'If there was anything I could do. Times are hard. I'm sorry Cliff but I have to let you go.'
Cliff looks at Douglas, his boss of 20 years; the older man's expensive suit and haircut does little to improve the stomach overhang and the triple chins.
'I'd be grateful if you wrapped up the latest campaign. Leave on a high. Yes? Of course there will be a small redundancy package and a good reference for you to show how much I appreciate your input.'
Douglas stands, offering his hand to indicate the end of the meeting.
Returning to his tiny, windowless office Cliff tries hard to restrain his anger. A hard working man with multiple skills, he'd never had much luck, unlike 'Dastardly Douglas' who would smell of the most fragrant of rose petals after a dip in the proverbial tub of shit. Cliff's given the best years of his working life to this tinpot advertising agency, retained by his enthusiasm for his craft and the promise of a partnership.
All for nothing.
'I should just leave now,' he thinks. 'Fuck the bloody campaign.'
He knows he won't abandon the project. He's a man of honour, true to his word and his contract. He'll finish the job. Douglas knows it too. Not tonight though. An evening at home with Sarah and the girls is what Cliff needs now.
The next day dawns bright and crisp and Cliff walks to work with a spring in his step. As he knew they would his wife and teenage twin daughters lifted his mood. He's done the sums and he can just afford to go it alone and open his own small business which will mean he can take the jobs he wants rather than the ones that someone else dictates. His family were encouraging and he's planning a meeting with the bank manager and some studio viewings later in the week.
Two days of hard labour and he's completed the brief. Confident of the answer he approaches Douglas with a question.
'Would you like to check my work before I email it over to the client?,' he says, standing in the doorway of his soon to be ex-employers’ large, double aspect office.
'No, no, that's fine. Send it. Cheers. Good luck.' Douglas doesn't look up as he speaks.
And that, after all his years of service, is Cliff's poor substitute for a gold clock.
Cliff feels no regret as he presses send. He packs up his small stash of personal belongings - photos of his girls, an office-themed gift or two - pulls on his coat and leaves the building for the last time. He laughs so much as he strides down the street that he attracts quite a few glances from other commuters and shoppers.
What sweet revenge. Douglas will be a laughing stock across the profession; for who would want to be seen with their' trousers slung low, their' underpants showing, their’ trouser crotch hanging near their knees. And imagine the walk. A Neanderthal type shuffle, a gait reminiscent of someone who has very heavily soiled themselves.
In the certain knowledge that he has had the last laugh Cliff travels happily home.