Sunday 20 July 2014

Return on Investment: Fragment

I was looking for something else today, but as I did, I found a small fragment I must have written in parallel to Return on Investment. It's not an outtake per se, because Return on Investment has always been a single-POV story.

So, here goes, a small thank-you to everybody who bought or borrowed Return on Investment: 


“Hi Dan, how are you?” Francis leafed through the papers on his desk, peering down at the graphs and tables on the neat print-out.

After the pleasantries were out of the way, Dan asked politely why he’d been calling.

“It’s about one of yours. Latest class. The name is David. First name Martin.” Francis closed the folder. “I have his application on my desk. What do you think? Yes, of him.” He listened, lips pursed, getting a short summary of David’s academic performance. Diligent, hard-working, not a red personality, very good at the practical work, weakest marks in leadership. Professor Daniel Summers was good at understanding these graduates – excellent judge of character.

“What I think? Diligent, yes, I can see that.” The text had no mispelt words, no typos, which was a significant achievement these days. “I haven’t actually seen him yet – I just saw the analysis he did for us. Good modelling, very conservative. Doesn’t seem egotistical about all this. No. That’s what I thought.” It pleased him when he could reach a conclusion based on another man’s work. This was a careful mind, one that wasn’t for the grand gesture, somebody hard-working and focused. “Thank you, Dan. Yes. I think we might just hire him.”

He made a note to that effect on the analysis, dismissed the small pile of other candidates, added two maybes. David was the favourite, and Summers had only confirmed his impressions. Francis dropped the case studies off on Williams’s desk, then selected work to finish at home and left the office.

* * *

Williams called him into the meeting room for a moment on that Thursday, and he headed in. The young man in there wasn’t anything special, really; dirty dark blond hair that didn’t have enough pigment to be brown, light eyes that weren’t quite blue, but he’d made an effort, even if the suit was cheap and so were the shoes.

“Francis de Bracy.”

“Martin David, sir.” The young man shook his hand, and Francis noticed the hands were a bit cool, but not clammy. “Nice to meet you.”

Francis leaned against the wall, noticing that David had clear, open features, not wishy-washy, hinting at actual character. Not flashy, not a natural leader, but nevertheless with some personality. A good jawline, a well-formed chin. The longer he looked at the man, the less bland he seemed to be. The best thing about him were his eyebrows, gently curved and natural – the stray hairs showed he wasn’t given to the travesty of plucking them into shape.

Williams said something, lightly, half a joke, and the whole face lit up, before the grin formed. No, the best thing about Martin David was that sudden, unguarded grin, a sense of humour, maybe, that was easily roused and easily ignited, and that revealed more about him than the cheap clothes or his desire to appear attentive and well-behaved, well-trained. All those were givens, Francis thought, but that smile wasn’t, that was genuine. 

Francis excused himself, headed to the door, and gave Williams a nod just before he closed the door behind himself. For him, that was a ‘go’. The other two, the maybes, didn’t have that balance. One of them was too flashy, too loud, too “haha, old chap”, at age thirty, and the second one was simply visually unappealing, with wide-set toad eyes and blood red lips – and no personality to balance that negative first impression.


  1. Don't hate me for asking, but...could you do one of these 'outtakes' post chapter 33? Yeah, also known as an epilogue. A private one if you must. I know you'll wince, cringe, start silently ranting at me.

    ...I'd do an Alec Berger on you and offer you wild, exotic monkey cybersex if I knew it would work. As it is, an appeal to old times' sake will have to suffice. I have missed you. Hugs.

  2. I won't hate you, but right now I don't have the time (or much inspiration). :) And I really don't want to half-arse it. Maybe when I get back into the mindset with QOI (the potential prequel, which as 20k written and which I might finish this time round).