The Incumbent: Chapter 39

Summary:It's an intricate web of murder plots, government conspiracies and rampant tanning. Oh, and the future of the entire nation.

Jones was a little shocked. He'd assumed that unless Buffet recovered, this was a job for life. After all, who else could do it? He had become very confident in his own abilities in the 24 hours since he first took the job on.

'Has Buffet recovered?' he asked.

'Oh, no, he's dead,' came the reply. 'At least, I assume he is. I really must check.'

It seemed a curious thing to say; almost as if Woodburner had wanted Buffet dead. The thought made Jones a little uncomfortable — a very rare feeling, when you are seated on a Grade 1 executive chair.

He had become very confident in his own abilities in the 24 hours since he took the job.

'Frankly, it's amazing he survived as long as he did. He is the talk of the medical journals,' said Woodburner, who boasted how he was a regular subscriber to them himself, not realising that Fatburner Monthly and Abs Weekly were not learned publications savoured by the medical elite.

'So, why do I have to go, then?' asked Jones.

'It's not really working out with you, is it?' said Woodburner, not that he expected Jones to agree with him. 'So we're putting someone else in this role.'

'Really? That's a bit sudden.'

'I only ever said it was a temporary role,' said Woodburner, hoping this wasn't going to be a confrontation. He hated confrontations, because he invariably said something that made him look stupid.

'You bloody well did not,' protested Jones, with a youthful passion that Woodburner was unfamiliar with (even though he was young himself). There is less need to have passion when you have money. You simply buy-in people to be passionate whenever it is needed.

'You said I'd have the job until Buffet gets better,' said Jones. 'Well, if Buffet is dead, that means he will never get better. That means I have this job forever.'

He was using logic in his argument. Woodburner hated that. He always lost when logic was brought in. He had to find a way of cutting the conversation short.

'You can argue all you like, but it's already been decided,' he said.

He was using logic in his argument. Woodburner hated that — he always lost when logic was brought in.

'By whom?' said Jones, curiously. He doubted the board would have reached a decision on anything.

'Well, that's not for me to say,' said Woodburner, not able to admit that the whole decision rested with the government.

'Was it a board decision?'

'Not exactly.'

As the two spoke, they were a little distracted by Parsons, working feverishly on his computer.

'But I am sure they will endorse the decision.'

'How can you be so sure?'

'Believe me. They will agree.'

The two men remained silent for a moment, before Woodburner spoke again. 'Obviously, you'll have some time to sort out your things and vacate the office.'

Jones said nothing. He was too angry to talk. Instead, they eyed each other intently for a minute or two. Jones was trying to look intimidating, to give the impression that this matter was not resolved and he would fight to keep his job. Woodburner stayed silent simply because he couldn't think of anything to say. He wasn't quite sure how to finish the meeting, short of suddenly storming out of the room.

'Goodbye,' he eventually said very quickly, heading swiftly to the door, trying to push it open instead of pulling it, and banging his face against the solid oak. He coughed, rubbed his nose, then made a second attempt at a dignified exit.

It had taken him weeks to climb to the top, and he wasn't going to see it all thrown away.

Jimi Jones, meanwhile, had decided he would do anything but make a dignified exit. He was going to fight this decision and make as much noise as possible. It had taken him years — well, weeks, actually — to climb to the top of this organisation, and he wasn't going to see it all thrown away. He was determined to find out who was really behind the decision.

'Sorry to interrupt,' said Parsons, realising the young executive was deep in thought. He handed a copy of what he'd been working on.

'As it seems you'll be moving on, would you mind signing this?' he said.

'What is it?' said Jones.

'It's an agreement and timesheet for the redundancy program that I would have carried out if you'd stayed in your job.'

'You are a f****** opportunist, aren't you?!' screamed Jones.

It seemed a strange and obvious observation to make of a management consultant, but the truth hit Parsons hard.

Topics: Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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