I originally wrote, Dudley’s Sacrifice, as my first attempt to get published in The First Line literary journal. The first line that had to be used for stories in that issue was, “Working for God is never easy.”
You’ll notice that first line did not survive several revision passes, but the idea that it triggered (the boss, Mr. Dudley, angry like a native’s god, demanding a blood sacrifice) did.
In that way, Dudley’s Sacrifice became a “typical” story for me. The first beginning is rarely the real beginning. Whether it’s the first line, the first paragraphs, or the first several pages, the final revision of a story rarely begins where I thought it did the first time through.
In other ways, Dudley’s Sacrifice isn’t a typical story. It is full of little bits and pieces of work-place reality, both from my life and from the lives of some of my friends. This story seems, on the surface, full of odd details, and usually these odd details are the stuff of fiction: grounded in reality, but tweaked to deliver a deeper impact. Some of the details in Dudley’s Sacrifice that seem most odd are, in fact, accurate representations of real circumstances and events. Here are a few:
“Give me a name” – That is NOT an exaggeration. When you have to cut X number of people, and you have identified (X – 1) “expendable employees” the boss is very likely to say, “Give me a name!”
If you’ve worked in corporate, non-profit, government, or educational offices, you’ll recognize the computer guru, Mitchell, and his “half-empty hulks of old workstations” and a network that is set up to fail if he were to leave, be fired, die.
If you’ve ever known a Mitchell, you’ve likely known the “freelance contractor” who comes in, takes one look at the system in-place, and walks back out the door.
Cut, cut, cut, but don’t expect any decline in productivity. That’s no joke.
Shutting down bathrooms on alternating floors? Yes. Letting burned-out lights go unchanged? Yes. B-Y-O toilet paper? Yes. The rogue Twix bar? I believe so.
Someone like Tony, who’s moved on, trying to do his best to work in the new job, getting a threatening letter and having to mention that his replacement had tossed piles of files in the trash? Yes. For sure, 100% yes.