Category Archives: A Rook Given

Ch 3, scene 3

“I don’t understand the ways of his company.” Rook placed the tray on the coffee table.

“It’s age discrimination. That’s what it is.”

Rook stood by the couch, while Leona turned from the pictures to the tea. “But he should have retired years ago, it’s true. Then this wouldn’t have happened.”

She made her tea. Rook said nothing, having no feelings on the matter. He truly didn’t understand why he one day he was working, and on starting on a Friday he was not.

Leona took out the remote from the console and put on the TV.  “What is he doing up there?”

Rook shrugged. He didn’t understand why his Master locked himself in his room, either. He watched the TV with Leona, who preferred crime dramas to Rook’s game shows. Serena hadn’t come over today because of the rain.

Rook hadn’t seen fit to introduce Serena to his Master, because he’d been locked up in his room for the past week. The birds were confused, now that they no longer had him to serve. Mirus was the only familiar who seemed to be not worried.

Sipping from the fine china, Leona concentrated on the program while Rook stood by. Then they heard a door open. Both of them looked upward.

Footsteps treaded down the stairs. Edwin appeared at the foot of the stairs, dressed in his pajamas and robe. “Leona!”

She got up from the couch. “Father? Are you all right?”

He suddenly smiled. “Better. Much better. Oh, tea.”

“I’ll get you a cup,” said Rook.

“What were you doing up there?” Leona asked while Rook went to the kitchen to fetch another cup.

“The Master is awake,” he warned Mirus and the other familiars in the room. The gremlin who handled the cutlery and dishes put on his apron, ready to work.

Rook returned to the room. His master was animated in his speech, gesturing and waving his arms. “…and did you know that Atwood, the manager of account management, has a secret love for boys?”

“Father,” said Leona, a disgusted look on her face, “how do you know all this?”

“I have my ways. I can expose the entire account management team—past and present—to questionable, if not criminal, practices.”

Rook handed over the cup. Edwin took it absently and put it on the tray.

“I’ve made a list. I have so much on them. Office politics and competition and personal time at work; their actual thoughts about clients, how they treated and felt about each other. I have it all.”

“What do you plan on doing with this information, Father?”

“Call the TV stations and the newspapers. They have to investigate the criminal behavior with all this information I have.”

Leona bit her lip. Edwin put some black tea in his cup and poured the water over it. He added sugar, stirring it. 

“Honestly, Father, I don’t think that kind of information is criminal.”

“Oh? What about one account manager—who’s been there for about ten years—changed the information in a client’s record based on hearsay about the client laying off people, and then he found out a month later that the layoff never happened, so he changed the information back again?”

“Do you have proof?”

“The computer time-stamps information changes.”

“I don’t know if anyone will want to know this information.”

“Of course they will! PharmCare is the biggest pharmacy benefit management system in the city, if not the state!”

Leona finished her tea. Edwin kept talking, giving examples of “criminal” behavior. Most of them were for prior authorizations for high-ranking people in the client’s offices, or increasing of prices for one client while decreasing it for another to get them to sign on, and then increasing it steadily by a few cents a month so they were compatible.

She and Rook listened impassively. Leona rose when Edwin took a moment to sip his tea.

“I’m sorry, Father, but I don’t think anyone will care.”

Edwin paused. “What do you mean? This is important!”

“This has been going on for years, you say. Why hasn’t anyone else said anything?”

“They probably were sworn to secrecy. I’m not! I read through that contract line by line, and it doesn’t say that I can’t use my knowledge anywhere else.”

She turned to Rook, whose face did not betray the conflict in his mind. What was his Master talking about? Why would telling a TV station or newspaper information be important? Why not tell the authorities?

Leona went to the foyer.

“Aren’t you staying for dinner?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t tonight. Maybe Sunday.”

“Sunday dinner, yes. We can have your favorite, roast beef with baked sweet potatoes.”

Leona had a strange look on her face. “He’s obsessing,” she whispered to Rook. “He needs to see someone.”

Someone? Who?

“A Rook Given” Ch 2, Sc 1

Edwin Grant flashed his badge from his lanyard to buzz himself into the main building of PharmCare, located in prime Hartford real estate downtown. He parked three blocks away at a company-sponsored lot with a shuttle that left the place every fifteen minutes.

Once buzzed through the main door, he was clocked in. Since he already had breakfast and his daily morning paper, he went right to his cubicle. He buzzed himself into the elevator, which would automatically send him to his floor. However, other people came in and pressed the buttons to different floors, even while hisn floor was hi lighted in blue light. He smiled, knowing that meant express.

One of the perks of being here over twenty years, he thought, as the elevator went directly to the fourth floor, skipping the other three, to the chagrin of the rest of the passengers. He and two others exited onto the floor. The two women separated, going north, while he went south to his office. He took the third left, opening the main door into the Creative Mailings section of PharmCare. 

Some people were already gathered at the coffee machine. He waved to them. Some waved back. Most of them did not. He didn’t take it personal; many of them were non-functioning until they had their cup of coffee, which is why he never scheduled meetings until after ten.

He went to his office that he got because of his tenure. The manager of the department was located in the bullpen, waiting for Edwin to leave so he could get the office. To spite him, Edwin hadn’t left yet, and had no plans of doing so.

Edwin opened the window because his familiars would come in with their information over the course of the day. Flies, bees, wasps, butterflies, birds. Already a bluebird sat on the ledge. He closed his door and the bluebird flew inside.

“Branca is almost finished with the letter to the client,” the bluebird tweeted. “She should be done with it today and will submit it for final approval from the client.”

Edwin opened up his laptop from his briefcase while the bird talked. “Which one is this?”


Edwin logged in, checked his calendar. He sorted by person, noting that the Kmart team’s next meeting was next Tuesday. “Good. She’s on track. Make sure the client returns the letter by the end of the week so we can have everything ready for that meeting.”

“Yes, Master,” replied the bluebird. He flittered away, on his way to New York City, where the client held its headquarters. Edwin already had the logo and letterhead officially created. The client was going out of business, and Edwin had to make sure this was as formal as possible. People would lose their jobs and insurance. That was his purpose here, to inform the client’s members in the most efficient and professional manner possible, without becoming junk mail. 

He unpacked the Monarch butterfly from his case. Still alive, still fluttering around as the jar moved. Edwin connected his laptop to the docking station and left his office, closing the door. The crowd at the coffee room had gotten larger, as the eight o’clock hour had already passed. 

He had already gotten the cubicle number of Lei Ghaing, the account manager for Myosun Construction. Carrying the jar, he brought it into the elevator. A couple of people looked at the jar in his hands. It looked like a diorama of a Monarch Butterfly on a Geranium. 

Edwin left the fourth floor and walked down the hallway, taking a couple of rights before arriving at the account management department. Lei’s cubicle was  decorated for Easter, with eggs and the Easter Bunny hanging on the wall.

“Hello, Lei.”

She turned around. Her hair was undone, past her shoulders, straight and raven black. She wore a white frilly shirt and black pants with heels that she had kicked off under the desk. 

Lei gave him a look of confusion. Processing, processing, Edwin thought with an inner chuckle.

“I’m Edwin Grant. I handle the mailings for Myosun. The newest project that was assigned to me yesterday?”

“Oh. Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself to the team yet.”

“I took the liberty of looking you up.” Edwin smiled and presented her the jar. “I would like you to accept this gift as a token of our teamwork.”

“This is beautiful.” Her statement was flat, more confused than grateful. “Is it real?”

“No,” Edwin lied. The moment he released the jar from his hand to hers, the butterfly went ramrod still on the flower. “If you could give it back when you leave the company, or move on to something else…”

“Sure,” she replied, but he knew she wouldn’t. No one ever did. He would often find out from his bees in HR if someone he presented a familiar with left the company or their position. He would retrieve the familiar himself. By then, most of the time, the familiar would be useless to anyone and would be relegated to the workshop until he needed it again.

Lei put the jar down far away from her computer, as if she didn’t want to see it. It would possibly be buried beneath papers and plastic within a few months, but by then he’d have what he needed.

“I’m glad to meet you…”

“Edwin.” He forced a smile. “We’ll have our first meeting next Tuesday. I’ll have some prototypes ready for you by then.”

“Uh, good. Excellent.” A ping went off, meaning she got an instant message from someone. “Excuse me?”

“Certainly. I’ll see you next week.” He walked through the account management department, stopping by one cubicle. No one was in it anymore, but a fern wilted in the corner. He picked it up, knowing it was a present to the UPS account management person for his mailings over a year ago. 

The bees aren’t working anymore, he thought. He’d have to introduce spiders or mice.

New Novel: A Rook Given (Scene 2)

Edwin Grant sipped the light chamomile tea as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom. This old dusty house needed his daughter back, but she wanted to be independent and out on her own. He allowed her to live her life out there, beyond the ancestral home, into the world that he lived in.

Often, his daughter would ask why, if he used his magic so often, didn’t he become the president of Pharmcare. Magic was not meant to be so obvious, he kept trying to explain. Magic is tiny ripples in the pond of fate, that slowly ebbs away at the shoreline, taking a grain of sand at a time until the shore itself has changed.

He used his ability to create to cause these small ripples. He made himself indispensable. This is why, in his 60’s, he was both being passed over for promotion and sought after for his talents. 

Edwin opened the large mahogany door into the master suite. No familiars were allowed to cross this threshold without their Master’s permission, the only room in the house off limits to everyone except himself.

Here, he kept his more precious objects, objects d’familiar to remind him what he put out there. The workshop held the potential; the bedroom suite held the productions. 

Of course, he never had the heart to destroy his creations. They existed until they starved for attention or power and faded away, then used again another time, like the Monarch.

He dressed in his pajamas, a harbinger of an older time with his wife and daughter. They looked like they came from a different time, at least the 50’s. Dark plaid button-down top and bottoms, barefoot. He climbed into his bed that he made every morning upon waking. It was something his wife instilled in him when they married.

He stared at the ceiling (BEGIN INFO DUMP). Tomorrow was Wednesday, and he would provide the Monarch butterfly to Lei Zheng, who was the account manager for the Myosun Project. He had been assigned to come up with the graphics for the mailings from PharmCare. 

Myosun Construction employed mostly people from the West coast, and also, their employees were mostly of Eastern descent. Chinese, Indian, Korean, Cambodian, a few Philipinos thrown in for diversity. Based outside of Silicon Valley, the construction company built high-rise buildings in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Monarch Butterfly gave him some ideas, but he wanted to know what was necessary.

One thing about corporate culture was its lack of communication. Although they would have meetings, either virtually or in person in the office, no important information was ever passed down—no official information, that is. The Monarch Butterfly was a recorder of information that would eventually be returned to Edwin, who would be able to tailor-make the mailings to the group of people the project aimed at. 

This was his indispensability. Only he could come up with the right mailings. He was the go-to graphic designer that everyone wanted to have on their team. No one knew how he did it. But at the beginning of every project he would present the account manager or project manager with a plant or fish, saying that they didn’t even have to take care of it, but would they please return it if they left the company? Most people didn’t follow that simple direction, which is why he often found his gifts in the trash. Dottie, the HR director, still had his spider plant which would tell him about people who left, were leaving, or had moved on in the company and no longer needed his services. He would go search out those people’s desk, and discover his presents there, either on the desk or in the trash.

He has been passed over for director too many times to count, but he was fine with that. He didn’t want to leave his position as a gear in the machinery. No one expected too much from him and he always over-delivered.