Monday, July 8, 2013

Negotiation

"Let me tell you a little something about how this is going to go," said Garth as he reached for a butterscotch from the obscenely expensive crystal dish on his desk. "You think you've got information I want and that's true enough as far as it goes. So in your mind's eye you see me being on the weak side of this exchange." He sucked noisily on the sugary lozenge. "You're thinking I'm going to play a game of bluff and bluster, but in the end I'll give you pretty much everything you want and you'll give me just enough to feel like I didn't get taken to the cleaners'. I imagine you've stood in front of a mirror practicing that look of supreme confidence, checking that you look just the right kind of indifferent when you check for dirt under your nails. Dirt that isn't there because you probably had someone clean them for you before you got here, because you've never done an honest day's work in your life. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I wouldn't have if I'd had a choice. Doing an honest day's work just means you don't have the imagination to do a more profitable day's work." He paused again, forcing the sweet repeatedly against his teeth so it made a sound like a clock ticking slowly.
"So what's my trick? You have the advantage and you know you do. I have every card in the deck but you're playing craps. Where can I possibly find a position of strength here? Or do I already have it? I was born with nothing and now I have, without boasting, pretty much everything. How many times along that road have I out maneuvered people who thought they were in a position of strength only to find themselves left with nothing?" He put his feet up on the desk and leaned back arms crossed behind his head.
"That's got you thinking hasn't it? I didn't have to do this myself, I have buildings full of people who can take care of something as simple as what you think this is. But here I am taking a personal interest and there must be a reason for that. Now that little seed of doubt has crept in, is starting to gnaw away at your confidence. It's nothing major, you're still pretty confident, but you're starting to wonder who's honoured to meet who in that photo with the president, and just how highly ranked the Chinese official I was owed a favour by must have been to get that statue out of the country. Just how much am I truly capable of?" He leaned forward, eyes hard.
"Maybe what you thought was a position of unassailable strength is starting to feel like a room with no door. The mantle of superiority is suffocating you, weighing heavy on your shoulders. Perhaps that information you thought was worth so much seems more of a burden." He shrugged and let the edge fall from his voice to be replaced with implacable resolve. "So this is how this is going to go. You're going to let me win and in exchange you get to lose. You get nothing more than knowing I could have made it worse for you. That's my final offer." There was silence as he regarded the empty office in front of him. After a few seconds, a boy of four or five years old crawled out from behind a potted ficus and walked over with crossed arms and a cross look. He put out his bottom lip and slapped the desk with two open hands.
"That's not how you're supposed to play hide and seek grandpa. It's not fair."
"I don't play Billy. I win. Now have a butterscotch."
"I don't wanna butterscotch."
"Have it your way."

Next week's word is narration.

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