|Author's note: This item was submitted as part of contest for the Writing Workshop group. The contest required the creation of an antagonist without using any "evil" descriptions but rather, letting the prose reveal that character's...well, character.
Mason Avery pulled off his suit jacket and quickly checked his appearance. He was as neatly pressed now as he had been during his meeting with "The Lowry Boys". There were no signs of perspiration, nor should there be. The conference had gone well; the deal would be worth millions to the company. There was only one essential task left for him to do to secure the contract. Mason pressed the intercom button on his phone and dialed 253.
"Hello, this is Howard," the phone voice said.
"Howard, this is Mason. Can you come into my office for a minute?"
"Sure. No problem. Give me a second to wrap up what I'm doing, and I'll be right in."
Mason walked over to his automatic shoe buffing machine. Keeping his shoes spotless was a near reflex action before any type of meeting. Mason watched as the down roller spun over the black leather, the motion speeding up or slowing down with the press of a button. Mason thought about Howard Rogers. Howard was an exemplary employee. Five years on the job at First Alliance, and he always completed his tasks with skill and precision. He was the type of employee anyone would like on his team: smart, eager, and willing to work hard. A slight tap at the door announced to Mason that the diligent employee had arrived. Howard opened the door and peered into the office. Mason motioned him to the chair opposite his large desk.
"Howard, as you know, the representatives from Lowry, LLC were here today and were meeting with me to finalize arrangements on a deal which is vital to First Alliance. You'll be happy to know that the meeting went well."
Mason continued, telling Howard details about the deal and about Lowry, LLC. As he spoke, he glanced down to a thick, manila folder lying on his desk, and then shot his look to the picture of his family, his smiling wife and two children on their boat, enjoying a summer day on the lake.
"Howard, the Lowrys are excited about this project, but before everything starts, they want an assessment analysis."
His smiling wife, whom he had won over. There had been other, better men, but his good looks and smooth manner, along with his promise of an excellent future, a promise which he had fulfilled, were enough to capture her heart. "The others be damned," he had thought, "I'll do whatever it takes to get her".
"As we reach this final step, it is even more important that we all pull together to make this happen."
His smiling wife, whom he had literally taken from another man to whom she had been engaged. Although they never spoke of that time or of what they both had done, it was a hidden bond to their relationship. Mason had triumphed, and his wife felt she had too.
"Howard, a person's commitment is reflected in what steps a person is willing to take to accomplish an important goal."
His smiling wife, a wordless reminder of the big party this weekend. A party that involved all of the important people, all of the people that would help him advance even further. Mason stared at the envelope again. He realized three things: He needed to be at that party, more importantly, he was incapable of completing the analysis himself, and most importantly, Howard Rogers could finish the analysis.
"So, Howard, I need to ask a favor of you. The Lowrys expect this report on Monday. I know this is late notice, but First Alliance needs your talent on this one."
Mason pushed the folder marked "TO: Elston Lowry, FROM: Mason Avery" toward Howard. Mason ran his hand through his hair brushing his locks into place. He looked and felt good. He turned away from Howard.