The following was a little story I submitted as part of the Hit Record project. It didn’t win, but it was a fun exercise–to try and craft a tale, in limited time, with six or seven words. Cloud, leopard, teeth, crown, diamond (and one other). Here was my submission:
Idly watching a plane slide across the clouds, George works on a piece of spinach stuck in his teeth. The Thai food was a good pick for lunch. Of course, he didn’t know that, two hours later, he’d be here, in this conference room.
Behind him, a tidy packet of paper sits stapled on the mahogany table. His signature is needed on the last page.
Intruder, fast and direct.
“Sorry about the wait,” Colleen says, closing the door softly.
“M-hm,” George says, turning to face this woman.
In a scarlet dress with what one would call a plunging neckline, Colleen is a stunning vision at 50. Or she could be–if not for this.
She slides into a chair and gestures to the one near her, malice in an open, upturned palm. George decides to keep things civil, or moderately civil.
They study each other. After a moment of silence, he says, “You know, I once saw footage of different leopards after their kills. One was sitting in the crown of a tree, cleaning her paws, dead baby gazelle below her. They’re not cruel, they don’t toy with their food. Just a swift strike to the neck, that’s all it takes.”
Colleen says nothing. George’s eyes float over her knees and crossed legs, up to the diamonds in the choker at her throat. It all seems wrong. At least her earrings don’t have feathers, some other gaudy attempt at allure.
“I just wonder…are you dragging this company up into a tree? Is that what’s going on here?”
Another moment passes in silence and stillness.
Finally, in response, she slides the papers closer to him. The severance agreement includes six months’ salary plus two thousand shares of company stock. The company thanks you for the years of shepherding and bleary eyes and blood.
Defeated, eyes once again returning to the diamonds at Colleen’s throat–to the canines concealed behind her smirk–George reaches for the pen.