July Creative Writing Challenge

Using two prompts: toast, tentacles.

“When they put seafood in the email announcement, I was thinking shrimp cocktails, grilled salmon, maybe deep-fried prawns if we were lucky. But not this. What is it, anyway?”

Griffin muttered through his teeth. “Squid. Now stop whining so loud. This night isn’t about you, if you couldn’t remember from the aforementioned email.”

Marty subsided. “Fine.” And then he proceeded to pout for the rest of the evening.

That was cool with Griff. He wouldn’t have chosen to sit with the ever-complaining Marty if he’d had a choice. Unfortunately for him, the place settings were predetermined. Griffin guessed it had been done partially by the amount of money donated to the office’s pet charity. He knew Marty hated donating, so he had likely given a lower dollar figure, whereas Griff wished he could give more but just couldn’t manage it this year.

He thought of his niece Maxine, currently lying in a hospital bed waiting for a liver transplant. Max’s parents couldn’t afford to take much more time away from work, so Griffin had “loaned” them what they needed for now.

He had no intention of calling them on the debt when all this was over, but his brother had been quite stubborn about it, so they drew up terms of payment and a small amount of interest. Griff was planning to take any cheques received to create an investment fund for Max. No way his brother would actually get mad at him for turning it around that way.

So that was how he had ended up here at the same table as Marty. Max was totally worth it, yet he still found himself annoyed having to put up with a sulky co-worker.

It was closing in on time for the dessert course when a guy from Security came over and asked him to come outside for a moment.

Had he done something? More likely it had to do with Marty, who was always getting on Security’s bad side. One of these days, Marty’s adequate knowledge of computers wouldn’t be enough to keep him employed in IT. Maybe he’d be sent down to the mail room, if they still had one in these days of emails and Fed-Ex online shipping.

Griffin was totally unprepared for the real reason he was called into the hotel lobby, leaving the banquet room full of noisy folks dressed up to the nines.

“We’ve got a problem,” said the VP, who had been pacing and texting at the same time. Now he stood relatively still, his hands twitching with text withdrawal. “There’s no one to make the toast.”

Toast? They wanted some help in the kitchen?

Griffin must have given a confused look because the VP tried again. “We need a speech! Someone to extol Carolyn’s virtues before the award is presented!”

“Oh.” Why did they want Griffin’s help on such a matter? “I assumed you would do that.”

“I can’t! Stage fright!”

What? How did a VP get along without the ability to orate?

It suddenly occurred to Griff that the VP was usually the photogenic one but he rarely said anything… No wonder he was so addicted to texting – no need to face a crown when “talking” that way.

“Griffin, can you do it? I have the notes right here. Ron had a family emergency, kids in a car accident.”

He took the notes and told the VP to send Ron his condolences and support. “Maybe we can take some of tonight’s donations for Ron’s family?”

“Good thought, MacIntyre. And I know you’ll do great up there.”

Griff knew it too. Not that he was conceited, he just knew that he was helping out a person in need and that was all that really mattered.

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