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Sometimes a chili bhaji is just a chili bhaji. But this time...

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Episode 5

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as likely to get workplace trauma counselling as the next guy – especially when the company’s tame shrink is an ancient old boiler who was probably there when time was invented. Still, as luck would have it she fell to her death from her slippers a couple of weeks back and the company was forced to contract in an updated model...

Which brings us to the new company counsellor, an attractive young thing who seems genuinely interested in the welfare of staff who’ve suffered workplace injuries - and as the company schedules four free sessions for near death experiences, I book myself in.

Arriving five minutes early gives me a chance to look over her newly furnished ground floor office, situated right alongside the security office - which I’m sure is just a coincidence.

The first thing I notice is the gold plated electrical contacts on the arms of the reclining chair which either mean there’s a lie/stress detector built into it or there’s an action replay of my Christmas recharge in the offing. Either way I decide that honesty is probably the best option.

. . .

“So,” she says, once I’ve settled in and told her about the PFY’s Christmas surprise, “You seem remarkably calm about the whole thing.”

“Well, it’s sort of expected in our line of work. Promotion via vacancy. I’ve invested so much time in educating my assistant in his chosen profession that it was inevitable that he’d seek advancement through dead man’s shoes – or in this case dead man’s smoked out automatic office chair. And trapping me is just proof of how good he's become.”

“And you in turn extracted a modicum of revenge in getting him booked in for a couple of weeks of dubious experimental psychiatric attention?”

“Sure. While I respect his ruthless quest for advancement I also must temper his ambition with the fear of reprisal - or I’d be forever looking over my shoulder."

"And this fear should be just sufficient enough to give him a moment of pause?”

"Indeed."

“And you don’t fear that this would simply set off a chain reaction of ever increasing reprisals?”

“No, no - you see at the end of the day we still have to work together in between reprisal attempts, so the magnitude of reprisals tends to diminish fairly rapidly.”

“It peters out?”

“Yes, this morning for instance. It was the PFY’s first day back so I would have been a fool to ingest any food or drink offered to me by him.”

“Because?”

“Because it would most likely be laced with Viagra, rat poison or horse laxative. Or all three for a really fun party.”

“And?”

“And in the end it was just the horse laxative.”

“Horse laxative – how did you know?”

“Oh, I passed the mochachino on to the Boss – the poor bastard was locked in the bog till the vet came. He was on a saline drip for half the morning to get his fluid levels back up.”

“That was a little cruel of you don’t you think?”

“No, cruel was shouting him two rounds of chili bhajis and a chicken vindaloo last night, as a 'Welcome to the Company' event.”

“I see. You seem quite proud of that?” she says, disapprovingly.

“Yes, well...” I burble.

“And you think that will be the end of the revenge?”

“Of course not. But in a week or so we should be back to normal.”

“And in the meantime?

“In the meantime I expect the PFY's tampered with the brakes and accelerator on my car so that touching either increases the speed exponentially. It’s what I would do.”

“And yet you don’t seem at all concerned about that. Why's that?”

“Oh, because I lent the Boss my car five minutes ago so he could get home after his morning’s illness.”

“You what?!”

“Oh please, don’t worry! I’m not a complete monster! I made sure he was one of the named parties on the insurance”

“You didn’t warn him!?”

“No, I was rather busy this morning. In any case I…”

My monologue is interrupted by the unmistakable sound of a car accelerating madly in the floor below us…

“Is that...” she gasps.

“Yes, I’d recognise that exhaust anywhere. That’ll be the PFY off on an unexpectedly fast circuit around the parking basement in his car.”

“In his car?”

“Yes, like I said, I was busy this morning. Working on tempering the PFY’s ambition. Remember when I said it was what I'd do? As it happened it'd what I did do.”

“But that would mean…”

“Wait!" I interrupt, holding up a finger as a second set of squealing tyres can be heard below us - “Now that would be my vehicle. Wonder who’ll make it to the exit first??”

“You’re a... a...”

“I know,” I nod gravely. “A ruthless IT professional who can address both the needs of the moment and the bigger picture. One for whom the mysteries of the future unfurl as if by magic. Our future for instance. Perhaps you’ve got time for a quick after-work drink? Maybe a bite to eat. I know a place that does a cracking chili bhaji...”

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