Editor’s Note: This is the second story in the series “Tragedy of The Wolf.” To read the first story “The Big Bad,” click here.
“So I take a lighter to the Pigboy Magazine,” says the wolf, “and lob it into the treehouse.”
The group around the sorting table breaks into laughter and mock indignation.
“Den what happened?” asks Boris the senior mail clerk, an overweight grizzly bear wearing a pair of old wire frame spectacles.
“Well, someone musta seen me. Next thing I know, a cop shows up at our front door, says I better follow him back to the station. So I go with him, just a cub in a ragged sweatshirt and a baseball cap, not the faintest idea of the world of shit I’m in. They let me off with a warning. Made the next day’s papers though.”
Another round of grunts and chortles. Boris takes a long swig from a beer bottle.
“So how’d you end up in this dump?” asks Donner, one of the older reindeer around the table, with fur speckled with grey.
“I never did see those three pigs again. Heard they’re down in the valley now. Lawyers, finance-types, who knows. Assholes is what they were. Ma died a couple years later, so I drifted. Worked on a farm. Met a girl. Followed her around for a while.”
“Well, Terry from Woodsville,” says Donner, “I’m sure glad we’ve got an extra pair a’ hands around—“
An eighth reindeer bursts into the mail room, its gait awkward and exaggerated.
Donner and the other reindeer scatter, doing their best impressions of busy people diligently inspecting parcels, holding them to the light, weighing them, and then sorting them into bins. Boris lumbers around double-checking parcels nonchalantly, a beer bottle-shaped bulge showing through the fabric of his oversized trousers pocket.
“Ey!” says the reindeer. “Ey! What is this? You fools ain’t being paid to sit around. We’re on the clock here!” He taps his watch as one would their feet: obnoxiously, that is.
The reindeer has a narrow face and a long snout that culminates in a large bulbous nose and flared nostrils. His grey suit jacket is half a size too large and hangs shapelessly off his lanky shoulders.
“Sorry Rudy,” says Donner, “just getting to know the new guy.” He nods at Terence, who smiles meekly.
“Getting to know the new guy. Getting to know—oh, I’m sorry, did I interrupt you guys? Can I offer you some cheese? Some crackers? A glass of champagne? No? You sure?” Rudy pauses to adjust his tie. “Because if I catch anyone one of you slacking off again—there’ll be hell to pay. You get me?”
“Good. And new guy,” says Rudy, “get the fuck back to work.” He turns on his heels and strides through the double doors.
“Who the hell was that?” says Terence.
“Rudy. Used to be just some guy who worked here in the mail room,” says Donner. “We never got along with him. Never liked him. Just something about him, you know?”
“Real prick,” says Boris.
“Then one day he comes in to work like he’s about to have a coronary. Says he was having a smoke in the parking lot the night before and heard noises coming from an old Mercedes parked in the corner. He went over to check it out, and lo and behold: it was The Chairman. Mister-fucking-Claus himself, in the back seat doing the dirty with his secretary.”
“Then what happened?” says Terence.
“Well, the next morning management promoted him to Mail Room Assistant Supervisor. The Chairman even came down here to congratulate him. Now he thinks he’s the shit,” says Donner, “Just— you know, play along so he can lay off our backs.”
“Yeah, total douche,” says Boris.
Jiksun Cheung is a brand strategist and a postcard designer. He and his wife share their home in Hong Kong with two boisterous toddlers and enough playdough to last a lifetime. His work appears in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Molotov Cocktail, The Daily Drunk, Flash Fiction Magazine, and others. Find him at @JiksunCheung and jiksun.com.