He received his divine desserts
“Right we have to make the numbers this quarter. There will be no excuses. If we don’t hit our targets, then none of us will have jobs past next quarter.”
John was on his power trip again as usual, as Sandi brought the chocolate cake into the board room. The pencil-necked weasel was always trying to assert his authority and always trying to manipulate us by threatening us with the closure of the company if we didn’t reach our sales targets.
“Everyone, the cake is here, so it is time to sing. Sorry John, but it is Michelle’s birthday, which is more important right now, than the sales for the quarter. It’s a timing thing, John, time dictates priority.”
John couldn’t deny any request that came from Sandi. She had a power over him that the rest of us didn’t understand.
“Thank you, Sandi, thanks for organising the cake, much appreciated.”
“Michelle, for you I killa da bull.”
“It’s just an expression Michelle, why don’t we all just lighten up, particularly you John. This place is like a morgue. How are people meant to sell and be motivated when you are like death warmed up?”
“Thanks, Sandi, okay everyone, let’s break for tea and cake,” said John, coming down from his high horse.
Sandi could always get away with speaking to our CEO like that. It had always been like that. There was a lot of speculation that it was her magnificent beauty, her long spiral brunette locks of hair. Her almond-shaped green eyes, her body always in perfect shape. The rumours were that she had obviously seduced him and now had something over him. Perhaps the threat of revelations to his wife was what she had? This, was all speculation of course because none of us had any evidence.
“Now listen everyone. Michelle’s favourite cake is chocolate, so I went to her favourite chocolatier and he made the icing, he works at Divine Desserts, and the cake itself was made by Divine Desserts bakers.”
“Thank you so much, Sandi, you are always so thoughtful and you always put in so much effort and time into everything that you do.”
“Think nothing of it, Michelle, with great sacrifice comes great reward,” said Sandi winking.
We all sang happy birthday to Michelle and received our slice of cake. Andrew dived in, doing his usual impression of a fat yellow cartoon man named after a famous Greek Poet ‘Homer,’ this was the way he wolfed down any food. They must have observed him eating to design the eating habits of the yellow cartoon character. His body shape was similar too.
Andrew was a loudmouth, overconfident bully who never listened to anybody else’s opinion. Once he had made his mind up, nobody could confuse him with the facts. He would often speak at people with food in his mouth and bits of food and spittle would spray forth, from a mouth that was never shut long enough to listen.
Gary watched as Andrew wolfed down his slice of cake, and Gary made vomit gestures to the entertainment of those of us aware enough to pick up on it. Gary was a tall blonde guy, with medium length blonde hair. The scars on his face and his fists, evidence of his background and his occasional run-in with ‘thugs at pubs’ as he would say. His argument for his violent nights out was usually, ‘You know you have a few beers and people start causing trouble.’ Having been out with him once or twice, I knew that the only one causing trouble was Gary, with a few beers in his belly. Nevertheless, he would take on some large fellows and would often school them in the art of street fighting.
Michelle was quiet and unassuming, she had a beauty and peacefulness that many of the men in the office wanted to take home to meet mom. Blonde with blue eyes, her hair was like fine golden threads that could have come from the spinning wheel of Rumplestiltskin. She was a lady in every sense of the word and would not be out of place in a royal palace somewhere.
Michelle was a ‘keeper’ and she was single too, none of the single men had the courage to ask her out, for fear of rejection. Sandi was also single but seemed to intimidate men. Men usually look for vulnerability and somebody to rescue, well that was what it seemed like in our office. Sandi was too powerful a personality, and the rumour that she could possibly be John’s mistress just gave all of the single men even more reason not to approach her.
John was a manipulative weasel. He would approach us, separately about other people in the office and try and convince us that they needed to lose their job. It could just be that he did not like the person, or that they confronted him in a meeting. He was a coward and the only reason that he had risen to be CEO was that his wealthy father was a major shareholder. His father was an astute businessman, and had secured his (John’s) future employment as CEO for the next 10 years, no questions asked.
“Right, we need to get back to work, has everyone had their tea or coffee and cake? Does anyone need a restroom break?” asked John.
Everyone made their way back into the boardroom, after their bathroom break, and it seemed a happier place, it is amazing what chocolate cake can do to the mood.
The next slide was put up and we focused again. I thought that I really needed to get to my optometrist, the slide was looking wavy, perhaps there was a computer glitch, but I could see the others straining to focus too, but they also looked a little wobbly.
John was looking decidedly more pale than usual and dropped to his haunches.
I felt calm and at peace with waves of euphoria crashing over me and lifting me higher. Gary was giggling to himself across the board room table from me. Andrew was lying with his face on the boardroom table, dribbling from his mouth, but he seemed happy and content.
I sat back in my chair and looked up at the ceiling, it was spinning. Michelle’s face was wobbling and her eyes were huge.
Sandi was walking up to the front of the boardroom on long legs, she must have had stilts under her suit trousers. She looked about eight-foot tall!
I saw Michelle and Sandi walk John out, one on either side.
“It’s having the effect and I hope it works”
“Sandi, do you think what we did was right?”
“Of course it is, the rest of them won’t know, they are in Lala-land, now help me get him down to reception.”
“Okay Sandi, I’ve just never done anything like this.”
“Me either but we know what we need to do.”
I’m not sure how long I was out for? I was awoken by a nurse. “Are you okay sir? Can you hear me? Just take it easy, you are at work.”
I slowly saw my colleagues awakening too.
“So tell me again Miss Webb, you said you served the chocolate cake to everyone in the boardroom but you and Miss Moore didn’t have any because you were serving it to the others and then you started noticing that your colleagues were starting to get woozy? Is that correct?”
“Correct doctor. Michelle and I were amazed at what was going on, so we called you all straight away, we figured it had to be the cake, so we kept it aside for your analysis.”
“Well nobody died, luckily, and you say the CEO is at home resting up?”
“Oh yes he is doctor, he was the first to recover and said he wanted to go home.”
“I may need to examine him, do you have his address?”
“Yes doctor, I will give it to you and you are welcome to visit him at home. He sounded really fine when I spoke to him.”
“Thank you, ladies, both of you have been really amazing, and you did the right thing by contacting us and secondly by looking after your colleagues. I hope they all know just how grateful they should be?”
“Oh Doctor please don’t flatter us, I am sure that any of our colleagues would have done the same thing in the same circumstances.”
“Don’t be so sure Miss Moore? Is it?”
“Yes, you can call me Michelle, Doctor.”
“I think we will take everyone into hospital for overnight observation until we find out what was in that cake.”
We all spent a night in the hospital and were told that the cake had some sleeping agent in it. The lab results came back and the chocolatier had mixed in his wife’s herbal sleeping powder, mistaking it for cacao powder. She had apparently left it on the counter near where he was making the icing.
John arrived back at work, looking fine, a little heavier than we all remembered him, but he was back. John had also somehow had a change of attitude, he wasn’t as petty or threatening as he used to be. Perhaps the incident had changed his brain. We were all happy with the ‘new John’.
Everybody noticed the change in the man, and things slowly got back to normal.
I was walking to the water cooler a week later and Sandi and Michelle were there chatting.
“I don’t know how long he wants to keep him, or whether he will release him, it’s none of our business.”
“Good morning ladies, who needs to be released?”
“Oh, um, just speaking about my friend who caught a wild bird a week ago, and umm, well she’s not sure if she wants to keep him or release him. Anyway, Michelle and I need to get back to work.”
Michelle and Sandi hurried on down the hallway back to their offices.
I walked down the hallway back to my office and carried on working. I did not realise how the time had flown by. I was finishing off my monthly report and it was taking longer than expected. I was sure I was the only one left in the building, it was dark outside. As I was leaving, I noticed the CEO’s office door was open and the light from his office was streaming into the hallway.
He always tells us and lectures us about leaving lights on. It was his company policy.
‘When you leave your office for the day your lights are off, we have only one planet, we need to take care of it.’ I had heard those words many times over the years.
I walked down the hallway and I heard him, on the phone.
“Oh Sandi darling, you and Michelle were excellent, thanks for all that you do for me and tonight it’s just the three of us. I will pick up a bottle of bubbly on the way to the motel. I have access to his bank accounts, his wealth is ours….. What? No, tell her not to worry, as we speak, he is being dropped into the jungles of Colombia, where the drug lords rule.”
I turned to get out of there, shocked and dismayed, feeling like I was living in the twilight zone.
“Hello, is anyone there?” It was John, he must have heard me.
“Is that you John? It’s me, Brad, I was just finishing up my monthly report and then I saw your light was still on so I came to switch it off.”
“Oh, um, yes, very good as per company policy. You should know that I don’t leave my light on, as I always say, this world is but the only one we have.”
“Yes John, ok it’s all good, see you tomorrow.”
“Yes umm, ok bye.”
That is not what he always says, he usually says ‘we have only one planet, we need to take care of it.’ He always said those same words. I had heard him say them many times over the years. Perhaps his brain was a little muddled after the chocolate cake incident?
Well now I knew why he was always accepting of anything that Sandi said or did, but Michelle? I never expected that. She is so quiet and unassuming, but perhaps it’s true what they say about the quiet ones. The three of them have some agreement.
I went home and could not sleep, thinking about what I had heard. Surely I had just heard wrong? But how can what was said be mistaken for anything else?
My mind was plagued. I decided that I would go into the office early, I didn’t feel tired anyway. I was too hyped up, thoughts and questions filling my head.
It was Friday morning, everyone was more relaxed on a Friday and came into the office later, so at least I would have some time to do some work in peace and quiet.
I walked in and went down the hallway to the kitchen. I made some coffee, not that I needed it, it was just habit. Walking back to my office I heard some voices, so I walked towards them. The voices were coming from Sandi’s office.
I crept closer.
“Michelle just calm down, it wasn’t our decision to drop him in the jungle, you heard what, John said.”
“He told us not to worry, but I do worry, my conscience cannot handle this anymore.”
“Michelle, get a grip! Have you looked at your bank account? Well, have you?”
“Well take a look later today, you never need to work again, your family is taken care of, your mom can get that surgery, her treatment. Only if you keep your mouth shut.”
“Well, ok Sandi, but I just…”
“I don’t want to hear it, do you want to help your mom or not?”
“Yes, I do…Okay, I’ll keep quiet.”
I slowly crept away and then walked back to my office. What the hell was going on? They were all involved in something, who have they stolen from? Who did they drop in the jungle?
Later that day John called us all into the boardroom. He had a very broad grin on his face, I had never seen him so happy. His demeanour was completely the opposite of everything we had come to expect from the man.
We thought it would be our typical Friday afternoon lecture about how we were all not pulling our weight. How we would cause the company to close and how we would be lining up for government benefits in the unemployment line.
“Welcome everyone. I hope you are all ready for a great weekend? I just called all of us together to let you all know that each of you, except Michelle, Sandi and I, will receive a bonus of fifty thousand dollars. Yes, Gary, Andrew and Brad, each of you will notice that you are fifty thousand dollars richer. Keep up the good work and there will be more of the same in future.”
Well, John had definitely become a lot nicer since the incident and it was a pleasure working with him. That was the first time I thought that about him, perhaps he had changed.
The following Monday, we had a project meeting. Michelle had been tasked by John to run a new project and we were told to support her. I was eager to get to the meeting in her office and arrived early, there was nobody there. I then heard an email come through, she must have just left because her screen wasn’t locked. I read the message from Sandi.
“Remember what John did to us, blackmailing us for sexual favours, threatening to fire us if we didn’t do what he said. How long did we just do what he said and go to his ‘meetings’ at those motels? Never forget! He got what he deserved. We didn’t kill him or harm him. John did it to himself if you know what I mean. Pull yourself together.”
“Yes My office, now!” I heard Michelle’s voice down the hall, I slowly walked away from behind her desk and sat in a chair.
“Oh hello Brad, I didn’t know you were here? When did you get here?”
“Oh, um well, I just walked in. Is everyone on their way? I have a busy day ahead.”
“Yes, here they are, welcome everyone have a seat and let’s discuss the project.”
Later that day after the project meeting, Andrew, looking as bloated and chuffed with himself as ever, came into my office bragging about his new car. He had bought it with the bonus we had received. What I found more intriguing was what he said after that.
“It’s great that John is so cool now, ever since that chocolate cake incident, he seems to have chilled right out.”
“Yes I must agree, and it’s great to get a bonus. And it’s good to get some recognition for how we bust our butts around here.”
Everyone kept speaking about the chocolate cake incident, it had become like a national holiday in the office. ‘The chocolate cake incident’. Thinking of chocolate cake, I had never been to ‘Divine Desserts’, so I decided to go and take a look at the bakery. I wasn’t really a cake person, but with my wife’s birthday coming up, well she likes cake.
Nobody was injured at work, and everyone deserves a second chance, so I thought I may as well give them a try. They had five-star ratings on a number of websites. I walked in and the place smelt marvellous, of freshly baked bread and vanilla, rich coffee aromas filling my nostrils, I was instantly hungry.
I noticed the sign behind the counter. ‘Chocolatier wanted, email applications to …’
They must have fired the last one because of his mistake. I was sobered out of my thoughts by a pretty young lady.
“Sir, can I help you?”
“Um yes, I don’t really know what I want yet, but I was just wondering how a place like this operates without a chocolatier?”
“Oh, are you interested in the position?”
“No, but I have a friend.” I lied.
“Oh well our other chocolatier left the business, he was so good, I miss Frank.”
“Excuse me, did you say Frank?”
“Yes Frank Milton, do you know him?”
“No, sorry, wrong guy.”
I left the bakery with my head in a spin. John’s surname was Milton.
Surely it couldn’t be someone related to him? That’s just like him though, making people support his family when it comes to office birthday celebrations. I bet he was getting a cut of all the sales. Perhaps this business was doing very well and he had a share in it because of this family member? I decided to go back and ask the lady more about Frank Milton.
“Just so that I can inform my friend who will be applying, can I ask what Frank did wrong? I just don’t want my friend to make the same mistake.”
“Oh sir, Frank made an honest mistake by mixing his wife’s herbal supplement once into chocolate icing, and a corporation had some negative effects on their staff. The CEO of that corporation, who is a major partner in this business then sacked Frank. It is such a pity we really miss him, he was such a nice guy, very caring.”
“Where is Frank now?”
“Oh, I’m not sure? Last I heard he said he was heading to Colombia, on some jungle adventure.”
“He said he was going to Colombia?”
“Oh yes, and he seemed very keen about going too.”
“Alright thanks, I see you have another customer thanks for your time.”
“Good day sir, and I wish your friend good luck, you know, with the application.”
“Thank you, Sarah.” (Her name tag had her name on it.)
I left the bakery with more questions than answers.
John knew that this Frank guy was going to Colombia somehow? He must have had him kidnapped or something. Or perhaps it’s just a coincidence? Maybe Frank did actually go to Colombia on some adventure, and John was referring to someone else? But the surname, they have the same surname?
I went home and my thoughts were a jumbled mess as usual. My work was suffering because I couldn’t get all of this out of my mind.
The next day at work, I ran into Gary at the water fountain, he had planned his holiday to Fiji with the bonus we had received and he was telling me all about it. I realised I was so boring, all I did with my bonus was go to dinner a few times and then pay the rest of it into our mortgage. I was so responsible, I sickened myself.
“Well I’m so ready to go on this holiday, beautiful resort, all booked, I can’t wait. Hey Brad, John seems different don’t you think?”
“Yes, I must say it’s a pleasant change from the way he used to be. I wonder how long this new attitude will remain?”
“Well word on the street is that the Divine Desserts Franchise he owns is printing money, that place is so profitable that he probably doesn’t need to work. I also heard that his dad has paid him out early, you know that his dad was extremely successful with his investments, picking some real winners on the stock exchange.”
“Really? I wasn’t aware of that Gary.”
“Oh yes he is like almost a billionaire, he said he is getting on now and will never spend it all, so he gave John his share.”
“Wow, I suppose that would change most people’s attitudes.”
“Yes. Well, all I can say is that as long as he remains happy and keeps handing out bonuses, then I’m happy. Got to get to work, customers to sell to, you know how it is.”
“Yes, Ok Gary, enjoy the holiday in a few weeks.”
“Oh, you bet I will.”
I walked back to my office, and things were a lot clearer now, but I still had this nagging question about who John was speaking about. Then it struck me. He must have gotten his dad to sign over all his investments and then dumped him in the Colombian jungle. Yes, that was it! He could tell the police if he was ever questioned that his Dad was going on an adventure with that family member ‘Frank’ at the Bakery. I just had to find out if Frank Milton was indeed John's family.
John the weasel was just as big a weasel as ever, just a weasel with a better attitude now that his greedy desires for money had been fulfilled. I bet that he thought his dad was getting older and decided to get rid of him to get his hands on his cash.
Later that day, I had a meeting with Michelle on the new project that she was running as I was battling with aspects of what she asked me to do. I had some alternative solutions to discuss with her.
After the meeting, I decided I would do some ‘fishing’.
“Michelle, I heard that John’s Dad has been quite generous to him recently?”
“Oh yes, his dad has paid out some members of the family from his investment success. I’m not sure if you know, but John is extremely close to his dad. John always said that he would do anything for his dad. Nobody in the family could say a word against his dad and John would defend his dad’s honour.”
“Wow, I was not aware of all that?”
“Oh yes, John received more than anyone else in the family in terms of cash from the investments. You see John’s Dad, always saw John as the same as him. John was his ‘Mini – me’ if you know what I mean?”
She started to choke up a little.
“I’m sorry. I am going through a bit of a tough time. I need to go to the bathroom.” She said, with tears welling up in her eyes.
“Ok take care Michelle, I will try and source what we need for the project, hope you feel better.”
I left there more confused now. If John cared so much for his dad, then surely he wouldn’t just drop him in the jungle? Although money and greed can do strange things to people.
But if he was so greedy, why would he pay us all bonuses?
What about that email? What did John do to himself? None of this was making any sense?
Then it struck me. John found out that his dad, John senior was blackmailing the women in the office. His dad probably had shares in this company and used his power to get sexual favours from Sandi and Michelle. John junior couldn’t take it anymore and decided to get rid of his father, but his father had too much cash. He needed to get hold of his money, his investments, before getting rid of him. So he did. Perhaps his father was moving in on his turf, the two young ladies in the office, were out of bounds. All is fair in love and war as they say.
Yes, that’s it! The greedy pervert was protecting his turf and wanted his father’s money. I love it when my brain works as it should.
Later that day I was walking to the parking lot and I saw Sandi.
“Sandi, how are you?”
“Oh I’m great thanks, and how are you, Brad?”
“Good thanks. Sandi, I was wondering how John’s Dad, John senior is doing?”
“Oh, his Dad’s name is Frank, not John. He was battling a bit with cancer, but now has the all-clear, he is at home retired. Why do you ask?”
“Oh I just heard he was suffering from weak health, that’s probably why John is so happy and giving out bonuses now because his dad is better?” I lied.
“Umm, yes, yes come to think of it, that is probably why.”
“Why aren’t you and Michelle getting bonuses though? I mean isn’t that a bit demotivating for the two of you?”
“Oh don’t worry about us, John has discussed his reasons with us, and it is company policy, we cannot divulge. We understand that you all work so hard, so we are happy that all of you get bonuses. Please don’t worry about us. Sorry Brad I’ve got to go.”
“Beautiful new car by the way Sandi.”
“Oh yes, it was time, my old car was giving me hassles. I know it wasn’t that old, but you know, always something going wrong. Umm, see you tomorrow. Take care, Brad.”
“You too Sandi.”
Well, there goes that theory, John’s father’s name is Frank.
I decided to head back to Divine Desserts and speak to Sarah. I needed to find out more about Frank Milton, he had the same name as John’s Dad. That was the only connection I had.
I called in sick and decided to stake out the Divine Desserts parking lot. I waited for Sarah like some crazed stalker.
“Oh hello sir, I remember you, your friend was applying for our chocolatier job?”
“Well, has he applied?”
“That’s not important right now Sarah, I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to know more about Frank Milton, the chocolatier. Did you know anything about his personal life?”
“Yes I do, and you know what I heard? I heard that his brother is the one that fired him.”
“Wow, that’s terrible. Do you know what his brother’s name is?”
“Yes, His brother’s name is John. Frank was always going on about John being better than him in their father’s eyes. John was a lot more like their dad. You see Frank’s Dad had no time for him growing up, he had no time for his chocolatier career and favoured his brother John in everything. Frank used to get angry and sad about it all.”
“Oh yes good old sibling rivalry, hey?”
“Very close sibling rivalry, they are identical twins.”
And with that statement, the puzzle was solved.
I walked into work the following day with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I knew everything. I had finally figured it all out. Was I going to tell anyone? No.
Why not? We had traded a criminal with a better attitude, for an arrogant, manipulative pervert, and we were being paid bonuses.
I heard ‘John’ walk past me speaking on his mobile phone.
“Dad, as you know running a corporation is very challenging. I am just too busy right now, I will come and visit in a few weeks.” He hung up. Then mumbled audibly.
“Fat chance of that, you won’t see John again, you can suffer. Just like I did for all of these years.”
I think my conscience will eventually get the better of me, unless Michelle cracks first, time will tell.