This post is part of the February 2013 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month’s prompt is “Suggest-A-Prompt,” in which the previous poster chooses the topic; mine is “Yuppies Who Hate the Family Business”.
“Maynard and Company, Lilly Maynard speaking. How may I direct your call?” Lilly said into the old-fashioned handset.
“That’s too stiff and formal,” said her father, greying old Augustus “Gus” Maynard. “We’re a friendly family business, not a bunch of goddamned robots.”
Lilly’s brother and fellow Harvard Business School graduate Dennis massaged his temples, eyes closed. “It’s a fine, professional way to answer the phone, Dad.”
Gus’s eyes glittered in his raw and wrinkled face. “Not the way we do things; my father left me this business, and he helped build it with his father by not being a robot.” He struggled to make a hand gesture to emphasize his point, but the mild stroke that had brought Lilly and Dennis back to help run the business made it impossible to form a coherent one.
“Well, Mr. Burton, have you done business with us before?” Lilly was palming through Gus’s records system–namely piles of yellowing paper heaped atop the desk. “I’m not seeing your name here.”
“Is that old ‘Burt’ Burton?” Gus cried. “For the love of Pete, Lilly, don’t go talking to one of my oldest and best customers like he’s a pup off the street!”
Lilly stared daggers at him. “Well if you’d like to come in, you’re certainly welcome, but we can’t honor any verbal discounts without a record or a receipt.”
“You let him have that ten percent off!” Gus thundered. “Or so help me I’ll…”
“Dad, calm down,” Dennis said, laying a hand on Gus’s shoulder. “You have to keep your blood pressure under control.”
“Well, maybe you and your sister need to keep your fancy robotic accountant big city attitude under control,” Gus groused. “I knew those scholarships were a bad idea.”
“We didn’t choose this, you know,” said Dennis, as Lilly chattered on in the background. “It’s your business, not ours.”
“Well it ought to be. We’re doing the noblest work known to man, after all.”
“It’s disgusting,” Dennis said. “It’s a cruel and barbaric and exploitative firm, Dad.”
“Well, then you probably know all there is to know about running it then,” said Gus icily, “seeing as that’s the kind of business they like to teach up at Harvard. I hear somebody up front: go take care of them.”
All too glad to get away, Dennis stood up and smoothed out his suit coat and tie. At the front of the business, he saw old “Pop” Wolverton standing with a bag slung over one shoulder.
“Got the good stuff for you today son,” he said, whistling through missing teeth. Dennis winced as the bag fell away to reveal a dead fox, which “Pop” joyfully pressed into his arms. “Try for a bit of an active pose this time, snarling. Cost is no object; been a good year on the poultry farm.”
“Of course,” Dennis said, forcing a smile as unspeakable fluids began to work their way into his suit. “At Maynard and Company Taxidermists, we aim to please.”
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