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The New CEO


Harry Buschman

(A flash fiction story inspired by a portrait of Benjamin Franklin.)

Marty Virus and Barney Spam couldn’t see eye to eye on anything. A day couldn’t go by unless one or the other blew up and blamed the other for something neither of them could have prevented. I mean, after all, this was the headquarters of Microsoft and things are supposed to run smoothly ... right?

But they just couldn’t get along. Put them in the same room together and within five minutes there would be harsh words and the first thing you know someone would have to separate them. Visitors and clients would look up in alarm, button their coats and take their business elsewhere.

This year it was at the costume Christmas party at the Great Gorge Conference Center up in New Hampshire. It was to celebrate the union of Microsoft and AOL and name a new CEO for the combined companies. A really big do. The naming of the new CEO was what started the fight.

I dressed up as Benjamin Franklin, granny glasses and all. I thought it might lend me an air of wisdom and experience even though I realized my chances of being named CEO of the new conglomerate were pretty slim. Marty Virus dressed up as Ivan the Terrible and Barney Spam came as Spartacus. Right away you could tell there was going to be trouble, both of them wanted that CEO job so bad they would kill for it. Well, both of them jostled their way up to the front of the hall when the P.A. came to life and announced that Bill Gates had something very important to say. We all knew, of course that he was going to announce the merger and the new CEO.

One of them must have pushed the other because there was a sudden unpleasantness just as Bill Gates, (dressed as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz) took the microphone. He was wearing that vague open-mouthed schoolboy stare of his -- well it was suddenly transformed into a look of utter terror when Marty swung his mace at Barney. Barney drew his sword in a flash and fended off the blow. People gave way down front to give them room and Bill Gates gathered his skirts about him and made a hasty exit from the stage.

The two contestants, now sweating and red in the face fought their way through the overturned chairs and the panicky guests until they reached the exit. Someone, (it may have been me) had the foresight to open the doors and push the two of them outside in the snow. We all gathered at the windows of the meeting hall and there they were ... fighting their way toward the edge of the downhill run overlooking Paradise Valley.

To our shock and horror they both disappeared over the edge and a hush came over all of us. At that point Bill Gates clapped me on the shoulder, smiled that vacant smile of his and turned to me.

“Thank heaven, Mr. Franklin, I didn’t choose either of those two for our new CEO.”

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