Loose Cannons - Cover

Loose Cannons

Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 10

Acting like it owned the place, the cat came through the open window and jumped down to the floor. It padded across the room taking a moment to pause beside the couch. Looking disappointed, it ignored the other occupant in the room. The cat went over to the bowl with food and started eating.

“I bet you were hoping to find Guy, weren’t you, cat?” Selena said.

The cat glanced back at her and then resumed eating.

Selena said, “He’s a married man. At least he is for the moment. I don’t think he’s interested in the likes of me.”

Although none of them had thought about it at the time, the reason they had all chosen the same bar was because it was close to where each of them worked. She had been surprised when Guy had walked into the local sandwich shop two days after the robbery. They repeated lunch together the next day. She enjoyed the lunches spent with Guy. She talked about the men in her life and he talked about his family. He really cared about his family.

The poor man was depressed about his wife’s infidelity. He told her that he had been tempted to stray many times, but hadn’t. She believed him. He hadn’t tried to make any moves on her. He had been a complete gentleman the night he spent on the couch. It seemed to her that he was just a nice decent man.

Of course, she knew about the gonorrhea. It tainted his image despite the fact that it wasn’t his fault. She knew that she could have suffered the same fate or worse. At least her tests for STDs had come back negative.

When they weren’t talking about the people in their lives, they talked about science fiction. He mentioned that the early science fiction books had fed his interest in engineering. She asserted that the modern science fiction with emphasis on the human condition was more intrigueing in terms of the possibilities they raised. She agreed with him that all of the books concerning nanotechnologies and computers were kind of boring. They just didn’t have the level of excitement and adventure that blasting off for the far reaches of space had.

The cat finished eating. It stopped by the couch and then jumped onto it. It gave Selena a dirty look and then went out the window.

“It’s not my fault,” Selena called after the cat.

She felt that she should be laughing. The alternative was to cry and she had been crying way too much lately. The entire weekend had been spent crying.

“God damn you, Mike!”

She fought back the tears for a bit, but lost the battle. She started sobbing. Here she was, thirty years old and getting older without a single chance of catching a good man. She wanted a husband. She wanted to settle down and have kids.

She really thought Mike had been the one. In hind sight, she knew she had been played a fool. He had talked a nice game about settling down and raising a family. He had told her everything she had wanted to hear. He had told her that he was between jobs, but was diligently looking for one. They would marry as soon as he was employed. Until then, they would just live together.

Six months had passed and he still hadn’t found a job. She knew that the economy was bad, but it wasn’t that bad. Then she had come home to tell him about a job she had heard about. Instead of delivering good news, she had found him in bed with Penny. The woman had remarked that she was sorry, but she liked Mike more than her. She hadn’t talked to Penny since that day.

She and Penny had been friends for more than ten years. They had met in college and hit it off. She was the quiet one of the pair. Penny had a wild streak in her that would occasionally emerge. Before Selene would know it, Penny would have dragged her off on some adventure. They never really got into trouble, but for a few hours Selena would feel alive.

There had been one time when they had driven Penny’s convertible out into the country and then ridden around for an hour, topless. Even at the time she couldn’t believe she was doing it. There had been another time where they had picked up a guy and taken turns giving him a blowjob. Caught up in the moment, it had been fun. Only later did she worry about the consequences.

Being around Penny was fun. Occasionally she would come over to the house with a bottle of wine. They would eat, drink, tell stories, and laugh. They told each other their most fondest wishes and greatest fears. Penny was envious of Selena’s breasts while Selena was envious that Penny was perfectly proportioned. They each joked about trading bodies. Actually, Penny talked about getting a boob job so she would have breasts like Selena.

In short, they were friends and did what all friends did together. They helped fill lonely evenings commiserate the little setbacks of life, and celebrate the good times. Penny’s absence had left a hole in Selena’s life that wouldn’t be easy to fill. She missed the friendship, but there was no way she could forgive Penny.

Breaking out of her depressing thought, she glanced at the clock. It was later than she realized. She left the apartment for work. It was Monday and the beginning of another long lonely week. Maybe she would run into Guy at lunch. That would be nice.

Her boss was waiting for her when she arrived at work. “You’re late.”

“It was just five minutes,” she replied.

Her boss owned a calendar business. He contracted pictures from various photographers and arranged them for calendars. It was a good business. The company sold several million calendars a year. The biggest problem was keeping track of the photographers and their artwork. Her job consisted of doing everything including getting copyright releases signed, contracts forwarded to all of the right people, and keeping up with deadlines. Every piece of paper that entered or left that office went through her hands. Her boss signed the papers when he bothered to come into the office.

It was a strange business that could be very stressful at times. Everything had to be finished by September for distribution to retailers around the country. At the present, there was a distributor who was trying to renegotiate distribution rights. She had handled all of the negotiations and he was here to sign the contracts after looking them over.

“I don’t pay you to be late. I expect you to be here on time,” he barked.

Her depression switched over to irritation. She replied, “Get over it. It was just five minutes.”

“I was here early. I needed the files for the Sanders contract,” he said.

“They are on your desk,” Selena said.

“They are?”

“Yes, they are,” Selena said. “I knew you would want to see them first thing upon getting here. I put them there after the lawyer finished examining the contract.”

“You should have told me,” he grumbled.

“You haven’t been in since last Monday,” she said feeling even more irritated at him. The papers had been sitting on his desk since Tuesday. She had put them there right before discovering Mike and Penny in bed together.

“I’ll look at them,” he said. “You shouldn’t have been late. I’ll remember this when it’s time for your annual review.”

“You should pay me more,” she replied unable to believe the words coming out of her mouth.

Her boss made a lot of money off those calendars and she saw very little of it. She resented the low pay, but had put up with it to keep her job. After the past few days, she was sick and tired of being used. Mike had used her. Penny had taken advantage of her friendship. Her boss was using her.

“I pay you well,” he said.

“No you don’t. I should be making twice as much money as you’re paying me,” she said.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said.

Before the attempted robbery she would have backed down and swallowed her pride. She stood up and said, “See you later.”

“Where are you going?” he asked shocked by her behavior.

“I’m going to take today off,” she said.

“You can’t do that,” he said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“I’ve got that Sanders contract to deal with and I’ll need you if there are any questions about it,” he said with a stutter. He’d never seen her act this way. He knew that his business would fail without her keeping it afloat.

“Good luck finding answers,” she said.

“Wait a minute,” he said.

She turned to face him. She said, “No. You wait a minute. I’m in here dealing with your customers, your photographers, and your lawyers every business day. I take care of everything that goes on in this place. You come in here for a couple hours every few days and sign papers. I’m making twenty-eight thousand a year. You’re pulling in over a million. I can walk across the hall, rent an office, and put you out of business in a minute.”

“I do more than that,” he said stunned by her sudden aggression.

“No you don’t,” she said. “You were in the office three hours last week. You haven’t been in the office more more than ten hours in the past month. Don’t tell me you are networking. I was the one who found the photographer in Philadelphia to replace the guy who died last month.”

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