Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011 Chapter 15

      Being Easter weekend, I flew to Dallas to see Ben’s girls. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown in just the short time I’ve been gone. They looked lovely in their Easter dresses—Amanda has such good taste in clothes. I took some great photos of them in their backyard after the Easter egg hunt. 
Seems I missed the Tour de Tech Terrace while I was away in Dallas. It appears to be a rather irreverent bicycle/drinking tour of the Tech Terrace area.  It’s been in existence for fourteen years... definitely long after my tenure at Tech. Although we did have a lot of bicycles in my day. I read in the AJ it was a little more tame than usual. And one cyclist even donned a trash can to help pick up litter. Interesting event. Maybe next spring I’ll be living in that special area of town and can watch it from my own front porch? 
Chapter 15
   When I arrived at work this morning, I could hear the commotion from two doors down. I stopped just short of the doorway and peeked in, finding Elaine pacing, picking things up and then putting them down heavily, muttering to herself.   
   “Stupid, egotistical man ... typical male chauvinist ...  tell him a thing or two ...  good swift kick in the ass ... all the way back to Aggieland ... stupid! Stupid! STUPID!” Elaine shouted, taking off her right shoe and throwing it against the far wall, barely missing my plant.
   I stepped in quickly, saying, “Elaine! What in the world!”
   Elaine whirled around as if to strike me, but seeing who it was, stopped herself. She comically limped back to her desk and sat down dejectedly. Putting her head down on her desk, she began theatrically beating her fist against a stack of papers.  

“Elaine! What’s wrong?!”
   She raised her head and looked hard at me, saying with clenched teeth and balled fists, “Your boss just got rid of Katherine. Just got rid of her! After 23 years in the Chief of Staff’s office, he just got rid of her!” 

       She was standing again now, lopsided on one shoe, face flushed.
   “Miss Katherine?” I said, alarmed. “Boyle fired Miss Katherine? Whatever for?” 
   “For a better looking piece of ass, that’s what for!”

   “Okay, Elaine, take it down a notch or two and give me more information ... you’re a communications major, remember? And I’m not getting all the facts ... so sit and talk ... Now!”
    Elaine sat, crossed her arms and took several deep breaths as I retrieved her errant shoe. Finally she said, “I just heard from Nancy in the President’s office. Boyle got rid of Miss Katherine.”

“Fired her?”
   “No, moved her to the open receptionist position in the President’s office. How humiliating for her!”
   “And why did Boyle do this? Do you know?”

“Because he can!” she said, her voice raising again. “He thinks because Stone left last week and he’s interim president he can do as he pleases. He moved that Allison slut from HR ...”
    “Slut? Wait, wait. That’s sort of harsh, isn’t it, Elaine? Do you know for certain she sleeps around?”
   “Everybody says she does ... but no, I don’t know for certain. Okay,” she said, a bit sheepishly, lowering her voice. “I won’t say that, but she wears these really tight, short skirts —”

   “Umm, Elaine, my friend, you wear really tight, short skirts.”

Elaine was indignant, “Yeah, but I wasn’t hired because of that!”
   I looked at her with a touch of skepticism, so Elaine explained. “Mr. Leonard was a friend of Uncle William, so he hired me because of him. But it didn’t take him long to find out how good I am.” Then she laughed, “And I look damn good in tight, short skirts!”
   “Yes, you do!” Charlie said as he stuck his head in. “Say, did you guys hear about Miss Katherine? Asshole Boyle replaced her with that slut from HR.” 

  As the facts came in, it turned out to be true that Bennett Boyle had indeed moved Miss Katherine. And did it without a shred of compassion. 

      Seems she’d found a note on her desk early this morning telling her to take her personal items to the empty receptionist desk in the office next door—he no longer needed her services as his secretary.
     She’d been so distraught she’d immediately taken a sick day, carrying home her family pictures, framed business school diploma, 15-year-old African violet, Kleenex box and a half-eaten package of chocolate covered raisins. 
   By 8:30 a.m., Allison from HR had happily moved her own personal items into Boyle’s outer office. They included a mirror, a jumbo pack of Juicy Fruit, six bottles of nail polish, a framed photo of herself — obviously taken at a cheap shopping mall glamour studio — and an eight-inch-tall stuffed purple elephant named Baby, now proudly displayed on the front of the desk. 
   The entire building was in an uproar, with more than one person whispering their threat to quit on the spot if by some horrid mistake the Board of Regents made Bennett Boyle the new president. Everyone knew he’d submitted his application, and insiders said his ego wouldn’t allow him to doubt that the office would be his soon. I was nauseated at the thought. 
   I was also nauseated when I remembered an appointment with Boyle for this afternoon, needing to go over next year’s budget one more time before turning it in to Finance. Boyle had so far refused to discuss even a modest increase. Armed with facts and numbers, I headed downstairs at the appointed hour. 
   It’s interesting that Boyle is still in the old Communications offices rather than moving into the now-empty presidential suite next door. (Even though Stone said he would work until the end of the semester, he had several weeks of vacation coming, so he left early. The Board made Boyle interim president.) Maybe Boyle thought it might be too presumptuous — or maybe too humiliating to move out again if he didn’t get the job. Or maybe he just didn’t want Communications moving back in down there? In the meantime, he was obviously taking full advantage of his newfound power to make some less-than intelligent changes, at least according to gossip. 
   Well, I thought as I entered his outer office, time to meet the infamous Allison.
   Jonathan Long was standing at Katherine’s old desk, arms out in exasperation, talking to the person seated behind the desk, blocking my view. “You don’t understand. I’m Mr. Boyle’s second in command, and I’m allowed to see him whenever I need to see him ... and I need to see him now.”
   A sweet, high-pitched voice replied in an almost comically slow Texas drawl, “Well, Mr. Long. It’s you who don’t seem to understand. Since this mornin’, ah am in charge of Mr. Boyle’s appointments, and you don’t happen to have an appointment according to this here little appointment book, so you cain’t see him now.”
   Hmmph. I thought as I stepped up next to Jonathan. I smiled and said sweetly, “Well, I have an appointment, and I can give up my time slot to Mr. Long, if he needs it.”

“Thank you, Maggie,” Jonathan said in his usual quick manner. “I really just need five minutes.”
  Allison narrowed her eyes at me and frowned. “And just who the hell are you, darlin’?”
  I raised my eyebrows at the new secretary, quickly assessing her mannerisms, speech, attire and attitude—and didn’t like any of the above. The twenty-something woman had massive bleached blonde hair that curled out of control even under a wide headband of neon green. Her matching tightly stretched top was cut so low over her obviously implanted breasts I know she could have easily carried her cell phone inside the visible cleavage. 
   “Margaret Grant, director of Communications and Marketing, and I do have an appointment with Mr. Boyle. You can check in that there little appointment book,” I said, continuing my sweet tone and smile. “Go ahead, Jonathan, I’ll just sit out here until you’re finished.”

   Before Allison could think to protest, Jonathan knocked once on Boyle’s door and entered, closing the door behind him. 
   Allison still had her mouth open in surprise when I turned my back to her and sat down in one of four leather chairs lining the wall. I opened the folder I’d brought, and without looking up, said, “You might want to close your mouth, Allison. Your gum’s about to fall out.” 
  Snapping her mouth shut, Allison stood up, revealing her tight, short, brown pleather skirt and neon green stilettos. Haughtily walking past, she drawled, “Ah’m goin’ to the ladies’ room.”

   Four minutes later, Jonathan came out and looked at the empty secretary’s desk. Allison hadn’t returned. He whispered to me as he hurried to the hallway, “Whatever is he thinking?!”
   I smiled ruefully, straightened my suit and marched into the inner sanctum — after all, I did have an appointment.
   I stood in front of Boyle’s desk and waited. And waited. He loves to play that game. Making people stand as if at attention until he acknowledges them. I didn’t want to play today, and said curtly, “What happened to Miss Katherine?”
   Without looking up, he said, “She moved next door. What do you want?”
   “Why was she moved?”
  At that, he looked up sharply. “I don’t report to you — you report to me. It’s none of your damn business why she was moved. What do you want?”
   “We have an appointment to go over my department’s finances. I brought some facts and figures I’d like to discuss—”
   He interrupted, “Put them on the secretary’s desk.”

“But I’d like to discuss them with you.”
   “But I wouldn’t like to discuss them with you,” he said causticly, “so put them on the desk outside and leave. Dismissed.” He returned to his work, looking down. 
   Before I could stop myself, I stood at attention, clicked my heels together, saluted, turned and marched out. Bennett Boyle pretended not to notice. 

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