220 - ashes
ames played with the phone cord that ran from his desk to the receiver jammed between his shoulder and his head. He had an assortment of stress relievers scattered across his desk, but his idle fingers were still most drawn to the looping beige leash.
"Uh huh. I see. Yes," were the words that he spoke into the mouthpiece. His eyes reflexively rolled a few times as the person on the other end of the call carried the majority of the conversation. "No, I understand completely," he added, sounding somewhat apologetic.
"I got it. Don't worry, it will be taken care of. Uh huh. Okay. Thanks for the call," James concluded, releasing the receiver from his shoulder bone by straightening his neck. He placed it back on its hook with an exasperated sigh.
"Shit," he muttered to himself, pushing his chair back from his desk and rising to his feet. He left his office and started down the hall. The offices of the Food Distributor Association of America, the nation's largest food distributor trade group, were organized by department. James strolled towards marketing.
He stopped at the open door of an office belonging to a man with an extremely messy desk. It overflowed with papers, books, and various food products. The man seated behind the mess of a desk was engrossed in his work on the computer, and he failed to notice James standing in the doorway.
James politely knocked upon the open door. "Hey, Ryan, got a minute?" he asked.
Ryan's eyes darted up nervously from his computer screen. "Not really, but that's always the case. What's up?"
James adopted the tone of a doctor about to deliver a terrible diagnosis. "So, I just got off the phone with the apricot people--"
"Oh, no, don't fucking tell me!" Ryan interrupted, burying his face in his hands. "Another one to cram on the calendar?"
"Listen, I talked them down to a day. Just a day, Ryan. That's all," James reassured him.
"Yeah, that sounds really easy. 'Just a day' is no problem until you realize you've only got 365 of them to work with, and every damn food or food-related object in the known universe wants one to their own printed on our promotional calendars!" Ryan shouted.
"They wanted a whole month after they caught wind of August being declared Watermelon Appreciation Month. Don't ask me how they found out. I guess the watermelon boys just couldn't keep their traps shut," James explained.
"We TOLD them to keep quiet! Goddamn those bastards. Next year I'll knock them down to a day and make them share it with Carrot Cake Discovery Day, I swear to god!" Ryan lamented.
"I know, I know," James commiserated. "But the Watermelon Lobby really is important to us, so there's not a lot we can do. Anyway, about this apricot day, do you think you could fit them in sometime around March?"
"Yeah, I guess, that probably will work out," Ryan said, giving in. He pulled up the tentative layout for March.
James chuckled. "I sold them on the idea by telling them their day would be placed earlier in the year, but if they wanted a month they'd have to wait until the ass end."
"I can put them in between 'Take Your Boss Out For a Steak Saturday' and 'Mustard Monday Mania.' It's during 'Halibut Week' but I don't think that will create any conflicts of interest," Ryan said.
"Sounds good to me. Give it a snappy name, like 'National Apricot Enjoyment Day' or something. Thanks for helping out with this," James said, leaving Ryan to his work.