Rev. Random the Other
The owner of the company insisted that the test results be completed in
time for lunch Monday at the Governor's Inn. I was running late, and
was met with glares and scowls when I finally did arrive. Defensively,
I said "Well, I'm only five minutes late, after all." "No," the owner,
Bill Russell said. "We've been waiting for an hour and a half."
I assured the man who paid my check that the schedule I received from
his secretary listed the luncheon as beginning at 12:30. Bill merely
shook his head in disgust, and motioned for me to take a place at the
table. Stockholders and major contributors, potential contributors and
speculators looked to President Russell, who acknowledged their interest
and smoothly looked to me and asked, "So, tell me that the test results
promise a bright future for National Arsenomide. I've been promising
these men a share in the latest technology, and in spite of some
unfounded concerns, I believe that we are poised to deliver."
I smiled, looked the President, and delivered a focused assessment.
"Failed miserably," I said. "I need to repeat some of the tests,
though," I added. "Perhaps it might still work. Perhaps."
My words prompted a flurry of action from around the table, investors
pulling out electronic stock readers and cell phones, excusing
themselves for taking up so much of Mr. Russell's time as they left the
table. When we were alone, I again noted that I needed to repeat
several of the tests, and was quietly told to report to his office in
two day's time, 1:30pm. I smiled as I made a notation in the book I
carried. Fifty points.
I had two days to devote to my hobby and to indulge in idle speculation.
I called a popular mail-order music service and subscribed, getting 10
free CD's, giving the wrong address, marking one point in my book. I
ordered a pizza, and had it shipped to the building next door. One
point. I made an appointment with the barber. One point. I discarded
the email from the executive secretary reminding me that I had a meeting
scheduled with Bill for 2:30pm on Thursday. I called my brother at the
My brother is a Player. He had joined a Fraternity two years ago, and
told me how me picked up 20 points just the other night off a dweeb who
wanted to join his house.
The dweeb had passed their many repulsive initiation rites and was
invited for a final beer drinking and banana-in-the-toilet fest that was
to lead to membership. My brother congratulated the queasy winner, and
then told him that there was actually one more test...the very last one,
He handed the dweeb a cue ball off the pool table, and said "Stick this
in your mouth, and you're in."
The dweeb looked at the cue ball, looked at my brother, and asked
"That's all?" That's all. "Do I have to swallow it?" No. Just pop it
in your mouth, then spit it out and you are a member. This is the last
ritual, the "mouthing of the orb."
The dweeb held the ball up to his face, estimated the size, then opened
wide. He had to shove pretty hard, fitting it between his somewhat buck
teeth, but actually managed to somehow convey a smile as the cue ball
slid firmly home. "DuhhhDuhhhh!"
The twinkle in the dweebs eyes turned to horror, my brother related,
when he failed in dislodging the ball, his fingers stretching his
already yawning expression as his face reddened.
"Ahhhkaanngahhihhooowwww," the dweeb related with a finger and thumb
wrapped around the cue ball, pushing it from within, eyes watering.
After a time, and a few more beers, they drove the dweeb to the
emergency room, where a snarling nurse informed him that if he had
vomited, as drunk as he was, he could have choked to death. My brother
insisted that the vomit would have shot out of his nose: "I've seen
The nurse snarled some more, then injected a muscle relaxant into the
gaping jaw in six or eight places with a nasty, long needle. While the
dweeb lay on the examination table, waiting for the drug to take effect,
my brother shook his head sadly and informed him that he had failed the
last ritual, that he was no longer considered for initiation. The dweeb
groaned. All he had needed to do, my brother told him, was refuse. The
dweeb was crying as they left him, mentioning to the nurse as they left
that his nose was fast becoming clogged and his breathing labored.
I left work early, walking cheerfully through the light drizzle, and
headed for the hardware store. A woman stopped me to ask directions to
Belks department store. "About six blocks that way," I pointed, "then
turn left and go another four or five blocks." She smiled as she
thanked me, my book already in hand.
I ran into one of the suits from the luncheon, who recognized me and
offered his commiseration. "But the last series of tests were
successful," I told the surprised bigwig. "It was just a calibration
problem with a piece of test gear." He sputtered as he said "How can
this be? I just got off the horn with Russell not ten minutes ago, and
he was quite distraught. Doesn't he know yet?"
I told the man that I had not yet talked to Bill, that my meeting was
not until Wednesday at 1:30. The suit hurried off, and I stopped
briefly at a pay phone to call my own broker and make a note in my book.
On my way out of the hardware store I met the Belks woman, who flagged
me down all out of breath and asked again after the location of the
department store. "How could you have missed it?" "Well, I walked down
there for six blocks, turned left and walked and walked..."
"Left?" I said. "Oh no, you must have mis-heard me. I said turn
RIGHT. Go six blocks, turn RIGHT, then another four or five blocks.
You can't miss it." The woman, harried and puffing, still found a smile
for me as she thanked me. Two points for the second time.
I stopped briefly at work the next day, long enough to set the voice
mail in one lab to indicate that I was in the other lab, and visa versa.
No points for that, but I needed to check my mail and to automate a few
test sets to make it seem that work was in progress. An email from the
bossman caught my eye, as it was marked certified to alert the sender
the moment that I opened the file. Hmmm.
I copied it unread to disk, then opened the disk copy so as not to
trigger notification. Bossman had been told by several of the investors
that they had heard the tests had passed. I called my broker, then
opened the original mail and responded that tests were still negative,
that I was having to deal with multiple equipment problems and
calibration issues, and that would be working late into the night. I
waited until the stock price dropped to add the entry in my book, with a
mark to indicate that it was circumstantial and would have to be
verified in conversation with Bill the next day. There are strict rules
for accounting, and I fully intended to have every point accepted.
At home, I dialed up the page where this Quarter's points are listed,
looking down the list until I found reverand and my last score. I added
up my new total, then pulled up the screen listing the top ten scores at
last update. It was a tight race, and I knew I would need every point
just to stay competitive. I was gambling on the big score, which is
riskier than it seems. Much easier to gain onesy-twosy's, but the
reward for the harder stuff is much higher. I decided to offset my risk
by placing several catalog orders, and making several dinner and movie
dates. And call my broker. It was early afternoon when I called the
"Rheta, let me speak to Bill."
"I'm sorry, he's stepped away from his desk..."
"Nice try," I said. "I'll beep him if you wish."
The next sound was the phone ringing, and Bill answering. "It works," I
said, trying to sound excited. "It works. I was going to wait until
tomorrow at 1:30, but you wanted to know ASAP. It will be a success. I
only have a few more simulations to run, but I can tell you right now
that this baby is on target!"
The phone muffled by his hand, I nonetheless heard Bill bellowing for
Rheta to set up a conference circuit and to contact everyone on his
short list, then he spoke up. "Great. Really great. Have you seen the
stock prices? I was getting ready to jump out the window. Look, I
still need you to give a demo. In my office, tomorrow. I'll set it up
for 1:30. This is really great news."
I spent the evening updating my resume, not worried too much as I had
already deleted most of the circuit design and tech trial info from the
database at work. I had copies secure. I could sell myself for far
higher than what Bill was paying me, anyhow. The Game can be quite as
addictive as any drug, and I valued the respect of the other Players far
more than the execudroids and collargeeks at National Arse, even though
I knew the identities of merely a handful of Players. I mean, the real
identities. The pseudonyms were legendary, though, and I nodded with
pride that I still made the top lists every quarter even though the
ranks were growing exponentially. One last call to my broker.
I stepped into the plush reception area with it's massive oak desk, and
waited while Rheta finished telling someone over the phone that Mr.
Russell was in Europe for the next six weeks. "One point," I said
cryptically, waiting to fill any question with one of my own. Instead,
Rheta arched her eyebrows, smiled, and asked "You a Player?" I answered
a cheerful "Yup" and asked her how she was doing. I didn't expect a
precise score, and was not surprised. I did take the time to give her
some advice. "Ones and Twos do not a big winner make." "How would YOU
know?" came her riposte, then laughed and said that the President has a
full house, and I could probably rack 'em up. She pressed the button on
her desk that unlocked the office door, smiled, and winked. I smiled
back and twinkled.
Bill's face split into a broad smile as I was ushered in, not noticing
that I carried neither equipment nor laptop, just my pocketbook.
"Gentlemen, here is the man who will send the stock soaring. When news
hits the market of our stunning success, you will all see your
investment reap untold rewards. I fully predict that each of us will be
upgrading country clubs in the near future!" This was met with drinks
raised, cheers, and congratulatory pounding of backs throughout the
large room. After a long minute, President Russell motioned for
silence, and then all eyes turned to me.
I smiled. "Obviously you have been celebrating here for quite some
time." This was met with more cheers and smiles. I waited until it
quieted down. "What I mean is that, well, at lunch several hours ago in
the cafeteria I was the center of attention from what seemed like most
of middle management. I was quite surprised to see so many suits in the
cafeteria! They had heard of your meeting, today, and cornered me to
hear the good news." Clapping, much laughter and jostling, amid hushed
comments of stocks-are-up-already.
"Err, what I mean is, stocks have plummeted. Nearly rock-bottom. I
already told them hours ago that the trial was another miserable
failure. It will never work as planned. Word must have gotten out. I
guess nobody here has checked their stock market readers..."
The stunned silence lasted only a brief moment, then shouts from all
corners of "RUSSELL, you will PAY for this" "I'll never do business with
you again," "I'll see you in court, Russell," "You will never work
again," and more. Russell red faced and shaking. I laughed.
I was caught totally off guard when President Bill Russell leaped out of
his chair, knocking over the podium, and wrapped his delicate hands
around my throat. It was my last memory.
Perfume. White....gauze? Strapped...down. Sore throat. And neck.
Can I...hear...? The mists cleared somewhat, and it was Rheta. "Don't
try to move, you have an IV in your arm. You're OK. You're in the
I cleared my throat, twice, then managed "Hi, Rheta". Some of the
meeting came back. "What happened?"
"What Happened? Mr. Russell tried to kill you, that's what happened.
Don't you remember?" Her eyes were shining with a strange light,
looking for all the world not just in awe but in admiration. I tried to
shake my head, but my neck...
"He did. He actually tried to kill you. He would have, too, but he had
a massive heart-attack. He's in this hospital too, in intensive care.
I heard what happened from the group in his office. They told me what
you had done. They were furious." Still that gleam in her eyes.
I managed a smile as I remembered.
"I called the ambulance," she said. "I found your book. You are
I smiled at her as my eyes danced, and said "Yeah, big Player. You know
me now." Then I added "Not too many points lying here, though." I
closed my eyes. Groan.
"Oh no, not at ALL. I contacted the board last night and reported your
My eyes snapped open.
She actually blushed. "I found your book, right? They are compiling
the Quarter now anyway, and I didn't know how long you would be in
"I told them about your last Play. My God, no one had EVER heard of
anyone actually trying to KILL over a Play! You were awarded..."
She cleared her throat. "Well, it's just unbelievable. You are six
thousand points in the lead. You have the YEAR tied up. Completely.
Incontrovertibly. Player of the Year."
Rev. Random the Other
Perhaps twenty years ago I read a story about The Game, much better
developed than what I wrote here. I have asked around for years, but no
one has ever seen the original. Tonight I decided to write my own
version, just so. If anyone has any information regarding a similar
story, PLEASE email me - not at this, which is my work address, but at
ps - Talk about the perfect job....