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The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in his Office || fiction by Michael Allen Rose
art by Alice M.
‘The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in his Office,’ fiction by Michael Allen Rose
I replied in the affirmative.
“The half-eaten sausage would like to see you in his office, please.”
“Thank you,” I said into the phone, somewhat bewildered. I closed the game of solitaire on my computer, leaving only my work email open, and opened a new spreadsheet. I highlighted a few cells and typed in some random numbers. If anyone walked by my cubicle while I was away, I wanted it to look like I had been doing something productive.
I hurried down the hall and sidled into the well-appointed antechamber of our corporate president. My nerves were electric; I did not deal well when confronting authority, and I hoped this was good news.
“Go right in, the half-eaten sausage is expecting you.” The half-eaten sausage had a pretty secretary with a very nasal voice. She looked at me over half-closed, disinterested eyelids.
The office was large with dark wood paneling. Everything was bound in leather, no doubt to keep the juices secreted by the half-eaten sausage from soaking into the furniture. The vague odor of spice-rubs and copper pennies assailed my nostrils. The half-eaten sausage stood in silhouette behind his desk, a view of the stockyards behind him. I caught a glimpse of the cow-stabbers running around stabbing cows before the half-eaten sausage reached over and closed the blinds with a quick snap of his wrist. His luxurious mustache twitched as he moved. It was long, curled and well-groomed.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” I said, humbly stepping forward, closing the door behind me.
“Sit down, Mister Zapruder,” commanded the half-eaten sausage, flopping in the general direction of his guest chair. I noticed as I sat that it was smaller, and lower to the ground than the plush executive chair inhabited by the half-eaten sausage. This was an old corporate trick to aid in the power exchange between employer and employee, making the latter feel smaller and less effective in negotiations. Also, the executive chair needed to be extremely high off the ground, because the half-eaten sausage was the size of a sausage, more or less. Half of one, anyway.
The half-eaten sausage sat silently on the chair, regarding me. There was a long and heavy silence. I found myself idly looking around, my gaze settling over and beyond the half-eaten sausage, noticing all the certifications and plaques. There was a degree from the business college of Amhurst alongside several certificates of merit from the national pork council’s quality control division. They were all neatly framed. It was very impressive.
“Theodont, it’s time for your employee evaluation,” said the half-eaten sausage, rolling onto his desk and leaving a greasy sheen across the surface. Papers with my name on them were laid out too, spilling out of a manila file folder.
“I didn’t realize this was coming, sir,” I said, confused. “I didn’t have time to prepare.”
“Even my evaluator himself has to be held accountable, Mister Zapruder,” he said. “Don’t think just because you yourself get to evaluate everyone from the cow-stabbers to the grease suckers you get a free pass from evaluation. Someone has to evaluate you, and it’s going to be me. How do you think you’re doing, on a scale from Bratwurst to Chorizo?”
“I like to think I’m doing well here at Sausage and Sons, sir,” I said.
“Do you think this job is right for you, Mister Zapruder?” asked the half-eaten sausage. I was bewildered. The air was thick with grease and the smell of burning microwave pork-rinds. The half-eaten sausage was sweating. He was plumped like he’d been sunning poolside. “You administrate and evaluate, but at what level? The more I think about your administration level as far as administrating, the more grave my concerns become. Not to mention my evaluation of your evaluating.”
“What is this all about, really?” I asked, raising my eyebrow in the best imitation of a suspicious private-eye I could muster. Something was afoot, and it wasn’t part of the sausage meat.
The half-eaten sausage rolled to the floor with a wet plop. It floundered about, leaving a gooey trail on the carpet, pacing angrily.
“We don’t like our employees talking badly about the company, Theodont. No, not at all. You’ve been saying things around the water-cooler, sir. Things that have now caught up with you, and are about to bite you in the tail.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about sir! I haven’t said anything bad about the company,” I said. I really hadn’t. I thought back to see if I could identify any moment of weakness where my complaints might have been extra loud or vociferous, but found nothing in the memory banks. Could he be talking about my aspirations toward management? Certainly I had made some noise about promotion, but that was supposed to be a positive thing, wasn’t it?
The half-eaten sausage continued to lurch its way to and fro, growing louder with each flailing seizure. “I may not have ears, Mister Zapruder, but I hear things. You’ve been asking the wrong people the wrong questions and giving the wrong answers to the right people.” With that, the half-eaten sausage stood up fully erect. I imagined him peering up at me, the slight bend in the uneaten end of him like a tiny disapproving old man, hunched from years of holding up his rage-filled carcass. A droplet of hot fat squeezed out of his end and fell onto my shoe—his version of spitting.
“What is this about specifically, sir? Surely you know I want to grow with this company and take a leadership role?” I pleaded with him. I couldn’t lose this job, what with the kids in that expensive suburban Bible college. And what about our plans to vacation at a logging camp? The kids would be devastated if they didn’t get to meet a real lumberjack. I needed to fight for my job. “I have been a fine, upstanding employee, half-eaten sausage,” I said, “and I deserve recognition for my service.” I could see him tense up. “My spreadsheets are always in order, I rarely eat anyone else’s lunch, and I even stay late to scrape the bottoms of the grease vats every Thursday night.”
The half-eaten sausage was taken aback. He rolled to a handkerchief and blotted himself. “Now listen, Mister Zapruder, don’t get excited now,” he said, hopping nervously. “Let’s not do anything rash. Just clean out your desk and go home. I’ll write you a letter of reference.”
“You’re letting me go? Why? I demand answers,” I demanded, shaking my fist and stomping my foot like an angry child. Being so close to the ground and relatively unprotected put the half-eaten sausage on his guard. My eyes met his casing, and we both knew I could crush him beneath my shoe with one small step. We looked at his desk at the same moment, and realized simultaneously that to call security he would have to get back to his phone. He had placed himself in a strategically unsound position, and we both understood that. I sat on his desk, ignoring the streaks of meat-grease covering its surface, folded my arms and smiled wanly.
“All right, okay, Theodont,” said the half-eaten sausage, slowly circling around the edge of the office. “I didn’t get where I am today by backing down, that’s for sure, so if you think you’re going to frighten me, you’re barking up the wrong lamppost. I’ll tell you what’s what, but don’t you think even one half of a half of a second about trying to do anything you’ll regret. I’ll call the hounds, and they’ll do what they do and you’ll wish you hadn’t done what you’re doing.”
I nodded, and said, “Go on.”
“I have it on good authority you asked the forbidden question,” said the half-eaten sausage. It hit me like lightning hits a stainless steel sheep. He knew I’d been asking about him. What happened to him. How he became like this. I was curious—we all were—but I didn’t think anyone would rat me out. “When we hire people we always tell them: don’t ask about the incident. You should have known better. I overheard you, you see, on my daily roll about the factory.”
He was right. On every page of the employee handbook, the same phrase is repeated in 48-point bold font right above the page number: “Don’t Ask What Happened to the Sausage.” “But sir!” I shouted, “You can’t fire me! I was just curious! I didn’t mean any harm!”
“I’m sorry, you have to go,” said the half-eaten sausage, turning his casing on me. I knew from the position of where his shoulders would have been that I was defeated. Normally, I would have accepted the harsh judgment without critique. Authority sends a lightning bolt straight to my bladder. If anyone tells me what to do, it makes me have to urinate. But this was different; I was not about to be talked down to and treated like a child by a glorified hot dog. I swept the stapler, the spatula and sheafs of waxed paper off his desk and onto the floor.
“Now see here, what are you about?” screamed the sausage, but I was truly angry now; the heat was rising up from my stomach, taking control of me. “Stop it! Don’t!”
I ripped open the drawers of his desk and pulled out handfuls of confetti, cans of liverwurst, small European biscuits and other confections. Anything I could find that wasn’t nailed down was fair game, and the contents of his files quickly became nothing but adornments for the walls and floor. I was a tornado tearing through his office, and as I got to the bottom drawer, I felt him leap onto the back of my neck, emitting a sound of total anguish. As I pulled open the bottom drawer, its contents spilling out onto the carpet, I understood his terror.
A yellowed piece of paper floated out and landed in front of me, company seal at the top. It looked ancient, something out of a Mespotamian ruin. Imprinted on it was a simple corporate motto:
EAT OR BE EATEN, SO SAYETH THE CEO, BE THE SAUSAGE OR BE THE SAUCE.
Paper-clipped to the document was an old photograph of a fully formed sausage sitting beside a small, sweaty, nervous looking man. There on the little man’s face stood a proud, luxurious mustache, the only remarkable thing about him. There was no hiding the similarity between the two mustaches. I spun on the half-eaten sausage, who was now cowering away from me.
“Don’t look at that!” screeched the half-eaten sausage, growing swollen and red. He flopped wildly, in the throes of madness. “Those pictures are not for you!”
“You... you weren’t always... a CEO. You were just another yes-man,” I stammered, growing angrier by the second. “You killed him, didn’t you. The founder. It was a hostile takeover. And you judge me for trying to do things the right way? How dare you?”
“Whatever you’re thinking, Zapruder, don’t do anything foolish,” said the half-eaten sausage. “My last administrator, he got it into his head that he could take a bite of what was rightfully mine, and you know where he ended up? The blood vats! He got his bite, but I got him in the end!”
I stood up tall, watching as the sausage flopped his way toward the window. It all made sense now, and I knew there was only one way to keep my job: I had to finish what my predecessor started. A taste of his own medicine. I had to eat the sausage.
A momentary glance told me he knew what I was thinking. Anticipating my move toward him, the half-eaten sausage nimbly flipped end-over-end toward the far wall, where two crossed cutlasses hung. I cleared the gap between us in a heartbeat and dove for him, but he leaped at the last second. I slid underneath him as I heard the unmistakable sound of metal against metal. I looked up just in time to avoid being skewered by a cutlass, which the half-eaten sausage was somehow expertly wielding, despite his lack of hands. Dodging and rolling, I made my way to my feet and grabbed the other sword before throwing myself backward, just avoiding his deadly, flashing blade.
“You inhuman monster!” I screamed. Our swords clashed. Sparks ignited the nearby drapes. “You did terrible things to become this sausage!”
The half-eaten sausage grabbed onto a hanging cable and swung across the room with a dashing yodel. As he did so, he knocked the plumper from his desk, the constantly-rolling machine that kept him bathed in hot grease. The glass shattered and liquid fat spilled out, adding to the fire threatening to consume the office as flammable oils spread across the carpet.
His sword slashed across my upper arm and made me drop my cutlass. “Nothing you wouldn’t have done! Be the sausage, or be the sauce! Don’t you dare judge me, Zapruder! You’re a nothing! A nobody!” The half-eaten sausage came to the end of his arc with a flourish, but to his surprise I had recovered quickly and was already upon him as he turned.
Knocking the sword out of his lack-of-hand, I leaned down and snapped at him with my jaws. He squealed like a frightened child and rolled under his desk, dodging my every bite.
“Come out of there, half-eaten sausage! You will pay for the things you’ve done!” I shouted. I could see his shadow in the faint light underneath the heavy desk. “I’ll finish the job, with relish!”
“Mustard, maybe, but never relish, you Neanderthal,” said the half-eaten sausage, and with surprising speed, he rolled out from the other side of the desk and flopped toward the window.
The flames had now spread in a wave of heat and death. Beads of moisture sizzled on the half-eaten sausage as he began to plump. My own forehead drizzled beads of sweat over my eyebrows and down my cheeks. He leaned back and forth, looking for a way around me, but the only escape was straight through the window, and we both knew it. I closed in.Suddenly the half-eaten sausage threw himself against the glass! A large crack spidered across its surface.
“Don’t come any closer!” he screamed.
“You don’t have the guts,” I said, moving a step closer. The paint on the walls was beginning to peel. I heard an alarm go off somewhere in the distance, and I was coughing from the smoke that now surrounded us.
“I am mostly guts!” The half-eaten sausage began to laugh just then, a thick, mucus-laden laugh. He looked as maniacal as I imagined a half-eaten sausage could. The way his end lifted up, turning redder amidst the roaring flames which surrounded us, I could almost see a grin where there was no mouth. “I will survive this. I have a thick casing. You, on the other hand, are a blood bag. You will die,” he commanded. Without another word, he launched himself backward, stick-straight, smashing through the window and falling out of sight.
Without hesitation, I dove after him and out into the early evening air.
I estimated maybe ten seconds before I would make a very messy statement on the pavement below. My mind had shut itself off from the natural fear that I should have been feeling and was purely focused on my only possible goal: I was going to finish eating that sausage.
Like partners in a ballet, we maneuvered in mid-air, and after a few moments we had already reached terminal velocity. I willed myself to channel all the high dive events I had ever seen depicted in television shows. I felt my body shift to be both dense and aerodynamic. The sidewalk was rushing up to us, and everything seemed to be moving at half speed as I came closer by inches to the half-eaten sausage. My mouth engulfed him as we fell, and I could hear his tiny scream as I suppressed my gag reflex and worked my mouth around his wiggling body. I heard screams from passersby below, and all color drained from my field of vision as the ground came up to meet us, carrying with it the promise of stone about to decimate flesh. Just before we hit, I instinctively bit down. The velocity helped me swallow the well-cooked, now fully-eaten sausage, just before a pitch black lightning bolt tore through my vision. The last thing I heard before oblivion was the sound of meat hitting concrete.
“Sir?” A young and hesitant voice asked from somewhere. I argued for a moment with myself about the likelihood of being dead. Slowly, shapes came back to me, then colors, sounds, and finally the details of a worried face. I was surrounded by paramedics and men in suits. I recognized a junior member of the board of directors as the man leaning over me.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“You must have fallen out the window trying to escape the fire,” he said. “Are you alright?” I wanted to feel myself for broken limbs, but despite my best efforts, no limbs came to attention when I commanded them to move. Instead, I flopped upward to what was apparently now my full height and looked my junior executive directly in the ankle.
“I feel pretty good, actually,” I admitted.
“You look great, sir. May I say that you look better than I have ever seen you,” he said. A chorus of people around him muttered their agreement and nodded.
“A mirror,” I muttered. “Give me a mirror.”
Tentatively, one of the women nearby, a young woman in a power suit, opened up a compact and held it down to my level.
In the mirror, looking back at me, was the new president of Sausage and Sons. I admired my plumpness and vibrancy, the slight arc of my form and the ruddy, healthy color of my skin. I was especially proud to see the quality of my stature. I was fully formed, not missing a single bite, complete from end to end like I had just come off the assembly line.
“May I escort you to your office, sir?” said my young executive. “They put out the fire, and the cleanup operation is yours to command.”
“What’s your name, son?” I asked.
“Franklin Grimp, Mister Sausage, sir,” he said.
“That’s Mister Fully-Intact Sausage, Franklin,” I said. I nodded, firmly.
“Yes sir,” he said. “May I offer you a ride upstairs?”
Franklin Grimp put me carefully in his pocket and dismissed the paramedics with a wave. The rest of the executives and board members filed in behind us, a note of jealousy in their eyes, targeting the new company favorite as he carried me toward the elevator beyond the blood vats. When he put me down on the plush elevator carpeting, I left a large grease stain on his pocket.
“What happened up there, sir?” he asked me.
I gave him a warning look. “One rule here at Sausage and Sons, young Franklin. Remember this and you’ll have a long and successful career here. Don’t ask questions about how the sausage is made.”
He made the sign of a zipper over his lips with one of his hands and pressed the elevator button with his other. I made a mental note to have all copies of the corporate motto burned and ban all cameras from the premises. There was no reason to be careless.
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