Stupid Games, Stupid Prizes

Aug 28, 2022 | Fiction

“We want to level the playing field,” said George Scootch, CEO, at the inaugural meeting of the Committee for Mandatory Fun. The executives present nodded agreement as George broke out the libations and snacks. He wasn’t much of a stickler for his own zero-tolerance policy on alcohol, but having one he could break and enforce against anyone who dared to challenge him gave him pleasure.

“Mm. Level playing field. What does that look like, George?” asked Lynn, his Chief of Staff and long-suffering agelast, always tasked with secretarial or note-taking duties. Lighten up, Lynn. It’s because you have the best hand-writing, of course. Not because you’re a woman. Every time George said that, he winked at her. She was beginning to wonder if he had a nervous twitch.

George pondered the problem. Not everyone at AltparaCorp had courtside seats to the NBA basketball games. A few of his pet managers had attended respectable schools on athletic scholarships; Joey had even been a point-guard, if memory served. But that was decades ago. On the upper end of middle age, most couldn’t find the hoop without a seeing-eye parrot to light the way in neon-colored plumage. And if one twisted a knee, pivoting too fast on the hardwood, AltparaCorp couldn’t afford the hit to its self-funded insurance program.

That said, pride would not let George accept anything that might allow the junior execs to show up the senior leadership. They would have to invent a new game, with new rules: one that stacked the odds in their favor.

“How about rugby?” suggested Neil. Neil was decidedly on the low-end of middle-age. George raised an eyebrow, contemplating his self-appointed “Czar of Marketing.” He was fairly sure Neil wouldn’t know rugby from a nice, civilized game of soccer, and was tempted to watch this idea play out. Maybe on the parking lot. Then again, the corporate games were co-ed. Maybe Neil understood the physicality of the sport, after all.

“Young people are bored with rugby,” muttered Liz, rolling her eyes. “How about golf?”

“Always with the sarcasm, Liz?” said Neil, pounding a fist on the table. “Isn’t golf a bit too violent for you?” He narrowed his eyes, his lips curling in a slow gotcha-grin as he savored the memory of Liz somehow managing to lose her grip on the driver at the sixteenth hole, four years ago. It had flipped into the air, slow-motion falling back to earth as stunned and horrified onlookers cringed. The driver struck Liz in the head, leaving her with a permanent, bald ridge where a titanium plate fashioned from the murderous club now held together pieces of her cranium.

“How about the traditional game of beer pong?” offered Lynn.

“Are you serious?” After the initial shock and outrage, the other members of the committee warmed to the idea. It had some merit. Most could drink their juniors under the table without slurring a word.

“With one small twist, of course,” said Lynn, leaning back in her reclining conference chair with her fingers interlaced over her chest, “After a couple of rounds of beer pong, you hit the tennis court out back and see who can tell the most daring tales of derring-do while dribbling a ping pong ball around the clay. First to sweat a meldrop loses.”

The men looked at Lynn with newfound respect. “Vicious, man,” murmured Neil, nodding. And just like that, Lynn was one of the boys.

George poured Lynn two fingers of 30-year-old McCallan. One corner of Lynn’s lips curled upward, slyly, as she tossed back Scootch’s ‘spensive sippin’ Scotch like it was swamp water. “Welcome to the team,” he said.

His newfound admiration would turn to terror, soon enough. Lynn knew that the pot-valiant Scootch and his cronies would brag about their illicit boardroom exploits, regaling the entire company and AltparaCorp’s visiting shareholders with tales that were sure to hold up on, and in, court.

Lynn’s game of choice was Chess.


Today’s story brought to you by Creative Copy Challenge #676 | Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge (wordpress.com) and the words Athletic, Basketball, Courtside, Meldrop, Dribble, Agelast, Pot-valor, Hardwood, Hoop, and Point-guard.

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

2 Comments

  1. Mitchell Allen

    I enjoyed this vignette. You made certain to avoid the easy path with those words.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Monopoly: House RulesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Exactly what I try to do, and why I love the lists that don’t lead in a particular direction.

      Reply

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