Humor Fiction posted January 13, 2015


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It's a short trip from toast to roast

The Toast

by Deniz22

It had started out as a night for Joey's fellow workers and the top executives at R. P. Insurance and Investments to honor him and say good-bye. After 35 years with the company, Joey was retiring.

Admittedly, some of the newer "Big Boys" of the company had to be briefed on the diminutive Joey and his many years of faithful service. Joey didn't ever stand out in a crowd and at R. P.s, he had simply been swallowed up by the other 150 cubicle occupants. Many of those had hardly even exchanged pleasantries with Joey. So the obligatory attendance for the "honoring" and "biding fond farewell" were seen as similar to that of a funeral for an unknown aunt...and a poor one at that... by the unwilling attendees.

In every crowd, there are those who dread boredom as the ancients feared the plague. Joey's "pals" took charge of the open mic after the gold watch presentation ceremony and turned it from a toast into a roast.

Although Joey had made no friends in 35 years, he apparently had inadvertently made some enemies. Perhaps these were those who had tried to extend the open hand of friendship to the reticent Joey. His failure to reciprocate had been seen as rejection...not to be forgotten. Of course, there were some who always looked for opportunities to vent their own feelings of inadequacy on the smaller, defenseless fish in the R.T. pool. Joey was fair game, a minnow among sharks.

"I just wanna say a few words about my old buddy on his retirement...what's your name again, Pal?"

Big Sam grinned in appreciation of the laughs he received for his remark. Warming to his task, he said, "We're really sorry to see you go, Pal, but the janitor will be glad to get his closet back once you clean out your office."

Uproarious laughter greeted Big Sam's latest quip and before the laughter had died out, he shot another zinger. "We'll sure miss you around here, but it will be nice to go to petty cash and actually find some there...know what I mean, Pal?"

Just then, Big Sam's crony, Pete, grabbed the mic from Sam. Holding it in a ham-like fist, he said reproachfully, "Aw, leave him alone, Sam! He didn't do nothin' to you! He didn't do nothin' to ANYONE...matter of fact, he didn't do nothing around here for 35 years!"

This brought the house down, as everyone broke into prolonged laughter. Everyone...except Joey. His whole life had been devoted to blending in with the proverbial wall-paper and now he was exposed. There was no place to hide except behind the flimsy ghost of a pained smile.

The evening continued, the wine flowed, and the quips fell like whips on Joey's lacerated soul. Yet, even lions are sated with a kill after a while and eventually the hyenas get their fill as well. It was time to wrap it up. Glances were exchanged with friends and wives in a silent agreement to move on.

Suddenly, Big Sam stood to his feet and said, "Now hold on a minute, friends. We've had some fun roasting Joey here, and I think it only fair to give him a chance to have his say. How about it, Joey? Take this mic and give us a word..."

Big Sam extended the mic in Joey's direction while the crowd began to chant, "Joey! Joey! Joey!"

Joey had been flooded with gratitude that the ordeal was over, but now saw there would be no end to the misery until he spoke to them. He made his way to the extended mic and the crowd hushed as he began to speak.

"Thank you all for coming tonight. I didn't realize I had so many friends until some of you began to speak about me. However, I only want to respond to one remark out of the many offered tonight."

Now people were straining to hear Joey's soft voice. "It's been said that I did nothing around here for 35 years. That's a lie. I did a lot. I did my regular work every day for 35 years for the same pay an apprentice manager gets at Burger King after one week."

"In addition to my regular work load, I regularly embezzled the company's funds, invested them carefully, and replaced the borrowed funds without fail at the end of each month. No one will ever be able to follow my tracks. I'm that good!"

"When I leave here tonight, I will board my private jet and fly to an island I purchased in the South Pacific. So, I bid you all farewell!"

The crowd was stunned, to say the least. Executives glanced nervously at each other. Silence prevailed until...Joey began to laugh...and laugh...until the tears flowed. Wiping them away, he set off another round of belly-laughing, leg slapping laughter, the kind that leaves one helpless in a sea of merciless mirth.

Soon, everyone joined in, laughing their heads off, and shaking them in wonderment on the joke "good ol' Joey" had pulled on them. Executives, breathing sighs of relief, hugged Joey as if he were one of them.

It was only after another hour of back-slapping, more laughter, and fervent congratulations on how he had "sucked them in" that the recently retired tycoon entered a cab and sped to the airport, where his private jet stood waiting to whisk him away to his island retirement home.



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