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“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

We all groaned. Jim’s favorite saying, which he did in a horrible Cockney accent, was “I have a hole in my pocket and I’m feeling a little cocky.” None of us encouraged him. Instead, our gathering of five simply stared.

He sighed, rolled his eyes and said he was serious. We all moved in a little closer.

trade-showWe were in the middle of our company’s immense trade show booth on the floor of the Lucas Oil Field, wearing matching blue company dress shirts and black slacks and surrounded by 150 fellow employees. It was the final day of a four-day convention. We had partied as hard as we worked and were all sleep-deprived, hungover and ready to go home. No one wanted to dig into Jim’s pockets.

“If it’s something sexual or gross, I’m gonna pop you.” I had been victim to several of his pranks before and had every right to be apprehensive. Also, my head was throbbing dully from the night before. I had stopped counting my vodka tonics when I passed seven.

Jim always carried a loose mixture of pills, breath mints and coins in his front pants’ pocket. While disgusting, someone always needed something at one of the trade shows. This time I resisted the urge to ask him for an ibuprofen.

“Don’t worry, Janey,” he growled in his deep bass voice. “I wouldn’t do something that like here.” Looking around to ensure no one was lurking nearby, he produced a wallet-sized photo.

We leaned in. We tilted our heads, trying to get a better look. No one wanted to touch it. The image could not be real.

Rick studied the photo for a moment before glancing at the rest of us incredulously. “No! That can’t be!”

“Where did you get this?” Kathy whispered, covering the photo with her outstretched hand. She glanced over her shoulder, a little frightened.

“You haven’t shown this to anyone else, have you?” Mark interjected. “They’d fire you!”

Jim snorted and rolled his eyes. We were the first and only people to see it.

What would you do if someone just showed you a photo of your CFO in a loving, shirtless embrace with the young trade show manager who wasn’t his wife?

I knew how Jim’s mind worked. He wasn’t one to use information prematurely. That photo was insurance in case his position went south.

Things had been tough at the company lately. New management had recently laid off ten percent of the workforce, and it seemed another one layoff was looming. People were referring to the new regime as the “mismanagement.” Any little misstep could be the final walk off the plank. I didn’t think blackmail was the best way to keep a job.

I glanced over at the trade show manager, stationed at the front desk and handing out trinkets to the attendees. Besides being a May-December affair, she and the CFO were like Jack Spratt and his wife. She was well over three hundred pounds and even her personality wasn’t attractive. I couldn’t imagine the allure. There was a rumor she had known him since childhood when their families had lived in the same town and her dad had been one of the CFO’s golfing buddies. That took it beyond gross to creepy.

Speculation continued among the group as to how the two first hooked up. Rick, Mark and Jim cracked comments and the laughter seemed to grow out of the exhaustion and absurdity of the situation.

“You can’t get the thought of the two of them doing it out of you mind, can you? I bet she likes it best on top,” Jim growled in my ear.

I gagged, tasting the day old vodka. I didn’t need that image implanted in my brain. I wondered who took the original photo, but knew Jim wouldn’t give away his source. He repocketed the photo.

Everyone turned and looked to me. As the senior member of the group, they expected me to know what to do.

I shrugged and grandly gestured at the expansiveness of the booth. “Well, that explains why our budget was doubled this year. Nothing like an executive bonus!”

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