I Am Wonderful
rating: +33+x

"Why yes, of course the stuffed animals give hugs!"

"Not all chocolate compliments you as you eat it!"

"They’ll call it the best Christmas ever!"

"That’s a Wondertainment guarantee."


Lights dimmed on the set. The crew packed up cameras and props and things before heading to the parking lot. A man in a bright purple suit with a rainbow tie waited another thirty minutes to make sure everyone had left the headquarters before he dropped that too-wide smile. He took the elevator sixteen stories up to an empty office.

The man closed the door and changed into the t-shirt and jeans he kept in the bottom drawer of his desk. There was probably no one around. The sun had set just after the cameramen left, but it’s always good to be cautious. When he finished, he leaned back in his chair and just stared out the window.

Knock, knock, knock

Oh, goddamn it.

"Mark, you in there?"

Wait, it’s just Diane.

"Yeah, I’m in here."

"You have your pants on?"

"You can come in."

Diane opened the door, and tossed Mark one of those one dollar cans of beer.

"This is why I pay you the big bucks."

"Filming go well?" Diane asked as she opened her can.

"I guess so. Still draining. Still kicking myself for naming us ‘Wondertainment’."

"It’s good branding."

"It makes me out to be goddamn Willy Wonka. You know, I think that suit is sucking my soul out."

"That’s how you know it’s working."

Mark laughed, "Yeah, that’s one way to put it."

The two sat and drank quietly for a few minutes. Mark stared at a poster from about fifteen years ago. It was the first big marketing push from back when it was just him and Diane. He wore the same suit, same smug smile. Every few minutes the man on the poster would wink, but only children could see it. The trick scared more kids than Mark expected, but it amazed the rest.

"I really should stop wearing the suit to work."

"You know that’d break part of your image."

"I know. But just… I don’t know."

"We’ve had this conversation before."

"Yeah, yeah. Just convince me again."

"Well, if you stop wearing the suit to work, the people will get suspicious. Then the rumors will start circulating about what happened to Dr. Wondertainment." Diane crumpled her beer can and tossed it in the recycling, "Stock will fall because the mystery of the creator lends intrigue to the products, and we’ll lose a significant piece of our market share."

"But I’ll get to be me again."

"What’s more important, you or what you’ve built?"

"God, I hate that question."

"No one likes tough questions."

"Can we get a new person? Someone to take over as the face?"

"Unless you have a twin you’ve been hiding, no. Stunt doubles work in movies, but they’re less effective in real life."

"Then just to take over the PR work."

"Mark, you’re doing fine."

"But I’m not doing fine. I’m… not Dr. Wondertainment."

Diane walked over to the man staring past the poster on the wall. She put her hand on his shoulder, partly for comfort, and partly to just get his attention.

"But you are wonderful."

Mark looked back out the window and finished off his beer.

"Yeah, I guess some people think that."

Mark and Diane left the building soon after. The night was warm enough to merit driving with the windows down. Mark enjoyed a breath of fresh air. He'd needed one for a while.

The next day, Mark walked into work wearing a beige button-down and slacks. He didn't force his smile, and he didn't shout or gesture much. He felt calm.

"Are you ok?"

"Where is your suit?"

"Did something happen?"

"I think you need to see a doctor."

Diane drove Mark back to his house to calm the worried employees. Something must have been wrong. Dr. Wondertainment always smiles to brighten everyone's day. Always greets his workers with gusto. Always wears an eccentric suit and tie.

And from that day on, he always did.

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