Monday morning in Cookie’s office.
“THEY CAN GO TO HELL.”
Furiously, Cookie grabbed the near-empty coffee mug from his desk, swung it over his shoulder and whirled it against the wall, where it smashed in a dozen pieces at the very moment that Janice walked in to hand over a memo from this morning’s meeting. What little coffee had been left inside the mug splashed onto her virgin-white blouse. She opened her mouth to give John ‘Cookie’ Dutch the most hellish rant he would have ever heard, but quickly shut it when she saw Cookie’s burning gaze aimed at her direction. It only took a second for the door to close behind her, which left Cookie and me to ourselves again.
John ‘Cookie’ Dutch, our company’s visionairy and CEO, had turned away from the door and was panting heavily, while clenching his fists and baring his teeth. In that pose, he stared out of the huge glass windows of our office that faced Bryant Park for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, his face lost all signs of stress and anger, he unclenched his fists and quickly glanced behind him, then grinned at me.
“Is she gone? Tell me I looked badass.”
I rested my face in the palm of my hand and sighed. “John, stop this nonsense. She has a boyfriend.”
“She wants me.”
“Is a lawsuit what you want?”
In an attempt to turn his attention to more serious matters, I gathered the notes from the floor that Janice (or ‘JayJay’ as Cookie creepily calls her) dropped on her way out. That meeting I mentioned earlier was to discuss the results from the alpha test for our latest video game in the acclaimed Dragonmaster franchise – a game series that both Cookie and I had loved ever since childhood and were thrilled to take up development for when the former bought the publisher and game studio, Far From Finished, with money that he won in a mobster poker game years ago.
I skimmed the notes and frowned. The testers had not been kind in their feedback and with only a month of development time to go before we had to move to the beta stage that preceded production, I started to get nervous.
“Even though the game features a mature and thrilling story, the visuals are bland and don’t incite any joy or sense of excitement in the player”, I quoted. The rest of the words weren’t very reassuring, either. I dropped my arms alonside my body and crumpled the notes in frustration. “I guess that’s it, then. Can’t change that in just a month.”
“Sure we can. Just need to spice things up.” Cookie had a wild look in his eyes.
“No, I’m not. I’m watching this japanese anime series now and they shamelessly get away with a twisted form of eroticism. Over the top, too. Kids and adults both will love it!”
“Can’t put japanese porn in fucking Dragonmaster, John”, I said wearily.
“I’m going to devote my time to focus on this. I’m going to become japanese. I’m going to find that magic missing spark. I’m going to make this game great and I won’t need a month. Give me an hour.”
There was no changing his mind. Whether he was high on life or coke, I couldn’t say. As part of the management team, being his trustee and his friend for over 25 years, I had to do everything in my power to help him.
So I did.
I rused him into taking a phone call saying it was from Janice, casually grabbed the only key to his office from his desk while he faced away from me and answered it with ‘howyoudoin‘, walked out of the door and locked it behind me. It would probably be best to let him regain his senses for a few hours before anyone entered – or exited – that office again.
My next course of action would be to check up on Janice. Even though she had been working here for more than two years and was familiar with Cookie’s antics by now, I was still uneasy about the threat of a potential lawsuit lingering in the air.
I found our secretary in the kitchen, where she was trying to rinse out the coffee stains with water. Had she been a bright young woman, she would probably have taken off her blouse first (and not taken up the job as – I quote from her contract – ‘hot sexy coffee lady’ in the first place).
Have you ever watched an episode of Baywatch – that 90s lifeguard show with hot women donning skin-tight swimming suits? The intro to that show featured a lot of slow-motion running on the beach and in the water with which little was left to the imagination. I was a teenager in those years and it almost was like watching porn legally. When ‘JayJay’ heard her name, she swung around to face me. Think back to that opening for ‘Baywatch’ and you’ll have a pretty good idea what it looked like.
“Can I ‘elp you, mister E,” she asked in her sexy french accent.
“Err, actually, Janice, I wanted to see if I could help you. I apologize on behalf of mr. Dutch… ”
She wordlessly heard my sentence die out, waited for more words and when none came, clenched a towel to her breast and headed to the ladies’ room down the hall. I followed.
“…He watched some stupid show again and got so excited that he wanted to try that which he saw out in real life…”
She halted her pace in front of the restrooms, turned back to me and gazed at me reassuringly.
“It’s okay, mister E.”
“Really?” I asked with a pinched throat, “Because I think it’s not.”
She lowered her gaze and a smile appeared on her lips. “You are sweet to cover for ‘im, mister E. But do not worry, I will not ‘old it against ‘im, this time.” Our eyes met, she slowly walked up to me and teasingly ran her finger down my chest. “Thanks to ‘im, I feel that we’re getting to know eachother a bit better, no?”
I felt it getting hot and stretched my collar a bit for good comfort. “Errr, I’m terribly sorry Janice… but I’m married.”
She pouted and took a step back, then smiled naughtily.
“For now you are.”
“But please excuse me, mister E… I have to go and dry myself ‘down there’ now.”
“Did the coffee….?”
“Not from the coffee… mister E.” She winked seductively and entered the ladies room.
I gulped again.
This couldn’t be happening; how could she have a thing for me? I’m the equivalent of a castrated dog compared to Cookie The Hunter. If Nadia ever found out, I could just as well replace the name tag on my office door with a new one that said ‘Dead Meat’. I shuddered, shook the thought, decided to leave it for now and started walking back to my office. I needed to focus on finding an exciting element to put in the new Dragonmaster game. It couldn’t be as simple as…
A high-pitched scream sounded from the ladies’ room. I immediately turned around and rushed inside.
The scene I witnessed in there could just as well have come from an anime show: Janice was holding her short skirt down with both hands and screamed her lungs out. Behind her against the wall, the hot-air-dryer was running at full volume. In front of her feet, half extended from underneath the bathroom stall door, lay Cookie. He had escaped his office by crawling through the air duct and had ermerged in the ladies’ restrooms.
Cookie’s eyes stared up at the textile coverings for her womanhood. The attempt she made to hide them was futile. The grin on his face was undescribable.
In fear of what would come next, I exited the restroom like lightning and hugged the wall with my back while breathing heavily. Inside I heard a joyful shout resonate.
Hopefully the proceeds of the new Dragonmaster installment would cover the cost of the lawsuit I felt would now be unavoidable.
Back in the kitchen, still recovering from the play I’d just witnessed and trying to ignore the grand finale that was unfolding behind me, I reached into a cupboard for my favorite mug, hands shaking, and filled it to the rim with the coffee that ‘JayJay’ had freshly made earlier.
‘What must go in, must come out’, I murmured and took a swig.
Right now, Hell didn’t seem like such a bad place to be.