By Sean Hanrahan
St Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point
Third place, senior Clare Champion Short Story Competition
A FIVE-storey building. On the inside it gleamed. Everything in the inside, from the outside it seemed. Efficient, busy and organised, it was something like a dream. And this is where Carla would work now, the famous Brooke’s Magazine.
James Brooke was smart, handsome and young.
Worked hard, kissed ass, always quick to number one. Eventually so successful, he made his own company and was done with taking orders from people; now he takes orders from no-one. But he is still kind and friendly to all, not some. He makes very sure that he knows everyone.
Carla entered his office. “Welcome Carla, I’m James Brooke.”
“I know Mr Brooke. It’s a pleasure.” Their hands shook. There was something about her, a sensuous look. She knew everything about him, she read his book. “Well good luck Carla.” he said with a smile.
“Thanks for the opportunity sir, I’m sure I’ll be settled in a while.”
Carla was beautiful and news spread fast. Gossip between the men of “the new girl with the ass”. They were ecstatic! They stared when she passed. She smiled and ignored them, the new girl had sass. There was one man on her mind; Mr Brooke, she admired. She tried getting his attention by wearing sensuous attire, because she hated being just a journalist, she was tired and only Brooke could make her dream job acquired.
After reading his book, Carla knew of Brooke’s past. She knew he grew up on a farm and the job he had last. She knew he loved animals, his best friend, his dog ‘Bone’. She knew of his issues and why he hates home. Every now and then in the building, they’d meet and if they did, she would greet and stand on her feet. She’d bring up HER past and how SHE grew up on a farm, and how it killed her knowing sometimes animals are harmed. Her eyes played vulnerable, she touched his arm.
And it worked! He fell for it! It was completely bought! “Carla and I have so much in common!” he thought. He was in Carla’s net, like a fish, he was caught.
How to deal with business and employees he was taught but how to deal when in love with a girl, he was not. But love is a game, love is not faith.
They lock eyes, his heart races, his pupils dilate. Carla knew love and for her love was great because Carla saw love as something to manipulate. The next day Brooke asked Carla out on a date.
To dinner they went, they smiled and they laughed. For Carla, seduction was a mastered craft. They finished, they walked, he got her back home. Came in for some tea, now they were alone. They went to the bed and they played bedroom games. I would lose my R-rating by saying the names.
Carla was happy, her plan was in motion. Soon came the pay-rise and then the promotion. James Brooke was clueless, he hadn’t a notion of her real desires, her real devotion.
Many months passed, the relationship getting stronger. Carla didn’t expect to have to do it much longer. In almost a year, she was nearly at the top of a line of employees but she wouldn’t stop. Brooke had a right-hand man, a second in command. They discussed and debated everything planned. Johnson was his name, an honest loyal man. Carla told Brooke she thinks Johnson is a phoney. That he pretends to be loyal but he just wants Brooke’s money.
She tells him “just be careful. I wouldn’t trust him, honey.” Brooke laughed but then looked at her. She wasn’t trying to be funny.
The next week Brooke had a meeting with Johnson. Johnson said “Brooke you need to listen. I think Carla is using you, a classic exploitation. I mean look at her now, look how far she has got! She started from the bottom now she’s almost at the top!” Brooke was stunned.
“I don’t think she likes you Brooke. I think she has you hung. She never liked you even from the moment it begun.”
“Shut up Johnson! No! No you’re just jealous. I remember when you saw her first, you were zealous! You know I love her and she loves me. Stop trying to hurt me Johnson. Oh my God…phoney! She warned me last week that you were a liar! I didn’t believe it, it all makes sense now. You’re fired!”
Johnson was shocked, stunned and angry, He packed up his stuff and left staring blankly.
Now Johnson was gone, his job was available.
And who do you think got it? That’s right, his angel. Carla almost had everything she could want.
She was now Brooke’s lover, his partner and his confidante. He told her everything, all the good, all the bad. She never would have guessed all the bad that he had. She recorded all these conversations secretly. And she had what she wanted to destroy him completely.
One day Brooke went to work, he sensed evil in the air.
As he approached his own office he saw someone was there. It was Carla. She was smiling, she sat in his chair.
And in the background, his own voice of the secrets he shared. “What have you done Carla?!” he shouted. “Nothing yet” she replied.
His face now as white as if he had died.
“So you never loved me? Or liked me?.. You lied?
You made me fire my best friend! To warn me, he tried!” Brooke was devastated, he looked at the ground as he cried. “I want your job Brooke and I’m going to get it, okay? If you co-operate then I can make this all go away. If you don’t then I’ll ruin you, I’ll start your dismay, and then eventually you’ll lose your job anyway. Imagine. All your dark secrets up on display. But it’s your choice Brooke. You have one day.”
As she left Brooke just watched until she was out of sight. He was speechless, he was broken, he knew she was right. An hour ago in love, his heart flew like a kite. But this kite got struck by a bolt of light.
The public would hate him if they heard what he said. And then he knew his magazine would never be read. Would he ruin his business? His life’s work? and his cred? Just so “I didn’t let Carla win” could be said? He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. He gave in. So cruel to himself, how could she do this to him!? He hated it all. So angry and grim. That night he drank gin in the misery of her win. Mentally scarred he’d never trust a woman again.
Next day. “Okay…You get it all.”
Optimistic that one day he’d recover from this fall. Carla smiled “it’s been a pleasure”. She stood oh so tall. Brooke left, defeated and broken. He felt oh so small.
A five-storey building. Outside Brook was seen.
Standing with everyone else in the big city scene.
He collapsed crying wondering how this all could have been. Inside was a woman, so proud like a queen,
She’s beautiful, she’s Carla, the owner of Brooke’s Magazine.
More stories to follow.