The Gathering - Friday Flash

No one at this party sported name badges. More’s the pity. They all appeared tightly bonded, hierarchically indentured, Jacob's social ladder to employment heaven, though with all feet firmly planted on the ground. Me, I felt adrift amongst the tide, these children of the Promised Land where I am the lone one of Pharaoh’s cavaliers not swept up in the swirling waters of the Red Sea. Amidst these entrepreneurial elect, I feel I have drowned anyway. I would rather once again cross the Red Sea than cross the floor of this room. 

So who do I make for? Which one of these cynosures of the chosen people holds my fate in his hands? One of them possesses the arcanum that will unlock my future. Could it be him, with the burst blood vessels in his nose, surely he is too much yoked to the fruit of the vine to be entrusted with such salutary wisdom? Or how about him, though to hear him pontificate he appears as mad as a plague of frogs? This third has no morals as his financial locusts descend on an enterprise and asset strip every last spike clean. While the chap next to him I see wincing and shrinking, presumably as a farmer who suffered at the likes of just one such at his hands. Though his uncallused digits suggest his loss was less of reaped wheat and more of murrained livestock. I feel his pain, not of his absented herds and flocks, but as to how he can best remove himself from this social cartel. How to shuffle and sidle away without appearing peremptorily impolite. The trick being to seem endlessly hanging on every word of the pack alpha so that you curry flavoursome favour. A clarified buttering up of the Pharoah who grants such favours, morsels from the top table. Top tips tantalisingly hovering just at the extremes of range of your fingertips. Don’t reach too importunately for the parings or the bait will be pulled away, for what can I but offer him in return? The Prisoner’s Dilemma pertains here. I don’t know the pecking order, whether I am asking for too much or too little. Whether it is even in the grant of this potentate or another. For none bear the mark of the Paschal to enable me to effortlessly passover them. But then it’s hard to credit that any of them could be lambs at all. A plague on the rest of them’s houses.
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But who am I to be so exacting on those in the room? They may display the ten pestilences of Exodus, but I embody the deadly sins of the hindmost Testament. The venal weaknesses of my own anxieties. Sloth, need one say more? I am not so much out of practise at networking as virginal. I envy the sleek, slick professionalism of all here, even as I vaingloriously congratulate myself for remaining unsullied by their materially tainted mores and jealously resolve to preserve my own imagined purity. I know my vulnerability, that if I expose myself to the magnetism of these semi-divinities, I hazard unbuckling my lust and falling wholly under their orbit. And avarice and gluttony? This is where I lose my confidence since such features are the preserve of my interlocutors and circumnavigators in the room. As Old merges and acquiesces into New, a hostile takeover. Sins and plagues blend immaculate and smear us all.