In battling evil, excess is good; for he who is moderate in announcing the truth is presenting half-truth. He conceals the other half out of fear of the people's wrath ~ Kahlil Gibran (1/6/1883 to 4/10/1931) a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book "The Prophet", an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose.
"A story that makes no sense what-so-ever? You've got some nerve! I've sent you lamebrains dozens of short-story masterpieces and you've failed to publish a single one! Screw you, I'm done! You won't have William Hartenbaum to laugh at any longer!". The man finished screaming and slammed down the phone. "Can you believe those nimrods?" he said to no one in particular. "Refuse to recognize my genius!".
William was still feeling quite high, as earlier in the day his buddy Slade had offered him a few tokes on his bong that he couldn't refuse. That was before the basilisk had turned his poor friend to stone. One minute he was stoned, and the next he was literally a stone statue.
William tried to put the horror of the events that transpired only a few hours ago out of his mind and get back to work. "Please send my next appointment in", William said, pressing one of the buttons on the device sitting on his desk. "Yes sir, I'll send Mr. Leeds right in", a disembodied female voice replied (it was actually his secretary Lynda). "Whoa, that is weird", William giggled. "She's out there, but I can hear her in here!".
Then William nearly jumped out of his chair when he realized what name had come from the box on his desk. Lynda said she was sending in his dead friend Slade Leeds! How could that be possible?, William wondered. But before he could reason it through the door opened and in walked Slade Leeds in the flesh, or possibly a doppelganger. William readied the pistol he kept in a right-hand drawer just in case, aiming it at the look-alike from under his desk. He placed his finger on the trigger and almost fired, deciding at the last millisecond to see if he could deduce what this stranger's game was.
"Hello Slade, if that IS your name", William said, greeting the man he had presumed dead. He removed his finger from the trigger. "Hello William", the disheveled man who could clearly not even dress himself replied. William surmised he was a sorcerer of some kind. He probably had cast some kind of spell, reversing the stoning that had killed his friend, then stripped him down and donned his clothing. The man's pants were on inside out, and the buttons of his blazer were in the wrong buttonholes!
"I was worried for your safety my friend", the disingenuous impostor said. William put his finger back on the trigger and prepared to fire. "You were SO high when you left the Quarry", Slade commented. The Quarry was the name of the bar Slade owned, William remembered. Now it was coming back to him. His buddy and he had been up all night playing Dungeons & Dragons and getting wasted drinking and taking bong hits!
"I'm going to need that check back I gave you last night" Slade said. "You dented my Ferrari with your pickup when you left this morning. Pay my HOPS dues out of your pocket and we'll call it even", Slade explained, sticking out his hand. "Wait a second", William protested. "The Higher Ordered Person's Society yearly dues are scheduled to be collected today. The manager from the head office will be here shortly and any member who isn't paid up will be assessed a late fee. I can't get the money to replace your check for at least a few hours".
"You're suggesting I drive around in a dented Ferrari?", Slade scoffed incredulously. "Of course not Slade, that would be unseemly. I just need to get to the bank and make a withdrawal from my trust fund. I'll have the money for you when I drop by the Quarry later today", William assured his friend. "Very well", Slade replied, "but I thought you were meeting up with Mark after work today".
"You may be right", William said, flipping through his day planner. There it was penciled in for 3pm. He was supposed to meet Mark downtown where they would hand out HOPS fliers. "Can it wait until tomorrow?" William asked his friend. "My dedication to the Society comes first. We've got to convince as many people as possible to call Democrat Congresspersons and urge them to concede as much as necessary to get the debt ceiling raised".
Slade really admired his friend when he spoke with such metaphysical certainty about the Moderate organization they had both dedicated their lives to. "Of course buddy. I'll drop the Ferrari off at the shop today, take a cab home, and drive the Hummer until the damage is repaired. I'll send you a bill and you can pay it whenever". "Sure", William agreed. What the hell did he care? His dearly departed father had left him almost a billion dollars when he died, but his friend Slade was just a lowly millionaire.
"To the Society", Slade declared, extending his arm again. William stood and extended his arm. They performed the secret handshake and William echoed his friend's sentiments, "to the Society!" he declared.