Part 123 – Barbara At Work

“Thank you for calling Sammy Borscht’s office. We specialize in helping extraordinaries find jobs that match their talents. How may I direct your call? Okay. I’m transferring you to his office now.”

Ambrose sat quietly and watched Barbara work.

“Yes. I see in your account that we did pay you the agreed amount. Hn? Yes. We sent the check out on Friday, which means you should get it by Thursday of next week.”

He tried to imagine Elsie doing the same job. Her tangled black hair all bundled up in a 9-5 bun. She’d wear a business suit, nylons, and no nonsense heels.

He grinned. She’d look like a regular schoolmarm, but one that could be transformed into loveliness with the undoing of her hair.

I’d like to see that.

“I’m sorry, but she has gone home for the day. No. No, she doesn’t care for roses. If you want my opinion, Ms. Hawthorne is more of a Shasta daisy. Mmm-hmm.”

He tried to imagine himself in such a job.

I’d wear a suit and a tie and a crisp white shirt with stiff-starched collars. I suppose I’d have to wear cufflinks and a fancy watch. Trouser socks would be a must. And slick black shoes that creak when I walk.

He closed his eyes and pictured himself sitting at Barbara’s island desk, rattling out her spiel as if they were his own words – “Thank you for calling Sammy Borscht’s office. We specialize helping extraordinaries find jobs that match their talents. How may I help you?” After being Mark Caten’s thug, it would be a fascinating change of pace. I would love the simple plain peace of it.

He opened his eyes. But there aren’t any glass windows or walls separating her from visitors whether they be friend or foe. “I wouldn’t like that. I’d feel too open, too vulnerable.”

“I’m sorry, sir. No—well, that’s true, but—I’m afraid that—Excuse me, but I— I’m sorry, but I really don’t think…” Her mouth dropped open and her face turned red.

Ambrose walked over to her desk.

“Well. No, but…” She blinked in surprise. “Okay then.” She hung up the phone.

“You okay?”

She shook her head. “Some people can be so…irrational.” She looked down. Her mouth twitched as if she were trying not to cry.

He walked around to the her side of the desk “It’s all right.” He hugged her. “Don’t cry, Elsie.”

She stiffened. “Elsie?”

Her phone rang again. She pushed and shoved herself out of his embrace. “Hello, Mr. Borscht. Yes, Ambrose Smith is here now. Very good, Mr. Borscht. Yes. I will send him back right now.” She hung up the phone.

“Barbara, I—”

“Sammy’s ready to see you. You’ll go through the glass doors over there and follow the hallway to the end. His office is on the left side.”

Her phone rang again.

She answered it before Ambrose could even try to speak. “Hello! Thank you for calling Sammy Borscht’s place.” She turned away from him as she continued with her spiel.

He frowned. “So, what? You’ll forgive me for biting you and pushing you around, but  I accidently call you by my ex-girlfriend’s name and oh, dear no! I’m just the plague incarnated? Is that how it is?”

She hung up her phone.

“Why? Why should such a small, stupid, mindless detail be that much of a dealbreaker? Why?”

“Please, Ambrose. Just go.” She tried to push him out of her space.

He dug his claws into her arms. “Just tell me. Why?”

She cried softly.

Regret flared up inside of him. “I told you I was a monster and you didn’t believe me.” He released her arms. “Maybe you do now.” He walked around to the other side of the desk and headed for the front door.

Ambrose stopped at the mid-way point and quietly considered his options. The phone rang again. He looked back at her.

Barbara wiped away her tears and put on her professional sparkle. “Hello! Thank you for calling Sammy Borscht’s place…”

The corners of his mouth curved up in a slight smile. He turned and walked through the glass doors on the other side of the room. He followed the hallway to the end. Sammy Borscht’s office was on the left side.

Ambrose opened the door and went inside.


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