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Bottom Line

BOTTOM LINE by Menagerie

Shonda squinted over her glasses, and drew a tiny “o” in the very last space on
the very last ledger. “Finished!” she cried out gaily; the quarterly books were
done.
The boss peeked around the corner into her tiny office: “All done, you say?” It
still sounded so funny to Shonda; he was so black, and his voice was so…so
cosmopolitan; he sounded like a proper English banker, and that was what he had
been. His eyes brightened over a gleaming smile. “I say! Calls for a
celebration, eh, what?”
He ducked back out; Shonda was so pleased with herself. When she’d taken the
summer job between school years with the ExIm firm, she’d never dreamed she’d
wind up doing the tribal books in a remote village in Uganda…and when the
assignment came, she surely never thought it would be like this. An African
tribe? In Uganda? She had pictured growling savages, bones through their noses,
grass skirts…maybe even a big, cast iron pot for missionaries. She hesitated;
then, the man with the ExIm firm started talking money. It would pay for a whole
year’s tuition, and then some, just for three months’ apprentice accounting.
And then…why, they were just as nice as pie. They wore suits and ties,
spoke…well, to be honest, spoke better English than she did. Big, burly N’Gomo
was a civil engineer, Master’s degree from the University of Illinois; slender,
sly M’Buto had already made millions from his start-up Internet firm. “Systems
management, don’cha know,” he’d told her, eyes mischievous over that broad nose.
“They pay a villager in Uganda to tell them how to run a dimethylester plant in
North Carolina!” And he roared with laughter.
Ashasha, her immediate supervisor, had an MBA from Dartmouth; she had been
President of the Senior Class. “Rigid…rigid!” she proclaimed, just a hint of a
smile across her broad lips. “Your mind must be rigid as a steel rod! No
mistakes!” Ashasha had caught many mistakes, at least in Shonda’s early days;
the blonde American watched, feeling like a complete klutz, as the African woman
wearing a $1,500 suit from Bloomingdale’s redid her work, checked it twice,
thrice. “Rigid!” she announced, looking up and beaming; Shonda smiled, wearily.
The village was a fascinating mixture of old and new. Bentleys and
Mercedes-Benz’ were parked next to the squat little building where she did her
work. Half-naked children played on the dusty road, while men in three-piece
suits stopped to pat their heads, give them lollipops. None of the village was
paved; every neat, tidy bungalow had its own garden. But from steel spires
overhead splayed power lines, cellular phone antennae, cables; the men were
always answering beepers, rushing off in their fancy cars, down the narrow lane
to the highway a mile to the south, to Kampala…
For the village was fabulously wealthy. The tribe’s ancient homeland was
situated over a vast copper mine; the people, who had slaved within it for the
imperial British, found themselves its owners when independence came in 1962.
The village elders had wisely used their resources to buy friends and
protection; the soldiers and horrors perpetrated by the tyrant Amin had left
them unscathed. Shrewd investment, hedges against inflation, had left them well
positioned when the metals markets took off in the Seventies.
Now, each of those friendly, earthy villagers had a trust in his or her name…and
managing them was Shonda’s job. She kept track of mutual funds, stock
portfolios, bonds the tribe had floated on the New York market…it was
exhausting, and a little humbling. That little boy playing outside of the main
offices was worth a hundred times as much as she was. “You, missus!” he had
called when she first arrived in the village. “You our new lady?”
Shonda smiled. Tall, leggy, and blonde, she stood out like the proverbial sore
thumb. “Yes; I’m the new lady. From the States.”
The lad giggled. “Oh, get ‘em from all over, we do! From Switzerland, and the
Netherlands, and New Zealand.” He ambled up to her, eyes shining. “Three months,
right? Do the books, right?”
“Right,” she said, her smile turning a little nervous. He couldn’t have been
eight years old. His pants were worn; he had no shoes, and an unbuttoned shirt.
His eyes, huge and glistening, never left hers; finally, he laughed.
“Cracky!” he sang out. “Good show!” And he was gone.
He came back frequently, gave her encouragement. “Just two more months, now!…Six
weeks, mind!…Won’t be long!” The other children would rush up, laughing and
pointing; Ashasha shooed them away. The boss would peer out the window: “What
the devil?…Ashasha, do you mind?”
The boss was tall, slender, distinguished-looking; tailored pearl-gray suits set
off the sheen of his velvet skin, matched his close-cropped, iron gray hair. Mr.
T’satsu was what everybody called him; he was the direct descendent of the
tribe’s first monarch. “I guess that makes me the Chief, what?” he chuckled.
“‘Chief of the African tribe’ and all that. I prefer Chairman, Chairman of the
Board of Directors of Lowlands Mining Co., Ltd. That ‘Chief’ stuff never made me
a penny, you know.” Prepped at Eton, graduated first in his class at Oxford;
Vice-President for Institutional Investment at Barclay’s. Then back home.
“Missed the old place, y’know,” he told Shonda as they pored over annuities.
“Friends, family…co-workers,” and gave her a wink. She flushed, and smiled,
looking down self-consciously at the cascade of numerals…
It didn’t bother her that he was so black, and she, so white; that she was
barely twenty and he was more than twice that. It was just that he was,
well…such a damn gentleman, so classy, and when they finally made it one night
after a hard days’ assault on the books, he did everything so perfectly, right
down to neatly folding her skirt and blazer over the imported mahogany chair in
his office. “I do hope I’m pleasing you, my dear,” he said earnestly; she gasped
as a staff worthy of royalty plumbed her very depths, filled her to her cusp,
left her quivering in dopey, happy bliss. As each firm, unyielding thrust found
yet another bottom to her, she kept thinking of Ashasha saying, “Rigid…rigid!”
As she lay on the overstuffed divan, slack and reeling from the experience, he
knelt beside her; gently, he nibbled on one of her nipples, and the sensation
was exquisite. Then, he tenderly wiped a little drool off the corner of her lip
with an embroidered silk hankie. “There, now!” Mr. T’satsu exclaimed. “Quite a
fun romp, eh?” And he offered her an imported Swiss chocolate truffle.
All of the food was fantastic; she had wondered what they ate in Uganda—yak? If
yak it was, it was elegant filet of yak chateaubriand, prepared by the most
accomplished European chefs, garnished with foie gras. Morning, noon and night,
the food was the richest, most sumptuous Shonda could imagine. To her dismay,
she found she was gaining a few pounds; stepping out of the shower in her little
cottage, she frowned at her figure, full and getting fuller, in the full-length
mirror behind the bathroom door. She’d hoped to be able to sweat it off in the
hot, tropical sun—but her employers wouldn’t let her; they escorted her
everywhere in her luxury cars, never let her out of their sight. “You’re quite a
valuable resource,” chuckled Mr. T’satsu when she asked about it. “You can’t
imagine!”
Their midnight rendezvous’ were infrequent; he was usually expecting a call, or
in the middle of a teleconference. Besides, Shonda was putting in fourteen hour
days, and was usually exhausted by week’s end. N’Gomo would be summoned to drive
her back to her modest guesthouse at the other end of the village. With the end
of her internship approaching on a hot August evening, Mr. T’satsu had again
turned her down (“Dreadfully sorry; monthly book-squaring. Deuced bother.”); she
looked hungrily at the husky N’Gomo, brushed against him as they bumped along
the dirt road in the mining company’s black El Dorado.
Came time to get out; she put a hand on that broad bicep. He looked at her,
evenly; her blue eyes were hopeful, pleading, frankly inviting. A short pause.
“Got to get back, Missus,” he apologized, firmly.
“Can’t you stay a moment?” she purred; the hand crept up to his shoulder.
He shook his head; ever so delicately, removed her hand. “Mr. T’satsu wouldn’t
like it. Evening, Missus.” He puttered off; she stared after him, feet spread,
knees knocking together.
“Cracky!”
It was the little boy, squatting in the dust by her cabin. She glared at him; he
jumped up and whooped, danced away down the path “Enjoy it, Missus! Not much
longer now! Just two more weeks…”
The two weeks passed quickly. Shonda was now getting to be a pro at deductions
and appreciation, returns and debentures. Wait’ll she showed ‘em back home, she
thought pridefully, as she whizzed through one account after another, eyes
peering over glasses set low on the tip of her nose. And that old Mr. T’satsu,
why, I’ve had better…
He popped back in with two crystal goblets. “Do join me,” he begged. “Champagne.
The end of the quarter is such an event. Time to celebrate.”
They quaffed a couple; she giggled, they nestled. For some reason, they’d
forgotten to bring her any meals since yesterday’s breakfast—she hadn’t missed
it until now, in the rush to finish up—and the fine wine knocked her for a loop.
Soon, she was on her back. It was broad daylight outside. Her eyes were wide;
their faces were only inches apart as he gently plucked off her glasses. “Won’t
the villagers—” Shonda sucked in her breath as Mr. T’satsu’s royal scepter was
driven home; how could she have room down there for all that?—“get suspicious?”
He looked puzzled. “Suspicious? Oh, sorry,” and his face split into a grin,
“forgot myself. They know.”
She swallowed; despite the flush of the moment, it hit her. “They know?
Everybody in the village knows that you and me—”
Her voice trailed away, replaced by squeaks of pleasure. The boss went at her
firmly, forcefully…rigid as a steel rod, she thought. Her consternation melted
away; hey! she thought. I’m having a roll in the hay with The Chief; with the
Chairman of the Board! She barely noticed as he rose, dressed, kissed her hand,
and left…
Hands on her arms roused her from a cotton-candy reverie. Her eyes snapped open.
Two tribesmen held her firmly. “Hey!” Long, bare legs lashed out; a black,
sinewy hand closed around one ankle. She screamed.
“Don’t you know us, Missus?”
She did. Mr. T’satsu’s nephew, Motu—he was a foreman with the company—and the
other fellow, the one who had played football at Brown. She quieted for a
moment…realized she wasn’t wearing a stitch, tried to shrink into her own skin.
“Got to come with us, Missus,” said Motu. “End of the quarter.”
Shonda squirmed in their unyielding grips. “Let go!” she snapped, flailing with
her free leg. No way; also now held just as tight. She stared at one peaceful,
impassive face, then the other; her chest heaved.
“Time to go,” said the football player, and the two easily carried their naked
prey…
…out the door, past the excited crowd of children, the men with their cel
phones, the parked luxury cars. Shonda’s shrieks blended with the hubbub of the
scene; she twisted and struggled. Some of the villagers ignored her; some of
them eyed her intently. And the children danced around her merrily. She heard a
familiar, high-pitched voice. “Cracky!” He was scampering along beside them as
the two men lugged Shonda through the village, past the little buildings, the
police department, the physician’s office, the Events Building…decorated with a
banner reading, RECEPTION TO-NIGHT…
She looked at the raucously happy little boy, stopped in mid-scream. “Where are
they taking me?” she shouted over the uproar.
“The three months is up, Missus!” he hollered back. “Big party! End of the
quarter!”
Well…really, that didn’t sound so bad; Shonda calmed a bit. “My clothes!” she
yelled; there were now a score or more villagers following along, as the young
men marched her toward the village square. “I need my clothes!”
The boy leaned over her; his eyes gleamed, his teeth bared in a tremendous
smile. “No,” he shouted back. “You don’t!”
She didn’t.
There was a pole in the square, a tether attached to it. The men set her down;
Motu tied the tether firmly around her neck, while the jock bound her hands
behind her back with coarse hemp, then tied her feet. As they stepped away, the
villagers began arriving.
Sprawled on the ground, bound and helpless, Shonda had never seen the people of
the village like this. The expensive clothes were gone, replaced by native
dress—colorful blouses, loincloths, elaborate jewelry. And yet, there was the
company’s Vice-President for Mercantile Affairs…gesticulating wildly as he
barked orders into his cel phone, one bare foot rubbing against the other as if
he were still shod in $150 Johnston Murphys. And there was the Director of
Metallurgic Research, in a crouch, tapping feverishly into a laptop perched on a
mound of sod, eyes peering through horn-rimmed glasses. And there in front of
her, in a spectacularly colorful sarong sort of thing, was—
“Ashasha!” Shonda cried, thinking, She’s always got me outdressed! The native
woman’s impressive physique swelled the bust and derriere of her wrap; she
smiled at her temporary assistant.
“Impressive,” said Ashasha, as she slowly circled the trembling, naked girl. She
reached down, squeezed one of Shonda’s full thighs, remarked, “I see our local
diet has agreed with you,” as the natives whooped with laughter.
“Now, I want you to remain perfectly still, Shonda,” her supervisor continued.
“You must remain fixed and focused, for this next step is extremely important.”
As she spoke, two other women quickly moved to either side of Shonda; one
grabbed her long blonde hair, shoved her face into the ground. Shonda protested,
and then suddenly yelped—for her rectum had been invaded by a cold, long,
narrow…ooooohhhhh! She felt herself fill, and fill, and she thought she’d
burst—then, the object was pulled free, and what was inside Shonda was spilling
out onto the ground around her.
She cried as the women flushed her a second time, then a third. “Running clean,”
Ashasha proclaimed. “Quite good; efficient work.” Shonda lay sniffling, only to
start bawling again as a hose was trained on her, rinsed her clean, sprayed the
long, lush grasses beneath her free of taint. “Now, the preparation!”
 Shonda looked up; a massive man loomed over her, several others clustering around him. The big man clapped his pudgy hands; the others quickly surrounded her, and Shonda felt a dozen hands fondling her bare skin, massaging her, rubbing her, squeezing her—what is this? And then, her nostrils were assaulted by pungent odors.
 “Native spices,” said a familiar voice. “Authentic Ugandan cuisine.”Sure enough, there the bastard was. A headdress that made him look vaguely buffalo-like adorned his pepper-and-salt hair; a great crimson cape flowed behind him, fixed to his bare shoulders by a golden sash. A matted leopard skin was wrapped around his narrow hips. He looked, well, ridiculous.
 “Mr. T’satsu,” she said, as firmly as a bound and naked woman could under the circumstances—the fat guy’s flunkies were all over her, rubbing the fragrant dusts into her—“please tell these people to let me go.”
 “You see, my dear,” said the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lowlands Mining Co., Ltd., as he looked down, frowned and adjusted his sash, “this is our way of celebrating the seasons, as did our ancestors. Every quarter, we bring in a new Temporary Accountant, like yourself; every quarter, when the books are finished—well, you’ve seen how hard we all work. We allow ourselves a day of celebration; a day of great merriment, and feast.”
 “Wonderful!” Shonda said through gritted teeth, straining at the hemp that held her wrists and ankles, “it sounds like a great party!” One of the assistants looked up at the fat guy and nodded; he clapped again. There was something going on behind Shonda; tribesmen were laughing and pointing. She looked up at the boss, eyes welling up. “What are you going to do with me?”
 “Ready,” said a Fat Guy Assistant. Another untied the tether around Shonda’s neck; two of them picked her up, turned her around.
 “A copper pot, of course,” said Mr. T’satsu behind Shonda, as she stared at the huge cauldron filled with water, tufts of flame billowing up from beneath it. “Symbolic of how far we’ve come as a people. From crude primitives to sophisticated, productive citizens of the brave new world. I beg your pardon; N’Gomo! Have you got the yams?”
 As the two men held Shonda’s knees apart, the burly N’Gomo arrived, brandishing the starchy vegetables. They glistened wetly with some sort of grease; felt slick against her labia. “Open up, Missus,” he grinned, and she howled as the pointed tip probed her, then slid into her—even deeper than old T’satsu, she decided through the pain. They flipped her; already rubbed raw by the steel pipe, her bunghole felt like it was being traced with a razor as the sweet potato was driven in.
 She screamed, a sound lost through the bustle, the native jabber, the rumble of drums, the insistent staccato of a beeper…Shonda bucked feebly, her breasts bouncing and buttocks jiggling, as the men marched with her to the pot. Thin fingers of steam were already wafting from the
broth within; she stared at the enormous mouth of the pot, made one last strain at her bindings. “In,” commanded the Chief, and they plopped her in.
 Her skin screamed in protest; every square inch of her felt the pain. The hot water lapped at her nipples; her skin quickly reddened. Shonda’s tears flowed freely, mixed with the salty water; the fat guy—“Trained in the culinary arts in Paris,” Mr. T’satsu told her—chopped into the pot leafy vegetables, bulbous onions, colorful roots. Her screams gave way to intermittent gasps, incoherent yelps, and an occasional plea for mercy; scraps of the vegetables decorated her skin as Paris Boy whittled away at his produce. The heat was unbearable; Shonda thrashed in what was becoming a vegetable broth, feeling her very flesh start to cook, its humours seep into the liquid. Her eyes were clenched, leaking tears; finally, she heard the crowd quiet, and opened her eyes. Her boss, her lover—the Chairman!—stood before her, holding a mango.
 “I did want to tell you,” he said, after he had rammed the pulpy fruit into her mouth with one hand, holding her head with the other, “that you were the best the ExIm company has sent. Top drawer work.”
 As the naked girl peered at him in anguish, teeth clenched around the mango, sweat and her own juices pouring from her skin, the broth in which she simmered started to roll to a full boil…
 “Quite so!” proclaimed M’Buto as he rifled through the annual report. “The Number Three mine boosted productivity eighteen percent! I told you so!” He set the report down on the piano, sucked another chunk of Shonda’s thigh off the long wooden pick on his plate.
 The Board of Directors was holding its annual reception; while an orchestra played in the ballroom of the Events Building, the French Chef’s minions dished up slivers of breast and buttock from the boiled, reddened carcass that rested, surrounded by fresh grapes and ripe cheeses, on a platter at the serving station. Shonda’s eyes were wide and unseeing; her mouth still gripped the mango. Liberal portions of her had already been cut away, one tiny serving at a time; bone showed through the soft, pink meat of her shoulder, slabs had been sliced from her loin.
 The vegetables that had simmered with her were in a massive bowl nearby; the tribespeople spooned helpings from it next to their pieces of Shonda, savoring each bite. They had shed the colorful, traditional attire, and were in suits and evening gowns as they talked about their portfolios, their investments, the flavor of the blonde American on the platter compared to the girls from Switzerland, from the Netherlands, from New Zealand. The next Temporary Accountant would arrive in the morning; she was, one of the Board members said, a French Canadian lass. A redhead…
 “The fund was up year to year again,” commented the Vice-President for Mercantile Affairs; he used a small, silver cocktail fork to impale bits of belly meat, then chunks of leek and okra from the bowl. Mr. Chairman!” he said around a mouthful of human flesh. “Another outstanding quarter.”
 Mr. T’satsu, resplendent in pearl gray, nodded, winked at the man in the apron, who smiled back and handed him a plate from behind the counter. The Chairman glanced down at it, at the two large nipples upon it.“Thank you, gentlemen,” he proclaimed, spearing a nipple with a fork. “We couldn’t have done it,” he continued, nibbling on the meat, “without a great deal of help.”


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