In which we meet our hero
Greg never wished chaos on his office; no sane boss would, but he was always glad when it descended; if only because it gave him a huge advantage over everyone around him. He didn’t understand why other people didn’t seem to be able to remain calm under stress, but he had accepted it as his personal edge a long time ago.
He was pacing a wide lap around his entire building; he found that this made him easier to get to at times like this. The telephones were playing a piece of Mozart whenever they rang, and Greg had hoped that this would have a calming effect on his workers, but looking around he could see them flinch on every beat; he made a mental note to try heavy metal next time.
He noticed Sandra from the front desk sprinting towards him; she had forgotten to take her headset off first and its cord was flying behind her, whipping passersby. “Problem Boss! The Troll Bridge Workers Strike! The Company Settled.”
“To the full demands?”
“Get Mikey to call his contact in the company, this smells of corruption. And get Clare to do some interviews with the dryad community, those extra apples will have to come from them.”
“Yes Boss!” and she was gone, she ran flat into Frankie who waded on without noticing. “Sah!” bellowed the huge man “The report’s out and we were right, Dess Kanke was embezzling”
Greg yelled back over the background roar of telephones, “Casey has an ‘I told you so’ story prepared, run it page 5”
“Yes Sah” and he waded away. Tony Tony, his chief reporter vaulted cleanly over him, stack of papers in hand and laughing like a schoolboy. He loves this, Greg realized, everything in need of fixing and everyone relying on him.
Greg felt a tug on his trousers and turned to see two giant brown eyes looking up at him, “Hello Lucy”
“Hey sir. The copiers jammed sir”
“Give it good hard kick Lucy, I’m no mechanic”
“Yes sir” and girl wandered off in the vague direction of the copier room. Greg shook his head and paced away, he wasn’t quite sure how Lucy had come to work at his newspaper, certainly he hadn’t hired her, and he would have remembered that, wouldn’t he?
The chaos sunk in on him again. There were people yelling, telephones ringing, paper being ripped from one pile and thrown into another, verbal sparring and at least one small fist fight, – it was like being back at school again, – there was Andrew, the new boy on the front desk, running toward him; ducking and weaving the whole way like a ballerina who has had something unpleasant and slimy dropped down the back of her leotard. He got within two meters of Greg and pulled back sharply; wearing the expression of a man who has run as fast as he could to deliver an important message and is only now considering the effect it might have on the recipient.
“Well Andrew, what is it?”
“Ahhhh.” Said Andrew, his eyes drifting to the gaps between cubicles
“What’s your message Andrew?”
Andrew swallowed, “We regret to inform you”, he said standing to attention for reasons best known to himself, “of the passing of your uncle Redfox, His will shall be read on the 30th of October at eight o’clock in his home of Redhall”. Then he stood there staring directly ahead; there didn’t seem to be anything else.
“Get Ants to do that thing he does with airline tickets and get me two first-class for Alice Springs tomorrow, and tell Tony Tony to come to my office after today’s paper goes out.”
Andrew nodded, but he was still at attention and staring straight ahead.
“Dismissed?” Greg guessed, and Andrew sprinted away looking about as relived as a theme park visitor who has just found the toilet block.
Then Greg got back to work. After all the world doesn’t stop turning just because someone’s uncle died.
There was a crunching sound, followed closely by a soft tinkling sound like a dozen little gears rolling on the floor. Exactly like that as a matter of fact. Greg shook his head and paced off to where they kept the spare copier, and life went on.