He waits, I wait.
The bowl is on the ottoman, my dog is by my feet.
Twenty nine minutes past eight on the clock, I reach into the bowl.
He opens the slip of paper, I place the laptop on my knees.
Phones were ringing everywhere. The steady stream of conversations would overwhelm the average person, but Sarah wasn't average.
This was her domain. Buying bits of property here and there, raising rents, foreclosing on homes but all for the good of her dream. The protests outside were growing louder but she did not care. Let them scream about rights, what do they know?
"WILLIAM!" She barked.
A balding man in his forties scurried into her office.
"Yes Mrs. Boe" His left hand nervously rolled the pen against his pants leg.
He was a sniveling little person and Sarah loved that she could terrify him.
"Did I not tell you that the Bates proposition was the most important file to oversee?"
"Yes, ma'am." Beads of sweat collected on the shiny peach skin of his forehead. A giddy feeling ran through her as he began to squirm.
"Then why the hell have we not heard from their lawyers?" His eyes bulged and he began to flip through the notepad in his right hand.
"I... um... I thought -"
"Of course you thought William. The problem is your thoughts are worth nothing! DO you hear me? Nothing. I pay you to oversee, to organize, to execute...not to THINK! Get out of here and if I do not have Joseph Bates on my phone in two minutes then you can THINK about where you need to send your resume."
He barely nodded before running from her office. It made her feel complete to know that he would be desperately trying to contact Bates. It made her feel exhilarated to know that he would fail. Joseph Bates was on a flight to Tahiti with his mistress. She would enjoy getting rid of William.
The young woman at the door was new. She had been hired only three months prior but had been a great asset to Sarah's accounting team.
"Yes, Andrea. What can you do for me today?" Sarah moved to the picture window. A sweeping view of the city below gave her a surge of excitement. One day she would own all that she could see. The Bates acquisition would allow her to close down the money sucking hole of a hospital on the corner and that awful non-profit agency two blocks over. Thank God some people understood that only certain types of people should survive in this world.
"You are needed in Conference Hall A on the twenty-third floor." Andrea stood tall and determined. Sarah could admire her confidence, though Andrea's backbone could do with some strengthening she showed potential.
"Whatever for? I have no meetings there today." Sarah waved off the information and sat down to look at her daily agenda. Five foreclosures and one lawsuit. The lawsuit was a silly misunderstanding about eviction rights and the foreclosures were merely proof of her greatness.
"Mrs. Boe, I believe that this is important. You might find it...quite...unexpected, but I assure you it is something you won't want to miss." Andrea turned and disappeared around the corner.
Sarah sat pondering the girl's words. She should have demanded an explanation but the little twit had moved too quickly. She should have yelled, but alas she was saving that for William.
She decided to just forget about the entire exchange and make some notes on some acquisition papers. The Bates file was something that needed extra care. She had been through nine assistants since the start of it and every one of them had tried to file for unemployment. She had managed to implicate each of them in some form of office theft making them exonerated from assistance. Employees really are just play things, after all.
Smiling she gazed around her office. Plaques lined the walls, framed documents that outlined her accomplishments. There were photos too. Some of the people she had ever so kindly removed from their homes and places of work. She was always sure to have a polaroid on hand for moments like those.
Relaxing she sat back and thought of the seventy employees who answered to her every whim. They were her minions, her lackeys and most of all hers to control. People think that money is just money but ahh she knew better. Money can make the average man go mad with greed or give up a life of luxury for a lazy life with others. You just had to discover which type of person you were hiring.
The lights of her telephone lit up and she waited for the buzz from the front desk. It never came. She realized William had not returned with his failed response.
"WILLIAM! WILLIAM!" She bellowed. No answer. Actually there was silence in the front office. It was never quiet on her floor. All her minions worked hard to constantly be on the phone, of course hoping to have her avoid them if she thought they were working. She knew that trick.
Moving to the open work area she saw an empty space. The desks, the phones, the files were still there, but no minions. Rage filled her. There was no fire alarm, no off time, no break time where they could all be gone. Stomping across the room she entered the hall. The receptionist desk was empty.
Then it hit her, the twenty-third floor. Well, no matter what it was, NOTHING excused this behavior. She had never fired so many at one time. Her heart rate quickened with excitement. The ultimate firing. She would clean house. Gleefully she pushed the elevator button.
Stepping into the small elevator car she paused.
Shit. She can't fire them all. Who would she keep? As names began to flit through her mind the bell arriving had her remembering where she was going. The doors opened and people crowded the hall way. They had been talking but when they saw her silence fell on the crowd.
"WHAT ARE YOU ALL DOING? Did you forget that you are employed? Is there some astonishing reason that you all feel you can just NOT work today?" She walked through to the conference hall smirking at face after face. "Well, let me inform you that there will be a much quieter scene upstairs tomorrow. At least half of you will be going home....FOR GOOD-"
At the glass doors she froze. Standing beside Andrea was Joseph Bates. He wore a dark suit and a smile.
"Mr. Bates. I'm... I'm so sorry, I had no idea you were here today." Flustered she crossed the room to shake his hand. Andrea watched and nodded. Sarah looked from Andrea to Joseph and paused.
"You.. you..." She let the words hang.
Joseph placed his arm around Andrea's waist and Sarah felt her stomach drop.
This was not good.
He held a blue file in his hands. The file she would have had William get for her, the one with the contracts.
"Joseph I don't understand."
"You must realize Mrs. Boe that there are complaints. Serious complaints, some are even on tape. The other week when you slapped that young girl for spilling your coffee. Two days ago when you had William clean your office with a toothbrush, a cup, baking soda and lemon juice. Then there is this morning. You threatened the security guard over the phone with eviction or expulsion of his children from school."
"These are all circumstantial...you have no p-p-pr-proof -" Sarah stuttered. The air had left her as she glanced around the room. Her minions all stood watching, waiting for something she could not even stomach to think about.
"No. William has proof of all your transgressions." William stepped forward smiling, no longer nervous, actually smug. "Now you will be held in the room next door until sufficient law enforcement arrives. You should know that you are being arrested for assault by the way."
"No one here will tell you anything that I have done. NOTHING!" Sarah screamed. Her hands were shaking.
"Now, Mrs. Boe, I think you are mistaken. However all of these things will disappear so long as you do. There is a piece of paper in my hands. It signs over the rights to the company. Mr. Bates will oversee the acquisitions and the employees will each be given a share. We will allow you to keep one share and the apartment you live in, of course is yours. If you don't sign then you will lose everything." William opened the file and placed a pen on top.
Sarah's pulse was erratic. The faces swam around her. For the first time in her life she felt powerless. She wanted to yell, to crush the smirks and fire them all. Tapes would destroy her. There were some, she knew, who frowned upon her methods. Her throat began to close as she realized that they had accomplished exactly what she coveted: control.
"You conniving...I pay you..." she mumbled as she read the document. They were taking it all. Deep down she was impressed by the move but it was overshadowed by anger.
She signed the document and stood up.
"I believe that everyone has the rest of the day off." Straightening her suit as she stood. She nodded to William, Andrea and Joseph, then walked to the elevator.
As she pressed the button a loud cheer went up behind her and her world came crashing down.
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