"Give me a little credit, would you, Violet? New underwear is the perfect gift for you with
all the action yours gets. It was the first thing that came to my mind for you. Now as for Mandy,
she was much more difficult. But I thought, ‘What would Mandy like that would loosen her up a
little?’ Lingerie would only sit in her drawer with the tags still on."
"What makes you think I need to loosen up?"
"Well, let’s put it this way. Vivian’s Closet didn’t come to mind when I went looking for a
present for you. So I thought I would talk you into having a party and you could use the blender
to make margaritas. That would certainly loosen you up."
"Can’t say that I understand that logic, but thank you for the gift. I’ll be sure to schedule that
party as soon as it lets up around here. I’ll have to practice making those margaritas in the
meantime so that I have the recipe down before the party." She tried to cover up how angry she
really was, but without much success.
Mandy felt deflated. These were her friends, or so she thought. Gary was really sweet to give
her a gift, but she couldn’t get past that it was a blender of all things. She was working too hard
and was too tired—that’s all. Her Christmas spirit was lost.
"Hey, Mandy, we almost forgot to tell you—and you are never going to believe it!"
"What? Spill the beans!" Gossip was just the thing to get her mind off the blender.
"Cassie told Gary and me that she loved her chili so much, she has another pot of it at home
for dinner."
"Get out of town! You’re kidding me, aren’t you?"
Gary and Violet slowly started to get up from their chairs and began to make their way to
the door. "Oh, no. It’s the God’s honest truth. She admitted it point-blank—another big pot at
home in the fridge."
She pretended to throw the blender at them as the two raced down the hallway
The threesome was on cloud nine at the prospect of today’s morning update meeting. The
books were closed and the word was that they had finished the year with a small but nonetheless
actual profit. All the long days and sleepless nights were about to bear the fruit of their labor.
And they owed it all to a stampede.
"I’ve heard from accounting that it’s good news!"
"Maybe we can take a little vacation together for some R & R." "Violet, haven’t we spent
enough time together lately? Maybe some time apart would be the perfect vacation this time.
What do you think?" The last thing Gary wanted to do was introduce his children to a vacation
with Violet
"I don’t want to go on vacation alone. Can’t we go together? The Bahamas, Aruba—
somewhere warm and sunny with lots of pina coladas. How about a cruise? That would be fun.
Lots of booze and good-looking men. I need that right about now."
"Violet, a vacation sounds great, but I think I need to move on. I’m so stressed out between
my mother and this insane asylum, I need to find a permanent change of scenery. Plus, I don’t
feel like competing with you on a boat full of single men. You’d win, hands down."
"Aw, come on, Mand, it’s easy to look like me. Contact lenses and a dye job. I’ll fix you up
before we go—no problem. But you’re the ray of sunshine around here. What could possibly be
so horrible that you’d want to leave town completely? This place, I can understand, but leave me
and Gary? You can’t. We’d miss you too much." She pouted.
"Read this. It’s the Christmas newsletter. I brought it to work so that I wouldn’t be tempted
to read it every time I saw it sticking out of my Christmas card basket at home. I didn’t feel like
being irritated over and over again. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, and I knew I wouldn’t
ever have time to read it while I’m here." She handed the green glittery piece of paper to Violet.
Gary read over her shoulder
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been a wonderful year, all things considered. William, our eldest, turned forty this year.
That makes us feel very old. He is a millionaire many times over. We are quite proud of his uncanny
ability to sue the pants off everyone he comes in contact with. His wife leaves us cold and we wish he
would give us grandchildren, but other than that we don’t worry about him.
Jillian, our youngest, is happily married to a fine man, Joe. She is giving us a grandchild next
April. We are thrilled. Her career will be motherhood, the same as her own mother. The apple doesn’t
fall far from the tree.
Mike had a bout with gallstones in August but is finally feeling much better. I started taking
medicine for high blood pressure. Other that that we are both feeling fairly healthy.
Our beloved Fifi is now in doggy heaven. We miss her so much. She was our constant companion
for over twelve years.
Mandy, our middle child, continues to plague us with disappointment. She has been employed since
the beginning of the year—at what, however, we don’t know. But we are actually quite surprised that
she has held a job for this long. You may have seen her in a commercial for Big Circus Stuff. We are
hopeful that this is a start to a career in television.
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!
The Maloneys
"Are you sure you’re not adopted?" said Gary. "You should burn that and forget about it."
"Why didn’t you just throw it in the trash? Why do you have to keep tormenting yourself
with it?"
"You know that invisible hold my mother has over me. I can’t bring myself to do it."
"Gallstones and the dog had higher billing than you," said Violet. "That’s not enough to make
you get rid of this garbage? You can’t leave us, Mandy. Tell your mother you moved and stay
here. It doesn’t seem to me like she’ll ever come looking for you. Change your cell phone
number. She’ll never find you. And besides, Biglar and Butane Bob like you the best. You’ll be
made a vice president soon, I know it. The only way I’ll get to move up the ladder is to be
dragged along on your coattails."
"Yeah, Mandy, I need your coattails too," said Gary with a grin.
"I’ve got to figure out something. I just can’t take it anymore."
"Where’s Butane Bob?" As they passed his office, they couldn’t help but notice that the
firehouse was strangely dark. "I wonder where he could be. He’s never more than a few steps
behind us."
As they rounded the corner to Biglar’s office, they were greeted by a strange voice. "Good
morning, good morning. Please, please come in."
A man they did not recognize was showing them into Biglar’s office. Or was it? The room
had been completely cleaned out—the desk, chairs, pictures, everything gone. Three metal
folding chairs sat in the middle of the room. An office chair sat beside a very small desk that had
two separate piles of manila folders on it. Two other men nodded and greeted them politely.
"My name is Nikhil Ismathbatcha. I am here to inform you, at the request of Mr. Biglar
Topler, that all functions of this company are now being outsourced to India. I am the
outsourced CEO. I work for much less money than Mr. Biglar, and I do a much better job.
This is Kadar Sathyamurthy, the outsourced chief financial officer, and next to him is Srini
Badugu, the outsourced information systems manager. They do a much better job too, for a
cheaper price."