On this third post, I decided to modify the format slightly. In as much as this is a writing blog, as well as a psychology discussion group, I will be adding at the end of each story segment commentary about the techniques and tools I use to engage the reader and keep the words flowing. Your feedback about these building blocks, as well as the content, is welcomed and appreciated.
A SUPER JOB OFFER? Or is he just after me? [Part 3 of 8]
They order. The server leaves. The Mayor returns his attention to Ronnie. “So how’d you get into web design?” His smile is back.
“I graduated in graphic design. But the jobs? They moved into the computer world. So I chased them there.”
“And you caught them.”
“A few. You don’t a need college degree for web design. Even in Bulgaria. Or Poland. Did you know they’re now outsourcing IT to Poland?
“Even Bangalore’s outsourcing to Poland.”
“Right. Worldwide, there’s four developers for every user. A tiny detail my wise college profs failed to mention.”
“But you’re employed.”
“In a way.”
His brows raise. “I don’t get it.”
“I work for your advertising agency.”
“Really. In accounts?”
“In the lobby. I’m reception.”
“So how did Max hire you?”
“I served him coffee. And we talked, like we’re doing now.”
“Well, you must have impressed him.”
“I make good coffee.”
“And web designs.”
“Until you see it, you’ll have to take my word for it.”
“Jon’s grin flattens. He takes a moment to respond. “You’re pretty feisty. But I like that.”
“I like that too. You remind me of me.”
Again, a smiling silence from the Mayor, with his stare keeping them connected. His hand stretches across the table. Fingers touch. Hers retreats. “How did you get into politics?” she asks, dropping her arm under the table.
“Well, like you, I had a rough time right out of college. Had zero ideas about what I was supposed to do. Had a journalism degree, barely. I was a lousy writer. Can’t even do it today. And I couldn’t get a phone to my ear for cold calls to newspapers. The last thing I needed was a rejection for something I hated.”
“So I bummed around a year or two. Then my parents, through friends, heard about some intern position opening at the state congress. I have no idea how I got that job, but I liked it. I liked the action, the energy, the battles, and I met a lot of people, talked to a lot people, like you talked to Max. And after a while, I moved up to a real job for David Shultz, the state senator. He introduced me to more people, and a few years later, he told me… He didn’t advise me, he TOLD me to run for state congress. And I did. And that’s when I found out I cared about things. I found out I could make changes, and I thought, maybe I’ve got something to give. Maybe I’m okay…the way I am. The way I think… Should this be in the website?”
She feels his shoe brush against hers. “Hasn’t Mr. Jacobs put that together?” Her feet slide back her chair.
“Max is too busy working on my campaign. I’d like you to think about content.”
“Oh…kay…” The look on her face shows reluctance.
“I know. It’s more time. You’ll be compensated.”
Their salads arrive and are served. Jon continues. “Anyway, I was so idealistic back then, thinking that if you just told people the truth, they would understand, and listen to reason. I didn’t factor in greed. And addiction to power.”
“Well there’s that.”
“Yeah. That.” He goes for another swallow of white. His eyes won’t leave her, and Ronnie shifts focus to her glass. The mood’s turning heavy and she could use the alcohol.
“So what’s your opinion about what’s going on?” he continues.
“About what?” she asks, bringing wine to her lips.
“It sucks…” She downs two gulps, hoping it’ll kick in fast.
“All of it?”
“No integrity left. Maybe with you, but–”
“Your friends agree?”
“Some do. Some don’t. We don’t talk about it much.” Another sip goes down.
“But they vote.”
“I hate lying.”
He studies her again, like she’s his student, his head tilting slightly. She turns away. ‘Heavy’ is now ‘unsettling.’ She picks at her greens, void of any interest in eating. How long will this interrogation last? Will he touch her again?
“I’ve got an idea,” he announces, breaking the silence. “Maybe you could be my eyes and ears out on the street. I know what younger people need. And I know what they want. But I don’t know how they feel, and that’s where you’d come in.”
“My personal pollster. It would be a part time gig at first, paying of course. I’d have to get it arranged. If I could, would you be interested?”
“I’d have to know more about it.”
“Of course. We’d work out the details. And your salary.”
“How long would this job last, if it happens?”
“To the election. We’ll see where it goes after that.”
“Sounds interesting,” which is her way of saying, ‘Sounds threatening. But I don’t want to close any doors.’
“Good. You think about it,” which is his way of saying, ‘You’ll take the job.’
Ronnie’s bed is made. She’s sitting on it, her computer bag lying nearby and the phone to her ear. From the other side comes a familiar voice. It’s Beth’s. “He what?!”
“He offered me a staff job.”
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Doing what?”
“Taking surveys for his election.” Ronnie pulls the scarf off her neck and slumps into her pillows. “It’s not definite. He’s gotta get it approved.”
“And if he does, you start when?”
“I don’t know if I’m taking it.”
“Are you fucking out of your mind? You’re turning down a job for the mayor?!”
“Beth, he tried to touch me. And he emails pictures!”
“Exactly! Hold on to it.”
“Don’t go there.”
“It’s insurance, Ronnie.”
“Not if you don’t show it.”
“Which I won’t, ‘cause I already deleted it.”
“It was sleazy.”
“Okay it was sleazy. Did you tell him that?”
“I couldn’t. I embarrassed him enough.”
“That’s so you.”
To be continued…08/05/2011
So far, comments about the Mayor form a consensus: He’s sleazy and not to be trusted. Comments about Ronnie have been split. One group feels she should use the situation to her advantage by manipulating Jon an he tries to manipulate her. She should not rule out an exchange of sex for advancement.The alternative approach is: work around the Mayor’s passes to maintain her personal power.
This story segment RAISES THE STAKES: more money and career advancement to be gained pressured by more overt desire for sex and validation. It also fills in more of Ronnie’s and Jon’s back story. Finally, it tells the reader more about Ronnie’s character, that she is unwilling to play the bribe and blackmail game. Each reader will determine if this is an attribute of strength or weakness. As a writer, or facing personal drama in the “real” world, what do YOU think?
Should Ronnie take the polling job? Would you? Should Ronnie have kept Jon’s come-on photo for later leverage? Would you?