For someone of my age and stature, having an office of my own was no new event. Ten years before I had begun to grey I had my first office, and now, ten years after the silver hairs invaded the army of chestnut on my scalp, this office should have felt no different.
But as I moved my laptop and belongings into the enclosure, much more vast than any I had experienced, the office did not quite feel mine. My books looked too small on the tree trunk of a desk, and the entire wall of double pane windows made me feel as if outsiders could view my every move.
“It’s tradition, Patsy,” Said the last CEO to me, as he left for retirement, “That this room be reserved for the CEO. The company’s founder, Dean Headingson, declared it so in his will when he died in the eighties. Even declared that no changes be made to this room, not even to the carpet! Ever since it has been so, if not by the formal letter of the law then by respect. I’ll tell you, call it coincidence or not, the only CEO to almost drive us bankrupt was also the only one to insist against working in this very room.”
“Thank you, Ryan.” I said, shaking his hand as he prepared to leave with my much smaller one, “But I assure you, we will succeed despite from what room I choose to lead.”
“Do as you will,” He said, and dropped a new name plate on the desk. In the sunlight from the window, the engraved letters of Patsy Moppet stared up at me.
Though I’m not superstitious, I kept the office, with it’s furniture thirty years out of date. Across from my desk there was a life size picture of Dean in a dark suit, smiling through his wrinkles while sitting in his favorite leather chair, an enormous monolith that dwarfed my frame. Underneath the picture read, Order shall flow from the chair of the leader, and through his virtue will the group succeed, a quote that even my pride found pompous. He wore a ring on his finger of his initials, one that he used to stamp documents instead of his signature. But Dean had been known for his daring market tactics, maverick attitude, and knack for succeeding in even the riskiest of situations, so perhaps I was wrong in my judgement.
F.R. Warthog was etched into the chair’s frame- they were the finest luxury chair makers at the time, and arguably to date. With age the chair had grown lumpy, however, and I would have switched it with a newer model had it fit through the door. But it had not, and I was quite confused how Dean had managed to move it into the office so long ago.
As weeks passed, I grew more accustomed to my office, and I remembered why I had been chosen for CEO.
“We believe that in this time of economical turmoil, Patsy,” Said Jane, a senior member of the board of directors, “That your calmness and deliberation in making decisions will prove an asset to the company as it moves through rough waters.”
But now, after being promoted, I found my attitudes changing much to the angst of the board. I was nearly outed after pushing to purchase a small business researching a new form of alloy for metal gears, but the board member’s were silenced when the business had a breakthrough two months later, quadrupling their value. Adrenaline flowed through me at that first success, seemingly a chance of fate, and I pushed harder to drive Cerion Automations to new heights through deals that could only be classified as gambling. In my success, I smiled, and sank deeper into my chair.
I drove the company into tides of debt and profit through investments, but our value soared as one after another excelled past my expectations.
Then, six months into my stay as CEO, the best opportunity yet fell onto my desk in the form of several stacks of paper, outlining a plan that awaited my signature to proceed.
Jane alone stood across from me as I raised my pen, her blue eyes ablaze.
“Patsy,” She said, “You and I both know this is the most ridiculous scheme yet. I don’t know how you pushed it past the board, but you’re making a mistake.”
“Just like the alloy gears were a mistake, Jane? Tell me, what’s one proposition I’ve signed in the past six months that has failed.”
“All luck runs out.” She said, “Hell, this is insane. I’m leaving if you sign, it’s irresponsible to our employees, and you’re letting them down.”
“Without me, they wouldn't have jobs.” I snarled, outraged at her accusation.
“Listen to me. Even, well even crazy old Dean,” She whipped around, pointing at the portrait on the wall, “Would have shot this down.”
“I know what I’m doing.” My voice was rising to a yell as I stood. The stitching of the leather chair behind me popped with the sudden motion, threatening to burst, but held together. “Any leader would know I’m doing the right thing, and if Dean were alive, that relic of a legend, I’m sure he would do the same.”
“Do as you will Patsy. But if it fails, the company’s failure is on your hands. Dean would not let this pass.”
In anger I sat back down, uncapping my pen to sign. But I never did.
The stitching of the leather chair gave way with a loud snap, and a arm in a dark suit sleeve fell across my shoulder. With a yelp I jumped out of the chair and whipped around as Jane began screaming.
The arm protruded from the inside of the chair, ripping through the fabric, and hung limp. It looked as if the flesh had been cleaned away, and the bone shined a bright white.
Connected to the arm was the rest of the skeleton, pocketed away within the padding of the enormous chair. Two eye sockets glared at Jane and me from within, though the figure remained motionless.
An initialed ring fell directly from a finger on the dotted signature line, leaving D.H. dented into the paper as the metal band clattered to the ground.
I’d never read Dean’s will. But I’m assuming the part about his wish to be buried in his office had not been made public, and that he had one dedicated lawyer.