FRESH IDEAS • by John P. McCann

Bob Grebble is my section supervisor. He’s a bitter loser. Bob eats little cans of stew and reads gun magazines. Management squeezes Bob to increase production while they cut resources. How typical of this place. I figure management wants Bob fired so they can hire a younger supervisor at a lower salary. (Actually, I know this for a fact because I take frequent washroom breaks. Only last week, I overheard Toad Woman discussing Bob’s severance with the comptroller.) Bob’s loss is my gain. I’m senior enough to inherit his job.

“Hey Prime Time, get your fat ass typing.”

“Certainly, Bob. I’ll just input the Lindquist report.”

(Ha! I’m not inputting jack. I’m writing this.)

“I want that report ASAP. Don’t make me write you up again.”

“Yes, Bob. Certainly.”

Go choke on a can of stew. And who says ‘ASAP’ anymore? I’m tapping away, my keyboard making busy work-like sounds. I’m even humming as if content. Today, I’m humming a medley of 80s songs: Cyndi Lauper, Yes, Run-DMC. Now I’ve settled on the Alan Parsons Project.

Actually, I am content, doing what I do best.

Thinking up fresh ideas.

My name is Walter Gobi. I like terrariums and pipe organ music. I once downloaded an album featuring the Go-Gos Greatest Hits played entirely on a baseball stadium organ. Wow! The hair on the back of my neck just stood up thinking about “Beatnik Beach”.

Anyway, Bob and the other office goblins here at Fairchild Industries call me ‘Prime Time’.  Once in the break room I boasted my fresh ideas would rocket me to televised fame. They mocked me and flipped tangerines in my direction. Dumb exploited losers.

Because I’m 37 and live above a Studio City garage, tightly wound dolts like Bob Grebble think I’m a failure. Wrong! No lasting relationships free me up to be creative. I watch seven hours of TV a night and take extensive notes. And I don’t live alone. I have a gecko. I feed him crickets. Each cricket is called “Bob” or “Bobbie” or “Robert K. Grebble.” (I felt nervous typing that and looked up to find Bob. He’s arguing with Toad Woman, our department head.)

I have lots of ideas such as using apes to find equipment lost at the bottom of the sea. (Repeated dunkings build up their lung capacity.) But most of my ideas are for TV. Here’s a cop show I think will really catch on. Its called Epoch. Each week a crime is committed and the police must solve it within a geological epoch. In the foreground, the police could be knocking on doors and asking questions. But behind them we see the city decay and buildings disappear and a forest arise. Then the police turn around, but there’s an oak tree where their car used to be because an epoch is passing. I tried Fox, but they said they already had something like it in development.

Breaking news! Here among the fluorescent lights, tiny cubicles and industrial gray carpet of Fairchild Industries, justice has arrived. Toad Woman fired Bob! Bob’s shouting wildly, making threats. Toad Woman called Security. Oh, what a plate of goodness, rich as a big Mexican meal with golden beans. I think I’ll hum some Eurhythmics. A little “Sweet Dreams” if you please. I’ll like being section supervisor.

Here’s an idea for a reality show entitled,  “Yes, I Am a Dentist.” Eight men and women in different cities, without any medical training, impersonate dentists. The one who gets away with it longest wins an electric car.

Whoa! Bit of a scuffle! Bob Grebble got wrestled out the front door by that hick guard, Darrell Something. This is so sweet. Toad Woman is talking on her cell phone, notifying upper management, letting them know how professionally she handled things. What a kiss-ass!

That’s what minor power does. So typical of Fairchild. They give the weak a little authority to toss away weaker ones. Only wisdom and compassion, such as mine, can overcome the allure of power. This is reflected in my idea to have combs and pocket-handkerchiefs on every corner that could be taken by people and later exchanged for cleaner ones.

Toad Woman dropped her cell phone and sprinted past me. She runs well for a short, squat woman in platform heels. Darrell Something — Garmenting, that’s his name — Darrell Garmenting also bolted by my cubicle, his guard keys jingling like sleigh bells.

Toad Woman and Darrell duck inside the break room and close the door.

Meanwhile, Bob Grebble has re-entered the building.

His hand is inside a backpack.

I stop humming.

Bob’s bellowing about cold stew; cold stew for cold people. A metaphor? A quip?

I am suddenly frightened. So frightened, I keep typing this, this, this, this……..

I want to be Harry Potter and vanish to that town near Hogwarts where I’ll buy sweets for my friends.

Bob and his backpack are here, smelling of WD-40 and gun oil.

“Watcha typing, Prime Time? Better not lie.”

“Nothing, Bob,” I whisper. “Just a few ideas.”

“Keep it up, Gobi.”

He walks away, pulling a large semi-automatic pistol from the backpack. I am so relieved I hum “Mr. Roboto” by Styx.

Section supervisor? Couldn’t today’s events propel me even higher?

I stand and catch Bob’s eye, pointing to the break room.

Thousand one, thousand two, thousand three…

Pop! Pop-pop-poppoppoppoppop!

I believe the position of department head just opened.

Of course, Toad Woman was a sloppy, inefficient manager. She should’ve fired Bob years ago.

Luckily, I possess fresh ideas to tighten things up around here.

I hum a little Tears for Fears: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

After years of writing TV animation, John P. McCann is enjoying short fiction. He’s recently been published in “Night Chills”, and has written a number of wry, ironic wanted posters that should be up shortly on the FBI’s website.

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