[author’s note: I wanted to write something from an antagonist’s viewpoint. The whole point of my nightly exercise is to practice, right? I was inspired by the idea of the layoffs and then tried to come up with someone as deplorable as possible. I don’t know if it’s quality entertainment or not, but it was kind of fun to write someone who doesn’t give a whit for the rules]
The man pulled the stool away from the bar and inspected it. It didn’t wobble on uneven legs, the cushion was intact, and it didn’t flex with pressure. It would do. He pulled himself up into it and crossed his arms with his elbows on the bar. He gestured for his usual drink and took a look around.
A tall, well-groomed man bustled through the front door and climbed into a stool three seats away. He wore an expensive-looking tie and perfectly crisp white dress shirt. His dark hair was combed back from his forehead and was shiny with some form of product. He appeared to be pulling close to fifty years old, from the streak of gray showing at his temples and the creases around his eyes. He greeted the bartender with a gregarious smile and set a twenty dollar bill in front of him. He signaled for three-fingers of bourbon over ice and pulled one of those fancy PDA phones from the front pocket of his tailored pants.
The man scrolled through his email messages, seeing nothing of any real interest for the moment. Normally, he’d dawdle at the office on a Friday afternoon, waiting until it was time to meet his wife at her latest favorite restaurant for dinner. She tended to make him wait one way or the other, and he suspected that was only because she knew it infuriated him. He got back at her by sharing a few drinks on his executive couch with the new girl in the department, and they would often share something else as well. He couldn’t hang around the office today, though, not even for that; everyone was whispering about the upcoming layoffs and he was holding the ax. He didn’t mind being the guy that handed out pink slips. He actually rather got a charge from it. It made him feel powerful.
The task was not without complications, though. The girl would want assurances that all of her…extra efforts…weren’t going to be wasted, but he couldn’t make her any promises. He had a list of who needed to be let go, and it was short one name. It was either going to have to be her or Randall, who was arguably the laziest employee in his department. Randall knew all about the affair, though, and about several other skeletons lurking in the past. He was a terrible worker, but had some very embarrassing information and had been making thinly veiled threats over the past month.
Laying the girl off was problematic too; women had a tendency to do crazy things when they feel like they’ve been used. The last thing he needed was for her to develop some courage and start sending messages to his wife. Not that his marriage really meant that much to him. His wife was just a pretty face and nice rack to show off in a black dress at corporate dinners. He could easily do without her. Frankly, she’d be an idiot to leave him; she had no marketable skills beyond mixing a martini. Still, she’d mop up in a divorce settlement, and he’d be damned if he was going to send her a check every month for the rest of his life.
There had to be a simple solution without the ugly truth becoming public. He briefly considered paying Randall off. The little schmuck would almost certainly go for it, but he was devious and lazy and might find that getting paid to do nothing was an arrangement he’d like to continue. Paying the wife would be preferable to long term extortion.
His first drink disappeared quickly and was replaced with a second and then a third. He savored the warmth of his bourbon buzz and ordered yet another. By the time he reached the bottom of the tumbler again, he’d made a decision. It had to be Randall, and the kid wasn’t going to get a dime out of him. He’d find some dirty secret, some reason to fire him outright, and avoid the layoff altogether. Surely the weasel was up to his neck in violated company ethics. If not, well, it really only needed to look bad, and he had a plan that would do just the thing. He might need to convince the girl to do something she didn’t like, but he’d talked smarter people into doing more onerous things in his career. Taking care of number one was still his first priority, and you used whatever tools you had to do it.
The executive set his glass down, empty but for three cubes of ice, and signaled for another drink and a menu. The man three seats away at the bar paid for his beer and slid off the stool. As he headed for the door, he noticed a wolfish grin spreading across the business man’s face. It was absolutely predatory, and the man was suddenly very glad that he was leaving.