Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
- TITLE: Smiling Faces
By dub W
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“It’s late. I think I will have 'decalf' coffee and we’ll split a piece of the that lemon pie.” Kate patted Steve’s hand. “How about you, hon?
“Regular coffee, that’ll do it.”
“Gotcha.” The waitress sauntered toward the long counter of the dinner. “Gimme a wedge of that lemon pie,” she yelled at a counter worker. “Two Joes but one naked.”
Kate looked across at her husband. “Steve, what’s eating you? We had fun at the party, didn’t we? I mean when you acted out 'dirt dauber' you brought the house down.”
“Oh, just think’n about work. Sorry, I guess I’m kinda lost in thought. Yeah, we did have fun. That’s a great group.”
“Okay, what’s going on at work that you can crash and burn so, and then fake this recovery? You’re still playing the game.” Kate giggled and patted her husband’s hand.
Steve leaned back in his chair. “I don’t know. I just have a funny feeling about some of the things going on, and especially some of the new corporate people.”
“Merger’s are like that I suppose.” Kate tried to look into her husband’s eyes but he was staring at his hands. “Luckily, we teachers don’t have mergers to worry about, just bus duty.” She attempted to laugh, but Steve didn’t seem to pay attention.
“It’s a different culture.”
“Well, one day last week I went to lunch with my new director. I ordered my usual sweet tea with lemon. He ordered a double Martini with a twist. “
“Is that allowed?”
Steve shook his head. “Never has been before, but like I said, this is a new world. Then he told me how we were going to thin the staff. But, I have to act as if everything is fine, while they hack our people and replace them with theirs. He assured me that my job is safe – but, sheesh, I think it’s all a charade for my benefit.” Steve wiped his forehead with his napkin.
“Wow. Honey, I didn’t know.
“I can’t say anything to anybody. I’m not supposed to even tell you. But, this is killing me. You know Karl, who is in our Sunday School class?”
“Yeah, he and Shirley were at the party tonight.”
“Karl gets his walking papers on Monday. He has been with the old company for ten years, put he’s being put on the street.”
Kate felt her face burning. “Oh, Steve. I didn’t know, I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything. Especially, to Shirley. I know Karl will blame me, cause I will be left behind.”
Kate shivered. “I won’t. But, you’re staying for sure?”
“Well.... The director said I was safe. But, as soon as that data base is transferred and all the financials squared away, my guess is that I will be out too.”
Kate felt sick at her stomach. “Steve, we can last about three months without you working.”
Steve looked up. “I called Tony today. He said, anytime I am ready I can come over. It won’t be as much money, cause it’s a small shop; but, he needs a financial analyst and auditor. I may have to start really working again.” Steve snickered.
“Well, I feel a little better. But, I hate to see you give up all the years with the company.”
Steve laughed. “Give up. The old company is gone. The new people are king. I’m a pawn. I told Tony; by month’s end they will empty the house. My guess is that I am included. So, I am giving 30 days notice next week. I will probably be out the door before 5p.m. with a severance. “
“Oh, Steve. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I couldn’t hon. It’s happening too fast.”
“Do you think Tony’s people will accept you and all that, I mean you might be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
“Tony is a Christian. He is a good businessman. He wouldn’t have offered if there wasn’t a great chance for my success. But, it will mean a bunch of changes. Like, insurance is different and all that.”
Kate leaned across the table. “Steve, it’s your decision; you and God.” A tear formed in the corner of her eye.
The waitress appeared with coffee and pie. “Anything wrong?”
Kate smiled and laughed. “Oh, no, everything is fine.”
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