The secretary sat at the oak wood desk outside the Boss’s door. She held her cell phone to her ear full of ear rings.
“I have to go to the pharmacy at lunch to get my anti-depressants, refilled. Ok. Yes. Ok. I’ll see you at church Sunday.” She said into the phone.
She touched the screen and sat the phone down in its exact place on her perfect desk. Then, she looked up at James.
“Can I help you?” She asked, through her plastic smile. She reached over and picked up a bottle of Diet Coke, with a metal straw in it and took a long drink while watching his lips move.
“I was told he wanted to see me.” James said, nodding his head toward the Boss’s door.
She sat the soda bottle back down and swallowed the liquid, and then she looked at him again.
“And you are?” She asked, with an arrogant tone. But, maybe it wasn’t arrogant, maybe she just seemed to be one of those secretaries who had to stick their nose in everything.
“James Burnside’ he said.
“Yes, I’ll buzz him.” She said
She punched a button on the office landline, and a voice answered.
James watched the purple essential oil diffuser behind the woman spraying a mist. She had lots of flowers and plants and pictures of her family. Some little kid in a baseball uniform, smiled at him.
“James Burnside is here” she said into the phone intercom.
“Send him in” The voice said.
She pointed toward the door with a long well manicured finger. He always wondered how women like her typed with those nails. Then, he realized, they probably did little real typing. James walked toward the door and grabbed the knob as the woman continued speaking into the intercom.
“Also your lunch date with Judy Johnson at “Have a Swine of a Time Barb B Q” Is confirmed” She said.
James entered the office and saw the Boss sitting behind the large oak desk. He wore a white button down shirt, and no tie. The buttons on the shirt were stretched and strained against his gut. There was a large window behind him, with venetian blinds that let light in.
“Ok, Thanks.” The boss said to the secretary through the intercom.
The boss motioned to James to come in.
“Shut the door and sit down, James.” He said.
James closed the heavy door with a click. He turned and walked across the thin carpet to the row of red leather chairs before the boss’s desk. He sat down and the chairs were low enough that he looked up at the Boss, and almost felt like he was in grade school looking up at the Principal again. A TV flickered on a table behind the Boss’s desk. It was set on a sports channel. The ticker ran at the bottom, showing the latest scores worldwide.
“I’ve got bets on a few games today. Maybe we will win,” The Boss said, looking at the TV.
Then, he looked at James and smiled
“Who are you for in the Chicago, Cardinals game?” The Boss asked.
“I don’t really follow sports.” James replied
James squirmed in the soft leather seat and placed his arms on the armrests. His Boss opened a pill bottle, and rolled a pill into his chubby hand, then he tossed it into his mouth. He chased it with a swig from a can of Mellow Yellow.
“I got terrible stomach problems. I can’t really figure out why, but I take these pills twice a day and they seem to help.” The Boss said.
James shook his head.
“Do you know why I called you in here?” The Boss asked, in a manner reminiscent of a cop pulling over a suspected drunk driver
“Not really” James said.
He had an idea of what was wrong, but there was no way he was going to admit to anything.
The Boss shuffled some papers and picked up one, which he tossed across the desk towards James. It floated to a stop on the edge of the desk.
“Your drug test came back positive.” The Boss said.
James reached forward and picked up the type written paper. He glanced at it, but didn’t bother to read it. He looked up at the Boss.
“I didn’t get high at work. I just get high at home. I use it to relax. I play with my dog, and all that. It’s legal now.” James explained.
“It’s against company policy. You can relax by going to the bar, getting drunk and cheating on your wife, like the rest of us do. I have to let you go. There are a thousand other people wanting a job.” The Boss said, tossing another sheet of paper, across the desk at James.
There was really nothing to say. What would his wife think? He’d failed again.
“Your last check will be mailed to you. Are there any questions?” The Boss said.
He had a million questions, “Can I sue you?” Can I get unemployment?” He needed to fight for all these things, but he just shook his head.
“Please verify your address with the secretary on your way out.” The Boss said.
James rose, and walked out the door.