Near 500 words: The economist

Ester had a head for figures. She was born with it and it drove her crazy when people, especially the politicians, tried to make them lie. Her meeting was not going well. She sat across the table from the Chancellor of the School. They had been arguing for over an hour about the school’s budget. A few of the figures were off and she was concerned. Then the Chancellor let her in on his scheme.

She looked up from her open ledger. “You can’t do that,” she said, frustrated.

The Chancellor’s smile went into a frown. “No, I can,” her boss said. “And I am.”

“I won’t let you,” Ester threatened.

The Chancellor did not like what he was hearing. “There is nothing you can do about it.”

Ester looked down at the ledger and the papers beside them. “But there is.”

The Chancellor glared back at the economist. “You do that and I will destroy you. No one in the country will touch you after I get through.”

Ester was determined. “Allah, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful, will,” Ester said and pushed back her chair and stood up.

“Don’t do this.” There was a pleading in the Chancellor’s voice. “I have no choice. And neither do you.” The plea had turned to a threat.

“Chancellor, we always have a choice.”

Ester was done with the meeting. She opened her briefcase and stacked the papers into it.

The Chancellor’s hands were on the table. They were open and his palms lay still against the wood. He had calmed down from his anger. He knew what he had to do. He didn’t want to do it but he had no choice. “We’ve been friends for a long time.”

Ester closed the case. “Yes, we have. And a friend would not ask another friend to lie for him.” She closed the case firmly, picked it up and headed for the door. One last time, she gave her former friend one last determined plea. “Thomas, don’t do this.”

The door closed behind her.

Thomas went over to the phone and picked it up. “There’s no reasoning with her. Do what you have to do.”

Superhero’s Meeting

Ratman was at the bar, nursing his drink. Supercharger walked over and sat down on the stool beside him and ordered a beer.

Then he turned to Ratman and said, “You look pretty down in the mouth. You okay?”

“Yeah. My wife says I have to go on a diet.”

Superduper Woman joined them. She ordered her usual scotch.

“Hey, Ears,” she said to Ratman. Ears was what she called Ratman because he had big ears. They were his super power. They were like wings he used to fly with. “What’s up?”

“Oh, the usual, Mabel.” Mabel was Superduper Woman’s civilian name.

Supercharger leaned over and said, “He’s getting fat. His wife says so.”

Mabel slapped Ratman on the back. “Ratz, you’re not getting fat. Oh sure, you could use some slimming. It’s that darn costume you’re wearing. It’s shrunk. What you need is a new costume. What do you think of mine?”

Mabel jumped off the stool and turned around. Supercharger hadn’t noticed but now he saw Mabel in a whole new light. The reds were reds, not rust. The yellows were bright and the greens, they were green.

“Wow. I like,” both Supercharger and Ratz said.

“Don’t you think it accentuates my amazing figure?”

“I must say that your butt is nice and firm. You may just win the superhero butt contest at the convention this year. Who did this?”

“Jimmy Olson, fashion designer to the superheroes. Actually he’s done a name change. He’s Jimmy O.”

“Jimmy Olson?” Ratz asked.

“Yeah. He was a cub reporter. He went and took some aptitude tests and found out he was a fashion designer trying to get out. He had always worried about being gay because he paid a lot of attention to Superman’s clothes. He had a real thing for the cape. Hated it. Now he’s set up shop. You should go see him.”

Supercharger piped in, “And me too.”

“Nothing can help you, S.C.,” Mabel said, then she gave it a bit of thought. “Well, maybe some bubble wrap.”