You’ve had an amazing fiscal quarter, and it’s time for your annual review at your company. As you enter your Boss’s office and sit down, he has his back turned. “Well,” He says, “let’s get this started.” He turns and puts a revolver on the desk between the two of you.
When Al was summoned to his manager’s office, he expected just another routine check-in. He had no expectations of excessive firepower.
“Sir,” Al’s said shakily as his gaze fell to the large revolver, “Is that what I think it is?”
“It sure as hell is,” his manager, Mr. Blart answered with his hint of southern twang. “.357. Damn fine weapon.”
Al felt his throat tighten up. His hands began to sweat as he stood in the doorway to Blart’s corner office. Al had always admired the view from Blart’s office. Down below you could see the ever-bustling open-air market and the waterfront just beyond. At the moment though all Al could see was the bright chrome polish of the revolver sitting on Blart’s desk.
“Well don’t just stand there, C’mon in. Take a seat.” Blart motioned towards the faux-leather chair in front of his spacious oak desk. “It’s time for your annual review.”
Al saw himself sat down as if he was just audience to his own actions.
“Okay,” Blart said thumbing through a messy stack of manila folders on his desk. “Ah, Trivoli. Here we are.” He opened the folder, scanned the contents briefly, laid the file down and looked up to meet Al’s eyes. There was no discernable emotion in Blarts eyes. A moment passed.
“Sir?” Al began.
“Al,” Blart cut him off. “Do you know what we value in our employees here at Blart, Blankfein, and Flom?”
“A damn fine work ethic, a sense of humor, and above all:” Blart paused “Loyalty.”
“Let me finish Trivoli.” Blart said seemingly oblivious to Al’s sense of urgency. “Did you know that I served 18 years defending this great land?”
Al did, in fact, know that about Blart. If there was anything besides the view you noticed immediately in Blart’s office, it was all of the military memorabilia pinned up on the wall.
“Marines right?” Al said scanning the group picture of what he assumed might be Vietnam on Blarts desk.
“That’s right.” Blart relaxed and leaned back into his chair. He looked up towards the pictures of his younger self on the wall. “If I learned one thing over there Trivoli,” Blart raised a finger, “it’s that as a leader if you don’t have the loyalty of every man in your company, someone’s bound to get killed.” Blart’s gaze fell once more to Al who now felt beads of sweat forming on his brow. Al could do nothing but shrink under Blart’s laser focus.
“Anyway,” Blart smiled.
“You’re numbers are fantastic and everyone around the office that I’ve spoken to says that you don’t have a mean bone in your body.”
Al felt the all the tension building in his shoulder release. He took a deep breath. “That’s good to hear sir.” Al said. “Y’know I really felt like I was clicking at the end of last year.” Al flashed a smile.
“I’ll say.” Blart’s smiled vanished and he paused a moment. “Well, Let’s get on with this.”
Al’s adrenaline kicked in once again, his hands felt cold. “Get on with what?” He said trying to mask the stress in his voice.
“Like I said, Al, your numbers are great, everyone likes you, but I’m not convinced that you’re ready to move up the ranks here at Blart, Blankfein, and Flom.”
Al fidgeted in his seat. ‘Enough with the theatrics,’ Al’s inner voice screamed. It took a second for that Blart’s last sentence to sink in. “You mean a promotion?”
“That’s right.” Blart said reaching for the .357. “I think you’re past due. But I have to know one thing.” Blart lifted the revolver and felt the weight of it. “Are,” Blart raised the barrel level to Al’s nose. Al started to piss himself.
“You.” Blart’s thumb reached for the hammer. Al began to sob.
“Ready?” Al heard a click. Nothing. He opened his eyes. Blart was held out the gun butt-first in Al’s direction.
Al shook. With what he didn’t know. Relief? Anger? Fear?
“Take. The. Gun.” Blart said sternly.
Al took the gun.
“Now shoot me.”
“Are you serious?” Al said, surprised with how heavy the pistol felt. He then realized he was exhausted and he couldn’t stop from sobbing.
“Do it.” Blart said calmly. His eyes were wide open. He screamed the second time. “DO IT.”
“This is fucked.” Al yelled as he held the pistol up. His finger wrapped around the trigger. Blart looked up, breathed deep, and looked back at Al.
“Right here,” Blart said pointing to his right pectoral.
Blart reached for a pencil on his desk and bit down on it. Al took aim but hesitated.
“DO IT.” Blart screamed through gritted teeth.
Al squeezed. There was no noise. Blart flew backwards towards the waterfront. For a moment all Al could hear was a high-pitch ring. The door behind Al swung open. Blart’s secretary screamed.
“Again?” She was more angry than anything else.
“Oh, fuck.” Al felt his lunch coming up.
“Good sh-shit Trivoli.” A voice called from the floor. Al put the gun down on the desk and leaned over Blart’s desk. He could see where the bullet pierced through his shirt but saw no blood.
“Sir?” Al squeaked.
“Get ahold of yourself. You thought I was going to let you kill me?” Blart laughed. “Consider yourself promoted. Now go into the top drawer of my desk and hand me a smoke.”