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Story Notes:
HalloweenJack138's A/N: HalloweenJack138 sends his love to all of you and hatred to others.
Little Comment's A/N: When one of your very favorite fanfic writers asks you to collaborate on a story with him...wow, you so do. Jack and I had a blast writing this together and we hope you enjoy.

Standard disclaimer applies. We don't own it, no copyright infringement intended.

Cross-posted at FF.net.
Michael, hands folded and solemn: There's a prominent Afro-American man that's been in the spotlight recently. A man that's made me question a lot of what I thought I knew, about everything. I don't think I need to tell you his name, but I will, just in case you aren't as savvy as I am.

He sighs deeply.

Michael: Gary Coleman was truly an American - no, an African-American treasure. And yet, every time I see him on TV lately, he's in a commercial for 1-800-CASH CALL.

He shakes his head.

Michael: How could this have happened? He's amazingly talented - he was a frontrunner for governor of California, and now...? Would this happen to a White man?

A pause, made pregnant by Michael's potent stupidity.

Michael: No. And that horrifying truth is what made me realize that there is a lot I need to learn about the Black condition.

He sits back with a sigh.

Michael: What does it mean to be Black, and - in the words of the late, great Little Richard - "living in America?"

He gets right up in the camera.

Michael: Just what is the True Meaning of Blackness?

The Miseducation of Michael Scott

Michael ran excitedly toward Darryl, nearly causing three accidents in the warehouse in the process.

"Darryl!" Michael called. "Good news, m'man!"

Darryl pursed his lips as though in slow motion. Michael having good news was never good news. "Hey, we're pretty busy here, Mike," he replied, gesturing expansively to the city of boxes and crates they had to process and unload.

Michael shook his head. "This is more important."

Darryl raised a furious eyebrow. "Okay."

"I have kind of a Black problem right now," Michael explained, "and you, as my Blackest friend, are just the one to help me with it."

Deep inside, Darryl's indignation burned like a white-hot sun. "No can do, Mike," he replied, trying to conceal his fury.

"No?" Michael asked, confused and clearly a little hurt.

Darryl looked around nervously. "You know," he whispered, "I was hoping I wouldn't have to admit this, but... I'm actually a Filipino."

Michael tct'd in disappoint. "Really?"

Darryl nodded sadly. "Yeah... I didn't want to have to tell you, but..."

"You know, I made the same mistake with Kelly," Michael pouted.

Darryl nodded. "Well, it's an easy mistake to make."

Michael cast a hopeful glance over his shoulder. "Is Lonny Filipino, too?"

Darryl thought fast. "Well, Lonny is actually a Puerto Rican."

"So, next island over?"

Darryl bit his lip to keep the mask up. "Exactly."

Michael shook his head and turned to leave dejectedly. "Hey, Mike!" Darryl called back.

Michael froze in his tracks. "Yeah?"

Darryl leaned into Michael and whispered, "Try to keep this under your hat."

Michael winked. "Dink'n flicka."

Darryl nodded.


Darryl: I don't know what Mike's got planned. I never know what Mike's got planned. But I know I don't want to be a part of it.


"Sir, absolutely your business is important to us," Pam assured the voice on the other end of the phone as though she were bailing water out of the Titanic. "I'll be more than happy to have that taken care of for you, let me just transfer you to Customer Service..."

There followed a rapid stream invective from the customer on the other end that Pam was reasonably certain could be heard in Michael's office, and perhaps Vance Refrigeration, Spain, and outer space.

"No, I'm not trying to 'give you the runaround,' sir," Pam assured him desperately, "I just feel that Kelly would able to..."

And again came the verbal onslaught.

Pam took a deep breath internally. "Okay, sir, I'm not sure if I'm the right person for this, but I'm going to help you," she promised. "I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy and keep you with Dunder Mifflin. Now, it seems to me..."

At which point, Dwight coldly pressed down on the receiver, cutting Pam forever off from the enraged client.

She looked up at Dwight like a frightened bunny.

"Conference room," he said simply. "Now."


Pam, trying her best to seem excited: I just got my first real job as a freelance graphic artist.

She nods with overreaching pride.

Pam: It's a pretty big deal.

She tries her damnedest to give the camera a convincing smile.

Pam: I agreed to do all the artwork on a new comic book by a local self-publisher.

And the facade crumples.

Pam: I didn't realize it was Dwight.


Dwight: I write all of my works under a pseudonym: "Gunter Mangelwurzel."

He smiles with the goofy pride that is signature Schrute.

...which then recedes into nervous shame.

Dwight: I would have liked to use my real name, but Angela considers comic books blasphemous.


Angela: Do I support Dwight in the creation of graven images?


Angela, sporting an angela: I have no problem with it.


Angela: ...Any more than God does.


"First off," Dwight began, "I just want to tell that you were chosen out of literally thousands of applicants to bring the adventures of Der Kommissar to life. Congratulations."

Obviously Pam knew there were no other applicants, but admitting that wouldn't make either of them feel any better about themselves. "Thank you."

Dwight looked down at his own script as though he were checking notes. "You are a woman," he observed.

"Yes," Pam agreed.

Dwight looked at her thoughtfully. "Do you think that's going to hurt your abilities as an illustrator?"

Pam let that statement sit for a few moments.

"I don't think so," she finally concluded.

Dwight nodded, then cautiously handed her the script, which was tellingly on dot-matrix paper.

"When did you write this, Dwight?" Pam asked understandably.

"I started in 1987," Dwight replied frankly. "And I've written a new issue every week since, so... you have your work ahead of you."

Pam nodded and very, very quickly ran back to her desk.


The speakerphone rang three times before finally picking up. "Hello?"

"Karen," Michael began.


"This is Michael Scott from the Scranton Branch," Michael helpfully provided.

"...I know who you are, Michael," Karen replied. "I worked for you for six months and then you broke my very expensive copier."

"Right," Michael, "well... can I ask you a question?"

There was a pregnant pause before Karen replied. "Is this work related?"

"It's actually more personal," Michael confided.

"Then I would prefer you didn't--"

"Are you Black?" Michael asked outright.

"'Am I Black?'" Karen repeated in frank disbelief.

"Because you had something going on, but I was never really sure what it was," Michael continued.


"I mean, I know Italian was in there, but..." Michael press-ganged.

"Michael what's this all about?" Karen demanded.

"Well, I'm trying to learn the True Meaning of Blackness," Michael explained calmly, "and it turns out I don't have nearly as many Black friends as I thought I did."

"That's becoming pretty apparent," Karen stated simply.

"Right," Michael replied. "So, can you help me out?"

There was a silence on the other end that was actually somehow audible.

"I just don't think I'm the person to help you with this one, Michael," Karen finally replied.

Michael nodded. "Is it because you're Costa Rican, too?"

"Goodbye, Michael," Karen said.

There followed a dial tone.


Michael, nervously: Looks like I'm going to have to go with my old standby on this, Stanley the Manley.

He smiles awkwardly.

Michael: Things have been a little tense with me and Stanley lately...


In a flashback, Stanley asks, “Did I stutter?”


Michael: So I was actually trying to solve this one without him... but I'm sure I can get him.


Michael: I'll just need the world's greatest pitch.


As Pam gazed down at the mountain of notes that Dwight had deposited on her desk throughout the morning, she couldn't quite shake the feeling of drowning.

"So, how's it coming along?" Jim asked with a chipperness that let Pam know full well just how much he was enjoying this.

"He's emailed me seven times in the last thirty minutes," Pam replied.


Pam nodded. "And that's not even counting all the hand-written notes."

"Clearly this is very close to his heart," Jim said.


In a moment of pure spun gold, the camera happened to catch Dwight in the stairwell as he did battle with possibly scores of imaginary hoodlums.

Dwight eyed them and hissed, “Are you trying to eff with Der Kommissar?”

The nothing in front of him was oddly silent.

“Are you trying to eff with Der Kommissar?” It was an ominous hiss, to be sure.

Again, there was no response, so Dwight grabbed the nothing by the collar to let it know he meant business.

No one effs with Der Kommissar!”

Then he punched the air viciously, punctuating the blow with a “Gah!” and following up with an awkward kick. “Pah!”

He then caught sight of the hidden camera out of the corner of his eye and sheepishly retreated down the stairs.


Pam looked Jim dead in the eyes. "He sent me two pictures for reference on the character. One of them was of Dwight in a Judge Dredd costume, the other was a closeup of Henry Rollins' neck."

Jim took a step back as though burned.

When he had time to process he asked hopefully, "You'll forward me the picture of Dwight?"

Pam nodded. "I gotta get through this somehow."


Michael finally cornered Stanley in the kitchen while he was examining a box of doughnuts that had no doubt gone stale.

"Stanley, please, I need your help with this," his manager pleaded, his eyes shining with unshed tears. "You're the only one Black enough to show me the True Meaning of Blackness."

"No," Stanley said flatly, wondering if his crossword book could somehow sprout legs, walk in, and bail him out of this. He should have known better than to get hungry.

Michael pursed his lips but pressed on diligently. "I just feel like this is my mission, you know? I need to understand the plight of my fellow man. My brothers."

Stanley poked at a blueberry doughnut. It didn't seem that stale...

"And I want you to know I'm serious about this. I sent Andy to the store - with my own hard-earned money - to get the essentials," Michael continued.

"The essentials?" Stanley repeated, going against the better judgment of anyone who had ever encountered Michael Gary Scott.

Buoyed by this, Michael nodded in earnest. "A jug of grape drink, this month's Vibe, a box of Dark and Lovely relaxer, a copy of Soul Plane, and a soft pack of Kool Milds."

Such a list held enough power to force Stanley's eyes away from the box of pastries and upward to allow them to meet Michael's intent gaze. It did not, however, have the power to make him speak.

Which Michael took as acquiescence.

He smiled glibly and stuck a hand in his pocket. A moment later Stanley was showered with a handful of rainbow Monopoly currency. Michael nodded again. "Let's make it rain."


Pam: When Jim and I first started dating, I was kind of surprised to find out he read comics. He tried to get me into them, but I wasn't interested. Then he handed me Watchmen.

She smiles at the memory.

Pam: It was amazing, with all these incredible themes and characters and everything, and you could just see how such great words would inspire such great, vibrant art.

She looks down at Dwight's manuscript, resting heavy on her lap. Her smile falls as she flips a page or two delicately, as if unsure if the pages were toxic. She drags her eyes back up to the camera and heaves a long, sad sigh.


The midmorning background noise was at an all-time low, especially with Michael having locked himself away with Stanley in his office. Jim finished third in a fifty dollar buy-in online poker tournament before he could hold back no longer.

"So. Der Komissar," he mused, watching another pair of pocket tens lose to an ace-nine off suit. "Sounds tough."

Dwight nodded. "Oh, he is," he assured him.

"The kind of guy you watch your back with."


"Should be his motto - 'Don't turn around…”

Dwight’s nostrils flared some.

“Der Komissar's in town,'" Jim continued thoughtfully.

Dwight ground down his molars a little more.

"Uh oh...der-der-der... " Andy sang quietly from behind them, smiling faintly at his monitor.

"You wouldn't mock Grant Morrison like this," Dwight spat, glaring at his mop-top neighbor. Jim shook his head seriously.

"You're right," Jim agreed. "He's got much better hair than you."


Jim: For those of you playing at home: Grant Morrison is completely bald.


"I'm just going to start off with some basic questions to help me understand Afro-Americans," Michael said softly.

Stanley remained silent.

"Who... by Black standards," Michael began, even more softly, "would qualify as a 'butterface?'"

Stanley still said nothing, but began to softly prod the walls of his mouth his tongue.

"Would Tracy Chapman qualify as a 'butterface' in the Black community?" Michael offered.

Stanley blinked hard. "I don't know who that is."

"She sang that song," Michael explained, and proceeded to sing a few bars in character. "'Try to say goodbye and I choke... try to walk away and I stumble...’"

Stanley gave a slight shake of his head.

Michael made a note on his pad.

"Okay," Michael continued after a moment, "Who... is your favorite singer?"

"Dean. Martin." Stanley replied flatly.

"Wow, I didn't even know he was Black," Michael quietly said as he dutifully copied down this information. "I'm really getting a lot out of this. Thank you, Stanley."

Stanley turned his head a quarter inch to give the camera a rueful glare.


Pam chewed her lip and studied her drawing. Just as she was delicately shading with her Ginger Root Prismacolor pencil over the Peach Beige base she had just laid down on Der Komissar's face, Kevin lumbered up for a pawful of jelly beans.

"Hey Pam," he said as he peered over her counter.

"Hi Kev," she answered distractedly.

"Wow...cool drawing."

Pam smiled as she colored. "Thanks."

"Is that a superhero?"

"Uh huh."

"With glasses?"


Kevin nodded in approval. "You know, if you added a little more..." he trailed off, forcing Pam to look up and see him cupping his hands a fair distance from his upper torso suggestively, "she'd be hot."

Pam stared at him as he nodded again.

"Maybe," she finally replied, unable to keep from glancing at Dwight.

"Super hot," Kevin emphasized with a smile, then wandered back to his desk.


Pam lets a long pause marinate while she blinks a few times.

Pam: I'm not sure who should be more offended by that.


"Now, I'm really trying to get my wardrobe Afro-centered," Michael said. "I bought a few paisley silk shirts and a three pairs of black jeans a few weeks ago at the outlets, but I can’t give up my ties."

"Fine," Stanley grumbled.

"I mean, I know Minister Chakakahn rocks the bowtie, but...ties are important, Stanley," Michael confided. "They're like little penises for our necks."

"I'm wearing a tie," Stanley pointed out grumpily.

Michael checked and found this to be true. "Let's move on."


Michael reached into his file and pulled out a thick stack of glossy photographs.

"As you know," Michael voiced, "my goal has always been to accept and really nurture diversity."

Stanley said nothing.

"But it's come to my attention that I might be a little too colorblind, so in the name of racial tolerance," he set the stack down heavily, "I want you to look all of these pictures and tell me if these people are Black enough."

Stanley looked down at the pile, then back up to Michael.

No, he was clearly serious.


Michael: You know, I saw an interview once where my main man Spike Lee was talking about "the Magic Negro" that keeps showing up in movies to help the White character find out about himself...

Thoughtful pause.

Michael: I think Stanley is my Magic Negro.

He smiles, no doubt thinking of how proud Spike would be.


Somewhere around the fifth time Dwight snuck up to her desk for a status report, Pam began to lose her patience. "I told you this is going to take a while, Dwight," she sighed in utter exasperation. "That's why most comics only come once a month."

"I understand," Dwight assured her.

Pam nodded and got back to work.

And Dwight continued to stand there in the exact same position.

After about five minutes, Pam realized he really wasn't going anywhere. "'It's just...?'"

"It's just that Der Kommissar is a brutal lawman," Dwight supplied, "and I really feel for the concept to work you have to be sure he inspires fear in the spineless and weak-willed."

"Okay," Pam nodded, "and how would you like me to prove that?"

Dwight thought about it for a moment. "Have you shown the drawings to Andy?"

Several feet away, Andy snorted. "Dude, I have never been afraid of a cartoon character."

And then Andy darted his eyes back and forth as though he expected to be contradicted at any moment.

"Except Piglet," he finally admitted.


Andy: Yeah, he looks innocent...


Andy: But one wrong word and you know that little thing would knife you first and ask questions later if you pissed him off.


"As far as I know, he is Black," Stanley muttered.

"Really?" Michael asked, turning the picture of Prince back to face him.

"Mmhmm," Stanley replied.

Michael examined the picture once more, then set it down with the others. "Okay," he accepted, pushing the pictures aside. "Now," Michael said softly, "I'm going to attempt to walk Black and I'm going to ask you to give me some notes."

Stanley stanleyed.

"I was watching some old Eddie Murphy stuff last night and he kept saying that White people liked their butts really tight, so I'm going to trying to stay loose. Please feel free to help me out with that," Michael said as he began to rise from his seat.

And then something in Stanley snapped.

"Oh, I don't think so," he asserted.

Michael froze in mid-unseating.

Stanley took a moment to examine the atomic time bomb he'd just handed himself. If he offended Michael in some way, it would almost certainly make things worse and more complicated for himself; history had taught him that much. However, there was no way in ten hells he was going to continue to involve himself in anything related to Michael Scott's ass, even tangentially.

"I was just saying," Stanley began as sweetly as he could muster, "this isn't really something you need."

Michael eyed him with something Stanley couldn’t identify and didn't much care to.

"I mean, you clearly understand the Black man's struggle," Stanley continued. "You proved that today. It's those people out there," he gestured expansively, "that need to learn from you."

And for a moment, Stanley thought it had actually worked.

"You're right, Stanley," Michael said thoughtfully. "The people out there do need to learn from our example."

Stanley nodded. "Of course they do."

Michael returned the nod and raised him a smile. "And we're going to teach them."

And Stanley realized what he had done.

"Tell everyone to meet us in the conference room in twenty minutes," he said, patting the other lightly on the shoulder. "Mandatory Blackness training. Drop it like it's hot."


Although everything in her told her to keep her distance, Pam found herself wandering over to Dwight's desk. "Hey, Dwight?"

No response. Maybe he was still angry.

"I just had some questions about the ending," Pam began as unassumingly as possible.

"It speaks for itself and I don't see why I should have to explain," Dwight replied flatly.

Pam took a breath. "I'm just not sure about the part where Der Kommissar confronts the Mad Bomber... and the Mad Bomber pees himself."

"The ultimate sign of submission, an obvious reaction to Der Kommissar," Dwight said, not even bothering to face her.

"Um, sure," Pam murbled. "It's just..."

Dwight raised a hateful eyebrow to Grinch-like levels.

Pam, however, stumbled on. "It seems like all Der Kommissar ever does is beat up people who are trying to surrender to him...don't you think it would be more interesting if he had real obstacles to overcome...if he was really pushed to his limits by something?"


"Okay," Pam agreed readily while secretly wondering if it was too soon to ask if her name could be taken off the project. "I've also done some character sketches." Pam held out her sketch pad to Dwight with a look of fear and, strangely, hope.

Jim - against his dentist's strict orders - was chewing on a jelly bean he had stolen from her counter, preemptively jimming proudly as Dwight took in the work created by his favorite receptionist.

There was a long, long silence.

"I streamlined Der Komissar some," Pam almost whispered, in a vain effort get some sort of reaction from her client. After another indecent stretch of nothing, she pursed her lips and tried again. "I thought the color scheme was...good."

Dwight allowed the silence to continue ransacking the receptionist's fragile ego.

"So...?" Jim prompted, finally ordering the silence in for its nap.

Dwight sighed. "It's...serviceable," he grudgingly allowed.

Pam blinked and started to smile.

"But you're definitely no Rob Liefeld," he quickly added, glaring at Pam.

Without thought, and with uncharacteristic venom, Jim replied, "You're no Fabian Nicieza either."

Dwight gave him a cold once-over, then dropped Pam's sketchbook and returned his attention to his Second Life avatar.

Pam gave Jim a smile. "Thanks," she mouthed.


Pam, smiling faintly: That was really nice of Jim.


Pam: I have no idea what it meant.



Jim must have known it was a mistake to turn his head at the sound of his name, especially since the address came from Michael, but it had been a boring day with Pam so distracted and so perhaps that's why he did anyway.

"What are you doing now?"

"Going to the break room to eat lunch," Jim answered and held his brown paper sack aloft, part proof and part shield.

"Got a minute to help a brother out?"

Jim refrained from telling Michael that he'd gladly help his brother out, even though he lived in Connecticut, but before he could issue a real response Michael smiled like Jim had already accepted and so, with a deep sigh, Jim tossed his lunch on his desk and strolled into Michael's office. "What's up?" he asked, flopping into the chair across from his boss's desk.

"I'm trying to score Stanley and I's post lunch conference."

"With points, or...?"

"No, score it. Like a movie?" The glance Michael gave the camera spoke plainly of the pity he felt towards those less knowledgeable of the lingo. "Mood music. You know...tunes. Jams."

"Ah," Jim said, nodding. "Right. Sorry."

Michael waved off his apology regally. "Just wanted to see what you thought of my playlist so far."


"I've got some upbeat stuff - 'Humpty Dance,' 'Don't Worry, Be Happy,' 'Whoop, There It Is...'"

"Mmhmm, mmhmm," Jim said thoughtfully.

Michael flipped the page in his notebook. "Then a few tunes that speak to the pain of being Black."


"'I Shot The Sheriff,' some song called 'Playa' by Notorious Big..." Michael looked confused, "Notorious Big something, and..." Michael squinted as he studied the page, then shook his head. "I don't know how to say the name of this, but it's that African group that did the candy commercial."

Jim gave him a baffled jim.

"You know - 'Liiifesaveeers, hummm,'" Michael intoned.

Jim held no grudge against Stanley - he was a good man and a hard worker - but this office demanded self-preservation. "That sounds great," Jim ruled, hoping he could remember the whole list for Pam.


Michael: There's one other song I've got ready. Didn't mention it to Jim - I already know it's perfect.

Michael clicks his mouse and the classic "Informer" by Snow starts to play. Bobbing his head off the beat as he yells over the music.

Michael, attempting to follow along: In-for-MER...something something something something ya gonna play 'em...aleaky boom-boom down...


The branch was assembled in the table-free conference room, looking as eager for that day's meeting as patients in a proctologist's office waiting to see their doctor. Just as the tension reached an all-time high - meaning Kevin had started to snore - Michael entered with Stanley in tow.

Stanley looked no different than usual - perhaps more apathetic, if that was possible - but Michael was a sight to behold. Wearing a stiff baseball cap reading Datamax at a jaunty angle and his grey Dunder Mifflin robe from Christmas the year before, he solemnly set down his small boombox, then surveyed his audience. Phyllis helpfully slapped Kevin on the arm.

"We are gathered here today for an important reason," he began. "We are here to learn. To become more understanding. To open our eyes to our brothers all around the world."

An overzealous silence embraced each and every person in the conference room before settling in to an empty chair and propping up its feet.

"We are here to learn the True Meaning of Blackness," Michael continued, folding his arms in front of him.

"What's with the bathrobe?" Jim wondered.

"It's a dakishi, Brother James. Hallelujah."

Jim jimmed, because it was the right thing to do.

"How many of you know what it truly means to be Black?" Michael asked. Understandably, no one raised a hand. He nodded. "Of course you don't. How could you? But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. And with the help of Brother Stanley," he put an arm around Stanley, who took a step away from him and willed the carpet to swallow him whole, "we shall unravel that mystery and dive into the deepest Blackness together."

"Are you serious?" Oscar asked, eyes wide.

"Holla," Michael answered.

Oscar blinked.

"Now, let's let some truth in, through music. These brave men won an Oscar, so I hope you'll really listen. Feel. Soak the words into the marrow of your souls." He stepped back and pressed play on his stereo. Three 6 Mafia's "Hard Out Here For A Pimp" began to play, and Michael bowed his head in reverence.

Many a fidget and an awkward glance were exchanged before Phyllis found the strength of character to raise her hand hesitantly.

"That's it, Phyllis," Michael smiled. "Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe."

"No, um," Phyllis softly replied, "I just had a question."

"Speak, sister," Michael whispered, almost a prayer.

"Well, it's pretty much the same question Oscar just asked," she admitted.

Michael shook his head with frank disdain. "You know, it's people like you that are holding the Brother-Man down. Can you even imagine what Black people could achieve without people like you, Phyllis? Can you?"

"We might even see a Black man run for President," Stanley muttered.

"I pray for the day," Michael whispered soulfully.

He pulled another tape out of his pocket. "Now, since we so clearly need to hear it," he said, sending a vicious glare in Phyllis' general direction, "I'm going to take a moment to let us all enjoy the national anthem of the Black people: 'Bitchz Ain't Shit' by Ben Folds..."

"I don't know how good an idea that is," Jim asserted.

Michael froze with cold fury. "You know, I would have expected better of you, Jim. After you dated a possible Black girl."

Jim tried to cipher that one out, but the fates were against him.

"I guess that's why you broke up," Michael said ruefully. "I think all of you need to learn what it means to African-American in this country! You need to know what it's like to face ignorance and racism and small-mindedness every day of your life! You can't imagine how it feels to see that in your own workplace..."

And then he dropped his tone back down. "But this man can," he said, gesturing to Stanley.

Michael nodded warmly. "Stanley, get on the mic and show them what time it is."

Stanley very slowly looked to the left.

Then to the right.

"I'd better not," he decided.

Michael nodded, understanding completely. "It's okay, Soul Brother. I know you're tired from carrying the White man's burden. I can take it from here."

And, as if that simply were not enough, Michael punctuated this statement by inexplicably shouting "Shabba!"


Oscar: I was pretty sure Michael had pushed all the boundaries he could. I felt awkward on Diversity Day. I was downright disgusted when Michael kissed me. I was offended on behalf of my family's home country when Michael suggested a burro at my welcome back "fiesta."

A long pause while Oscar stares into the camera.

Oscar: I've got nothing on Stanley.


"So you guys see? I mean, we may all use the same drinking fountains and urinals now, BoyzIIMen can sing in the same places that 'N Sync can, and Black talk show hosts may be just as popular as White ones-" Michael stopped momentarily to do the Arsenio Hall fist pump, badly, "-but things still aren't right. We're not even. We need to make a sacrifice, a public display of making it up to our brothers from other mothers. Black mothers."

"Not necessary," Stanley grumbled. Michael squeezed his shoulder, looking at the crossword fanatic with tears in his eyes.

"You are too selfless, my friend. But I want to give you your forty miles and a mule."

"Don't want it."

But Michael had already stepped forward valiantly. He pulled something from the pocket of his robe and held it high. "I want you to use this," he said, bowing his head again as his voice cracked.

"What is that?" Kevin asked.

The camera investigated, and with a quick pan downward discovered Michael had pulled the laces from his dress shoes. He was pressing the jumbled, knotted-together string into Stanley's hand.

"In the spirit of the documentary Roots, I want you to whip me," he whispered.

The silence, that up until then had been watching in amusement from its chair, stood in horror and wrapped the rest of the staff in its arms protectively.

"Like the guy from Reading Rainbow," Michael tacked on, flinching in anticipation.

The silence squeezed harder, its embrace loosened only when Dwight managed a strangled, "Geordi LaForge?"

And then, just as the moment seemed ready to devour them all, a superhero saved the day. It was not Der Komissar, in his glorious cape and mask, flying in through a conveniently open window. It was salvation in the form of a pale blonde, adorned only in a drab business suit and sensible heels, who stood and cleared her throat.

"I think this meeting is over," Holly ruled firmly.


Holly, looking very frazzled: It just went too far. Way too far. If I have a discrimination suit on my hands already it doesn't look good at corporate. At all.

She smiles just slightly.

Holly: It was well-intentioned, I know.

Her expression changes as if someone slaps her.

Holly: But so, so wrong.


Michael, noticeably huffy: I can't believe I thought Holly was going to be different than Toby. HR is HR is HR. Your first instinct is always right.

He snorts with contempt.

Michael: I should have known better than to think she'd understand racial harmony. Look at her, she's like a...like some sort of Nazi poster child, with her blonde hair and her blue eyes...

He snickers derisively.

...Then pauses thoughtfully.

Michael: Wait, are her eyes blue? Or are they green?

He scratches his chin contemplatively.

Michael: I guess it doesn't matter.


Michael: Anyway, I still think today was a success... we all learned a little something about tolerance.


Stanley: I learned a lesson about tolerance today.


Stanley: It is the same lesson I learn about tolerance every day.


Andy: I learned a lot. But I already knew tolerance is really important.

He nods definitively.

Andy: Like with my last girlfriend back in Stamford... I learned that I can tolerate way more pain than I would have ever expected. And even if I thought I’d hit my limit, I had to tolerate more.

He takes a few seconds to have a horrible think.

Andy: I wonder if Michael will let me borrow his shoelaces...


"That's my future, isn't it?" Pam asked as they were all filing back into the main office.

Jim cocked his head to the side in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

Pam gestured her eyebrows back to the conference room where Holly was still trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Stanley.

Jim gave her a jim-shrug. "Well, this is what happens when you agree to work with a crazy person."

Pam thought for a moment. "Do you think I should bail on my first real job?"

Jim took a breath. "Okay, first I'm going to tell you that I think this is your call and I totally support whatever you decide to do."

He let a beat pass.

"And then I'm going to remind you Dwight called this a 'mature readers' books seven times in his pitch," Jim concluded.

Pam froze in place. Her voice dropped a few octaves. "I'll go find Dwight."


Jim: Pam is amazing, and I think she's so talented.

A pause and a jim.

Jim: I want her to work again after this.


Dwight had already made it back to his desk and was in the process of poring over Pam's sketches with the same brutal, hateful glare that he'd given everything she'd shown him so far, and a fair portion of the world's population in general. His looks of loathing fueled her courage as she approached him, smoothing down her skirt.

"Dwight, I..."

"Pam, I am aware that I haven't said it before, but I just wanted to tell you what an excellent job I think you're doing," Dwight said without looking up, his tone slightly lacking the coldness and superiority she had already prepared herself for. "I see now that I was wrong to have ever thought that your uterus would impede you as an artist." He raised his pale face to meet her startled look.

It would never fail to both delight and depress her that, for the rest of her life as an artist, this was her favorite scrap of praise she ever received. "Um... thank you," she almost-whispered.

Dwight gave a short ceremonial nod. "I only hope you're ready for the next issue." With that he handed her a script and rose, ambling off into the sunset. (Of course that was impossible, but to be fair the overhead fluorescent light in the hallway had been malfunctioning for a week and was giving off a distinctly rose glow.)

Pam took a few seconds to review the pages in her hand. Suddenly her eyes went wide and sought out the camera.


Pam holds up Dwight's script, her hands shaking ever so slightly.

Pam: Tune in to the next issue, when Der Kommisar takes on an army of drug-dealing robots armed only with a pair of nun chucks.


Pam: That he makes by chaining two live bears together.

HalloweenJack138 is the author of 12 other stories.
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