Roger entered the antechamber on the 13th floor and gazed appreciatively at the secretary sitting behind the desk. She looked up with a hint of exasperation oh baby leggs are here and fawning, but judged him to be worth neither in that split second.
“Do you have an appointment,” it was not a question.
“Yes, I’m here to see Mr. McNamara,” Roger felt uncomfortable in the wake of the unexpected.
“Oh yes, have a seat,” her blue eyes shifted to the computers screen, “Mr. Miller,” she went about her business without another thought. “He’ll be with you in just a moment.”
Roger felt around the room with his eyes, the painting, an impressionistic reproduction probably a Monet, dominated the waiting room, the woodwork, the lavish furniture. A twinge in the beginning was a twinge of doubt as to why he was here began grating on him. Why would the big boss call him in just to give him the ax? He must be some Trump mouth breather, who gets his jollies driving the final nail into the coffin or project your mind he daydreamed several scenarios; all of them ending in his inevitable sacking. Roger thought back to the only time they had met, outside the courtroom at the Diamond libel trial; but, they had gone through the obligatory exchange that people do when they know they’ll never see each other again. Surely, he would simply have had Frank fire him, if it was a routine canning.
Once again, a notion formulated in Roger’s head, a notion search your innermost feelings that perhaps it was not firing but a new adventure that he was here for. After his contentious dumping by the LA Times, he had tried his luck freelancing with not much success; then, over drinks one night he had met Danforth and by the early morning had been offered the job. It began with a few pseudo-investigative pieces, takin care of business every day including the Diamond story, but his obsession with 2020 and the end of the world scenarios had played well with the customers of SCAB! and, in one stroke of fortune, his Horrorscope, linking the end of the world prophecies with the Web Bot predictions along with the zodiac, became a staple of the paper. The money wasn’t great but their interests aligned look into all possibilities and he felt at least a slight sense of accomplishment. Perhaps McNamara was changing the direction of the magazine and Roger was just the man to turn this rag into the cutting edge magazine that it had the potential to be.
The oak doors opened in a fury, a man, red-faced and swearing, walked quickly to the receptionist.
“What’s your name, sweetheart,” it wasn’t a come-on.
“Fuck off loser?”
“Exotic name,” she continued to file her nails, slipping a leg through the slit in her skirt, totally unaware that the man remained.
“My name is Fido T. Farnsworth,” he pulled at imaginary suspenders. “And when I’m finished with your boss in there, I’m gonna own this gaddamn shitrag” he bent towards her and leered, “then you’ll have to do all those special favors for me.”
“In your dreams, asswipe,” nonplussed, she began applying the varnish to her nails. Fido stood for a moment fuming, preparing to say something, and then turned toward the elevator, looking back as he pushed the button. “He’s ready to see you now,” Roger was pitched from his reverie, the fire dying, the hope fading. No, he probably is just a sadistic bastard Roger lumbered forward, and then in a swirl of masochistic bravado, he turned.
“You must get a lot of…”
“No!” the inevitable talk to the hand gesture. “No small talk, no asking me anything,” Roger slumped forward, turned once more for the door.
“Look, you seem like a nice guy,” she jolted in her chair for a fraction of a second; her face softened into an inviting smile ala doughnut waitress her blue saucer eyes upon him. “So, here’s the deal. He’s either ecstatic cause he handed that windbag his ass,” She looked at her nails, as if for the first time, “or totally pissed cause blow hard here got the best of him.” She turned her hand went back to blowing on her nails. “He’s bipolar as hell, so just go with the flow until he’s blown off enough steam,” her hard edged look, the eyes icy blue once again. “Like I said, I don’t date the help,” she tried to smile, takin care of business every way but couldn’t muster up any sympathy.
“Just trying to be a human being,” Roger didn’t try to smile.