Food, Feuds and Fake Flora (teaser)
By Ocean Tigrox
"It was a..." Sandra trailed off as she consulted the stack of papers on her desk. Finding the yellow complaint form and tugging it free from the pile, the tawny cougar adjusted her thick-rimmed glasses and read it aloud. "A roasted red pepper and provolone chicken sandwich with chipotle mayo on sourdough bread."
"As far as I know, I'm allergic to mayonnaise." The silver lupine turned his head away, swallowing his breath mint and wiping away a small drop of creamy, reddish-white sauce from his grey muzzle.
"Look, Jim." The feline took off her glasses and placed them beside the potted fake fern on her laminate desk. She sighed, sagging her shoulders as she clasped her paws together. "I'm not accusing you here. There've always been lunch thefts from time to time in this office. We're required to investigate each complaint." Sandra stood and turned to stare out the office window. She grumbled, "I'm sure the owner of that sandwich is terribly hungry right now. I would--That is to say, we all would like to know who took it."
"Well, I'm sorry to say that I don't know who took that tantalizing meal. But I've heard the deli across the street makes a mean smoked meat sandwich."
Sandra spun around and slammed her fists on the desk, shaking the fern's leaves and rattling the office supplies. "Well maybe that deli never prepares your sandwich right, or doesn't realize that some of us don't like to have their bread drowning in mustard!"
The middle aged cougar bit her lip and closed her eyes. Standing up straight, she took a deep breath and squeezed the bridge of her shortened muzzle. "Sorry, sorry. I apologize for that outburst. Let's just...move on." Sandra sat back down and wheeled herself back under the desk.
"Of course, Sandra. No apology needed." Jim nodded, picking out some crumbs from under his claws.
The cougar opened one of the desk drawers and picked through the files contained within. "I have a favour to ask. As you may have heard, management has hired a new employee to overlook our processes and update them so we can be a more efficient team."
Sandra withdrew a file and pulled out a stapled set of sheets, reading them over. "Yes, here we go, a mister Harold O'Connor. He should be waiting out in the lobby. Could you please show him around the office? His desk and cubicle are next to yours."
"I'll make sure he's given a warm Fake Ferns and Flora welcome." The wolf smiled and rose from his seat.
"Also." Sandra raised a finger. "It's too late today, but you're welcome to take him to lunch and charge it on the company card."
"Certainly, I'll take him to the deli." Jim flashed a toothy grin.
The wolf left before Sandra's grumbling about mustard could drag him back into another talk about improper office etiquette. He closed the HR manager's door behind him, preventing any of her outrage to slip out into the office.
It was mid-afternoon and most of the other staff huddled away quietly in their individual cubicles. Next to each of their mailboxes sat a personal fake plant, each handpicked by Gene, the company owner, for them upon hire.
Jim slipped through the open area, past the small jungle of silk ficus trees and artificial palms, and through double doors into the lobby. Atop the front desk counter sat a pot of plastic yellow daffodils, the perfect pick for a bright and cheery receptionist. The vixen behind the counter waved at Jim.
"Hi Megan." The wolf flashed her a bright, white smile. "Sandra sent me for Harold."
"Of course, he's over there." The fox gestured with a paw to the large, chestnut-brown bear sitting quietly. Harold sat like a lump, his large belly pushing at the bounds of his white shirt, the buttons strained at the seams. His paws gripped a worn briefcase.
Jim stepped over to introduce himself. Another basic, boring bear. The wolf smoothed his grey pin-striped suit and offered a paw. "Harold O'Connor, right? I'm Jim Grossman, head of marketing and sales. Welcome to Fake Ferns and Flora!"
"Hello!" The bear shook the wolf's hand and rose from his seat. "Happy to be here."
Jim grinned. "Have you met anyone yet?"
"Not personally. I was hired over the phone so this is my first time in the office."
"Let me show you around then." Jim held the lobby door open so Harold could step into the office.
Jim started pointing out various associates. "Over there is Andrew, he's in charge of distribution. We've got Yelena next to him, she's lead design. They look busy right now, but I'm sure they'll introduce themselves at the ceremony."
"Ceremony?" Harold blinked.
"Yes, little tradition Gene likes to have when a new member joins the team." The wolf patted the bear on the shoulder. "You'll see."
A story about two office workers who steal lunches.
You can pick up the full story and many others in Roar 6, Edited by Mary Lowd, published by Fur Planet. You can order a copy here: http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=788