a Short Story
Copyright © Fall, 2003, Kellis
“We’re due for a raise next week.”
Having poured her husband’s evening Coors and her own Chardonnay, Laura dropped her bomb without looking up.
The man scanned her face across the dinette table, finding the expected stoicism and perhaps something more. “He told you tonight, did he?”
“Yes.” She sipped her wine and made a face. “This is that cheap brand again.” She chuckled self-effacingly. “I can’t keep them straight.”
“Put a little salt in it like you did the last time,” he suggested, following the words with a sarcastic chuckle. “Does it taste worse now than it did when he told you?”
Tension appeared in the planes of her cheeks. “Howard …” she began.
“He did make you, I assume?”
She took a breath. Her eyes were downcast.
Howard gritted his teeth. “Goddamn that son of a bitch …” He also paused for breath. “How did we let him get in this habit, Laura?”
She looked up then away. “You know how.”
“Yeah. Because we’re weak.”
“Weak!” he repeated. “Because I’m weak. If I was any kind of a man I’d fix that bastard.”
“Howard, please. You know we have to think about Emily. And our future.”
Despite his show of anger, Howard carefully set his beer mug down on the table before getting to his feet and taking the three paces that brought him to the limits of the small kitchen. Fists clenched in frustration, he whirled back to face his wife. “Tell it all. Did you suck his cock before or after he told you?”
“As a matter of fact,” she murmured, still not looking at him, “he told me quite a while before.”
“‘Quite a while?’ What does that mean?”
“He told me this afternoon. I didn’t … do it until everyone else left.”
“‘Do it!’ Christ, Laura, if you can do it, can’t you say the name of it?”
Again she sighed.
He shook his head and matched her sigh. “I guess it’s another piddling raise like the last.”
“Not so piddling. That was part of the problem.”
He stared at her for several seconds before finally resuming his seat at the table. “Tell the whole story, Laura.”
Mr. Lindsey called me into his office a little after lunch. He said, “Close the door. This is personal.”
I told you how he split his britches seam last week. I thought maybe he wanted me to staple it again, but when I closed the door, he surprised me.
He reared back in his big chair and smiled at me. He was in a good mood. “I got the figures last night, Laura. Lindsey Acquisitions cleared six million dollars on the Heywood deal. That’s cleared, Laura! And because it’s a planned reclamation the taxes are excused.”
That was surprising. You did the prospecting, Howard, and I did the workup on Heywood. We were only supposed to clear one mil. Lindsey probably placed a lot of fake bids to run up the price, like he did for Murphy Tilings. I just hope he had enough sense to use his anonymous login. Anyway all I said was, “That’s wonderful news, Mr. Lindsey.”
“Yes, isn’t it!” He was still smiling. “And I want to reward my two people who made it possible to unload those ruins.”
I was startled. “Bonuses?”
“No, not bonuses. We don’t want to create that kind of precedent. I was thinking of nice fat raises.”
I gave him a bright smile. “I’ll prepare the Employee Compensation forms immediately.” I blinked. “Or do you need such forms for vice presidents?”
“For whom?” He stared at me then laughed his odd cackle that usually means he’s setting me up. “Not those drones, Laura. I mean raises for Mr. and Mrs. Burton.”
You know how much we need money right now. I’m afraid my face lit up before I realized what else it meant.
“Good news, eh, Laura? Why not, for the sweet-mouthed admin who does everything superbly, even that?” He laughed even harder as my face went blank.
“So, Laura, I want you to prepare two Employee Comp forms, one for you and one for your husband. And get this: you choose the size of the raises. How does that suit you?”
“Ah, uh …” I’m sorry, Howie, but all I could think of was what kind of extra favors he might want this time.
“Well, don’t just stand there, Laura. Get on it.”
His cackle followed me out to my desk. I called up a form, put your name on it and dithered. I tried to call you but your cell was out of range. Then I remembered you were doing the Waterford appraisal, where all the buildings are made of sheet metal. I wonder how management gets cell phones to work in places like that!
Anyway I filled out the forms and got printouts. But Lindsey had left the office. He returned just before closing, leaned over my desk and said, “Stick around, Laura. I’ll call you in a minute.”
I made sure I had Kleenex and mints in my pockets. As usual, the office emptied fast. By the time the intercom squawked, I couldn’t see another soul.
I closed his door behind me and marched up to his desk with the two forms in my hand. He grinned and said, “Come around here, Laura.”
I know I winced, remembering. I said, “Please, Mr. Lindsey, won’t you roll your chair out here? The last time I came back there I tore my hose and bruised my knees on your chair runner.”
He blinked, barked a laugh and shook his head. “Don’t be in such a rush. I just want to show you something.”
“That’s what I mean.”
“No, no. On the desk.”
Doubtfully I came around the desk to his elbow. He pointed to his big computer display. “You see that? It’s the first floor plan.” He hit a key on his keyboard. “And that’s the second floor plan. See these two dots side by side? That’s you and me. You know what this means?”
His computer was running the building security program that I installed. I was only too aware of what it meant. The Doppler and infrared detectors were saying that he and I were the only two souls left in the building.
“We’re alone,” I said, taking a deep breath.
He touched another key. I heard the solenoids clunk even on the second floor through his closed door. “And now all the outside doors are locked up tight. Let me see what kind of raises you and Howard are getting.”
I passed him the forms. He gave them one glance and burst out laughing so hard that his face turned red. I waited, not even curious.
When he caught his breath, he said, still huffing a little, “I made a bet with you, behind your back, so to speak. I bet if you asked for a good merit raise, I’d give it without extra favor. If you didn’t, however …” He laughed again and said scornfully, “A hundred a month for your husband and 50 for you!”
“I thought it would be safe,” was all I could think to say, which after all was only the truth. “That was the amount of our last raises.”
Suddenly he was serious. “How about 800 a month for Howard and 400 for you?”
My knees wobbled. That would be over 14,000 a year gross! I had to brace on the edge of his desk. He was staring up at me from the corner of his eye. I felt something strange under my skirt. I think it was the first time he has ever touched me below the shoulder. He was feeling inside my thigh.
“I’ll sign the new forms as soon as you print them out. And Laura, I want to see real favors for this!”
I couldn’t think what to say. I shuddered involuntarily when he pressed up between the legs of my panty hose. Nobody ever touches me there but you.
He withdrew his hand and said, “Take off your clothes.”
“My, my clothes?”
He stood up. “All of them.”
He threw his necktie on the desk and gestured at the display. “Nobody can see us, you know. Hang your stuff on that chair.”
He waited for me to finish. His thing was already half-hard. He caught my hand. “Come on.” He led me out into the main office.
I shrank back. “The windows!”
“They’re high in the walls, Laura, and the birds don’t care what we do. Here. I’ll sit on your desk. You can sit in your chair and give your knees a break.”
But first he had to play with my boobs. “I think I’ve wanted to do this since the first day you came to work here. That was the day I opened my father’s bible and read about King David and Bathsheba.” He chuckled. “Too bad we have no Philistines. Laura, you’re such a beautiful woman, even with a few wrinkles. Hell, I have a few myself. They don’t stop either of us. And fine is the only word for these heavies. Ah, I love the way the nips pop up! Pardon me. Having you so completely available loosens my tongue in more ways than one. Please have a seat.”
I sat. And I did it.
Howard snarled, “Did it? Damn it, Laura, say what you did.”
“Don’t you curse me, Howard Burton! I did it for you as much as anyone.”
He leaned back in his chair with a hollow chuckle. “You can’t suck a cock for a different man.”
“Yes, you can too!” She looked away. “I didn’t mean to tell you all of it, Howie.” She sighed deeply. “That was only the start.”
“What? What do you mean?”
I spat in a Kleenex from the box on my desk and found a mint in the drawer.
Lindsey said, “Do you swallow it from Howard?”
When I didn’t answer, he grinned and said, “I’m jealous. Now I’ll change places with you.”
He made me sit on the edge of the desk. He sat in my chair and pushed his cheeks between my thighs. “Ah, such velvet skin!” Then he was licking me. He does that very well. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, he stood up and … took his tongue’s place. He put his arms around me and made me kiss him.
“With his tongue, no doubt.”
She sighed. “Yes, Howie.”
“So there he was, the son of a bitch, fucking my wife on her own desk. Oh, god damn it!” Howard jumped erect, shoving his chair back to clang against the electric range, and took his three strides again. “First you sucked him, then he licked your cunt and — Did you like that?”
He studied her. “I get you. You didn’t like him doing it but it felt terrific, right?”
She sighed again.
“Did you come when he fucked you?”
“Howie, can’t you please use other words?”
“Those are the right words! Did you?”
“He was … He was a long time at it. I … think I was coming the whole time. You know how I am after some … after being licked.”
“After somebody licks you. Anybody!”
She looked away. A tear rolled down one cheek.
Suddenly he returned to the table. “Laura …” His voice was contrite. He caught her arm gently. “He’s got you, hasn’t he: all of you. His dirty cock has been everywhere I love.”
Her tears increased. She snuffled.
“Who am I kidding? He’s got me too.”
At that she raised wet eyes. “Howie, don’t …”
“Don’t say it? He fucks all of us whenever he wants to. Good thing he’s not queer or I’m sure he’d’ve been up my ass by now. Huh! How about yours?”
“N-no. He hasn’t done that.”
“Howie …” She wiped her eyes with her lounging robe. “Don’t forget the 14 grand.”
His hand dropped to her forearm. “Laura, are you still mine?”
“Still yours?” Her eyes widened. “Does that mean you want to do what he did?”
“I mean, are you thinking of leaving me for him?”
“Leaving you? Certainly not! Howard Joseph Burton, I love you. I may have to … all right, I’ll say it. I may have to fuck Mr. Lindsey, but it’s you I love, and I’ll be here as long as you’ll have me.”
He studied her for a moment. Hitching his chair next to hers, he took her in his arms for a tender, lingering kiss. When they were resting cheek to cheek, she said, “What is it? What are you thinking?”
He chuckled slightly. “You can tell I just had an idea, can’t you? It’s a humdinger. We’ve always known how sloppy he is. More than half our jobs is cleaning up after him. That’s why you went straight to the shower tonight, isn’t it?”
“Well, guess what. Just now our Mr. Wayne Lindsey happens to be vulnerable as hell. It’s about time his sloppiness came home to roost.”
“B-but, Howie …”
He grinned confidently. “Get me a fresh beer and listen to this.”
* * *
He leaned over Laura’s desk. All around them other employees were streaming to the stairs. He said quietly, “Lindsey’s in there, right?”
“Howard, for the last time, are you sure about this?”
“I’m sure. What’s he doing?”
She pointed to a light on her console. “He’s on the phone.”
“Could he be talking to Concourse National?”
She rattled her keyboard and studied the display. “No. That’s his broker. The bank wouldn’t call!”
“As I was leaving, Westmeyer put in a call to his lawyer. But some underling might’ve called here. Lindsey and the bank used to be thick, before he screwed them too.”
He leaned down to study her console, reached across her shoulder and punched a key, turning off the glowing light that represented a call.
“Howard!” she exclaimed under her breath. She looked around apprehensively but the stairway doors were closing on the last stragglers.
He grinned at her enigmatically. After a moment the intercom squawked, grating with the words, “What did you do to my telephone?”
Her husband gestured. She directed her voice toward the box. “I’ll be right there, Mr. Lindsey.”
She rose from her desk. Howard held open the heavy door marked Wayne Lindsey / President, followed her inside and closed it gently behind him.
Bushy eyebrows rose on the man behind the huge desk. “Howard?” he said. Because of his after-lunch shave he sported no five-o’clock shadow. Due to his frequent workouts at the club he was trim at 49. He wore a red silk necktie and a thousand-dollar suit striped in subtly different materials. His nails were manicured and his complexion smooth. His eyes narrowed. “What are you doing here?”
Howard dropped a briefcase to the magazine table, popped the latches and withdrew a stapled set of papers. He rose with an uncharacteristically confident grin. “We’ve got something for you: something you’ll like and something you won’t.”
“Damn it, Howard —” Lindsey began in a warning tone.
Howard dropped one set of papers on the desk. “Better look at that, Wayne.”
Laura stood beside her husband, watching her boss expressionlessly. The latter’s eyes swung back and forth between them. “What’s going on here?” he demanded.
“If you’ll look at that,” said Howard, “you’ll know. Part of it.”
The man smirked. “What is it, letters of resignation? I’ve been wondering if she told you the little games we play. I don’t know which is sweeter: your wife’s mouth or her cunt. Or are you going to charge sexual harassment?” He laughed smugly. “In fact it’s been pure sexual exploitation, but you can’t prove it, and trying that will only get you both fired.”
Howard laughed too, though more softly. “You’re the one in danger of that, Wayne.”
“Huh? That’s ridiculous! I own this place.”
“Better glance over that affidavit. The summary on the first page tells the tale.”
“Affidavit?” At last the man’s eyes fell to the paper before him, scanning furiously back and forth. He looked up, eyes wide. “This is … Gravenholt said this?”
“Yes. I knew he placed the fake bids on Murphy Tilings but thought nothing of it until … until what you did to Laura last week.”
Lindsey’s expression showed a mixture of triumph and chagrin. “She merely submitted to the better man, Howard, as women are meant to do. To make that clear, you’re fired. Go clean out your desk. Who’d you show this to?”
Howard grinned. “Don’t ask me questions: I’m fired. But I’ll tell you who: Westmeyer at Concourse National.”
“What? Damn you, Howard, they’ll sue me!”
“That’s exactly what Westmeyer said as I was leaving.”
“That will hurt,” Lindsey admitted. He leaned back in his big chair, glare becoming a grin. “But not as much as it hurts you. You’re still fired, Howard, and now with prejudice for disloyalty. How could you possibly expect to win at this?”
With a matching grin, Howard laid a single paper on the desk. “You’ll also want to see this. It’s only a printout, you understand. I’m holding the hard drive in a safe place.”
Lindsey swept it up. In a second or two he frowned. “But this … this is —”
“Two email messages. Notice the date and your encrypted signature on the first. You knew the exact amount of the winning bid on Heywood three full days before it was submitted — and told your pal at Nestor Mutual, who advised you in the second message he’d just sold Heywood short. He made almost as much money as you did.”
“Ah, ah, Howard …” Lindsey’s eyes stared from a suddenly white face.
The standing man chuckled softly. “Aren’t you interested in who I told of this?”
“Who … who …”
“Do you hear a hoot owl, Laura? I can think of a couple outfits that would love to hear about it. Wouldn’t the SEC just leap on it? It’s a stronger case than they have on Enron. And the state government. Heywood was a reclamation project you ran the price up on. Naughty, naughty! The environmentalists will be all over you after you get out of federal prison.”
The man spread his hands on the desk and sat staring in horror.
“You see who would get fired, Wayne? And Concourse National would end up running your business. They’d retain all your employees at the same salary. Laura and I would even get to keep that 14 grand.”
Lindsey turned stricken eyes on the woman. “Laura, it had to be you!”
“Who found the emails?” she responded. “Who else? Did you think I enjoyed … taking you in my mouth?”
His eyebrows rose. “You enjoyed last week.”
“I enjoyed … a lot more … giving my husband your hard drive.”
Lindsey’s hands rose to his face. “My god, I’m ruined.”
“Not necessarily,” said Howard.
Lindsey peeked between his fingers. “Not?”
“I said we had something you like too. Laura?”
The woman pirouetted around the end of the furniture, raising her skirts as she swung. She pushed in front of the man, plopped her curvaceous bottom upon the edge of the desk and parted her legs widely. She proved to be wearing neither pantyhose nor panties. The man goggled at the plump labia, which were obviously wet.
Howard ordered, “Lick her, Wayne. If you make her like it the way you did last week, I’ll sit on that hard drive.”
“You, you’ll …” The pale man looked past the woman to her no longer grinning husband, then up into her face.
“Do it, Mr. Lindsey,” she said solemnly. Her eyes glittered.
He leaned forward, burying his face between her legs. She twitched. But in a moment he withdrew and tilted back to stare at her. “How’d you get so wet?” He tasted his lips. “That’s not woman juice!”
“Not just woman juice,” corrected Howard, grinning around her hip. “We stopped off in the storeroom on the way in here. She’s tasted enough of your jism; we thought it was time you returned the favor for us. Now finish the job, Wayne-baby, and we’ll talk about this little matter of who gets terminated, if anyone, with all of us in a somewhat better mood.”