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The Odd Job, страница 1


The Odd Job

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The Odd Job
The Odd Job

  By Brennan Barrett

  Copyright 2012 Brennan Barrett

  This book is dedicated to David McCann, my sixth grade teacher. For the first person to encourage my writing, thank you.

  Sharp Things

  Bits and Pieces

  The Naughty Necromancer

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1 Chapter 2

  Chapter 3 Chapter 4

  Chapter 5 Chapter 6

  Chapter 7 Chapter 8

  Chapter 9 Chapter 10

  Chapter 11 Chapter 12

  Chapter 13 Chapter14

  Chapter15 About the Author

  Chapter 1

  Paper can stink; its smell can be as unpleasant as an unmaintained dumpster, especially if you are surrounded by a miniature fortress of it on your desk. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to have veritable piles of paper, stacks of forms and statements on your desk that resemble medieval battlements, you know what I mean. I used to love the smell of paper. It always reminded me of favorite books and stories. Now it just stinks.

  The main reason my desk currently looked like I was preparing for an impending siege by Saxon forces, was the result of a significant amount of abject hatred I had generated when I had inadvertently foiled Glen's budding office rape career. Glen is the snide and smarmy department manager that lives to make my life just a bit worse each day. Glen's preferred manner of interaction with me is an ABC checklist of a little more paperwork than I should be given, a generous helping of his own work added to the growing piles on my desk, bribing the mail boy to skip my sandwich order and stalling me with a series of fictitious questions the moment a fresh pot of coffee is made. I believe the technical term for people like Glen is ‘douche bag’. Alas, my working life just keeps getting worse as Glen’s boredom builds and it continues to build a little more each day.

  “How could someone who should be managing an entire department possibly be bored?” you may ask. Well, he shrugs his own work off onto me in an effort to make my life miserable, at which point he has nothing to occupy his time and ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground.’

  Glen must have been dying of boredom yet again this morning I noticed because the sandwiches were being passed out and once again my order hadn’t been taken. I was going to have to leave the office to get lunch and that meant being the last one out the door tonight. It also meant dealing with Glen’s retribution, all because Belinde had been gullible or stupid enough to let Glen lure her into the cubicles during a New Year’s Eve party.

  Those were my heady days of clerical efficiency, of always being caught up on my paperwork and not hating my life. In an effort to maintain that efficiency, I had foolishly crept back to my desk to finish the paperwork for two claims that remained from my weekly work load. I wanted my statutory holiday all to myself without thoughts of unfinished paperwork interfering with a perfect, lazy day off. Ten minutes, just ten minutes without stupidity, lust or booze affecting my coworkers and my life would have remained comfortable.

  Alas, good fortune was not with me. Glen pranced into the cubicles with Belinde and her gravity-defying bosom in tow for a little romance. I was just finishing the second set of claim adjustment forms when I heard Belinde start to panic. “Well, that’s your fault for thinking you can flirt your way into a promotion without paying a price,” I muttered to myself. Sour grapes? Hell yes! I had a crush on Belinde that was recognizable from orbit, to everyone but her. Grumbling and moping in silence, I was thinking I would be stuck hiding in my cubicle until the little act of office romance had run its course. At least that was what I was thinking up until I heard a muffled scream and ripping fabric. Maybe I should have had the presence of mind to leave Belinde to the fate she had manufactured for herself but I acted on impulse and instinct.

  Looming over Glen as he writhed atop Belinde on the sorting table beside the large office printer, I cleared my throat like someone being ignored at an expensive restaurant and watched as Glen’s startled face suddenly took up the space previously filled by the back of his head. Startled or not, Glen still hadn’t bothered to move the hand that was covering Belinde’s mouth.

  “It’s not rape if they don’t or can’t say no, right?” I said with eyebrows raised innocently. My snide comment seemed to galvanize Glen into action. Stiffening, he looked at the hand covering Belinde’s mouth below her wide frightened eyes with abject surprise.

  “Whoa, hey, how did that get there?” the unspoken words playing across Glen's features as he looked down at his hand.

  “You may want to get off of her now,” I said in a smug tone as Belinde struggled, still trapped under Glen's weight.

  "Mr. Aingeal," Glen began, his customary smugness returning swiftly, "I don't know what you think you saw here but you are rudely interrupting Miss Dagmar and I." He finished with Belinde unable to say so much as a syllable in her own defense. Glen really was a self-righteous prick.

  "I'm sorry," I said innocently. “'Interrupt' is such an interesting choice of words. I didn't realize it was rude to interrupt a rape." I finished my sentence with mock sincerity and a curious expression on my face. It was so unbelievably satisfying to stick Glen with a bit of his own smarminess and I just couldn't help myself. Then I was quickly forced to actually help myself as Glen lowered his head like an angry bull and charged at me. The hollow sound that Glen's head made hitting an office divider was also quite satisfying. I had crescent stepped out of his way and he hadn't even noticed. Glen was one of those men who thought height made you an 'Alpha Male'; Glen was incorrect.

  After a few minutes of watching Glen knock over half the dividers in the office, the fun finally ended. Belinde had decided it was time to say something, which didn't sit well with Glen. At least I assumed it didn't sit well with him because no sooner were the words 'Please stop!' out of Bel's mouth before Glen delivered a resounding slap to her cherubic little face. I winced at the thought of her perfect little rosebud lips being marred and found myself hoping she had taken the brunt of that savage swipe to her solid Danish jaw.

  "Hey!" I snapped at Glen. "Attempted rape and assault? Where do you draw the line?"

  Glen was rapidly digging himself into a hole that there was no escape from. I was looking forward to seeing him taken away in cuffs when Belinde said, "Let's just pretend that none of this ever happened."

  I had to hand it to Glen; his fine-tuned douche bag survival reflexes were top-notch. "Fine," Glen spat, "I'll go back to the party and let you two tidy this mess up." And with that, Glen turned and left.

  "What the hell were you thinking?" I blurted like a startled goat. Belinde was already at work straightening or returning the disturbed office dividers to an upright position. I couldn't help but notice her wonderful ass as she bent over to gather a stack of half spilled files from one of the sales desks.

  "I just didn't want any trouble," Belinde moaned as she returned a rather large stack of paperwork to the desk it had been upset from.

  "Trouble is all we're going to see from here on,” I growled. “I don't see Glen as the live and let live type!" Belinde winced at my tone of voice, which immediately made me feel like an ass. "I'm sorry for growling at you," I said, "but seriously Bel, why not just have the bastard arrested? We'd never have to deal with him again."

  Her answer was, “It's complicated.”

  And now my work life was a lot more complicated. I pushed my chair back from my desk and looked at my watch. If I elbowed my way through the lunch hour throng, I should be able to hit Standerwicks Deli for a meatball sandwich and be back in time to gulp it down with some lukewarm coffee before my break was over. My jacket was on and I was throwing my messenger bag over my shoulder as the elevator door opened. There was Bel, with Glen’s lunc

  Glen preferred to have Belinde bring him his lunch when he stayed in the office during break. I’m sure it was quite a treat to watch her bend over his desk with the necklines she always wore. “Did you spit in it?” I asked, reaching out my hand to stop the elevator door that she was holding with her foot.

  “Of course,” she said with a wink. I winked back and ducked into the elevator before Glen caught us talking. We both knew he would be writing us up if he caught us talking. Then, in addition to the constant abuse, we’d be passed over for raises and promotions. Glen would love that. We’d be stuck in his little domain even longer.

  The elevator doors closed and I was left alone with my inner grumblings. I liked Belinde but I wasn’t sure how I really felt about her. We had been giving each other signals before the New Year’s office party when Glen transformed from asshole to rapist asshole, but things were different now. How could I not be at least a little annoyed with her for not speaking up and having the prick arrested? Both of us were suffering because she was protecting the rat bastard. I wasn’t about to say squat until she did. I’d look pretty stupid if she didn’t back me up when I accused the office manager of attempted rape and Glen knew it. He also couldn’t fire me without good reason so he tried every single day to manufacture one.

  I was starting to wear thin mentally. The workload was getting to me. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was becoming more and more irritable each day. I was even starting to think with foul language I suddenly realized, as I left the elevator and headed out the front doors of the building. Well, my father always said that a good meal makes everything better. He had lots of sayings that revolved around the ‘good meal’ theme, though he tended to call a meal ‘a feed’. And with feeding on my mind I elbowed my way through the lunch hour rush towards Standerwicks Deli with visions of meatball sandwiches drifting lazily through my mind.

  I was drooling and looking food-crazed by the time I made it to the deli counter. There was no way my sandwich was going to survive the trip back. I would just have to keep my eyes open while taking bites this time. I had walked into a lamppost with a resounding clang once on my way back from lunch. The only thing that had saved my front teeth was the sheer density of the Standerwick Meatball Supreme. Dally, the girl at the counter, had laughed so hard when I told her the story that I thought she might wet herself. At least someone enjoyed that event; I sure hadn’t. I lost half my sandwich in that one-sided battle with the lamppost, and you didn’t waste a single bite of a Meatball Supreme!

  Thank God Dally was working. She saw my face as I came through the door and had my sandwich ready to ring up before I got through the lineup. I left a tip as I thanked Dally for being an angel and opened the door with my hip. As I stepped out, I took the first blissful bite of my sandwich. I growled at anyone who ventured too close to me as I walked back to the office, because this was possibly the very best version of the very best sandwich in the world. I reminded myself to pick up something for Dally at Christmas as I peeled back the wrapping paper to expose the second half of my sandwich.

  I must have been making sex sounds again while I was eating because one of the pedestrians waiting beside me for the light to change noticed the paper my sandwich was wrapped in and nodded sagely with a wistful smile. The light finally changed and I crossed the street while trying to remain mindful of other people and the remainder of my sandwich. Doing an admirable job of it brought me just short of the opposite curb when a black luxury SUV came screeching around the corner ahead in a tight right hand turn that plotted a beeline course directly through my body.

  My fellow connoisseur of the Meatball Supreme, who was a mere half step in front of me, was saved by default when I dove across the remainder of the intersection carrying him with me in my flight. My heart was beating quite loudly in my ears but not so loud that I missed the three staccato pops coming from the SUV as it continued past and what felt like a kidney punch had me gritting my teeth. I quickly scrambled to my feet looking for something I could throw at the rapidly diminishing black Beemer when my heart dropped. At my feet lay the remnants of my beloved sandwich. "Burn in hell you bastards!" I roared. "By Odin’s empty eye-socket I'll see you pay for this!" My warped humor always kicked in along with my adrenalin. I admit, as defense mechanisms go, it's embarrassing.

  I would have laughed at myself if I hadn't noticed the man I had saved still lying on the curb where we had landed. "Hey buddy," I asked, "are you ok?" A weak groan was his only answer. I didn't see the blood until I turned him over and realized the poor bugger was in bad shape. It looked like he had taken a round through his side and one through the chest. I had played enough video game and watched enough TV to put the pieces together.

  "Hold on buddy!" I said as I reached into my bag for my phone to call 911. When I looked at the phone to dial the simple emergency number I saw the mushroomed slug imbedded in the screen of my costly smart phone. Well, that explained the kidney punch I felt. I reached back to feel for blood as I called out to bystanders to call 911.

  "Just hold on," I reassured the man, "help is on the way."

  People say that the dying often have that moment of clarity just before the end. I saw it now as the mortally wounded man in my arms reached up a bloody hand to grip the back of my head with a frantic strength.

  "It's too late for me son. You've spoken the words and called upon your God. It's up to you now."

  "What are you saying, old man? Just be still," I pleaded, once again trying to be comforting in a hopeless situation. It only made him offer up a sad smile.

  "What is your name?" he asked, his voice growing more faint with each word.

  "It's Declan sir, Declan Aingeal." He gave a slight nod as if everything made sense and all was right with the world, but it wasn't and I still didn't hear sirens.

  "Be vigilant Declan. You will be contacted but you are not yet safe." With those puzzling words, the back of my head exploded with intense heat. Out of pure instinct I reached up with my left hand to pry his hand away, still supporting his fading body with the other.

  As my hand covered his, the supernova at the base of my skull suddenly turned to ice and time stopped. Time actually stopped. I took a breath that sounded like rushing wind and distant thunder. People around us were frozen in mid stride and gesture. The dying stranger and I locked eyes for what seemed like hours and I swore I could hear a cavalry charge of hooves and an oddly musical peal of horns or trumpets. I felt a hurricane blowing straight through my soul for an unknown length of time and suddenly with a flash of light that seemed to come from everywhere at once. Time began to march forward once more. The polite, unassumingly dressed stranger went limp and his hand slipped from the back of my head to fall at his side.

  I wasn't even thirty years old and a complete stranger had just died in my arms. I mean, sure I wasn't the first guy that had held a stranger while they died but son of a bitch! This wasn't a war zone. I wasn't outside a shady bar on the bad side of town. I was one friggin' block from my favorite deli on my god damned lunch break! Maybe I had had a stroke while eating, or worse I may be drooling at my desk because the pressure I had been under at work had caused an aneurism and I was face down in a pile of damage assessments.

  Except the concrete was killing my knees and my left side had an awful lot of someone else's cooling blood on it. I also wouldn't have heard the sirens from my desk. No, this was real and I didn't know if I should burst into tears from shock or just calmly shit myself. What the fuck was going on?

  The paramedics pulled me away from the body and started frantically working on the fallen stranger. Someone was asking me if I was hurt. I just shook my head as I was led to an ambulance. Someone put a hot cup of coffee in my hands and I noticed that the cup was from Standerwicks Deli. It took a few minutes, and more than half the coffee in my cup, before I noticed the cop who started asking questions the moment our eyes met.

  “No, I had never seen this man before and didn't know him from Adam.” “No, I
didn't recognize the vehicle that had been involved,” “No, the only person that wanted me dead was doing it to me publicly and slowly with mountains of paper work,” and “Ok Officer, I didn't plan on leaving town anyway.”

  I was slowly coming out of my daze still half covered in blood as one of the uniformed cops dropped me off in front of my office building forty-five minutes late from lunch. Maybe Glen would see the blood and just stay quiet. And maybe Santa would bring me a map to Atlantis for Christmas.

  "Oh look who has decided to grace us with his presence. It must be nice to take extended lunch breaks while the rest of us are stuck here working." This idiot was the poster boy for douche bags and it was long past time I snapped.

  "Glen, you useless puke,” I yelled, “you can't honestly tell me you haven't noticed that I'm covered in blood?" He still had a smarmy expression on his face as I pulled my cell phone from my coat pocket. "I would have called to say I'd be running late but there seems to be a fucking bullet lodged in my god damned phone! I just had a man die in my arms and I'm sick of your bullshit you whining, conniving, chauvinistic piece of shit little rapist." His eyes were bulging from his head and I was picking up steam.

  "Now I'm going to the can to wash off some of this blood. When I get back, if you haven't removed every single scrap of your work from my desk, I will shove my entire arm up your smarmy little ass and turn you into a human sock puppet!" and with that I wheeled right and headed for the washroom.

  It must have been ten minutes that I just stood and stared toward the sink. I was holding my hands in front of me entranced by the blood. A few speckles of rusty brown on my right hand that had mostly dried and my left hand painted completely dark red with a few brighter spots where the blood was thicker and hadn't dried completely yet. My entire left sleeve was soaked in blood and still quite red.

  I finally got the water running and started washing my hands. I took four applications of soap before all the blood was finally gone. I had already started drying my hands when I remembered the mystery man's bloody hand reaching toward me and turned the water back on. I ran the paper towels under the hot water for a second then wrung them slightly so I wouldn't have blood colored sludge running down the back of my neck.

  The hot damp towels felt good on the back of my neck. I almost tossed the wad of towels into the trash without looking, to repeat the process, when I noticed they were still clean. "What the hell?" I muttered. I was certain Johnny victim's hand was literally covered in blood when I saw him reaching toward me. I even had blood on my right palm from trying to loosen his grip.

  "Where did the blood go?" I asked myself in the mirror. I realized I wasn't going to process what had happened to me in the next ten or twenty minutes so I figured I might as well deal with the backlash of my outburst with Glen. I grunted at the thought and finally tossed the last paper towel into the trash and left the bathroom.

  I came back to the cubicle area only to find Glen facing me, arms crossed across his chest and a smug self righteous expression plastered across his face. He was bracketed on either side by the two biggest security guards the building had to offer. One was a bald black guy and the other was a monster with a crew cut that looked like he ate professional wrestlers for a light snack between meals. Our building had armed security guards due to the fact that it contained both a bank and a diamond brokerage and I noticed that the burly men had their hands resting on the butts of their guns.

  "You are going to stay right there Declan, and not move a single inch until the police arrive." If anything, Glen was actually beaming as he finished his little power statement. "Boys, if he moves, shoot him." Both of the guards turned to Glen with raised eyebrows at the idiot's smug speech, realizing the smarmy little prick had played them.

  "Did you get caught up in that shooting down the street?" the bald one asked as he eyeballed the bloodstains on my jacket.

  "Yeah," I replied, "there was nothing I could do to help the guy and I almost took a bullet through the kidney for my troubles." I reached my hand into my messenger bag, poked a finger through the hole and wiggled it at him before I brought out my poor iPhone to show the guards.

  "No shit” the more talkative guard said as he took the phone from me to examine it. "Did you show this to the cops on scene?"

  "No," I said, "I was kinda caught up in the moment and forgot." He had already passed it to his partner before I finished.

  "I served in the gulf," he began. "You are one lucky son of a bitch. A 6mm round like that can tend to bounce around once it's inside you." He was shaking his head as he finished. Obviously there were a few memories there he would prefer to forget. You could certainly tell he wasn't happy with Glen by the look he gave the little puke.

  I was actually shocked when the first guard’s massive partner handed the phone back to me and turned to Glen. "Your father hated you didn't he?" he said in a gravelly voice that was as big as he was and liberally basted in some Slavic accent. "Don't ever waste my time again."

  I had to hand it to Glen for not shitting himself before the giant finished speaking, and not making a single sound as the monster turned with his partner to call the elevator. Glen was still standing in shock as the elevator doors opened and the cop I had spoken with at the scene walked out. The cop, I guess Detective would be a better term, nodded at the guards as he walked past them and stopped beside me. "Mr. Aingeal," he said with a nod in my direction.

  Turning to a crestfallen Glen, he continued, "You must be Mr. Sumner," his voice directed coldly to Glen. "You phoned to report someone with a possible connection to a homicide?"

  "I believe this is your culprit right here," Glen offered weakly. The detective, whose name I still didn't know, sighed in exasperation and hung his head. You could tell by his clenching hands that he desperately wanted to wring Glen's neck for wasting his time.

  "Mr. Sumner," he began, "there are serious repercussions for wasting the Police departments resources. If you ever call my department or me again, it had better be for a serious reason. I am not your high school principal and I personally do not appreciate you wasting my time." He turned away from Glen without waiting for a reply.

  "Declan, why are you here? I'd have thought you would want to get home, ditch the bloody clothes, have a long shower and a shitload of booze."

  "I'd love to," I said, "but fuck-face here would make my life hell if I didn't get all his work done for him before I went home," I ended with a slight toss of my head in Glens direction. The detective shook his head in disgust then pulled a small folder from his pocket.

  "Here's my card,” the detective said. “I should have given you one at the scene but I had my hands full. My partner is home sick with the flu and I'm working the caseload by myself." I took the card he offered and quickly read it before looking up.

  "Thank you Detective Mullins," I offered.

  "You call me if you remember anything you think might be helpful, or if you just feel like talking," he finished with a warning glance in Glen's direction.

  I walked with Detective Mullins back towards the elevator, more out of politeness than anything else, when I did in fact remember something. "Detective Mullins, I forgot earlier but you may want this as evidence," I said handing him my phone.

  He took the dead cell phone from my hand and examined it. "Where were you carrying this when it happened?" he asked.

  "It was in my bag," I replied, once again reaching into my bag and poking a finger through the damaged leather. "It felt like I took a punch to the kidney. I heard a three round, silenced burst and felt the single hit. I thought I was a goner."

  "Silenced?" the Detective asked.

  "Yeah, sounded like a silenced FAMAS but I can't be sure."

  "Did you ever serve?" he asked.

  "No,” I said, slightly embarrassed, "I used to play a lot of Xbox when I was recovering from a knee operation."

  "Well," he said with a thoughtful expression, "this tells us that the ‘plus one’ was the shooter. If you ha
d tried just a little harder, you would be dead."

  "Plus one?" I asked.

  "Driver plus one; helps keep things straight." He tossed the phone back to me as he stepped into the elevator. "Keep that as a memento. The M.E. pulled two slugs from the ‘vic’ so we don't need that one. It does let me know there may have been three or more perps in the vehicle since a shooter in the front passenger seat would have killed you both. Our ‘vic’ was facing that first round just as you tackled him. Which means one of the rounds missed your face by inches." Detective Mullins was holding the elevators as he spoke. "Do you always wear your bag down the left side?" he asked.

  "Not always,” I replied. "It’s usually on the right but I'm right handed and I'd just paid for a sandwich I was eating."

  "You're one lucky son of a bitch," Mullins said as the doors started to close.

  "So I've heard," I muttered in reply just before the doors blocked my sight. I turned back to retrieve my iPad from my desk, deciding to take Detective Mullins' advice and going home. I'd need the info from it when I went to get a new phone. I didn't have a landline and I knew my father would be trying to get in touch with me when he heard about the shooting near my work.

  As I pulled open the top drawer of my desk to retrieve my iPad, keys and headphones, I noticed Glen still hovering nearby. "Glen,” I said, "I'm going home and I won't be back for at least a day and a half. You may have to do some of your own work for a change."

  Glen made a shocked clucking sound of honest actual surprise. I looked at Glen and then looked around the office. Half the staff was still staring at us like they had been from the moment I had returned from the bathroom, the other half were frantically attempting to look busy. "Don't bother saying anything Glen,” I said, before the human turd had a chance to speak. “No threats, no bullshit, just stay quiet for five minutes and I'll fill H.R. in on everything before I go.”

  "If you think you can milk your little mishap as an excuse to dodge work,” Glen said as he gestured with his finger, “you are history Bub!" He couldn't last even five minutes without acting like a complete asshole. The guy was amazing.

  "You know what?" I spat, wheeling on Glenn halfway between my desk and the hallway to the Human Resources offices. "You can just fuck yourself Glen! You've been using the fact that I interrupted your little rape scene with Bel to make my life suck and foist all your work onto me for the past five months. Now piss off!" The little bastard couldn't take a hint. He was actually following me down the hallway complaining about the department review that my absence would sabotage.

  Thankfully Glen didn't follow me into the H.R. department and I was able to explain the whole affair to Marry (The holy mother of H.R.) without a fuss. The poor woman was shocked white from the sight of all the blood on my clothes and it took a few moments for her to collect herself before she could copy down the information from the card Mullins had given me. One quick phone call by Marry to Det. Mullins, for a case file number, and I had two weeks paid leave.

  Glen could blow me I thought before I realized the little maggot was probably still waiting outside in the hallway, and would most likely stalk me all the way to the front doors of the building.

  "Is there anything I can do for you before you leave," Marry asked, genuinely sincere and concerned. I explained Glen's reaction to the entire mess without mentioning a word about the attack on Belinde. I told Marry I just wanted to leave without another confrontation. I told her flat out that I probably wouldn't make it out of the building without knocking Glen on his ass.

  "No problem,” Marry said as she stood from her desk and linked her arm with mine. "I'll walk you out on the way to summon Mr. Sumner." Marry really was a sweetheart. "I do believe there are a few courses offered during the evenings and weekends that Glen would benefit greatly from," Marry said with a mischievous smile, "especially if his career depends on it."

  That was Marry; a sweetheart that only fools crossed. Marry took a specifically harsh stand against office bullying and insensitivity. Glen was about to find out what life was like when someone higher up the ladder decided you had fallen from grace. I had started to feel the same mischievousness that Marry was showing slowly creep across my face. Then my grin turned into a full smile as Marry noticed Glen waiting in the hallway.

  "Oh Mr. Sumner,” Marry began. "I was hoping I might run into you." Glen was torn between throwing venomous glances in my direction and trying to make a break for it. Before his face actually exploded from indecision, Marry asked. "Would you please join me in my office for a few minutes? There are a few things we need to discuss." Glen's abject hatred of me was his undoing as he tried to dismiss Marry and return to his favorite hobby of torturing me; the idiot committed a fatal mistake in the presence of our H.R. department head.

  "Yes of course dear," Glen said snidely, "just as soon as I've had a chance to speak with Declan alone for a few minutes." Sweet little Marry spontaneously reached critical mass and became King Kong; she actually managed to loom over Glen while being more than a foot shorter.

  "‘Dear’? Did I actually hear you address me as 'Dear'?" Marry asked. Glen was suddenly looking like he wanted to blame the actions of his mouth on global warming or brain damage. "Declan, I would like you to go home and make your own wellbeing a priority," she said as she positioned herself between Glen and I like a momma bear. "And,” Marry added, “I want your promise that you won't hesitate to call me if you need anything."

  When Marry took that tone everyone did as they were told without exception. I nodded and smiled like a good boy. "Of course, Marry,” I said gratefully, “thanks again for all your help. I won't keep you. I think Glen needs you more than I do right now." And with that, I turned and walked away. I heard a stomp and glanced back over my shoulder to see Mary glaring fiercely at Glen while she stood firmly and pointed at her office door. I brought my gaze around in the direction of my feet and stifled my laughter as best I could.

  Within moments, I was in the elevator and headed down to the lobby. Calling a cab from the lobby was out of the question since my phone had suffered a fatal gut wound. ‘Oh crap,’ I thought, ‘I have to get a replacement phone before I go home.’ Oh well, no salesman would want to keep me around too terribly long while I was covered in blood trying to replace a phone with a bullet in it. Thankfully my service provider had an outlet within walking distance.

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