They only went and sacked me.
I had it coming, to be honest. After all I did engineer it that my boss’s wife walked in on him and his mistress in mid-session in a conference room.
And I did write every detail of their sordid little office romance in my ebook A Sordid Little Office Romance which – thanks to my colleague, Amanda – managed to work its way around the entire law firm in less than forty seconds.
So much for the precious anonymity of Danby Houghton.
Cortez called me into his office and drew himself up into disciplining mode.
“You know you have to go, my darling,” he said.
I was a little taken aback at his tone but I should have known that he would do things his own extraordinary way.
“Yeah, I know. Sorry,” I said.
“You were very good. Very good.”
I smiled graciously.
“I was a legal secretary for years. I can do this job blindfold.”
“Oh not that, you great ape! I mean the book. So my marriage gets a knock – yawn, whatever – but I star in a book and, you know, Raphael is so me. That bit about the rucksack full of hand cream, underwear and French poetry. I mean, how did you know? Have you been peeking?”
“I…I…did I get that right then?”
He nodded vigorously.
“Well I never.”
“And my sexual prowess. I blushed, darling. Boys and girls. How did you know!”
“It’s just a bit of fiction,” I whined. “It doesn’t mean anything. I never intended to offend anyone. The whole thing was meant to remain anonymous.”
He leant across his desk and dropped his head dramatically on to it.
“Cortez Baignton doesn’t do anonymity,” he informed me, mumbling into the teak.
“I bet poor Mrs Baignton wishes he did.”
I don’t know how I had the gall to say something like that, but what did I have to lose? He couldn’t sack me twice.
Fortunately he slapped the desk top and gurgled a kind of laugh.
How does he get away with it? A man in his position. He must be really raking it in for his firm for them to turn a blind eye to his extravagant ways.
Laurence came in to help me collect my stuff. I didn’t ask him to. There was only a notebook and a plant and those were technically office property anyway but I refused to retreat empty-handed.
“So,” he said, catching sight of Cortez coming out of a meeting room. “This is the man who dropped you so abruptly, is it? Well. I. Never.”
“Laurence don’t!” I hissed.
But he seemed to be inflating his chest and pushing it in the direction of my baffled boss.
“Oh hello,” said Cortez coming over, his curiosity ignited. It was still sexual curiosity at this stage. It always is first thing with him.
“My God but I could lamp you for this,” said Laurence totally unexpectedly. I’ve never heard the like. Not from him.
Cortez raised his eyebrows. He took a swift glimpse of his vast gold watch.
“I’ve got a meeting,” he sighed and left us.
“That bloody told him,” said Laurence with mysterious satisfaction. “I’ve got a meeting my arse.”
“He has got a meeting. I handle his diary, remember. It’s with two clients and it’s in conference room three.”
Oh what’s the point.
We left the building and I was glad actually that Laurence had come. Glad to be going back in the sealed isolation of a car at any rate.
I think I might miss going out to work. I hadn’t wanted to go back at first but once I was in that busy, brain-dead milieu it was a relief. And briefly I was part of the real world again, having some kind of minor impact on my society.
“God but I could have lamped him,” Laurence muttered once more as he swung the steering wheel with a degree of flamboyant recklessness.
I put a hand on his knee and understood that this was his moment now, not mine. And I prefer that really. I was never meant to be in the driving seat, will always feel more comfortable looking out through the passenger side window.