Benjamin Blake is a freak. He is part of the new freshman class of Adelphus & Smyth Financial. He is also absolutely out of his mind. He likes to walk around his apartment with his dress socks over his hands, making his fists talk to each other. The left is always his supervisor TJ Anderson and the right is the sock version of himself—or Monster Ben, which is what he likes to call it. The hands bicker back and forth, always ending in an argument where Monster Ben seizes TJ Anderson’s neck in a death bite, punctuated by his left hand’s fading scream. Monster Ben holds TJ Anderson’s neck until pins and needles let him know it is time to stop.

Benjamin is an award-winning triathlete who has never been beaten in an amateur sprint triathlon. He likes to ride his speed bike around Lake Calhoun until the creases of his pelvis bleed. He likes to rub Vaseline between his toes, under his groin, and over his nipples before he goes for blistering fifteen-kilometer runs at two in the morning. He likes to swim the butterfly stroke at full speed, until rolling waves seep over the lane lines and swamp the lungs of lap swimmers. After exercising, he likes to stand naked in front of the mirror and call himself a stupid, fat motherfucker until he wants to beat his reflection into bloody glass. He lies awake in bed at night, fantasizing about college girls in tight pink leather tying him in a monkey knot, facedown on his Ikea dining table. They pound the muscles in his back with Wiffle bats and plastic hockey sticks until the chinks in his spine finally set. Each time they hit him, he gives in more and more, until he can no longer hold back from touching himself.

Benjamin remembers his first day at Adelphus & Smyth Financial. He had been on time, but the rest of the class showed up late—some in wrinkled business wear, some in business casual. TJ Anderson, their new supervisor, stood at the front of the room frowning. Every time a freshman straggled in, his frown deepened. The information Benjamin had read on TJ Anderson said that he was a third-year team lead, two steps away from junior partner and invincibility. TJ Anderson had climbed the corporate ladder quickly, and it showed, because when he cleared his throat the freshmen immediately quieted. Benjamin closed his mouth and breathed through his nose. The slender girls pressed their legs together.

“The alpha male is the leader of the wolves,” said TJ Anderson. “So, if you kill a deer, you go out of your way to bring me a bite. And not just any bite. You bring me the prime rib. You bring me the filet mignon.” He paused. “Ladies, ignore this next part… Guys, if you pick up some hot ass in a bar, you let me hit it first. Understood? You are my little insignificant omega bitches. You do what I want, when I want. Okay, ladies, you can listen now.”

He pointed to the door at the back of conference room 2B. Their heads followed his fingers. “That is the cat door back there. If you can’t handle this, feel free to walk out. Understand, though, no man or woman walks out the cat door—only pussies.”

When Benjamin laughed, TJ Anderson asked him, “And what is your name, tons-of-fun?”

Benjamin told him.

“That’s refreshing to hear you laugh, 7,” said TJ Anderson. “I’m glad to see such positivity. You know, it’s that type of attitude that moves employees ahead, laughing at alpha wolf’s jokes. But, you have to realize, 7, I wasn’t joking with you. I was being quite serious. If I were telling a joke, I would say that you would get out of here before midnight on Friday. Now that’s a joke.”

The List of Rules for incoming Adelphus & Smyth freshmen:

1. First-year employees of Adelphus & Smyth will make an annual salary of $65,000 and a silver-level benefit package. There are no set hours of work per week and first-year employees are not eligible for overtime or comprehensive return time.

2. First-year employees are required to pass the five parts of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination by their third year of employment or face termination.

3. First-year employees must carry their Adelphus & Smyth cell phone at all times. At night, first-year employees must tuck their Adelphus & Smyth cell phone into the covers of their bed or sleeping area.

4. First-year employees will have three goals in life: pass the CPA examination, become an Adelphus & Smyth partner, and run a marathon in more than four hours but less than five hours.

5. First-year employees will spend their free time either: studying in groups or individually for the CPA examination, eating or consuming alcohol with other Adelphus & Smyth employees, fantasizing about becoming an Adelphus & Smyth partner, sleeping, pursuing a life partner, or running on a treadmill between speeds of four to six miles per hour.

6. If the first-year employee is male, he will consider the Dave Matthews Band his favorite musical group. If the first-year employee is female, she will consider Kelly Clarkson her favorite musical group. If the first-year employee is not of European descent, he or she will consider Ben Harper his or her favorite musical group. Other musical varieties may be appreciated as long as they are on the playlist of an Adelphus & Smyth-sponsored varietal station.

7. First-year employees will not exceed their physician-recommended body mass index.

8. First-year employees will not say the word “fuck” in any of its versions or tenses more than five times a day if they are male and five times a month if they are female.

9. First-year employees will wear nothing less expensive than a $400 suit (not including tie, shoes, and undershirt) if they are male, and a total outfit worth no less than $550 if they are female (the price of shoes, bras, and panties may be included, but all bras and panties must be purchased from a Victoria’s Secret lingerie store and must be generally acknowledged as at least “kind of sexy”).

10. First-year employees will submit to all senior members of Adelphus & Smyth without question.

“And in case you’re wondering,” said TJ Anderson. “That means me.”

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