Fiction: Warm Regards

By Ryan Mahokey

Dear Valued Staff, 
I must extend the good news first. I want to extend a well-deserved CONGRATULATIONS to all of our employees! Our numbers for the previous quarter were phenomenal and bespeak nothing but hard work and drive from everyone from our sales department who spends hours calling potential clients; our accounting department which works assiduously to keep our finances in check; our human resources department keeps our employees jovial and subdued during the most challenging days; and the list goes on and on. Thank you so much for all your hard work, everyone!  
Now it’s time for some bad news. As many of you may already know, our former CEO and founder of McLeod Industries—Frank McLeod—passed away last week. I and the rest of our leadership staff all believe in your right to mourn this very unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance. Next week at every branch we will be offering guided meditation and a soothing bubble tea station during the lunch hour. We do this in hopes that all of you can make it one step closer to attaining peace in these unfortunate times. 
However, I must also make a very important statement about McLeod Industries moving forward. In the events leading up to Mr. McLeod’s passing, he took part in some practices that were staunchly against the company policies and standards that we take very seriously here. Now, Mr. McLeod was very “up there” in age—we cannot ignore this. He had lived a long, successful, and interesting life. He always had an eye for adventure and sometimes that eye led him into some dark places. 
As it has been reported to me, Mr. McLeod had decided that before he retired into a life of leisure, he wanted to try a substance known as LSD, or “acid” as those on the streets call it. Being in his early eighties, it was hard for him to get around with the same vigor as he once did, and yet his mind was still sharp and fertile. He expressed a desire to me and other members of our leadership staff to open his “third eye” and explore “different levels of his consciousness.” Despite all his charitable endeavors and his incredible generosity to his employees here at McLeod Industries, he still had a small nest egg saved up for himself in the sum of about $450,000,000 which, after taxes, would be a mere pittance for someone who had worked so hard throughout his entire life. Nonetheless, he had enough money to sway anyone to find him a “tab” if he desired it. I will spare you the details here since I am honestly still very shaken up and I do not want to talk about this instance for any longer than I must. 
On August 16th, he sat on the deck of his small beachfront property in the Florida Keys and put his first ever “tab” of LSD on his tongue while sitting next to his wife, Barbara. This action alone is in direct violation of our corporation’s drug policy here at McLeod Industries. Please remember that as part of our employee agreement, you can be asked to fulfill a random drug test at any given time. 
Once Mr. McLeod’s “blotter” began to take effect, he sent texts out to his friends—including me—stating that his hands were moving in odd ways that he had never seen before; the clouds looked like they were dancing; his wife’s words startled him into a state of awareness like he had been in a coma for years. At the time, he had not told me that he had succumbed to the looming temptation of illegal drugs. As you all can imagine, I was very shocked to be receiving such odd messages from our esteemed CEO. I can barely stand to write these words after I have realized what atrocities went on that day. 
As I’m sure many of you have seen on CorporateBuzz and BeezWax, Mr. McLeod’s antics took a very dark turn eventually as the “tab” took effect. He became paranoid as videos from Barbara’s phone depict. In one of the videos, at around 3:03 PM on the day of the incident, he said that he heard sirens, and that people were coming for him. Of course, Barbara had no idea what that meant. She was a humble, longsuffering wife to Mr. McLeod for over forty years; she had never seen behavior like this from him in the past. 
At 3:35 PM, another video depicts our former CEO, dawned with the gray hair of a true industry hero, threatening to behead his wife out of fear that she was transforming into a “goblin.” At this point, Barbara could be heard crying from behind the phone. She kept saying, “Frank, you’re acting crazy! It’s just the acid! Stop talking like this, Frank! Please, Frank!” I am so terribly sorry to relay this news to all of our loyal employees. As I must remind you, violent threats or actions are strictly prohibited by Article 3, section 2 of the McLeod Industries Employee Handbook. If you experience anything like this in the workplace, please report it to HR immediately. 
I am sorry for the sporadic nature of this email, but I am doing my best to relay some very difficult information to you. Here at McLeod Industries, we make it our leadership team’s commitment to make our corporation amenable to all different personality types, backgrounds, habits of mind, and levels of experience; we want everyone to have a great experience while being on our team! This is why, while I mourn two losses, I also mourn that I must be the one to break this news to you. However, I knew that hard times would come when I accepted each leadership position I’ve been presented with since joining the team four long years ago. 
It is with great difficulty and shame that I must admit there is more to be said. You, as members of the McLeod family, deserve full transparency from us. I would love to believe that the rest of this is mere hearsay, since there are no more videos from Barbara’s phone to prove any of this. However, the due diligence of the Franklin County Sherriff’s Department and the autopsy reports cannot be ignored. Please, read the rest of my correspondence with extreme caution. 
At approximately 4:07 PM on the day of the incident, Mr. McLeod, our once-beloved CEO, ripped his loyal wife Barbara’s eye out of her socket and stomped on it in a fiendish rage. He believed, according to his neighbor who became a witness to this horrid scene, that cockroaches were sprouting from his wife’s head. As Barbara screamed in agony, she managed to escape her husband for a short time as she ran around her property seeking help. Her neighbor, John Peterson, believed that inserting himself would only lead to the loss of his own life. Therefore, he stood by and contacted the authorities. 
During Mr. McLeod’s twenty-five years as the CEO of McLeod Industries, he was responsible for the expansion of his corporation from a mere office in Tallahassee, Florida to over forty-five locations across the country. He truly was an innovator in every way and those memories should be cherished by our team even in the toughest of times. 
After tackling his wife amidst her shrieks of terror, he wrestled with her until he could drag her to their in-ground swimming pool where, in a fit of pure acid-induced psychosis, he drowned her. As he was doing it, John could hear him shouting, “This country shall remain free from you dirty sewer dwellers!” It is believed that Mr. McLeod viewed his wife as amythical creature that only donned the human form to infiltrate the United States government. As Barbara struggled under her husband’s elderly hands, John called out and said, “Frank, you need to stop! This is all in your head!” Mr. McLeod, however, could not see John as he struggled to hold Barbara down as her last bubbles of oxygen rose to the surface of their perfectly chlorinated swimming pool. John’s voice, through the mental haze of LSD, sounded like the voice of God to Mr. McLeod. 
Our brilliant CEO was a faithful, churchgoing man for decades. He cherished the “Golden Rule,” and believed that anyone deserved a fair chance in life. Despite numerous unfair accusations that McLeod Industries used “unfair hiring practices” that “targeted minorities,” Mr. McLeod’s reputation spoke for itself. As he always used to say, “Times are certainly changing.” I, personally, will always respect Mr. McLeod for changing with those times. 
As he sat there, drenched in blood with his hands still gripped around the neck of his dearly departed wife, he realized the error of his ways. As he heard John’s excoriation, Mr. McLeod stood straight up and, robotically, made his way into his glorious, yet humble, beach house. After just a few short minutes, at approximately 4:28 PM, a loud bang was heard from inside his home. Mr. McLeod was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter at 4:35 PM. It is with a heavy heart and plagued mind that I relay this information to all of you. 
Just as fast as times change, we must follow Mr. McLeod’s lead and change with them. I invite any of you who may be struggling with this sad news to consult counselling services and get any help that you may need. Due to the heavy traffic that McLeod Industries is fortunate enough to have these days, we will be unable to extend any extra PTO to you all. For that, I am deeply sorry. And yet, I believe it is better to be with our work family during hard times such as these. If you are feeling bothered by these horrid incidents, as I surely am, rely on your peers for strength. I am sure that they would be more than happy to lend you an understanding ear and an open heart. Also, as stated above, please avail yourself of the guided meditations and the delicious bubble tea station available for the entirety of next week (during the lunch hour)!
Frank McLeod Jr. 
CEO, McLeod Industries

Ryan Mahokey is a debut fiction writer and Ph.D. student in literature. His literary aims are set on the transgressive elements of humanity within the scope of twenty-first century American life. He currently resides outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.