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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: From the Ground Floor
By Shari Armstrong


The phone rang. He squinted at the clock as he reached for the phone. It was 11:00….kind of late. “Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mr. Jacobs? Ron Jacobs?”

The voice was way too chipper. “Yes? May I ask who’s calling?” He squinted at the clock again and realized it was 11:00 am. His blinds were down. He spent most of his time sleeping these days. Since he was still living at home, he didn’t have to worry about bills. But, if he didn’t find something soon, he might be back at his old high school job at Pizza Pete’s.

“My name is Kathy McQueen and I’m Lou Santini’s personal assistant. You interviewed with him about a month ago.”

“Yes?” He was confused, as he’d already gotten a “thank you, but…” letter from Mr. Santini’s office just days after his interview.

“I’m so glad I found the right Jacobs. There was a mix up. We had interviewed a Rob and a Ron Jacobs. Unfortunately, I made a typographical error and sent the wrong letter to each of you.” She cleared her throat. “Mr. Santini wanted to hire you, but the other gentleman thought he was hired. Somehow your file was misplaced and I had to track you down. There are a lot of Jacobs’ in this town.”

“Really?” Now he was awake. “Thank you. Um… wow… what now?”

”If you could come this afternoon, say around 2:00, Mr. Santini wants to show you around and get things rolling. You can start tomorrow; that is, unless you already have a job.”

”Sure. Thank you. See you at 2:00.”

Not getting that dream job after college kind of threw his desire to do much of anything out the window. Well, they might go out easier if the blinds were up. He had been told that after his internship with the tax firm, he was guaranteed the position full-time, if he wanted it. However, that was before the owner had a heart attack. His son took over and hired all new people. But, it looked like his luck was changing.

He arrived at Mr. Santini’s office, dressed in his best dark gray suit with his blue and silver tie. He adjusted the knot, tugged the jacket, took a deep breath and entered the ten-story building. A petite brunette sat behind a mahogany desk. She popped up and glided across the marble floor to greet him.

”Mr. Jacobs, I’m so glad you could make it.” Kathy extended her hand to shake his. “Again, I can’t apologize enough for the mix up. Follow me. Mr. Santini’s waiting for you in his office.”

They entered the elevator and she pushed the button for the top floor. An operatic piece floated in the air. “What is that? It sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Oh, that’s Faust. Mr. Santini’s a big opera fan. His mother used to be a singer.”

“Interesting.” The door opened directly into the office. The room smelled of old wood, leather and cigars. There were pistols, swords and other weapons adorning the walls. A stone fireplace filled one wall.

Mr. Santini sat at his desk in a designer suit that matched his jet-black hair. He looked up from some papers and flashed a bright smile, which was almost brighter than the scarlet tie he wore. “Mr. Jacobs, so good of you to be able to come down on such short notice.” He stood and met Ron at the elevator door. He placed an arm around Ron’s shoulder. “Come with me, my boy, and I’ll show you around and introduce you to a few key people.”

He followed Mr. Santini, almost in a daze. He couldn’t remember half the names or faces of the people he met. This was a large company. They finally stopped in the basement, entering a small, windowless room with a desk, chair, computer and not much else.

”And here, Mr. Jacobs, is your office.”

“My office?” he echoed. He figured he’d have to start from the ground floor, but this wasn’t what he had in mind.

“Yes. Tomorrow you will start reviewing all my employees’ productivity records and decide who is to be fired. You are my hatchet man, Mr. Jacobs. With your amazing numbers skills, I expect my profit margin to be increased a good deal in the next couple of months.”

“Hatchet man?” Ron sunk into his chair.

”Oh, and the first person you need to fire is Rob Jacobs.” He smirked. “See you in the morning.”

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This article has been read 836 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 01/31/08
LOVE the twist - I definitely did not see it coming (what the twist was, that is). The foreshadowing is good (loved the elevator music choice especially).
Brenda Craig02/03/08
I agree, didn't see the twist coming...this is great...loved it...good representation of the topic...Brenda
Laurie Walker02/04/08
I did NOT see that ending coming. Just goes to show you might want to check on the details in that job description! Well done.
Cristy Zinn02/05/08
I really enjoyed this read. Great twist, well-defined character and lovely descriptions. that's 750 well used words! Well done.
Jan Ackerson 02/05/08
I LOVE it! Super ending! How on earth did you come up with this?
Kristen Hester02/06/08
LOL. This is great. What a creative story. I loved the ending, where he had to fire the other Jacobs. Very well written.
Tim Pickl02/06/08
Excellent writing and story on this topic! The 'funny' thing is that the hatchet man himself almost always gets 'axed to leave' too.
Holly Westefeld02/06/08
Hum... I wonder if Kathy will pass the productivity test?
Joy Faire Stewart02/06/08
Oh, this is creative! All the details are so intriguing. Excellent writing.
LauraLee Shaw02/06/08
Wow, what an ending! This is INcredibly creative. I felt like I was watching a show on tv. Very, very good.
Sara Harricharan 02/06/08
Bet he didn't see that end coming! Nice job of pulling me straight into the story and keeping my attention throughout, the twist at the end is very good, as I didn't expect him to be the 'hatchet' man. Nice job! ^_^
Hanne Moon 02/06/08
Didn't see that one coming! Great story! Right on topic.
Loren T. Lowery02/06/08
What a great piece of irony. You had me guessing the whole read and wanting to know more about everything that was happening or going to happen.
Karen Wilber02/06/08
Oh, this had the greatest twist at the end. Ouch! And the fact that the first one he had to fire was the other "Jacobs". Very clever. Fantastic entry for this topic.
Betty Castleberry02/06/08
That hurt! This is a well written piece with an unexpected ending. Kudos!
Corinne Smelker 02/06/08
Very well done and so creative too!
Sheri Gordon02/06/08
Ooh, what a great ending. This is perfect for the topic. Your POV and dialogue were excellent.
Dee Yoder 02/06/08
Right on topic! What a blow to the ego to find out you're nothing but a hatchet man. In this case, the MC knows what to expect from a company like this one. (Nothing good, that's for sure.)
Debbie Wistrom02/06/08
Faust was a great tell. Great details of the rooms. I wonder how long he will last with the great Santini.