Friday, September 03, 2004

Tying up some loose ends

LOOSE END #1: Ross

All's NOT well that ends well.

Ross left that meeting intentionally; I am sure of it. And I don't like it.

I really want to speak to him about what happened, but if he knows that, he'll avoid me until it's time for him to move. Such a coward.

I have Ross's laptop in my office, because he wanted me to download his contact list. THAT'S my ticket.

Bonnie, Ross's secretary (soon to be mine, more on this in a moment) sticks her head in my door. "I need Ross's laptop," she says. It's 11:30.

"Tell Ross I need to see him first," I say.

"Is it something I can help with?"


"OK, Steve." Bonnie was at the meeting. She knows what's happening.

12:45. Bonnie ushers Ross into my office. He is standing next to my desk, looking at me. Bonnie closes the door. Ross looks back, confused.

I read somewhere that this is the ultimate power position: Seated at your desk, with someone looking down at you. It's like they are not worthy to sit in your presence. It does feel pretty powerful.

"Family emergency, huh?" I say.

"Barbara called me, right before the meeting. I couldn't get to you before we started. Sorry about the text message-"

"Tell me, Ross. What was it this time? Were you choosing a ceiling paint color? Or maybe curtains for the living room?"

"Steve, it was an emergency."

"BULLSHIT, Ross!" I am raising my voice, but I'm not angry. My emotions are totally in check, but I'm trying to scare him. It works. Ross takes a step backwards. "You fucking threw me under the bus. You KNEW someone was gonna give me shit about the insurance premiums. And you didn't want to deal with it. So you LEFT!"

"Yeah, Steve, it's all a conspiracy. It's the grassy knoll all over again. Get over yourself. You're not even in charge yet, and already you're on a power trip."

"I know what you did, Ross. How you went behind my back. What, you didn't think I'd find out?"

"I EARNED that promotion, Steve. TEN YEARS I worked here. I worked my ASS off. I earned it."

"Then why'd you have to backstab me to get it?"

"Fuck you, Steve." He walks past me and snatches his laptop, then turns and heads for the door.

"Hey, Ross," I say.

He turns and looks at me.

"Do NOT fuck with me again. Do you understand?"

He turns and leaves, slamming the door.



7:00, Friday. My brothers and I gather at dad's house with Jenny to discuss Mom's condition.

"Boys, your mother is very sick," dad is saying. "She's got a very advanced case of cirrhosis. The doctors are very concerned."

"Is she gonna die," Greg says.

"Without a transplant, yes," dad says. "And, unfortunately, she can't get on the transplant list until she's been sober for at least six months, and preferably more. Liver transplants are hard to come by, and they won't give her one if they think there's any chance it's going to be jeopardized by alcohol abuse."

"Can she survive that long without one," I say.

"Maybe. It depends on how well the medication works. She seems to be responding well to it, but it's only been a day."

I am somewhat relieved. At least she has a fighting chance. I don't like mom, but I do love her.

"Is she committed to getting sober," I say.

"She is today. But you know your mother," dad says.

"Is she getting out of the hospital soon?" Greg says.

"Tomorrow, hopefully. They want to see how well the medicine works and observe her for one more day."

"I think we should all say thank you to Jennifer," I say. "She was the one who noticed mom's symptoms and insisted that she see a doctor. So Jenn, I want you to know we really appreciate it."

Everyone says "Thank you" to Jennifer. She smiles. "I'm only too happy to help," she says. She has been so helpful and kind throughout the whole process. It occurs to me that she is going to make a great wife someday, to some guy who is not related to her.

"Boys, I think it's time we start dealing with the possiblity...."

"That she's not gonna make it?" says Chris.

"She's very sick," dad says.


LOOSE END #3: Jennifer

I drive Jenn home from the family meeting. It's a long ride. We talk the whole way. Every once in a while I shoot a glance over at her. She is beautiful, absolutely stunning, with her long, black, shiny curls and pouty red lips.

We sit in her parking lot, the engine ticking. The talking stops. We look at each other.

"You have been so great, Jenn, really amazing," I say.

"It's no problem," she says absently. We are both thinking about something else. What is going to happen? Am I going to kiss her? Is this the day we finally get naked and fuck each other's brains out?

I kiss her. It's the barely-touching, impossibly-soft Jennifer kiss that drives me insane.

"You are gonna make some guy a great wife someday," I say.

She squints at me. "Where did THAT come from?"

"As much as I love being with you, and as much as I would love to keep hooking up with you..."

"You don't want to anymore," she says.

"I'm in love with someone else."

There. I said it.


LOOSE END #4: Lila

Shortly after 11am, Friday (I know, I am slightly out of chronological order. Deal.)

Lila appears in my office. She is wearing a stretchy, grey, form-fitting cotton dress. She's just as curvy as a Victoria's Secret model.

"Steve, that was a great speech," she says, smiling. She's been wearing her sadness like a mask for the past few days. It's gone now.

"Thanks, Lila!"

"I'm......I'm..proud of you," she says.

My heart soars. Could this be a reconciliation? Even with all the good news of the past few weeks, there's been a pall over me, like a dark cloud that never quite blows away. I can't fully enjoy anything, because I have not resolved things with Lila.

"Lila, I need to speak to you. Can you close that," I say, pointing my chin towards the door.

She closes the door and sits down.

"Lila, you've been my secretary for a long time, and you've done a great job. And my first choice was to have you as my secretary after the promotion..."

She sits up in her chair.

"But the fact is, Bonnie has been an executive secretary for 10 years. And there's a lot involved in working for a DM. I want you to train with her, learn what she does. You know how I feel about learning new things on the job-"

"mm-hmm. If you want to earn more, you have to learn more," she says. I say that all the time.

"Exactly! So, you'll work closely with Bonnie in the next few months. But I'm going to have you stay as the admin assistant for the operations manager, whoever that happens to be."

"Who WILL it be?"

"There are a few people I have in mind. But I have a feeling Dan Johnson will want something to say about it."


We look at each other. We have a lot to talk about.

"Thanks for the flower," she says.

"What flower," I smile.

She smiles and stares at my paperweight, avoiding my eyes.

"Can you ever forgive me," I say.

"You really hurt me, Steve. And I just keep thinking that..."


"That if I get back together with you, you'll hurt me again. And I just love you too much. It would KILL me!"

"So you don't trust me, is what you're saying."

"NO! I just...don't think you're ready."

"So that's it? YOU'RE telling ME I'm not ready? What qualifies you to say that?"

"I KNOW you, Steve. I just get this feeling that you're always plotting and scheming, like you've always got something going on behind my back that I don't know about."

Damn. Good call!

"Thanks, Lila."

She sighs in frustration. "Ahh, Steve, you just don't get it!" she says. "I'll talk to you later. I'll call you." She gets up from her chair and heads for the door.

"Hey," I say softly, getting up.

"WHAT?" She turns to look at me, bottom lip jutting outward in the prettiest pout you've ever seen.

"I love you," I say.