Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Orphan Opening: Award

Back at the apartment, the important people gathered to congratulate him.

"What a night for you, Gillespie," said Johnson from Marketing, who'd always hated him. "Lifetime Achievement Award. Quite the banquet they threw, better than last year's do for Matthews."

"Maybe next year it will be you," said Gillespie, and Johnson, who felt that it should have been him this year, smiled in his sardonic way. 

Jean was mingling with the guests, her expensive body as much a testament to his success as the engraved crystal pyramid at the center of the table. Her laugh floated over the conversation.

"Yes, that was his son," she said to Lewis's wife. "They like to have a family member give out the award. I thought they'd ask me, but apparently Dylan volunteered."

"He looked so nervous," said Lewis's wife. "I was worried for him at first. Is he here now?"

"Dylan?" Jean's perfect red lips flattened. "No, he and his sister left immediately after he gave the award."

"Maybe Sarah was sick," said Tammy Andrews from HR, who had emceed the awards banquet for ten years. "I saw her waiting for Dylan backstage with their coats. I shook her hand and it was cold as ice."

"Maybe she was having a nervous breakdown," said Jean. "Someone told me she was crying. She's always been high-strung. Her mother is like that."

She moved off to eclipse some other woman.

"We should have a speech," bellowed Davies. "That boy of yours doesn't take much after you, choking in front of an audience. He started reading his notes three times, and in the end he just crumpled them up and said about three boring words. I'd have thought your son could deliver something a little more inspiring."

Gillespie had been disappointed in Dylan's bumbling performance, but he didn't intend to let Davies know that. "Short and sweet. These banquets go on too long anyway."

"Not long enough for you, surely," said Johnson. "Was that the paper he gave you along with the award? How touching -- a son's tribute to his father, too tender for public consumption. Let's have it now."

Gillespie fished in his pocket and pulled out the wrinkled page. Immediately Jean, sensing a chance to perform again, was at his side. 

"I'll read it!" she called to the crowd. As people gathered around, ready to be entertained, Jean got into character. She adopted Dylan's slouch and warmed up the crowd by parodying his awkwardness at the microphone. She held up the paper and took a deep breath, then clutched at her neck as Dylan had clutched his tacky wooden crucifix. Gillespie's snicker signaled to the group that it was okay to laugh. Paper, crucifix. Paper, crucifix, each time broader until the audience roared their approval.

"Read it already," someone howled.

Jean finally opened up the paper and read in Dylan's nasal voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I present my father with your company's Lifetime Achievement Award, given only to those whose performance demands the highest acknowledgement. Usually a standard list of career accomplishments is read off, but tonight I give you my father's true legacy. As you may know..."

Jean's voice faded out as she read down the page, an ugly line appearing between her brow.

"This is stupid," she said, with a force laugh. "It's Dylan's pathetic little idea of a joke." 

She made as to tear the paper, but Johnson was there to lift it from her hand. 

"Let me," he said. Jean stalked out of the living room down the hall, and as she shut herself in her room Gillespie heard the lock click. A flat feeling of disorientation held him in his place as Johnson's dry voice continued the monologue.

"As you may know, my father started an office affair when I was ten. When I was thirteen, he divorced my mother and married that woman. After six years he was ready to trade up again to a younger model, and so his second marriage ended. The unhappiness he has caused can barely be calculated. Every time my father looks at this award, I hope that he will remember that it signifies not only the esteem of his colleagues, but the women he's failed and the children who hate him and every promise he's ever broken.  This is for you, dad. You deserve it."

People left quickly after that, avoiding Gillespie's eye as they muttered their excuses. At the door, Johnson handed him back the paper.

"See you Monday," he said, and left.

1 comment:

Finicky Cat said...

Oh, well done! Well done!

My, isn't Johnson half pleased with himself.

I wonder what Jean thought about after locking herself in her room?