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Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: The Agency

The idea for this one came out of a conversation I had last weekend with a friend who asked what I wanted in a minion. Yes, I love my friends. If you know of any minions looking for work, please direct them my way. I promise I'll be nice to them as long as they behave.

This week has been insane with regard to work and getting ready for vacation, so I apologize to those whose #FridayFlash stories I didn't get to read and comment on yet from last week. I'm going to try to catch up soon.

The Agency

"What are you looking for in a minion?" Forrest raised his eyebrows and invited the individual across from him to impress him with something witty, clever, and original.

Instead, the dour man with the black lipstick and fingernails and raven feathers woven in his long, stringy hair said, "Unquestioning obedience."

"I've heard that before." Forrest added a cheerful upswing to "that" in his tone to make it sound less flippant. "Let me see what I can do to find you the perfect one. Will this assistant need to have any special skills?"

"Some rudimentary chemistry knowledge and a love of Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker." He shifted in his seat, and his long, charcoal-colored robe rustled.

"Ah, the classics!" Forrest tapped on his black (of course) keyboard and picked at a piece of feather that had drifted to land on his grey sweater vest while the profiles loaded. The Minion Placement Agency had a policy that their employees were never to look more threatening than the clients.

This particular client raised his eyebrows and inclined his head. Forrest surmised that he lacked a sense of humor, so that was noted in his profile. That would greatly reduce the intelligence quotient of whoever was placed with him. Smart minions needed someone who could joke with them.

"This will just take a few moments, Mr. Raven," Forrest said. "Could I have someone fetch you some coffee?"

"Yes. Black. Decaf."

Forrest nodded to Jeanine, the secretary who hovered nearby. Really, she was his boss, but they had to put on appearances. For female clients, they'd trade places, and Jeanine would even whip him a little.

"One coffee!" She smiled and handed the cobalt mug to Mr. Raven.

"It's decaf, right?"

"Oh, I forgot. It will take me a moment to brew a fresh pot. Is that okay?"

"No, Jeanine, it is NOT okay." Forrest rose to his feet and held his breath so that his face would turn red faster. "What kind of impression are you giving this gentleman of our organization? You can't even fetch coffee!"

"Really, it's okay, I can wait," Mr. Raven said.

"No, it is unacceptable! You're fired, young lady! I cannot deal with this gross incompetence."

"No, don't do that!' Mr. Raven stood to block Jeanine, who cowered away from Forrest's purported rage. "It's not her fault. You're being too hard on her!"

"Well, if it's okay with you, Mr. Raven," Forrest said and took a deep breath. The computer crowed to let him know it was done searching. "Ah, here we go. I'm sorry, we don't have anyone with the skills you're looking for right now." He smiled and mopped his brow with a white handkerchief. "Please forgive my outburst. We'll keep your requirements on file and let you know if we have someone come in who'd be a good fit for you."

After Mr. Raven left, Jeanine looked at Forrest and said, "Unquestioning obedience, my ass."

Forrest nodded. He noted Mr. Raven's reaction in the profile. "He was just a big old softy at heart. It's nice to know that whoever he gets will be going to a good home."

"Stop being so sentimental, Forrest. Run the search for real, and then fetch me a bagel."

"Yes, ma'am." Once again, Forrest hoped his profile would pop up as a match, but he knew he was too smart to be happy with Mr. Raven, who still lacked a sense of humor no matter how kind he would be. Forrest wouldn't be able to switch minionhood that easily, at least not this minute, but there was a Lady Sinestra coming in later...


  1. Hah, I wrote a similar short once, but I like yours better. It really fleshes out the process, and the use of psychology is great. Funny that the minion finder is a minion himself. Wonder how many times he and his boss have pulled that little stunt.

  2. Great, funny story. I love how Forrest is looking for new minionhood.

    Well done.

  3. I like the story, interesting character interaction. My favorite line was the one about the whip. A few weeks back I did a story called Wanted - Side-Kick similiar idea except the person was writing a want ad.

    Great story and keep writing them. If you want to check out mine this week it is at http://betweentheclicks.podbean.com for some reason my google profile won't link to it.

  4. Aren't conversations with friends the very best inspiration? :D
    I loved this. Poor Mr. Raven seems to put on a show for what essentially is a lonely need for attention and praise.

    The boss/secretary act was funny too. I know of people who actually do that.

  5. Competence and unerring loyalty would be great. Gymnastics a plus. Sense of humor a -plus.

    You've got me thinking now. Love the premise of their conversation.

  6. Your characters and the attention you gave them are what really make this piece shine. I love "The Raven" since I wasn't expecting him to be so nice. Same with Forrest - he had some good acting skills! The comment about the whip for the female clients made me laugh so much! Very well-written!

  7. Brilliant - pity Mr. Raven has no sense of humor, as he sounds like he'd make a great boss otherwise! I love the "black lipstick" touch - he's obviously the perfect soul-mate for Abby from NCIS.

    I wonder if Janine knows that Thomas has his profile in there... :D

  8. I apologize to the readers to this point. I had to take some meds for a flare-up of a chronic medical condition this morning. They make me a little dopey, and I apparently didn't catch it when my MC changed names. Fixed now. :)

    Thanks for your comments!

    Valerie, I think they do their little act often to see what kind of people their clients are. I pity the ones who don't respond nicely. Looks like Monica knows some who do similar things IRL.

    Poor Forrest -- you know she's got to like whipping him. I'm glad y'all liked the line. :) Please let me know if any of you find a perfect sidekick or minion, and I'll do likewise.

    Thanks again!

  9. Sorry, I still can't figure out who Thomas is... is that another name for Forrest?

    Otherwise, until that last paragraph, I was hooked. I like how they figured out Mr. Raven was a poser--as most black-lipsticked, black fingernail-polished beings are...

  10. Thanks, Peg! Yes, Thomas is Forrest. For some reason, he wanted to switch names in the middle. I thought I'd found all of them and corrected them, but apparently I didn't. It's fixed now.


  11. Good one! Loved all the turns this took--from Raven being a softy, to Forrest wanting a new home himself. Nice job!

  12. Loved this. Great idea, Cecilia... Was Mr. Raven a nod to Poe? I noticed more than a few gothic mentions...

  13. Very cute story - my minion would be a domestic goddess who could cook and go grocery shopping. I've got simple needs ;-)

  14. I'm missing the punchline, not knowing who Lady Sinestra is, but it's an amusing concept and an enjoyable read.

  15. Fun concept and great characters. This feels like it could lead to many other stories. I like a minion that can teleport to me on call.

  16. Fabulous concept! Well written and great characterisation, I really like this.

  17. I just like the whole idea of a minion. Thomas/Forest sounds like a good fit...send him over.

    Very inventive story. I liked it very much.

  18. Thanks, everyone!

    Eric, I appreciate the compliment.

    Mark, there's really no punchline. Forrest hopes for a new boss with every client that comes in since Jeanine is such a bitch.

    Or maybe Kim can be Lady Sinestra since she has a great sense of humor, and she's interested in Forrest.

    I love Draco's idea of a teleporting minion! But I'd want to be able to teleport, too. PJ's idea of a domestic goddess is great, too. I've often said I need a housewife.

    Yes, there are some Poe references. I never got into the whole "goth" movement, so I went back to the original Gothic. Next up: flying buttresses! Okay, maybe not.

    Thanks again! Hope the U.S. ppl are enjoying your long holiday weekend!


  19. Great fun! I like the idea of having a minion. I think mine would just need to give me daily massages and clean the house. That teleportation of Draco's sounds good too.

    Very clever story! I wish I had friends that come up with fun ideas to chat about like this!
    When I do this - I get weird looks.

  20. This is so much fun Cecilia! The characterization, as others have said, is outstanding. I'm hoping, as I'm sure others are too, that you'll carry Forrest/Thomas and Raven on to more adventures.

    And don't worry about having to medicate - I have fibro and know exactly what you mean, especially today.

    Can't wait for more!

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