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Justin Shaw
The Banter File

You know that expression; "you can't bullshit a bullshitter"? Well, I invented it. It's important that you realize that, I just don't have time for you to learn it on your own. I am 25 years old and I do good. I've been making six figures since college and I've done it all with smoke and mirrors. I've done it without expertise in any particular field and without familiarity of any body of knowledge. My success is directly attributable to the fact that I scream louder than the guy telling me "no" and I always, always get the last word. I realize this is abrupt, but time is the one luxury I do not have an abundance of at this point.

     I fucked up. I really did. I blew the biggest account we had. So stupid. I got into a screaming match with their CEO after a few too many manhattans. The problem being he was drinking club soda while I drank enough booze for both of us. Now I've got to answer for what I've done. There is no doubt in my mind that I'm finished. My boss, that conniving, ass-kissing little prick is going to axe me.

     That was Friday, today is Saturday. I woke up with a screaming hangover but it'll have to wait. I've got work to do. There is no way I'm going to let this very comfortable life that I stole fall apart around me, not without a fight. There would be casualties; there will be blood. I just don't quite know how, yet.

     I got up early which is fairly normal for me when I've had too much to drink. I took a huge piss and brushed my teeth, fighting back the pounding between my temples and the empty queasiness in my stomach. Unfortunately, I never black out; I had complete recollection of last night's train wreck. He had told me that our relationship was terminated effective immediately and that I clearly lacked the professionalism to carry out his objectives. He didn't have faith in me or the direction that my company was moving. What was intended to be a friendly client dinner quickly regressed into damage control and then an outright drag 'em out no holds barred barroom brawl.

<  2  >

     In my defence, it was bad from the word "go". He was pissed when I met him at the restaurant and I only started drinking when I realized we were going to have a problem. He had been right, to a point. They had placed a multi-million dollar order and we were lagging on the delivery. This wasn't the first time there had been problems either. My boss was aware of this, which is why he sent me out to meet him. My job was to smooth things over. My title is Director of Client Relations; it should be "shmoozer". My job was to conduct the behind the scenes negotiations, you know, get them drunk and laid and most importantly, sign on the dotted line.

     Anyway, the argument quickly escalated beyond work issues and I suspected that this was the real motive behind our corporate breakup. The lack of professionalism that he had referred to on my part stemmed from a recent incident involving his secretary. Like I said, we had signed a multi-million dollar deal and the negotiations had been tedious. Many long nights were spent at his office, our office and the various fine dining establishments and drinking facilities around the city.

     To make a long story short, I slept with his secretary. She was a sexy little thing and casual flirting eventually evolved into charming conversation laced with innuendo. We met for drinks well after work had been completed one night and one thing led to another.

     Now I may be young, but I know this business pretty well. I'll sum it up for you really quickly, just so you know.

     It's all about friends.

     Enemies are bad in this business; the only way to succeed is to make the people who don't like you change their mind. Friends introduce you to prospects, friends get you out of trouble and friends watch your back. Anybody and everybody should be your friend. I know the name of every janitor in my building, every parking attendant in the garage and every woman in the coffee shop. Snobbiness is a trait carried off only by people who can afford to not care what other people think. It doesn't apply in the game I'm in.

<  3  >

     So the morning after the tryst with the secretary, I told her what the deal was.

     "Listen Sam, I want to make sure that there's no confusion between us, you know, about last night. I had a great time and I really like you but I need to make sure that we have the same expectations." I spoke softly and looked deep into her eyes as I said this, it's a speech I've given a hundred times and I can do it with uncanny sincerity. The reason it's been such an effective tactic for me is because it is the truth. I did have a good time and I did like her and I needed to make sure she wasn't going to be hurt. If she got hurt, she would cease to be my friend and I can't have that. And the truth of the matter is, women appreciate honesty.

     "I know. I had a great time too. Don't worry, I don't expect anything. Just maybe we can do it again sometime." She really was a beautiful girl, I'd been lucky to spend time with her but I couldn't give her anything more at this point. That was the only bad part of my lifestyle. I hated to sleep alone but simply didn't have the time to devote to any one person.

     "I'd like that." I brushed her hair back with my hand, a cheesy tactic but again, effective in making her feel special.

     We saw each other at her office many times after that and had several friendly conversations. As far as I could tell, there were no lingering feelings of animosity. I don't think there ever had been. But, she had made the mistake of telling a co-worker that we had slept together and it had gotten around both of our offices. The CEO found out and I'm guessing that's why I'm standing here with my head in a toilet, contemplating what to do next and dry heaving.

     I pulled myself out of the bowl and up to the sink. I splashed cold water on my face and tried to shock myself into revelation.

<  4  >

     THINK GODDAMMNNIT, THINK.

     What was I going to do, how was I going to get out of this one? First thing Monday that fucking jerk would call my boss and have my ass on a platter. My boss would promise the moon in order to keep them as a client and to be honest I wouldn't blame him. My boss and I didn't have the greatest relationship to begin with. He was a nerd, an engineer who pulled the company line. I was a loudmouth frat-guy, concerned for himself primarily and nobody else second.

     Glancing at the clock, I realized that it wasn't as early as I thought it was. Or maybe I had been puking for longer than I wanted to admit. It was about ten and I figured I should at least check my email and see what happened between the time I left for my disaster last night and this morning's hangover. Then I'd go for a run and clear my head. Running always helped me think.

     I fired up my laptop and jumped online, dsl-ing my way into the company Intranet. As my computer chugged away I brewed a pot of strong coffee. I forced an un-toasted bagel down my throat to soak up the abundance of stomach acid that had accumulated since last night. I had forty-seven emails. Unbelievable. I had been out of the office for sixteen hours, between 4:00 PM on a Friday until now and I had forty-seven emails. Don't these people sleep?

     I ranked them by sender and gauged their importance according to who paid the greatest percentage of my salary. As I checked the senders, one in particular jumped out - shaley@hotmail.com. The subject line read "about last night." It was Samantha, the secretary. I didn't open the email right away, I just sat there trying to appreciate the irony of the subject line and the fact that she sent it the day after her boss terminated our working relationship. Why was she using her Hotmail account? Why didn't she just use her corporate one? Personally, I only used my Hotmail account when I was looking for a job.

<  5  >

     I double-clicked and opened it up. There was no message, just an attachment in a word document. It was entitled "banter.doc". I clicked on download and got up to pour myself a cup of coffee with just a splash of milk. I sat down and took a big pull of it. It was hot and it soothed my throat as the peristalsis worked it down.

     The file finished downloading and not knowing what to expect, I began reading. I figured our "understanding" had been a facade and she was going to tear me a new asshole as some scorned women do. Damn, I didn't mean to hurt her. I really thought we were cool.

     I began reading and couldn't believe what I saw. I dropped both my coffee cup and my jaw onto the floor as I stared in shock at her letter.

     "Sam, my wife's out of town tonight. My place, 8:00." Roger

     "Roger, I don't know, I think she's getting suspicious." Samantha

     "No she's not. She doesn't suspect anything."

     "Seriously Roger, I think maybe we slow this down a little. I mean, I work for you."

     "That's right. You do."

     It went on like this for fifteen pages. FIFTEEN PAGES! She had kept every email that he had sent her (of a personal nature) and had compiled a master document outlining the affair. What an idiot he had been, using email in the first place as a medium for carrying on an extra-marital affair with his secretary. Jubilation shuddered through me like an orgasm. And just like that, I had the upper hand.

     Hangover gone, clarity of thought regained, composure retained, I picked up the phone and dialled. Today would be a good day after all. I suddenly felt like celebrating.

     "Sam? Shawn here. How are you?"

<  6  >

     I told you, it's all about friends.

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