“Dad you are only gonna make it worse. It is not the first time this happens and it won’t be the last. Let it go and surely something good is gonna come up eventually.” The girl’s voice would come out timid and gentle while everyone kept eating around the table. Her thin blond hair would fall straight in front of her shoulders hiding the top part of her white dress.
The mother glanced at the father who kept sorting out his food and then turned to her:
“Jenna, honey don’t you worry about it.” She tapped her hair with a soft downward movement using the outer part of her palm. “We are gonna find a new job in no time.” She held her hand tight as she stared at her tensely. “There are many opportunities coming out daily and we are not gonna let them pass by like this, are we?” She forced a big smile as she leaned her head.
Jenna: “I know we will mamma”
Father: “You are gonna look nothing for the time being.” He cut them off as he kept eating undistorted. The 2 women glanced at each other.
“I’m gonna have a word with your boss first. See what comes out of it.”
Jenna: “What? Daddy, what are you talking about? I doubt it was Powel’s decision anyway.”
The mother took a warm friendly approach as she held her hands together on top of the table: “Chris, I think we shouldn’t force anything at this point. They said they had to do some cuts on the employees and were forced into layoffs. I’m sure if…”
“Bullshit..” Chris said sarcastically.
The response came as a shock leaving them speechless for a few seconds.
Mother: “What did you say?”
Chris: “You heard me..”
The mother turned over to Jenna as she watched Chris bothering with his food like nothing happened.
Mother: “Honey why don’t you go upstairs and play along. What do you say? I want to have a chat with your father..” her voice was again warm and tender as if saying a fairy tale.
Jenna swept her mouth off and touched the towel on the table. “Sure mamma. I’ll be upstairs.” She glanced at the father who kept playing with his plate and left.
The mother leaned back in her chair as she held the table with both her hands stretched. “Chris..”
Mother: “Can you tell what this is all about?”
Father: “What do you mean?”
Mother: “You know what I mean. What are you planning to do? You know we need to keep good relations with them. They might re-offer a job again at some point. Who knows? You are not planning to confront them, are you?”
Chris tapped his mouth with the towel as he finished his food and looked over at her quizzingly. “I’m planning to just have a couple of words with them.”
Mother: “I think you are getting too far with this. And I don’t think we are in position to..”
Chris: “I don’t give a damn about our position” Chris exploded as he hit the table with his right hand. The response jolted the woman back who raised her hands off the table and remained motionless.
Chris: “I m sick and tired of our stupid position. Why do we have to pay attention not to annoy them all the time? Why don’t they pay attention to us for a change?”
Mother: “Honey, I want you to relax now.”
Chris: “Don’t you think it’s time to say something at some point? To finally speak up? These people have no honor in them. They would stop at nothing for profit.” He sliced with his hand horizontally.
“But it’s a risk don’t you see?” she asked persistently. “We can lookout for something new. We don’t need to make a mess out of it. If they consider us to be troublemakers it’s gonna make things even worse. Then nobody is gonna hire Jenna.”
Chris: “Fuck that. I say..fuck..that!” He pointed out with his finger straight ahead. “This is where they put their money on. They bet that nobody is gonna say anything and they can do whatever they want.” he raised up from his chair and leaned forward to her. “We don’t say anything like anybody else is not saying anything and then nothing happens. Well, guess what? I think it’s time for somebody to finally say something. I think..it’s about damn time to speak a word with them. And I hear nothing about it” he said as he turned around to leave. The mother exasperated a big breath out of her.
The next morning.
“Mr. Johnson it’s not a good time to see Mr. Powel at this moment. As I told you already right now he is in a meeting.”
Chris: “This will only take a minute. I promise.”
The secretary fixed her glasses and united the hands in front of her as she apologized again: “I know how important it is but I’m afraid right now it’s just not the best time..”
Chris peeked at the office over the glass.
“He is in there isn’t he?”
Secretary: “Mr. Johnson you can’t go inside!”
Chris stormed passed her and opened the door.
“Mr. Powel, I would like to have a word with you. I promise it will only take a minute”
Powel, holding his phone, stared back in amazement as the secretary tried to explain. “I m sorry Mr. Powel, there was nothing I could do.”
Powel nodded in a soothing way and raised his hand.
“That’s ok you can sit” He pointed to the chair opposite at him and he closed the phone as he apologized to the person in the line.
He watched the secretary leave and glanced at Chris with a light smile.
“so Mr. Johnson. What can I do for you?”
Chris: “I would like to have a word with you about Jenna.”
“Ohh so that’s what it’s all about.” he nodded condescendingly. “Mr. Johnson let me explain to you.” He leaned forward on his desk and tied his hands together. “I hope you understand that letting Jenna had nothing to do with her or her performance. Unfortunately, we reached a point in our business that unless we had some measures taken we would get in deep danger. I ‘m sure you can appreciate the fact that there was nothing personal about the decision. If it was up to me it would never reach this point. I want to reassure you of this.” He raised up and shifted in front of the table leaning back against it as he tied his hands around his chest.
Chris kept staring back at him unexpressed.
Powel: “I’m sure you understand the threats a small business like this, has to address. We have to deal with risk every single day. Bad economy, competition, new technologies trying to get you out of business the next day without even noticing. I wish there was another way but unfortunately, that was a decision that, for the time being at least, we have to live with.”
Chris stared at him as he swung his head left and right. “This is just a game to you isn’t it?”
Powel: “Excuse me?”
Chris: “You don’t give a single shit about any of this, do you?”
Powel waited for him to finish he thought.
Chris: “This is probably just numbers in your books. How they add up together in your statistical analysis..” he gestured a playful twist with his fingers. “You don’t believe in your people, or to the role you play in society. You don’t abide to human decency or any value at all.” He raised up from his chair. “This is just a stupid game where you only care about maximizing your fucking profit.”
Powel moved back behind his desk and sat in the window. “Mr. Johnson I think you are out of line here.”
“Out of line? You only hired Jenna for tax evasion and you say I’m out of line?”
Powel smiled in an expression of disbelief and glazed outside the window. “I do anything on my hand to make the best I can every day. Every single day. I come to this fucking office and try to make the right decisions and do what benefits the most people. I hired your daughter when most others would have turned their back on her.” he turned back to face him again. “And this is the thank you I get? This is what I get in return?” He knocked with his fist on the table.
“You only did it because it was convenient and served you the right way.”
Powel: “I did it because I had an obligation. To everyone with mental disabilities or with any other kind of difficulty. Jenna is a borderline autistic and I still chose to give her a chance. I opened the doors in this office and allowed her to work when nobody else would. I hope someday you will manage to see the good of what I did. Now if you would excuse Mr. Johnson. I have some work to do.” He said as he tapped a button on his phone.
Chris: “You don’t fool me. I know the stupid games you play”
The door opened and a bodyguard appeared in the room.
“You are gonna pay for this. You hear me you fucking bastard. You are gonna pay for this.”
The bodyguard dragged Chris out as Powel sit down back at his desk…
“John I m fucking telling you if we let this prick get away with it… I don’t…I just don’t know what I’m gonna do.”
“Chris can you please calm down for a second. How do you know it was on purpose? Maybe this guy is saying the truth. You know how things are with businesses. And now with all the crisis, it got even worse”
Chris: “I know because I fucking found the government policy” he was moving compulsively as he was talking to the phone. “Listen to this:
The Disabled Access Credit provides a nonrefundable credit of up to $50.000, for small businesses that provide access to persons with disabilities…
Do you get it now? This guy hired Jenna to have an excuse for the credit and then let her go once the job was done. Do you see what is going on?”
John: “The fuckin bastard..”
Chris: “Are you with me or not?”
John: “What is the plan?”
“Let’s meet with him in the afternoon. Let’s make it clear that he doesn’t deal just with one person but with a whole team of people facing similar issues.”
“Sounds good to me..”
John: “Let’s make the message clear to this bastard..”
“Mr. Powel I think we have a situation here.” The secretary was holding the phone motionless staring straight ahead as if she had seen a ghost.
Powel: “Cindy tell me what it is please, I m kind of busy here”
Cindy: “Mr. Johnson is here to see you again. But not alone..”
“Him again? Call the fucking security and do not let him get in. Do you hear me?”
“I have already done sir. But I don’t think I will be able to stop them in time..”
Chris and John were approaching the secretary’s desk in a furious manner. The secretary glanced at them and darted her eyes downwards as they reached her position.
Chris: “Hello diar..We are here to see Mr. Powel for a quick settlement”
“I m afraid Mr. Powel is out of the office at the moment. Could I leave him a message and he will get back at you at the first chance..”
Chris: “Why don’t you save it honey..” he dismissed her as he marched in the office again together with John. “I hope this is not bad timing for you to have a small chit chat, is it?”
Powel froze up in his chair as he watched the 2 men intruding in his space without permission.
“Mr. Johnson I think we talked about this already. I explained the situation to you whether you are willing to believe it or not.”
Chris: “You explained the situation? Not quite I ‘m afraid.” He glanced over at John. “I can’t remember to bring up any of this shit here..” he threw some paper at him.
“What is this exactly?”
Chris: “Why don’t you read it?”
He picked up the papers and scanned over them in a serious tone before he burst out a laugh. Chris and John looked at each other in bewilderment.
“I m sorry Mr. Johnson. I just don’t see why this paper is so important to you to bring it over to me..”
Chris: “Are you trying to fool us right in our face? This is the fucking reason you did everything. You hired Jenna only to get your stupid credit and then dismiss her when it stopped being of convenience to you” He pointed at him with his finger. “Am I right Mr. Powel?” His face had turned red like a burning match.
Powel raised his hands with the palms outwards as if he was lifting something up. “Are you right… I don’t think you understand the situation here at all, Mr. Johnson if I may speak honestly. You don’t realize what it takes to hold out a business on your own and you definitely don’t realize how many sacrifices you need to make along the way” he snarled his teeth in anger. “you are not in the position to be responsible for the life of every single employee here. You only look at the bright side of things thinking that life is a fucking fairy tale. Well, guess what? It is not! And yes this is what it fucking takes to stay in business. You have to take advantage of everything you can. Unfortunately, this may not be as pleasant for all parties included but it serves the bigger purpose doesn’t it?” He lowered down in his chair again without breaking eye contact with them.
Chris: “You fucking bastard. So you admit it..”
“Yes I fucking admit it” he burst out as his spilled saliva out of his mouth. “And this is something you will never understand because guess what. You are not in a position to know what it takes to sustain all this.” he showed around him as Chris looked in disbelief.
“You mother fucker I m gonna fucking enjoy this..” he jumped over his desk and grabbed Powel by the shirt before he started punching him again and again. John tried to stop him before the door opened and the bodyguards got inside, attacking both of them. Powel’s face was filled with blood as he felled unconscious and the guards restrained the two men. A few minutes later the police came and took them on custody.
(A few days later. )
“My little two birds. It seems you created some havoc out there with your doings, you know that?”
Chris and John glanced at each other inside the jail cell as the guard was examining them amused from the outside.
“What do you mean?” asked John dreadfully.
The guard threw a newspaper over the bed. On the front page, it showed images and headlines of a number of daily demonstrations protesting for the violation of human rights. The activists’ movements had apparently forced the government to consider reframing the majority of these regulations.
“Your ignorant action triggered a cascade of unveiling for all official regulations on tax reliefs. And if you ask me they should let me keep you here till a get some sense inside those empty heads of yours.” The guard was holding his right foot on top of the chair resting his hand and whole body in it as he snarled at them sarcastically. He spat out his chewing gum and raised his chin.
“But unfortunately people in higher positions have a different opinion on the subject.” The guard took his key and unlocked the door. “Apparently they want you back out on the roads again. Gather your stuff up and be fast..”0