Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Dying Young

Again this week I am afraid that the news has let us down in that nothing of interest at all has happened. So I am continuing the project started here . Without further ado, my second challenge:

Dying Young. Write a fragment of a story about a character who is relatively young (under 40), who will die in a few years, but has no inkling of this. You, as author, do, though, and let that knowledge affect this brief story however it will affect the story. (500 words, again, a rough guide, this one is actually 544 words)

Richard strode into his office. He wore and Armani suit, a silk tie and the finest leather shoes. It was an ordinary day in the life of an extraordinary man.

Richard had grown up in Liverpool amid poverty and violence. His father beat him and his mother was unfaithful. He had gone to a shit school with shit teachers and shit pupils. According to the laws of nature Richard should have worked in a dead-end job all his life, married someone he didn’t love and had kids he didn’t want. But Richard did not believe in the laws of nature. He didn’t believe that man is a product of his environment, but that his environment is a product of man. He rejected the stereotype that all the shit pupils of his shit school with shit teachers had fallen unquestioningly inline with. You see Richard was clever. Despite the best efforts of his environment, Richard got good grades in school. His father had neither the money nor the will to send his genius son to university, so Richard set up his own business at the age of 18.

Ten years of brilliant entrepreneurship and cutthroat ruthlessness later, Richard was standing in his office at the top of a tower in Central London, a millionaire in his twenties and one of the most important businessmen in the country. His astronomic rise to wealth however had left the corpses of many businesses led by middle class, competent university graduates in his wake.

“Sir,” Richard’s secretary stood by the door.

“Yes Carol” he did not turn to talk to her.

“Your latest business acquisition is being blocked by the competition commission. They are afraid of you developing a monopoly.”

Richard sighed. “Do I look as if I care?” his voice retained some hints of his formerly strong scouse accent. “just bribe a few people at Whitehall and they’ll soon come round to my point of view.”

“They’re also afraid that your takeover will eliminate hundreds, if not thousands of jobs. They’re wondering whether you’ll be creating any new jobs to compensate.”

“Carol I am running a business not a fucking charity. If they’re good enough they can find a job elsewhere, if not then they don’t deserve it. I am taking over this business because I know I can turn a profit from it. I can do that because I can do things more efficiently than the moron who was running the company before. The current structure of the company is so bogged down with bureaucracy and inefficiency that it’s a wonder anything every gets done. I can cut costs by cutting out all the dead wood that exists. In doing that I am bound to reduce the number of jobs and hence reduce the payroll, in turn making my profit margins higher. So if the pen pushing do-gooders and red tape enthusiasts in Whitehall think I am going to create pointless jobs to give some thick dick from Birmingham a job when I don’t need him for anything, they have another thing coming.

“Now go get me my coffee.” Carol left silently.

Richard sat down on his leather backed chair and sighed. Meanwhile the cancer ate away at him, slowly bringing his cruel life to an end.

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