Slasher & Co
No time for breakfast, I tripped over the empty dog bowl in my run to the front door. No time, no time. Fumbling with the door keys, running for the train.
No seats, found a spot to lean by the door. Time to breathe and take stock. My suit is clean and pressed, dark grey (matches my hair). Briefcase, almost new. In my head, I flick through the documents: resume, project outline, budget expenses. All there, all good. I’d sweated out the project over the past six months and knew it was solid. At 40, I felt experienced enough to understand the requirements for the development of a business park to complement the new recreational area in Redfern, near Sydney. Now I just have to sell it to the developer.
My mind ranged over everything I knew about Slasher Development; the unapproachable CEO Stephen Draker, never met the guy, probably never will. I’m way below his pay grade. There’s only one person I know who works at Slasher, old Tony Jones. Tony and I worked together on my first project. He was a real bugger, always on at me.
“Jimmy, get me a coffee. Jimmy take the rubbish out; Jimmy, your budge stinks, do it again.”
Nothing was ever good enough and I was only the ‘go-for’; go for coffee, go for stationery.
After years of working with him I got to hate him. He was such a slob, and really sloppy in his work. He ate at his desk when we were working to a tight deadline. Ate with his mouth open, dribbling food onto the work and down his jacket. That jacket was legendary, everyone at work joked about it. Tony always wore it, and the stains and the smell showed it. A long, brown, stinky jacket that went everywhere Tony did. He left the company last year to join Slasher Developments, he’d seen the writing on the wall but hadn’t seen fit to share it with me. The company went bust six months later, all of us out on our arses. Except Tony.
Realising I was clenching my jaw thinking about his betrayal I tried to relax. If all went well this morning I’m be working with him again, in Slasher Developments.
Unemployment had not been fun, we’d lost the house. Me and Jeanie and the two boys are living in a small house out west. At least we’re still together.
Jeanie’s voice in my head from last night, “I’ll take the boys to school in the morning Jim, you just get this job.”
She said it kindly, but I know this is ‘make or break’. Jeanie’s put up with a lot, I shiver thinking about life without her and our two sons. I wouldn’t survive.
When I got married Tony had told me I was a fool; ‘taking on a wife’ is how he put it, as though it would burden or anchor me. He wouldn’t know, Tony had never married, never had a girl, or boy, friend that I knew of. I’d tried to get to know him, suggested a drink or a meal after work. His answer was always the same, “Only if you’re paying ‘cause you’re not worth the price of a beer.” Miserable bastard.
We never went out together.
I was gritting my teeth again. Relax, relax. I’d find some way of working with him, I needed this.
Finally, we reached Central, just as I realised I’d left my mobile at home. Shit. I needed it to check the address though I knew the general direction.
I set out, up Elizabeth street.
I was walking fast, trying not to sweat. I had ten minutes. Marching past everyone else, I caught sight of a familiar jacket. That was Tony up ahead! I’d be able to follow him. I was saved!
Watching Tony’s back, I remembered the shame of his rebuttal the first time I showed him my ideas for a project. “Don’t be a dickhead. You don’t have a stable budget; the resources are missing. It’s crap.” He threw the folder in the bin. He was a hard master, and I hated him. He left before I was good enough, he never gave me his approval.
I’ll show him, with this project in my briefcase.
He turned left, I followed. I thought about catching up with him, telling him my plans, getting his opinion. That stopped me catching up with him. I continued to follow that jacket. It reminded me of what he said to me when he left, “You’ve been riding on my coattails long enough Jimmy, time to do it on your own.”
I was gritting my teeth again.
Tony turned right, we should be there, only two minutes left. He turned into a building, finally I caught up with him at the lift and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Hi Tony, good to see you. How’s life?”
He turned around, looking quizzical. It wasn’t Tony. I couldn’t believe it, there couldn’t be more than one long, brown, sleazy, smelly jacket in Sydney, could there?
“Sorry mate, do I know you?”
“Ah no, I don’t think so, I um, ah. Do you know Slasher Developments? I’m looking for their office?”
“No, I don’t think they’re in this building.” He got on a lift and left.
I checked my watch. The meeting was now!
I ran into the street, checking every building, feeling more lost.
Finding myself in Hyde Park I knew I couldn’t make the deadline. I didn’t know where the office was. I sank down on a bench and thought about the many things leading to this end, starting with getting up late. Leaving my mobile phone at home; following the wrong damn jacket.
I looked around Hyde Park and noticed the homeless people, I sighed thinking of what Jeannie might say when she finds out I didn’t even get to the meeting. I needed to get my own long jacket, I could see a cold winter coming.