The Employment Offer
A story by Todd Hogan
What are the consequences of the words we never say?
Nicholas didn’t know how long his father had been
waiting for him to get his ass out of bed. The cabin’s view of the
mountains and lake must have cost his father, or his corporation, more
than Nicholas could make in the next five years. The sun was bright,
and Nicholas blocked it with his hand until his eyes adjusted. A hawk
corkscrewed high overhead, floating on pine-scented winds. Suddenly, it
fell as though the unseen wire suspending it had snapped, disappearing
over a ridge. Nicholas wondered when it would rise again.
When Jerome saw Nicholas, he ended the business call
he was on. He stretched his arms full-length while inhaling deeply.
“Beautiful, right? Did you see that ferruginous
hawk? Very rare. Savage.” Jerome then asked, “Have you considered my
Nicholas stood at ease. His own phone didn’t get
reception up here. One more reason to be moving on, as if he needed
“Thanks for inviting me here, sir, but this isn’t
Jerome smiled while looking at him from head to toe.
“I prefer ‘Dad’.”
“Tell—what’s her name, Amanda?—I’m sorry I missed
her.” Nicholas extended his hand for a farewell handshake. “Dad.”
Jerome pulled Nicholas’s hand, and embraced his son.
Nicholas allowed the hug, and gave him a few pats on
the back in return. After breaking the embrace, he shuffled his feet.
“I get it, Nicholas. I remember the eagerness for
adventure, for great distances, for combat, even. Before you go, you
should know that all this could all be yours.”
Nicholas looked around.
“I’ll mentor you. We’ve never spent enough time
“That was your choice. Mother made excuses for you,
so not to worry. She covered for you on birthdays, Christmas,
“That’s not fair, Nicholas. I would have been there
if I were able. I always sent presents. But a man has to work.”
“She even covered for you during the divorce. She
cried when you remarried, though.”
Jerome’s eyes hardened. “She made out okay. You and
your sisters had everything you wanted, right?”
“We got by. You know, she didn’t cry when she found
out you’d married Amanda, though. So, I guess we’ve all moved on. I’m
being deployed on Thursday.
“Anything can be undone, for a price.”
“If you change your mind, come to see me, son. This
job would be perfect for a hard-charger like you, but I can’t force
you. It’s just that…”
Nicholas waited for him to continue, but it never
“I’m not your only kid, Dad. Offer the job to Jane
“Will I have better luck with them, do you think?”
It was Nicholas’s turn to laugh. “Probably not.”
Neither of them spoke for a while. Jerome ignored
three beeping calls. Nicholas scanned the horizon, hoping to see the
impressive hawk again.
Behind them, the sliding door opened. Amanda sipped
steaming coffee that fogged her sunglasses beneath a broad straw hat.
Wordlessly, she settled into her chaise longue, tipped her hat, and
opened her cover-up so the sun could tan her bikinied body. She seemed
made entirely of long, slender, smooth, tan angles. Amanda nodded to
Nicholas, and smiled briefly at Jerome.
“Ma’am.” Nicholas had met her only twice. Today for
the first time, he grasped that she was closer to his age than to his
Jerome bent to kiss her proffered cheek.
“You were late getting in last night,” he said.
“I stopped to see some friends on the way. I lost
track of time.” She sipped again, and settled back. “What did I miss?”
“I offered Nicholas a job with the corporation. Lots
of responsibility, challenges, the ability to make a difference.”
“Money?” she added.
“Of course, money!”
“And he turned you down. He wants something else. I
Nicholas looked at her, but couldn’t read her eyes
behind the glasses.
“He hasn’t decided yet,” said Jerome. “He’s holding
out for more.”
Amanda hooked her sunglasses in her bikini top. She
rose, standing on one cocked leg, her hand on an exposed hip, the other
holding the coffee cup. She seemed untamed, which must be why his
father desired her.
“So, offer something more, Jerome.”
Jerome scoffed. “What more is there? You name it,
Nicholas, and I’ll work it into the package.”
The sun beat hotter now. Nicholas felt off-balance
in this conversation, an observer not a participant. “I’ve turned down
the offer, ma’am. He has nothing more that I want.”
Amanda considered what Nicholas said, and then
turned to Jerome. “It’s not that easy, darling.” Then she glanced at
Nicholas. “It’s not that easy for you, either.”
Jerome rolled his broad shoulders. “This is getting
“I forgive you,” Amanda said, “for thinking that
Jerome and Nicholas looked at each other, then at
“Maybe only women forgive,” she mused. She leaned
her hips forward against the railing, and looked at the shimmering lake
Jerome’s hands gripped the railing on either side of
her, but without touching.
“Right. ‘Only women forgive’,” he said.
“So,” she said, “You say those simple words. For
example, would you forgive me?”
“For anything. For nothing. For everything.”
“Do I have to know about this thing?” he asked.
She laughed blithely. “No. Of course not.”
“Do you have something to tell me?”
Amanda flung the coffee dregs past the deck. She
faced him, and their eyes searched the other’s face for a few long
“Are you sorry?”
Amanda gave Jerome a quick, angry kiss, and ducked
past him. Her shades re-covered her eyes, and she collapsed onto the
Jerome looked relieved to take an incoming call in
Amanda said to Nicholas, “Could you get me something
As Nicholas went to look for some liquor, he noticed
the hawk circling, looking for any prey impudent enough to be exposed.
“And some ice, darling.”
Copyright © 2016 Todd Hogan
Todd Hogan practiced making believable stories from pieces of evidence
presented to juries. Later, he investigated multi-million dollar claims
nationally for several insurers, argued before arbitrators and
mediators, and negotiated complex settlements among parties at odds.
He’s been a member of The Writing Journey in Illinois, and Green River
Writers in Kentucky, where he’s attended several writers’ retreats with
New York Times best-selling
authors and editors. He regularly attended the University of Iowa
Writer’s Festival for many summers, meeting writers from across the
Todd has published two articles in Defense Counsel Journal,
“Defending the Transactional Legal Malpractice Case: Trends and
Considerations for Defense Counsel,” and “A Client’s View of Law Firm
Change: Opportunities for Improvement.” Through The Writing Journey,
he’s published “Time Machine Redux” in the anthology, Stories from Other Worlds, and “Five Hostages” and “Demanding Answers” in the anthology, Voices from the Dark.