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September 2, 2010

This story is part of my series on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Also posted: Wrath, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride

Photo Prompt by Sandy Morrison
excessive desire and pursuit of wealth, power, and status*

Jonathan stared down from his office on the thirty-fifth floor. The last rays of sunlight danced on the glass of nearby buildings creating a kaleidoscope of images. Below people hustled down the sidewalks like ants scurrying for cover; rushing off to catch trains and cabs to the bar, the gym, or home to family. They would never know how many lives had been changed today.

By now, operations in twelve facilities in four states were shut down. Employees sent home with no warning, no paycheck, no pension – collateral damage in a down economy. Locks were changed and inventories tallied. Anything of value was to be auctioned, the funds used to payoff those who’d been told their investments were guaranteed. But times were tough – the stock market, the economy, the administration, anything to remove the blame from Jonathan’s Armani clad shoulders.

The door opened and his secretary said, “It’s time.”

“Thank you, Cynthia.”

After one last look at his corner office view, he turned, gathered his briefcase and Blackberry, and followed Cynthia to the elevator, passing empty desks and barren halls. Most of the files had been shredded and the hard drives wiped, leaving nothing behind but an empty shell of what once had been.

Two hours later he sipped his Scotch and confirmed the amount of the wire transfer to his private account. He eased back into the leather seat of his Gulfstream, on his way to the islands, with Cynthia’s mouth hard at work in his lap.


39 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2010 12:10 PM

    Great piece of flash… and to think I almost felt sorry for the guy.


  2. September 2, 2010 12:14 PM

    It makes you wonder how often that’s happened in real life.
    I like how empty it all feels, from the offices to his soul.
    Nice work!

  3. September 2, 2010 12:14 PM

    Hard core. Damn I love this.

  4. September 2, 2010 12:55 PM

    Collateral damages… it’s sad to realize how some people may label other people.

  5. September 2, 2010 1:19 PM

    Killer pen –

  6. September 2, 2010 2:10 PM

    The kind of guy you hope dies a painful death… Great story!

  7. September 2, 2010 2:31 PM

    Wow. At first I thought he was going to jump. Story chills because it rings so true!

  8. September 2, 2010 2:34 PM

    LOL. Loved it.

  9. September 2, 2010 3:33 PM

    Excellent story. Hopefully something very bad will happen to him soon. I’m guessing all those people just laid off will hope for it, too.

  10. September 2, 2010 3:39 PM

    Wow, what a bastard! And so timely. He skims off the profits while the “little people” bear the brunt. Perfectly illustrates the theme.

  11. September 2, 2010 5:09 PM

    This was a perfect representation of greed. The cold, calculated feel of it. Excellent.

  12. September 2, 2010 6:24 PM

    I could almost see Martin Sheen in the role… the initial set-up had me thinking he was going to leap, and then… and then… great stuff. Loving this series. Peace…

  13. September 2, 2010 9:26 PM

    Wow, I was feeling bad for the guy. Great job. 🙂

  14. September 3, 2010 1:20 AM

    This is not a morality tale. 🙂 I like the theme. I’m going to read wrath, now.

  15. adampb permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:04 AM

    I’m loving thinking where this series will go. Clever descriptions and what a cad.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  16. September 3, 2010 6:36 AM

    I really love this theme you’re working on…great idea and wonderful writing!

  17. September 3, 2010 6:59 AM

    See, now if you’d have consulted with your favorite dark author, your best bud ever, you’d of had her bite it off. 😉 nice work Danni, unfortunately a very true piece. Exihibit A- the bastards I work for. Can’t wait for the next one.

  18. Ian permalink
    September 3, 2010 8:00 AM

    I loved the story but really, is the guy all that bad? LOL! As always, a great piece of writing. Love those little twists you add. It’s like your recipe and it’s your best ingredient. Well done.

    • September 3, 2010 11:18 AM

      Thanks, Ian. And thank you to your awesome wife for the photo prompt!

  19. September 3, 2010 9:30 AM

    He’s a deliciously horrible character. Well done, Danielle. Hope his plane crashes.

    Loving this series.

  20. September 3, 2010 9:37 AM

    Recession may be for today, but Greed is timeless, and like here, knows no bounds. I really like this, it’s short and sick and to the point. (Couldn’t really say sweet, hahaha!) Great little character study. I’m looking forward to the others in this series.

  21. September 3, 2010 10:12 AM

    Great piece of flash, you care about the tale until the payoff and they you feel that damn hook. Well done.

  22. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    September 3, 2010 11:03 AM

    What Laura said! I’d like a follow up to show us that painful death. Very well written Dani.

  23. September 3, 2010 11:20 AM

    Wow! I’ve never had so many people disappointed that there was no death in my story! (of course, there usually IS death in my stories LOL)

    Thank you so much for the comments everyone. I can’t wait to share the rest of the series with you.

  24. September 3, 2010 3:07 PM

    Now that is a happy ending. Perhaps even for Cynthia.

    Second to last paragraph, wouldn’t it be “files had been shredded?” Or is that rare tense conjugation exemption I’m unaware of?

    Thanks for posting my #fridayflash!

    • September 3, 2010 4:43 PM

      Nice, John. Everyone else is begging for a fiery death except you and Ian. LOL

      Thanks for the grammar help (again). Corrected!

  25. September 3, 2010 3:23 PM

    Great flash. I was reeling with vertigo looking at the visual and the story had me reeling a bit too. I was thinking he might have jumped, but instead he was..:)

  26. September 4, 2010 12:17 AM

    Sadly this happens more often than we hear about, sometimes on a grander scale but more often on a smaller one. I really hope his plane crashes into the ocean or Karma bites his ass and he loses his billions when the foreign markets crash.

  27. September 4, 2010 5:55 AM

    Well done! That was not the ending I expected. You really know how to provoke feelings from your readers with your wonderful descriptions, and then the awesome twist at the end. Another winning story! 🙂

  28. September 4, 2010 7:00 AM

    You paint a picture of this dispicable man really well, Danielle…and it doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that he’s not far off the characters that live around us.

  29. September 4, 2010 8:34 AM

    I, too, almost felt sorry for the guy. Nicely done.

  30. September 4, 2010 2:34 PM

    This is one of my favorite pieces from you. Great job making us sympathize with him at the start just to have us wanting him dead by the end. Pulling that off in so few words is incredible 🙂

  31. Travis King permalink
    September 5, 2010 7:09 PM

    As Gordon Gekko taught us, “greed is good.” At least for some people, anyway. Timely story, considering the release of the Wall Street sequel and everything that’s going on in this economy. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. It’s nothing new, but your story is a wonderful snippet of corporate culture that adds some real human perspective to a tired axiom. Thanks for sharing it with us. Again, I look forward to the next installment.

  32. September 7, 2010 9:34 AM

    Sadly, far too many corporations think this way. It’s all about them and how many millions the CEO can rack up before moving on in their haste to destroy the next company – all in the name of their golden parachute.

  33. September 15, 2010 3:18 PM

    Perfect illustration, unfortunately, it’s a nonfiction piece. Even the biggest corporations have individuals making choices. It all comes down to a few horrible people branding evil as “just business.”

  34. September 17, 2010 6:46 AM

    All kinds of greed here. Very nicely done.

  35. September 25, 2010 8:13 AM

    Ouch. Expertly painted picture, especially the shocker at the end.

  36. December 24, 2010 12:56 PM

    Very nice. The ending was great. At the start, I almost felt bad for him, at the end I wanted to smack him. You painted this picture very well!

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