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Corporate Jungle (Ch 10) Safari Love

April 15, 2011

           

            CORPORATE JUNGLE

            A Novella

            By

           Yoly Solis

  

            A rooster pecks neglected floor tiles of El Cheapo Hotel’s lobby.         

             At the reception desk, Janice flips through messages.
 
             Chuck storms through the lobby doors, grabs her by the
             arm…
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You need to leave now.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m not going anywhere.
                           Besides, I have a dozen
                           messages to return.
 
             He stops.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Corporate’s calling? Why?
 
                                      JANICE
                           I don’t know. If you’ll let me
                           go, I’ll find out.
 
             She tears her arm out of his, stomps forward…he follows
             her into the elevator.
 
             LATER, inside Janice’s hotel room…
 
             Janice reaches for the phone; Chuck snatches it out of her
             hand.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Look. I made some calls.

                                      JANICE
                           Good for you. Now give me the
                           phone so I can make some calls,
                           too.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You didn’t tell me about
                           McGregor.
 
                                      JANICE
                           What has McGregor got to do
                           with–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           McGregor was next in line for
                           the CEO position. He was
                           turning the board against J.B.–
                           they were ready to vote J.B.
                           out.
 
                                      JANICE
                           What? How did you–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           And now Horatio is a major
                           shareholder. Which makes
                           Horatio a threat to J.B.
 
             Janice drops her butt on the bed…gawks.
 
                                      JANICE
                           You think J.B. had
                           McGregor…and now Horatio…
 
             Pause…
 
                                      JANICE
                           Oh my God!
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Is there anyone in R.D.S. you
                           trust?
 
                                    **

 
             Sheila, Janice’s cubicle neighbor, dumps personal belongings inside a cardboard
             box.
 
             RING, RING…She picks up…
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Make it quick. Gotta go stand
                           in line at unemployment.

             On the other end of the call:
 
                                      JANICE                            
                           Sheila, what’s going on over
                           there?
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Not much. I got fired.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Fired. Why?
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Because I screwed up the
                           executive life insurance–if
                           you can believe that.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I don’t understand.
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Neither do I. Something about a
                           claim under investigation.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Does this have anything to do
                           with Horatio’s kidnapping?
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Horatio was kidnapped? Whoa.
                           lightning does strike twice.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I don’t think lightning has
                           anything to do with this.
 
                                      SHEILA
                           I thought it was McGregor’s
                           life insurance claim they were
                           investigating. I don’t even get a
                           severance package. I’m so
                           screwed.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m sorry, Sheila.
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Yeah.

             A bear-like Security Officer poses next to Sheila’s
             cubicle. He rests a hand on his gun.
 
                                      SHEILA
                           Gotta go.
 
             CLICK.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Sheila? Sheila?
 
             Janice hangs up, gawks at Chuck.
 
                                      JANICE
                           They fired Sheila.
                                (drops in a chair)
                           What do I do now?
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Follow the dinero.
                              
                                  **
         
 
             A distinguished Señor stands behind a massive old world desk.
 
             Chuck and Janice enter, shake hands.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Señor Tanner, a pleasure to see
                           you again. And you must be Miss
                           Johnson.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Señor Valdez, you haven’t
                           stopped by the Cantina in a
                           while.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           My wife is adamant that I quit
                           drinking. Please, have a seat.
 
             He reaches into a file cabinet, whips out a bottle, slams
             it on the table.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Single malt. The good stuff.
 
             He pours.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Does everyone in this pueblo
                           drink while on duty?

                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Hombre, is our duty to drink.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Si, hombre.
 
             Cheers. Gulp.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Senior Valdez, Chuck tells me
                           that Horatio’s hostage negotiations would
                           be handled by you?
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Yes, as pueblo notario, I work
                           with the American insurance
                           companies to accept the fund
                           transfers and my team handles
                           the hostage negotiations.
 
             Pours another shot.
 
             Cheers.
 
             He pulls out a file…
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           I have Mr. Samson’s
                           file…everything seems to be
                           in order. The ransom note
                           conveniently asks for the
                           identical amount of the
                           insurance policy. Interesante.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Isn’t it, though?
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           But there is the matter of the
                           affidavit, Miss Johnson–to
                           affirm your presence as witness
                           to Mr. Samson’s signature.
 
             He slides paperwork towards her…hands her a pen.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Once you sign the affidavit,
                           AIB will wire the ransom funds
                           into our trust account and our
                           hostage negotiator will handle
                           the exchange.
 
             She holds the pen…hesitates.

                                      JANICE
                           I don’t think so.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Excuse me?
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m going along to deliver the
                           ransom. I need to make sure
                           Horatio is safe.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Are you nuts?
 
                                      JANICE
                           I won’t sign the affidavit
                           until you assure me that I’m
                           going along for the exchange.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           If you do not sign, the
                           insurance company will hold up
                           the claim, which will put Mr.
                           Samson’s life in jeopardy.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m sorry. But I don’t trust
                           anyone anymore.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           Do you realize that it is you
                           who is jeopardizing Mr.
                           Samson’s life? These kidnappers
                           are extremely dangerous.
 
                                      JANICE
                           And do you realize that if
                           anything happens to Horatio as
                           a result of a botched ransom,
                           I’ll sue the insurance company?
 
             Señor and Chuck share a look. Chuck shrugs.
 
             Señor Valdez pours another drink. Cheers. Gulp.
 
                                      SEÑOR VALDEZ
                           I will have to make a call.
 
                                      JANICE
                           You do that.
                      
                                   **
            
             The next morning…
 
             Janice wears a tourist-tacky safari outfit, stuffs a
             hairdryer inside an overnight bag.
 
             Chuck paces…
 
                                      CHUCK
                           R.D.S. filed some lawsuit. The
                           ransom is being wired to the
                           R.D.S. hostage negotiator, not
                           to Señor Valdez’.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m going anyway.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You can’t go. Especially alone.
                           It’s dangerous.
 
                                      JANICE
                           This is my fault. If I hadn’t
                           talked Horatio into staying–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           No one goes into Generalisimo’s
                           territory uninvited.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I have a GPS, a map, a compass
                           and a survival kit–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           And a hair dryer. Have you ever even been in a
                           jungle before?
 
             She walks up to him, gazes into his eyes.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Have you ever even been in love
                           before?
 
             Pain streaks his features.
 
             She notices…is about to ask…
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Fine. I’ll gas up the Jeep.
 
             Surprised, she grabs his arm.
 
                                      JANICE
                           You mean, womanizing, rude
                           Chuck “Chocolate” knows love?

                                      CHUCK
                           All I know is that love doesn’t
                           come around often. But when it
                           does, you’d better do
                           everything you can to keep it.
 
             He turns to go…she stops him…
 
             They gaze into each other’s eyes…
 
                                      JANICE
                           You’re nothing like what you
                           seem, are you?
 
             He looks away…
 
             She kisses his cheek…her lips linger longer than expected.
 
             He turns…
 
             Their lips meet…
 
             She succumbs to the kiss, melts into his arms…
 
             His arms encircle her waist, slowly drop down, roam
             lower…lower still until…
 
             They’re planted on her ass.
 
             Her eyes open wide.
 
             BACK IN CIVILIZATION:
 
             Edna, Janice’s adopted grandmother/Facebook sex expert,
             sips wine, bangs her laptop’s keyboard while jamming to
             gritty rap music…
 
             Suddenly, she looks up…as if witnessing a special
             moment…
 
             She grins wide…wide enough for her dentures to tumble
             into her wine glass. Splash!
 
             BACK AT THE LOVE NEST:
 
             Janice and Chuck’s lip-lock…
 
             Her eyes open wide, shock…She tears her face from his.
 
             They’re both panting…
 
                                      JANICE
                           How dare you!

                                      CHUCK
                           Huh? How dare me? You’re the
                           one who kissed me.
 
                                      JANICE
                           What? I never kissed you.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You stuck your tongue down my
                           throat. I could’ve choked to
                           death.
 
             She’s speechless, sputtering…
 
             Dueling stares…
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Meet me out front in half-an-
                           hour.
 
             She unsuccessfully tries to look indignant.
 
             He turns to go.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           And don’t be late.
 
             He slams the door. She waits a moment. Then…
 
             Falls back on the bed, fans herself, moans in ecstasy.
 
             To be continued

*No part of this novella may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the author.    
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