Write On Press Presents: The Ultimate Collection of Original Short Fiction, Volume II, p.1Write On Press
Write On Press Presents:
Original Short Fiction
Published by Write On e-Publishing, LLC.
Copyright 2015 Write On Press
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J. Grayson, Talent Scout
J. J. Haile
H. C. Heartland
A Satur’morn Adventure
Endings & Beginnings
The Mad Dash
The Conspiracy of Things
J. GRAYSON, TALENT SCOUT
Early, one, Wednesday morning, Jim Grayson was preparing his morning coffee when his cell phone rang. Without looking to see who it was, he answered. Abrupt on the other end, “Get to the office immediately! We have an emergency meeting.”
Jim placed the phone back down and finished preparing his coffee. When he was younger, he would have sprinted out the door, but he sat down in his favorite recliner and enjoyed his drink.
Jim was a struggling talent scout for Talentscope Inc. and was once revered in the 80’s as one of the best scouts for the company. He was part of the pioneering team that started the company back in 1982. His in-person approach to evaluating talent helped him find the company’s top 3 stars. Yet as time grew long, and the introduction of online media to find talent grew, his antiquated efforts were being blown away by younger, tech-savvy scouts. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram along with other social media websites worked wonders for those scouts compared to his (get in the car and drive thousands of miles to see talent) style.
The firm has 20 successful artists under their management, Jim with only the three to claim as his bounty. His boss and CEO of the company Fred Stanton employed 10 scouts. Of the original five to start the company, only he and Jim remained.. When a scout failed to produce one sign-able talent in a year; Fred let them go. Fred had high standards, and was very demanding. Their strong friendship and trust allowed Jim to stay on staff despite his abysmal numbers. This created resentment among the other scouts.
Jim often found himself left out of the camaraderie shared by the others. With the exception of two coworkers, no one even acknowledged his presence. This was ok with Jim, who was typically on the road hitting talent shows and following leads in the field. He was a loner, and didn’t truly identify with the 20 something’s who had invaded his field with their fancy computer searches. Anyway, they weren’t his biggest problem, it actually was these new reality shows that so many people placed their hopes in, rather than working with an agency. This actually was a true problem for the firm, and the reason Jim found himself back in the home office in Nashville for a mandatory meeting.
“Okay everyone, come in and have a seat,” said Fred, “You all know me well enough to know that I never hold back any punches when it comes to business. That said, our firm is in financial turmoil. I can no longer house 10 employees under my watch. I don’t know how to better say this, but we will have to cut some people. In this regard, I will have a talent event, in two weeks, where I expect each of you to bring someone here that you believe in. The best five I can work with, will be signed and the recruiters will get to keep their jobs. This onslaught of television talent shows has damn near killed our industry and I simply can’t afford to keep everyone.”
A low murmur started that boiled into a loud ruckus. Eventually, one of the more senior scouts Megan Greene took the floor.
“Fred you know that 2 weeks is not gonna be long enough. And, all you will have left is yourself and Mr. Top Three. It’s unfair to the rest of us to vie for the remaining 4 spots,” she said, instigating, poking at the already burning embers.
“Hold, hold up, one second!” yelled Fred , in an attempt to reestablish order, “There are five spots as I said and the first five wins. The last five are out. And, there are no exceptions.”
Everyone in the room slightly glanced in Jim’s direction, curiosity and suspicion in their eyes. Jim sat there calmly in his chair with his legs crossed and smiled. He knew that any show of weakness or fear would satisfy his anti-fans.
“It’s okay Fred. You don’t have to defend me. Ladies and gentlemen, and, oh yeah, Megan, after being here for over thirty years I know: One, nothing lasts forever. Two, Fred didn’t come to this decision lightly. And, finally, Three, I ain’t worried because I will find my champion. You’d better worry about yours.”
Several of the scouts scoffed at Jim’s remarks. Megan flashed a devilish grin.
“Well I guess it’s every man for himself then. I will have mine in half the time. Good luck to the rest of you losers,” she scoffed.
“This has nothing to do with losers, Megan. It’s simply a math problem. I don’t have enough coming in to pay for the salaries you all make. Plain and simple. Anyone not willing to compete let me know, but the clock starts now. That will be all.”
Everyone grabbed their things and went to their work space while Fred sat at the end of the conference table. Jim stood and walked over to his friend with a huge grin on his face.
“That proves it, buddy; there is never a dull day in finding talent!”
He was a well built 55 year old with salt and pepper hair, close cut like a marine. Standing a little over six feet and slim built, he could easily pass for a 40 year old.
“Shit, James, this is the worst day ever. I was this close to actually closing the doors,” Fred said holding his hand up with about an inch between his thumb and index finger.
“The only thing that kept me from doing so was the thought that one of these young ones would buy our company and run it into the ground.”
“Noman. You love this business and this company too much. You’re still big in the industry. Look, we’ll turn this thing around. Is two weeks all we have, really?” Jim asked.
“Man. We got four tops. The balance sheet is bloody. There is no wiggle room. I can’t even pay you mileage. You’re gonna have to scope things out and be sure before you go seek talent, now. Can’t afford anymore long shots.” said Fred.
“No worries my friend. I’ll pay my own mileage for all places I go until we right the ship. Keep your head up man, things will change.”
“James, what I said was real, I can’t hold on to anyone who is not producing talent. You and I both know you have been in a drought for far too long to keep you on as a scout. I wish you would just invest with me and help me manage the company but I know your answer to that.”
“Yes you do. I love being in the field, man. Meeting people and evaluating talent has been the love of my life. I have no desire to manage millennials. Don’t worry about me
“Well shit, you failed because I ain’t feeling too sane. Look, man, I need people I can trust, so you better bring it. I’ll never forgive you, if you leave me alone with the likes of Megan. She doesn’t have kids because I think she would eat them if she thought it would get her ahead.”
They both laughed out loud. Jim stood and headed for the door. “Fred, I already got a promising lead down in Savannah. I’ll go check him out and on the way back stop in and see Erica. Apparently my daughter has a young man in her life that I need to go check out. I will leave in the morning and be back in a couple weeks.”
“Dude, why don’t you fly? I never understood why you don’t embrace it. Your travel time would be cut in half,” said Fred.
“Perquisite of the job my friend. You get to see the country up close and personal.”
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