The committee had returned to the board room, though all the blinds were drawn down. Light leaked around the edges, drawing lines on the far wall that touched and then were absorbed into the deep obsidian. No one could clearly see each other, but no one turned on a light. It was better this way.
“What are we doing to do about this?” a man asked in a deep, rolling voice. It was the sort of voice that implied a double chin, and it originated from near the foot of the table, opposite the windows. His customary position was off-kilter slightly where he had scooted to the left, avoiding the blade of sunlight and crowding his neighbour.
“If we let him keep on like this, we’ll be bankrupt in no time!” a woman cried out, though her voice was faint. The committee always found it difficult to be heard in this room, as if it had been built to favour the currently vacant seat at the head of the table. That seat was always heard clearly, but everyone else’s voice faded before it reached all of the walls.
“Maybe…” the questioning man began. He swallowed audibly, and the next words jumped out as if his Adam’s Apple had kicked them into the open, “maybe we can claim it as a PR stunt, the company investing in the city, helping locals, building business, keeping money at home, strategic diversification…”
His voice faded away.
The first man sighed–even his sigh was deep–placed his hand over his eyes, leaned his elbow on the table, and replied, “Herbert just paid a hot dog man Seven. Hundred. Thousand. dollars for his hot dog stand.”
“Well,” the questioning man replied after a long pause, “at least… at least he’s the majority stockholder, ha ha… ha.”
The committee all turned to stare at the man. If the blinds hadn’t been closed, he felt like they would have thrown him out the window.
“We will have to have him” the double chinned man stated, drawing all attention back to himself as he stood, “psychiatrically evaluated.” He walked to the head of the table and placed his hands on the back of the empty chair. Staring down at Herbert’s vacant chair so forcefully that a few other members of the committee felt compelled to glance at it hesitantly, he continued.
“He has clearly gone insane. We will make sure the good doctor says so, and then we will make sure that the company is relinquished to us.”
He grinned, his eyes casting around the shadowed faces of those he would lead.
“For safe keeping,” he concluded maliciously.