PRIEST OF SALES
D. Scott Cole
Based on characters and ideas from
Priest of Sales
By D. Scott Cole
Copyright 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999
Dorian Scott Cole
Contact: Primary Contact.
Kenrick is seated behind his desk, a disgruntled look on his face. Margo and TROY HAMMERSTEIN are seated stoically in front of the desk. Kenrick is holding a piece of paper.
"I have here, Arabella's resignation," Kenrick begins. "It's brief. I'll read it to you. 'Dear Mr. Kenrick; I refuse to work for an organization where you fuck your way to the top. I quit. Arabella.'" He looks at Margo, exasperated, accusingly.
Margo looks embarrassed.
Troy smiles to break the uncomfortable situation, and interjects, "She'll never work in Washington DC with an attitude like that."
Margo suppresses a smile and Kenrick flashes a false smile.
"I believe this involves two of my top people. I wanted to find out from you if there is any truth to it. Margo, you've been asking to see me for a week."
Margo lays it out without reserve. "The staff is becoming very demoralized. Frankly everyone is working way too much and tempers are flaring."
"Life is hard." Kenrick replies unsympathetically. "Now about this situation with Arabella, what do you know?"
Margo shrugs and states the obvious. "Gina and Travis are seeing each other. Everyone knows about it, but they both claim it is only as friends."
"Well, are they friends or friends and lovers?" Kenrick demands.
"I know for a fact they aren't having sexual relations - and I shouldn't tell you that because I'm a doctor and I've been given their confidence." She is reluctant to say more, but Kenrick stares at her as if he will tear it out of her. "But on the other hand, it looks... very suspicious. Even Tracy has quit seeing Travis because she thinks there is something between them. But the fact is, they are good for each other."
Kenrick sighs. "So I suppose Tracy is unhappy, too? Where does this end? Gina can't keep her personal life separate and it tears Hell out of an organization."
"Gina doesn't have time for a personal life," Margo counters.
Kenrick ignores her comment. "Troy, I know you've only been with us for a week, but as training manager, you're in a position to respond to these people." He holds out his hands, palms up, waiting for Troy to fill them with an answer.
"I don't want to bite Gina, she hired me, but I have to ask a question. How can you expand an organization and build it up if your people are demoralized and quitting? That's not a recipe for growth, it's disaster - you could end up with several clubs failing."
Kenrick immediately holds up his hands to stop Troy. He doesn't want to hear this. "All right, all right, you make too much sense. I can't afford to lose my top people today. I'll talk to them. You two go on, I have other problems to solve."
After the two leave, Kenrick presses the intercom. "Janet, remind me to not make any more rules, people just break them. And send Jordan Wells in please."
Jordan Wells enters. Kenrick waves him to a chair.
"Profits are way down, Jordan. Now this." Kenrick hands him a piece of paper.
"Arabella? I'm really sorry to lose her, she had a whale of a lot of potential."
"We're losing control here, Jordan. She's going to the competition." He looks at Jordan as if it is his fault. Jordan begins to sweat. Kenrick hands him another piece of paper.
"John, too?" Jordan asks in pained surprise.
"That came yesterday. Competition is opening a club in the same town." Kenrick paused for a moment, letting that sink in. "Our competition's advertising looks really sharp. It's intensive. They offer a package that cuts our price by twenty five percent."
"I know," Jordan replies as if a headache has just returned.
"I know you know. If you couldn't keep track of the competition, I wouldn't have made you director." He smiles at Jordan, then asks quietly, ominously, "The question is, what are you doing about it?"
"We can't put together the advertising budget they have, they're a young start-up and don't have our overhead, but we're doing a hell of a job with alternatives."
"Well, I think I know where we can scrape up another seventy-two
thousand for advertising. That's about what
Jordan's face pales. "What are you saying?"
"Your responsible. You failed." Kenrick hands him a paper sword. "The honorable thing to do is fall on your sword. Or be dishonorable and wait until I reorganize you out if you don't mind the uncomfortable atmosphere."
Jordan stands and walks toward the door. "I wouldn't want to get any blood on your carpet."
"Good luck, Jordan," Kenrick says politely after him.
Jordan leaves and Kenrick again calmly presses the intercom. "Janet, are Gina and Travis here yet?"
"They're in their offices," returns Janet's voice.
"Get them in here, please," he orders.
At his office door, Jordan sees the two passing down the hall. He silently stops Gina and hands her the paper knife. "Eight years amounts to this," he says.
Gina understands. Her smile fades. She pats Jordan affectionately on the shoulder and their eyes search each other's souls for understanding and compassion. Then they continue on.
Gina and Travis seat themselves silently in Kenrick's office. Kenrick is pacing the floor, and continues doing so.
"Gina, help me understand something. You and Mark shook this organization like a leaf in a hail storm two years ago. Didn't that little experience make you the least bit sensitive to mixing your personal life with business?"
"Of course," Gina replies. So this was what it was about. Was Kenrick going to fire her, too? Would Travis now take the place of both her and Jordan? Well, if he did, then more power to him - this overwork ordeal would finally be over for her. She folds her arms in front of her, defensively. She has done nothing wrong - she will stand her ground.
"Thanks to you two, I've lost Arabella, John, and Jordan Wells. My medical department and half the organization are unhappy and ready to quit. Now how am I supposed to congratulate you two for this accomplishment?"
Gina is not expecting this horror story. Her resolve slips.
Kenrick sees that he has hit hard. ""You two want to fuck, you meet in Mexico on the weekend - "
"We're not having relations!" She interrupts. She is shocked.
"But it looks to the entire world like you are, and if that's what it looks like then that's reality - you're fucking and it's come to my attention."
Travis and Gina become very uncomfortable as Kenrick stares at them.
Kenrick begins to lecture them, "You are two of my best people! I can't afford to lose either one of you, so my problem is, what do I do? I can't trust either of you to be discreet, so this is the way it's going to be." He stops pacing and faces them squarely, his finger pointing at them, and orders, "Forget your personal life. We're losing our clubs! I'm giving both of you Jordan's workload. You both pick up your own advertising and budgeting responsibilities. If you get a moment of free time, let me know and I'll find a way to fill it. Now get out of my office before I do what I should do and fire both of you."
Gina can't believe her ears. She opens her mouth to resign, but the words won't come. Obediently, she leaves the office as ordered, and continues with her work, as ordered.
LOUNGE - NIGHT
Travis is sitting in a booth alone, in a nearly empty bar, mumbling to the wall. A waiter walks over to him carrying a bottle on a tray, a look of disgust and concern on his face.
"Look, Buddy, you want to drown yourself, there's a faster way to do it than one bottle at a time."
Travis reaches for the bottle. The waiter holds it back. "Do you have a ride home?"
"I'm shtayin' up stairs.... maybe." Travis tries to smile disarmingly, but utterly fails.
"I have to know for sure. It's the law," the waiter says firmly.
Travis is still reaching for the bottle. "Yeah, yeah. I'll be good, I won't get you in trouble." He straightens up. "See, I'm sober."
"You're smashed - you're totally unsafe. C'mon, be a good guy and give me your keys." He beckons for them with his hand.
"Give me the beer. Even trade," Travis counters. "And don't forget the shot of whiskey."
Again the waiter beckons for the keys. Travis drops them on the tray and takes the beer, and immediately takes a big drink. The waiter leaves, shaking his head as he goes.
Travis continues talking to the wall. "And so, Mr. Kenrick. I keep seeing you go in the rest room. I know what you do in there. Perception is reality. You're having sex. Six times a day, you do it. I think I'll tell everyone I know. Maybe you should fire yourself. Personal sex with company property."
The waiter goes to a woman sitting on a bar stool. She is dressed in a scanty evening gown. She is a hooker looking for a trick, but not blatantly. The waiter points to Travis, holds up his keys and pockets them. The woman looks around the bar, seeing no one, checks the time, shrugs and walks over to Travis.
"Mind if I join you?"
Travis' head wobbles around to see her. He seems to like what he sees and stabilizes his head with one hand. He waves her to a seat with the other hand, spilling beer all over the table. The woman winces and sits down.
"If you don't mind two of me. I'm seeing double, you know, and two of you is delightful."
The woman grimmaces. "You're alone?"
She wipes the beer from the seat and the table.
"As alone as I can get. My girl friend left me. My boss
won't let me see my other girl and he threatened to fire me if I stayed
The woman looks impressed with his infamous feats. "What on earth did you do?"
Travis studies the question through an alcoholic haze for a moment. "I'm not telling you. You'll hate me too."
"I won't hate you," she says with a half-hearted smile. "Whatever it is you've done doesn't affect me."
"Oh, well, you're OK then. Well, you see, I was too good.
I was the best sales person and the best manager, and the best in bed.
So I was like a god, so they hate me. You see, if you become like a god,
you have to be very careful what you do, because they're all watching you
to see if you screw up. You see, people don't like you if you're too good.
She is resting her chin on her crossed hands, staring at him intently, feigning interest. "Just what is it you do?"
"I'm in a glamour profession. I set up glamour clubs and I'm the manager and I guess a director."
"Wow. I would like to do something like that. Why don't I take you upstairs, we can have some more drinks and you can tell me more."
"Wait. I think I might still be chaste." He puts his index
finger to his temple and comically pretends to think. "Can I chaste you?"
"Do I know you? Oh, yeah, you're that delicious lady that was here before I dozed off. What we're we talking about? Oh, yeah, you're to be in sales. I'm tired. I work twenty hours a day and now I have to work twenty four. My girl friend, the one I can't see anymore, is a priest. We do mystical things together."
"So, are we going upstairs or not?" she presses.
"I got that far already? I forgot. Yeah, if I already arranged it, let's just do it." They leave the table and walk toward the door, the woman supporting him.
Travis suddenly stops. "You don't think I'm too drunk?"
"We can find out." She nudges him toward the door.
Travis whispers in her ear, loud enough for the bartender to hear, "I never leave a woman unsatisfied."
"I can't wait."
The bartender smiles and takes the car keys to the lobby.
Gina hurriedly picks up papers from the desk, then her jacket from a hanger, and heads for the door. Travis walks in.
Gina stops in her tracks. "We thought you we're gone for good. It's been three days."
"I was sick." He points to his eyes. "Couldn't see a thing, hardly know where I've been."
"Three day drunks are like that. What was her name?" she asks knowingly.
Travis doesn't hesitate or try to hide anything. "I don't know. France, Francine, something like that."
Gina nods, then continues frankly. "I don't think we should talk. I think we should just.... cool it." This is hard for Gina to say - they have become strong friends and she is breaking a big responsibility toward Travis. "Frankly, it was getting too hot for me to handle anyway."
Travis immediately agrees. "Yeah, hey, look, I want to apologize." This is obviously painful for him, too.
"What for?" she questions emphatically. "Being my friend? No one should apologize for that."
Travis looks as if he is losing his best friend. Gina smiles comfortingly at him. "You helped me a lot, Gina. It's thanks to you I still have a job instead of a problem." He stops and mentally shifts gears. "But you know, I let it go to my head."
Gina responds with a big "so what?" shrug. "Don't we all."
"No, you don't," he replies pointedly. "And you tried
to tell me but I wouldn't listen. I thought once I got a handle on my self-esteem,
all I had to do was build it. What a fool I am! I let my pride just swell
up like a monster, and I pissed off Arabella, and probably John, and who
knows who all - and then I even destroyed myself. Here I am ignoring an
important job and coming in off a three day drunk with a hooker. I spent
most of the last three days blaming all of them." He shakes his head.
Gina feels profoundly sorry for him, but she also realizes that what he says is true - he has learned from his experience. It is a good thing.
"Don't blame yourself too much, I shook the branches once
again." She points to herself and her big dazzling and guilty smile.
As Gina walks away, she wonders if she will ever make the progress that Travis is making. Her life is a riddle with no answer. She is happy for him but she feels a little tinge of jealousy.
BEAU MONDE OF NICHOLASVILLE
MARK'S BEAU MONDE CLUB
Mark is in the beauty salon with an assistant examining a broken chair. Travis walks in.
Mark is so preoccupied with the chair that he doesn't
see Travis. "This is three failures in three weeks. Things are falling
Travis isn't going to ruffle easily. He smiles. "Hello, Mark."
"Just don't call me love," he says, and smiles sarcastically as he leads through the atrium toward his office.
"How have you been?" Travis asks, ignoring the distorted reference to Gina.
"I'm more tired than I've been in all my life. I feel sick. My joints are getting stiff. My muscles hurt. My brain feels like its dead - I just can't think." Mark takes a deep breath like he is going to continue ticking off items on a long list.
"Have you seen a doctor?" Travis quickly asks, heading off the rest of the list.
"Yep. Nothing is internally wrong. But everything is wrong. So, aren't you glad you asked?"
Mark's victim attitude has lost its impact on Travis. Travis has come to get Mark going again. "Mark, I want to help. What can I do?"
"You know as well as I do that no one stays in this organization past thirty. You live to be thirty and you die, that's it. I'm four years past dead now, so I'm living on borrowed time." Mark counts on fingers, then slashes his throat with his finger.
Travis doesn't bother to argue about the myth, because it was true that people did tend to burn out and either leave or get fired, thus the steady parade of young people. And it wasn't a family oriented job. "You're a good manager, Mark. Have you considered depression, burnout?"
"Yes, but they don't appeal to me, it's enough just being worked to death."
Travis laughs at Marks gallows style humor despite himself, and Mark joins in.
"Travis, you're almost my age, and here you are finding new mountains to climb. For me it's different, what do I have to look forward to?"
Travis starts to reply, but Mark holds up his hand. "You see, I've already had the best. Now what else is there?! You know, I've had a really great career in a glamour industry. I slept with the best woman on earth. And now, it's fading away from me. I know, you're going to say I can still go into science. That's B.S. My brain has turned to cement. I don't have it anymore."
"Mark, you talk like your eighty years old - maybe a hundred. You need a sabbatical - time to rest and put yourself together again."
Mark reacts with alarm. "Is that what you came to tell me? You're putting me on leave?"
"NO! Damn it, Mark, I want to patch up whatever friendship we can save. For the last time, I'm not Gina's lover, I've never slept with the woman, and I can't even see her now. If I am somehow making you depressed, forget it."
Mark dismisses that comment with a wave of his hand. "I'm losing sales. Things get worse every day. I'm fighting for my life here, and I'm losing."
"I never slept with her," Travis repeats, knowing that
this means a great deal to Mark, even though he won't admit it. "It makes
you feel good to be on top, doesn't it? To have it all. To be just a little
better than everyone else. You and I, we're both the
"You know it."
Travis continues talking about his own experience, hoping he can reach Mark. "Maybe that's something we can't change in ourselves. But I'm trying, because I realized, I'm not any better than anyone else. You and I, we each have our roles."
"Humph," Mark guffaws at that. "That's easy to say. You haven't lost Gina yet."
"I never really had Gina," Travis calmly explains. "She's her own. She chooses not to allow sex to dominate her life."
"She's beyond me to understand," Mark replies, with a shake of his head.
"It's true, anyway," Travis reassures him.
"Suppose it is true, where does that leave me? What the hell do I have to live for?"
Travis scratches his head, puzzling over how he should respond to that. He has no answer for Mark. "If you're looking for mountains, maybe you're now on the plains. I don't know, I still think that what you do is up to you."
"It's hard to live without mountains. To never be able to stand at the top and see everything in all directions." Mark is clearly disappointed with his lot in life.
Travis is both compelled to help Mark, and in need of Mark's help. "Gina and I both have big mountains we're working on. Both of us need people like yourself who can climb a mountain. That is, if you're interested."
Mark shrugs the offer away, unable to look at it constructively. "I've been King. I don't know if I want to be King's adviser."
"Mark, stop. You've turned an opportunity into a negative."
He lets that soak in for a moment, and sees Mark realizes he is right.
"You're right, Mark, maybe I can't find a bigger mountain for you to climb.
I can't make a scientist of you. I can't put you and Gina together again.
Maybe you can't do it either. But somehow I have to believe that your life
isn't over any more than it is for any of the rest of us. Mountain-top
experiences only last for a few moments. Life goes on. We have things we
are interested in to explore. We have friends who care about us and depend
on us - relationships that we need to nurture and build. We have
Mark huffs and shakes his head.
"Mark, I think you have the people and things around you to make your own happiness."
Mark starts to argue that point, but the words won't come. He changes his mind. "You're right. I wish I had seen it myself, but you're right. I've been too resentful over what I've lost to see what I've gained. It's hard when you've been blinded by the glitter at the top." He gives Travis a friendly punch on the shoulder. "You're OK."
Travis enjoys the moment, then offers what he hopes will make Mark happy. "We need you. If it would make you happy, Mark, come help us expand. It would keep you busy and out of trouble."
Mark laughs, and his eyes begin to sparkle.
Next: 9 Crisis