Hwaet! Lo, do the Spear Danes sing of that great contender, Ron Beowulf, by blood rights a CEO, who with his portfolio did outshine his rivals as gold unto unburnished brass. Yet his heart was that of an auditor, and so he did wend from ivory tower to ivory tower and did do battle with all the shapes and incarnations of evil—the goblins of corporate collusion, the witches of interoffice sex scandals, the rancors of unpaid retirement benefits. The Internet did say that no man could match him, till came that foul harbinger of the pink slip, that fiend, Johannes Grinder, chief auditor of Grendel, Inc.
Grinder’s personal hygiene was such that he could not know God’s love, let alone a maiden’s. He made his home in the burbs, in a hell not hell but earth. T’was a call from Heorot’s corporate offices that summoned this great evil from its fell lair, a call catalyzed by an unattended iPhone playing gangsta rap that did ring loud in the aisles between cubicles.
Determined to prove a villain and to best the best of men, Grinder did stalk from cubicle to cubicle at Heorot Enterprises, his prosthetic arm clicking like the gears of Time, and came upon the men sleeping at their desks. Nine and twenty men, whilst at repose under the power of napping, did he dispatch with his terrible pink slips. Programmers, technicians, corporate bloggers—none were safe from his terrible claw, the rough-hewn stigma of his bitter exile from both the Westboro Baptist Church and the beds of maidens.
Hal Hrothgar, the CEO, pleaded for his men. Yet Grendel, Inc.’s onslaught continued unabated. Profits ran afoul. Stocks suffered. What employees remained went abroad seeking better beds and pension plans. Then, Heorot’s misery leaped the Internet. Social media sites lit up with tidings of this corporate massacre, but the board of trustees stood firm. Attrition was but a part of the process.
Hate had triumphed.
Beowulf himself was engaged in bitter contest at the country club when his Samsung Galaxy did ring. One of his brokers, Bob Brekka, had challenged him to a swimming contest, and while their strokes beat against the pool filter’s currents and Beowulf’s Journey ringtone did pound against concrete and Pebble Tec, a clutch of monsters, snot-nosed and belligerent, dove across the divider and did harry our hero.
Beowulf smote the first ankle-biter with his elbow; then, with great dexterity, did reverse his course and hurl the petulant asses with skinned knees back upon the pool side. Every sinew in his body tensed as he threw himself back into the race, yet he found Brekka victorious.
Brekka guffawed, raised his arms, and said this to Beowulf:
“Hey, Ron. You’ve got a missed call.”
“I’m on sabbatical. Besides, no one calls me unless they go through my secretary. It’s been that way since I brought down Enron.”
But Beowulf’s curiosity did smite him, and so he looked upon the screen to find a number well known to him, a number he had kept in his Contacts since its owner had rendered service unto his father, Edgetho, a golden parachute deal during his suit with the Wulfings, a wergild of a terrible price.
“Hal Hrothgar.” Beowulf knitted his brows, a reaction which his plastic surgeon had absolutely forbid. “I owe him big time.”
“Isn’t he the CEO that’s in all that trouble with Grendel, Inc.? There are web comics about that travesty. Are you sure you want to get your hands dirty? Besides, Ron, you’re an auditor, not an HR lawyer. Didn’t Grendel offer you a job last year?”
“And gave it to Johannes Grinder when I turned them down. Well, sometimes it takes a monster to slay a monster. I’ll just have to be–” and dramatic music (Brekka’s ringtone) did play in the background, “a counter auditor!”
“Are you coming along?” Beowulf asked. “Lucky thirteen?”
“Yeah,” Brekka gave in. “I’ll phone the team. But I’m getting too old for this shit.”
And so after the thirteen warriors had assembled, Ron Beowulf, counter-auditor, did make this speech before the board of trustees at Heorot Enterprises:
“Hail Hrothgar! Higlac is my chief investor and my partner! At my firm I have ever been the sword! I have risen from the darkness of corporate audits, dripping with mine enemies’ trust funds! I have driven great giants into chains, Enron and MegaUpload, and for the right price would rid the earth of their kind! Too long has this high hall suffered the tyranny of lost profits whilst Grendel, that fiend, that Godless creature, claims that his wicked ways shall put Heorot back in the black! But no longer! Allow me to depose your auditor, and as I see my enemy’s scorn for the usual workplace weapons is so great that he neither needs nor fears them, nor shall I! No scandals or espionage shall I use, yet shall I meet him report for report, issue for issue, and purge this great company of his poison!”
And the board of trustees did fear Beowulf and his archaic verbiage, and vowed he do the same.
Beowulf’s men did fortify the office with Scentzies to nullify the monster’s stench, then did they take the lost employees’ places in their abandoned cubicles. When air was thick with beeswax and honeysuckle and the men hunched over their desks in swinish sleep—though all feigned—then did Beowulf hear a clicking nigh the elevator door, which opened to admit the fiend.
Gnashing his teeth and bearing high his horrible pink slips, Grinder came. He fell upon the first of Beowulf’s men and audited him. It was a thing terrible to behold. Then, his great, greedy stomach hot with the thought of more slaughter, came upon a wakeful sleeper—came upon Beowulf himself.
“Get your claws off me, you stinky freak!”
“No, no!” Grinder wailed. “What are you doing? Someone, help me!”
Beowulf grasped the prosthetic arm and locked with Grinder in a mortal struggle. Up and down the rows of cubicles they battled, displacing phones from receivers and spilling ergonomically correct seating into the aisles. Grinder gave a cry like a wounded Chihuahua as he tried to tear away, but the harder he struggled, the firmer Beowulf’s grip became. Piteous were the throes of that terrible creature as he was forced to meet arms with he, who of all on Earth, had the best personal trainer.
In the end, the prosthetic cracked. Beowulf tore it free from his shoulder and paraded it up and down the aisles. Soon his men and what employees remained joined him in a conga line, drinking malt liquor and singing of Beowulf’s courage. As Grinder fled in defeat back to his hellish burb, the men celebrated the return of wastefulness and debauchery to the office—those very respites that make any job worth doing.
Hrothgar had the arm hung high above the cubicles where it eclipsed even the company banners. Commercials for Heorot Enterprises were again sang upon the Internet in a pure, clear voice. The board broke their contract with Grendel, Inc. Profits and professionals returned.
But what Hrothgrar and Beowulf did not know was that Grendel, Inc. had a parent company…