“And this,” said the CEO, “is Cuthbert, our secret weapon here at Harrison Omni Products.”

“What’s that?” said Cuthbert, putting a hand to his ear. “Fur-covered heating ducts?”

“Write that one down,” the CEO snapped to his toady. “Animal-patterned covers for heating and cooling ducts. It’s genius, we’ll sell a million of ’em.”

“…really?” said Helmquist. “Really? Your secret is a deaf guy?”

“Not deaf,” snapped the CEO. “Just hard of hearing. Depending on the acoustics and how you talk he can hear fine. But it’s when what you say is just out of his hearing range that he mishears things in spectacularly creative–and profitable–ways.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Huh? A pot of kitty litter?” said Cuthbert. “Talk a little louder, I can’t quite hear you.”

“Write that down,” the CEO said again.

“What possible profit could be had from a pot of kitty litter?” cried Helmquist.

“Don’t knock any of Cuthbert’s ideas,” said the CEO brightly. “Not a single one, no matter how farfetched. When we were going out for movie night, he misheard ‘Clint Eastwood’ as ‘penis whistle.’ That little gem of an idea has cornered the market on gag gifts for bachelorette parties.”

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