Henderson sighed and reached for his wallet. He wasn’t crazy about diminishing his meager supply of cash, but it was Christmas time and he supposed he should do his part to help the less fortunate. Probably a coworker had suffered some medical emergency, some unforeseen household disaster.
He slipped a fiver into the card and then noticed the name on the envelope.
“Mr. Ryan? Who’s that? The only Ryan at this company is the boss.”
Cynthia smiled and took the envelope. “Yes, Donald J. Ryan. The Third. He’s a wonderful boss, isn’t he?”
Henderson frowned. “Depends what you mean by ‘wonderful.’ I haven’t gotten a raise in five years, while the company’s profits have about tripled. But I suppose he’s nice enough. What happened? Is he all right?”
Cynthia looked at him blankly. “Oh yes. He’s fine. Never better. Why do you ask?”
“If he’s fine, why are we giving him money? Isn’t that his new Bentley out front?”
“Glenn! I’m surprised at you! It’s Christmas! Have you forgotten the year-end bonus Mr. Ryan has announced? He’s been very generous. Surely you won’t mind returning the favor, in the spirit of the holiday?”
Henderson blinked. He leaned forward in his chair. “That ‘bonus’ is 10 dollars! Which we still haven’t seen. And this year we’re paying an extra $100 a month for medical insurance! Why on earth would we want to give Ryan more money?”
Cynthia crossed her arms and affected a cute pout. “It’s the right thing to do, Glenn. Mr. Ryan enjoys those Mercedes commercials, where the beautiful wife is surprised on Christmas morning with a new SUV, topped with a giant red bow. And then when she gets behind the wheel, there’s this box on the passenger seat, also with a red bow, containing an extremely expensive diamond ring. And then she looks in the rearview mirror and there’s a trailer with a 46-foot cabin cruiser on it. Another red bow, of course.”
Glenn stood. His lips were trembling. “Let me get this straight: Donald J. Ryan, who is the richest man any of us know, wants all his workers to give him money so he can purchase a sickeningly extravagant and ostentatious Christmas gift?”
“Well, yes. If you want to put it that way.”
Glenn was shouting by now. “Is the man mad? Is he a complete fucking idiot?”
Cynthia shrugged and moved away, absently leafing through the currency in the card.
“No dear. He’s a Republican.”