by Mike Day
power, is nothing without control...
|Marko slammed the sample onto the board room table. 'Exactly who thought this was ok?' he snarled.
The Managing Director remained silent, content for the moment for the head of Marketing to drive the meeting.
'Bill, your supposed to be in charge of Quality, who let this...' he paused dramatically, 'Item, go out to the customer.'
'Now hang on Marko.' Bill said weakly. He knew that Marko had taken the prototype out of his department in a rush to show it to the customer, he just couldn't prove it. Besides Marko was the MD's Rottweiler, better to take the knock than turn it into a full blown row.
‘Oh for Christ’s sake.’ Marko said turning away in disgust.
The meeting went on for a further quarter of an hour before the MD wrapped it up. He still didn’t know who had really dropped the ball, but as Bill had taken the beating he assumed that the fault lay there; after all they were all big boys and they didn’t belong here if they couldn’t fight their corner.
Marko was on the main road home, the speed limit said fifty but that was for the Proles. His four litre Jaguar could handle the speed and he was damned sure he could. The lights of the on coming cars kept flashing him, he knew what they wanted. He kept his main beams on full, at ninety he wanted every bit of the road visible. The tarmac was dry and he was making good time when the phone rang. ‘Marko’ he said to the hands free kit.
‘Hello darling... It’s me Kate.’ His wife’s voice was annoyingly timid.
‘I’m on the way to a meeting. What do you want?’ he said as he tore past a curtain sided lorry.
The lights of an on coming car lit up the inside of his car.
‘Bloody idiot’ Marko shouted as he tucked in front of the now furiously breaking lorry.
‘Marko?’ She quavered.
‘Not you. Another bloody idiot. Look what do you want?’ He said as he checked his hair in the mirror.
‘I have a nice roast for your tea. I was wondering what time you were coming home? So that I can get it ready.’ She said, her voice growing fainter as she spoke.
‘When I get there. How many times do I have to tell you this? I have a lot of responsibilities, I can’t spend my days polishing my nails, nor can I predict how long meetings might take. Ok’ He thought he caught the beginning of an answer as he hung up the phone.
Picked out in bright blue neon, the strip club stood out from the other pubs and clubs in the street. He pulled up and stepped out. He felt good, powerful, alive. The door man nodded and Marko threw him his keys, the club offered a valet parking service to its regular customers.
Inside the club was dark, the blue neon theme was carried on in thin fluorescent tubes of the same shade of blue. A bar ran along one wall, dolly birds scuttling behind it served over priced drinks to the male clientele.
The stage was a long cat walk with a single chrome plated pole at one end. At that moment a blond girl was wrapped upside down around it. She swayed and lurched in time to the rhythmic pulse of the music.
Marko lent against the bar, taking time to admire her, as he waited for his usual.
He reached the house at half past eleven, slipping the key into the lock on his second attempt. ‘I’m home' he called in an exaggeratedly cheerful voice.
Kate came out of the living room in her terry towelling robe. He couldn’t help comparing her to the lithe, exotic girls he had just come from. She fell short, far short. ‘So where’s this famous dinner that I rushed back for?’ He said sourly.
‘Go on through, it won’t be a second.’ She said avoiding his eyes.
Marko sat in his chair in front of the television, she had been watching some arty thing but he soon found something better to watch.
She bustled back in with a tray on which sat a plate, piled high with roast beef and all the trimmings.
He held his hands out of the way, allowing her to place it on his lap.
She started to back away.
Suddenly his hand shot out. ‘What’s this?’
‘Carrots. How many times have I told you, I don’t eat bleeding carrots?’ His fingers were digging hard into her wrist.
‘Your hurting me.’ She said pitifully.
‘Your hurting me!’ He imitated in a shrill voice. The tray flew up into the air, gravy, peas and the rest scattering over the carpet.
She screamed, dropping to her knees and holding her free arm up to protect her face. It was terrifyingly familiar to her, the only unknown was how bad the beating would be this time.
Some time during the early hours of the morning she crawled into bed beside him. He didn’t stir, the drink by now had settled him into a deep, untroubled, sleep. She lay staring, unblinkingly, at the street light outside the window. A split lip, left eye beginning to swell, and perhaps a cracked rib. It had some times been much worse, but then there was always next time.
Next morning they both pretended that nothing had happened, he avoided the living room and she avoided his touch.
Back in the office he was in a good mood, he had terrified an office junior to the point where the lad was still sobbing in the toilets. Marko felt in control.
He was strolling down the shop floor, contentedly ignoring the workers, he liked to imagine himself as a nobleman amongst his serfs. Then he spotted Bill coming in the other direction, ‘Great’ he thought to himself bitterly.
‘Hi Marko.’ Bill said affably as they met.
‘Have you seen the email from Turner and Son?’ Bill asked as innocently as he could.
‘No...’ Marko’s eyes narrowed. ‘What about it?’
‘Seems the Buyer has his knickers in a twist about our pricing structure, copied the email to every member of the board. Not a happy bunny.’
‘God!’ He muttered as he stormed past. After a very frosty meeting with the boss, he was back in his car, heading down the same main road. This time heading for his main customer, wondering how he was going to turn him round.
Eighty five, Ninety, Ninety five, the trees and lampposts were whipping past.
Around a long curving bend a caravan came suddenly into view. Marko didn’t hesitate, he moved smoothly out, stamping even harder on the accelerator as he hurtled past.
He didn’t quiet see what it was, just a dark mass.
It was six months before the hospital was prepared to let him go home; of course there was a lot of preparations, the special bed, the lifting gear, and all the other equipment needed to care for a quadriplegic. But finally he was home.
Kate had led the way as the ambulance men wheeled him in, showing them through to the living room, now converted into a bed room.
They had hardly left when the doorbell rang, ‘I'll get it.’ Smiled Kate sweetly.
Marko grunted; they had said that the computerised voice machine would be ready in six weeks, so until then he was stuck making grunts.
‘Hi Marko.’ It was Bill.
‘So how’s he been?’ He asked.
‘About the same, thanks.’
‘I bought you these.’ He said, sweeping a bunch of flowers from behind his back.
‘Oh! how lovely.’ she cooed. ‘Could you just put them in some water for me? Only I have to give him his tea.’
They sat either side of him talking quietly, as she carefully spooned the puréed carrot into his slack mouth.