The Corporatorium: Bats (Episode 11)

As I wrestled my outsized binder down the hall, I passed Diana handing out print samples with unusual energy. “Oh, good, you’re back,” she said in her let's-get-straight-to-the-point manner. “You’re debriefing us at the production meeting. Meeting’s moved to 10. TWO’s running late.  Bats.”


I was distracted by the familiar “ping” of an incoming MOO.  Soon followed the familiar chorus of resigned sighs that seemed to whisper “What now?”

M E M O R A N D U M  O F  O P P O R T U N I T Y !

From: The Office of the CEO
           The Office of the Director, Global Human Resources
To: All Employees

A company-wide web cast has been scheduled for this Friday at 12 noon EST. 

While we realize you may have client obligations that will preclude you from attending this webcast, we strongly encourage you to make every effort to attend.  We will be announcing important changes we are implementing as we reposition our firm for increased success in the competitive global marketplace.  These changes will affect many of our processes and procedures and will impact every employee.

This important webcast will be recorded and uploaded to our employee message board so you can listen to it in its entirety at any time.
A Lotus Notes Calendar invitation with login/dial-in information will be disseminated shortly.

Uh oh! Until now, the new Leadership Team, unable to tell us what we should do, despite the millions poured into their collective purse each year, told us instead what we had done.  The Leadership team, without understanding what was wrong, had apparently now decided to take corrective action.

Nigel was standing in the doorway of Ivy, one of the Cerberus as she read the MOO. “Oh Psshaw!” she exclaimed on finishing.

Ivy was our Miss Havisham her yellowed, torn dress, the way things were under The Previous; a tattered much read procedures manual clutched firmly to her aging chest, Miss Havisham’s faded bouquet.  And like Miss Havisham, Ivy steadfastly refused to believe the world had moved on, her dream vanquished. Dedicated to what had been, she would have had the clocks stopped at the moment The Previous fell if she could.

The Previous was the leadership team who had been summarily dismissed and replaced by the current team led by Lizzie Borden and Capital B.  The current team was thus referred to as The After.

“You should come over some time,” Nigel suggested quietly. “You’d like my girls.”


Ten o’clock.

“So,” Barbara the first said delicately. “Bats?”

“Yeah, again,” TWO said resignedly.

The Cerberus gasped sympathetically.


“In one of the upstairs bathrooms.  Evidently Bruce thought the room was stuffy so he opened a window.  The screen fell out and the bats flew in. The Batman is coming this afternoon.  I left Bruce to deal with him.”  Bruce, her beleaguered husband, like gold hammered thin.

“But how awful,” Barbara the second said. “Why would bats want to fly into your house?”

“I blame Hollywood and that awful Anne Rice,” Ivy said. “After all, they were the ones who made vampires seems so glamorous. And then next thing you know they’re being received in polite society and you just knew that once that happened, it wouldn’t be long before their less desirable cousins—the bats—would be pushing themselves in where they weren’t wanted—like decent people’s bathrooms!

“Indeed,” TWO said noncommittally.

“Indeed.” repeated one of the Cerberus. 

“Yes, indeed,” one of the less original of the Cerberus said.

“So tell, us—how was the meeting?” Barbara the first suggested quietly, adroitly changing the subject.

“Yes,” TWO said picking up the cue. “How is Miss Valdosta Feed and Grain?”

The Cerberus giggled.  My mouth literally dropped open.  TWO rarely indulged in this sort of open aggression.  She was too passive-aggressive for that.  Something must have happened on the Officers call this morning.  

“Well…” I began.

“—Wait! Who?” Barbara the second asked.

“Miss Valdosta Feed and Grain,” Barbara the first repeated, “She means Savannah.”

“Oh.  Why do you call her that?”

TWO gaped at Barbara “You mean you don’t know?  I thought everyone had heard that story.  Savannah is a former beauty queen from Valdosta, Georgia.  And winner of the Miss Valdosta Feed and Grain beauty contest—”

“—three years running,” I put in.

“So can you debrief us on your meeting?  Or is that confidential?” Diana asked hoping to get us back on track so the interminable production meeting would end sometime in the current century.

Dutifully, I explained the Center of Excellence concept and the placement of “Excellerators” within each region.

“Excellerators?” Barbara the first giggled.  “Really?  That’s what they’re calling you?”

“Uh huh.”  I nodded miserably.

“Well,” said Ivy with uncharacteristic vigor, “The Previous may not have known what they were doing but clearly neither do these people!” 

The words hung in the air, a stunning betrayal of The Previous.  Scandalized, the other Cerberus tutted in disapproval. TWO’s bloodless lips drew into a thin line.  A single word: “Indeed,” issued forth with all the finality of a slammed door.

The meeting ended abruptly and TWO and the two Cerberus still in favor left the room.  The rest of us, stunned, remained, cast into the darkness for heresy, for our collective silence had been construed as complicity.

Ivy stared dully at us. She looked dazed to find herself abandoned, left alone to face a future she hadn’t seen coming.


My phone danced on the nightstand. It was after midnight. I knew, without looking, it was a tweet from Nigel, for only in the stillness of that hour did Nigel feel able to give voice to his discontent.

Nigel Gale @MannequinMan
Aging quietly, noisily. joints crackle like kindling. pubic hair coarse & fine: copper wire & silver thread. my ageless girls brittle as I

Missed Episode 10, Excelleration? Read it here.

Read the entire series from the beginning here.

Next Episode Wednesday, August 10.

Copyright © 2016 Larry Benjamin

The characters and events described in this blog post exist only in its pages and the author's imagination.

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