The Accounting

by Duncan L. Dieterly

P
Coke.

erry asked intently, “Are you sure?” As he wiped the dripping red ketchup off his pudgy chin after swallowing a huge alligator bite of his Jimmy John‟s mammoth burger.

“Yes of course. I mailed it out in hard copy after sending them the electronic copy, first thing this morning. Our bid for the Jaffrey Supply Contract is a done deal!” Chester boasted as he neatly popped his final diminutive bite of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, into his mouth. “Wow! That must of been a bitching effort.” Perry admiringly asserted as he stuffed a handful of fries into his gapping mouth followed by a gigantic swig of his large Cherry Diet Shaking his head in agreement Chester avowed, “Fuck, I broke my balls for three solid weeks to pull it together. You know that old fart Harkness essentially told me to get it done or hit the bricks. Man I had no choice.” He rolled his eyes to emphasize the tight place that trapped him. Chester growled, in conclusion, “I hope that asshole gets his soon.” “Well bro, you must be superman! You know it normally takes that long just to get Accounting‟s seal of approval.” Perry said in wonderment of his friend‟s formidable accomplishment. “Approval? What are you prattling about? What approval?” The surprised Chester fired off these questions. “Christ don‟t you remember that long position memo last quarter? Any contract bid proposals of over a million have to be reviewed and approved by the Accounting Department before submission.” Perry clarified his assertion. “Fucking hell! I forgot all about that! I never did one for over 900 K before. Holy frijoles! Now what!” “Man you‟re toast.” Perry said with a knowing sneer.

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“Well maybe not. If it‟s rejected, then no one will ever know. I mean what are the odds I could land such a huge contract, anyway? If it‟s accepted well then I‟m t-o-a-s-t.” Chester reasoned. “Well I bet you better slide it past them as fast as you can, just in case.” Perry solemnly advised Chester as he cleaned up his red stained chin with two more paper napkins. He dropped them in the center of his juice drenched styrofoam plate on top of the other three he had already destroyed. “Dammit, maybe you are right about that one.” Chester agreed. They dumped their lunch meal rubbish into the trash container at the entrance and put their empty plastic blue trays on top. Exiting the shiny, sterile fast-food restaurant hustling quickly back to their office. In the front hallway of the modern cement and steel office building, they unexpectedly ran into Harkness who wore a big crocodile smirk on his face. He approached them exclaiming, “Chester! There‟s my man! Great job, son, great job! I will have more challenges for you soon. I honestly didn‟t think you could pull it off, but you have. The underground rumble says we have a good chance to nail that contract. Especially since Larson and Son, our chief competition, just went belly-up. Yep… bankrupt-ville.” Harkness totally ignored Perry, who stood there like a potted plant. “What! When did that happen?” inquired Chester. “Just hit the news this morning. CNN I think. Someone was caught rigging bids on a big Navy contract. A real no, no, these days. The White House does not like cheating, especially when it goes public. Hardly the image they want to project to their precious voters.” “Oh, well that‟s great for us… I guess.” Chester agreed unenthusiastically. “You bet your ass it is. You‟ll be a big part of that action when we do land the contract with Jaffrey.” The smiling Harkness assured him. Chester smiled weakly, desperate to sneak away to hide under his desk. He felt nauseous. Perry gave him a big thumbs-up behind Harkness‟s back and retreated back to safety of his own messy cubical. Harkness jauntily continued on his way toward the entrance. Chester rushed to the elevator and went directly to the third floor. When the elevator door slid opened, he was confronted with the large gold letter wall panel that proudly proclaimed; „Accounting Department.‟
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He rushed to the rear cubicles on the floor to find his friend Dwayne McFarlane, who was a junior accountant in the department. Chester and Dwayne were ole poker buddies from college. He located his nameplate marking his small cubical and stuck his head into the entrance. “Hey, Dwayne!” “Hi Chester, didn‟t expect to see you up here in the ole bean barrel. What‟s going on?” Chester sat on the edge of the only chair in the cubical looking stressed; he said lowly, “I need some advice Dwayne… on a very serious matter.” “Sure shoot.” “Let‟s just suppose. Well, if someone inadvertently forgot to get an accounting approval for a large contract bid proposal. I mean, that wouldn‟t be a big deal? Would it?” “Oh yes! You bet your arse it would! That‟s the big battle raging between our VP and the rest of the VPs in this Company. Whoever makes that fatal mistake is asking for the ax. That‟s for damn sure.” He stated dramatically. “Great! Just great!” Chester lamented. “Who was it?” “Me.” Chester admitted. “Oh no, when?” “Just this morning.” “Oh… well that might not be all that bad then. I tell you what, let me call a couple of the mid-level guys on it and get right back to you.” Dwayne offered with encouragement. “Sure, sure that‟s great Dwayne. I can‟t thank you enough.” Chester dragged back down to his basement cubical. He waited, staring at the phone; gnawing on his fingernails until they were nubs. Finally, about three-thirty, the phone rang. “Brrring, brrring.” He picked it up saying, “Chester here. How may I be of assistance?” A voce answered him with, “Dwayne here. Look if you can get up here in ten minutes and bring a copy of your contract bid with you, I have arranged for you to have informal meeting with Mr. Garnet, one of our top chief accountants. He may just be able to smooth over your problem.” “Christ, I hope so!”
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“Well hurry, it will be just fine, you‟ll see.” Dwayne cheerfully reassured him. Chester hung up, not so sure. He opened his file cabinet that was only a quarter full, pulling out his Jaffrey file and sprinted to the elevator. He punched the up button and waited impatiently. It arrived. He pushed in, hitting the number three button. Arriving non-stop, he hurtled toward Dwayne‟s office. Standing, he was putting on his jacket coat. Chester didn‟t even have one with him today. Dwayne waved him on and rapidly walked him to the prestigious front offices. He opened the door to Room 300. In they walked. There was an older bland-faced woman at her desk. Dwayne said, “Here‟s the fellow I told you about Edith.” Chester glared at him. What had he told her? “Well Mr. Garnet will be off the phone in a minute and you two boys can go right in. He‟s expecting you.” He was when they strode into his spacious office. Mr. Garnet graciously waived them to take a seat in any one of the four large maroon upholstered chairs. They sat. He said, “Well, I hear you have made a little error Chester.” He stared at Chester coldly. “Let me see your contract proposal. Dwayne, why don‟t you wait outside, please?” Dwayne smiled supportively at Chester and slipped out. Chester handed the proposal to Garnet. Taking it, he immediately turned to section six, which contained the detailed cost estimates. He quickly scanned the eight pages commenting, “Humm.” and then “Aawww.” and then, “Well, well.” Garnet flipped the pages closed and slapped the proposal down on his desk. “Well, Chester you are a lucky man today. Very lucky. Although you made errors on several estimates… they were fortunately all too high, so, no problem. “We will have to run the numbers again, but I suspect you over bid by fifteen percent, which is a close one but not too appalling. Once we land a contract we can always have cost overruns and unforeseen cost increases that will make sure we turn a solid twenty-five percent profit. I am rather surprised at the accuracy of this estimate. How did you manage that, with your… limited experience?” “Well I followed the estimators‟ guideline book your department distributed to all of us last year.” It was only a little white lie. He actually had inadvertently found a previous contract proposal draft and just increased the numbers to adjust for a two-year difference.
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“I see. Most of our contract bidders don‟t seem to get their hands around our process in spite of our detailed directions. Well, no never mind. I can slip this through by tomorrow and it will be smooth sailing. There will be some backdating, but that‟s immaterial. It just avoids answering silly questions, which might delay our bid. I understand this is a sure thing and that we will all benefit by such a high value contract… so congratulations! But dammit don‟t ever go around us ever again. Capish?” “Oh, no sir! It was a stupid mistake. I‟m so sorry. I appreciate your assistance in the matter. You have been most generous with your time and support. Thank you, Mr. Garnet. I don‟t know how I can ever thank you enough for this.” The immaculate dressed man behind the large desk simply smiled benignly waving him off saying, “That‟s what we are here for, to back you boys in the trenches up. We are all one big team.” They both laughed for far different reasons. Chester out of relief for having his bacon saved. Mr. Garnet out of the sheer delight, that he had caught another poor fish. Using his usual creative accounting system, he would make this contract spin a tidy personal under-the-table profit for himself, with his sharp accounting tricks and insidious negotiating skill. With the extra skim he would able to go first-class to Paris for his vacation this year. It was an unexpected windfall.

It was almost four-thirty when Chester got back to his cubical. He sat down and relaxed for the first time today. He had pulled it off. He was going places now. I wonder if I will get a little bonus maybe. I can use the extra cash to pay some bills or may be take a brief trip to Vegas? His phone rang. “Brrring, brrring.” It was Dwayne. “How did it go?” “Great I can‟t thank you enough. He‟s going to take care of everything for me.” “That‟s great. He has been a big help to me up here.” “Well, why don‟t we meet at the Cheesecake Bar at six? I will buy you a tall drink or two to celebrate.”

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“Sure, see you then.” When Chester hung up, Perry appeared. He looked behind him and then asked in low tone, “Well how did it go?” “Great, he‟s going to backdate a form or two and the contract proposal is all officially approved.” “The word has already spread about your contract proposal. The bets are in your favor. You should get a nice raise for this one.” “Well I doubt that, considering our austerity program but maybe a little bonus perhaps.” Like schoolchildren they both chuckled delightedly. “Listen, I‟m meeting Dwayne at the Cheesecake tonight. You like to join us to celebrate the contract win?” “Oh, damn straight I would but I have to get to class tonight. I‟ve skipped the last two and need to do some heavy making up.” “Kissing-up you mean. Take an apple. Well that‟s Jake with me. We‟ll jus do it another time.” “Sure.” Perry turned and headed out. The phone rang again, “Brrring, brrring.” Before he could say anything he heard a jubilant Harkness yell, “I just got a call from a close friend! We landed that contract of yours. Jaffrey will announce the award late tomorrow afternoon. Congratulations‟ boy. We have some celebrating to do. Tomorrow night! Big dinner, on me, at the Royal Roast. You know where that is?” “Well yes.” He had passed the noted restaurant many times but never had the nerve to eat there at the prices the outside menu displayed. Wow, I’m moving up in the world. “Alright then, tomorrow night, at seven it is.” “Yes sir, Mr. Harkness, that‟s excellent.” He hung up. Leaning back in his chair, he daydream himself into the VP of Contracts massive office. He should be able to climb there in a couple of years and then he would really enjoy life; with long vacations, elegant dinners, regal cars and the endless latest electronic gadgets. Closing his eyes he imagined himself in a huge bed in a vast room being served Champagne by a gorgeous nude blonde. Ahh… that is the life for me! Chester called his mother and let her know that he had done well today and that when he came over on Sunday for dinner they could talk more about scheduling her back operation. Her

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Medicare only paid for eighty percent of it and she needed another $12,000, to cover the costs. He was very happy. Chester had been with the company for over six years and until today, his career growth lagged behind the speed of a slow glacier. This was his break away move… by God. He stopped daydreaming and rushed through his emails. Most were the usual business trivia. But at the end of the string, those sent after five-twenty-five; there was a dozen or more congratulatory notes, from all over the company, from people he barely knew or remembered. Wow, this contract really made him a star player. He could hardly wait until six when he could have his first tequila sour. He cleared up his emails and shut down. It was only five fortyfive but he had earned the right to leave early. Turning off the cubicle lights he headed out. A lot of the other rodent-people heads turned as he passed, they of course had to stay until well after six o‟clock. He reached the main floor, and decided he better clear his bladder and comb his hair. Chester entered the men‟s room and even had his shoes shined. He tipped the attendant a five. It was now well after six. He felt good, looked good and was on his way to meet a good friend to celebrate his success. It tasted good. He reached out to push the heavy glass exit door open. Someone behind him called out his name, “Oh, Chester!” It was Krystal from the risk management section. He had met her last month at an all hands motivational function. He adored her long golden hair. Turning, he stood away from the door till she reached him. All smiles she said, “Wow mister, you‟re hot news!” “What do you mean?” “Well it‟s all over the company about the multi-million dollar contract you won today. I am so proud of you! She gave him a big soft kiss on the lips. He almost pissed in his pants and would have, if not for his recent visit to the men‟s room. She pulled away saying, “Give me a call soon so we can celebrate your big win.” She dashed out. He leaned against the wall and tried to absorb what had just happened. Obviously a beautiful girl was attracted to him now that he was a big success. Wow, this was just getting better and better. He started to leave but banged his head on the glass door, which seemed to be stuck. He looked around and saw the flashing red lights above all exit doors.

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It was a security alert drill! He was caught inside! Oh, no this could take an hour before they cleared the problem and opened the doors again. Hopefully it was just one of their dumb assed tests. Just then, Dwayne came running up breathing heavily. “Christ Chester! I tried to call you. Did you hear what‟s going on?” “No, what?” Chester was at a total loss. “It‟s Garnet! Garnet was arrested! They charged him with embezzlement just a few minutes ago. They‟re dragging him off to jail and the lockdown is to clear his office and confiscate all his records. I just saw the security team swoop down on his office.” “Oh shit. What about my approval?” “Forget it! Your best off without it now since anything Garnet touched is suspect. It will all be turned upside down and inside out.” Dwayne advised him. “Oh shit! I wonder if they are still hiring over at Comstock and Company.”

The End

April 20, 2012 2780 word
[Note: If you liked this story you may swish to purchase one of my books: Short Stories One (2008), Short Stories Two (2008). Final Battle (2011). All these books were independently published by me with a print on demand publisher. You can get them from Amazon or Barnes and Nobel in hard copy, soft copy or e-Book formats. I just finished writing the draft of a mystery novel called Ladies of the Lake, to be published later this year.]

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