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Inspirational Fiction

There were many times when Herold’s mother told him that he needs to make decisions instead of staying complacent. Hannah tried to teach her son to be more like her than his father. Herold’s father had been a man that never took anything seriously and didn’t think he needed anything to do with his son’s life. Now it wasn’t that Herold was lazy, it was just that he struggled with making clear-cut decisions. His ability to weigh the pros and cons of situations often left him stammering for an answer. Leading to many missed opportunities. 

When he was to move out after high school, he jumped from job to job, with no real direction. This made Hannah worry about him and she often checked in on him. So much so that Herold had to tell her to stop pestering him. Herold swore up and down that he had a plan but in truth, he could not figure out what to do with his life. Nothing ever really seemed to be his strong suit or so he thought. While working for a maintenance company, he met a man who worked at one of the facilities the company regularly went to. As Herold was picking up a few scraps of paper for recycling this tall man came up behind him and put his hand on Herold’s back spooking Herold. 

“Hey, I am sorry for startling you.”

Herold got out of his bent position and immediately noticed their obvious height difference. 

“It’s okay, dude.”

“Alright, so I have seen you here several times and you are so quiet. Which is not like the other guy who used to come here.”

“Oh, you mean Ernie?”

The taller man thought for a second, twisting his wrinkles around his bearded lips. 

“Yeah, that’s his name. I’m Nelson.”

Nelson put out his hand to shake Herold’s tanned and unwrinkled hand.

“I’m Herold sir.”

“Nice to meet you, Herold.”

Nelson then motioned for Herold to come into his office. A rather spacious one with a large desk with adjoining cherrywood bookcases. Herold was directed to a comfortable chair on the other side of the desk. He then looked up at Nelson waiting for him to start the conversation again.

“Well, I hope you like the office.”

Herold straightened his shirt and replied,

“Yes, sir it really is nice.”

“Thank you, can I pour you a glass of this nice scotch?”

Nelson got up and started putting perfect-looking ice cubes into two glasses and pulled out a delicate-looking decanter with whisky in it. 

“I don’t think I should be drinking on the job.”

“Oh, I won’t say anything. Besides it’s just one drink, what’s the harm?”

Nelson could see that Herold was uncomfortable about whether or not to take the drink.

“I’m not giving you a choice then, here.”

Herold took it without saying anything and took in the aroma, it was woody.

“Tell me, Herold, do you like your job?”

“It is okay I guess.”

Nelson laughed a little looking over his nose at this scrawny man in front of him.

“Look around you, Herold, is this something you would like to have?”

“The office?”

“Yes, or more specifically a job that fuels the richness in your life.”

“Um, sure I guess that would be nice.”

“It sure is nice, I can testify to that. I like you, Herold, you seem like a man who could learn a lot.”

Herold shrugged and responded,

“Thanks.”

“Um-hm. Now, I think you should quit this job you have of going around taking care of offices that aren’t your own.”

“What would I do then?”

“I hoped you would ask. You instead would come to work for me and be my yes man.”

“Yes, man?”

“Yes sir, you would do whatever I ask of you in terms of conducting the business that I do here for the company.”

“Are you the boss?”

“I sure am, did you not see my name and title on the door?”

“I guess I didn’t.”

“Anyway, tell me yes Herold and then you and I will make your life better.”

“I, I don’t know what to say.”

“I already told you, the word is yes.”

Herold hesitated for a moment but saw this as an opportunity to make things better for himself and to have someone else tell him what to do one-on-one. Looking at Nelson with tired green eyes he said,

“Yes.”

“Excellent, I will call up your manager and tell him you will not be returning to work.”

“Thank you.”

“Of course, you and I Herold are going to get to know each other. I expect you to be reliable.”

Herold felt a little intimidated but he thought that maybe this was a chance to prove himself.

“I won’t let you down Nelson or do you want me to call you Mr. Faw?”

“Nelson is fine, son. I will see you on Monday and we can talk more details then.”

“Okay, I will be here at nine?”

“Ten, I am not an early bird. I can get away with that because I am top dog around here.”

Herold thought about how nice that would be. He went home happy to be finally going in a direction he could be proud of. This time someone would be making the decisions for him and perhaps helping him keep his anxiety around it subdued. By the end of his first week on the job though, he would have regretted not listening to his mother’s warning about his indecisive nature. 

On Monday he showed up in a rather ugly short-sleeved button-up shirt which drew glares from his new coworkers. Right away Herold could feel some tension and he feared that maybe he did not belong there. Nelson put his worries at ease though when he ushered Herold into the office. 

“Thank you for showing up on time Herold, that shows initiative.”

“I try to be punctual.”

“Good, I will hold you to that standard. Have a seat like last time and since it is so early in the day I think we will forgo the liquor. I do have coffee, however.”

 “Thanks, I will take a cup of coffee just black though.”

“I see you like it just the way I do. I knew you were a good man.”

Herold at this point kind of got the feeling that maybe Nelson was more of a salesman than a boss. It seemed that Nelson was trying to butter him up but it still felt nice to be appreciated. Blending in the background all of his life had left him unnoticed. 

“So, what will you have me do.”

Nelson looked him straight in the eye and replied,

“You don’t waste any time, do you? Okay, first off I am going to have you take the desk right outside of my office and set it up the way I tell you to.”

Nelson followed Herold out and then ventured over to the quaint dark wooden desk. Herold sat down on the surprisingly comfortable chair and took it all in.

“First, I want you to open that bottom drawer and pull out supplies like pens and paper and set them on your desk neatly. Then you are going to turn on your computer and enter this password.”

Nelson wrote down the password on a sticky note and put it in front of him so that Herold could do what was asked of him. After these small tasks were finished, Nelson brought over to him a set of paperwork to fill out and file. All in all the day seemed quite normal to Herold. It was exactly like he imagined an office job to be. In fact, it was rather boring. At the end of the workday, Nelson called Herold into his office.

“Good work today Herold, I will give you some more stimulating work tomorrow, I just had to be sure that you could handle some of the light stuff.”

“Sounds good to me sir.”

Nelson nodded and smiled at him and then continued on.

“There is one more thing I am going to ask you to do before you go.”

“What would you like me to do?”

“You were a maintenance guy before, right?

“Right.”

“You will go around and install new lightbulbs in the bathrooms.”

Herold was silent and was unsure why Nelson would ask him of this. Did Nelson have him leave his maintenance job? Looking at Herold with distaste he said,

“What did I tell you to say when I asked something of you?”

“Yes.”

In a short but passionate voice, Nelson responded,

“Yes!”

Nelson showed him where the lightbulbs were and left him to it. When Herold went into the bathrooms he noticed that none of the lightbulbs actually needed to be changed and he informed Nelson of that. 

“You are obviously mistaken, go about it.”

So, Herold finished the task and went to ask Nelson if he could go home to which Nelson nodded and told him to have a good evening. At home, Herold wondered why Nelson had asked him to do such a useless task. What was the point and would it be better the next day?

Just as the day before Nelson had Herold come into his office to give him some orders. The paperwork that Herold had to do at least had some arithmetic to it. Herold had been good at math in school so this fared him well. When he was finishing up his last calculation Nelson came by and looked at the numbers. Although they were perfect Nelson told him to redo it and that he was wrong. So, Herold spent two more hours on it which took him to the end of the eight-hour shift but of course that was not the end of the workday for Herold. As Herold was going for the elevator, thinking of going home to rest. 

“Wait now.”

Herold spun around and said apprehensively,

“Sir?”

“I need you to go and fetch me a gift for my son.”

“No offense sir but what does that have to do with my job?”

Nelson sighed and stated,

“Like I said before you are to say yes to me no matter what the task is. So, you will go and get my son a gift. He likes legos, and there is a store up the street.”

Nelson handed Herold the cash and waited for Herold to return with the lego set. 

“Well, what did you get,” asked Nelson as he grabbed the box from Herold’s hand to inspect it. 

“A Tank set.”

“Hmm, well, it’s not the one I would’ve picked out but it will have to do.”

Herold feeling defeated said with a slightly trembling voice,

“I hope your son will like it.”

“I hope so too, you’re free to go.”

Nelson waived Herold away so that Harold could take the elevator down to the bottom floor and be on his way back home. When he was in line at the nearby grocery store he was in the pasta aisle and stared blankly at the different types of pasta as he contemplated whether Nelson was a good boss or not. After he finally made a decision and got out of the way of an old man that had told him to move, he went home to make a pasta dish. 

The next two days started out nice and easy. With Nelson giving him office duties, just like everyone else. He even got to make some important phone calls. This was a skill he had been hoping to develop. Every evening though before he was to be released from work Nelson came up with some ridiculous and rather mean requests that had nothing to do with the company work. On Wednesday it had been for Herold to sabotage the floor below them, where he had to fling trash everywhere and through paper all over the place. Nelson’s argument for this was that the manager downstairs had been harassing him. It was Herold that truly felt harassed but with him having no other job to go to, he didn’t really have a choice. The pay that he was promised was good. 

On Thursday he was asked to mail a horrible letter to Nelson’s father of whom he hated. Nelson even made Herold write it all out and take it to the post office to be delivered. This was something that made Herold uneasy and made him feel absolutely terrible. That night he was mulling over all the things Nelson had asked of him and was trying to decide if he should stand up for himself. 

Come Friday morning Herold had revved himself up to get the confidence to walk straight into Nelson’s office and demand to be treated fairly. When he got to his desk to put his jack down he noticed on top of the desk was an envelope that had nothing written on it. He sat down and opened it up to see what was inside. He pulled out a check that was for fifteen hundred dollars. Nelson slyly came out of his office and looked at Herold saying,

“You have done a lot for me this week. You really are a good Yes Man.”

Herold studdered,

“I, I don’t know what to say.”

“Say yes that you will take the money as a token of gratitude.”

Suddenly all thoughts of confronting Nelson for his terrible requests fell away.

“Yes.”

“Good, now, here is a list of things for you to do today at your desk.”

“I will get on it.”

The long list took Herold a long time to finish, he had gone over time by half an hour. He was looking forward to the weekend and to start spending that extra cash. He had not yet decided on what he was going to buy though. Herold got up from his desk chair and grabbed his things to leave when he heard a sound behind him. It was Nelson saying,

“Whoa, whoa there mister eager.”

Herold sighed deeply and turned around. 

“I have one more thing for you to do for me and then you are free to enjoy your weekend.”

Herold peered at him with a bit of fear. 

“Will it take long, I have a dinner date?”

He didn’t mention that it was with his mother. 

“Look at you, well I will make it short I guess.”

“Thank you.”

“I need you to sign a contract.”

“A contract? Didn’t I sign one when you hired me?”

“Yes but this is a different contract.”

Herold went along with Nelson once again to the office where his refusal of a drink was overruled. 

“I will keep this short and simple.”

Nelson pointed at the summary page with a ballpoint pen. 

“You will commit to working your normal nine to five shift and then to perform one task for me every day at the end of your shift. These tasks are completely up to my discretion. It will just be like it has the last five days and hasn’t it been fun?”

Nelson handed a frowning Herold the pen. Herold grabbed it and intensely considered his options. If he didn’t do it, he would likely lose his job. If he did sign the contract he would be subject to Nelson’s every whim. For the first time in his life, Herold had a streak of determination. He looked Nelson dead in the eye and said,

“No.”

“You are my Yes Man, not my No Man.”

“I am not your man, I refuse to sign this.”

“You are throwing away a chance of a lifetime Herold.”

“Maybe but I am not selling myself to you. Take your check back.”

Herold thrust it into Nelson’s hand and booked it out the door without looking back. He was proud of himself for finally taking a stand, he realized he truly could make decisions. When he met with his mother for dinner and told her what happened she embraced him and told him she was proud that he had finally taken a stand on something. 

May 22, 2021 23:05

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