Manguy stood at his filing cabinet, idling sorting through the papers in the drawer. It was organised along GTD (Getting Things Done) principles, with a folder for each day of the month and then a folder for each month of the year. It was complicated a little by the need to have folders in there for each of the Jewish and Muslim months as well, plus the fact that at Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations they used a standardised 37-day month for a lot of internal billing and business practises. Then there were a couple of additional folders of his own addition that marked deadlines for tax forms (in eighteen jurisdictions) and proposal tenders, plus a tracking folder for the CEO, Jeremy Diseased-Rat. It was, in fact, a rather full filing cabinet drawer, and the data it contained was very important, so long as you knew how it all inter-related.
His fingers found a sheet of dove-grey paper that was otherwise unmarked and he paused. This was the colour he reserved for Margoyle, one of his colleagues who was showing promise and signs of thinking about promotion. The page here was to remind him that his last tactic, of suborning her assistant and making it seem like Jeronica’s doing, had gone oddly wrong. Her assistant, Corisette, was dead due to a freak asphyxiation event in the stairwell that had lead directly to him (and about twenty-five people at his level) installing a fire-escape rope-ladder in his office for exiting the building via the window, but Jeronica didn’t seem to be suffering unduly from Margoyle’s rage.
Actually, Jeronica was an interesting puzzle in her own right at the moment. A few more flicks and his fingers found a sheet of canary-yellow paper, one corner dog-eared and a loose staple in the diagonally opposite corner. She was achieving far too much in internal meetings at the moment and he couldn’t figure out why. Certain meetings where he was sure she would be stalled or blocked by equally-ambitious people were going smoothly instead of erupting into arguments and dividing along faction lines, and she was gradually drawing attention from the level above. Soon enough she’d even attract Jeremy Diseased-Rat’s attention, and Manguy definitely wasn’t ready for that kind of competition. He placed the sheet on his desk; he would need to sit down and do some planning to deal with this.
More flicking through the papers in the cabinet and he pulled out the only sheet of paper that was due tomorrow. There was a drawing of a chef’s toque on it, and he sighed. He closed the filing cabinet, closed the blinds on his office window that had a view of the corridor outside, and sat down in the leather swivel chair to think about this meeting. A… let’s call her a lady, he thought, though that may be generous. A lady, connected in not insignificant ways to the National American Society of Hipsters, was concerned that her children were insufficiently ambitious and may fail to obtain jobs that would allow them to lead the kind of lives she felt were appropriate for them. She had four children, and Manguy had already managed to see to it that the girl who wanted to be a school-teacher had changed her mind and become a banking executive for an organisation that leased school-supplies to the third world using a scheme that applied punitive damages to anyone trying to leave it or think for themselves. That had been almost simple: it was just a case of finding the right boyfriend for her and then having her attacked a small herd of five-year olds that had been eating sweets all morning. The pay-off for him was the National American Society of Hipsters listening more attentively to his recommendations, and nominating the right presidential candidate. The polls were looking promisingly like he’d win the next election too. This time though, the issue was the son who wanted to be a chef.
Manguy wasn’t sure what was wrong with being a chef. Occasionally, when his dealer failed to come through with the good stuff and he had to sleep unaided, he’d wake up from dreams of working in a kitchen and turning out plates of beautiful food that made beautiful women weep and powerful men offer him jobs on private yachts. He would lie there in the morning light, remembering the scent of lobster bisque, or tasting the memory of a single perfect madeleine, and for a moment he would know what happiness was supposed to feel like. Then he’d get up, pay the hooker to leave, and return to being Manguy, the go-to guy at Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations and heir-apparent to Jeremy Diseased-Rat.
Well, now there was a point. The woman wanted appropriate life-styles for her children, so perhaps the job wasn’t such an issue. What she needed was a celebrity-chef for a son, someone with a television show, a chain of high-profile, high-turnover restaurants, a reputation for swearing like a hooker… no, wait that wasn’t the phrase, was it? Swearing like a sailor, on shore-leave. That was it. Someone who made powerful women fall in love with them and rich men offer them jobs on private yachts….
He made a couple of notes on the page, and jotted down a phone-number of the publicist to call to get this young man’s career started, and only had to brush a single tear away from his eyes.