Friday, October 7, 2011

Weak Days

First published in The Houston Literary Review (2009)

Franklin Delano Archibald, IV, the stubby owner and CEO of the financially-imperiled Archibald Electric & Gas, a company and position he inherited from his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, arrived at his office Monday morning dressed in his customary charcoal-grey suit, starched white shirt, blue tie, and patent leather shoes. He mumbled a hello to his smiling, thirty-something secretary, slapped her ample behind as she bent over her desk shuffling through a stack of papers, entered his office, and prepared to write his usual demeaning notes on the reports submitted by his shift supervisors for review at the regular Monday afternoon meeting.

Tuesday morning he spent an hour chairing the Mayor's economic council, a position he thought of as a waste of time, but a useful experience if he ever ran for political office – something he might have to do if his company failed.

Wednesday afternoon, Franklin played golf, at which he cheated, with the mayor, the head of the city council, and the mayor's son, an Assistant District Attorney. Afterwards, they ate dinner and played a late-night poker game, at which Franklin also cheated, given the opportunity.

Thursday Franklin visited his mother in the Eternal Spring Nursing Home for exactly fifty minutes, the time starting when he rocked out of the driver's seat of his new Mercedes convertible. On his way home, he ate dinner at his mistress' apartment, followed by dessert in her bedroom.

On Friday, Franklin met his wife for lunch and ignored her while she whined about whatever was bothering her that day. At dinner, he asked the children if they'd learned anything at that worthless school he paid for them to attend, to appease his wife. Franklin looked at them as they responded, but didn’t hear what they said.

Saturday started with Franklin attending his son's karate class, where he flirted with a divorced mother of two. That afternoon, he wiped the dirty bleachers with a handkerchief, then sat down next to his wife to watch his daughter's soccer game, glancing at his watch every fifteen minutes. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, while his wife bought Chinese take-out for dinner on their way home. Later, he went to the local whorehouse, hired two girls for the evening, stripped to his boxers, and stopped thinking of himself as a gentleman.

Sunday morning Franklin Delano Archibald, IV paraded down the center aisle of the Mt. Zion Methodist church, his wife and children in single file behind, sat in the same front pew his family had for generations, bowed his head, and asked God to save the Archibald family business.

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