved in my 20's, and have nothing to worry about now.” That was the best decision I made, besides marrying Jan over thirty years ago. He then drifted off to sleep.
“Jim, wake up, wake up,” his wife screamed. She shook his lifeless body repeatedly, but he didn't move.
“Oh my God. Where's the phone? Oh, God.” Jan called 911. “Please hurry, my husband's not breathing, come quickly.”
Suddenly, Jim woke up in a dark, brooding and scorching hot place.
“Where am I? That looks like Jesus over there. Why is he so far away? I see my wife and children crying. What happened? Shouldn't I be over there, near the light? It's so hot. Lord, what's going on?”
“Jim,” said Jesus softly with tears in his eyes, “I never knew you.”
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