ROLE-PLAY • by Jonathan Pinnock

Twenty minutes into the role-playing exercise, Marco flipped, tearing off the mask, hurling it onto the floor, and grinding it under his heel in one fluid movement.

“I don’t want to be a mouse,” he said to Delaney. “You always make me a fucking mouse.”

“That’s because you are one,” said Delaney. “The whole point of this exercise is to demonstrate that mice do not win deals. What I want in my sales force — ” and here he gestured with his clawed hand towards Dave Wagstaff who was lounging in the corner of the office, tugging idly at his whiskers “ — are lions.”

“That’s not a lion,” muttered Marco. “It’s a twat in a fucking stupid mask.”

“Squeak, squeak,” said Delaney, wide-eyed, hand cupping his ear. “I hear squeaking!” He turned to the rest of the team. “And why do you think I want lions?” he said. “Come on, come on.”

“Because it’s a jungle out there,” they replied in imperfect unison, their voices muffled by the range of headgear that identified them respectively as elephant, elephant, zebra, marmoset and giraffe.

***

The remainder of the awayday was a great success, especially after Delaney and Wagstaff had been brought down by tranquiliser darts during the afternoon paintball session. The elephants had been all for letting them out of the cage once the rest of them had finished down the pub, but Marco insisted they be kept in overnight. He relented over the food, however, and threw in a raw steak each.


Jonathan Pinnock has had quite a lot of stuff published here and there and has even won a few prizes. His novel Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens was published by Proxima Books in 2011.


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Good for Marco – Squeak! Squeak!

  • Nice. I loved the “I hear squeaking!” line.

    I felt it finished a bit abruptly – it would have been good to have more on the afternoon’s escapades.

    Good stuff, Jonathan.

  • Ah, corporate team-building role play… been there, done that, suffered the humiliation…

    Loved Marco’s rebellion!

  • I was surprised this story wasn’t rated higher. I certainly got a kick out of it.

  • Nick, it’s possible that the strong language in this piece has drawn negative votes, likely from readers who’ve chosen not to comment since they don’t wish to get involved in a debate about appropriate language for fiction.

    We knew when we accepted this piece that Marco’s expletive-filled dialogue might be off-putting to some of our readers, but I believe that it’s true to his character. We try to strike a balance of tones and flavours at EDF, and sometimes that means taking a chance on a piece with gritty language like this one.

  • The “strong” language wasn’t a bit off-putting to me, since it’s rather mild compared to what comes out of my mouth on a daily basis. I refrained from commenting because I honestly had nothing to say either in praise or deprecation. I only feel compelled to comment now because I don’t think it’s fair to the author to attribute lack of commentary to the language used.

    I found this piece amusing – a solid 3.

  • Debi, I wasn’t intending to attribute lack of commentary in general to the language used; I don’t know why the comments thread is quiet today, since the number of page views is in the normal range. It’s only that Nick asked about the current lower star rating, and in the past stronger language has drawn some lower votes from a segment of our readership which prefers PG language.

  • I was wondering why it was so quiet myself. Maybe because it’s a short piece and you either get it or you don’t? Still, many thanks to everyone who read it – and especially the ones who commented!

    Oh, and in case you fancy something completely different, by coincidence I’m at Every Day Poets today.

  • Love it. Five stars.

  • Eliding Thomas

    Quirky and amusing. I liked it!

  • Thanks!

  • lucinda kempe

    Five stars. Nice to see EDF is branching beyond the antiseptic use of squeaky clean language. And now anthropomorphic animal characters who are really people who are really animals, too.

    Finally!

  • Thanks! And, yes, we do need more anthropomorphic animal characters who are really people who are really animals.