Sal LaMasters Must Evade The Meeting

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Every meeting for seventy years had a fair mixture of oddballs. From overtired accountants to undervalued interns, long rows of Sherman Shires Enterprises staff members flooded each Tuesday at 11:32 am. Among these and without delay, phone salesman Sal LaMasters sat at the corner of the table, right next to the gaggle of marketing goons and an inch away from the CEO.


“He’s going to die, isn’t he?” Angie lowered the clump of papers her husband handed her.

“You read ahead.” He knew she didn’t. Albert was a hack and he couldn’t quite get his wife to just let the work in full speak for itself. Always pick, pick, pick.

“No I didn’t.” She gave a pitiful frown. “I mean, if he makes every meeting for seventy years, I bet the only reason he’d avoid, not ‘evade’, this one is that the meeting is with death. Am I right?”

Albert said nothing. He looked at the cat video he had paused. The title read “CAT SITS ON A LOG!!!” To his disappointment, the cat was, in fact, sitting on a bundle of sticks.

“Also, how old is this poor man? Seventy, seventy years? That’s past normal retirement, and only five years past if he joined the company fresh from the womb.”

Pick, pick, pick.

“It never said he was seventy. The company has held meetings every Tuesday for seventy years.”

“It’s unclear.” Sipping her mug liquid, Angie gently tossed the story back to Albert. “Fix it before you hand it in. Oh, and knowing you, Sal likely has no personal motive for fearing a meeting with death. Call me when you’re sure it’s good enough.”

He thought it had been. Possibly for some magazine, but it might put him on a map, not that maps made any one location stand out more than others.

Albert looked it over. It had always been this way. He crafted a potentially charming story, she pushed him to fix it, and lo and behold, the story would become better. But then Angie would astonishingly hate the new product even more and insult him to the point of scrapping it altogether. She was his muse and his paper shredder. If he wanted an abusive inspiration, a boa constrictor could have done the job just as well.

He moaned and got to work.


No one would have married Angie if she lacked craftiness. Known in her town as The Whip, she used her sharp intellect (and sharp tongue) to convince Albert he wasn’t good enough for her or the literary world, which drove him to want her. Albert was not her first pick, but he was the best looking of insecure boys. Two years later, they live off of her salary and his fear of not living up to her standards. She was complete.

Usually, it took two hours complete with sobbing sounds to rewrite the story. But, as Angie noted, five hours and not even a whimper floated through the hallway. In a moment of genuine concern, she tiptoed to his den to investigate.

She did not find Albert, nor a paused cat video, but a few pages of the revised story. Here is what she read.


Every meeting for seventy years had a fair mixture of oddballs. From overtired accountants to undervalued interns, long rows of Sherman Shires Enterprises staff members flooded each Tuesday at 11:32 am. Among these and without delay, phone salesman Sal LaMasters sat at the corner of the table, right next to the gaggle of marketing goons and an inch away from the CEO.

Despite being in such close proximity with such a powerful figure, Sal cringed at the sight of him. Mr. Lowman made him pass on retiring by making the senior believe he’d have nothing to live for if he was not with the company. Many rival companies over the years noticed the merits of Sal LaMasters and wanted to bring him to their side. Each and every time, Lowman chipped away the courage of his star underling’s talent and, each and every time, LaMasters declined the offers.

At 11:00 am on one cumbersome gray Tuesday, Sherman Shires Enterprises was visited by a man in a three-piece suit, so black in its hue that light seemed to be sucked away from it like a vacuum. The receptionist, typically able to give the customer a blinding white bed of bones she humbly called teeth, could not look at the stranger’s face for more than a second at a time.

She called Mr. Lowman’s office and described the gentleman. For thirty-three seconds, the pretty ear of the receptionist was permanently and slightly deafened by the other end of the line.

The receptionist instructed the stranger to take a seat and if he needed anything to ask her. The man thanked her and watched as she tried to restore her hearing by popping her finger in and out of her ear. He made everyone else nervous.

Lowman rushed over to the man and hissed. The stranger laughed, not condescendingly, but not kindly either. The two knew each other well as partners, but as they had not been in contact for years, Lowman knew what the man was after. He was going to take more than just the life of Sal LaMasters’ dreams this time. Death had come for a broken spirit.

“I will attend the meeting today and… offer, yes, I’d say offer Mr. LaMasters a deal. And after this, you will take full credit for the death of anyone’s dreams you made me kill.”

This meant Lowman would receive due blame and inner remorse for the death of crushed dreams, and all at once would completely shatter his head and heart.

“Listen there, Archie,” for this is what the stranger’s name was, “I’m an old man myself. If you kill him, th-that guilt will pile over me and kill me too!”

Archie smiled. It was condescending as all get out this time. “I know. I love a bargain, don’t you?” Then he walked off to the assembly room with laughter ringing the halls.

Lowman stood there dumbly while the receptionist found something unpleasant in her left ear and teasingly tried to smear it on Brad from accounting. The only way to save himself was to save…

Should he cancel the meeting? No, he desperately needed to address the all-too-common shenanigans of teasing among the vulgar young ladies of the office. He would not die with good men like Brad from accounting covered in earwax. So how would he save LaMasters?

Sitting at his desk, Sal LaMasters fussed over his hands. He had been with the company since he was in the womb, as his mother first worked there, with the baby becoming something of an honorary employee. Honorary retroactively became literal when they found a job even a baby could do and years later gave back-pay.

Quite literally, Sherman Shires Enterprises was his home, even if the slightly-older Lowman Junior used tricks to make him stay instead of valuing him. He would never take those offers.

Maybe if they just talked about it a little instead of falling into roles.

Lowman discovered quite horribly that LaMasters was already waiting at his spot and not at his desk. The meeting would have to go on. He was old, why not give up?

Then he had a flash of brilliance. The receptionist managed to give Brad from accounting a facial using things found in the various holes in her head.

11:32 am came. “Before I begin, I would like to announce that Sal LaMasters will become my partner and off-site business consultant. He will no longer come to work, but instead advise me from the comfort of his home. Or Honolulu. Or wherever. Does that sit well with you, Mr. LaMasters?”

Sal LaMasters laughed uncontrollably and accepted, to a true and fair round of applause. Lowman beamed arrogantly at the defeated Archie, scowling comically and rubbing a ring molded to look like a rat skull, he hoped.

“To business. Brad from accounting, why do you have earwax and mucus on your face?” The receptionist giggled.

Had Lowman been paying attention, he’d have caught Sal and Death trading thumbs-ups.


On the final page, Angie found a note saying something about how Albert was willing to be with her before she broke him and how unlike the story, it’s too late and he wants a divorce and don’t come near because he’s buying a boa constrictor to replace her and he’ll have his lawyers and friends get his things and they’ll have meetings and don’t look for him and had a lovely questionnaire for her to give a sincere and honest opinion about the story.

But she barely read it. Instead, she found all of the stories he wrote that she made him scrap and found a high-profile publisher to tell her soon-to-be ex-husband’s stories, under her name of course, to the world. In an unfortunate turn of events, Angie was in fact correct; Albert’s stories only sold 3,580 copies worldwide, and had he published the stories, Albert would have become as embarrassed as Angie.

Albert, scarred from the constant criticism of his stories,  decided after finishing Sal LaMasters to put away the pen and take up snake-ranching. He felt after Angie, nothing could hurt him again. Although he was bitten by a python once and screamed for two hours, but still.

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