Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Sweeter the Punch

            Harold felt the pressure of time on his shoulders as he hurried to his nine o’clock morning meeting. He’d put all his final reports together the night before and had weeks prior for setting up all the statistical data he would need to really give a great presentation. No, a great presentation wasn’t enough, it had to be majestic. It had to be like seeing the ocean for the first time or as memorable as a first kiss. The president and the CFO of were going to be at the meeting and he really wanted to impress them. He’d been slogging his way in the trenches in development for 10 years without any recognition. Today was his chance to shine.

            He stopped at his office to pick up his portfolio case and the program copies he’d made to go along with the PowerPoint presentation. He then made his way to the conference room. Harold checked the clock and had an hour to rehearse and then make sure the donuts and coffee arrived. Not just any donuts though. These donuts were from the really fancy shop downtown where each one was practically crafted by hand. The cream and jelly donuts were filled individually by a little old Italian woman. They were something special and he knew the bosses would be impressed with how much more flavorful they were than Johnson’s donuts. Johnson had given a presentation last week and he just brought in regular old donuts from some chain. The president had a single bite and never went back to it. Plus Johnson’s presentation was drab and boring. Harold’s was going to be an extravaganza of ideas, color and substance.

            The conference room seemed a little musty to Harold, maybe a little warm too. He reached into his bag and pulled out some individually packaged wood polish pads. He then dusted the entire long conference table with lemon scented cleanliness. He then lowered the thermostat to a comfortable 64 degrees. He didn’t want it too cold or too warm. He figured with all the bodies in the room and the excitement from his presentation it would get warm soon enough. He took his jacket off and rested it over one of the conference chairs and checked his pits. He didn’t want to be a sweaty hot mess when the president shook his hand to congratulate him on his masterful presentation.

            Harold looked at the clock and couldn’t believe that fifteen minutes had flown by so quickly. He set up his lap top and plugged it in to the projector. He set up the tripod for the posters showing last year’s numbers and this year’s progress. Clearly development was doing something right with the way the current numbers were looking. Harold started to worry that he’d forgotten to order those fabulous donuts where there was a knock on the conference room door. Harold rushed over and opened it. A young man with shaggy hair, giant glasses, a nose ring and wrinkled clothing was waiting holding two big boxes of donuts.

            “Excellent,” said Harold to the completely disinterested delivery kid.

            Harold directed the kid to put the boxes on the cabinet along the windowed wall of the conference room. The kid plopped the boxes on the cabinet and turned to Harold with the bill in his hand.
            “That’ll be one hundred and sixty four dollars and twenty eight cents,” said the delivery kid.
            Harold had to pull himself away from the fantasy of the president biting into one of the handmade donuts and being so impressed that he just gave the entire division to Harold to run.

            “I’m sorry, did you say a hundred sixty four dollars and twenty eight cents,” asked Harold.
            “Yeah,” said the kid as he flicked his messy hair out of his eyes.
            “That can’t be right. I paid in advance for the donuts and delivery on Monday,” said Harold.
            “No you didn’t,” said the kid.
            “I’m afraid I did,” said Harold.
            “Nope. You have to pay me today or I’ll take the donuts back,” said the kid.

            Harold fumbled through his mind, back to Monday at the donut shop. He remembered flirting with the young woman at the counter, trying to get her to go on a date with him, he remembered picking out the donuts from the menu list, he remembered filling out the order form, the office information and then… he couldn’t remember if he paid. Harold started for his wallet to see if he had a receipt. He found the order slip tucked away next to his Social Security card.

            “See, here’s my receipt,” said Harold as he handed the slip to the kid.
            “Yeah, this is just an order confirmation slip, not a receipt. So, you still gotta pay me” said the kid handing it back to Harold.
            “Order confirmation? No this is my receipt for paying,” said Harold.
            “Yeah, no. That’s not a receipt. Can we hurry up man, I have a bunch more places to go,” said the kid, blowing the ugly sand colored hair off his forehead.

            Harold looked up at the clock and his meeting was scheduled to start in eight minutes. He didn’t have time to rehearse like he wanted to.

            “Listen, I know I paid, can we call Maggie, it was Maggie right? She’s the owner,” asked Harold.
            “Yeah, my sister,” said the kid.
            “Your sister, okay, can we call her and maybe get this sorted out. I’m quite positive I paid for these donuts and the delivery on Monday,” said Harold.
            “She doesn’t get to the store until ten. I’m the only one there until then,” said the kid.
            “Well you’re her brother, so can you maybe call her at home,” asked Harold.
            “No. She doesn’t want business calls bothering her at home,” said the kid.

            Harold looked up at the clock again and he had five minutes until the start of his meeting.

            “Listen, there’s a meeting about to start in here, possibly the most important meeting of my entire life. So maybe you can make an exception in this case and call your sister at home to verify that I already paid for the donuts,” said Harold.
            “No. I can’t,” said the kid.

            Harold stood in front of the kid, hands on his hips and was panting.

            “You can’t,” said Harold, “You can’t call her at all?”
            “No. So like, if you don’t pay me I’m going to have to take the donuts back man,” said the kid and he moved toward the boxes on the cabinet.

            Harold grabbed him by the arm.

            “Hold on a second there partner,” said Harold.
            “Don’t grab me man,” said the kid as he pulled his arm away.
            “I’m sorry, I just really need those donuts for this meeting,” said Harold as he moved a little closer to the kid.
            “Well, I guess you should have paid for them then,” said the kid and he stepped toward the cabinet another foot.

            Harold laughed out of some incredulity or nervousness and then grabbed the kid by his shoulders. The kid pushed Harold in the chest and sent him back a few steps. Harold’s fuse finally made it to the TNT and he rushed at the kid. He plowed into the kid’s thin chest and tossed him onto the conference table. Harold climbed on top of the kid, who was now shouting and screaming like a 10 year old girl, and began pummeling him about the face and neck. Harold was murmuring quietly as his fists hit the soft flesh of the kid’s face.

            “Give. Me. My. Mother. Loving. Donuts. You. Hipster. Geek. Bastard”.

            Harold’s mind was focused on the donuts, their deliciousness; they’re chewy creaminess as he continued to bang the kid’s head against the long wood, finely dusted conference table. He was going to get the jelly out of this donut. The kid had stopped yelling and Harold felt tired. He stopped his fists and sat straddling the kid’s body on the conference table. Harold was panting and his fists were bloody. He looked up at the clock and saw it was five after nine. He turned his head to the conference room entrance and there stood the president and the CFO. Their mouths were open in what looked like a silent scream. Harold slipped off the kid’s body and stood next to the table.

            “Would either of you like a delicious donut,” said Harold. 

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