Sunday April 17th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: the penalty.

Getting some good writing work done today. Listening to game three of the Canucks first round series while I write this - they're up two games to none and the score is currently 2-2 in the second period. Lots of twos going on there.

Heading back to Osoyoos tomorrow morning. It'll be good to get back to farm work after this little break.


"Seems a little harsh, doesn't it?" the man asked from behind his beer. I wasn't sure if it was his fourth or fifth. "Punishment doesn't really fit the crime, seems to me."

"The judge has made his decision," I replied lifelessly. "He's done his job, now it's time for me to do mine."

"You don't seem particularly keen to get to it, seems to me." He paused to take another drink from his mug, giving me time to wonder if he was hoping to set a record for the most uses of the word 'seem' in one conversation. I glanced around the half-empty pub for a statistician but couldn't spot one. "Seems like maybe you're not interested in this particular job."

"You volunteering?" It was a joke but even I didn't laugh. "It doesn't matter what I think. I've got kids to feed and this is how I do that. So you'll have to excuse me - it's time for me to go to work."

I left the pub without looking back and headed for the gallows. Some days, it seemed to me at that moment, being an executioner was harder than others.


Greg said...

So did the Canucks win? Seems like you're doing a lot better this year than last!
The reference to the statistician made me smile a little, but overall I think the slightly sombre tone fitted the piece perfectly.

The penalty
Miss Havershock peered nervously out of her office window. Everything was a little blurred, so she perched her pince-nez on her nose and peered again.
Her office window looked out onto the day-care's recreation facilities: the mother-and-toddler swimming pool, the ball-pit, the brightly-coloured plastic climbing-and-active-play area, and the mini-turf football pitch. It looked like Felicity was refereeing a football game between two teams of toddlers, with the mothers and some fathers on the sidelines.
"No, no that can't be right," muttered Miss Havershock. She'd banned football because--
"FOUL!" screamed Mummy, pointing an angry finger at a toddler who'd tried to grab the ball instead of kicking it. Toddler face-palmed himself when he thought Mummy wasn't looking.
"Er," said Felicity, who hadn't realised how involved the parents got.
"Penalty!" yelled a father near Mummy, and suddenly half the crowd was chanting "Pen-al-ty! Pen-al-ty!"
Miss Havershock, kitting up in anti-riot gear in her office heard the cry take off, and redoubled her efforts to get armoured.

Watermark said...

Marc: Good one! Kept me hooked till the end when it all came together. Chilling! :)

Greg: I chuckled at the last line :) Good imagery there!

Here's mine:


Board members from the two companies gathered around the large oak table along with their lawyers. All the details of the merger had been finalised, save for this one clause. No one was quite sure how it managed find its way into the contract.

Talks between the two companies had been going on for months and all the finer details had been discussed in full detail. The contract had evolved from being just a set of scratchy ideas on paper to the hundred page document that sat in front of them, listing clause after mundane clause of the merger. The contract had been provisionally approved and signed on that basis. Today was the day that it had all meant to come to fruition. The contract was meant to be exchanged by all parties and within the hour all parties would go home happy. That had been the plan anyway, 12 hours ago.

Larry Jr stood by the window with hand to his temples. As senior partner, this did not look good. He knew he would get blamed regardless of the outcome. Lawyers always did. His job was to make sure that none of these hiccups appeared at the last moment. He had witnessed many contract exchanges within his lifetime and a job that had meant to be done in an hour had now cost him, and his clients, valuable billable hours. It might even cost him his career. He had to find a way to bring this meeting to successful conclusion.

“Gentlemen,” Larry Jr cleared his throat, “this clause has obviously caused us all much grief. Let us admit that none of the respected parties wish such a penalty to be imposed at any point in time. So if you are all in agreement, a minor adjustment to this contract whereby the clause is removed should settle this predicament once and for all.”

“You want to remove this clause? Now? I think it’s a little bit too late for that now don’t you think!”

“Look I understand how this may seem..”

“Larry, the clause has already kicked in! Read it again: ‘In the event that either party delays exchange by one month or more from the date of signing, there shall be a financial and moral penalty imposed… regardless of whether the contracts have been exchanged or not at the date of the delay.’ Do you realise what this means?”

A forced Yes was all that Larry could manage. Millions of dollars would have to be paid up by his client in addition to the fact that any future prospect of a merger between the two companies would be prohibited.

Marc said...

Greg - the toddler face-palm totally made that one for me :)

Watermark - great to see a longer one from you! That sounds like a nasty clause. I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for that mess!