ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-10

"Good luck," he said with a smirk in his voice.
Mandy gathered up her receipts and took a deep breath as she headed out of her office.
"Here we go again."
She found the copy machine and then looked around for Bozo. "Whoa! Hel-lo!"—she was
face to face with a life-size cardboard stand-up of Bozo the Clown. Must be the place.
"Bozo? Hi, I'm Mandy Maloney." She instantly recognized the plaid pants. She extended her
hand, but slowly pulled it back when Bozo did not reciprocate.
"I was told to see you for some help in filing my expense report. I'm fairly new here and I
don't know the proper procedure."
All Mandy got back was a blank stare. Finally—"How much money do you want?"
"Well, I haven't added it all up yet. Can I use your calculator?" "No. Just tell me how much
money you want."
26"
"You mean I just tell you a figure—no paperwork to fill out?" "You got it. You want a
hundred dollars, five hundred, one thousand? Just tell me. You think it over. Send me an e-mail
when you decide."
Mandy was dumbfounded. She hesitated. "And this e-mail should say ‘Mandy Maloney,
$100?' Anything else?"
"That's all. You'll have your check tomorrow." "What should I do with my receipts?"
"Throw them in the trash for all I care. And no cents. Don't give me any cents. I'll only have
to round them off . It gives me a head- ache."
"Thank you, Bozo." Mandy turned and walked away, shaking her head in disgust. "This is the
most unethical thing I have ever heard of. How on earth is this company staying in business? I
don't get it. Are there no morals around here?"
Mandy added up her receipts. They came to $1256.79. She fired off the e-mail to Bozo
Fierstyne.
Mandy Maloney, $1256.00.
No cents, just as he asked.
The next day, as he had promised, a check was delivered in the amount of $1300.
Revulsion could not even come close to describing her shock. "I thought he only wanted me
to round off the cents. This is outright fraud and abuse of the company's money. No wonder
those salesmen are out playing golf when they should be working."
She took the check and marched down to Larry Adams's office. It was empty, stripped of
everything down to the bare walls. Mandy about dropped to her knees. She let out a huge sigh.
At that moment her cell phone rang. Her mother had the most perfect sense of timing, she
could hardly stand it.
"Hi, Mom. What do you need?"
"I need you to take me to the doctor."
"Mom, I'm working. I have a job now, remember?'
"I forgot. I still need you to take me."
"What's wrong with your car?"
"It's in the shop for repairs. Your father refuses to get me a rental car in the meantime."
"Call Jillian. She doesn't have anything to do all day. I have to work, Mom."
"I can't get in the car with her. You know she's a terrible driver. I won't ride with her."
"Mom, I'm working. You'll have to find someone else to take you—I can't. Call a cab if you
have to." Now Mandy was really irritated, between Bozo and her mother. She felt a migraine
headache coming on. When was she going to learn not to pick up the phone when her mother
called? The conversation never ended on a high note.
"That costs money, Mandy." "I can't do it. Call Jillian."
"I don't know what we did wrong with you. When are you going to be more like your
sister?"
"Bye, Mom." She hit the end button.
27"
She stuck her head back in what had been Larry's office and yelled at the painter, "Where's
Larry?"
"Don't know, lady. My orders say ‘new person needs banana yellow walls with chocolate
brown trim.'"
Mandy threw down her arms and left. "What kind of person gets yellow walls with
chocolate trim—the frozen banana kind of guy? I don't know if I can take much more of this.
And no one even to complain to." Her head was pounding more with each passing minute. As
Mandy turned to leave, she almost bounced off Lulu's big belly before she could stop herself.
"Hello, dear. How are you?" "Lulu, what happened to Larry?"
"Oh, dear, he decided the circus was just too much for him. Do you like the yellow paint? I
picked it out myself. I didn't care for the shade the random paint selector chose."
"It's very nice. I wanted to talk to Larry about my expense report. Something just doesn't
seem right to me."
"What's wrong?"
She explained about the rounding off and throwing the receipts in the trash
"Oh, dearie, don't worry about that. Bozo is a fine employee. He's been keeping track of
our expense reports for years. You can trust whatever work he does."
"Oh, OK," she hesitated. "But I'm really not comfortable with this, Lulu. This is stealing
the company's money. I don't want any part of it."
Lulu furrowed her brow as she looked at Mandy's check. "How much were your expenses?"
"Twelve fifty-six and seventy-nine cents."
"I want you first and foremost to pay your credit card. So please cash the check. I'll have the
difference deducted from you paycheck, if that will make you feel better. Please make me a copy
of this and all your receipts. I'll send Ronnie, the mailman, over to your office to pick it up by
the end of the day." Lulu abruptly turned and entered the empty office to admire her color
selection.
An angry Mandy went back to her office to start making copies. She wasn't sure that Lulu's
solution was going to help, but it was better than nothing.
"I just don't understand how this company works. Why would anyone think it's all right to
inflate an expense report?"
"Knock, knock."
Ronnie the mailman stood in the doorway. "Here to pick up your expense report."
Mandy had neatly assembled all the paperwork and placed it in an envelope for him.
"Here you go."
"I'll make sure Miss Lulu gets this right away. She said it's very important."
"It is important. Thank you."
Ronnie stopped short in the doorway and turned around to face Mandy.
"I know you didn't ask for my advice, but try to remember, things are not as they appear to
be around here."
28"
When Mandy looked up from her desk, he was gone. She stared at the empty doorway, not
believing what she had heard.
CHAPTER SEVEN
DON'T YELL FIRE