I smiled, chose not to answer, and walked up to him. Without breaking my stride, I drew back my fist and slammed it into his face.
Finesse that, motherfucker.
Alice was wailing at me. “I asked you to do one thing! One!”
Mostly everyone at the office had clocked out for the night. The few people that remained were packing their things and getting ready to head out. Every now and then, when they thought I wasn’t looking, they would sneak a peek at me and Alice as we argued inside my office.
Have to replace the damn glass walls.
We had just come out of a meeting with the lawyers after hours of assessing just how bad my punching Dennis would be. Alice was right, I hadn’t handled it with fucking finesse. But one look at that smug bastard’s face, and all I could think about was hammering at him until he really did have use for his dental insurance.
Alice paced back and forth in front of my desk, and all I could do was lay back on the couch and try not get her any angrier than she already was. At this moment, she made me feel like this was her company, not mine. It was interesting what crap like this made you realize about the people around you. It really put things in perspective.
“He’s going to sue, you know,” Alice said. “And he has enough witnesses to make it seem like you ran him through a meat grinder.”
“It won’t be that bad,” I sighed.
“Oh really?” Alice asked, sarcasm dripping from her voice. “Sure, yeah, Dennis will probably forget about all this. Maybe he’ll come over and apologize for trying to screw you. You know what? Maybe you guys can go out and get a couple of beers, talk about old times, and wonder where the fuck things went wrong!”
She stopped her pacing, took a deep breath and raised her hand to stop me from saying anything else. “I know, I’m sorry,” she said. She looked around the office and shook her head. “I guess it’s just…Chance, I really care about this place. I gave you some of the best years of my life, turned down good offers when they came, had your back through a lot. This isn’t just some job for me, you know?”
“I know. You’re preaching to the choir, Alice.”
She sat down on a chair next to me and folded her hands together. “I’d love to actually hear from the choir, if you don’t mind.”
I looked at her, scoffed and rubbed my eyes.
“Do you want to go all the way back to my childhood, doctor?”
“This isn’t funny, Chance.”
“Seems fucking hilarious from where I sit.”
She opened her mouth to say something, closed it and then leaned closer. “Talk to me.”
I looked at her again, and this time she wasn’t Alice, my loyal secretary and perpetual sidekick. The way she looked at me, it felt like her eyes were boring right into my soul, reading me without me having to say anything. It was a side of her I hardly saw, and it felt good to see it now. Like I actually had a friend, and not just someone who cared about where their next paycheck was coming from.
I sighed, sat up and licked my lips. “I could use a drink.”
“Not the wisest of choices, Chance,” Alice replied.
“I threw them all out.”
“You what?” When she gave me a look that told me it would be better not to argue, I closed my eyes and laid my head back, and tried to gather my thoughts. “This fucking sucks.”
She didn’t reply at first, waiting for me to go on, and when it was clear I was just going to wallow in self-pity, she asked, “What happened in Ludwig?”
I winced at the mention of the town, but for the life of me couldn’t think of what to say.