ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-36

"Elimination of the three o’clock break. Done—cross that off.
"Elimination of special paint in the offices. Oh, I can cross that one off—already been taken
care of. Two down. See, we’re making progress already. Three Ring was good for something,
wasn’t it?"
They all had a good laugh.
"No more clown costumes. It breaks my heart to tell Jose that, but it has to be done."
"Eliminate that goofy car we offer and the car allowance for those who aren’t in sales."
"Oh man, you’re taking away my car allowance?"
"Gary, either you’re with me or you aren’t. Which is it?" Biglar’s tone had become serious.
"Just kidding. I’m with you Biglar, don’t worry. I’m with you."
"Closing of all unprofitable stores."
"Excuse me, Biglar, but aren’t they all unprofitable at this point in time?"
"You have a point, Butane Bob. What would you suggest?"
"How about closing those where the manager is no longer even opening the store but still
collecting a paycheck? You can probably save a bundle just by firing the employees who aren’t
working."
"Good idea, good idea." Biglar scratched down some notes. "Let’s eliminate all the
duplicate departments that do the same thing. We only need one accounts payable department.
And how many overlapping training departments does Gary have?"
"Oh, man! Now I’m going to have to fire some more people," said a frustrated Gary.
"I thought you said you were with me?"
"Sorry, Biglar. I am. I’ll shut up."
"Thank you. Moving on. Any more suggestions?"
97"
"Stop funding the cafeteria. The employees can pay for their own meals."
"Get rid of all those electronic gadgets. You know, the pager, the BlackBerry, the printer—
none of us use it."
"I use mine," said Violet defensively.
"Not for their intended use, that’s for sure," said Gary, who was still smarting from Biglar’s
reprimand.
"How would you know? Yours are stashed in a drawer in your desk, never to see the light
of day, Dr. Feelgood."
"Enough bickering from all of you. The electronics go, except for the cell phone. You’re
going to need that in the coming days. We have to start working together as a team." Biglar was
beginning to lose patience with their whining.
"Everyone takes a five-percent pay cut for one year. And I mean everyone. So you know that
we are in this together, I have already given up my entire salary for one year. OK? We are in this
together, and I mean it." Biglar seemed so proud of himself.
"Mandy, it goes without saying you will have the expense report policy fixed by the end of
the week. And if anyone whines at you about it, send them to me."
"Not a problem, Biglar. Already on my list."
"Fabulous. Other ideas? Now’s your chance."
"Can we somehow streamline all that paperwork in HR? My first day I spent eight hours
just filling out paperwork with Tiffany the Cheerleader."
"What is Tiffany the Cheerleader’s position?"
"To be the cheerleader. I don’t know what else she does."
"Butane Bob, find her a real position and lose the cheerleading outfit. She is very cheery,
though. We’ll need her to help with the morale in the days to come. Get her to work on reducing
the paperwork. That will show us whether she has any talents apart from shaking a pompom."
"But Biglar," Violet interjected, "we really need to make some sales. Advertising is key
here, but without any merchandise to sell, how can I work on advertising?"
"Good observation, Violet. When was the last time we took inventory? That should be our
first step. Do we even know if we have anything in the warehouse?"
Together they said, "We have a warehouse?"
"Well, we did the last time I checked. I can’t imagine we stopped paying the rent since we
kept paying it for everything else. Why don’t we all take a trip over there tomorrow and see
what’s going on? It could either be a lot of fun or just depressing. How about it?"
"I bet on depressing," groaned Butane Bob. He’d been sitting back taking in the scene, not
saying a word.
"You know what—let’s go now. I don’t want to wait. Go home and change into some jeans
and meet in the parking lot in an hour."
Upon their return, a long yellow limousine was waiting for them. "Biglar rides around town
in a yellow limousine?" exclaimed Violet
98"
"Looks that way," answered Gary.
A door opened and Biglar stuck his head out, waving for them to get in.
"Like the wheels? Since I’ve been incognito for so long, it was hidden in the garage. This
seemed like the perfect opportunity to take all of my friends for a spin."
Gary stretched out on the plush leather seat. "Now this is the way to travel. How far is the
warehouse from here?"
"Oh, just a couple blocks down the street."
Violet nudged Gary to get his feet off the seat. "Make room for the rest of us, could you?"
"Easy does it. It’s not often I get chauffeured around town. I need to make the most of it."
It was a good thing the windows were darkly tinted. If anyone had seen the expressions on
those five faces, they would have immediately called an ambulance, thinking they had been in an
accident. Each face was contorted in wonder at the gaudiness of their ride. They all looked as if
they were in immense pain. The inside of the vehicle was pink leather with blue trim. It had a
full bar with a leopard-print countertop. Dudley Do-Right cartoons were playing on the bigscreen television. Mandy was wondering what planet she had landed on and where these aliens
were taking her. The limo suddenly came to a screeching halt.
"This must be it—depressing, just as I thought," said Butane Bob
The limo parked on the street to let them out. There was no room to pull into the parking lot.
Tractor trailers were parked nose to nose on every inch of blacktop. No building was even
visible from their vantage point.
"You sure there’s a warehouse here?"
"This is the address. It wouldn’t have been like Louis to tear it down. He preferred to run
things into the ground, sapping every last dime out first."
It was a good thing that they had had the foresight to change into old clothes. It was a maze.
They ducked under trucks and between tires. The trucks were parked so closely together, there
was barely room to move between them.
"Hey, here’s some grass. We must be getting close." Gary had been leading the way. "Uh—
no. False alarm. Just a big weed in the blacktop."
"Hey look, there’s an old rusted car over there. Wonder how long that thing’s been sitting
there."
"Aah, I remember this place now." Biglar had come to a sidewalk and stood looking at the
building in admiration. The rest of the group followed the sound of his voice.
"I remember the day when my mother had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open this
warehouse. I was about ten years old. The clowns, the jugglers, the spectacle—it was really
something."