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The Sandwich

He was called at last, the long wait over. Mr Jones gathered his files and walked assuredly down the corridor from reception to Director's office. His steps rang off pristine marble to fade amongst vaulted ceilings. A gentle light played amid lucent chandeliers hung at intervals.
Despite the trap he was walking into, Jones felt calm. He had been preparing for this moment for months and felt relief that his endeavour was nearly over, no matter the outcome. He faced death with a serenity that pleasantly surprised him.
Vast doors opened wide as he approached the corridor's end, like the jaws of death, nonchalant in their yawning. The Director sat far inside his ornate office behind an island of a desk, paperwork strewn like flotsam. The doors slowly closed behind. Jones stood waiting while his superior wrote.
   "Sit," the Director commanded, not looking up from his work.
Jones laid the files on the desk as he lowered himself awkwardly into the rigid chair facing his commander. More time passed, the only sounds the scrawl of the Director's pen and muffled echoes of steps along the corridor outside.
   "You have done well my friend," the Director spoke softly, still scribbling. "Your visit is somewhat unexpected." His piercing gaze met Jones' meek regard. "What do you hope to achieve?"
Taking a deep breath, Jones calmly replied.
   "As Inspectorate Provincial, I have spent many months investigating alleged corruption and following every lead to its conclusion. I take my responsibilities very seriously indeed and welcome the danger and difficulty that comes with this post."
A pause left the oppressive silence to lay thickly.
   "My findings are outlined clearly and concisely in these files. I'm certain you are already aware of what these contain, although I have been very careful not to share this information with anyone."
Jones hesitated to read the Director's reticent face for clues.
   "The evidence shows corruption at the highest level. I now sit at its source," he finished.
The Director remained composed and abstract. A long minute passed as Jones waited in reverential silence. He continued.
   "I wish to follow my father's advice and present the bad news sandwiched between two positive elements..."
   "My father used to say similar," the Director interrupted. "He called it a 'Shit Sandwich'."
   "Yes that's right," Jones blushed fiercely. "But I did not want to be improper."
   "No, we should be honest about what you are about to serve me," the Director continued. "A Shit Sandwich." His penetrating eyes fixed upon Jones' discomposure like a bird of prey surveying a field mouse.
Jones continued "Firstly, I'd like to say..."
   "One minute," the Director held up his finger for silence and wrote upon his notepad. A servant quickly entered, took the note and hurried out.
After some minutes of silence, Jones began again.
   "Firstly I'd like to express my admiration at your incredible cunning and prodigious political manoeuvres. Your talent is clear to see from the evidence outlined in here," he patted the bulging file.
Moving uncomfortably in his seat, Jones continued.           "Regrettably, the proof suggests something else. That you are the embodiment of evil."
   He quickly continued "Lastly I bring this to you out of respect and pragmatism. You are a powerful man, I'm realistic about the outcome should I try to use this information against you. I would be squashed like a cockroach."
  He paused to breathe deeply. "I do not wish to be obliterated. I ask only one thing. My province is poor, my duties lie with my people. If the debts of my province are excused, I will ensure that the information contained here is destroyed and every lead erased from existence. I am your loyal subject."
A dread stillness submerged the men for some time, broken by the servant returning with a silver platter, which was placed on the desk in front of Jones. The Director smiled, its faux warmth all the more chilling.
   "Yes I grant your request," the Director said.
Jones gasped and released his grip on the sides of the chair.
   "...on one condition," the Director lifted the lid of the silver platter. There sat a single sandwich, white bread with a chocolate filling. An earthy smell filled the room.
   "I hope I'm not interrupting your lunch," Jones stammered.
  "This is for you," the Director replied. "Today you have served me a 'shit sandwich', it is only fitting that I return the favour."
Jones realised with sickening clarity that there was no chocolate smeared between those pristine slices. It smelled like shit.
The Director continued "My offer to you is clear - eat this sandwich and your province will receive the necessary funds. Refuse and you will not leave this facility again. Please don't forget what you told me, that you serve your people. And I in turn serve you. So go ahead and eat!"

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