Wednesday May 3rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the negotiation.

Long day (family trip to Penticton this morning plus helping friends move this evening) means I'm barely keeping my eyes open.

Plus I get to get up early for work tomorrow - hurray!

So I should just get some sleep.

Mine:

No one in the room was comfortable. Chairs complained as their occupants shifted in a near constant symphony of nervousness. Pens were choked to death by white knuckled fists. Glasses and cups stood empty, their water and coffee having long since escaped through now dry mouths.

The clock on the wall ticked, ticked, ticked onward toward the looming deadline, unrelenting.

Noses twitched and lips curled at the scent of stale sweat on shirts as eyes searched for a window to open, even just a crack.

But there were no windows in that room.

Nor was there much hope.

"This is our final offer."

"You said that three offers ago."

"Just take the deal so we can all go home to our families, okay?"

A slow shake of the head. No, again. Teeth ground together. Veins throbbed in foreheads and necks. Fingernails dug into palms until blood sprung forth.

And still the clock ticked, ticked, ticked onward...

1 Comments:

Greg said...

It sounds like you had a busy day! And it's good to hear that your moving-houses business is back in full swing :-P
That negotiation sounds a little bit like the stories Kissinger tells of negotiating with the North Vietnamese: days upon end of no movement, of offers hinted at and then withdrawn, and no resolution at the end of it except that this will be repeated again in a few months time. I definitely wouldn't like to be in that room, so good work!

Negotiation
The front door banged open and there was the sounds of someone -- Max, it had to be Max -- scuffing their shoes on the doormat as though trying to wear holes in it. Then the door slammed shut and there was a muffled grunting.
"He's taking his shoes off," said Ophelia quietly, her words muffled all the more by the blue mug she was holding in front of her mouth. Steam rose from the mandarin-scented tea in it. "He refuses to sit down to do it, so-" She stopped abruptly as the kitchen door opened and her husband came in.
He liked to call himself a rugby-build, Ophelia described him as a "little husky" and in truth he was corpulent: his waist was close enough to a circle for most geometers and she bought his clothes from the outsize clothing store and never told him. He was sweating from the effort of bending far enough to get his shoes off, and his tie had somehow gone askew during those efforts as well. His eyes, made piggy by being surrounded by dark, puffy flesh that suggested either too much alcohol or too little sleep -- or both, swept over the room and rested on the young girl at the table.
"What the hell, Fi? I thought we agreed on no friends over before 7." His voice was the yap of lap-dog, high-pitched, and there was a hint of wheeziness in there too.
"She's not a friend."
"I can't hear you. I can never hear you when you hide behind your cup."
Ophelia lowered the cup and raised her voice; there was anger in her tone now. "She's not a friend like that. She's here to help us."
"She's doing the dishes then? Or just ordering the takeaway?"
Ophelia blushed, her greyish skin turning burgundy in blotches. "She's going to help us with the di-di-divorce." She hated that word, she struggled to say it every time.
"Di-di-divorce," mimicked Max, all too accurately. Her fingers tightened on the handle of the cup, longing to throw it at him, shock him awake, shock him into seeing the ruin he was making of their life together.
"Hi," said the young girl standing up. She reminded him of pictures he'd seen of Janis Joplin: thin, awkward, but eyes that he just wanted to stare into until he drowned in them. "I'm a negotiator." She held out her hand, and he stared at it as though it were a cockroach. "Not into touching? I don't blame you. Germs get everywhere." She sat down again and gestured that Max should sit too.
"What do we need a negotiator for?"
"So, you have a fundamental disagreement over who gets what," said the girl. Max shook his head.
"I keep everything I paid for," he said. Ophelia's blotches deepened in redness and spread, until her whole head was beetroot coloured.
"Which you seem to feel is everything." The young girl laid a hand on Ophelia's as though calming her.
"It is. I have the effing receipts."
"And I have a bomb." The young girl smiled. "Now we negotiate."