- By Corey Brown - By Corey Brown

Severed the book

© 2019 Corey Brown

Power Play

My name is Spinner, Rick Spinner. I wear an ID badge. I’m a consultant, a tech, a guy who works at your company but doesn’t work for your company. Does that sound like a job description for Corporate Spy or what?


That said, the phone rang one morning and the caller was someone I should have been spying on, but wasn’t. Caught off guard—mainly because I knew this chick and every time I saw her, my imagination ran someplace left of wild. As such, being off guard, I failed to be cool.

“This is Spinner,” I said. “Talk to me.”

“Rick? Thank goodness I reached you.”

I gagged. “Did I say Spinner? I meant to say Spangler. This is, uh, Ron Spangler with the IRS.”

“Oh Rick, you silly boy, you’re always clowning around.”


Man, she was on to me. Now what? I glanced at my partner Nacho Flaherty…who wasn’t at his desk. Crud. Where was that little ethnic enigma? So it had come to this: I was on my own.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “How can I help you?”


I hoped she wouldn’t say something suggestive. Given my ‘failure to be cool’ gaff, if this little number said the right thing I just might do something I would not regret later.

“Well,” she said. “I sit next to the break room and every time my boss uses the vending machine my computer shuts down. In fact, it’s only when he buys a candy bar.”


So much for suggestive.


“I see,” I said. “Have you tried facing east?”

“What? Facing east? What do you mean?”

Uh-oh, the brush off didn’t work. “No, not facing east,” I said. “I asked if you tried grease.”

“Grease for my computer?”

“Well, no. I was talking about the vending machine. Look, I’ll log your call in our tracking software and stop by.”

“Oh Ron,” she said. “That is so thoughtful.”

Replacing the handset I thought, Ron? What was that all about?


I fiddled for a bit, filed my latest expense report, made some origami keyboards, procrastinated. Then I went to lunch. Afterwards, I returned to my desk and messed with a pencil drawer before going to see my friend with power problems.

“Robbie, thank you for coming,” she said as I approached.


Robbie? What happened to Ron? What happened to ‘Oh Rick, you silly boy, you’re always clowning around’? Could it get any worse?


“No problem,” I said. So how often does this happen?”

She looked at me closely. I knew what she really wanted. I get it all the time. It’s the badge…always the badge.

“How often?” She said. “Every day, just about quitting time. And since you took your sweet time getting here, you little twerp, you can see for yourself.”

The situation was unraveling quickly. Things could turn ugly so I had to act fast. I knew I had to say something to calm her down.

So, I said, “Uh...”


Just then a man strolled passed. He glanced at me, nodded and said, “Spinner.”

I recognized him.

“Mr. Daniels,” I said. “Good to see you. How’s the Internet today?”

Zack Daniels just scowled and walked into the break room

“There he goes,” the woman said. “My boss is buying his snack.”


Wait a minute, I thought. Chief Information Officer Zack Daniels, the guy who couldn’t understand why the network was down when a lightning storm took out the electricity, was this lady’s boss? And now she is complaining her computer shuts off when he uses the vending machine? This ought to be interesting.


The woman stood and began collecting her things in order to go home. “It happens almost every day,” she said, putting things into her purse, car keys, lip gloss, a wireless mouse.

I frowned. A wireless mouse? Why the heck was she shoving a wireless mouse in her purse? I heard the vending machine swallow a few coins. It whizzed and whirred as Mr. Daniels made his selection. I heard something thwack into the collection bin just as the woman clicked off a power strip, killing her desk lamp and.... shutting down her computer.

Then Zack Daniels emerged, gnawing on a Snickers bar.

“See?” she said, pointing after Zack, waggling her fingers. “It happens every time he uses the vending machine, my computer just shuts off.”

“Oh, yes, I see.”

"You can fix it?"

"Oh sure, I can fix it." Then I headed for the bar.