A hard kick to solid oak wood slams the front door to an apartment swinging open. The mid-set gentleman is Josh Tales who has just been retrenched by his company as a Regional Salesman.
Josh decides to head to his local bar to blow out some steam after his hectic day. He pushes into the bar and is surprised to find four guys gobbling a couple of beers at this hour of the day. He was always amused by the bar chatter and never felt bored or depressed when someone else had a worse story to tell.
A guy with spectacles called Jim asks “Hey Big Sam, what is Jane doing these days?” Big Sam stares hard at Jim asks coldly, “Why are you asking about my sister?”
Jim says, “I saw her looking executive and driving a really nice car.”
A guy named Phil with an annoying laugh jokingly says, “He’s a secret admirer.”
Big Sam ignores Phil and answers Jim, “She is an Accounts Clerk” and “Imagine she has only been doing night school for six months and she is now earning thousands of dollars with great benefits.”
Josh coughs after hearing that and starts thinking of a change of career. He rushes back to his apartment and starts an internet search for Accounts for beginners. Pulls out today’s paper and skips the usual savage killings, and heads to the classified. While searching for Accounts night schools, he stumbles on Accounts job listing which gives him a devilish look. A food processing company with a Senior Accounts vacancy draws his attention and he rips the advert off.
On his laptop rapidly keying in a few words, Josh comes up with a plan to apply for the Senior Accounts job by forging a decent resume. He looks endlessly for a company with a Senior Accountant based in Canada which would be possible to use as a reference in the States. He finds an individual called Michael McGill who works for a paper making company and his work history is simple to find. Michael McGill’s two previous work places are a Tin Food Packaging company and a Timber Supplying company.
Josh calls his cousin Paul who happens to be a Computer Whiz, “Hello, where are you?” Paul sleepily answers, “Hi, am home bro. What do you want now?”
Josh asks him, “I need a driving license and accounts qualifications with the name Michael McGill, and can you still route phone numbers through to your laptop?”
The computer whizzes shouted yes to all, and hung up without any further communicate.
The food processing company CEO and CFO would need to be outsmarted in order for Josh to get hired. And Josh had devised a plan to make sure these important men instantly recognize him as he went for his interview. The CEO was John Hallway who inherited the company from his Dad and he usually frequented a member’s only golf club which Josh had to infiltrate. After watching the clientele who entered the club he spotted a beautiful blonde who for the past three days usually came and left alone. The beautiful blonde was addicted to a banana flavored smoothie at a pastry outlet in the city centre which she always indulged after playing tennis at the club.
Josh used the classic meeting move of swapping a wrong drink and bringing it back with an apology. But he swapped a wrong person’s drink and a young gentleman came towards him holding a cup written his name. Josh was surprised that her attention was taken up by the small unfolded drama. She smiled at him with that what an idiot expression which he gladly embraced.
Josh walked up to her and said, “Taking a wrong cup can be deadly these days” and “I was in a middle of a riot last year because someone grabbed the last sugar pack.”
The beautiful blonde laughed, “Is that true or just bullshit?” With a grin Josh replied, “What is bullshit exactly?”
The blonde replies, “Your lies are.”
He laughs and says, “Am sorry, just trying to impress you. I hear pretty girls are usually impressed with riots”, and “My name is Josh.”
The blonde shakes his hand with a smile and says, “Not this one. My name is Emily.”
As they chatted Josh turned the conversation to tennis which he happened to be great at because of the circles his father ran with when he was a lawyer.
Josh complimented her, “I love your tiny tennis outfit” and “I am sure you are a great tennis player also.”
Emily replied, “I do alright but I think I can get better.”
Josh saw his chance and took it, “I can help you improve but in one condition.” She was interested in his proposition, “Ok. What is your condition?”
Josh smilingly says, “You have to take me out for dinner very weekend until you are as good as Serena.”
She laughed and showed him a finger while saying, “Only one dinner and maybe will think about another.”
He just slammed his hand on the table and shouted, “Sold to this lovely lady over here”, she laughed.
Josh reached home excited about the blonde beauty but it was short lived because he was immediately focused on the CFO at the food processing company. He jumped in the bathroom for a quick shower and dressed up formally for the evening which was leading up to be an intriguing night. He got into the taxi and headed to the prestigious grand hotel which had a
gentlemen’s club next door which usually hosted very exclusive night where only money talked and bullshit ran a marathon.
Luckily Josh had an ex-girlfriend hostess who was also serving drinks by the club bar. His ex had put his name on the guest list which allowed new suitable future members to come and get a feel of the place before joining. Josh and his red headed ex named Jesse were very close friends now because he helped her when everything in her life crashed and burned 4 years ago. She was in debt for $10000 and they were in a process of seizing everything she owned but Josh secretly sold his car and father’s rolex to pay off her debt. She found out two years later from his computer geek cousin that Josh was walking because he sacrificed his belongings to help her. Since then their relationship had been strong but not sexual.
Josh entered the club sitting area and noticed the CFO named Jefferson Powell undoubtedly after the former president because his age seemed just about right. Josh hustled passed the cigar smoking gentlemen and was impressed that they all seemed to ignore anyone from the outer circle. He took out a Cohiba Behike cigar from his left-sided blazer inner pocket which was one of the most expensive cigars in the world; he stuck it in his mouth and removed a solid gold cigar cutter from the right side. Before he could light the cigar he had already drawn the attention of Jefferson and company as planned. This cigar was a special edition in that it was bigger and longer than the usual cigars hence the sudden attention from every cigar smoker in the room. Josh removed the solid gold cigar and smacked it using his other hand which made an unusual pop that made every uninterested patron look up at him as a flame blow out of the lighter and scorched through the tip of the cigar. Josh blew rings of clouds one after the other until a beautiful flower was formed by haze of smoke and everyone was impressed including the hostesses who were knee weakened.
After his exhibit of cigar and smoke Josh turned to sipping his cognac until a hand patted him at the back.
Josh turned round and saw Jefferson who said, “Very impressive. How much did you buy that brand of cigar for?”
Josh pulled out another cigar and handed it to him. He said, “Real gentlemen don’t mention prices like that. Its priceless to me like memories.”
That visibly impressed Jefferson and he said, “True, I like that. My name is Jefferson and you are?”
Josh introduced himself as Michael and they chatted boringly about who had a bigger cigar throughout the evening.
Saturday morning felt great, Josh was pleased about how his encounter with Jefferson went and today was the day he runs into the CEO John Hallway. Josh found out that John frequented the golf club every Saturday afternoon and that happened to be the same afternoon he organized a game of tennis with Emily.
After Josh showered he decided to confirm with Emily if their tennis date was still on.
The phone rang a couple of times before Emily answered it. She said, “Hello Josh, Are you ready for a tennis lesson?”
Josh jokingly replies, “Damn that’s my line girl” and “Yes, I am ready to do some spanking.” As they both laugh.
A red mustang races to the gates of the golf club and brakes just an inch away from the main entrance with the security guard almost soiling his pants.
The guard asked vigorously, “What can I help you with?”
Josh sarcastically replies, “You can start by opening the gate and getting out of my way.”
The guard laughs and says, “This is not your mother’s house” and “Please turn around and stop blocking the entrance.”
Josh says, “I am a guest of Miss Emily Roth.”
The guard laughs and responds, “Everyone is a guest of Miss Emily” and then, “You need to leave.”
At that moment, Emily drives up in her yellow Porsche 911 and hoots behind Josh. The guard approaches her car to tell her that he is trying to get the mustang to turn around and unblock the entrance. But she gets angry and starts shouting at the guard who runs towards the gate and ushers both cars inside.
Josh parked his car and jumped out, he walked to where Emily had parked and greeted her with a hug. And he said, “My hero” and “You ready to get sweaty”, with his eyebrows moving up and down in flirtation.
Emily smiles and drags Josh towards the club entrance, and introduces him to the Manager and all the club staff. They played for a few minutes when Josh noticed his target, in the form of John Hallway, walking past with his two golfing companions. Josh grabbed Emily closely towards him as they both anticipated a tennis ball flying out of the tennis ball shooter and that got the three golfers’ attention as Emily was one of the most beautiful women to ever glide through the club.
Emily and Josh were chilling on the terrace overlooking the golf course after a heated set of tennis when John stopped by their table and greeted them and left. He was pleased that two of the powerful men on the job interview board at the food processing company would certainly recognize him on Monday during the job interviews.
After spending a sleepless night, Monday morning sunrise was bestowed upon Josh and that propelled him to grab a shower and start preparing for his interview at 10 this morning. He got out his grey lucky suit with a white shirt and red tie, seemingly the uniform for politicians. Josh grabbed his brief case and slammed the door shut behind him as he confidently swaggered his way to the interview.
Josh arrived at the interview waiting room with 15 minutes to kill and spent those minutes analyzing his four competitors. Only one competitor gave him reasons to worry because he seemed to be well experienced and undoubtedly had the qualification to match. The other three guys were visibly new graduates and had no experience required to get the job.
The receptionist walked into the interview waiting room and called out, “Mr Jones?” and “They are ready to interview you for the Maintenance Worker Job.”
To the surprise of every interviewee, the one guy who everyone picked to be the main competitor stood up and left the waiting room following the receptionist. And each interviewee had a small smile across their lips and it was four instead of five now.
Josh was the second to last interviewee to enter the conference room which had four people waiting to participate in this interview. The two other unknown individuals were presumably the secretary and one of the Shareholders or Managers. The secretary was a very cute red head with a pretty smile she flashed when greeted by Josh and she quickly glanced at the CEO which indicated that they were probably sleeping together. The other ancient looking male looked like he was sleeping because his eyes just looked like they were almost closed shut.
After exchanging greetings and pleasantries Josh sits down and the CEO formally introduces him to the interview panel. Josh gets a hint of recognition from the CEO and CFO he worked so hard for at the Golf Club and the Gentlemen’s Club.
The CEO starts off by asking Josh, “Please tell us a bit about yourself?”
Josh clears his throat and starts talking about the resume based on the real Michael McGill and concludes by telling them his half American and half Canadian hence the American driving license.
The CFO explains to Josh, “This position level is between the CFO – Chief Financial Officer – which is myself and two Junior Accountants”, and “You will experience intense pressure from my office if your figures are not adding up, how will you cope with pressures like that?”
Josh responds, “I live for pressure induced situations”, and “I am the best person for the job.”
I hope that answered your question, thought Josh.
The old fella looked suspiciously at Josh and pointed out that, “I don’t think you are Canadian because you don’t have the humbleness and politeness associated with Canadians”, and added “You look as cunning as a fox in sheep’s skin.”
Josh laughed along with the CEO, CFO and the red headed secretary but the old guy was as stone-faced as ever.
Josh responded, “I have you Yankees to blame for that”, as the others continued laughing. He added, “I was sweet, humble and polite before I entered this conference room.” And more laughter rang out through the conference room.
The moment Josh was waiting for and preparing for had come. The CEO asked him for his original certificates. He needed to distract them on to another subject matter because he did not have his original certificates but only the fake soft copies his cousin designed and created for him.
One thing Josh learnt as a Salesman was that people always forgot what they were initially talking about when something else more interesting was introduced. He used that trick whenever his customers started complaining about lack of money, he would change that into positive thinking by giving them a clear picture of the benefits.
Josh started opening his briefcase filled with a lot of useless papers while he engaged in meaningless conversation. As he pulls out his documents, the whole pile of paper falls to the ground.
Josh angrily remarks, “Just great.” As he starts lifting the documents, few at a time just to buy himself time.
“Anyone watch the Lakers game yesterday?” Josh asked.
The CFO jumped out of his seat and shouted, “Man, Kobe was on fire yesterday.” With a smile the CEO smiled while saying, “That boy sure can shoot.”
While kneeled down and still picking up the documents Josh said, “I actually have a signed jersey from his first season with the Lakers”, and “It’s nice and framed in a nice safe place.”
“Oh you mean in your living room”, responds the CEO with a giggle.
Laughing Josh says, “No, rather in my bedroom” and “It should be safer when its closer.” The CFO says with a grin, “You sound more like a groupie, son.”
Josh responds, “My days of grouping are well over”, and “at least I got a jersey out of it.” The three basketball fans laugh.
An angry secretary complains, “Is this a frat party or an interview?”
The old man who is half asleep stands up and walks towards the door. He turns and shouts out, “Looks like we are done here.”
As the door slams shut, Josh stands up holding the documents and pulls out his High School diploma, and Marketing qualification omitting the two Accounts qualification. He tosses them in the middle of the conference table, close enough to be seen but far enough to be out of reach from the hands of the CFO and CEO.
Josh lets slip, “I had the Accounts qualification at the first interview”, as he continues looking through the documents while standing.
“You said you had another interview this morning?” asks the CEO.
Josh responds, “Yes, and I have one more this afternoon.” He adds, “That’s why I am carrying around extra weight in this briefcase.”
The CFO was sold by Josh the moment they spoke about basketball. He Asked Josh, “So are you any good in basketball because we are always improving our company basketball team.”
Josh knew he had the job at that moment. He nodded his head with a smile and said, “Yes, I am. Just call me MVP.”
The CEO waved off the qualifications and turned to the CFO then Josh, and said “We have your soft copies of your CV and qualifications.” And added, “We will contact you today if you are successful and we will give you an offer then.”
Josh finished packing his documents and thanked the interview panel and walked out of the conference room.
The CFO said after Josh walked out, “I have a good feeling about him.”
In agreement the CEO nodded his head saying, “He would be a great additional to the team.” The secretary just shook her head and said, “Yeh am sure basketball was not a factor, right.” The CEO and CFO both denied that as being utterly preposterous.
Josh got home feeling confident about his interview. After making himself lunch, he was about to dig into the dish when the cell phone started ringing.
Josh answered, “Hello. Yes Mr Michael McGill speaking”, a smile came over his face when the red-headed secretary told him he got the job.
After screaming and jumping around the apartment, Josh called Emily and asked her out for a celebration dinner tomorrow. But Josh knew he had two weeks to master accounting basics before he started work. He started looking for night school institutes in the city.
After searching endlessly, Josh found a Business College located 10 minutes away from where he lived. He immediately enrolled on-line for their night classes in Accounts Level 1 which commenced in two days.
Josh was always a late comer; hopefully he will not miss his own funeral, as his red mustang swung to the pavement and halted at the entrance of Emily’s extravagant apartment building.
Josh held the ringing phone until he heard Emily answer, “Hello, will be downstairs in a minute.”
He said “Cool, will be waiting for you.” He smiled and was relieved that she was not mad at him for coming so late but he figured that women are never ready on time either.
Emily walked out of the apartment with the doorman escorting her towards the car. She was looking ravishing with her red dress matching with her tiny purse and shoes. The size of the purse reminded Josh that he was definitely paying tonight but don’t man usually pay.
I wish we could skip dinner and do something more physical. As Josh slammed the door shut after Emily had jumped in. One thing Josh loved about her was that she never seemed bothered about money but that could be because she was raised with a silver spoon.
Josh took her to a Jazz night spot after dinner where there was a Jazz band performing and a better dance floor which could accommodate more than 500 hundred people. They were in each other’s arms for the duration of the Jazz show but Emily had enough champagne and red wine to call it a night.
After reading up on his accounting for two weeks, Josh was more than confident on his first day. He was given a big office with the view of the car park which seemed crappy but the office size and interior made up for it. He was speechless when the pretty red-head secretary brought his car keys of a BMW 5 series. Josh had hit a jackpot with this job but was in no position to relax until he sorted out his name and qualifications.
A knock rang out just outside the office of the CFO Jefferson Powell. “Come in” cried out the CFO.
Josh entered and greeted, “Good morning sir.”
Josh explained to the CFO that he found his biological father two months ago and was convinced into changing his last name back to his biological father’s surname. His biological father insisted on him changing to his family name if he was to inherit his part of the estate. His adapted father’s stand to this was very supportive and believed it was best to keep the Family tree well branched.
Josh informed the CFO that, “I am legally changing my last name to McGill and my full name will be Mr Michael Josh McGill.” And he added, “I will bring the legal documents if required by the Human Resource Department.”
The CFO was supportive and said, “It’s important to claim your birth right” and “I hope you sort it out and don’t worry about the Human Resource Department, they will pay you under your new surname.”
The door slammed shut behind Josh as he walked back to his office. He was now in a great mood after putting his last piece to the puzzle of deceit which was wiped off and fell apart when he saw the real Michael McGill walking towards the company CFO’s office.
With a well tailored grey suit with shirt and tie to match, real Michael entered Josh’s office and sat across from Josh and said, “Hello, identity stealer.”
Josh was speechless and managed to just say, “Who are you really?” and “What did you tell my boss?”
Real Michael just giggled and said, “You know my name but what are you willing to offer me for my identity?”
“I don’t have money because I got sacked almost a month ago” said Josh with a trickle of sweat running down his forehead.
Real Michael made a suggestion, “Since I introduced myself as Mr John Smith the Salesman” and, “I suggest we split your salary 50/50.”
Josh laughed and asked with concern in his eyes, “Is this a shake down?” “No. This is a friendly business transaction.”
“OK. Let me think about it.” As he received the business card from Real Michael which was titled – Mr Randy Spelling – he knew he was in big trouble.
His encounter with the Real Michael McGill had devastated Josh. Josh was lucky to have subordinates of the like of Peter Jones and Samantha Moore who were taking the bulk of the workload and unknowingly helping him learn and master bookkeeping which he was also studying at night school. He was always expected to submit his weekly reports which reflected the financial forecast and financial analysis of the company productivity.
Emily and Josh’s relationship had blossomed into something special which was heading to the next level of meeting the folks. The night before Josh was to meet Emily, he had a nightmare of Emily stabbing him in the heart which woke him up in a cold sweat. At that moment, Josh knew he had to tell Emily everything about his accounting scam.
The Italian restaurant was very classy and elegant, it seemed appropriate as the last place Josh and Emily would spend time together before she presumably decides to end their relationship. Josh entered the restaurant and was shown the table he had booked yesterday in this fully packed restaurant.
Emily stood up as Josh approached their table. He kissed her on both cheeks before pulling out her chair and seating her down before taking his own seat.
Josh asked Emily, “How are you this evening?”
Emily replied with a smile, “I am fine” and “How about you?” “Am great” answered Josh.
They two ate their dinner with total silence which was signified by footsteps and low chattering. “OK. Enough of this, what is going on with you?” she asked.
He dropped his soup spoon and pushed his plate away to signify he was done eating.
Josh started telling her the truth of the last month, “I am resigning on Monday from my accounting job because I lied about my credentials and someone found out, and now they are blackmailing me into paying them half of my salary.”
Emily coughed out like she was choking and a horrified look came over her.
And she responded by saying, “Oh my God. Why would you do that?” She added, “You need to report the blackmail because these people could become ruthless.”
“No. I can’t report this because I could be in trouble.” He then added, “I am sorry but I was desperate. I know there is no excuse and I let you down.”
Emily was visibly upset as she stood up and walked off with Josh following her out while pleading for forgiveness.
Monday was a gloomy day for Josh after what happened over the weekend and what was to follow this morning. After a while Josh snapped out of his daze and snatched his resignation letter from his briefcase, and headed to the CFO’s office where he handed the letter to phone talking Jefferson.
At his office, Josh kept trying Emily’s cell phone which kept saying unavailable. He had tried calling her the past two days since their dinner date disaster.
Jefferson entered Josh’s office after knocking three times and he looked like the colour from his face had been forcibly removed.
CFO Jefferson asked while waving the resignation letter, “Are you seriously leaving” and “is it the salary because we were planning to review it after your six months probation.”
Josh sadly replies, “I am sorry, it’s a personal decision” and “The salary is great. And you have all been wonderful.”
An upset CFO says, “But the basketball team has been doing great with you in it.”
Josh answers looking irritatively now, “The team has good players Jeff. Don’t think you will struggle without me.”
“Players are good but not great like you” responded Jefferson. Jefferson walked to his office like he had just lost his best friend.
After saying his farewell to all his workmates, Josh dialed the number of the real Michael and arranged a meeting at one o’clock this afternoon.
Josh casually strolled towards the garden chairs outside of the fast-food restaurant and could see the smirk on the real Michael’s face. He sat down opposite Michael, and grabbed a chip off his plate which he tasted and then spat it back on to the plate.
Josh looking disgusted said, “It tastes like shit”, even though the chips were decent. Michael responded by saying, “Whatever. Where is my money?”
Josh asked, “What money?” and added, “I have quit working.” “Don’t care if you still working or not” said real Michael.
Josh pulled out his cell phone and took a picture of the real Michael, and proceeded to dial 911. Emergency Operator asked, “What is your emergency?” and “How can I help you?”
Josh enquired, “Wanted to find out the punishment for extortion and blackmail”, and also “the punishment by law for lying on your resume?”
Operator replied, “Extortion and blackmail are very serious offences”, and added “Falsifying your resume depends to whether you broke the law in the process.”
“Are you planning to report someone?” asked the Operator. “Not at the moment, thank you”, Josh hangs up and smiles.
As Josh was getting up and leaving, the real Michael grabbed his arm which provoked Josh into softly karate chopping him on the throat with the side of his hand. Michael was caught by surprise and dropped to his knees while struggling for breath.
Josh kneeled next to him and said, “This is definitely not over. It will be, next time I see you. I will gladly take your pathetic life and then it will be over.”
Josh walked off with real Michael still red-eyed from the karate chop which was expertly executed otherwise he could have choked to death.
The parents of Josh were not pleased he quit work but were later delighted by the news that Josh was studying to be a Chartered Accountant. His dad was so proud that he signed a cheque to cover all expenses during his studies.
The one thing left to do was conclude his relationship with Emily once and for all. Josh decided to go the old fashioned way and write a short letter to her. After writing the letter he went to the elegant apartment building and conned the doorman into letting him in the building. He momentarily stood outside her door with an intention of knocking but he decided against it, and tossed the letter under the door.
Emily ripped the letter opened and read it:
To my Soul mate,
Only have these words to say,
I Love You. And you are the best thing that ever happened to me. Wish you all the best. Love Josh,
Three years on, Emily attended the graduation ceremony of Josh which certified him as a Chartered Accountant. And he promised Emily he would change her current engagement ring into a wedding ring. He chose to also change his full name to Michael Josh Tales, to remind him of how close he came to losing everything he adored including his fiancé and freedom.
By Kina Phiri from Malawi