For Trifecta Writing Challenge – the word is: Whore (3rd definition) – a venal or unscrupulous person.
“No, that’s incorrect. The answer is Brazil.” It is Mr. Cullen’s tone that humiliates.
“Of all the Romance language-speaking countries,” he continues, “Brazil is the largest. They speak Portuguese not Spanish. They are the third largest exporter of leather. You may well be wearing Brazilian leather on your feet at this moment.”
George scans his feet. The toes of his canvas shoes squirm under the scrutiny. George is a vegetarian. He doesn’t believe in eating animals, or wearing their skin on his feet.
“My bad,” George says, “Portuguese not Spanish, every fourth grader knows that.”
“That’s right, George. Take a lesson from me, and do your homework next time.”
Uttered with the arrogance of the CEO who earned twenty times that of his employees. George’s colleagues at the conference table have their eyes glued to their iPads. No one exchanged a glance. That would happen later, after work, when they met at The Underground Cellar for drinks.
“The Underground Cellar?” Mr. Cullen had questioned when he discovered their meeting place. “What a ridiculously redundant name for an establishment.” He’d vocalized this at such a volume that a number of heads popped up like jack-in-the-boxes over the tops of cubicles.
“Cellar, by definition,” he’d turned to encompass his listening workforce, “is a below ground room, typically used to store wine, or coal back in the day.” He’d chuckled, “back in the day,” he repeated, as if that were the funniest thing he’d heard all day. How clever he was. George detected a whispered profanity, but Mr. Cullen hadn’t appeared to notice.
George hadn’t felt it prudent to explain why the owner had chosen the name. Mr. Cullen couldn’t have cared less, anyway. He was a knowledge whore. He had to be right about everything. Only the facts mattered. No nuance, no joie de vivre dented his thick carapace.
“Yes, sir,” he said now, “I will take a lesson from you. I’ve never met anyone who knows so much about so much.”