Lennert's Lawn Ornament, Take 1: Part Two
Neopia Central, Commercial District
Neopia Central's commercial district was an area located
in the center of the city; it was stacked with large, impressive skyscrapers
- some towering as high as twenty-five stories or so - all condensed and crowded
into the span of only a few blocks. The skyscrapers were huge stalagmites of
glass, concrete, and steel rising up from the yellow, brick streets below, reaching
for the sky above.
And it was in front of one of these tall towers
that a certain red Lenny named Lennert, dressed in a fine brown suit with a
white shirt and red striped tie to complement it, stood. He took a deep breath
and walked through the large, glass double-doors into the building.
The lobby, with its large glass doors and windows
on one end and a reception desk on the other, had a reflective, well-polished
marble floor with matching marble walls. Lennert strode across the hall to where
a female pink Poogle sat, manning the reception desk. The walls lining each
side were plated in gold.
"Hiya!" Lennert announced, waving at her. "I'm
here for a job!"
The Poogle blinked her eyes a couple times,
trying to understand what the Lenny was talking about. She glanced down at a
piece of paper, then back up at the red pet.
"Umm… Are you here for the job at Stuff-N-Stuff
Lennert shrugged. "Sure! I'll go with that!"
The Poogle nodded. "Okay, then. Well, the stairs
are over there." She motioned to a pair of double doors off to the right behind
Lennert glanced over at the doors, then back
at the receptionist, apprehensive. "So, I have to walk up seventeen stories
to get to the floor…?"
The Pink Poogle nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid so,"
she replied in a sympathetic tone.
Lennert sighed dejectedly. "Oh, alright then…"
He turned and started off towards doors to the stairwell.
The stairwell was a pretty ordinary stairwell
- with plain, white stone walls and gray-ish metal railings and stairs, it was
hardly as gaudy as the main lobby Lennert had just come from. It was designed
to be functional, not flashy. The stairs went up one flight to a landing, then
turned and continued up, spiraling upwards, but in a square.
Lennert looked up the staircase, taking a deep
breath. "Okay, well, here we go!"
And he started to climb. He climbed one step,
then another, then another. Stair after stair he took, fighting against the
incessant force of gravity in his attempts to reach the top. He climbed higher
and higher, putting stair after stair behind him as he traversed further and
further up, up towards his goal.
But soon, his legs began to grow weary. His breathing
grew faster and more rapid. The strength quickly drained out of the Lenny. And
finally, able to go no further, Lennert collapsed on the steps.
"Umm, excuse me." A blue female Lupe dressed
in a fine skirt and business suit, who happened to be passing Lennert on the
stairs, stopped and glanced down at him laying there, panting hard. "Are you
okay? Do you need a doctor or something?"
From his spot on the floor, Lennert barely managed
a nod of his head. "Yeah… I'm… fine…" he managed between deep gasps of air.
"I'm just… resting… here… for a… minute..."
The Lupe looked at him curiously. "But… you've
only climbed up six steps!"
"Go on!" Lennert waved his wing in a poo-poo
fashion, motioning for the Lupe to go on. "Keep going! Leave me! I'll just…
slow… you down!"
With a roll of her eyes, the blue Lupe continued
her way up the stairs towards wherever it was she was going, leaving Lennert
to lie on the steps in agony.
"Oh man…" the Lenny muttered to himself. "This…
is really… bad… If only… someone… were to make… up… a device… that could… transport…
people… between floors of buildings… Maybe that could call it… a lelevator…
or… a veletalor… Oh, that would be sweet…"
90 minutes later…
After an hour and a half of crawling and climbing,
Lennert finally managed to drag himself through the doorway to the seventeenth
floor. He continued lying on the floor in the doorway for another minute, his
breath ragged as he gulped for air. After a moment or so, he managed, with the
support of one of the walls, to pull himself up to his feet.
He was standing in a long corridor with plain
white walls, a light-blue carpet, and doors lining each wall down to the end
where the hallway turned at a corner and continued out of view.
Heart still pounding (but from overexertion,
not excitement), Lennert started off down the hall slowly, looking around, trying
to decide which door he should go into to start his job - whatever it was. He
stopped at the first door he came to on the right. It looked identical to all
the other doors, so what the heck! He opened it and went in.
Inside was an office - really, it was nothing
more than a large closet - with a large white table taking up most of the space
in the middle. Papers, drawings, pencils, and other various office utensils
were spread out across it in an unorganized fashion, and a single red Jubjub
sat on a simple barstool, hunched over them, scribbling something on a piece
of paper with his large foot.
When Lennert entered, the Jubjub looked up. He
had bags under his wide, wild-looking eyes, his fur was messed and frazzled,
and his white shirt and tie were muddled and un-ironed. He looked like he hadn't
slept in ages.
"Hey, are you the new guy?" His voice was panicked
- he looked like he was about to have a mental breakdown.
Lennert shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."
The Jubjub glanced down at his work, then back
up at the red Lenny. "Well, have you read the papers? Do you know what's going
"You mean the Neopian Times? Yeah, I've read
it - nothing very interesting, in my opinion… pretty boring stuff…"
The Jubjub gave a fake, un-amused laugh. "Haha!
Very funny!" With one foot, the pet snatched a bunch of papers and graphs off
the table in front of him. Then, he jumped down from his seat and, on one foot,
hopped over to Lennert and thrust the rolled up papers at his chest. "Here!
The presentation starts in two minutes in the room down the hall. Hurry up and
get down there!"
Lennert looked down at the papers in surprise.
"Wait, don't you think you'd be better off doing this? I mean, I don't even
"Ha! Yeah right!" the Jubjub replied, voice now
high-pitched and shrill with panic "You're the new guy, man - fresh meat. I've
got a family, pal! I'm not risking my job for this piece of crap - this project
is going to bomb and its going to bomb right on your brand-new butt!"
And with that, the Jubjub spun Lennert around
and gave him one quick kick in the rear back out into the hall. "Third door
down the hall on the left!" the Jubjub barked, slamming the door shut.
Lennert stood there for a few seconds, stunned,
and then with a shrug, turned and made his way down the hallway, papers in wing.
"Man," he muttered to himself, "this job thing really is confusing - first day
and already I've got a meeting!"
He reached the office and walked in to find a
whole host of pets of all different colors and species sitting at a long, wooden
rectangular table; four on each side and a ninth at the head on the end opposite
The executives watched intently, hawk-like, as
Lennert shuffled in nervously, looking around, confused and unsure of what to
do or say next. So, he did what he always did when meeting new people…
"Hiya!" Lennert waved at the group. "I'm Lennert!"
The head of the table, a large green Skeith,
glanced tiredly over at the pet to his immediate right, a certain green Pteri,
and then back up at Lennert, waiting, still wearing the same blank, unimpressed
look on his face; he was not amused.
Lennert's face fell. "…okay… well… Ummm…" Lennert
reached forward and set the papers on the edge of the table before him, then
cleared his throat and began:
"Uhhh… well…What we need to do first is, ummm…
increase the marketability of our product - this should increase both production
and our over-all market cap, hedging the funds we've already placed in it. Next,
we need to, ummm… have some markowitz diversification for our current portfolio
- I think this is a must if we hope to succeed in the next market cycle.
"Now, based on the economic assumptions we've
made for the next fiscal year, we suspect our earnings yields should be high,
but only as long as the execution costs stay down, exchange rates stay up, and
the markets stay as bullish as they are now. And if our expected cash flows
and returns rally to what we're betting they will, then we can also assume we'll
get a good return on our rate of interest."
Lennert paused, looking around the room, waiting
for one of the executives to say something. After a few seconds, the Skeith
at the other end of the table stood up from his seat… and smiled!
"Brilliant!" he applauded. "Absolutely brilliant!
Son, you may have just saved this company!" He turned his head, glaring at a
certain familiar green Pteri just to his right. "And you wanted to sell balloons
- balloons! This may be you first day, but I don't care - you're fired!"
The certain green Pteri sighed, stood up and,
head sunk down in embarrassment, shuffled out of the office. "…I thought this
was a new beginning…" he muttered, to no one in particular, as he hobbled past
Lennert toward the door. "I thought I was finally somewhere where I could get
respect… I guess it's back to the Neopian Ti--"
"Oh shut up!" the Skeith yelled, throwing a pen
and hitting the poor Pteri in the back of the head.
"Ah!" The Pteri let out a single cry before falling
to the floor, unconscious.
Lennert, however, was too jubilant to notice.
"So," he asked, grinning ear-to-ear at the Skeith as though he hadn't even noticed
the Pteri, "did I get the job?"
The Skeith gave a hearty laugh as he walked around
the table toward the Lenny. "Very funny!" he bellowed loudly, clapping a large
paw on Lennert's shoulder. "Oh man, I love this kid - smart and funny!"
Lennert's grin spread even wider (if that was
even possible). "I'll take that as a yes!"
Back to the apartment…
Lennert walked in and wearily flung off his
coat, tie and shirt, tossing them carelessly on the floor without even a second
thought before slumping down next to Hawkins on the pair's blue couch. The Kyrii
continued reading his book, failing to notice his friend's entrance.
"Man!" Lennert exclaimed, exhausted. "What a
day! First, I had to give a presentation to the bosses, then a power lunch with
Quien down the hall to go over some profit margin returns, then another meeting
over our estimated fiscal quarterly net earnings, and then an hour-long
brainstorming session with Zake and Yenna!" Lennert sighed. "Boy, this whole
work thing sure is complicated!"
Hawkins looked up from his book, totally lost.
Lennert gave another exasperated sigh. "Gosh,
Hawkins, you just don't get it - maybe if you went out and actually did
something, you would understand the joy of putting in a hard day's work!"
"Wait…" Hawkins paused. "Does this mean you
actually went out and got a job?"
"Lennert… That's… great!" Hawkins gave a wide,
toothy grin. "I mean, that's amazing! I'm so proud of you! Well, what'd you
get a job doing?"
Lennert shrugged. "I dunno… I'm not sure what
it's called exactly… Vice President in Charge of Marketing or… something… I
can't be asked to remember details…"
Hawkins stared at his roommate for a few seconds,
then, with a roll of his eyes, stormed off to his room. "Fine then!" he called
back, annoyed. "Don't tell me!" And he slammed his bedroom door shut.
The green Skeith sat in his office - a large,
well-furnished office with fancy maroon carpeting, large book-filled bookshelves
up against the walls, and a fine wooden desk - reading through an earnings report
when there came a knock on his door.
"Come in!" he called.
The door opened and Lennert, donned in the same
white shirt, red tie, and brown blazer, walked in.
"You called for me?"
"Yes… I did…" The Skeith sighed, setting his
papers down and motioning for Lennert to take a seat in one of the two chairs
in front of the desk. "Sit down, son… I have something I need to tell you…"
Lennert took a seat across from the boss, waiting
expectantly for whatever came next.
The Skeith heaved another heavy sigh, looking
down at his desk for a moment before returning his gaze back to the Lenny. "Son…
You're a genius - I have no doubt of this! You may have single-handedly turned
this company around! But… I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go…"
Lennert cocked his head to the side curiously,
confused. "…Let me go?"
The Skeith nodded solemnly, giving still another
sigh. This was very difficult for him - letting go of the good ones always was.
"Yes," he continued. "I'm afraid there just isn't a job for you here anymore…"
Lennert looked back, still confused. "Wait… you're
"Oh no!" the boss quickly corrected. "No - we're
retiring you! You see, lately, we've had some problems with Lennies filing species
discrimination lawsuits …" The Skeith shook his head sadly. "Some people just
have no respect for others…"
Lennert nodded. "I understand completely
- I know a certain lawn gnome who treats me exactly the same way…"
"Yeah, so anyways, we're going to - Wait did
you just say 'lawn gnome'?" The Skeith paused, then shook his head. "Anyways,
instead of firing you, we're going to retire you out!"
Lennert nodded, seeming to understand. "So… I
don't work here anymore?"
The Skeith shook his head. "I'm afraid not."
"And… do I get any more money?"
"Oh, yes! Of course! You'll be receiving a nice
pension payment - one hundred thousand Neopoints!"
Lennert continued nodding. "Oh… well, that's
pretty cool, I guess… So, what happens now?"
The Skeith smiled a soft, reassuring smile. "And
now, we cut back to the apartment."
Hawkins was out in the small kitchenette, leaning
idly against the counter as he munched on another chocolate éclair. He finished
the one he already held in his hand and reached back for the second one on the
counter. But as he picked it up, the tasty pastry slid out of his paw and fell
on the floor, where it splattered into a mess of chocolate crème filling.
The Kyrii stared at the mess for a moment, not
sure what to do.
At just that moment, the door flew open and
a grinning Lennert strode in.
"Guess what, Hawkins?!"
"What?" Hawkins asked, looking up from the chocolate
mess on the floor.
"I got 'let go' today!"
Hawkins blinked, a bit stunned. "Wait… you mean
you got fired?"
Lennert shrugged. "Oh, and that, too!"
Hawkins stared at his roommate for a few seconds,
stunned, his jaw dangling open. "Wha… you got fired?! But… but… for what?!"
Lennert shrugged again, still grinning. "I dunno
- but I did get a lot of money because of it, so it must be good!"
The chocolate mess on the floor that had once
been an éclair was now forgotten as its owner continued to stare at the Lenny
standing in the apartment doorway. "…wha…?"
"One-hundred thousand Neopoints!"
Hawkins remained speechless.
"…That's how much money they gave me…" Lennert
explained, thinking his roommate hadn't understood.
"They… gave you money for being fired?"
Hawkins finally seemed to recover. "But Lennert…
That's great! That money will really help with the bills!"
Lennert nodded, his grin returning in full force.
"Yeah, it would… except I already spent it on something even better!"
Hawkins' face fell blank. "…What?..."
Lennert nodded, then turned and disappeared back
out into the hallway, reappearing a few seconds later carrying a new friend
- a Lenny lawn gnome. But not a pink one like the other - this one was clad
in a bright, glistening gold! A gold Lenny lawn gnome!
"Meet Goldy!" Lennert announced, walking in and
setting the lawn gnome down next to the sofa. It looked almost exactly like
the pink one (except that it was about half a head taller), which stood near
the coat-rack in its normal one-legged pose. "And he only cost me every Neopoint
I had! What a deal, eh? Goldy, say hi to Hawkins!"
Hawkins glanced from the golden lawn gnome standing
in his apartment living room to Lennert, and then with a sad shake of his head,
slumped off toward his room.
"Wait, where're you going?" Lennert called out.
"To take a good, long look at my life…" Hawkins
replied without looking back as he kicked his bedroom door closed behind him.
With a nonchalant shrug, Lennert grabbed his
two lawn gnomes and took a seat on the couch, one lawn gnome on each side. "Ya
know," he began, striking up conversation with his two friends, "I've learned
something this episode - something very important about economics. You see,
capitalism can never really work by itself. Because if we had pure capitalism,
then big business would continue to grow and grow and eventually monopolize
the market, forcing up prices. The only way to prevent this is for the government
to come in and break up the big businesses, thereby, going against the core
ideals of capitalism itself."
The door to Hawkins' room swung open and the
Kyrii stuck his head out. "Did you say something, Lennert?"
Lennert, his train of thought derailed, only
stared blankly at the wall for a few seconds, then slowly shook his head. "I
can't remember… Ah well - it can't have been that important!"
Advanced economic philosophy? Child's play…