Business Short Stories

If you’re looking for business guidance, I’ll make this simple: you’re not going to find it here. What I write are stories about how commerce, or the lack of it, affects other stuff. Some of my stories are one-off, but others are strung together to explore the results of decisions that people in them have made. I’ve listed this latter type first, followed by the stand-alone tales.


Support Network

The first story in this series was inspired by the experiences of Rolling, a blogger from India. At the time I wrote it, I hadn’t given much thought to a follow-up, but then she suggested a movement that could other women in India, and I was hooked.

  • 1. “Unspoken” (Jan 2012) — As Rahila just discovered, caring about your customers is not always good for your job.
  • 2. “One Final Indignity” (Mar 2012) — Having a café interview could lose you more than just the job.

Riffing the Life Fantastic

This series was hard to classify. It revolves around a guy who’d lived his life in the footsteps of predestination, having been born with memories of the important turnings of his life. In fact, we don’t even learn that his name is Allius Benoit until the third installment.

  • 1. “Riffing the Life Fantastic” (Dec 2010) — I’d made and lost two fortunes on the strength of those memories, so how come my ride to the third one just passed me by?
  • 2. “Divine Intervention” (Dec 2010) — Knowing that you’re making the right choices is important, but how can be sure it’s really God calling the shots?
  • 3. “Fairy Dust” (Jan 2011) — When Kaylee stumbled into Ben’s life, he didn’t think it was for putting business deals together.
  • 4. “Outlier” (Jan 2011) — Tagging along to meet Bob’s friend seemed harmless, until Ben saw the security station.
  • 5. “Toasted Roles” (Feb 2011) — All that practice avoiding the hard decisions may have won Ben two fortunes, but it also kept him from living in the moment.
  • 6. “Particle Wave” (Feb 2011) — Kaylee’s scheme is cooking, but there’s a fly in the ointment.
  • 7. “Prices to Pay” (Feb 2011) — Ben returns to Kansas to face his past, but instead finds his future.

After the Meltdown

I get inspiration from a lot of places, including the news, but one in particular is worth singling out. Ellen Hodgson Brown has written a killer of a book called “Web of Debt“, which explains what’s wrong with our financial system, how it got that way, and what we can collectively do about it. She also has an ongoing blog, where you can keep up on recent development and discuss them with others. In 2007, I decided to explore what might happen after this sham of a financial system has collapsed, and finished the series in 2011.

  • 1. “As Is” (Dec 2007) — Ryan Svorlin knew he’d have some cleaning up to do, because the foreclosed mansion he’d won was offered as-is, but he wasn’t prepared for this.
  • 2. “Full Value” (Dec 2007) — The guest in Ryan’s kitchen may have overstayed his visit, but a civil servant from D.C. was happy to find him still there.
  • 3. “LA Scrip” (Jan 2008) — All Cristall Bellows was looking for was a new place to live. To Ryan Svorlin, she was an answer to questions he hadn’t even asked.
  • 4. “Face Value” (Apr 2008) — For the first time in his life, Ryan had someone to be protective about, and not a minute too soon.
  • 5. “Round” (May 2008) — The town he’d escaped to had been looking a lot like former trader Norwyn Rosset’s tomb. But that was before the woman on the motorized bike blew into town.
  • 6. “The Phoenix Narrative” (Nov 2011) — The gossip that Beth returned with cost someone her life.
  • 7. “Steam Cycle” (Dec 2011) — Peter’s mission was sidetracked before it even began.

Corporate Punishment

This series of stories, which I wrote from August 2007 to May 2008, investigate what would happen if corporations were given full rights of citizenship:

  • Logical Conclusion” (May 2003) — The landmark corporate crime case that Randolph Starling had instigated was nearly over, yet he still harbored a secret from the press.
  • Full Circle” (Oct 2007) — Now that CEO Edward Reese’s company had been snared in the fallout from Randolph Starling’s precedent-setting case, his best chance at mitigation was to negotiate with the man.
  • Prison Break” (Sep 2007) — The court had appointed Claire Fuller to oversee Fremont-Wayfarer’s incarceration. Reese took the court’s restrictions as a challenge.
  • Turnabout” (Sep 2007) — Alizondo Klee, the new union’s voice on the Board, had to present Reese’s demeaning plan to the membership, but he didn’t relish the idea.
  • Serving Time” (Nov 2007) — Accepting the FW Diners’ forced makeover was one thing; convincing some of its customers to eat there was an even greater challenge for Klee.
  • Going Down” (Nov 2007) — Cashier Barbara Woods’ life had gotten surreal enough working at the redesigned FW Diner. But that was nothing compared to what happened after John Frachetti edged through the door.
  • Unplanned Outing” (Nov 2007) — Claire Fuller just wanted to have a quiet chat with Alizondo Klee about the recent disruption at the FW Diner. It didn’t quite work out that way.
  • Unvarnished Siding” (Nov 2007) — Called back to Judge Clary’s chambers after her chat with Klee, Claire Fuller was confronted with some nasty allegations about her in the press.
  • The Tallysheet Bankers” (Dec 2007) — Blogger John Frachetti never expected to be invited to a corporate board meeting, even for a dressing down, so there was no way he could pass up the chance to be heard.
  • Bank Shot” (Dec 2007) — Asked to speak at the union hall, Frachetti rallied the membership to see Reese’s ploy and raise the ante.
  • Signing Statement” (Mar 2008) — Free speech takes a turn for the active as the changes that Frachetti suggested begin to take hold.
  • Frachetti’s Challenge” (Apr 2008) — Leovar Agrolkin was more than just a waiter at the FW Diner, now that his jazz band had started making the rounds. But now there’s another challenge to consider.

Finally, these are the standalone stories, in alphabetical order.

  • Bankers from Outer Space” (Dec 2007) — Lester Gruthner’s one chance at returning from a lengthy field assignment in space was to set up a killer deal for UniBank.
  • Business Decision” (Jun 2003) — Jason Sweeney was certain there was no way the Council could refuse his out-of-town associates’ business proposition.
  • Contractor Uprising” (Mar 2009) — When the company forced its job shops to cut their contractors’ wages, Charlie’s snarky post ignited a movement that’s made him a marked man. But one blogger has gotten an interview.
  • Fair Game” (Sep 2009) — The protest wasn’t nearly as explosive as  photojournalist Margot Güernsbach’s non-interview with the CEO.
  • Intended Consequence” (Dec 2008) — The attempt on her own life was all public domain activist Colleen Tendray needed to convince her that what happened to her great-grandfather’s documentaries was no accident.
  • Intent” (Jun 2003) — Ha’akned, the alien envoy, had just offered Earth a trade deal they couldn’t resist. At least he hoped they couldn’t.
  • Site License” (Aug 2007) — When the aliens handed us those papers upon landing on Mars, I had no idea there was more than one way to serve man.
  • Spokesmen” (Jul 2008) — If you think pop-up ads are annoying, you ought to experience the mental intrusions our new alien trading partners have been broadcasting lately.

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