'Question Time' by Jamie Graham

Think of your ugliest friend…

No, not her - the other one.”

His words had taken her completely by surprise. Her muscles tensed as if glued to a horror movie at the cinema. Sitting alone in the dark, feet welded to the sticky carpet, eyes on stalks, fumbling mindlessly for overpriced popcorn.

Mel had appeared out of nowhere in her mind's eye as soon as the words had spilled playfully from his thin lips. And ‘the other one’ was poor Chantelle, mainly on account of her crooked nose and lone yellow tooth.

Brian looked across the uncluttered desk, cheap veneer shining under the artificial lighting. His eyes were almost an identical shade of blue to his shirt - but the tie was slightly out of kilter with the rest of his appearance. Old-fashioned, as if liberated from an uncle’s wardrobe for his first interview and never returned.

After an awkward, funeral-like silence, he continued.

“Sales, you see, is about getting into people's minds. Everyone has at least a couple of ugly friends, whether they'd like to admit it or not.”

Laura cusped her hands together to prevent them shaking. This interview wasn’t going as she'd expected. The stench of cheap furniture polish tainted her nostrils.

Sensing her shock, Brian spoke again.

“So, essentially, you'll be selling our new online service 'Genitaliapp’ - think of it as a kind of moral compass for MPs' nether regions. It's wearable tech that gives them a chastening electric shock ‘down there’ when their hormone levels get too high. It retails at ten thousand but it's a bargain compared to the potential lost earnings caused by an extra-marital affair or illicit encounter with the oldest profession in the world. Any questions?”

Laura was sure that “WTF?” probably wasn't the right thing to ask. After what she hoped seemed like a considered pause rather than furiously treading water, she blurted out:

“So, they pay 10k to get zapped in the emmm…privates?”

“Bingo!” Brian proclaimed, as if he'd actually just triumphed in the popular ball-based game against the blue-rinse brigade. He could practically taste the success, over and above a mouthful of his cut-price aftershave from eBay. The odour best described as 'wet wood’.

Laura wasn't sure what to say next. She glanced at the notebook in front of her where she'd jotted down a bullshit response to “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” It certainly wasn't flogging a penile punishment app to the randy rich who should know better.

She needed a way out, like a claustrophobic sumo wrestler wedged in to a lift stuck between floors on a hot summer's day.

“Think of the twenty third letter of the alphabet…

And now a metal device used to secure boats.”

By the time the answers had sunk in, Brian was alone in the room. He could feel his blood boiling at how Laura’s interview had ended. The unwelcome jolt in his groin the final insult as he realised the prototype still needed work.

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