The Ugliest Gift Ever






“Cynthia, can I ask you something?” Ted asked in a hushed tone even though they were in Cynthia’s office and her door was closed.


“Sure, Ted, what is it?  And why are we whispering?” Cynthia responded, amused regarding Teddy’s bout of cloak and dagger.


“We’re whispering because Brian has ears like a bat.  He always seems to know when I’m, uh...”




“In a manner of speaking,” Ted replied sheepishly with a nod.


“It’s all right, Ted.  Brian just likes to keep abreast of the goings on in the office, no pun intended.  Now, what is your question?”


“That thing on his desk, what is it?”  Ted had a disgusted look on his face, making Cynthia laugh.


“Oh that, it is kind of hideous, isn’t it?  And it smells awful.”


“So, it IS that thing.  I thought a mouse died in the walls or something.  But what is it?  Brian keeps pushing it around his desk all the time.”


“Well, don’t let on that I told you.  You know how HE gets,” Cynthia leaned in to whisper.


“My lips are sealed,” Ted responded, making the ‘zipping his lips’ sign.


“Well, this is what I was able to find out.......




Brian was studying the latest contract renewal with his number one account, Brown Athletics.  Leo Brown remained pleased with Kinnetik and Brian was determined to keep it that way.  As he read, Brian absentmindedly slid an elegant crystal ashtray around his desk.  Nestled in the ashtray was a hard lump of something unidentifiable.


The lump was in the shape of a mountain, dark muddy brown in color.  Sticking out of the mountain were bits of pine cone, pine needles, a few bent feathers and dried leaves that were so brittle, the slightest breeze threatened to disintegrate them.  The peak of the mountain was daubed in white, to represent snow. 


Brian smiled to himself as he reverently glided the crystal dish and its contents around the edges of his desk blotter.  The mountain was originally sitting on the blotter holding down a contract until he found that whatever was in the material used to fashion the mountain had leeched through, staining the contract.  Fortunately for Brian, the contract was a rough draft and easily replaced.  Brian thought it prudent to have the mountain come to rest in its new dish.


“Hey, Sonny Boy,” Brian said into his phone.  His grin grew wider as he spoke to his son.  “No, I wasn’t alone, I swear.  I spent the day with Grandmaw Deb.  Yup, she fed me, a lot.”  Brian laughed as Gus giggled. 


“Did I send the right games?” Brian continued.  “Yeah?  An expert, already!  Wow.  Yes, I love my present.  I have it right here on my desk.  Yup.  I see it every day and yes I have the other one on my desk at home,” Brian assured Gus.  There was a similar lump in a second crystal ashtray residing in a place of honor on Brian’s desk in his loft.


“How about I take a couple of pictures and send them to you?  Okay.  I love you too, Sonny Boy.  I’ll see you next month.  Later,” Brian said into the phone.  He hung up with a sad smile.


Brian studied the lump which was created by Gus to represent the Allegheny Mountains.  Gus’ class was assigned to write a report about a place where they’d most wanted to go.  Some kids wrote about Disney World or the North Pole, others wrote about England and Hollywood.  Gus wrote about the Allegheny Mountain range and what it represented to him.  To accompany his report, he created the mountain range out of clay.  To make it as authentic as possible, to a seven year old, that is, Gus added dirt and clay that he found in his backyard.  The dirt may not have been the cleanest but to Gus it made his mountains real.


When asked by his teacher why he wrote about that particular place, Gus merely replied that the mountains were tall and strong like his daddy.  The mountains represented home.  Lindsay boxed up Gus’ present to send to Brian.  She made sure there was a copy of the report and the teacher’s comments included in the box.  Brian thought his heart would burst with pride and love when he read the report.


Brian shook his head, donned his boss-like persona then barked out for his CFO.




“Yes, Boss.”  Ted came scrambling into Brian’s office within seconds.  Brian wondered how Ted always seemed to anticipate his needs.  Ted skidded to a halt at Brian’s steely glare.


“This is acceptable,” Brian said, waving the Brown contract under Ted’s nose.  “Get it off to Leo ASAP.”


“Right away, Boss,” Ted said as he snatched the contract out of Brian’s hand then scurried off to do Brian’s bidding. 


Before he left the office, Ted turned to see Brian gently glide the crystal ashtray holding the ugly lump of clay around his desk.  The smile on Brian’s face could only be described as serene.  Ted smiled to himself then left his boss to his work.



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