Revenge of the Sith
The Dark Side Up Close
Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. - Galadriel, from The Lord of the Rings
Meeting The Dark Lord
Hades is not a Democracy
Boromir: What is this new devilry?
Gandalf: A Balrog. A demon of the ancient world. This foe is beyond any of you. Run! - from The Lord of the Rings
I take a sip of water. My Baptism of Fire is in 10 minutes. Nevertheless, I'm peculiarly chipper. The Devil, in the first days on the job, asked me to prepare various documents and presentation with the carrot that these would be taken upstairs to the MD of the Sunday Express, Goosen Dahlia, and if impressed, he might make me a fellow Prince of Darkness. None of those meetings ever transpired (although various 20 page documents were slaved over through weekends and graveyard shifts, and later revised, and later updated). And now was an opportunity to meet the Great Goosen Dahlia, the Godfather of the country’s bestselling newspaper.
If I was chipper, I wasn't nearly as chipper as Miss McMuffin sitting next to me. "Un-for-tu-nate-ly tick-ets were not…" she sang as she typed…"in-clu-ded in the ham-per…"
Kookee, wearing a drab brown sweater (what it is about the people in this building, most of ‘em always wearing brown), is pirouetting around John. John is sitting on Randy Pomelenko’s desk and loudly discussing how a cellphone company ripped him off, and something about WHITE RACIST ASSHOLES. It's a constant source of surprise that no white people take offence; but then I don't say anything either.
"HI GEORGE, DID YOU GET MY EMAIL?" George, a programmer, is standing right next to Kookee.
The Devil says "OH GOD!" with such bitterness and frustration you'd swear she's been defeated by a Higher Power through time immemorial.
It's not clear what The Devil is so upset about. I have an idea it's a rogue apostrophe or an errant exclamation mark.
"I AM GOING TO HAVE A FIT AT 1O PAST 3," Kookee declares, and mercifully drifts away, her hip lime green shoes squeaking as she goes.
I’m bored. I glance at the copy of The Express on my desk. Someone drops one off for everyone in the newsroom every day. The headline reads: STRANGE BRIGHT OBJECT SEEN IN THE SKY. There is a big picture of the blue sky with the sun in the middle.
Other stories in the edition include :
Boycot, says Boycot
South Africans are poor listeners – Express offers advice
EXCLUSIVE - Agneta discusses her sexual preferences
Why AIDS isn't worth worrying about [John Story]
How to succeed without a matric
Slag off your boss and win
Why white people are more racist than ever [John Story]
How to cheat on your partner and get them to love you more than they do now [John Story]
How to lose weight by eating more ice cream [Kookee]
Make more money by working less [Sadie Bratwurst]
How to succeed without really trying [Sadie Bratwurst]
How to lie to people without giving yourself away
10 Reasons Not To Save [Sadie Bratwurst]
Why Fast Food Is Healthier Than Home cooked Meals [John Story]
White chefs can’t cook [John Story]
Behind me the subs are playing Ping Pong Question Time:
“Is it a confidence vote or a no-confidence vote?”
"Does foreground have an 'e' in it?" One of the subs asks behind me.
Another asks, "How do you spell: ambiance."
Another: “Does awesome have one ‘e’ or two?”
You wonder what is accidental when you receive a well meaning but not entirely comprehensible email from a sub asking whether I think ‘we need moar fourms’ on our ‘websight’.
I wonder whether these folks are tested before they're given a job, or whether it's first come first disservice to the public.
I recall briefly, watching the computer clock change from 2:54 to 2:55, that some of my titles have been rescued by the brilliant creativity of some of these subs.
Like: Into the Wild Kalahari becoming Miles to go before we sleep – the title is enough to put you to sleep. It's a warning that this is a long, laborious read. The 'Into the wild' title was purposely aimed at trading off the book and movie, and all the adventure associated with it.
Then there was: It's not just about the 4x4 (a story about a vehicle breaking down ad nauseum but still being able to enjoy the trip). It became Won't go wrong, go wrong…
There was also ‘Nerves of Neethling’ changed to ‘Interview with a swimmer’.
Randy Pomelenko is walking to the OK Corrall as I gather my phone. You can see his underwear as his jeans barely manage to stay up. Stan Kidney is watching cricket on the big screen, his shoes up on the table. Agneta is applying lipstick, apparently using the blank computer screen as a mirror before what sounds like an imminent shopping sprint.
McMuffin is still at it: "Thank-you for your pay-shins full stop."
"I'm off to a meeting," I tell her. This is code for; please take a message while I'm away.
"See ya," she says, giving me a wave.
I walk around the pot plant, the girl with Dyslexia tries to say hello but I am already around the next corner, and then I step onto the escalator. I step on three separate escalators and get drawn through the innards, the wiring of the Media House. I'm disinclined to call it the brains of the company, because I'm not sure if there is one in all this headspace.
There's Financial Bill. There's the super cool offices of the Sunday Express and this is my stop. I enter the boardroom and find Goosen already seated, his eyebrows like too black months above the dark stones of his eyes. He's in his fifties, I'm guessing, and has a craggy face, similar to The Devil's, but less yellow.
"Mr. van der Leek."
"Yes, it's good to finally meet you. I was hoping we'd meet in dif-."
"I don't care what you think. I'm not interested in your opinion. And this company is not a democracy. You are here so hear what you won't be doing in future."
At this the edge of The Devil's purple lips curve upwards like the blade of a cheese knife.