His face remained calm when he heard the announcement. No sudden movement of his revealed his excitement. Yet, as he managed to keep his outside still, his heart seemed to burst from joy and amazement. He had not expected this honour; nevertheless he was prepared. He stopped breathing for a moment in order to allay his aroused body and went on to thank the executive board for the trust and ensured them of him being the right choice, although –of course- his competitors would have done an amazing job as well. He stressed his loyalty to the company, which he was so proud to be a part of and to which he owed so much. He went on by complimenting his co-workers, his assistants and all the other inferiors, highlighting their consistent work and, basically, their ability to follow his orders. During the closing of his laudation he met Brutus’ eyes. Instantly his body revolted against his mind with its calculated thinking. Self-control had since his earliest days become a crucial, distinct and most natural feature of his being. He was convinced that this was a sign of general superiority of mind. On very few occasions this gift had failed him, but at this moment it happened: One corner of his mouth began to climb. Fearing that this might leave him with an evil-looking grin, he lifted the other corner as well. Looking inadequately happy and slightly simple-minded was better but still bad. A quick and cold convulsion of plain panic went down his back. Then he turned to a colleague, a father-to-be, who had been showing around sonograms of his embryo son or daughter for the whole past week straight. He asked him about the current state of affairs, congratulated him again and told him about his delight when learning of his wife’s pregnancy. Together they stood and smiled until he set off to go to the bathroom. Having arrived there he checked the toilets and finding all of them empty he took a deep breath.
This appreciated colleague and nemesis of his was a ruthless backstabber. That is why he had pet named him as is. Brutus had brought more careers to an abrupt ending than he had. The two men had not little in common: they both were networkers. They had a natural gift in making powerful men’s acquaintances, keeping them active and spinning webs of friendships. He actually liked to think of himself as a spider pulling its strings and trading well-calculated favours for major benefit.
Calming down he took a good look at the mirror and felt proud of the man looking back at him. A man who overcame a difficult upbringing by weak parents. A man who took control over his destiny. A man who works hard, efficient, effective and scrupulously. A man who was allergic to laziness and driven by an impenetrable will to succeed.
Exhale. His composure was back.
He exited the bathroom and made for the lobby to acknowledge the congratulations. The CEO and board of directors stood in line to shake his hand. All the big cheeses went by, smiling and patting him on the shoulder. It felt like a welcome and right at home. Then Brutus came up to him. He was a talent at smiling, but today it seemed off. They touched glasses and he complimented our protagonist, who he was now outranked by. Obviously he was happy to see a fellow visionary climb the ladder and hoping for a productive cooperation. Naturally they could agree on that matter. Meanwhile their eyes darted streams of pure hatred at each other. But it was over. One wins, one loses. That is the law of the jungle. Brutus made off like a cowed dog with his tail between his legs. This was a magnificent sight and probably the highlight of the evening, now that he had fully realised his achievement and saw his arch enemy reduced to shambles. The socialising went on for a good hour or so and he laid the foundation for a new web to be spun way up in the treetops.
When he finally left the event and walked into the parking lot he felt at ease. On the way home he felt a bit tired but at the same time extremely motivated and full of hope for the future. All the lights in the house were turned off. He went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. An almost empty water bottle sat on the table. His wife must have downed it before meeting her girlfriends for drinking even more. She had all the luxury she ever could have asked for, but still resorted to alcohol. In hindsight, marrying her had been a questionable choice. There was nothing to be done about that now though. Sipping at his water, he went up the stairs, just to catch his daughter leaving the bathroom. On a Friday night she stayed home, as usually. He gave her a nod. She looked away and went into her room. She was wearing one of those long sleeve shirts she always wore. He felt slightly aggravated for he had bought her a couple of beautiful tops. All the boys would fall for her if she just dressed a little nicer and she might even be able to make some friends. But she decided to dress like a hobo and not speak to him. But this was just acting out caused by puberty. She would come around eventually. He went into the master bedroom, took off his clothes and laid flat on the mattress. He let the whole evening pass in front of his inner eye, reliving every moment and emotion. Slowly he dozed off into the land of dreams, content, a promoted man.